RenderMan drops in price

Pixar announced today that it is dramatically lowering the cost of RenderMan. As the most highly regarded feature film renderer, – this is significant news. It will allow more independent owner/animators to use RenderMan on smaller projects and its volume pricing reductions reflect the massive growth in render farms. Fxguide spoke to the RenderMan team about the new pricing.

Pixar Animation Studios today announced a new price for RenderMan Pro Server software. Effective immediately, the price of an individual license of RenderMan Pro Server is $2,000 per license, a reduction of 40% with additional price discounts available when purchasing multiple licenses. In addition, annual maintenance for each RenderMan Pro Server license is now $600 per license, a reduction of 15%. The price had previously been $3,500 per seat. We spoke to Chris Ford from Pixar’s RenderMan division this morning about the change.

“The primary rationale behind our price reduction is to realign the cost of RenderMan with the trends we see in the entire industry. Render farms are growing ever larger while multi-core architectures are now commonplace. Our new pricing allows all RenderMan Pro Server customers to expand their render farms while at the same time providing new opportunities for smaller studios to take on larger projects” says Chris Ford, RenderMan Business Director at Pixar.

A typical layout for a major feature film RenderMan customer

Not only is the lower volume per seat cost now much less but the volume discounts now start at a lower point. It kicks over to volume discounts at just 10 seats – 5% off over 10 licenses and increases upwards to 50% at 1000 licenses. “This is more reflective of current render farm trends and in all scenarios the cost of a RenderMan purchase has become significantly cheaper,” comments Ford.

RenderMan Pricing

• Individual licenses: $2,000
• Individual support $600 per license per year

Over 10 licenses
• Each seat : $1,900

Additional discounts kick in at various bands up to ….

Over 1000 licenses
• Each seat : $1,000

So for example a major animated studio typically might set up a world class render farm of 1500 licenses. If this farm used Pixar’s RenderMan – then the render-farm would now be $1,500,000 to set up, but of course such large facilities tend to be individually handled and bid. Additionally, visual effects farms away from Weta/ILM/Lucasfilm might typically be smaller in size.

Blocking from Pixars Toy Story 3 rendered in RenderMan

While fully 3D animated films tend to be hugely popular and profitable, the growth of fully animated feature films in production has flattened off globally but the number of VFX films continues to rise “especially now the recession is slowly fading.

“Given that the majority of major VFX films use RenderMan totally or partially this remain a primary focus” Ford adds. “RenderMan usage has been diffusing out of the traditional production hubs for a number of years now, and by way of example, our most recent major installations have gone into Canada, China, India, and France. We are seeing an increasing globalization of VFX production and the traditional production centers are becoming less dominant in our market footprint, vitally important though they continue to be.”

Unlit render from RenderMan

Over the last two decades, Pixar’s RenderMan has led the revolution in rendering visual effects and animation, and is today the standard for creating the outstanding levels of photorealism that audiences now demand.

With RenderMan Pro Server’s new price, studios and artists everywhere can access the highest levels of rendered visual quality at new levels of affordability.”RenderMan Pro Server’s new price adapts to the ever increasing scale of rendering requirements and is the largest adjustment in many years” said Ford, “RenderMan’s quality is now even more accessible to anyone aspiring to create the highest levels of cinematic imagery, and we look forward to seeing what our customers will produce next.”

Final shot rendered and projected in stereo 3D

Pixar Animation Studios is now a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Pixar is very well known for its Academy Award®-winning films and world-renowned technical, creative and production capabilities. Pixar Studios have created some of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time, including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL•E, Up and most recently, Toy Story 3. The Northern California studio has won 24 Academy Awards® and its eleven films have grossed more than $6.5 billion at the worldwide box office to date. The next film release from Disney•Pixar is Cars 2 on June 24th, 2011.

PhotoRealistic RenderMan, or PRMan for short, is a proprietary photorealistic RenderMan-compliant renderer known as RenderMan. It primarily uses the REYES algorithm but is also fully capable of doing ray tracing and global illumination. PRMan is produced by Pixar Animation Studios and used to render all of their in-house 3D animated movie productions.

As part of the 73rd Scientific and Technical Academy Awards ceremony presentation back in March of 2001, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors honored Ed Catmull, Loren Carpenter, and Rob Cook, with an Academy Award of Merit (Oscar) “for significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar’s RenderMan.” This was the first Oscar awarded to a software package for its outstanding contributions to the field.