Pixars RenderMan Bitches

Pixars RenderMan Bitches

by Zach Harvest

Ohh buddy. My week got REALLY exciting and consequently, very complicated. First thing first. I’m going to get the boring stuff out of the way. It’s only comparatively boring to me. I wouldn’t even say boring. But ANYWAY, you get my drift. Brad called me up earlier last week and asked if I wanted to film a video walkthrough for his dads cabin they are trying to sell. I agreed because any excuse to go film something for a reason, I usually take. Also if we were to do a good job and can figure out an efficient workflow for knocking these out, that could be some awesome cash on the side! Basically a “video walkthrough” is exactly what it sounds like. You want the viewer to feel like they are walking through the house. Brad and I looked up a bunch of examples on youtube and noticed a trend. THEY ALL SUCKED NUTS! Really funny, even the ones from sites that just do this as a service were terrible! AND they are charging $500!. So we set out to make the best walkthough we could. Showed up at the cabin and spent some time looking around the front, trying to decide where the sun is going to lay at what time to film exterior shots. After that we opened the front door and holy fucking shit was it hot in there! Thermo read 100. They had the heaters on to keep the pipes from freezing during the winter months. So we had to let the place cool off for a bit getting all of the doors open and such. As we did that We did some pseudo filming with the stabilizer and slider to see what was going to work and what wasn’t. Neither of us have done a shoot like this so we had to see how the shots were to be framed, paced, lit, ect.. Framing I had looked up ways to shoot houses for photos so I assume many of the same traits would transfer to video work. They said: Shoot as wide as you can! Shoot with natural light! Shoot with the lines ie straight ahead. Bla bla bla.

Good tips but we needed to SEE what looked good. So we did the shots we thought we needed and went back for the edit. Ill have to get the latest copy from Brad, but I think it turned out well. We have some stuff to work on for the next house, but for never having done one of these and being a little short on proper working equipment (No slider mount plate and I guess I lost my stabilizer?) we are pretty happy. Let me know what you guys think!

IN OTHER NEWS HOW ABOUT DAT RENDERMAN!? WOO! Sorry just had to get that out. Some day last week I got really frustrated with Blender and Cycles to the point where I force shutdown my computer and went on a walk. The walk part isn’t normal but I needed to think. While on my evening stroll, I was considering buying Octane for $500 and just learning it. Even though it’s still in blender, the trial seemed stable enough and it was pretty well integrated. But I was sure there had to be other cheaper, similar options? Some of which might be free, so I started my search. I found a dope article that showed about 6 or so different engines and had the most direct comparisons. I didn’t even knew many of these existed, or if I did, had no experience with them at all. Lux, Mitsuba, Maxwell, V-Ray and Octane. I knew about V-Ray, Lux and Octane but not these other two. Lux, Mitsuba, and Cycles are free and the others are below $600 so they are all affordable if I really like one of them. I went through the samples and the articles and still wasn’t impressed, many sacrificed a lot of one thing for another in some way. I guess that’s the deal with these.

But I wasn’t too happy so I went on the blender subreddit and started looking some stuff up. I found an article that said just use “Renderman for Blender”....MIND BLOWN NUMBER 1 WAAAaaa???? Naw. Not like….renderman renderman right? Like, Pixar? That RenderMan???? Let’s slow down Zach...It’s probably thousands and thousands IF this is even real. Let’s just googl…..Ohh. My. God. It’s. it’s….itsfree. IT’S FREE!?!? AND I DON’T HAVE IT?! FUCKIN GET THIS SHIT INSTALLED FUCKING NOW! For some reason tears welled up as I downloaded the 500mb RenderMan Server and Blender plugin. I’ve always been obsessed with Pixar and Renderman. I used to read all of their articles they posted, watch the movies with animator commentary, and just general fanboy stuff. As someone who tries to make cool art in a 3d application, I was really, REALLY stoked to get my hands on something so powerful and for free! I had no clue they had this Non-Commercial licence available! Renderman, for free? This is the best in the bizz! Talk about a production engine, this is straight MADE for productions! I was losing my shit just thinking about how I could recreate The Incredibles with my awesome modeling and….yeah, that’s not going to happen for a while. BUT I COULD! And that’s the point. I have the tool. Now just to use it.

It took a couple of hours to get it up and running, I thought I had some version mismatches and general 3rd party tweaks to get it working. Once I got it loaded, I just made a scene with a light and a box and some spheres, applied a PXR_METAL shader to some spheres, and hit default RENDER. And that’s the one you see. I didn’t even try and it looks good! My excite was met with a shitty render preview that crashed if you close IT before Blender. IT is Pixars “Image Tool” which grabs the render output and makes it a little easier to work the render preview. It didn’t install right so I just had a shit version of it that looks like a fallback option. This is all I had until last night so I have few actual outputs from RenderMan this week. There are so many options it’s crazy. But already there are some issues. Only CPU render and longer render times anyway. It’s not supposed to be fast like Cycles or Octane, it’s supposed to look the best. There are some faster rendering options like just using the straight Path-Tracer without caustics. But that looks close to cycles because really you’re just turning off the features that make Renderman, Renderman. There is also VCM which merges the paths of the light ray and the camera ray when the finish there bounces close to each other. An algorithm connects the two and and this way you get less noise when your lighting is recessed and other circumstances. It also always gives caustics and that slows things down a bit. I still don’t know what many of the render options are, they are so different from cycles. Onto materials. So I have heard it’s hard to texture right now in the plugins current state but I haven’t tried so I can’t speak to that yet, but at least all of the built in shaders are kick ass! When I clicked the list of shaders available and saw, PXR_THIS and PXR_THAT, I almost lost it when I saw PXR_DISNEY. Pxr_disney is their uber shader that fakes every effect, very well. You have metallic, specular, fake specular, fake subsurf (for hard, still objects) gloss, clear coat gloss, diffuse and more! It’s crazy how easy it is to put an ok looking material on something..

But I think I am done rambling. Check out my stuff. I have it labeled for which engine is which and how many samples, Some are only 720 because I kept fucking up. https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B5gRarvHyXZSV1BQUTFBdU9KWmM&usp=sharing

Last Edited on Mon May 09 2016 14:11:38 GMT-0400 (EDT)