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RenderMan is the name of a computer graphics rendering technology invented by Pixar Animation Studios; an implementation of Pixar's photorealistic 3D description standard, the RenderMan Interface Specification.

Some parts of RenderMan technology is invariably involved in creating heavy digital special effects for the Hollywood blockbuster movies of today such as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.

The name RenderMan can cause confusion because it is often used to refer to two different things:

  • The RenderMan Interface Specification (RISpec): Pixar's technical specification for a standard communications protocol (or interface) between modeling programs and rendering programs capable of producing photorealistic-quality images. This is a similar concept to PostScript but for describing 3D scenes rather than 2D page layouts. The interface was first published in 1988 and was designed to be future-proof enough to encompass advances in technology for a significant number of years.

  • PhotoRealistic RenderMan (PRMan): A RenderMan-compliant rendering software system developed by Pixar themselves based on their own interface specification. This is used internally at Pixar and also licensed to third parties.

Pixar have two other 'core' technologies that supplement RenderMan: Marionette™ (an animation software system for modeling, animating and lighting) and Ringmaster™ (production management software to schedule, coordinate and track computer animation projects)

Further reading

  • Upstill, Steve. 1990. The RenderMan Companion: A Programmer's Guide to Realistic Computer Graphics. Addison-Wesley (ISBN 0-201-50868-0)
  • Anthony A. Apodaca and Larry Gritz. 2000. Advanced RenderMan: Creating CGI for Motion Pictures. Morgan Kaufmann (ISBN 1-55860-618-1)

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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