Sunday, March 03, 2013

Why the domain name is gone

As some of you may have noticed, is no longer mine, as of today I noticed it is now some spam site and honestly I do not care. Which is weird. I had this passion for Blender and Renderman for YEARS and then with the death of Project Widow so did that passion. On one hand I want to continue to support the idea, on the other hand I want to give up. So why the reversal in this passion?

1. Blender to Renderman does not seem to be interesting for most Blender users.

This is true and it has been proven time and time again. While there are a few dedicated supporters of this, which I can only thank you from the bottom of my heart, the vast majority of Blender users do not care. They want simplicity, in such that they want to add shaders and lights, hit render and VOILA.... done. Renderman is not like this at all. It is a specialist field and even I have trouble writing code from scratch. So why would the average Blender user? Well the IDEA was to get more visual effects and animation studios to look at Blender in a new light, that the tools can be used in their pipelines with Pixar's Renderman. These studios have pretty much ignored it entirely. There was only one studio that I worked with trying to get this pipeline to work effectively, which for some time they did only to switch to "industry" tools because of some client that requested it. Since then I have lost touch with the studio, sad.

2. Open Shading Language killed off the idea in a quick blow.

With OSL in Blender now it is possible to use RSL code (with some editing) to make shader nodes in Blender. This is cool, however it also killed BtoR because of the argument of "Why use RSL when you can just convert it to OSL and have native support in Blender"? I have tested out OSL in Blender and like it myself, OSL is a huge thing for Blender and fully support it. Even though it pretty much buried BtoR.

3. Time and energy is lacking.

I have devoted literally YEARS to this project and have had my fair share of both praise and blows, I have had people in the industry give me thumbs up and have had plenty of people just turn their noses to this project. I started this project back in 2005 when I was volunteering my time to a film that never got off the ground due to the vast amount of VFX needed, Blender was the choice of tools to use and back then the internal renderer was nothing like it is now. I thought "Why not use Renderman?", thus the quest of finding that key tool to export Blender data to Renderman code begun. RIBMosaic was introduced a couple years later and at that time was considered the best option for this task. Hence Project Widow. Now RIBMosaic is dead (though there still is effort with Matt Ebb's plugin), very little interest from the Blender community and zero interest from the professional industry, my own time and energy devoted to this has waned and quite simply I am tired of fighting. I want to make a living off of 3D work, not be an unpaid wanna be artist that has a itty bitty tiny niche community that nobody cares about anymore. Thankfully I was hired by a company to do freelance 3D work and while it is not much pay at the moment (very few projects), it is a start for me after wishing for SOMETHING for almost 20 years. 20 years of wishing to be a professional artist is a long time and I nearly gave up last year. Hell I STILL think that maybe this industry is not right for me with all the problems right now. I've had one interview to be a pipeline TD, obviously I did not get the position. I know several people in the industry, it is a hard one to get in to they say. Maybe this is not the right thing for me, I do not know but what I do know is that despite all the hurdles and problems I have encountered in trying to be a professional artist I have not given up actually doing it in my own time. I don't know where else to go from here at this time, all I know is that currently the few projects I do have going on I am doing with a level of professionalism and attitude that make my family proud, finally.

4. I have a family now.

When I started this idea, I was single and living with family members. I was employed with a non profit corporation (which makes a HUGE amount of profit actually) but anyways I was living a far different life back then. Now I have a nearly 4 year old little girl that demands my attention and a fiance', working for next to nothing in a major fast food chain, a freelance artist as well and still have to find time to do 3D but I still have far less time to devote to Blender to Renderman than I used to. It is hard to come up with "news" or reports from the community and industry, especially when as mentioned above, nobody cares anymore. OSL has taken over, the industry is a shambled mess of messes, I live in an area that really has no VFX or 3D work available and I have a family to take care of. I can't just pack up and leave to go to LA. Why on earth would I move to one of the most expensive locations in the nation on the hope that MAYBE I get employed by a major effects house or studio? STUPID. With the visual effects industry in disarray there is even less motivation to really work at it like I used to, even though I know I will regardless. Right now is not the time though, for personal reasons in my family I have chosen to put those dreams on hold until further notice. Besides there is other fields where 3D work is required other than visual effects and animation. At this moment I am pretty much doing arch viz for a client this summer, the next one might be a logo, the next might be a website (ick), I don't know but either way I have a family to keep off the street, a daughter to raise and a woman who loves me regardless of how much or little money I make.

5. Jaded.

Really that means that I have grown tired of the fight, I really have and it has been a fight. I can't tell you how many times I have argued with people over the reasons WHY Blender to Renderman is relevant. On one hand Ton Rossendal himself had praised my efforts, on the other hand the Blender community seemed to only dismiss it as useless effort. Right now there is a huge movement to get Freestyle into the Blender, my only question is why is there not the same effort to do the same for Renderman? Freestyle is a non photo realistic renderer and while it is quite interesting to see this unfold I can't fathom the reason as to why there is such a huge interest in something that can be done by Renderman too. I understand why OSL was chosen by the Blender Foundation, it is an open format and created by the very same person who made the first free Renderman compliant renderer BMRT, that person is Larry Gritz. This is one of the reasons why OSL and RSL are so similar, Larry Gritz not only changed the playing field for artists with little money but inspired developers across the globe to create programs such as Aqsis and Pixie, to name a few. On a slightly related note I believe that my BlenderCon 2010 paper inspired Ton to make Tears of Steel , I had mentioned in the paper that Blender's short films went the reversal of Hollywood ie;  that visual effects with CG started BEFORE the feature length CG animated films. That is not proven though and unless Ton himself wants to verify I still believe that my little paper had planted the seed of Tears of Steel, at least the idea of doing a visual effects based short rather than a CG short as they had done in the past.

So lets cut to the chase. Enough of the ranting.

In short I have had little time, little energy and with the birth of OSL in Blender this only spelled the death of BtoR. It was only a matter of time. All things come to an end.

Unless someone wants to help rise this up again like a phoenix I think this will be the last post on this blog. So please, anyone, who wants to help? Maybe with the visual effects industry in shambles this would be a good chance to spark it up again? Otherwise R.I.P. BtoR, it was a fun ride.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Pixar releases OpenSubdiv

In a surprise move recently, Pixar has released open source code called Open Subdiv.

Directly from the website :

OpenSubdiv is a set of open source libraries that implement high performance subdivision surface (subdiv) evaluation on massively parallel CPU and GPU architectures. This codepath is optimized for drawing deforming subdivs with static topology at interactive framerates. The resulting limit surface matches Pixar’s Renderman to numerical precision.

OpenSubdiv is covered by the Microsoft Public License, and is free to use for commercial or non-commercial use. This is the same code that Pixar uses internally for animated film production. Our intent is to encourage high performance accurate subdiv drawing by giving away the “good stuff”.

The source code for OpenSubdiv is located on github and is entering open beta for SIGGRAPH 2012. Feel free to use it and let us know what you think through the github site.

Platforms supported: Windows, Linux, limited OSX.

While it is highly unlikely that this will end up in Blender at all it is a very interesting project, coming from a highly unlikely place to ever release anything to the public. Though Pixar has released papers and some shader source code to the public, nothing was expected to ever come in the form of a software library, so this is a welcome surprise to say the least.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pixar announces Renderman Studio 4.0

From the Pixar website....

EMERYVILLE, CA – (June 14th, 2012) Pixar Animation Studios today announced that effective immediately, RenderMan for Maya is to be combined with RenderMan Studio as a single premium software solution at the new price of $1,300 including a fully functional embedded renderer. This major product consolidation sets the stage for the impending release of RenderMan Studio 4.0, which will provide Maya artists and Technical Directors with the latest tools to setup scene data, lighting, and shader assets for film-quality final rendering.

RenderMan Studio 4.0 also introduces the latest rendering technology developed for the forthcoming RenderMan Pro Server 17.0, and showcases significant advancements in ray tracing for multi-bounce global illumination and ray-traced subsurface scattering, including a system of physically plausible shaders directly integrated into Maya and the Slim shader editor. With these new features, artists can maximize today's high performance multi-core architectures to create photorealistic images with minimal setup within the user interface of Maya. The process of shading and lighting setup has also been dramatically accelerated with new lighting tools, including the robust re-rendering technology used in "Cars 2" and "Brave" as well as progressive ray-traced re-rendering for rapid look development. With additional new capabilities such as Dynamic Shader Binding, expanded RIB archiving, and a new library of RenderMan materials for Maya, RenderMan Studio 4.0 is the result of the feedback from numerous VFX productions allowing Maya artists to easily create photorealistic images at the highest levels of cinematic quality in a comprehensive solution that can be configured to accommodate any VFX pipeline.

Upgrade Availability

RenderMan Studio 4.0 is compatible with Maya 2013 and earlier versions on Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. Upgrade pricing from RenderMan Studio 3.0 is available and existing RenderMan for Maya customers can upgrade to RenderMan Studio 4.0 for the same price as previous RenderMan for Maya upgrades. Student pricing is also available. Further details can be found on the new RenderMan website at For direct assistance concerning sales, maintenance, operating system compatibility, evaluation licenses, or any other questions about Pixar’s RenderMan, please contact

About Pixar Animation Studios

Pixar Animation Studios, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is an Academy Award®-winning film studio with world-renowned technical, creative and production capabilities in the art of computer animation. Creator of some of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time, including "Toy Story," "Monsters, Inc.," "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille," "WALL•E," "Up" and "Toy Story 3" the Northern California studio has won 29 Academy Awards and its 12 films have grossed more than $7.2 billion at the worldwide box office to date. Pixar's next adventure, "Brave" takes aim at theaters on June 22, 2012.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Aqsis 1.8 released

Aqsis 1.8 has been released as of Feb 29, 2012, a long awaited release build which brings some of the most exciting new features in this renderer in some time. Of these new features, the Point Based Global Illumination functions are the most obvious and anticipated. This release was not without it's problems however as the Windows and MacOS binaries were broken due to the move from FLTK to QT4, work is underway to fix this so expect a 1.8.1 patch release soon. The QT4 switch changed the GUI appearance only slightly, though in some tests Piqsl seems to respond much slower than it's FLTK predecessor, however the point cloud viewer program makes up for that. The PartIO library is a great addition as well, which will allow particle data to be used from various software such as Maya and Houdini. Despite the binary problems, this is one of the most exciting releases from the Aqsis team in years.

LONDON, UK - February 29, 2012 - Aqsis Team, the developers of professional open source rendering software, announced today the immediate release of Aqsis Renderer 1.8.0; its leading cross-platform 3D rendering solution adhering to the RenderMan standard.
This is the accumulative effort of many developers and community members around the world, resulting in an even more competitive solution.

Global illumination and software integration have been the primary focus for this release, with improvements including:
  • Point-based global illumination, providing bake3d()indirectdiffuse()occlusion() and texture3d() shadeop support.
  • Partio library integration, providing Houdini, Maya and PRMan compatible pointcloud support.
  • New pointcloud viewer application (ptview).
  • Qt library integration, providing native 64-bit support on all recommended platforms.
  • BSD licensing for all new code.

In addition, key feature enhancements have been made with improvements including:
  • Memory optimisations.
  • PNG read/write support.
  • Updated SLO interface, matching other renderer APIs.
  • Improved RIB parser, including precise syntax error reporting.
  • Reinstate command line support for frame selection using -frames and -framelist.
  • MinGW support.

Further information regarding the changes in this release can be found within the release notes distributed with the software.
Aqsis Renderer 1.8.0 is freely available to download from the Aqsis website, with installers for Windows, Linux and OS X: