RenderMan for Maya is a fully integrated Maya-to-RenderMan bridge package that provides three powerful components to convert your assets into pretty pixels. RenderMan plays an important role in creating 3D configurators. Per Design it can do this right after unpacking or there are methods and mechanisms that allow you to customize the software to your specific needs by adding special shading templates, targeted passes, custom display drivers and more.

RenderMan Maya

RenderMan for Maya consists of three basic tools. More technical information – scripting, advanced shading customization techniques – can be found in the Developers Guide section. This page is intended to give you an overview of the software, the basics, and important information to help you get everything you need from RenderMan for Maya.

The RenderMan Tools.

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RenderMan for Maya is a fully integrated Maya-to-RenderMan bridge that includes a plug-in version of Pixar’s RenderMan renderer. It provides easy access to RenderMan functions either via a Maya-centric workflow (including Maya-like shading nodes etc.) or in conjunction with the other RMS tools. As a bridge, it also connects Maya and RenderMan Pro Server through its RIB out functionality and advanced integration with the renderer. RfM provides Maya users with seamless access to the speed, performance, and stability of RenderMan, allowing them to maintain a simple, Maya-centric workflow or leverage the flexibility of the plug-ins to create an optimal custom pipeline.

RfM now provides access to both modes (or “renderer”) of PRMan: the proven RenderMan/Reyes mode and the new RenderMan/RIS mode introduced in PRMan 19.


(Note that Slim is only available in RenderMan/Reyes mode.) Slim is a powerful, extensible tool for creating, editing, using, and reusing RenderMan shaders that provides a PRMan-centric alternative for building materials. Users can construct RenderMan shaders by interactively combining modules in networks, editing their parameters, and previewing the results without writing code, or they can create custom templates, library palettes, or scripting solutions tailored to their production needs.


“It” is a robust framebuffer/render-view window that provides full floating-point support, a powerful and flexible catalog, and a fast and powerful imaging tool capable of manipulating and composing production-quality images normally found only in high-end Stadale products. Thanks to integration with the plugin and a completely new Python script interface, “it” offers users the ability to integrate sophisticated post-rendering image operations into their rendering pipeline.

RenderMan Features.

RenderMan for Maya supports advanced rendering features that are not included in Maya. Since these advanced features are not directly supported by Maya, RMS provides its own techniques for creating and controlling these effects. These techniques are usually as simple as applying and configuring RenderMan-specific attributes to geometry, light and/or materials.

Here are some features of Pixar`s RenderMan:


PRMan’s RIS mode is a new type of rendering that is designed to be quick and easy to use while producing production-quality renderings. “Global Illumination” works instantly and the interactive rendering allows quick repetition for artists. The new mode supports many of the same features as the traditional RenderMan, but introduces a completely new shading pipeline. Users should consult the RIS User Guide and the RMS RIS Quick Start Guide for more information on this new rendering paradigm.

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Shadows and Light.

Geometric Area Lights.

RMS 18 introduced Geometric Area Lights, a powerful new way to create physically accurate lighting while optimizing sample budgets and performance. PRMan’s geometric floodlights support gobos, portals, blockers, light linking, groups, groups of AOVs and IES profiles.

Area Shadows.

RMS supports a sophisticated process for creating area shadows, either by raytracing directly into a scene or by tracing deep shadow files. Raytraced Area Shadows are faster than traditional Raytraced Shadows, while portable Deep Shadows deliver similar results with less memory overhead by using rasterization and texture caching.

Global Illumination.

RenderMan for Maya supports “Global Illumination” effects, subtle diffuse shading effects that occur when the lighting of a scene is scanned several times from a specific point. This technique can deliver very realistic results. Occlusion, which only scans the “coverage” of a point (and is cheaper than indirect lighting), is also supported.

Deep Shadows.

Deep Shadows are a feature-rich shading map that supports transparency and volumetric data. Deep shadows can also be pre-scanned. Deep shadows have the following advantages over traditional shading maps, which make deep shadows ideal for the coat or when shading a collection of small, semi-transparent objects. Allow Deep Shadows:

  • Semi-transparent shadows.
  • Colored shadows.
  • Motion blurred shadows.
  • Multi-scanning.
  • Fewer animation artifacts.
  • More subtle, better-looking shadows.


Volume rendering.

RMS includes PRMan’s world-class volumetric rendering capabilities that enable the creation of volumetric effects, including Maya’s Fluid Effects, with full PRMan support – motion blur, RSL, depth map support ( for deep or area shadows).

True Curved Surfaces.

Tesselation settings are never a problem when rendering NURBS and Subdivision Surfaces with RenderMan. Because RenderMan renders true curved Surfaces, NURBS and Subdivision Surfaces will never have faceted artifacts. Maya’s tessellation mode settings are simply ignored and the benefits of RenderMan are immediately realized.

Constructive Solid Geometry.

RenderMan for Maya provides functionality for CSG Boolean operations on geometric surfaces – calculated in the renderer. Constructive Volume Geometry (CSG) allows you to combine two (or more) objects (or groups of objects) in different ways, creating complicated geometries and special effects.


Subsurface Scattering.

RenderMan for Maya supports underground scattering, an important effect for realistic rendering of transparent materials such as skin, flesh, fat, fruits, milk, marble and many others. Subsurface Scattering is responsible for effects such as color bleedings in the material or the scattering of light across shadow boundaries. RMS 4 supports the Raytraced Subsurface Scattering introduced in PRMan 16.2.

Secondary outputs.

RenderMan for Maya supports secondary outputs )AOVs or arbitrary output variables), which can be any information contained in a shader.

Custom RenderMan Shaders.

Custom RenderMan shaders can be imported for use with RMS. This allows you to take full advantage of the expressive RenderMan Shading Language and provides more control than what is possible with the Maya Material Editor. Note that custom RenderMan shaders must either be written (encoded) or created in a tool such as Slim.

Ri Procedurals.

As the basis of a RIB-based pipeline, RenderMan for Maya supports all types of procedures. In addition, RenderMan for Maya provides simple support for procedures via an MEL script attribute, either on a common geometric attribute node or directly on a transformation or form node.

In the pipeline below.

RenderMan for Maya is part of a potentially demanding production pipeline. To get your work from script to script to screen, you may need more and that’s where Tractor and RenderMan Pro Server enter the image. By implementing RMS in conjunction with Tractor and RPS, users can achieve a seamlessly integrated rendering workflow from the desktop to the render farm.


Tractor is a system for distributing tasks from queues over a network of computing servers. It includes a central queue mechanism, a remote execution server, a monitoring subsystem and a browser-based user interface. The Tractor was designed as a powerful replacement for Alfred and can be used in any work distribution capacity, but is particularly well suited for managing a RenderMan for Maya-to-RenderMan Pro Server pipeline.

Tractor is offered as a standalone product with its own documentation.

RenderMan Pro Server.

RenderMan Pro Server is the foundation for a powerful rendering pipeline. It provides standalone implementations of the renderer and its rendering utilities, as well as access to APIs that enable experienced users to extend functionality. As the core technology, RenderMan Pro Server is the font from which all pixels flow.

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Like Tractor, RenderMan Pro Server is available as a standalone product.

We hope we were able to give you a first brief overview of RenderMan for Maya. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact our experts in our forum.

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