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RenderMan 21 | The Basics

by Michael Rew of Small Robot Studio

With the new version of RenderMan 21 there have been a few changes and this series dives into all the new stuff in version 21. This series includes the following tutorials:

1) "Pixar Surface" Shader Tutorial Part 1 --- With the new version out there has been a few changes to the way shaders work and I wanted to cover the most important one, the Pxr Surface shader. In this first part we'll look at how to manipulate the Diffuse, Specular & Clear Coat settings as well as applying a procedural bump map to these parameters driven by a pxrfractal node.

2) "Pixar Surface" Shader Tutorial Part 2 --- In part two of this series we look at the Iridescence, Fuzz, Glass, Glow and Globals lobes of the Pxrsurface Shader and I go over a couple of techniques to employ them in your workflow. On the next tutorial we'll cover both of the Scattering lobes so get ready for that!

3) Basic Render Settings --- Thought I should do an updated version of this tutorial for 21 - there's a few minor changes in the settings as well as in IT which are worth noting. If you're new to Renderman this is a good place to start to get your head around what you should know starting out and what is not super important.

4) Maya xGen Fur Tutorial --- Just a quick video on how to get xGen fur to cooperate with Renderman 21 - Pixar have updated their installation docs with a handy note about editing your .env file which I show here which will now allow you to have your fur based projects anywhere on your hard drive. NOTE - according to Bartolomeo the project and scene name must have not spaces e.g.: my_scene.mb - thanks for that Bartolomeo!

5) Basic Holdout Workflow --- This week I show you how to use Renderman & and image plane in Maya to create a composite image. I show the basic workflow of creating an image plane and setting up your camera as well as briefly discussing lighting techniques and material control. As I mentioned in the tutorial I've yet to get this to work with an HDRI background without the plane being visible so if anyone knows the method to achieve this please share it with me I'd love to know too!

6) "Pixar Dome" and "Pixar Day Light" Intro --- This week I give a brief overview of the PxrDome and PxrDay light. I show how to set up an HDR image with the PxrDome, cover some of the basic settings then move on to the PxrDay light where I show how to position your sun and adjust a few of the other parameters. Many of the parameters for these lights are shared with the other basic lights so I don't cover them here, if you want to know more about those parameters I suggest you check out my Basic Lights Tutorial.

7) Normal Maps Tutorial --- Just a quick tutorial showing you how to connect normal maps for Renderman 21. First I'll quickly show you how to export a map from zBrush then connect it up in Maya to a PxrSurface shader. I'll also briefly discuss some lighting and combining with displacement maps for extra detail.

8) Displacement Maps with zBrush --- Just a quick walkthrough of the workflow for exporting vector displacement maps from zBrush then hooking them up in Renderman. The new material workflow is a lot simpler than it was previously and seems to eliminate UV tearing from what I've tested which is nice.

9) Applying Textures --- A short tutorials for those very new to Renderman and UV layouts for applying textures. In this tutorial I'll briefly discuss the difference between a material shader and a texture, talk a little about UV's and how to create them then show you a simple workflow for assigning textures to objects in Maya and rendering them with Renderman.

10) Opacity Maps --- A very quick tutorial on how to apply an image to a plane and have Renderman ignore specific parts of the image. First I'll go over how to create a transparent background for a leaf in Photoshop, then we'll jump over in to Maya to hook it all up for rendering. Finally I'll discuss some pros and cons of this method and give another example of how you can use it.

11) Tileable Textures --- Moving into something slightly more complex this week with a custom tileable texture setup. First I'll show you one technique for editing textures in Photoshop to get a good texture for tiling and what to look out for, then we'll move in to Maya to hook it up with a few nodes that can drive randomization to help sell our tiled texture's believability.

12) Batch Rendering Animation --- In this tutorial we're having a look at how to batch render an animation from Maya and create a video file from it. First we'll adjust our settings to estimate a render time, next we'll batch out a couple of test images and discuss denoising, finally we'll render out the entire animation and create a video file using Adobe Photoshop.

13) Pxr Volume --- In this tutorial we're having a look at PxrVolume and how we can use it to create a couple of different effects like 'God Rays' and homogeneous fog. First we'll have a look at how to create the material and apply it to geometry, next we'll discuss creating an effect like 'god rays' and fog, finally we'll have a look at some other use cases and discuss a few more of the parameters.

14) Mesh Lights --- Here's a quick overview of the Renderman Mesh Light. First we'll look at hooking it up to geometry, discuss it's impact on render time and finally we'll have a look at how to combine it with other shaders and volumes.

15) Denoise Workflow --- In this tutorial we're looking at the Renderman Denoiser, what it is and how to use it. First we'll discuss how it functions, when to use it and how to enable GPU denoising; next we'll have a look at some render settings, a couple of different features of the denoiser and filter settings; finally we'll batch render a frame and compare it to an unfiltered image. Please note - you will need to add the line shown in notepad to enable GPU acceleration as it's not there by default

16) Light FIlters Part 1 --- In this first tutorial we're going to be having a look at the PxrBarnLight and PxrCookie Filter. First we'll discuss what a barn light is and go over a few parameters, how to use it and some of it's effects; then we'll look at the PxrCookie, it's various uses and how we can use it to project images on to a scene.

17) Light FIlters Part 2 --- In the second part of the Light Filters tutorial we're going to look at the PxrIntMultiLightFilter, the PxrRampLightFilter and finally the PxrRodLightFilter. Once again we'll go through each of their basic parameters, discuss some simple use cases and best practices. Please note: There is currently a bug with adding knots to ramps, this is being addressed at the moment.

18) Pxr Layer Surface --- In this tutorial we're having a look at the PxrLayerSurface shader, what it's for and how to use it. First we'll assign the shader to a mesh and have a look at what happens in the hypershade editor, next we'll create a couple of different layers, discuss hierarchy and how to assign alpha maps to control opacity. Finally I'll give an example of one way to create a procedural dirt layer.

Check out more work by Michael Rew: http://instagram.com/smallrobotstudio http://smallrobotstudio.com

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