Happy 30th birthday to RenderMan, the engine that powered the CGI revolution

“When Pixar president and co-founder Ed Catmull announced his retirement earlier this year, people rightly saw his impending departure as a transitional moment for the animation studio. But it’s bigger than that,” Peter Rubin writes for Wired. “Catmull’s shadow looms large not just over groundbreaking films like Toy Story and Coco, his influence can be traced all the way back to the dawn of digital visual effects. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Abyss. Terminator 2. Jurassic Park. All of these titles came out before Woody and Buzz Lightyear, yet all remain watershed moments for VFX—and all used the tool that Catmull and his colleagues helped create at George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic.”

“RenderMan, as it’s known, came out of ILM’s computer graphics team (the same one that would later spin off into its own company called Pixar),” Rubin writes. “It started as a powerful algorithm, but then became something greater—a graphical interface. ‘Up until that point,’ says Catmull, ‘the look, the lighting, essentially had to be done by programmers’ …RenderMan, though, allowed effects artists to realize their visions without needing to write code.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The first film to use RenderMan was Tin Toy (1988). We call it “Scary Baby.”

Our goal is to make Renderman and Iceman the system software of the 90’s. — Steve Jobs, 1991

Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull set to retire – October 24, 2018
Disney Animation head John Lasseter taking leave of absence from Pixar amid ‘missteps’ – November 22, 2017
The single greatest piece of advice Steve Jobs gave ‘Frozen’ executive producer John Lasseter – December 5, 2013
Pixar founder John Lasseter accepts Steve Jobs’ Disney Legends Award in emotional speech (with video) – August 11, 2013
John Lasseter receives star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, honors Steve Jobs – November 2, 2011
Pixar names main studio building after Steve Jobs – November 7, 2012
Report: Steve Jobs signed off on Pixar deal with backdated options for Lasseter – February 10, 2007
Disney completes Pixar acquisition; Steve Jobs now Disney’s single largest shareholder – May 5, 2006
It’s official: Disney acquires Pixar for $7.4 billion, Steve Jobs joins Disney Board of Directors – January 24, 2006


    1. Macs have never been the platform of choice for 3d animation….Some may have used them but not mainstream at all.

      SGI and Sun and (for a short period of time) Amiga/Commodore…. and Pc/Widows were the dominant ones.
      Today mainly PC/Windows ….

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