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Architosh Staff ([email protected])
29 August 2001


RenderMan for Mac OS X? A Petition Warranted?

Over the years Architosh has received a notable amount of email regarding Pixar's RenderMan software and its conspicuous absence from the Macintosh platform. Why conspicuous, you ask?

Because, Pixar is Steve Jobs' other company and that makes Mac users quite aware of what this other company is, does, and how it does it. The fact is, while Macs play a pivotal part in the production of Pixar's famous movies, they do not run Pixar's highly acclaimed RenderMan software—despite the fact that at one time RenderMan did run on the Mac.

RenderMan for Mac OS X?

Many have asked, speculated and expressed frustration about RenderMan and the Macintosh. We continue to hear from time to time request for info on RenderMan on the Mac OS X platform. And with Apple making a big hoopla about Maya on the Mac and OS X as a platform for advanced 3D visualization, one has to seriously wonder. The question still remains, will Pixar ever port RenderMan back to the Macintosh? We've asked this question before, last winter, and did not like the answer. It was very direct and very much a no.

However a recent, new email from a reader suggest that Pixar may now have an open mind to RenderMan on Mac OS X and may indeed be watching the new platform's penetration in the high-end 3D market:

Greetings. I was wondering... Since Apple Computer has released their new UNIX-based OS X, can we expect a RenderMan/PR-RenderMan anytime soon? A simple "yes" or "no" in your reply will suffice. - Ed M.

And here is Pixar's simple and "not so simple" answer:


Now, for a not so "simple" answer. We are obviously aware of OS X, and are investigating whether or not it makes sense to bring out a Macintosh product at this time. Our final decision will be based upon many factors, including customer demand, performance figures, ease of porting, available resources etc. At this point in time, we have not made any formal decision regarding a Macintosh product. - RenderMan Support, Pixar

RenderMan Platforms

RenderMan currently runs on a number of Unix's, but not the dominant Unix that will be Apple's OS X. Apple has made note of the fact that they are now the biggest supplier of a Unix operating system with OS X.

It stands to reason that the key basis for supporting a particular platform is all economics, especially for a company that has no emotional legacy with any particular platform. This must be the principal reason for Pixar's lack of interest in OS X, and despite that company's relationship to Apple, via Steve Jobs, emotional ties are a weak factor at best.

Regardless, most of us know that Steve Jobs would love for Pixar to produce its movies using Apple gear. That much is obvious. Think of the marketing opportunities, as you can do with the collaborated efforts between Apple and Alias/Wavefront.

If Pixar's decision is principally tied to economics, and if Apple is indeed the largest supplier of a Unix operating system, then eventually the economic issue could warrant attention: there will [eventually] be enough potential buyers. After all, isn't this the same market as Alias/Wavefront's Maya? Surely if Alias believes the Mac OS X market warrants a port then does this same crowd not interest the Pixar folks?

We believe it does. And Pixar's RenderMan and Maya are working more together all the time. So surely it must be just a matter of time then, no?

RenderMan is a Killer App

RenderMan is a killer app. Besides Pixar many 3D studios use it for all kinds of 3D purposes. If you want to see and connect up with some RenderMan users we know of a new site which features some of the power of RenderMan and many user gallery/examples images. And the next version of RenderMan, ironically or not, is going to be called PR RenderMan 10.

Helping to Determine Interest in RenderMan for OS X

We have run petitions for some time, helping to stir up interest in various software and to gauge demand. If you would like Architosh to put together a petition for RenderMan please send us an email. Hopefully we can help Pixar determine their course of action. Thanks.

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