Beginning this fall, students at University of Wisconsin-Stout will be using industry-standard software from one of the world leaders in animation.
Pixar Animation Studios of Emeryville, Calif., has given 50 seat licenses for its latest version of RenderMan to the university's game design and development program and entertainment design program. The donation is valued at about $25,000.
Both programs are in UW-Stout's School of Art and Design.
RenderMan has been used by 90 percent of Academy Award winners for visual effects in the past 20 years. The software helps "produce the highest quality special effects possible," according to Pixar.
"Having RenderMan at UW-Stout will allow any student who is working in 3D animation to begin to achieve a level of realistic render quality akin to that found in the industry," said Dave Beck, chair of the department of design in the School of Art and Design.
"To train and learn on the same software that is used in the industry is essential for our students," Beck added.
RenderMan will be installed in two computer animation labs at UW-Stout.
A 3D animation requires artists to take pictures of — or render — the models, lights and animations that have been created on the computer. Most rendering calculations are based on mathematical algorithms that focus on the interaction between the virtual camera, objects, space and light, Beck said.
Beck provided Pixar with evidence of success in UW-Stout's programs and worked with Research Services at UW-Stout to finalize the in-kind donation.
Twice in the last year the game design and development program has been ranked in the top 50 in the country out of more than 225 such programs, and in 2013 a team of students won a national video-game competition.
Jackie Weissenburger, provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said UW-Stout is grateful for the donation by Pixar.
"Educational programs and related research and scholarly activities at UW-Stout require a major commitment from friends, alumni, corporations and foundations in order to maintain their quality and leadership. Without generous gifts to the university, our academic program would not be able to maintain its record of excellence. This gift is a fine example of that support," Weissenburger said.
Pixar Animation Studios, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, has won more than 30 Academy Awards. It has produced "Toy Story," "Cars" and "Monsters, Inc." along with many other successful animated films.
Top: RenderMan logo
Middle: This animation scene was created as part of a class project by four UW-Stout students, Brandy Boothby, Kyle Deneys, Matt Ferrara and Adam Jellings.
Bottom: Jackie Weissenburger