DreamWorks Animation releases MoonRay as open source

GLENDALE — DreamWorks Animation just announced its intention to open source its proprietary production renderer, MoonRay, later this year. MoonRay is DreamWorks’ state-of-the-art MCRT renderer used for feature films such as How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Croods: A New Age, The Bad Boysas well as the upcoming one Puss in Boots: The Last Wishwhich hits theaters on December 21st. Developed by DreamWorks’ world-class engineers, MoonRay includes an extensive library of production-proven, physics-based materials, a USD Hydra render delegate, multi-machine and cloud rendering via Arras.

“We are excited to share with the industry over 10 years of innovation and development on MoonRay’s vectorized, threaded, parallel and distributed code base,” said Andrew Pearce, vice president of global technology at DreamWorks. “The appetite for large-scale rendering is growing every year, and MoonRay will fill that need. We expect the codebase to grow stronger with community involvement as DreamWorks continues to demonstrate our commitment to open source.”

MoonRay, DreamWorks’ in-house Monte Carlo ray tracer, was built from the ground up with a focus on efficiency and scalability, with the mantra of “…keep all the vector traces of all the cores of all the machines constantly busy with meaningful work” and offer modern functions for full artistic expression. It can deliver a wide range of images from photorealistic to highly stylized. MoonRay is built on a state-of-the-art, highly scalable architecture with no previous legacy code, enabling fast, feature-length artistic iteration using familiar tools. Other powerful features include distributed rendering support, a pixel matching XPU mode that offers improved performance by processing ray bundles on the GPU as well as the CPU, ray processing via Intel® Embree, shader vectorization using the Intel® ISPC Compilation and bundled path tracing. MoonRay includes a USD Hydra render delegate for integration with content creation tools that support the standard.

“We are proud of our close collaboration with DreamWorks on MoonRay with its stunning ray-traced photorealistic rendering performance powered by open source Intel Embree and Intel Implicit SPMD Program Compiler (Intel ISPC), both distributed in the Intel oneAPI Rendering Toolkit said Jim Jeffers, Senior Director, Senior Principal Engineer, Intel Advanced Ray Tracing. “MoonRay’s features, such as rendering hair and fur, were developed in collaboration with Intel. The resulting improvements are included in the Intel® Embree ray tracing kernel library and illustrate how using open software benefits the entire ecosystem. Through the acquisition of Intel ISPC, MoonRay leverages vector instruction parallelism for dramatic performance improvements. Intel looks forward to new ways of applying oneAPI’s cross-architecture and cross-vendor support to this open-source project for all developers.”

MoonRay leverages Arras, DreamWorks’ distributed computing framework, which is also planned for inclusion in the open-source codebase, to provide innovative multi-machine and multi-context support. Multi-machine rendering speeds up the interactive display for the artist, decouples the rendering from the interactive tool, increasing interactive robustness. With MoonRay and Arras in a multi-context mode, the artist can simultaneously visualize multiple lighting conditions, different material properties, multiple times in a shot or sequence, or even multiple locations in an environment.

According to Simon Crownshaw, Microsoft’s Director of Business Strategy for Media & Communications, “We see the use of MoonRay with Arras on Microsoft Azure as a game changer in the hands of artists, enabling faster iterations on lighting and also enabling multi-context rendering. As the complexity of visual effects and animation content increases, so does the computational requirements to create and render it. Microsoft Azure enables studios and artists to access MoonRay for the first time with Arras, providing the platform with a broad portfolio of compute capacity in the cloud and scaling globally if needed.”

“MoonRay has fundamentally transformed our productions,” said Bill Ballew, chief technology officer at DreamWorks. “We have over a billion hours of operation at DreamWorks. As the open source community continues to embrace and improve it, we will see significant benefits for the animation and visual effects industries, as well as academia.”

DreamWorks intends to make MoonRay available under the Apache 2.0 license. For more information and updates, see OpenMoonRay.org.

Source: DreamWorks Animation

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.

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