Later this year, MoonRay, a proprietary production renderer from DreamWorks Animation, will be made available as open source software. The Bad Guys, Croods: A New Age, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and the upcoming Puss in Boots: The Last Wish all made use of the studio’s cutting-edge Monte Carlo Ray Tracer.
World-class DreamWorks engineers created MoonRay, which has a large library of production-tested, physically based materials, a USD Hydra render delegate, multi-machine rendering, and cloud rendering using Arras.
“We are thrilled 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 rendering at scale grows each year, and MoonRay is set to meet that need. We expect to see the code base grow stronger with community involvement as DreamWorks continues to demonstrate our commitment to open source.”
With the mission to “…keep all the vector lanes of all the cores of all the machines busy all the time with meaningful work,” DreamWorks’ internal MCRT renderer, MoonRay, was built from the ground up with an emphasis on efficiency and scalability. It also offers cutting-edge features for unrestricted artistic expression. It can produce a wide variety of graphics, ranging from photorealistic to highly stylised. With no previous legacy code and a cutting-edge, highly scalable architecture, MoonRay enables rapid, feature-film grade artistic iteration utilising well-known tools.
Support for distributed rendering, a pixel matching XPU mode that boosts speed by processing bundles of rays on both the GPU and the CPU, ray processing with Intel Embree, shader vectorization using Intel ISPC compilation, and bundled path tracing are further high-performance capabilities. In order to be integrated with content creation applications that accept the standard, MoonRay comes with a USD Hydra render delegate.
To handle multiple machines and contexts, MoonRay makes use of the distributed computation framework Arras from DreamWorks, which will also be incorporated into the open source code base. Multi-machine rendering accelerates the artist’s interactive display and decouples rendering from the interactive tool, increasing the resilience of the interactive experience. The artist can simultaneously visualise various lighting conditions, different material qualities, many instances in a shot or sequence, or even multiple places in an environment, using MoonRay and Arras in a multi-context mode.
Bill Ballew, Chief Technology Officer at DreamWorks, stated, “MoonRay has been a game-changer for our productions. We have over a billion hours of use at DreamWorks. As the open source community continues to embrace and enhance it we’ll see significant benefits to the animation and visual effects industry as well as academia.”
DreamWorks wants to make MoonRay available under the Apache 2.0 license. Further information and updates will be available at OpenMoonRay.org.
DreamWorks Animation is a global family entertainment firm with feature film and TV brands supported by a strong, global consumer products strategy. DreamWorks Animation is a branch of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group inside NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation. With more than $15 billion in global box office, DWA’s feature picture legacy includes well-known characters and franchises like Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Spirit, Trolls, The Boss Baby, and The Bad Guys from 2022. Customers in more than 190 countries may watch award-winning original TV content from DreamWorks Animation.