Dreamworks’ Moonray Rendering Software Goes Open Source

Dreamworks Animation has revealed plans to release its proprietary Moonray production renderer as open source software later this year.


  • Moonray is the rendering software used by Dreamworks on films whose How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Croods: A New Age, Villainsand the next Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.
  • Moonray was developed in-house by Dreamworks engineers and will ship with an extensive library of production-tested physical materials, USD Hydra rendering delegate, as well as multi-machine and cloud rendering via Arras.
  • According to Dreamworks, the software was designed with a focus on efficiency and scalability while providing modern features for full artistic expression. Moonray can deliver images across the spectrum, from hyper-stylized to photorealistic.
  • Moonray’s features include distributed rendering support, a pixel-matching XPU mode, ray processing via Intel Embree, shader vectorization using Intel ISPC compilation, and integrated path tracing. It also includes a USD Hydra render delegate for integration into content authoring tools that support the standard.
  • Moonray uses Dreamworks’ Arras distributed computing framework – included in the open source codebase – to provide multi-machine, multi-context support. Multi-machine rendering speeds interactive display for the artist and decouples rendering from the interactive tool, increasing interactive robustness. By using Moonray and Arras in a multi-context mode, artists can visualize multiple lighting conditions, varying material properties, multiple times in a shot or sequence, and even multiple locations within an environment simultaneously.
  • Andrew Pearce, vice president of global technology at Dreamworks, said in a statement: “We are excited to share with the industry more than 10 years of innovation and development based on vectorized, threaded, parallel and distributed from Moonray. The appetite for large-scale rendering is growing every year, and Moonray is ready 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.
  • Bill Ballew, Chief Technology Officer at Dreamworks, added, “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 adopt and improve it, we will see significant benefits for the animation and visual effects industry as well as academia.
  • DreamWorks will make Moonray available under the Apache 2.0 license. Further information and updates will be available at OpenMoonRay.org

Pictured above: “The bad guys”