3Delight, also known as 3DelightNSI, is 3D computer graphics software that runs on Microsoft Windows, MacOS and Linux. It is developed by Illumination Research. It is both a photorealistic and NPR path tracing offline renderer based on its NSI API and on OSL. It has been used to render full CGI animation and VFX for numerous feature films, including Chappie. It comes with supported, yet fully open source, plug-in integrations for several DCC applications, such as Maya, Houdini, Cinema4D, Katana, and a democratic free license that allows for commercial use. It also provides a novel fully distributed cloud rendering service simply called "3Delight Cloud".

Developer(s)Illumination Research
Stable release
2.8.0 / March 26, 2022 (2022-03-26)
Operating systemWindows, MacOS, Linux
Type3D computer graphics


Work on 3Delight started in 1999. The renderer became first publicly available in 2000.[1] 3Delight was the first RenderMan-compliant renderer combining the REYES algorithm with on-demand ray tracing. The only other RenderMan-compliant renderer capable of ray tracing at the time was BMRT. BMRT was not a REYES renderer though.

3Delight was meant to be a commercial product from the beginning. However, the 3Delight team decided to make it available free of charge from August 2000 to March 2005 in order to build a user base.

During this time, customers using a large number of licenses on their sites or requiring extensive support were asked to kindly work out an agreement that specified some form of fiscal compensation for this.

In March 2005, the license was changed. The first license was still free. From the second license onwards, the renderer used to be 1,000 USD per two thread node resp. US$1,500 per four thread node. The first company that licenses 3Delight commercially, in early 2005, was Rising Sun Pictures.

The licensing scheme was originally based on number of threads or cores. Since 2018, all purchased licenses are unlimited multi-core. The first license is free; initially limited to four cores and later increased to eight and now 12.

As of 2018, Illumination Research introduced a new interface, the Nodal Scene Interface (NSI), to replace the old RenderMan one, and updated the name of the renderer to 3DelightNSI.


Until version 10 (2013), 3Delight primarily used the REYES algorithm but was also well capable of doing ray tracing and global illumination. As of version 11 (2014) 3Delight primarily uses Path Tracing, with the option to use the REYES + RayTracing when needed. The renderer is fully multi-threaded, supports RenderMan Shading Language (RSL) 1.0/2.0 with optimising compiler and last stage JIT compilation. 3Delight also supports distributed rendering. This allows for accelerated rendering on multi-CPU hosts or environments where a large number of computers are joined into a grid / cloud.

It implements all required capabilities for a RenderMan-compliant renderer and also the following optional ones:[2]

3Delight also supports the following capabilities, which are not part of any capabilities list:

Other features include:

  • Extended display subset functionality to allow rendering of geometric primitives, writing to the same display variable, to different images.
    For example, display subsets could be used to render the skin and fur of a creature to two separate images at once without the fur matting the skin passes.
  • Memory efficient point clouds. Like brick maps, point clouds are organized in a spatial data structure and are loaded lazily, keeping the memory requirements as low as possible.
  • Procedural geometry is instanced lazily even during ray tracing, keeping the memory requirements as low as possible.
  • Displacement shaders can be stacked.
  • Displacement shaders can (additionally) be run on the vertices of a geometric primitive, before that primitive is even shaded.
  • The gather() shadeop can be used on point clouds and to generate sample distributions from (high dynamic range) images, e.g. for easily combining photon mapping with image-based lighting.
  • First order ray differentials on any ray fired from within a shader.
  • A read/write disk cache that allows the renderer to take strain off the network, when heavy scene data needs to be repeatedly distributed to clients on a render farm or image data sent back from such clients to a central storage server.
  • A C API that allows running RenderMan Shading Language (RSL) code on arbitrary data, e.g. inside a modelling application.

Supported platformsEdit

  • Apple Mac OS X on the PowerPC and x86 architectures (The last version to support PPC architecture was version 9. All versions from 10 up are Intel x86 only and will not run on PowerPC Macs.)
  • Linux on the x86, x86-64 and Cell architectures
  • Microsoft Windows on the x86 and x86-64 architectures

Operating environmentsEdit

The renderer comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The latter allowing the processing of very large scene datasets.

Discontinued platformsEdit

Platforms supported in the past included:

Film creditsEdit

3Delight has been used for visual effects work on many films. Some notable examples are:

It was also used to render the following full CG features:


  1. ^ "Announce: 3Delight Renderer". Newsgroupcomp.graphics.rendering.renderman. 2000-08-09. Usenet: 8ms5f2$10a$1@nnrp1.deja.com. Retrieved 2015-01-06.
  2. ^ 3Delight Technical Specifications Archived 2008-08-27 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit