Hi Elliott, This is a great breakdown and very generous in sharing your process and insights, you came a long way from the vending machine days!
Are you planning on releasing the UE4 project to the public? Or only builds? I'd love to play around with it in the editor if possible!
Pixar just released a free version of RenderMan software. It is compatible with Windows, Linux and OS X operating systems, works with Maya and Katana plugins. In the future developers will add support for Cinema4D and Houdini. Plugins for 3DS Max, Modo, Rhino, Blender and Lightwave may also be in the works.
The studio launched a community platform for RenderMan users. They can show off their projects and discuss how to work with the program.
RenderMan is a program developed by Pixar. It is used since 1994 and was utilized in such films as The Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
This month Epic Games made the Unreal Engine 4 free as well. Anyone can work with the program for visualization of games and other products. Developers have to pay for the technology: if the created product makes a sustainable amount of money they will have to share revenue with the engine holder. Then the author will quarterly pay 5% of gross revenue. A semi-payable model is also used to distribute Unity 5 engine.