As you can see from the list below, there is a LOT of very useful information available regarding RenderMan. In addition to print-based material, there are a vast number of resources on the web. You are advised to peruse as much of the material as you can. But don't be overwhelmed. Start small, keep incrementally learning as you advance in your skill level and confidence.
The RenderMan User Group meeting which takes place during SIGGRAPH each year. Especially popular is the 'Stupid RenderMan Tricks' contest hosted by Larry Gritz.
The mother lode site for R'man-related info. Find it at www.renderman.org
SIGGRAPH course notes
Amazingly, all the past course notes [from '92, '95, '98, '99, '00, '01, '02 and '03 but not '91] are available on the web. Look for them at the RMR site, under 'Books'.
These notes are required reading for hard-core shader writer types and those wanting a detailed and advanced understanding of RenderMan.
Other courses, tutorials, links..
At the RMR site, under 'Offsite', look at the 'Misc' link for a bunch of sites with tutorials. Particularly useful are Steve May's Digital Lighting course and Katsuaki ["Kat"] Hiramitsu's site . Steve's 'RManNotes' is an excellent introduction to pattern generation using a layered shading approach. Simon Bunker's site is also very helpful, as is the set of pages by Malcolm Kesson. Deathfall contains wonderful tutorials on PRMan, Slim, BMRT, etc.
There is an excellent collection of documents called ' Application Notes ' which are short documents that focus on specific topics such as creating shadows, modeling for efficient rendering, anti-aliasing, etc.
Shaders are RenderMan's currency [$$$] as they help calculate lighting & shading information. You can find dozens and dozens of them at the RMR site [under 'Shaders'] for your education and entertainment. It is often possible to start with an existing shader and modify it to do what you want rather than to start from scratch, so it pays [$$$] to know what is out there.
Although you can use MTOR to translate *your* scenes into RIBs, you might the collection of RIBs at the RMR site useful. Look under 'RIBs' in the 'Examples' section.
For those interested in writing RenderMan programs using Java, Perl, Tcl or Python, 'bindings' are available for those languages. Also, a large number of modelers, converters and scripts/utilities are also available as freeware, shareware or commercial software. Look in the RMR site under 'Offsite' for an extensive list.
The 'Spec' is *the* last word on RenderMan, as it is the official, technical specification. Use it as a reference and to deepen your understanding of RenderMan. Also, if you want to write your own version of RenderMan [say, for the emerging handheld devices], this is the document that spells out what your software needs to do. Version 3.2, is the latest update of the available specification.
Pixar & RenderMan info., trivia, merchandise..
contains a wealth of R'man information, both technical and non-technical.
You can read about their feature films, shorts and commercials [all produced
using RenderMan as the predominant software], look at a list of the movies
where RenderMan was used, access all of the technical docs, get sample shaders
and source code, etc.