The animations on this page demonstrate the support offered by RenderMan for level-of-detail (LOD). Three models of a saw palmetto were modeled in Maya. Using LOD, the renderer chooses the appropriate model to use based on the area of screen space occupied by the model. 3 models for 3 distances, and two LOD files for smooth and snappy transition.
First video on the left shows a turn table of tthe initial branch.
Second video is snappy transitions between the detail levels.
Third video is smooth transitions between the detail levels. It appears that the renderer unloads the high detail model before it leaves the frame.
Fourth video is the final model with procedural shaders. Camera animation is not well aimed due to the unnecessarily large proxy box I used.