What Software Does Pixar Use?

Answer:- In its early days, Pixar utilized proprietary Presto software. This software was developed exclusively for internal use by Pixar Animation Studios and was not available for sale. but later on they have added many software in there animation pipeline discover them below.

As animation enthusiasts, we are always curious to know how big animation studios like Disney, Illumination, and Pixar create magic with there movies or which software did they use for their animation. Did they use only one software or a bunch of software or is this software also available for us or not? There are many questions, right? but today I have all the answers.

Today we will talk about Pixar animation studio. I know you have definitely watched Pixar movies in your childhood or in recent times. the most renowned movies of Pixar are the toy story series, finding dory, up, and many more.

But as time passed, Pixar developed much new software to ease the workflow of its animators further. So let’s know which software Pixar uses in today’s time. Now you might be wondering how this software helps animation studios like Pixar to make these movies.

The Role Of Software In Pixar’s Animation Process

Pixar started in 1979 as part of a Lucasfilm computer division that Disney bought in 2006. At that time, Pixar was known as a graphics conglomerate, but today it is a much larger animation studio commonly known as Pixar.

Pixar has produced about 26 films to date, and Toy Story (1995) was Pixar’s first computer-animated film. Its most recent films include Lightyear, Turning Red, and Luca. Incredibles 2 (2018), Toy Story 4 & 3, and Finding Dory & Nemo are among the highest-grossing films of all time. Additionally, Pixar Studios has also produced dozens of short films.

Within Pixar’s animation pipeline lies a range of sophisticated software tools that streamline the production process and unleash the creativity of their talented animators. Software plays a crucial role in every step of Pixar’s animation process, from conceptualization to final rendering. It enables animators to create intricate 3D models, simulate physics, design virtual environments, and render lifelike scenes. The software empowers artists by providing intuitive interfaces and powerful tools that streamline their workflow and enhance creativity.

So, here’s our main question: Which Software Does Pixar use? Let me provide a brief answer.

What Software Does Pixar Use?

Pixar Animation Studios, renowned for its exceptional animated films, has a rich history of innovation and technological advancements in the field of animation. Over the years, Pixar has developed and utilized various software like MenvUniversal Scene Description (USD)OpenSubdiv & Pixar RenderMan which are used for different purposes like modeling, texturing, rendering, and many more to enhance the workflow of their animators and create stunning visual experiences.

Check Out:- What is Drawn Animation?

The Core Software Of Pixar Animation Studios


Pixar has developed many software and all of them are listed below:

1. Menv ( Pronounced as “men-vee”)

This is Pixar Animation Studios’ first software, later renamed Presto. Presto is proprietary software developed by Pixar Animation Studios and is used to create short films.

Brave, released in 2012, was the first feature animated film to be made in Presto. Interestingly, Menvi was referred to in the press as Marionette for many years, although that name was only used inside the studio. But there is a possibility that Pixar artists still refer to Presto as Menvi. That’s because it’s the name he used for most of his career while working for Pixar.

As a result, little is known about the detailed workings of this software outside of Pixar. But Pixar claims that Presto is designed to be intuitive and familiar to animators who have experience with traditional cell animation. Presto is named after the 2008 animated short film Presto, about the titular wizard character himself.

Pixar chooses to use a proprietary system instead of using animation software that is available and used by other companies, for another very important reason, is that they can edit the software code to fit their needs.

To meet the needs of its animators, Pixar designed Presto’s interface to be similar to other software available in the market, such as Maya, 3ds Max and Blender. What’s more striking about Presto is that it allows artists to interactively work with full-resolution geometric models in a real-time visual context that can access millions of polygons in addition to sophisticated rig controls. and it has significantly increased the productivity of character animators at Pixar.”

2. Universal Scene Description (USD)

After Presto, our second software is Pixar USD, which has Full Form Universal Scene Description as you read about Presto above.

Presto was the perfect software for Pixar in its early stages. But over time, Pixar decided to bring this functionality into their workflow because Presto had some limitations, including its inability to handle collaborative work.

It is a type of open-source 3D scene description and file format developed by Pixar for content creation and interchange between different tools. Pixar’s first publicly available software to be widely adopted in large-scale architecture, design, construction, and other disciplines.

The software provides Pixar artists with a collaborative interface, which allows artists to work on the same scene or model. This includes animation, cinematography, lighting, environment etc.

3. OpenSubdiv

OpenSubdiv is a kind of API and a set of open source libraries. It is not an application nor a tool that can be used to create digital assets directly.

Pixar has designed it to be integrated into third-party digital content creation tools that implement high-performance subdivision surface (SubDiv) evaluation on massively parallel CPU and GPU architectures.

Its code path is optimized for drawing deformable surfaces with static topologies at interactive framerates. OpenSubdiv is covered by the Apache License and is free for commercial or non-commercial use. This is the same code that Pixar uses internally for animated film production.

4. Pixar RenderMan (formerly PhotoRealistic RenderMan)

RenderMan, created by Pixar Animation Studio, is the best software because it is a photorealistic 3D rendering software, which Pixar uses to render all of its in-house 3D animated movie productions.

RenderMan is available as a commercial product licensed to third parties and a free non-commercial version of it became available in 2015. Of course, we can’t talk about Pixar without talking about Pixar RenderMan (formerly Photorealistic RenderMan) because it allowed the big studios to use RenderMan on big-budget movies. For them, it turned out to be a great render engine.

Using the RenderMan interface specification, RenderMan defines cameras, geometry, materials, and lights. This specification facilitates communication between 3D modelling and animation applications and the render engine that generates the final high-quality images. In addition, RenderMan supports the Open Shading Language for defining texture patterns.

Even though Pixar Animation Studio has shown and explained some of Presto’s features and tools which show how powerful it is. But who knows maybe one day they will make it commercial software! And until then, we can just guess. We can’t say for sure whether it’s better than animation 3D packages like Maya and Blender, but it probably is from what we’ve seen over the years.

So these are all the software used by Pixar Animation Studios to make awesome Animation movies. But for the great animation does these software are enough or they need some third party software lets look

Does Pixar Use Any Third-Party Software?

Yes, Pixar Animation Studios also uses third-party software in addition to their proprietary tools. While the core software tools mentioned earlier are developed in-house, Pixar incorporates certain third-party software into their animation pipeline to enhance their workflow and take advantage of specialized functionalities. Some examples of third-party software used by Pixar include:

1. Autodesk Maya:- Pixar integrates Autodesk Maya into their pipeline, utilizing its versatile capabilities for a range of tasks. Maya is a widely used 3D computer animation software that offers a comprehensive set of tools for modeling, rigging, and animation.

Pixar artists leverage Maya’s robust features and flexible framework alongside their proprietary software to bring characters and environments to life with precision and creativity.

2. Nuke:- Nuke plays a crucial role in the post-production phase of Pixar’s animation process. It is a powerful node-based compositing software used for seamlessly integrating visual effects and refining rendered images.

Pixar artists utilize Nuke to combine various elements, enhance colors and lighting, and achieve a polished final look for their animated films.

3. SideFX Houdini:- Pixar relies on SideFX Houdini for tasks that involve complex simulations, procedural modeling, and effects generation.

Houdini is a popular 3D animation and visual effects software known for its advanced capabilities in creating realistic simulations of natural phenomena such as water, fire, and cloth. Pixar artists use Houdini to achieve intricate and dynamic visual effects that enhance the overall realism and immersive quality of their animated worlds.

3. Adobe Photoshop:- Adobe Photoshop plays a significant role in the pre-production and asset creation stages of Pixar’s animation process. It is a renowned image editing software utilized for various purposes, including texture creation and digital painting.

Pixar artists use Photoshop to refine and enhance visual elements, create detailed textures, and add artistic touches to characters, environments, and other elements of their animations.

4. ZBrush:- Pixar utilizes ZBrush, a digital sculpting software, in their production pipeline. ZBrush allows artists to create highly detailed and intricate 3D models by sculpting directly on the digital canvas.

It provides powerful tools and brushes that enable Pixar artists to sculpt characters, creatures, and other objects with precision and artistic control, enhancing the visual quality of their animated films.

By incorporating these third-party software tools into their workflow, Pixar animators benefit from the specialized features and functionalities they offer. These tools complement Pixar’s proprietary software, allowing artists to access a wide range of capabilities and techniques to bring their creative vision to life with precision and excellence. The integration of both in-house and external software empowers Pixar to push the boundaries of animated storytelling and deliver visually stunning and captivating films.

Wrapping Up

The incredible animation produced by Pixar Animation Studios is the result of a blend of creative storytelling and powerful software tools. From Presto and USD to OpenSubdiv and RenderMan, these software tools empower Pixar’s artists to bring their imagination to life.

Aspiring animators and animation enthusiasts can draw inspiration from Pixar’s dedication to innovation, encouraging them to explore the available software and create their own animated wonders.


What GPUs Does Pixar Use?

Pixar utilizes NVIDIA GPU technology to push the limits of what is possible in animation and the filmmaking process. Pixar often employs high-performance GPUs to ensure efficient and fast rendering of their complex 3D scenes.

Does Pixar Use Maya?

Yes, Pixar incorporates Autodesk Maya into their animation pipeline. Maya is a widely used 3D computer animation software and provides a range of tools for modeling, rigging, and animation. Pixar artists leverage Maya alongside their proprietary software to bring characters and environments to life with precision and creativity.

Does Pixar Use Mac or PC?

Pixar primarily uses a MAC for their captivating animated movies to mesmerize the audience with groundbreaking animation. The specific hardware choices depend on the requirements of the project and the preferences of the artists and technical teams.

Does Pixar Use Blender?

No until today Pixar has never used Open-source Blender software to streamline the animation process in any movie yet. but due to the popularity of this software in the past couple of years may be Pixar uses this software in their future projects.

Share on:

I'm Aman Kumar, a 3D artist from India. Nixologic is our project where we aim to educate people about 3D and game development.