General, Software

What animation software does Pixar use?

Pixar is a world-renowned animation studio that has produced some of the most iconic and beloved animated films of all time. While the studio is best known for its work in feature-length animated films, it also produces a variety of other content, including shorts, television specials, and advertisements.

So, what animation software does Pixar use to create all this incredible content?

Animation software used by Pixar

One of the animation software tools used by the animation powerhouse Pixar is Presto. Created by Pixar for their own needs, the animation studio has relied on this powerful in-house rigging and animation software for years. It was built upon previous animation programs used in the past called Marionette or MenV.


While Marionette or MenV, a software originally developed by Pixar, may not be in use today, it played an integral part in the history of Presto.

MenV (which stands for Modeling Environment) was used in the mid 80’s until 2012. MenV enabled the team at Pixar to bring their characters and stories to life, with the launch of their first feature film—Toy Story—in 1995.

The new system Presto debuted with the 2012 film release of the movie Brave.

Since then, Presto has been utilized to create countless other successful projects for Pixar; from Incredibles 2 to Inside Out and many others. To this day, Presto remains Pixar’s go-to animation software choice as they continue creating experiences that captivate audiences worldwide.

Not much is known publicly about Presto as it’s Pixar’s proprietary software. But we know it was created with the intent of allowing animators who have a background in traditional cel animation to easily navigate and understand its features.

Pixar continue to bring us some of the most incredible movies year after year, and without powerful tools like Presto, they wouldn’t be nearly as successful in doing so.

Presto demonstration
Screenshot of Presto

How much does Presto cost?

Presto, is not available for public use. Unfortunately, not much information is available regarding how much it costs. While it may not be within reach for consumers, those who do use it in Pixar appreciate its ability to produce top quality animation both quickly and accurately.

Does Disney use Presto?

When people think of Disney animation, they often associate the studio with images of classic characters like Mickey Mouse, but there’s a lot more to their production than what we see on screens. Behind the scenes, Disney has made use of animation software from a variety of sources to bring these beloved stories to life.

While the company primarily uses Pixar’s RenderMan software for its 3D rendering, you may be surprised to hear that Disney does not employ the Presto animation platform for its projects (at least it seems to be the case).

Presto is notably absent in any official capacity in Disney’s workflow.

Modelling software used by Pixar

Maya is the modelling software of choice for the world-renowned animation powerhouse, Pixar. From its humble beginnings in the late 1990s to its prime production use today, Maya has been the go-to software for producing some of the most beloved animated adventures ever created.

With robust tools for animation and exploration of designs, Maya offers users a level of creativity and efficiency that can’t be matched by any other 3D animation or modelling program.

Its intuitive interface allows animators to transform their wildest imaginations into motion glitch-free – making Maya the perfect companion for crafting globally acclaimed films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo.


Maya has become one of the most widely used animation software suites in the industry. Maya’s specialities include 3D animation, modeling, texturing, and visual effects. Many prestigious studios have adopted Maya into their workflow. Maya’s features allow for efficiencies when producing complex sculptures and animations which explains why Pixar opted for Maya for 3D modeling.

3Ds Max

3Ds Max is an animation software that has also been used by Pixar and other big-name studios for a long time. Quality renders can be achieved quickly and efficiently, making dramatic scenes feasible on tight deadlines.

The Incredibles 2, Dash
The Incredibles 2, Source: Pixar

Effects software used by Pixar

At Pixar, Houdini is the software of choice when it comes to sophisticated effects work. This powerful VFX and 3D animation tool allows them to create stunning visual effects that come alive on the big screen.

Houdini can create different types of simulations such as fire, water, snow, and particle systems. Houdini gives Pixar the unique ability to render effects quickly yet still achieve photorealism.

With Houdini as an indispensable part of their production workflow, Pixar continues to stay on the cutting-edge and provide audiences with visuals that are far from ordinary.

Rendering software used by Pixar

RenderMan (formerly called PhotoRealistic RenderMan) is a render engine developed by Pixar themselves in 1989 and it has been used in all of their films since then. From Toy Story to The Incredibles, RenderMan renderings can be seen in all the company’s films and it continues to be one of the most reliable and efficient render engines available on the market.

Its powerful toolset offers a variety of features that allow for both technical and artistic renderings, which makes it well suited for today’s studios. RenderMan’s robust technology continues to power up Pixar’s films and its presence will still be felt for years to come.


RenderMan’s tagline is the “World’s Most Versatile Renderer”.

With a new state-of-the-art framework optimized for physically-based rendering, RenderMan can deliver unmatched flexibility for any production pipeline.

Rendering with the physically based shading model allows for an effortless production of astonishingly realistic lighting conditions, including full compatibility with multi-bounce raytrace global illumination and ray traced subsurface scattering.

When other studios need to create high-quality 3D renders, they also use RenderMan. Through the years, major studios like Industrial Light & Magic and Dreamworks have joined Pixar in relying on RenderMan for all of their 3D rendering needs.

With its adaptable license, RenderMan allows users to render either through a batch or with an artist seat. To top it off, there is even a free version that can be used for non-commercial purposes.

In conclusion, there are many 3D programs that used by Pixar. From Presto, Maya and 3Ds Max to Houdini and RenderMan, all provide a great variety of effects, enabling Pixar’s animations to be nothing short of magic. Pixar has made a mark on history and continues driving forward through the power of storytellers and animators alike.

Man working at Pixar studios
Source: Pixar


Does Pixar use Blender?

Unfortunately, no – they do not use Blender 3D. Rather, Pixar has developed its own proprietary animation software Presto and Renderman which is well-suited for their tried and tested production pipelines. So while using open source software like Blender is great for smaller studios and solo animators, the big studios will not easily change their existing pipelines to introduce new software.

It is worth noting that Pixar’s own rendering software, RenderMan, can be integrated into Blender. This indicates that someone at Pixar recognizes the value of Blender and finds it worthy of use.

What computers do Pixar use?

Pixar relies on some of the most powerful workstations available. They typically use a custom-built Linux system, with extremely fast graphical processors and massive amounts of RAM to work in their complex animation software.

With Steve Jobs as its founder, Pixar Animation Studios has an undeniable connection with Apple Inc. and Mac computers; however, the studio utilizes a range of technology depending on the task at hand. So Mac, Windows and Linux workstations are all in use.

They also use cloud computing resources for even faster workflow.

Is it hard to become an animator at Pixar?

Becoming an animator at Pixar animation studio isn’t easy. It’s probably the most difficult place for an animator to get a job. It requires a great deal of knowledge and skill regarding animation, but also a passion for storytelling, accurate framing and timing, and advanced artistry talent.

To make it in this highly competitive industry, you need to be able to portray characters that audiences can relate to while mastering composition and visual storytelling techniques along the way.

Even if you possess all of these incredible skills, there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed – an applicant has to stand out amongst a large pool of experienced applicants with similar backgrounds. So, if you want to work at Pixar as an animator get ready for long hours of refining your craft, ready determination and focus.