Pixar Pipeline Research

When the people at Pixar make a film they take it through four stages, these are: 

  • Development
  • Pre-production
  • Production
  • Post-production

Development is where they create the storyline of the film. Somebody will present an idea for a film and if it is good storyboards are created and concept art is drawn up. Along with this a script will be looked at and maybe changed and manipulated into a way that is more suitable for audiences.

Voice talent is also recorded; temporary voices are recorded often by the Pixar artists for storyboard reels to give the film a bit of “feel”. Later on in the production line professional actors come in and re-record the voices for the film, many times the artists rendition of a voice is good enough to be kept for the original.

Reels are then made; these are essential to the validating of the sequence and are the first instance that the timing is understood

The art department then creates the characters look and feel, captivating the emotions and characteristics of the character often doing this quite well. They go off the storyboards and their own initiative to create a character. They also design sets, props and visual looks for surfaces.

Models are then sculpted and/or created in 3d software and are then given something called “avars” which allow the character to move. These are like hinges.

After this the sets are then dressed allowing the director to encapsulate the look and feel for the film.

The shots are then laid out; the layout crew choreographs the characters in the set and uses a visual camera to capture the shot for the scene. They often produce multiple versions of shots to give the editorial department a choice for cutting the scene, often maximising storytelling effect. Once the scene has been cut it is released for animation.

The animators then take over choreographing movements and facial expressions in each scene using the characters “avars” at their disposal.

Lighting completes the look and feel of the film, creating different scenes and making the film feel and look realistic.


Here you can see a picture took of some storyboards for the film Finding Nemo. A storyboard consists of rows upon rows of sketches all annotated and pinned on a board. This gives the makers an idea of what is supposed to happen and when, they can re-arrange anything they want to and change the images as they wish. Storyboards can take up to six months to create.




This is a picture of a rather large piece of conceptual art from the latest movie Ratatouille. Concept art is used to create a visual representation of a design idea. Concept art is used in films, games and comic books.


These are two models of characters used in Pixar films “A Bugs Life” and “Finding Nemo”. Models are used to show what a character will look like and to convey their emotions.


This is a piece of conceptual art depicting a scene in the film. You can see how the picture shows facial features and the artists and animators will be able to see what is going on in the scene.


This image is the above concept art turned into the finished scene. You can see it has the lighting, materials and textures all added into the scene.




This is a computerized zoetrope with characters from Toy Story 2 on it. This would spin around and create a 3D animation of the characters. You could manipulate the characters and then see how a walk cycle or action would look like.


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