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3D animation Pipeline

Twas looking at how to plan an attack on my work (which I should start any day now >.>) and decided to go for a jog round the sites of famous animation companies and stumbled on Pixar’s website and found a Kyle friendly (simple) break down of their development process.

The Pixar way

From browsing around other site such as Dreamworks (makers of shrek) and Warner Bros I pretty much noticed that this line of development followed the same lines.

Development Process


Sales pitch

Convincing the big jobs to work on the story.


Story plot solid summary

What the films about, what happens in it and extra variations that may or may not appear in the final product.



Basic sketches of the scenes.

(Time usually taken = 6 months)


Voice recording

At first the artists themselves do the voice acting to put a connection from the story board to the script to give an idea of the film, later on celebrities are paid to be the character voices.


Storyboard reel

Pictures in a timescale with voice recordings playing in conjunction, basically a really basic film.


Concept art

Artists try to create the look and feel of the scenery and the characters from the scripts, voice talent and the basic drawings, the artists get first crack at how lighting sets the mood too


The characters, props and landscape have started to be created in 3d, hinges have been added to them to give them movement. Everything is still in frame form, no textures have been added yet (think skeletons).



The models and props are skinned according to the mood and feel the team wants for the film to portray.

Shot layout
The Basically skinned objects and characters are set into positions to work out camera angles and movement, nothing is truly animated or skinned yet, the recordings of these final cuts are passed onto the animation team.

(Time Usually taken = 4 weeks)


The models are animated, everything such as the skeleton is already there so they are basically choreographers (think puppeteers). They move the mouth and ligaments according to the sounds and the scripts.

(Time usually taken 4 weeks)


shading changes surfaces according to the lighting on it, it affects the model’s colour depending on the lighting situation e.g. light bouncing off a shiny metal surface is successfully done thanks to a shader. Shaders are added to the landscapes, models and props.



Lighting is added to the scenes, Lighting is what actually makes everything look great. Lighting is based on the mood scripts.

(Time usually taken = 8 weeks)


The final product is rendered, this can take a hell of a lot of time to render one frame depending on the quality of the graphics put into.



Things such as music scores, special effects and sound effects are added, the film is also recorded to an appropriate format.





monsters inc



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