Pixar Animation Studios


The computer division of Lucasfilms was reorganized in 1983 to become Pixar and a games division. It focused on software development, but also designed and developed hardware in house. The Pixar Image Computer, which was intended for the high-end visualization markets, such as medicine was eventually sold to Vicom for $2M. The commercial group worked in the advertising area, and it was discontinued in 1995. Pixar was purchased by Steve Jobs from Lucasfilm in 1986 when George Lucas decided to focus his corporate efforts. As part of the deal, Lucasfilm retained rights to access to the Pixar technology. Pixar became well known for a series of short film productions, including Luxo Jr. (1986), Red's Dream (1987), Tin Toy (1988), KnickKnack (1989) and Geri's Game (1997).

Software created by Pixar includes REYES (Renders Everything You Ever Saw,) CAPS (with Disney), Marionette, an animation software system that allows animators to model and animate characters and add lighting effects, and Ringmaster, which is production management software that schedules, coordinates, and tracks a computer animation project. The applications development group worked to convert the REYES technology to the RenderMan product, which was commercialized in 1989. It received Academy Technical Awards in 1992 for CAPS,1993 for RenderMan, 1995 for digital scanning technology, 1997 for Marionette and digital painting, and 1999 for laser film recording technology. Steve Jobs discontinued the applications development effort in 1991 because of a fear of competition with the NeXT product development efforts. As a result, nearly 30 people were laid off, including Alvy Ray Smith, who founded Altamira with support from Autodesk.

In 1995 Pixar went public with an offering of 6,900,000 shares of stock. After successes with Toy Story, the interactive group developed two CD-ROMs, but were refocused in 1997 in order to concentrate the corporate effort on making films. Pixar signed an agreement in 1991 to develop 3 motion pictures with Disney, and in 1997 the two organizations announced a 5 picture agreement, inclusing a sequel to Toy Story. Pixar won Oscars for Tin Toy in 1988 (Luxo Jr. was nominated in 1986) and Geri's Game in 1998, and has one several Academy Technical Achievement awards, Golden Globes, and Clios, and has a number of U.S. patents for their technology. Pixar produced the1998 animated feature A Bug's Life, which has already set box office records, and has just released Toy Story 2. Their next film is Monsters, Inc. to be released in 2002. The film recording technology mastered by hardware guru David DeFrancisco is being incorporated into a revolutionary new laser film recorder called PixarVision.


Road to Pt. Reyes

Particle system bush from the image Road to Pt. Reyes

Image sequence from the Genesis Effect in Star Trek - The Wrath of Khan

Image from the Genesis Effect in Star Trek - The Wrath of Khan

George Lucas Discovers Computer Graphics - an article by Alvy Ray Smith (PDF)

Frame from Andre and Wally B

Wave simulation

Motion blur effect

Image from Luxo Jr.

Image from Red's Dream

Image from Tin Toy

Image from Knick Knack

Characters from Toy Story

Image from Toy Story

Images from Geri's Game

Computer Graphics World article on Geri's Game

Image from A Bug's Life

Clips from A Bug's Life (Streaming Video)

Trailer for Toy Story 2

Pixar timeline

A description of the Emeryville HQ of Pixar


Name Came from Went to Comments
Ed Catmull Utah - NYIT    
Alvy Ray Smith NYIT    
Steve Jobs Apple    
Rob Cook      
Loren Carpenter Boeing Cinematrix  
Tony Apodaca      
Darwyn Peachey      
Tom Porter      
Pat Hanrahan NYIT Princeton; Stanford architect of RenderMan Interface
Eban Ostby      
Bill Reeves      
John Lasseter Disney    
Ralph Guggenheim      
Craig Good      
Flip Phillips Ohio State    
Jael Milo      
Diedre Warin      
Don Conway      
Susan Anderson      
Jeff Hilgert      
Jeffrey Maak      
Jim Lawson      
Sam Leffler      
Dave Haumann Ohio State    
Maneesh Agrawala      
Brad Andalman      
Larry Aupperle      
Ronen Barzel      
Bena Currin      
Tony DeRose U of Washington    
Robert Drebin      
Tom Duff      
Kurt Fleischer      
Reid Gershbein      
Deborah Fowler      
Steve May Ohio State    
Paul Heckbert      
Michael Kass      
Craig Kolb      
Jim Lawson      
Adam Levinthal      
Matt Pharr      
Michael Shantzis      
Eliot Smyrl      
Tien Truong      
Eric Veach      
Adam Woodbury      
Wayne Wooten      
Mark Fontana Ohio State    
Karen Prell