Pixar Animation Studios keeps computer-generating hits. The company has produced about a dozen full-length animated movies, including the first fully computer-animated feature Toy Story (1995), as well as the more recent Brave (2012), Cars 2 (2011), and Toy Story 3 (2010). Its proprietary software -- Marionette (modeling, animating, lighting), Ringmaster (production management), and RenderMan (image rendering) -- makes 3D-style animation. RenderMan was used to create some of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and space creatures in the Star Wars films. Pixar has accounted for a large chunk of the animation box office in recent years. Its films are released by Disney, which in 2006 bought Pixar for $7.4 billion.
Pixar is known for producing films that are loved by both critics and audiences alike, and the company has repeatedly won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Oscar-winning Pixar films include Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, UP, and Toy Story 3. The studio's production slate is currently banking on the popularity of its already established characters; Pixar is pumping out sequels and prequels, including Monsters University (scheduled to hit theaters in 2013), as well as Cars 2 (released in 2011) and Toy Story 3 (2010).
Its latest film, Brave, is a fairytale set in Scotland that was the number one film at the box office during its debut weekend in 2012. Brave joins each and every other full-length Pixar film -- twelve total -- that opened in first place. Before Brave, Pixar had primarily worked with the same suite of software since its earliest days. However, in order to create more well-defined curly hair for Brave's lead character, the studio created new software named Taz, after the Looney Tunes' Tasmanian devil character.
In order to accommodate its growth, the uber-successful Pixar expanded its facilities in the San Francisco Bay area through the construction of a new building. The $80 million project was completed in 2011, and houses operations for pre-production work.
The prior year Pixar opened an animation studio in Vancouver, its first location outside California. The Pixar Canada facility focuses on producing short films, direct-to-DVD movies, TV series, and cartoons for theme park attractions. The company chose Vancouver because of tax incentives and the city's large creative talent pool, as well as its proximity to California. – less