Katana features.

©2012 Columbia Pictures

High-efficiency collaborative workflows

Katana's powerful node graph tools

Powerful node graph

Collaboration and reuse are at the heart of Katana®’s look development and lighting time-saving efficiencies. Using the node graph, artists work by defining a series of ordered steps, similar to a recipe. These recipes can be shared with other team members, or reused for other parts of the project.

Katana Live Groups image

Live Groups

Live Groups provide a robust and powerful mechanism that lets you group and publish parts of the node graph and save them to disk for sharing or reuse. Similar to a referencing system, you can manage versions of these groups, and publish changes to them wherever they are used.


Similar to Nuke’s Gizmos, macros let you easily package up a set of nodes into a shareable tool—without the need for scripting. You can select which controls to expose, reducing unnecessary complexity and presenting the user with a clear and simple interface.

Increased artist productivity

Multi-tag items in Katana's rule-based operations node graph

Rules-based operations

Katana lets you gather items into sets called Collections, either by manual selection, or by using Collection Expression Language (CEL) to create rules based on naming, metadata or other attributes. Using rules instead of explicit selections protects your work from upstream changes to scene contents, and helps build flexible and robust node-graph templates.

Lighting artists now can output faster results even during render time

Artist-focused interactive controls

Working Sets and Interactive Render Filters let artists fine tune rendering speed, quality and content—along with the information presented in the viewer—as they work, for a faster interactive experience. At final render time, Katana ignores these settings, ensuing that artist optimizations do not impact output results.

Deferred loading and processing

One of the biggest problems many artists face is a loss of productivity due to wait times. With Katana, project files load in a flash, so you can make changes right away; the processing of each part of the scene is deferred until you need to access it, so the UI remains responsive.

Hydra Powered vieport

Hydra Powered Viewport

Katana features a modern and powerful viewport driven by the PIXAR USD Hydra technology designed to work with modern graphics cards, handle massive scale, and allow PBR lighting and shading. This USD Hydra powered viewport can handle incredibly complex sets of data quickly and efficiently, allowing artists to work faster and more accurately, as well as interact easily with vastly more geometry.

Efficient lighting production

Katana 3D lighting and look software for artists in film

Focused lighting production toolset

Katana’s lighting production toolset is designed to save you time. You can manage light creation, light linking, constraints and light filters from a one-stop control panel; create large sets of lights and control their intensity, color and other parameters from a single item; and build up hierarchical, inheritance-based sequence lighting.

Scene data baking: eliminated

Katana talks directly to the renderer during the render process and feeds scene data on demand as it’s needed, eliminating the need to bake it to vendor-specific archive file formats. Since all scene data is accessible up to the last moment before rendering, artists also maintain complete control. 

Live Render

Use the Live Render mechanism to have the rendered image updated as the scene changes. With Interactive Render Filters you can override settings of interactive renders for better performance, without changing the settings for the final render.

Viewport monitor

The viewport monitor lets you inspect and compare your rendered images using a histogram. You can even identify what object makes up a pixel and select it in the scene graph by directly sampling the image. And you can use Katana’s built in 2D compositing engine to test and validate your work. 

Efficient lighting production

Integrated 3Delight Rendering

Allowing for fully interactive live rendering, Katana 3.0 ships with a rendering plugin from the makers of 3Delight. Live rendering responds to changes in your scene to lights, shaders, cameras, geometry, volumes,materials, global settings providing an artist focused Katana experience. Unique workflows like light mixing adjust lighting interactively on finished frames, while edits are fed back directly to lights or groups of lights in Katana’s GafferThree lighting tools. The fully OSL-based shading engine is compatible with both Katana and Maya, allowing for the direct transfer of look development files between the DCC apps.

Flexible look development

Separate asset lighting helps lighting and look dev artists save time

Look Files

Look Files store the texturing and shading for an asset separately from the geometry, allowing each to be independently versioned and updated—so that your look development team can work in parallel with your lighting team, for example.

Store lighting materials in Katana for fast and easy use later on

Template materials

Template materials can be easily saved as a material library for reuse as references; together with the ability to instance materials as children that inherit selected parameters from the parent material, they help to ensure a high-quality, consistent look across the production.

Material nodes

Material nodes store parameters for the surface, displacement or light shaders from each renderer plug-in. For more rich and complex looks, connect multiple shading nodes to combine textures, procedurals and shaders. You can even connect nodes to shaders from different renderer plug-ins at the same time.

Pipeline and color management

Katana - lighting software for film artist, OCIO color management

OCIO color management

Industry-standard OpenColorIO (OCIO) color management runs through all image-related operations in Katana, so you can work with the confidence that your color spaces are correct. Like Katana, OCIO was developed at Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Scripting languages are integrated into Katana's powerful software for faster, time-saving pipeline set up

A choice of scripting languages

Support for Python, Lua and C++—along with powerful libraries like ILM’s Imath—provide great flexibility for any level of pipeline developer. The Python script editor has a rich tab completion system to aid in coding and learning; paired with the searchable developer docs, this helps users to get up to speed.

Extensive APIs

Pipeline TDs will love the full set of APIs that cover many different aspects of the production process. There are APIs to connect to asset management tools; to make your own custom tools with logic, custom UI and dynamic properties; to add your own render engine; and to make complex connections between Katana and any render farm.