List of 9 Major Animation and Visual Effects Studios

Top-Tier Studios for Animation and VFX Careers

Movie Production
3D Animation, Visual effects. Donald Tong
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If you're considering a career in 3D animation and visual effects, it's important to know where the jobs are, and who's who in the animation and visual effects industry.

Here is a list of the top-tier animation studios and visual effects production houses. It's not meant to be comprehensive—there are lots of smaller studios doing great work.

We've narrowed the selection down to nine of the major players to help you get your bearings.

Each has a short profile to give you an idea of who they are and what they do.

Animal Logic

Animal Logic has been making movie magic for many years. Founded in 1991, it began with work in advertising and then expanded into feature films on titles such as "Babe" and "The Matrix." The studio is comprised of three divisions, Animal Logic Animation, Animal Logic VFX and Animal Logic Entertainment, which together span creative work in visual effects, animation and film development.

Locations: Sydney, Australia ; Burbank, California, U.S.; Vancouver, Canada
Specialty: Visual effects, commercial advertising, feature animation
Notable Achievement: 

  • 2006 Academy Award: Best Animated Feature for "Happy Feet"
  • 2014 BAFTA Award: Best Animated Film for "The LEGO Movie"

Films: 

  • "Happy Feet"
  • "The LEGO Movie"
  • "300"

Blue Sky Studios (Fox)

Blue Sky Studios was founded in 1986 by six people who began with few resources but diverse talent and a drive to break ground in computer generated animation.

Their advances in the field set new bars in the CGI field, eventually drawing Hollywood's attention in 1996.

In 1998, Blue Sky produced its first animated short film, "Bunny," earning the studio the 1998 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Blue Sky became part of Twentieth Century Fox in 1999.

The studio has continued to grow and produce popular feature films.  

Location: Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.
Specialty: Feature animation
Notable achievements:

  • 1998 Academy Award: Best Animated Short Film for "Bunny"
  • Nomination 2002 Academy Award: Best Animated Feature for "Ice Age"
  • Nomination 2015 Golden Globe: Best Animated Feature for "The Peanuts Movie"

Films include:

  • "Ice Age" movies
  • "Rio" movies
  • "Epic"

DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks SKG was founded in 1994 by the three media giants Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, who brought together talent from across the film and music industries. In 2001, the studio released the enormous hit "Shrek," which earned the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

In 2004, DreamWorks Animation SKG was spun off into its own company headed by Katzenberg. The studio has created many well-known animated features, earning accolades in the industry.

Location: Glendale, California, U.S.
Specialty: Feature and television animation, online virtual games
Notable achievements

  • 2001 Academy Award: Best Animated Feature for "Shrek"
  • 2005 Academy Award: Best Animated Feature for "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit"
  • Numerous other Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations

    Film include: 

    • "Trolls"
    • "Shrek" movies
    • "How to Train Your Dragon" movies

    Industrial Light & Magic

    It's impossible to overstate the importance of Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM, to the visual effects and animation industry. ILM was founded in 1975 by George Lucas as part of his production company, Lucasfilm. You may have heard of a little movie they worked on called "Star Wars." Their groundbreaking work spans decades of film history, including movies like "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Jurassic Park." ILM has earned industry awards and accolades galore.

    In 2012, Lucasfilm and ILM were acquired by the Walt Disney Company.

    Location: Presidio of San Francisco, California, U.S.
    Specialty: Visual effects, feature animation
    Notable achievements: 

    • Earned more than a dozen visual effects (VFX) Academy Awards
    • Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations too numerous to count

    Films include:

    • "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
    • "Captain America: Civil War"
    • "Pirates of the Carribean" movies

    Pixar Animation Studios

    The computer animated feature film industry owes much to Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar sprang from a group of talented creators who would help open up the field of computer generated animation. Its short and feature films have been nominated for and earned many awards.

    Pixar's RenderMan software has become a film industry standard for computer graphics rendering. 

    Location: Emeryville, California, U.S.
    Specialty: Feature Animation
    Notable achievments:

    • 1988 Academy Award: Best Animated Short Film for "Tin Toy"—the first computer-animated film to win an Oscar
    • "Toy Story" is the world's first computer-animated feature film
    • Numerous awards for advances in technology in the film industry

    Films include:

    • "Toy Story" movies
    • "The Incredibles"
    • "Finding Nemo"

    Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Walt Disney is another animation studio with a long and important history in film, beginning with the first fully-animated feature film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937. The studio is responsible for some of the biggest animated films ever, including "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "Frozen" and "The Lion King."

    Location: Burbank, California, U.S.
    Specialty: Feature Animation 
    Notable achievements:

    • "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" regarded as the first animated feature film with Technicolor and sound
    • 2012 Academy Award: Best Animated Short Film for "Paperman"
    • 2013 Academy Award: Best Animated Feature for "Frozen"

    Film include:

    • "The Lion King"
    • "Zootopia"
    • "Frozen" 

    Weta Digital

    Weta Digital was founded in 1993 by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk. Based in New Zealand, the studio established itself as an innovator in animation with its trilogy of films "The Lord of the Rings," "The Two Towers" and "Return of the King" based on based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkein.  

    Location: Wellington, New Zealand
    Specialty: Visual Effects, Performance Capture
    Notable achievements:

    • Groundbreaking crowd simulation system
    • Multiple visual effects Academy Awards, including those for "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "Avatar."

    Films include:

    • "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy of films
    • "Avatar"
    • "King Kong"

    Sony Pictures Animation

    Sony Pictures Animation was founded in 2002. The studio works closely with its sister studio, Sony Pictures Imageworks. Its first feature film was the animated "Open Season" in 2006, and it has developed several successful franchises since then, including "The Smurfs" and "Hotel Transylvania."

    Location: Culver City, California, U.S.
    Specialty: Feature animation
    Notable achievements:

    • 2002 Academy Award: Best Animated Short Film for "The ChubbChubbs!"
    • Oscar nomination in 2007 for Best Animated Feature for "Surf's Up" 

    Films include:

    • "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs"
    • "Hotel Transylvania"
    • "The Smurfs"

    Sony Pictures Imageworks

    Part of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group. The studio has provided visual effects for a wide range of companies and films, including "Men in Black 3," "Suicide Squad" and "The Amazing Spider-Man." It has been nominated for many awards for its VFX work.

    Location: Vancouver, Canada
    Specialty: Visual effects
    Notable achievements:

    • 2002 Academy Award: Best Animated Short Film: "The ChubbChubbs!"
    • 2004 Academy Award: Best Visual Effects for "Spider-Man 2"
    •  

    Films include:

    • "Angry Birds Movie"
    • "Spider-Man 2"
    • "Alice in Wonderland"