List of 9 Major Animation and Visual Effects Studios

Top-tier studios for animation and VFX Careers

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's a list of the top-tier animation studios and visual effects production houses. Each has a short profile to give you an idea of who they are and what they do.

This list is not comprehensive—there are lots of smaller studios not listed here doing great work. We've narrowed the selection down to nine of the major players to help you get your bearings.

Movie Production
3D Animation, Visual effects. Donald Tong

Animal Logic

Animal Logic has made movie magic for many years. Founded in 1991, it began with work in advertising and then expanded into feature films on titles such as "The Matrix." The studio is comprised of three divisions: Animal Logic Animation, Animal Logic VFX, and Animal Logic Entertainment. Together, they 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 Achievements

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

Notable 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 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 continues 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"

Notable Films:

  • The "Ice Age" franchise
  • The "Rio" franchise
  • "Epic"

DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks SKG was founded in 1994 by 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 became its own company headed by Katzenberg. The studio has created many well-known animated features since then and has received many 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

Notable Films

  • The "Trolls" franchise
  • The "Shrek" franchise
  • The "How to Train Your Dragon" franchise

Industrial Light & Magic

It's impossible to overstate the importance of Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM. It was founded by George Lucas in 1975 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 and includes 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

Notable Films:

  • "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
  • "Captain America: Civil War"
  • The "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise

Pixar Animation Studios

The computer-animated feature film industry owes much to Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar sprang from a group of talented creators who helped open the field of computer-generated animation. Its short and feature films have been nominated for and earned many awards. These days, Pixar's RenderMan software is a film industry standard for computer graphics rendering.

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

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

Notable Films:

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

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Walt Disney is another animation studio with a long and important history in film, beginning with the first fully-animated movie "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"

Notable Films:

  • "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," all based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. 

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."

Notable Films:

  • "The Lord of the Rings" franchise
  • "Avatar"
  • "King Kong"

Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Animation was founded in 2002. It works closely with its sister studio, Sony Pictures Imageworks. Its first feature film was the animated "Open Season" in 2006, and it's 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" 

Notable Films:

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

Sony Pictures Imageworks

Part of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, Imageworks provides visual effects for a wide range of companies and films, including "Men in Black 3," "Suicide Squad," and "The Amazing Spider-Man." It's received nominations 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"

Notable Films:

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