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Top 10 biggest animation studios in the world

Born and evolved for over a century, the audience has always loved the art of animation because of its unlimited creativity. Regardless of any form it takes: from traditional animation to modern CGI technology. A huge contribution to the history of animation is from the works of these biggest animation studios.

Here are the world's top animation studios, creating colorful fantasy worlds that captivate generations of viewers.

What is an animation studio?

A company that creates animated media is known as an animation studio. It has the necessary equipment and qualified personnel to produce animation for different purposes.

animation studio - What is an animation studio?
Animation Studio (Source: Variety)

Some studios make and distribute their intellectual properties, such as animated films, and own the rights to their characters and technologies. Other studios create animated content for clients on a contract basis and do not own the digital merchandise copyrights.

Their other areas of competence include:

  • Production of a feature film

  • Animated ads

  • Title sequences, TV shows, and short films

  • A wide range of multimedia development.

Types of animation studios

Although there are now many animation studios worldwide, there are two types: large corporate firms and small contractor firms.

H3: Large Corporate Animation Studios

Major corporate studios are animation studios that started small and evolved into large corporations or entertainment media businesses that either took up an existing studio or formed their animation department. For example, The Disney Corporation owns many subsidiary studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studio, Industrial Light & Magic, 20th Century Animation, and Lucasfilm Animation. It also acquired Pixar Animation Studios in 2006.

Specifically, large animation corporations have comprehensive structures with specialized units and departments and a generous budget for updated equipment or the latest animation technologies.

They also are professional in technical and production skills and are often suitable for films with a large budget and require high or special techniques.

Small contractor studios

This type of studio is often operated as private-owned companies, generally with a small team within a few hundred people. Thanks to their small scale, it is easy to follow and participate in the projects and get the best animated final products.

animation studio - Small contractor studios
Small contractor studios are typically more intimate (Source: Marninixon)

Typically, most people who work at both animation studios are exceptionally skilled, supportive of each other, and fun-loving. In Vietnam, where there is a lack of large-scale studios, DeeDee Animation Studio is acclaimed for its collection of high-quality animation projects.

Top 10 best-known animation studios in the world

Below are the world's biggest animation studios, creating vibrant fantasy worlds that attract generations of viewers. Obviously, if you regularly watch animated films, you must have known them already!

Pixar

animation studio - Pixar
Pixar Animation Studio (Source: Tip Top Writer’s Blog)

Pixar is well-known for its computer-generated 3D animations (CGI), created using photorealistic Renderman, its own graphics rendering software geared to produce high-quality visuals.

The studio is also a prime example of how brilliance promotes innovation. For decades, the animation studio has created animated characters that we have all come to love. Pixar has succeeded in developing stories that appeal to people of all ages, not only children.

It’s not just the films that make it to theaters that stand out; even short films attract us with the number of details they include. Especially, Pixar has captivated audiences time and again, from the Toy Story trilogy to WALL-E, and we do not doubt that they will continue to do so for years to come.

The studio has received 23 Academy Awards, 10 Golden Globe Awards, and 11 Grammy Awards, in addition to numerous other awards and recognitions.

Walt Disney Animation Studios

animation studio - Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Animation Studios (Source: Disney+)

Disney is a name that evokes an emotional response in anyone in the world just by mentioning their name. The brand is everywhere, and the legendary animated films that the studio brought to life in the early years provided the groundwork for the whole industry. Walt Disney and his brother Roy Disney established Walt Disney Animation Studios in 1923. Initially, the two siblings were creating short animated films.

Besides, Walt Disney is the most successful animation studio of the Disney Company with a name associated with so many masterpieces over the years: “Frozen”, “Mulan”, “Fantastic,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “101 Dalmatians”, “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King” or “Aladdin and the Lamp,” etc.

In addition, Walt Disney Animation Studios developed essential techniques such as the 12 principles of animation or inventing the multiplane camera that has later become the standard of traditional animation production.

Studio Ghibli

animation studio - Studio Ghibli
Studio Ghibli (Source: Internet)

Studio Ghibli, one of the best animation studios in Japan, is well-known for the excellent quality of its films. Hayao Miyazaki and the company's talented animators have made Studio Ghibli possibly the most beloved anime studio in the world. That's because the amount of details and deep emotions that into every one of Ghibli's films is incredible.

Ghibli animation studio’s films won critical and widespread praises and influenced other animation studios. If that isn't enough, Studio Ghibli is responsible for six out of the top fifteen highest-grossing anime films of all time, with Spirited Away standing as number one. Its debut film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, was a huge success, and it helped Studio Ghibli grow into the legend it is today.

Other famous movies such as Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, and My Neighbor Totoro have found success both in Japan and internationally.

DreamWorks Animation

animation studio - DreamWorks Animation
Dreamworks Animation (Source: DreamWorks)

Dreamworks Animation has always been in the shadow of Pixar and Disney. Still, no matter how you look at it, the company is one of the best at making high-quality animated content. The animation house has yet to fail in presenting well-made and intriguing stories, from theaters to televisions.

As of July 2021, the company had released 41 feature films, including several of the highest-grossing animated films of all time. It has been rewarded with various significant honors, including 22 Emmy Awards, 3 Academy Awards, dozens of Annie Awards, and numerous other British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Golden Globe nominations.

Over the years, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda have been two of their most successful movie franchises, with Shrek 2 (2004) being the highest-grossing at its release.

Nickelodeon Animation Studios

animation studio - Nickelodeon Animation Studios
Nickelodeon Animation Studios (Source: NickAlive)

Nickelodeon is the number-one children's entertainment brand, with an excellent range of family-friendly shows, feature films, and other entertainment mediums.

This famous animation studio is responsible for some of the best television cartoons ever produced. Spongebob Squarepants, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Jimmy Neutron are all living testaments to the studio's growth in the world of animation from the 1980s and 1990s.

While there are better rivals for the top spot in cinema, Nickelodeon is unquestionably one of the giants when it comes to television. Spongebob has dominated over the years and is one of the most recognizable cartoons ever produced. Their series, such as Rugrats, has also been widely recognized and has developed quite a huge fan base significantly over the years.

Cartoon Network Studio

animation studio - Cartoon Network Studio
(Source: Cartoon Network Studios)

Cartoon Network Studios primarily produces and develops animated shows and shorts for Cartoon Network - the most viewed satellite television channel in the world.

Since the 2010s, Cartoon Network Studios’ programs began to be played on Adult Swim and now Warner Bros's streaming platform HBO Max. So far, the company has only produced one theatrically released film, The Powerpuff Girls Movie, and many timeless TV series including Adventure Time, Ben 10, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Samurai Jack, Dexter's Lab, Johnny Bravo, etc

Warner Bros. Animation

animation studio - Warner Bros. Animation
Warner Bros. Animation (Source: Wide Screen World)

Warner Bros. Animation is best known for creating Looney Tunes, Batman: The Animated Series, and Space Jam.

In 1980, Warner re-established its animation branch to generate related works. In 1996, TBS combined with Time Warner (now WarnerMedia) to form Looney Tunes.

In recent years, Warner Bros. Animation has focused been branching out to the cinema with a wide range of animated features. Specifically, The Lego Movie, Storks, The Lego Batman movie, Smallfoot, Scoob!, Tom and Jerry are all successful films produced by this studio.

Toei Animation

animation studio - Toei Animation
Toei Animation (Source: Otaku USA Magazine)

Toei Animation is one of the top animation studios in Japan. It is known across the globe for a large number of works ranging from feature-length films, TV animation, or video games (nearly 300 projects from the 1960s to the present). For example, the animation house has produced films that have made the top ten list of the finest animated films: Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, and so forth.

If you're familiar with anime, you've probably heard of Dragon Ball being Toei’s most well-known franchise. Other hugely popular shows include Sailor Moon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and One Piece.

Furthermore, Toei Animation's anime that won the Animage Anime Grand Prix award are Galaxy Express 999 in 1981, Saint Seiya in 1987, and Sailor Moon in 1992.

Sunrise Inc.

animation studio - Sunrise Inc.
Sunrise Inc. (Source: CBR)

While other studios focused on genres such as manga adaptations, sports, and children's stories, Sunrise focused on developing robot anime.

Additionally, among the biggest and most popular anime studios, Sunrise is responsible for Cyborg 009, the Gundam franchise, InuYasha, Gintama, Cowboy Bebop, and Code Geass.

Sony Pictures Animation

animation studio - Sony Pictures Animation
Sony Pictures Animation (Source: List Challenges)

Sony's animation division is one of the most productive in the world. While the studio is still relatively new compared to Dreamworks, Disney, and Pixar, it has snowballed throughout the years. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Hotel Transylvania are two of its best films. But it was the studio's most recent film, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, that truly got everyone's attention. Sony has established itself as a brilliant animation studio over the years, and we anticipate that more films will cement its place as one of the all-time greats in the future.

Conclusion

Above are only the top 10 best animation studios, however, today, the number of new animation studios has increased in recent years. Besides big-scale and large corporate animation studios from Western countries or Japan, smaller contractor studios in other regions have been very productive both in numbers and quality.

As one of the top 2D animation studios in Southeast Asia, DeeDee Animation Studio has proved its expertise in many award-winning projects and gained the trust of reputable international studios such as Shin-Ei Douga, M2, etc. Here is DeeDee Animation Studio’s 2021 showreel.

References:

Animationcareer Pro

Arena Animation

Toplist.One


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