50. BUF Compagnie
BUF Compagnie is an award winning French visual effects company that creates commercials, music videos, and scenes for box office film hits such as Avatar, Thor, and Life of Pi. Their works from 2013 and 2014 combined include Nymphomaniac, Odd Thomas, Game of Thrones, Bird People, and Cosmos. Whether they move up or down in next year’s rankings will rely heavily on their contributions to the upcoming film, Jupiter Ascending.
49. Film Roman
Two words: The Simpsons. The longest running American animated show of all time. The . . . make up some other impressive claim about the show; it’s probably true. With over 500 episodes to date, the series began in 1989 by Klasky Csupo, but Film Roman has been doing primary animations for the show ever since 1992. While The Simpsons might not be the be-all-end-all industry shattering world splitting influential super hit that it used to be . . . it doesn’t need to be. You don’t make it to season 26 without still retaining absurd levels of clout that hundreds of other animation studios would kill a million cartoon characters for. Not to mention we’re still feeling the influence of its previous 25 seasons since huge portions of today’s animated series are created in story and animation methods that were learned from The Simpsons, thus the popular saying “Simpsons did it!” as a way of explaining that there’s nothing the show hasn’t already done. At this point the 2D animation industry may never escape the shadow of The Simpsons, and pretty much every animation stands on their yellow shoulders at some point in their timeline.
48. Stargate Studios
Founded in 1989, this studio has gained momentum in recent years as they’ve been involved with dozens of influential American television shows such as Heroes, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Mad Men, Parenthood, and their extensive work on The Walking Dead. What really boosted their influence in the VFX industry is their extremely impressive “Virtual Backlot” where they boast they offer “the largest stock footage library in the world.” If you ever want an outstanding example of how heavily edited even simple television episodes are with indoor and outdoor VFX shots, Stargate is one of the best examples to show your friends. To keep up with their demand they’ve grown to now have studios in USA, Canada, Germany, Malta, and even Dubai. Unless something changes, this is a studio that will likely keep rising in our rankings each year.
Sunrise is the only animation studio in the world that has 12 Animage Anime Grand Prix Awards, with an additional 13 second place finishes to boast since the awards began in 1979. No other studio even comes close to that accomplishment, although when you’re responsible for pretty much every Gundam episode ever created, few studios are even comparable. To be fair though, six of those awards were won from 2002 to 2008 during the era of Gundam SEED and Code Geass, and then OLM stole much of Sunrise’s thunder in recent years with their popular Inazuma Eleven series. While Sunrise’s massive influence may have dipped, in 2013 and 2014 combined they worked on an unfathomable 39 different animation projects, so it’s likely only a matter of time before they fight their way back to the top of the industry.
This German VFX studio began in 1998 to create special effects for German commercials, television shows, and feature films. In recent years they’ve expanded to work on international films and now have offices in Munich, Berlin, and Los Angeles. The most recent films they’ve worked on are White House Down, Iron Man 3, Cloud Atlas, Item 47, The Avengers, and the Wolfblood television series.
Their recent animation works include Parasyte, No Game No Life, Magical Warfare, Hanayamata, The Irregular at Magic High School, Ace of Diamonds, Sunday Without God, Chihayafuru, Death Billiards, Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, Mononokuma, Hajime no Ippo: Rising, Hunter × Hunter, as well as Hunter × Hunter: Phantom Rouge and Hunter × Hunter: The Last Mission. Recently they’ve also branched out to do animations for the JUJU music video Take Five, as well as for the video games Photo Kano and Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl. Also notable is their famed director, Mamoru Hosoda, leaving Madhosue a few years after Summer Wars to start his own company, Studio Chizu, and then releasing the highly praised Wolf Children. That could very possibly lead to a dip in Madhouse’s rankings next year and a new spot on our list for Studio Chizu if they keep it up. However, they’re still working on Dreaming Machine, which will sadly be the last Madhouse project of Satoshi Kon we’ll ever get to experience. RIP, Satoshi Kon.
44. 9 Story Entertainment
This animation studio and distribution company was founded in 2002 with a moderate splash in the industry, but in recent years they’ve been on fire. Not only are they keeping the Arthur series alive for a new generation of children, but they’ve also worked on Almost Naked Animals, Camp Lakebottom, Numb Chucks, Wibbly Pig, Fugget About It, Cache Craze, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. This year their Peg + Cat show even won the 2014 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Animated Program!
43. Studio 4°C
This Japanese animation studio has been responsible for a long line of influential releases overseas. A few years ago they began to grow much quieter than usual, and recently they’ve exploded back into the industry stronger than they ever have before. In the past few years they’ve contributed animations to the video games Catherine, Asura’s Wrath, and Toukiden, and have also created the short film, Tuzki: Love Assassin, as well as done commercials for Toyota. Other projects they’ve worked on are Sachiko, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Chiisana Hana no Uta, and they’ve even been given the honor of running the Young Animator Training Project 2014, where they help train the next generation of great animators in Japan! That alone makes them highly influential, but by far their biggest praise by fans in recent years is their extensive work on the revival of one of the most famous anime series of all time: Berserk! In 2012 and 2013 combined they worked on all three of the Berserk: Golden Age Arc films, which were The Egg of the King, The Battle of the Doldrey, and The Descent.
42. Lucasfilm Animation
This animation studio has been dominating a Star Wars niche nonstop for close to a decade, and with the recent expansion events of the Star Wars franchise, their influence should only continue to grow. They’ve made several Lego Star Wars short films since 2005, with The Empire Strikes Out and The New Yoda Chronicles as their most recent. Their Emmy Award winning television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars has been airing on Cartoon Network and Netflix for the past six years, and they just released the feature film Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion! They’ve also worked on Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars, and are currently working on Star Wars Detours.
41. Zoic Studios
This VFX studio began in 2002 in Culver City, California with just fifteen employees. Since then they’ve added an office in Vancouver and have grown to employ hundreds of VFX artists. Whereas many studios on this list focus heavily on film projects, Zoic often focuses on VFX scenes for television series. In 2014 they’ve contributed heavily to the shows Banshee, Intelligence, The Hundred, and Wayward Pines. Last year they spread their efforts across projects like Killing Kennedy, The Gangster Squad, The Bling Ring, Scary Movie 5, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Hemlock Grove, The Bridge, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.