|343 Industries||Washington, United States|
|A-1 Pictures||Tokyo, Japan|
|Aardman Animations||Bristol, England|
|Animal Logic||New South Wales, Australia|
|Anzovin Studio||Massachusetts, United States|
|Bardel Entertainment||Vancouver, Canada|
|Bento Box Entertainment||California, United States|
|Bethesda Game Studios||Maryland, United States|
|Blizzard Entertainment||California, United States|
|Blue Sky Studios||Connecticut, United States|
|Bohemia Interactive||Prague, Czech Republic|
|Bungie||Washington, United States|
|Cartoon Saloon||Kilkenny, Ireland|
|Cartoon Network Studios||California, United States|
|CD Projekt RED||Warsaw, Poland|
|Crystal Dynamics||California, United States|
|Daybreak Game Company||California, United States|
|Digital Domain||California, United States|
|Disney Television Animation||California, United States|
|DisneyToon Studios||California, United States|
|Double Fine||California, United States|
|Double Negative||London, England|
|DreamWorks Animation SKG||California, United States|
|EA DICE||Stockholm, Sweden|
|Electronic Arts||California, United States|
|Element X Creative||Texas, United States|
|Encore Hollywood||California, United States|
|Epic Games||North Carolina, United States|
|Film Roman||California, United States|
|Firaxis Games||Maryland, United States|
|Floyd County Production||Georgia, United States|
|From Software||Tokyo Software|
|Fuzzy Door Productions||California, United States|
|Gearbox Software||Texas, United States|
|Hi-Rez Studios||Georgia, United States|
|Hybride Technologies||Montreal, Canada|
|Illumination Mac Guff||Paris, France|
|Image Engine||Vancouver, Canada|
|Industrial Light and Magic||California, United States|
|Infinity Ward||California, United States|
|Insomniac Games||California, United States|
|Kixeye||California, United States|
|Laika||Oregon, United States|
|Legend 3D||California, United States|
|Lucasfilm Animation||California, United States|
|Luma Pictures||California, United States|
|Marvel Animation||California, United States|
|Method Studios||California, United States|
|Moonbot Studios||Louisiana, United States|
|Naughty Dog||California, United States|
|NetherRealm Studios||Illinois, United States|
|Nickelodeon Animation Studios||California, United States|
|Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development||Kyoto, Japan|
|Obsidian Entertainment||California, United States|
|OLM, Inc.||Tokyo, Japan|
|Pixar||California, United States|
|Production I.G||Tokyo, Japan|
|Radical Axis||Georgia, United States|
|Ready at Dawn||California, United States|
|Red Storm Entertainment||North Carolina, United States|
|Reel FX Creative Studios||Texas, United States|
|Respawn Entertainment||California, United States|
|Riot Games||California, United States|
|Rise FX||Berlin, Germany|
|Rockstar Games||New York, United States|
|Rocksteady Studios||London, England|
|Rodeo FX||Montreal, Canada|
|Rough Draft Studios||California, United States|
|Scanline VFX||Munich, Germany|
|Shade VFX||California, United States|
|ShadowMachine||California, United States|
|Sledgehammer Games||California, United States|
|Sony Pictures Imageworks||Vancouver, Canada|
|Square Enix||Tokyo, Japan|
|Stereo D||California, United States|
|Studio Pierrot||Tokyo, Japan|
|TellTale Games||California, United States|
|The Big Machine Studios||California, United States|
|Tippett Studio||California, United States|
|Titmouse, Inc.||California, United States|
|Toys For Bob||California, United States|
|Treyarch||California, United States|
|TT Games||Knutsford, United Kingdom|
|Ubisoft||California, United States|
|Valve Corporation||Washington, United States|
|Volition||Illinois, United States|
|Walt Disney Animation Studios||California, United States|
|Warner Bros. Animation||California, United States|
|Weta Digital||Wellington, New Zealand|
|Zynga||California, United States|
I’ve been writing about the animation industry for nearly a decade and last year I assembled the rankings for our 2014 Top 100 Most Influential Video Game Studios and 2014 Top 100 Most Influential Animation Studios. This year, I want to create a comprehensive list of the one hundred best studios to work at across all animation industries.
To help research the constantly evolving landscape of the job market, we sent surveys to hundreds of schools asking which studios actively recruited their students as well as which studios most often employed graduates. When choosing which of the hundreds of companies to include, I also considered what projects studios were working on, and even the quality of life at those studios regardless of salary. Studios are listed in alphabetical order:
343 Industries - This is the studio that took over Bungie’s Halo series back in 2009 and released Halo 4 in 2012. In October this year we’ll finally get to play Halo 5: Guardians and see what’s in store for the future of Master Chief. No matter where the series is headed, I’m sure 343 will consider hiring plenty more game artists in the coming years to create make Halo 6. Next year we’ll get Halo Wars 2 to help us wait.
A-1 Pictures - This is simply one of the hardest working animation studios in the anime industry today. In 2014 and 2015 combined they have released a new season for twenty four different anime series including the highly anticipated Sword Art Online II and Persona 4 The Golden: Animation. Sure, they often collaborate with other animation studios to complete so many shows, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen a 2D animation studio deliver such an intense schedule of releases in such a short amount of time.
Aardman Animations - If you fell in love with the stop motion clay animation in Chicken Run or the Wallace and Gromit films, then this is a studio name you probably know well already. In 2006, they entered the computer animation industry with the film Flushed Away, and since then they’ve worked on the films Arthur Christmas (2011), The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012), Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015) and they’re currently at work on Early Man (2018) and Shaun the Sheep 2 (TBA).
Animal Logic - My prediction from last year for this Australian studio hasn’t come true yet, but I’m still holding out hope! Illumination Entertainment hired Mac Guff to create most of the film Despicable Me for them, and then used the massive profits to buy the studio outright. Warner Bros. Animation went through a similar symbiotic relationship with Animal Logic, which animated all of The Lego Movie for them, so I still wonder if an acquisition is on the horizon. Either way, Animal Logic just opened a new office in Vancouver a few days ago, so they’re doing just fine! Both offices are hiring, so check them out!
Anzovin Studio - This animation company is located in Massachusetts and offers services in storyboarding, animation, graphic design, game art, software development, Maya plugins, character designs, character rigging, and can work in Maya, Mudbox, 3DS Max, ZBrush, VRay, Substance Designer, and all the Adobe CC products. Their rigging tools look superb, and it’s no surprise they’ve worked with famous clients like Bungie, A&E, PBS Kids, Microsoft, Syfy, DreamWorks Animation SKG, and Sea World. If you want to work on lots of different projects over a year instead of a huge neverending project over many years, then this could be the perfect studio for you.
Bardel Entertainment - The name “Bardel” comes from the names of its married founders, Barry Ward and Delna Bhesania, and they formed this Vancouver animation studio in 1987. Together they’ve handled plenty of large projects in the past, but what’s really gaining them global recognition is The Prophet and their hilarious art in the new television show, Rick and Morty. One of their other ongoing projects is doing all the animations for VeggieTales and VeggieTales in the House.
Bento Box Entertainment - This California studio is one of the younger ones on the list, but already has several hit series under its belt. Founded in 2009, they’ve already helped worked on Neighbors from Hell, Bob’s Burger’s, Allen Gregory, Brickleberry, Out There, Murder Police, and Bordertown. Add in the Web series The Awesomes and Gloves and Boots, as well as the films Achmed Saves America and Madea’s Tough Love, and you’ve got one of today’s most promising young studios.
Bethesda Game Studios - If you’re a gamer, then all I have to say is the Fallout series and The Elder Scrolls series. Enough said? Enough said. Not a gamer? Then this is a studio name to remember; even when it’s been years since they’ve released a game for either series, I still listed them as one of the most influential video game studios in the world. When Skyrim came out in 2011, the Internet was a quiet wasteland for a few days as everyone unplugged to play the expansive game. Forums went dry, comments sections were barren, and no one got insulted on YouTube for a whole sixty seconds once. Then, a few days later, the Internet damn near broke when everyone came back all at once and discussed the game everywhere and anywhere on every dot com imaginable, which made for one of the most memorable months the net has ever experienced. This November, Fallout 4 will finally be released! Prepare yourselves!
BioWare - One of the oldest game studios on this list, BioWare was founded back in 1995 and has been relevant ever since then. Its famously memorable storylines rely heavily on award winning writing, making it a highly competitive studio to get employed at. Lately they’ve been releasing several games for the series Dragon Age and Star Wars: The Old Republic, and are now looking to launch another Mass Effect title. They’ve got a lot of exciting things in motion, but they also have a lot of job applications, so bring your best and see if you can get an interview.
Blizzard Entertainment - In one word, legendary. Blizzard was legendary long before they became an Activision subsidiary. Sometimes Blizzard gamers can be notorious for only playing Blizzard games, but even when that’s not the case, the loyalty is still strong. When Blizzard releases a game, almost everyone plays it, regardless of their demographics. For decades they have released the most breathtaking 3D animated cinematics the world has ever seen, even when compared to the best films the box office has to offer those years. They only hire the best, but the projects they tackle are so huge that they hire a lot of employees, so if you want to be one of the thousands of names listed in their next credits list, then apply and see what happens!
Blue Sky Studios - Ever since 2002 when they released their first animated film, Ice Age, it’s been a snowball of momentum as they released eight more animated full feature films to date. Gone are the days where Pixar and DreamWorks had no competition except each other, and this studio is looking to finally win an Academy Award with one of their upcoming projects in the next few years: The Peanuts Movie, Ice Age: Collision Course, Ferdinand, and Anubis. They’ll need plenty of help for those projects, so now is the time to reach out to them and get hired.
Bohemia Interactive - Their ARMA 3 game was released in 2013, and then its DayZ zombie survival island mod took over PC gaming in a way that few games ever have in the industry. ARMA 3 and DayZ are still to this day two of the most played games on Steam each and every night of the year even though dozens of studios have cloned their ideas and formats and diluted their stranglehold market share. Bohemia Interactive stays on top of the charts like a zombie that just won’t die. They’re hiring for several positions at their studio in Prague, Czech Republic, which is where their subsidiary studio, Centauri Production, is also located at.
Bungie - Back in 2009, they gave their famous Halo series to 343 Industries, and many gamers and businessmen alike thought they were crazy for handing off that lucrative torch to another studio. Could they simply start from scratch and just invent a new independent property and sweep the game industry once again? Years went by without any new game release, but now we know that the answer is yes! Destiny was finally released last year and their new expansion The Taken King caused so much new attention for the game that their monthly player following is still growing rapidly. Expect more expansions, which means more money, which means more jobs! They have 97 job listings on their career page, including several animator positions!
Cartoon Saloon - This Irish animation studio was founded in 1999. They’ve worked on several short films, the films The Secret of Kells, Santa’s Apprentice, Moon Man, and Song of the Sea, and television series such as Skunk Fu!, Puffin Rock, and Ellie the Ace. It wasn’t until 2010 when The Secret of Kells was nominated for best animated film at the Academy Awards that this studio gained massive notoriety. Song of the Sea was also nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature, so we can’t wait to see this studio’s next project, the film The Breadwinner!
Cartoon Network Studios - This conglomerate is as vast as it is varied, and there’s nothing you can’t do or learn if you’re hired by them. The company began in 1994 as a division of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons and it continues to discover and work with some of the most influential shows and artists in the animation industry today. The studio’s recent fame list includes Adventure Time (created by Pendleton Ward), Clarence (created by Skyler Page), Uncle Grandpa (created by Peter Browngardt), Steven Universe (created by Rebecca Sugar), Mixels (created by John Fang and Dave Smith), Regular Show (created by J. G. Quintel), Over the Garden Wall (created by Patrick McHale), and all the others I don’t have space to list. Maybe you will be next?
CD Projekt RED - Few studios have their fans as obsessed as this Polish game developer does. It’s a mutual love though, and CD Projekt RED listens more to their fans than perhaps any other studio in the industry. They are willing to go to great lengths to give fans exactly what they want, not to mention speaking out loudly against DRM. Their three main The Witcher games have each been released four years apart, but always fans patiently wait because they know it’s worth it. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was fantastic, as was the large amount of free DLC, and fans are already looking forward to the expansions Hearts of Stone (October 2015) and Blood and Wine (early 2016). They’re still working on Cyberpunk 2077, and are currently hiring positions for both games!
Cinesite - In the past, this was your standard larger than life VFX powerhouse studio that had everything in the world, and couldn’t possibly want more. But they did. And in what I hope is an ongoing trend in the near future, they decided to focus less on hundreds of spectacular small VFX projects and instead tackle their first in-house full length animated film, Charming, about what would happen if Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty all discovered that they were engaged to the same Prince Charming. Oops! The idea is brilliant, the talent is top notch, and if they hit the grand slam everyone expects them to, then Pixar will have yet another direct competitor forever onwards in the 3D industry. Let’s hope!
Crystal Dynamics - This California studio was founded in 1992, acquired by Eidos in 1998, which was in turn acquired by Square Enix in 2009. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. A decade ago they released several Tomb Raider games that struggled to reignite the once-popular series, and then in 2013, everything changed when they launched the emotional and gritty Tomb Raider reboot that gamers are still talking about. They’ve since followed it up with the two much different Tomb Raider spinoffs: Lara Croft: Relic Run, and, Lara Croft and the Temple of the Osiris. Next year we’ll finally get the Tomb Raider reboot sequel we’ve been waiting for when they release Rise of the Tomb Raider on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
Crytek - For the longest time, Crytek mostly focused on the Crysis game franchise, but in the past few years they’ve been expanding like crazy and we couldn’t be more thrilled. They currently have studios in Frankfurt, Kiev, Budapest, Sofia, Seoul, shanghai, and Istanbul. Since 2013, their projects have included Crysis 3, Warface, Ryse: Son of Rome, The Collectables, Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age, Robinson: The Journey, and Arena of Fate. They’re exploring lots of new genres with lots of new IPs, and they’re positioned to be one of the strongest game companies in the world in a decade if they execute the full potential of their ideas.
Daybreak Game Company - Formerly named Sony Online Entertainment, this is the studio that’s been responsible for vast online games like EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, DC Universe Online, and in recent years also PlanetSide 2, Dragon’s Prophet, Landmark, and H1Z1. Lately it hasn’t just been the studio’s name that’s changed; they’re completely redefining EverQuest by developing EverQuest Next as an ambitious and bold MMORPG that has even non-MMO gamers intrigued. Their ongoing support for several MMO communities should mean they’ll always be open to extra help, so even if they’re not hiring for your position currently, apply anyways!
Digital Domain - This VFX production company has had many highs and many lows since it was founded in 1993 by James Cameron. Their work in films won them several Academy Awards and BAFTA Awards, and then they won a few more Academy Awards for their proprietary software that helped improve the entire visual effects industry. With every year that passed, they were one of the top names in the industry, but then in 2012 their debt issues resulted in layoffs and bankruptcy. Thankfully, a company this legendary could never stay defunct. Majority ownership of the company changed hands and they’re back now and as strong as ever before. Will you join them on their new saga of success?
Disney Television Animation - With help from other studios and varying levels of outsourcing, in recent years this studio has helped release the following Disney series: Gravity Falls, Mickey Mouse, Wander Over Yonder, Phineas and Ferb, Motorcity, Tron; Uprising, Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, The 7D, Penn Zero Part-Time Hero, Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Two More Eggs, Pickle & Peanut, Future-Worm!, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Sofia the First, and Goldie & Bear. Other projects they should be releasing in the coming years are The Lion Guard, Milo Murphy’s Law, Elena of Avalor, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, and the Tangled television series.
DisneyToon Studios - Remember all those borderline unofficial Disney sequels that kept coming out on VHS and DVD over the last few decades? This is the studio responsible for them, but you shouldn’t pretend they don’t exist anymore, because they’ve entered the 3D animation industry and with help from Prana Studios they’re getting phenomenal at it! Their 2013 Planes movie that tied into the Cars series had a budget of $50 million and earned over $239 million, and they’ve already followed it up with the three films The Pirate Fairy, Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast, and Planes: Fire & Rescue.
Double Fine - You could argue this is the most famous indie studio of all time. Double Fine was created by Tim Schafer in 2000 a few years after his involvement with Grim Fandango before he left LucasArts, and this studio created the cult classic Psychonauts in 2005 that was highly praised but not highly successful. The studio moderately struggled until recent years, but has now proved over and over again just how beneficial Kickstarter crowd funding can be for great ideas and hard workers in the game industry. To put it into perspective, from 2000 to 2010 Double Fine only released three games. Since then? Almost twenty!
Double Negative - Last year I ranked this British full-service visual effects company as the fourth most influential animation studio in the world. While Disney and Pixar release record breaking full length feature films that they make almost entirely internally, studios like Double Negative help dozens of companies each year make award winning box office hits, television scenes, and every other sea of screen pixels you’ve ever dropped your jaw at. Now that they’ve merged with Prime Focus World, their clout will only grow stronger in the future. If you have the choice to work here or somewhere else, you probably only have one real choice on the table.
DreamWorks Animation SKG - This studio came from the famous merger of DreamWorks and Pacific Data Images. The Shrek series hasn’t seen another installment in many years, aside from the several Puss in Boots spinoff short films, but it’s rumored a fifth Shrek film is still in talks. DreamWorks doesn’t seem to be in a hurry though, since they’ve got plenty of other successful series they’re still exploring. Last year and this year they brought the box office Mr. Peabody & Sherman, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Penguins of Madagascar, and Home, for a combined earnings of over $1.6 billion. From 2016 to 2018 they’ll be keeping busy with Kung Fu Panda 3, Trolls, Boss Baby, The Croods 2, Larrikins, and How to Train Your Dragon 3.
EA DICE - EA Digital Illusions CE is an Electronic Arts subsidiary located in Stockholm, Sweden. They’ve worked on dozens of hit games such as Mirror’s Edge, but their Battlefield game series is by far their most beloved brand. Battlefield 4 along with its expansion packs was a sales monster, Battlefield: Hardline has sold over three million copies across all platforms so far this year, and next year they’ll finally release Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. However, what’s on everyone’s mind right now is the upcoming November 2015 release of their highly anticipated Star Wars: Battlefront!
Electronic Arts - This is one of the largest juggernauts in the history of the game industry, and no, they don’t just publish games that other studios make. Their EA Games division is further broken up into Criterion Games, EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE), Ghost Games, Visceral Games, and the three BioWare studios. Then there’s EA Sports, which consists of EA Tiburon and EA Canada. EA Maxis has a few studios that handle the immortal The Sims series, and EA All Play has EA Mobile and PopCap Games. There are literally hundreds of styles of games and animation you could work on depending which studio hires you, so do your research!
Element X Creative - This full service motion design studio is dedicated to creative solutions for companies needing typographic design, engaging digital worlds, animated characters, emotional marketing, or all of the above. Their client list includes The Learning Channel, Frito Lay, Hewlett-Packard, National Geographic, MasterCard, Discovery Channel, Leap Frog, Pepsi, Home Depot, Pizza Hut, Chase, Hasbro, AMD, NCAA, JCPenney, Macy’s, NBC, Verizon, Burger King, and IBM. If you want to jump into an extremely creative team of artists, then you would feel at home at Element X Creative.
Encore Hollywood - This post production studio started back in 1985 and has modestly been polishing television shows day in and day out since probably before you were born. They still work heavily on primetime ABC, Fox, and CBS shows, they still win VFX awards regularly, and they still have offices in London, New York, Hollywood, Vancouver, and Toronto. Some of their highlights include Elementary, Gotham, The Messengers, True Detective, Fear the Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black, Veep, House of Cards, The Flash, American Horror Story, Girls, and 24: Live Another Day.
Epic Games - Early last year, Microsoft acquired the Gears of War independent property from Epic Games, but worry not! Epic Games is still working (with studio People Can Fly) on the eagerly anticipated shelter building survival game, Fortnite. Furthermore, last year they announced a new Unreal Tournament title, which will be free and open to modding to let the fans take control of which paths the game evolves along. Cliff Bleszinski and Mike Capps both left the company a few years back, so now is the time to get hired and shake things up! This should go without saying, but make sure before you apply, that you’re highly skilled at using the Unreal Engine!
Film Roman - What can I say about The Simpsons that hasn’t already been said yet? The Simpsons is one of the most influential television shows – animated or not – of all time, and every 2D animator should consider applying for a job with the show just on principle alone. Especially because there’s no telling how much longer it will be around; it’s on season 27 and nearing 600 total episodes to date. Sure, plenty of other studios like AKOM, Anivision, Rough Draft Studios, USAnimation, Toonzone Entertainment, and Klasky Csupo have helped them with the animations in the past, but to work at Film Roman would be one of the most honorable resume bullet points possible in the animation industry.
Firaxis Games - When it comes to turn based strategy games, few studios can even compete with their recent larger than life games such as Sid Meier’s Civilization V: Brave New World, XCOM: Enemy Within, Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution 2, and Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth. This studio’s cult following has been around for almost two decades, but in recent years they’re starting to reach millions of other gamers as they watch the demand for their games continue to grow. Next year the world will finally get its hands on XCOM 2, and maybe by then you’ll be working for them!
Floyd County Production - Do you love the animated TV show, Archer? Do you find yourself making inappropriate Archer quotes every week amongst best friends and even complete strangers? I know the feeling. Want to help make another season for the show? If so, then Floyd County Production is the studio you need to send your portfolio to. May I suggest a demo reel involving Archer shooting twenty Krieger clones while being chased by an ocelot and yelling “mawp” repeatedly in between swigs of bourbon?
Framestore - If you’ve ever watched a single movie or television show, basically, Framestore says “you’re welcome.” If you already watched The Martian with Matt Damon, then they say "you're welcome" again. They’re everywhere from small commercials to VFX you don’t even notice in your favorite shows, to making movie scenes that even a few years ago weren’t possible. They worked on the film Gravity for three years, and then enjoyed winning just about every VFX award in existence. They worked on several of the most successful films this year, and thanks to their close relationship with OculusVR they claim to have the world’s first VR studio, so the idea that they’re only starting to tap into their full potential is hard to fathom.
From Software - Although this studio has been around and respected since its inception in 1986, it wasn’t until they released Demon’s Souls in 2009 that their fandom truly surged to the top of the game industry. With that game, as well as Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, Bloodborne, and next year’s Dark Souls III, they continue to give players unforgivingly hard gameplay that’s engaging enough that the players didn’t mind seeing the animations over and over hundreds of times while they die repeatedly. So what better game animation studio could you want to work for if you want your game animations to be seen a lot?
Fuzzy Door Productions - This is Seth MacFarlane’s company, and with help from a few other studios, it’s responsible for American Dad, Family Guy, and The Cleveland Show that ended recently, and Bordertown which will be starting next year. American Dad has been on television for a decade and Family Guy has had a few more seasons than that, so if you want to apply and get involved with either show then you’d better not wait much longer!
Gearbox Software - This Texas studio was founded way back in 1999 and has worked on strong titles since day one, but it wasn’t until a full decade later when they released Borderlands that they caused huge ripples in the game industry. Since then they’ve resurrected Duke Nukem Forever, made a few Aliens games, several more Borderlands games, Homeworld Remastered Collection, and next year will be unleashing their new MOBA, Battleborn. They also have another game in the works for each of these three series: Brother in Arms, Duke Nukem, and Borderlands. So it should come as no surprise that they’re looking to hire another animator and several other artist positions currently.
Hi-Rez Studios - After the DotA MOBA genre blew up the game industry by proving new design genres were still waiting to be discovered after all these decades, tons of studios jumped up and rushed to the vastly deep game mechanics . . . only to just clone what was already being done, and failing to strike gold for some mysterious reason. Not Hi-Rez Studios. Their free-to-play third person MOBA game, Smite, rose to the occasion and has seen massive success in the past few years. They continue to expand in a game market that’s still very new, and I’m sure they could use more help as they continue to carve out their place in the eSports market.
Hybride Technologies - This Canadian visual effects studio is located in Piedmont, Quebec, and in 2008 was acquired by Ubisoft. Yes, the world famous video game developer and publisher, Ubisoft, wanted to own a VFX movie making machine, and they picked Hybride Technologies. If Hybride is good enough for Ubisoft to buy, then they’re probably good enough for you to work at, so what are you waiting for?! This year their work in Black Sails, Tomorrowland, and Jurassic World was revealed to the world, and currently they’re hard at work on Blizzard’s Warcraft film!
Illumination Mac Guff - A lot of Despicable Me fans still don’t realize that Illumination Entertainment outsourced almost the entire development of the film to Mac Guff, and then used the film’s huge profits to buy the entire studio outright in 2011. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just two amazing studios merging together to make bigger and better things in the 3D business battlefield, and they sure haven’t disappointed so far. Their films The Lorax, Despicable Me 2, and Minions were all huge hits, and the next two years should bring us two more Illumination hits: The Secret Life of Pets and Despicable Me 3.
Image Engine - This Vancouver visual effects studio started in 1995 and focused heavily on the VFX for every episode of Stargate SG-1 for a few years before transitioning to mostly just scenes in films. Since their work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they’ve also contributed VFX scenes to the films Chappie, Child 44, San Andreas, Jurassic World, Straight Outta Compton, and the upcoming films The Last Witch Hunter, Point Break, Deadpool, and Independence Day: Resurgence. They’re currently hiring for over a dozen different positions!
Industrial Light and Magic - Every year I praise this studio as the best in the world, and not much has changed. This year I’ll simply list the 2015 titles they’ve massively worked on, and let the list speak for itself: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World, Strange Music, Terminator Genisys, Ant-Man, Hitman: Agent 47, The Martian, Spectre, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revenant, and next year they’ll be the integral studio behind the highly anticipated films Warcraft and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Half Shell.
Infinity Ward - The father studio of the famous Call of Duty series! They’ve created seven Call of Duty games in ten years, and their most recent one – Call of Duty: Ghosts – has sold 25.87 million copies across all platforms since it was released in late 2013. The three year development cycle of the war series had Sledgehammer Games release Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare last year, with Treyarch releasing Call of Duty: Black Ops III this year, and then next year Infinity Ward will take their turn releasing another core Call of Duty game for the series. However, this time the studio’s former Lead Designer, Todd Alderman, who left the company a few years ago during legal disputes, is returning for the 2016 game as Multiplayer Project Director!
Insomniac Games - After releasing Fuse and Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus in 2013, they unleashed Sunset Overdrive on the world in 2014, which had mixed reviews but mostly everyone agreed it was a pleasant new flavor from the company who mainly only released Resistance and Ratchet & Clank titles. They further raised eyebrows this year by releasing four mobile games instead of any console titles. Next year they’ll launch a Ratchet & Clank remake on the PlayStation 4, but after that they’ll raise eyebrows once again with their intriguing Edge of Nowhere action adventure game for the Oculus Rift! Want to get involved? Of course you do! Good news; they’re hiring for several art and animation positions!
Kixeye - Some of their popular games are Backyard Monsters, Battle Pirates, War Commander, Desktop Defender, Vega Conflict, and TOME: Immortal Arena. This San Francisco developer started out in 2007 as two guys with a dream to change the game industry, and thanks to their successful Facebook game releases they’ve accomplished more than they could ever have dreamed. Some of their games see tens of millions of installs, and they’ve enjoyed over five million monthly active players, and way back in 2012 they were even projected to earn over $100 million. If you want to make mobile games and social games that are played across the planet, Kixeye should be high on your list.
Laika - This offbeat stop motion animation studio has brought the world unique feature films such as Coraline in 2009, ParaNorman in 2012, and The Boxtrolls last year. Fun fact: the studio is owned by the Nike co-founder, Phil Knight. In August of next year, their next film, Kubo and the Two Strings, will be released. It might not be the studio for everyone, but their niche is almost unparalleled in the industry.
Legend 3D - In 2015, they worked on the films Jupiter Ascending, Insurgent, Poltergeist, Ant-Man, Enchanted Kingdom, The Walk, Goosebumps, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. Doing VFX work for eight highly acclaimed box office hits is enough to make our list, but what makes this studio truly deserve their Legend 3D name is their new venture: launching a virtual reality division. Yes, the future is here, and they will be one of the first top tier studios exploring this quickly approaching new VR animation industry.
Lucasfilm Animation - Their domination of the Star Wars television niche continues! Last year they released the short film Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles. They also animated seasons for the shows Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, with plans to launch another one soon, named Star Wars Detours. Lucasfilm Animation has also created three television specials in the past two years: Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars, Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion, and Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal. With a new Star Wars film coming out in theaters soon they should only continue to grow as new and old fandoms overlap.
Luma Pictures - Luma started in 2002 with an office in Santa Monica and has worked on over 70 films since then, including four Coen Brothers movies. In 2012, they opened a new office in Melbourne, Australia, and both locations are currently hiring. In 2015 alone, they’ve done VFX work for the films Run All Night, The Age of Adaline, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, The Vatican Tapes, The Last Witch Hunter, Heart of the Sea, and The Divergent Series: Insurgent.
Marvel Animation - Every year since this animation studio’s creation in 2008, it creates several new super hero animated shows or direct-to-video films. Last year they released the films Avengers Confidential: Black Widow Punisher and Iron Man & Captain America: Heroes United, and this year they (with help from Studio Mir) just launched their television series for Guardians of the Galaxy! Even though it utilizes a fair amount of animation outsourcing – as do tons of studios on this list – Marvel Animation will no doubt continue to inspire and influence geeks of all ages.
Method Studios - I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “While some studios focus heavily on films and less on commercials, there’s almost no section of the industry that Method Studios isn’t fully present in and destroying all of their competition.” Last year I ranked them as the fifth most influential animation studio in 2014, and I still believe that Method Studios is about as reliable as a VFX brand name can be in today’s world. It would be an honor to work for them on any of their hundreds of award winning projects.
Mojang - Last year, on September 8th, 2014, I awarded Mojang the ranking of third most influential video game studio of 2014. Exactly one week later, Microsoft acquired Mojang for $2.5 billion. If we had rankings again this year, you can bet your diamond blocks that it’d still be in the top five. In a few years when Microsoft HoloLens finally brings Minecraft augmented reality maps to households across the globe, it’ll be hard not to rank Mojang as the most influential studio of the decade as the virtual reality industry finally unfolds. They have also released Scrolls despite the trademark controversies, and in October they will enter the third party publishing business when they release Oxeye Game Studio’s game, Cobalt.
Moonbot Studios - This might be the most original studio on the list. William Joyce is a writer, illustrator, and filmmaker. In 2009, he and Brandon Oldenburg co-founded Moonbot Studios, and the company makes books, films, apps, games, and literally whatever they feel passionate about. Sometimes Joyce brings his own ideas to life like in 2012 when The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. However, sometimes, he gives his ideas to other animation studios to bring to fruition, like when he had Blue Sky Studios adapt his book, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, into the feature film, Epic, which earned $268 million on a $93 million budget. Have you heard of the CGI film, Rise of the Guardians? He wrote the book series it’s based on, and even though he’s already famous I continue to wonder why he’s not far more famous like a small handful of other industry names on the Internet. He deserves it.
MPC - The largest blockbuster hits each year in theaters require dozens of VFX studios to contribute a few shots to make the film greater than the sum of its parts. However, when MPC makes an astounding 857 shots for a film like Guardians of the Galaxy, then it blurs the definition of simply “outsourcing” to VFX studios, and I wish they got to stamp their company name on posters and commercials like Disney and Pixar enjoy doing. Oh, and by the way, during the production of Guardians of the Galaxy, Moving Picture Company still found enough time and pairs of hands to work on the movies Elysium, Godzilla, Fast & Furious 6, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and World War Z.
Naughty Dog - It’s hard to even define the “golden years” for this studio. They started off immensely popular, they stayed ridiculously loved, and lately they’ve migrated to more serious storylines with The Last of Us and the Uncharted Games, which has resulted in countless awards and gamers wondering how they could possible top what they’ve already accomplished. To do so they’ll need the best artists and minds on the planet, so if you work with them you’d immediately get the chance to work on an incredible title.
NetherRealm Studios - Four years ago they did what many thought was impossible: they brought the Mortal Kombat series back from its fatality grave and made people not just tolerate it, or accept it, but actually fall in love with the game all over again. Two years ago they released Injustice: Gods Among Us, which was like Mortal Kombat but with DC Comics characters, and then earlier this year they released Mortal Kombat X. They boast the most gruesome and brutal animations in the business, so if you really want to be challenged as an animator while also having the time of your life, this very profitable studio could be a great home for you.
Nickelodeon Animation Studios - In 2012, I listed Nickelodeon as the fifth most influential animation studio of all time. I can think of no greater honor for an animator than to have their work beamed into the living rooms of children each and every week, and knowing that your work will be enjoyed and digested for decades in memories as those personalities grow up with the life lessons they learned from your animated characters and scenes. Nickelodeon is like a second set of parents to countless millions of blooming minds each year. With TeenNick’s upcoming TheSplat project, which will rebroadcast Nickelodeon classics each night on TV and also online at their site, more eyes will be on Nick than ever before, so now is the perfect time to join them!
Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development - Love children’s entertainment, but don’t want to be stifled by target age demographics? Desire a work atmosphere that embraces innovation more than most businesses on the planet? Want to bravely work on ideas no one else is bold enough to try? And do you want your hard work to be seen and played by millions of gamers? If so, Nintendo might be the home for you.
Obsidian Entertainment - This studio likes to explore and expand on the ideas of other studios’ games, and has created sequels for a variety of different game series in the industry. You’d think that would be too challenging for them to move in and out of so many completely unrelated projects of passion, but they keep delivering success after success. Their recent titles include South Park: The Stick of Truth, Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity, Skyforge, and they are still working on Armored Warfare. They’re hiring for a multitude of positions split across their games’ communities and have a few extra perks to their employee benefits list.
OLM, Inc. - Formerly Oriental Light and Magic, this Tokyo studio became famous for the original Berserk series and the myriad of Pokémon cartoon episodes you probably watched before catching the bus for school in the mornings of your youth. They created two more Pokémon films in the past year, but they’ve mostly been keeping busy with the anime series Future Card Buddyfight 100, Tamagotchi! Miracle Friends, Yo-Kai Watch, GO-GO Tamagotchi!, Dragon Collection, Monster Retsuden Oreca Battle, Omakase! Miracle Cat-dan, and Kami-sama Minarai: Himitsu no Cocotama, as well as two Yo-Kai Watch movies!
Pixar - You know how every legendary undefeated boxer goes through a period of fame followed by a period of colossal doubt as everyone expects them to finally falter and fail as they grow older? That’s Pixar, and after Disney’s Frozen people are still gossiping, but Pixar still isn’t falling. They’re going the distance, and for the foreseeable future they’re still arguably the best animation studio on the planet.
Pixomondo - This VFX studio launched in Germany in 2001 and has since expanded to offices in Los Angeles, Toronto, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Beijing, and Shanghai. Pixomondo contributed 62 minutes of special effects scenes to the 2012 film, Hugo, which won them the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Since then, they’ve continued to work on award winning movies and television shows across the planet, but they have gotten the most press since 2012 for their ongoing involvement with Game of Thrones. Each year they handle some of the show’s most demanding VFX scenes, including designing and animating the dragons. Their awards for their Game of Thrones work alone include an AEAF Award, an Animago Award, 2 VES Awards, and 3 creative Arts Emmy Awards.
PlatinumGames - This studio began in 2006 from former members of Capcom’s Clover Studio, and their release record has been filled with stunning graphics and varied gameplay. The result has been a steady growth in loyal fans who will play anything they release, even if it’s outside their normal gaming tastes. They’re located in Osaka, Japan, and their timeline from 2014 onwards includes Bayonetta 2, The Legend of Korra, Transformers: Devastation, Star Fox Zero, Scalebound, a new Nier project, and Project Guard. Seriously, what other company right now is working on three games at the same time, that are each exclusives for three different game consoles? Perhaps a few, but certainly not as well as this studio can do it.
Production I.G - In 2012, on my Top 100 Most Influential Animation Studios of All Time list, I ranked them at 29. Then, they released Psycho-Pass, one of the most unique anime series of the past decade. Then, they (along with Wit Studio) released a little anime by the name of Attack on Titan. It’s one of the most successful anime series of all time with an entire VFX-heavy live action film adaptation of it that came out this summer in Japan. I truly don’t think they can top themselves again any time soon, but they’ve been full of surprises since they opened their business back in 1987, so it’s probably just a matter of time before lightning strikes again.
Radical Axis - You like Adult Swim animations, but you don’t love most of the family-oriented animation you see on television. You grew up on cartoons and still love them into your adulthood, but wish there were more adult cartoons to watch. If this is you, then Radical Axis might be the home for you. It was founded in 2000 by Scott Fry, the original animator for the series Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and it’s grown from a storage closet at Cartoon Networks’ William Street facility into a booming business with offices in Atlanta, California, and Thailand.
Rare - What a nostalgic time it would be to work for Rare! This year they celebrated their 30th anniversary with the release of Rare Replay, the compilation of 30 of their previous hit titles. They have no doubt slumped from their industry throne status in decades past, but it’s also recognizable that Rare wants to fight for the throne once again and is starting to build momentum moving forward. This could be the perfect time to join Rare. Check out their upcoming game, Sea of Thieves, before you make your decision!
Ready at Dawn - This game developer studio is in Irvine, California, and was founded by former members of Naughty Dog and Blizzard Entertainment in 2003. They released Daxter in 2006, and then in 2008 made God of War: Chains of Olympus and an Okami port for the Wii. 2010 brought God of War: Ghost of Sparta, and the PS3 God of War: Origins Collection. Then . . . the studio went quite for many years, until they stormed back into the spotlight earlier this year with the PlayStation 4 title, The Order: 1886. We’re excited to keep out eyes on this company!
Red Storm Entertainment - This wholly owned subsidiary of Ubisoft Entertainment has had a large fan following since it opened its doors in 1996. Currently located in North Carolina, they’re still making Tom Clancy’s Rainbox Six games and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon games. In recent years they’ve also helped out the other Ubisoft divisions on Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4, and next year the next evolution of the Tom Clancy video game series will finally be unveiled: Tom Clancy’s Division, an open world online third person role playing shooter.
Reel FX Creative Studios - This already successful studio has so much potential to become one of the biggest animation studios on the planet. Ever wonder why more VFX studios don’t just try to make entire feature length films and follow in Pixar’s massively profitable footsteps? Obviously the reason more don’t is because of how difficult and risky that is to do, but Reel FX is up for the challenge. Lately they’ve made two animated films independently in-house: Free Birds in 2013, and last year’s massively underrated The Book of Life. Make sure you fight to get hired by them now before they grow large enough to compete with Pixar and become inundated with job applications!
Respawn Entertainment - Easily one of the most successful new studios on the planet. Jason West and Vince Zampella started Infinity Ward in 2002 but later both left the company and started Respawn Entertainment in 2010. 38 Infinity Ward employees resigned and followed them, and last year they released their first game, Titanfall, which has sold 4.44 million copies split across PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. A Titanfall sequel is in the works, as is another unnamed project, so you should apply to their California studio if you want to work with them on either.
Riot Games - This is the studio that took the world by storm with their League of Legends MOBA game, which easily earned them fourth place on our Top 100 Most Influential Video Game Studios rankings last year. They have offices in St. Louis, Dublin, Berlin, Seoul, São Paulo, Istanbul, Moscow, Sydney, and Taipei. Riot enjoyed $624 million revenue in 2013 and the MOBA genre is still young, which is why this is still one of the most exciting studios you can work at in the game industry right now. Make sure you read my interview with the Riot Games Senior Animator, Rory Alderton!
Rise FX - Rise FX began in 2007 with four VFX artists in a single room in Berlin. Since then they’ve grown to eighteen full-time staff members and 80 freelancers from across the globe. Their credits for last year and this year include Captain America: The Winter Solider, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Hologram for the King, Borgia season 3, Guardians of the Galaxy, Unfinished Business, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Richard the Stork.
Rockstar Games - Take your pick: Rockstar Leeds (England), Rockstar Lincoln (England), Rockstar London (England), Rockstar New England (USA), Rockstar North (Scotland), Rockstar San Diego (USA), or Rockstar Toronto (Canada). Don’t be fooled though; Rockstar isn’t likely to just keep pumping out Grand Theft Auto games for too much longer. They have their own game engine (RAGE), and will likely be focusing on older or brand new intellectual properties in the coming years. If you’re okay with not knowing what tomorrow holds, then this could be the most exciting time to join their company in years!
Rocksteady Studios - In 2009, they released their second game, and it won countless Game of the Year Awards. They followed Batman: Arkham Asylum up with Batman: Arkham City in 2011 and Batman: Arkham Knight this year, and the great accolades just keep on rolling in. If you want to work at a studio where gamers set their hopes high and expect greatness from your team, then Rocksteady is one of the most reliable studios for its size, with 160 current employees.
Rodeo FX - This studio houses 300 visual effects professionals who continue to dazzle us every year with their work on the HBO show, Game of Thrones, which they just won their second Emmy for! Congratulations! Game of Thrones and Birdman were both nominated for an HPA Award, and they were also pivotal in the production of the films Unbroken, Jupiter Ascending, Cinderella, Furious 7, Tomorrowland, and Fantastic Four. Their recent productions list has us excited to see what else they’ve been working on lately: The Walk, The Last Witch Hunter, In the Heart of the Sea, Deadpool, and the highly anticipated Warcraft movie! If you'd like to apply for a job, they have offices in Montreal, Los Angeles, and Quebec City.
Rough Draft Studios - Their studios in California and South Korea have helped bring a hundred different animated film and television shows to life since they started in 1991. They worked extensively on Futurama for years, and have even contributed to the shows The Simpsons and SpongeBob SquarePants along the way. This year they have been involved with episodes of Adventure Time, The Simpsons, Uncle Grandpa, Gravity Falls, and We Bare Bears. It should be no surprise that they’ve received a prestigious industry award almost every single year since 1999. Last year they won an Annie Award for Futurama once again, and so far this year they have already been nominated for a 2015 Annie Award for their TV special, How Murray Saved Christmas.
Scanline VFX - With studios in Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Munich, this studio has made a name for itself by tackling some of the most challenging VFX scenes in movies each year. If there’s an amazing action scene where the camera doesn’t cut away or try to hide anything, then that’s a sign Scanline VFX may have been involved. They haven’t worked on Game of Thrones since season four, but you can see their recent scenes in films like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Blackhat, Furious 7, San Andreas, and soon we’ll see their VFX work in the films Pan, In the Heart of the Sea, Point Break, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Independence Day: Resurgence.
Shade VFX - In recent years, this company with LA and NY studios took good advantage of the New York tax credit program for filmmakers by doing VFX for several high budget films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hercules, and The Interview. However, lately they’ve been very committed to doing all the special effects for the Daredevil show on Netflix, and are already hard at work on all of the episodes of next year’s season two. In the meantime, they’re still working on the shows True Detective, Olive Kitteridge, Black Sails, the upcoming Jessica Jones and Westworld shows, and also the movies Pixels, Poltergeist, American Ultra, The Intern, Unforgettable, Love the Coopers, Going in Style, The 5th Wave, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
ShadowMachine - The stop motion animations for Robot Chicken from 2005 to 2012 came from this impressive Los Angeles studio, and their work was rewarded with several Emmy Awards and Annie Awards along the way. Moral Orel, Titan Maximum, Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole, and TripTank were all also well received, but their newest show is perhaps their most successful one yet: Bojack Horseman, the animated Netflix adult comedy. Get ready for their next project; this October they’ll enter the movie business when they release Hell and Back, a stop motion animated adult comedy film that looks like it will cause as many laughs as it does controversies! Their next films will be Lucy and the Anvil and Pinocchio.
Sledgehammer Games - This is the third tip of the new Call of Duty studio triangle, along with Infinity Ward and Treyarch. Together, the three of them work simultaneously on three different games for the series over three years on a rotating release schedule that ensures fans never run out of more Call of Duty content each year! Sledgehammer joined this partnership in 2011 when they co-developed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 with Infinity Ward, and last year they made and released Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare independently, with new gameplay mechanics for the series, which was greatly welcomed by new and old fans alike! They are currently hiring for several animation positions, so check them out!
Sony Pictures Imageworks - This is one of the VFX studios with the most momentum in the industry right now. It was founded in 1992 and has worked hand in hand with its sister company, Sony Pictures Animation, ever since 2003. Not only have they worked on dozens of influential special effects scenes from recent box office hits, but they even made the Arnold Renderer that helped change global illumination and shading software in the industry. If you want to work at a studio using cutting edge technology to become the best in the business, then this studio shouldn’t disappoint.
Square Enix - This is one of those brands that if someone has to tell you about this studio, then you might not want to work there. They already get unending amounts of applications from diehard fans of their video games, so you should already be passionate about their releases before applying. I suggest browsing the recent Square Enix titles they’ve worked on (usually with other studios) and keep in mind that in the past few years they’ve also become very invested in their Square Enix mobile games.
Stereo D - This studio was formed in 2009 and has already worked on quite the luxurious list of recent box office hits: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, San Andreas, Terminator Genisus, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Guardians of the Galaxy, and many others. They have offices in Burbank, Toronto, and Pune in India, and they even currently have dozens of job openings, so act quick!
Studio Pierrot - One of the most famous anime studios of all time is at a crossroads. Their highly popular Bleach series that began in 2004 came to a close in 2012, and the end may finally be in sight for the Naruto anime franchise, which began way back in 2002. Pierrot has worked on several other shows and movies in the past year, but many still wonder what the future holds for this company. Will they branch off in yet another revolutionary era of domination, or will they stumble? Maybe now is the perfect time for you to pitch a show idea to them?
TellTale Games - What a lovely game studio. They’ve always had a huge niche following for their story driven adventure games, but it wasn’t until late 2012 when they released The Walking Dead: Season One that a wave of new gamers tried their content and fell in love. In recent years this studio with roughly 240 employees has pumped out more seasons of Walking Dead game releases, The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands, their story adventure game for Game of Thrones, and the upcoming Minecraft: Story Mode. TellTale Games is truly one of the hottest studios in the business right now.
The Big Machine Studios - The world of VFX for television commercials requires imaginative artists who can work hard under short deadlines. If you enjoy fast paced projects and having a constant flow of fresh material and artistic challenges, then this studio would love to hear from you. They’ve done branded content for Geico, Hershey’s, Colgate, Wendy’s, Subway, Sonic, Capital One, and over the past twelve years they’ve worked on over one thousand design and animation projects.
Tippett Studio - Their prestigious list of credits stretches all the way back to 1990s and 1980s when they started off making stop motion animations and movie props for films like Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, RoboCop, Willow, Jurassic Park, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Last year they helped create Cosmos, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Deliver Us From Evil, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Remaining, The Pyramid, and The Crossing. This year they did extensive work for Ted 2 and created the Jurassic World Mobile MovieMaker App that lets you put CG dinosaurs into your home movies!
Titmouse, Inc. - Since 1999 when Titmouse was founded, this animation studio has been creating or helping one hit after another. Some of their past milestone shows include Avatar: The Last Airbender, Metalocalypse, Superjail!, Black Dynamite, Motorcity, and Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja. The shows they’re still working on after one or numerous seasons are Turbo Fast, Kirby Buckets, The Venture Bros., and China, IL. Deciding that wasn’t enough to keep them busy, they also just launched the new show Moonbeam City and will be launching the animated show TV Sucks within the next year!
Toys For Bob - While they weren’t the first studio to do it, this Activision subsidiary was the first studio to succeed in selling toys alongside video games and having the toys in your room help you inside the game as you were playing. Since 2011, they’ve released four hot selling Skylanders game that followed this setup, and now that other studios are trying to follow in their profitable footsteps I’m sure that Activision will be pressuring them to pull out all the stops and surprise the world with something big soon. Activision has announced their interest in making a Skylanders animated film, so we should know more soon on all fronts!
Treyarch - This is the studio that took turns with Infinity Ward, releasing a new Call of Duty game every other year to ensure that fans had a new war shooting game to enjoy each and every year. Since then, Sledgehammer Games has joined the mix, and now the game series rotates in a three year cycle. Perhaps this made Treyarch feel added pressure to compete, because their most recent releases have been some of their best to date. In 2010, they launched the Black Ops subseries for Call of Duty, with a sequel in 2012, and Call of Duty: Black Ops III coming out later this year!
Trigger - Studio Trigger is a newcomer in the animation industry; it was founded in late 2011 by former Gainax employees Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Ohtsuka. Despite being the new name in the business, this studio is already surpassing tons of competition with its highly popular Kill la Kill anime series. Other than creating the opening animations for Project X Zone and Black Dynamite, their recent production list includes Inferno Cop, Little Witch Academia, When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, Ninja Slayer From Animation, and the short film, Little Witch Academia 2.
TT Games - This is the studio behind the deluge of loved Lego video games based on movies, or super heroes, or even the Lego inception that is The Lego Movie Videogame. They worked on an astounding 11 different titles in 2013 and 2014, proving they know how to keep busy. Worry not, though, they’re currently hiring for the positions VFX Artist and In-Game Animator!
Ubisoft - Ubisoft Montreal ranked fifth on my 2014 Top 100 Most Influential Video Game Studios list, and I still consider them to be one of the best in the game business. Even though the massively successful Assassin’s Creed series has slowed down in recent years, there are literally dozens of Ubisoft subsidiary game studios you can choose from, each with its own exciting project going on. If you want to work at a company with lots of upward growth potential in your career, then Ubisoft could be a great home.
Valve Corporation - Last year, I awarded them the top spot on my list of the hundred most influential video game studios, and they still deserve it this year, too. They probably don’t need many new animators now, but then again, Valve always lists their game credits as just names without job titles. Because that’s what this studio is like: all for one and one for all. They only want people who are passionate about a shared vision for a game, and then are willing to work on any and every aspect of the game for as long as it takes to make the exact game they all envisioned. One day an animator could write dialogue for a game, the next they might playtest a game or help design the layouts for a Dota 2 tournament arena stage like the Dota Major Championships. If you love animation, but want more than just animation, a better studio for your needs than Valve probably doesn’t exist.
Volition - Do you not want to settle for any job, and care less about money than having as much fun as possible? This is one of the highest quality-of-life studios out there for employees, and while I can’t legally promise they end wars and cure cancer, their Saints Row games are some of the best uplifting flavors of silly that pixels can provide. In 2013, they released Saints Row IV and its DLC Enter the Dominatrix, and this year they followed it up with Saints Row: Gat out of Hell. They’re currently looking for animators, so don’t let this opportunity slip past you!
Walt Disney Animation Studios - I obviously don’t need to tell you how important this studio is, but, it is easy for artists to forget that the studio was in a mild slump for a while. So it’s good to remind people that as huge and famous as this company is, it’s still gaining momentum and expanding. Wreck-It Ralph earned close to half a billion dollars worldwide in 2012, and then in 2013 Disney’s Frozen more than doubled that to make it the highest grossing animated film of all time. Now is the best time to work for Disney in decades.
Warner Bros. Animation - This company is still working on tons of animated television shows (like Mike Tyson Mysteries) and direct-to-video features, but the “Warner Animation Group” division has huge plans in store for the future. Last year they kicked off a drastically long feature film to-do list with The Lego Movie, which they plan to follow up with Storks (2016), Lego Batman (2017), Lego Ninjago (2017), The Lego Movie Sequel (2018), Scooby-Doo (2018), The Flintstones (TBA), The Jetsons (TBA), Adventure Time (TBA), Smallfoot (TBA), Billion Brick Race (TBA), and possibly two more mystery projects tucked in along the way. I’ve already predicted they would acquire Animal Logic (who made most of The Lego Movie for them) just like Illumination Entertainment hired Mac Guff and later bought them as well. Other acquisitions are also entirely possible, because that’s quite the animation gauntlet they’ve scheduled for the next few years!
Weta Digital - This famous New Zealand VFX studio was founded in 1993 by Peter Jackson and others. Now that the Lord of the Rings film trilogy and the Hobbit film trilogy are both finally complete after all these years, you’d think we’d be sad, but we’re not. Instead, we’re ecstatic to see what’s next on the horizon for this studio now that it’s entirely free to go in any direction it wants. Over the past two decades they’ve dazzled us with scenes in plenty of other great films, so it’s going to be thrilling to see which titles they elevate in the near future with their top tier attention to detail.
Zynga - Probably the most successful mobile game company of all time, Zynga has had over 240 million monthly active users at one point, with 20 million daily active players, and about 2,000 employees! Despite their equity being listed at $1.895 billion last year, their stock has struggled in recent years and dozens of their once famous game communities have been discontinued. Dozens of their other wildly popular social games are still alive and healthy though, and Zynga has also expanded its business into online gambling and board games. Make sure you check out our Zynga Career Profile!
We hope you find the perfect job for you! If you’d like to recommend another studio (or your own!) then please feel free to reach out and email me!