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The Most Famous Animation Companies of All Time

ben marvazi 2020

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Exploring the Most Famous Animation Companies

The realm of animation, a captivating fusion of artistic expression and cutting-edge technology, has held audiences spellbound for generations. Its unparalleled power to bridge cultures, ignite imaginations, and craft timeless tales is truly remarkable.

Tracing back to the era of simple hand-drawn sequences to the present-day marvels of digital animation, the world of animated content has undergone transformative changes. At the heart of this transformation lie the iconic animation studios that have not just pioneered new methodologies but have also redefined our engagement with animated narratives.

These trailblazing famous animation companies, celebrated for their visionary approaches and monumental successes, light the way for emerging animators and ambitious studio entrepreneurs. Moreover, by studying their journeys, we gain insights into their innovative spirit, the obstacles they navigated, and the groundbreaking strides they made in animation.

For anyone, novice or expert, looking to make their mark in the animation sector, the tales of these famous animation companies offer both inspiration and guidance. 

Join us in this blog as we traverse the annals of animation history, spotlighting the monumental studios, their indelible impact on the industry, and the timeless wisdom they impart for the next chapter in animation's story.

Cover GIF by Slanted Studios via GIPHY

1. Walt Disney Animation Studios

the Walt Disney Animation studio movie opening animation

GIF by ABC Network via GIPHY

A cornerstone in the realm of animated storytelling, Walt Disney Animation Studios has woven tales that have enchanted generations for almost a century. Initiated by the visionary duo, Walt and Roy O. Disney, this studio has consistently been a trailblazer, introducing innovative methods and shaping the animation landscape.

From the iconic inception of Mickey Mouse to its evolution into a global cinematic titan, the studio has ceaselessly expanded the horizons of animated artistry and solidified it as one of the most famous animation companies.

Intriguing Insight: Established in 1923, it stands as one of the most ancient and esteemed animation houses globally.

Key Takeaway: Walt Disney's dedication to narrative depth and intricate character crafting offers an enduring blueprint for animators everywhere.

Signature Creations: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "The Lion King", "Frozen".

2. Pixar Animation Studios

the Pixar studios intro animation

GIF by Disney Pixar via GIPHY

Emerging as a trailblazer in the world of computer-generated imagery, Pixar Animation Studios has redefined the animation landscape. Established in 1986, Pixar started as a computer hardware company before transitioning into one of the most famous animation companies we know today.

Furthermore, their commitment to storytelling, combined with technological innovation, has resulted in a string of blockbuster hits that resonate with audiences of all ages.

Intriguing Insight: Pixar's "Toy Story" (1995) was the first-ever feature-length film made entirely with CGI.

Key Takeaway: Pixar's commitment to innovation and pushing technological boundaries can inspire animators to always seek the next big thing.

Signature Creations: "Finding Nemo", "Up", "Inside Out".

3. Studio Ghibli

doors opening in a hallway from Studio Ghibli's movie Spirited Away

GIF by Spirited Away via GIPHY

Hailing from Japan, Studio Ghibli stands as a testament to the universal appeal of animation. Founded in 1985 by filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, Ghibli has produced films that are not only visually stunning but also deeply emotional and thought-provoking.

What's more, their unique approach to storytelling and unwavering commitment to hand-drawn animation has earned them a dedicated global fanbase and a spot among the world's most famous animation companies.

Intriguing Insight: Based in Japan, Studio Ghibli is often referred to as the "Disney of the East".

Key Takeaway: The studio's dedication to hand-drawn animation and deep emotional narratives teaches the value of authenticity.

Signature Creations: "My Neighbor Totoro", "Spirited Away", "Princess Mononoke".

4. DreamWorks Animation

the DreamWorks animation studio kid in moon animation

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DreamWorks Animation, founded in 1994, emerged as a formidable competitor in the animation industry. With the combined expertise of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen, the studio quickly made a name for itself, producing a series of hits that appealed to both children and adults.

Moreover, their ability to blend humor, heart, and cutting-edge animation techniques has solidified their place in animation history as one of the most memorable and famous animation companies.

Intriguing Insight: DreamWorks was founded by industry giants Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen.

Key Takeaway: Their diverse range of animation styles, from traditional to CGI, highlights the importance of versatility in the industry.

Signature Creations:  "Shrek", "Madagascar", "How to Train Your Dragon".

5. Illumination Entertainment

the male pig from the Sing movie twirling his jacket above his head

GIF by Sing Movie via GIPHY

A relative newcomer to the animation scene, Illumination Entertainment has quickly risen to prominence with its unique brand of humor and vibrant animation style. Founded in 2007 by Chris Meledandri, Illumination has a knack for creating characters that become instant cultural phenomena, from the mischievous Minions to the music-loving animals of "Sing", producing some of the most well-known productions by famous animation companies.

Intriguing Insight: Despite being a newer studio, founded in 2007, Illumination has quickly risen to prominence.

Key Takeaway:  Their ability to create globally appealing characters (like the Minions) showcases the power of universal storytelling as one of the most famous animation companies today.

Signature Creations: "Despicable Me", "The Secret Life of Pets", "Sing".

6. Aardman Animations

Gromit from Wallace and Gromit knitting in bed

GIF by Aardman Animations via GIPHY

Hailing from Bristol, UK, Aardman Animations has etched its unique mark in the animation world with its distinctive stop-motion claymation.

Incepted in 1972 by the creative minds of Peter Lord and David Sproxton, Aardman's unwavering commitment to precision, coupled with its iconic British wit, has earned them a plethora of accolades and a loyal fan base.

Intriguing Insight: This British studio is renowned for its stop-motion clay animation techniques.

Key Takeaway: Aardman's dedication to a niche animation style underlines the value of mastering a unique craft.

Signature Creations: "Wallace & Gromit", "Chicken Run", "Shaun the Sheep".

7. Blue Sky Studios

a stare-down between a bull and a matador from the movie Ferdinand

GIF by Ferdinand via GIPHY

Starting its journey as a visual effects company in 1987, Blue Sky Studios transitioned into the world of animation with its debut feature, "Ice Age", in 2002. What's more, their knack for creating endearing characters and engaging narratives, combined with their technical prowess, has made them one of many mainstay famous animation companies in the animation industry.

Intriguing Insight: The studio was originally founded to provide visual effects for commercials and films. It had to shut down in April 2021 due to a corporate acquisition.

Key Takeaway: Blue Sky's transition from VFX to animation teaches the importance of recognizing industry trends.

Signature Creations: "Ice Age", "Rio", "Ferdinand".

8. Laika

Coraline from the movie Coraline putting her hands over her face

GIF by LAIKA Studios via GIPHY

Laika, an American stop-motion animation studio, is known for its innovative approach to storytelling and animation. Founded in 2005, Laika has consistently pushed the boundaries of what's possible in stop-motion, blending traditional techniques with cutting-edge technology to produce visually stunning and emotionally resonant films.

Intriguing Insight: Laika is known for its pioneering work in using 3D printing for stop-motion animation, and is one of many famous animation companies owned by a non-animator.

Key Takeaway: Embracing cutting-edge technology can lead to groundbreaking artistic achievements.

Signature Creations: "Coraline", "Kubo and the Two Strings", "ParaNorman".

Standing on the Shoulders of Famous Animation Companies

a globe being passed on from generation to generation of animated men


The illustrious histories of these renowned famous animation companies serve as a testament to the dedication, innovation, and sheer artistic prowess that have shaped the animation industry over the decades. 

Each of these famous animation companies, with their unique challenges, breakthroughs, and iconic creations, provides a rich tapestry of insights for the next generation of animators. Their stories underscore the importance of adaptability, the relentless pursuit of excellence, and the magic that ensues when creativity meets passion. 

However, as we stand at the cusp of a new era in animation, with ever-evolving technologies and boundless opportunities, it's crucial for budding animators and ambitious studio owners to draw inspiration from these trailblazers. 

Their legacies remind us that while tools and techniques may change, the heart of animation—storytelling—remains eternal. So, for all those who dream of leaving their mark in the vibrant world of animation, let these famous animation companies be your guiding stars. 

Furthermore, as you chart your own path, seeking to transform your dreams into reality, don't forget the resources at your disposal.

If you're an aspiring animator or studio owner looking to take your passion for animation to the next level, consider joining the Animation Business Accelerator Program. With on-demand video lessons, live mentorship calls, and a supportive community, you'll gain the tools and knowledge to thrive in the animation industry. 

Check out our blog on How to Start an Animation Studio to kickstart your animation career today or give our free Masterclass a try first if you’re curious!

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