Animation studios of the past

Animation Studios from the Past: Part 4

It's time for another installment of Animation Studios from the Past! See our previous posts herehere, & here!

Ub Iwerks Studio

In 1930 Ub Iwerks founded the short lived Ub Iwerks Studio. Iwerks, born in 1901, was one of Walt Disney's closest friends and partners throughout the 20's. Iwerks sketched and drew for Walk Disney Animation Studios, but after falling out with Walt in 1928 over being overworked, he left the company. He opened up his own animation studio after he was offered financial support from Pat Powers, one of Disney's competitors. In addition to lending money, Powers was able to arrange a contract to distribute Iwerks' animations with MGM. The studio founded characters such as "Flip the Frog" and later on, "Willie Whopper", unfortunately, neither of these led to any major success. After 4 years, MGM ended their contract due to under preformance. Iwerks and Powers then turned to Comicolor Cartoons to distribute their animations, but after releasing 25 cartoons with only mild success, Powers discontinued his support and Ub Iwerks Studio had no other option but to close. Ub Iwerks closed in 1936. Many believe that if Iwerks would have had better leadership and story development within his cartoons, his studio could have survived longer. 


Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 in Tokyo, Japan by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki. The studio, primarily known for their Anime animations was created after the success of 1984's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, a film directed by Miyazaki. Suzuki, who worked on the production team for film decided to create the studio with Miyazaki, they later invited Takahata, an animator and director, to join them. The studio experienced much success, with 8 of their films being one of the "15 of the highest grossing anime films". The studio had also won numerous awards, including the Animage Anime Grand Prix Award, Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, Golden Bear Award, along with several Academy Award and Nominations in the US. In March 2014, Suzuki retired as a producer and became the General Manager of Studio Ghibli, but not for long. In August 2014, Miyazaki announced he would be retiring, which led the company to halt all production almost immediately. Toshio Suzuki announced that Studio Ghibli would take a "brief pause" to re-evaulate the company after Hayao Miyazaki's departure. The company has yet to resume production.

The Winkler Studio

In 1928, Walt Disney Animation Studio film producer Charles Mintz, asked animators Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney to produce a new character, the result was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. When Oswald began to gain major success, Mintz hired away the majority of Disney's animators and assumed Oswald's production to Winkler Studios, a studio owned by his wife's family. Soon after Winkler Studios became the Mintz Studios. After losing the contract to Oswald, Mintz Studios began creating a new series, the Krazy Kat. Throughout the studios lifespan, Mintz was nominated for two academy awards for Best Shorts, but never won. In 1939, when Mintz died, Screen Gems took over Mintz Studios.


Animation Studios of the Past: Part 2

A few months ago we posted about the history of a few animation studios that even with successful projects and stable times, have since folded or been bought out by larger studios or corporations. We'd like to continue this series and showcase a few more studios that once upon a time were profitable and prosperous before their closure. Interestingly enough, all these companies in some way or another, folded their assets or staff into DreamWorks Animation, who as of Monday, is now owned by Universal. 

United Productions of America (UPA)
United Productions of America (better known as UPA), started at the beginning of the 1941 Disney Animator strike. The American animation studio began with industrial and World War II training films. UPA, active from the 1940's to the 1970's, eventually began developing and creating shorts, most notably Mr. Magoo. UPA, unlike Disney, believed animation did not have to be as realistic as possible, and could be more creative. Although their original goal was to expand the boundaries of animation, unfortunately they began accomplishing quite the opposite. After 20 years of low budget and poorly made cartoons, the animation studio started to dwindle. In 2000 UPA was sold to Classic Media, and in 2012, Classic Media was bought by DreamWorks Animation.

Amblination, founded in 1989 was an animation production division of Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment. The studio, known for their quieter atmosphere and slower pace only produced 3 films. In 1997, while working on their 4th film, an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats the studio was shut down due to underperformance at the box office (Cats was never completed). Many staff members went on to work at DreamWorks Animation. Amblination's most notable film was An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, the character Fievel was even featured on Amblination's company logo.  

Pacific Data Images (PDI)  
PDI, a computer animation production company, was founded in 1980 by Carl Rosendahl with a loan of $25,000 by his father. In 1981, he was joined by Richard Chang and in 1982 by Glenn Entis. Richard and Glen worked on the in-house computer animation software that PDI would use for the next 20 years. PDI's goal was to deliver "Entertainment using 3D computer animation". In 2000, DreamWorks bought PDI, releasing feature films such as Antz and Shrek. By 2005, PDI had created over 1000 projects and grown to about 400 employees. In 2015, due to a larger restructuring effort within the company, DreamWorks dismantled their PDI division. All 3 founders have since gone off to pursue their own ventures. 

Stay tuned for more Animation Studios of the Past posts in the near future!