Illinois, particularly Chicago, is a hub for creative industries, including animation. The state is home to several notable animation studios that contribute to a variety of media, from commercials and feature films to educational content and video games. This article delves into some of the most prominent animation studios in Illinois, exploring their history, notable works, and contributions to the animation industry.

The Animation Scene in Illinois

Illinois’ animation industry is diverse, encompassing traditional 2D animation, 3D animation, motion graphics, and visual effects. The state’s central location and vibrant creative community make it an attractive place for animation studios to set up shop. The presence of numerous art and design schools, such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and Columbia College Chicago, also feeds a steady stream of talent into the local industry.

Notable Animation Studios in Illinois

Calabash Animation

Calabash animation studios in illinois, is one of the most renowned animation studios in Illinois. Founded in 1985 by Tom Moore and John Ryan, the studio has built a reputation for creating high-quality, engaging animations. Calabash Animation specializes in 2D and 3D character animation and has worked with major brands like General Mills, Disney, and McDonald’s. One of their most iconic creations is the Pillsbury Doughboy, a character that has become synonymous with the Pillsbury brand.

The studio’s success can be attributed to its commitment to storytelling and craftsmanship. Calabash Animation’s team of artists and animators are adept at bringing characters to life, whether for commercials, television shows, or feature films. Their work has garnered numerous awards, including several Addys and a Clio Award.

Daily Planet Productions

Founded in 1979, Daily Planet Productions is another key player in Illinois’ animation scene. The studio offers a wide range of services, including 2D and 3D animation, motion graphics, and visual effects. Daily Planet Productions has collaborated with clients across various industries, from advertising and entertainment to education and healthcare.

One of the studio’s notable projects is the animated series “The Doozers,” produced in partnership with The Jim Henson Company. The show, which aired on Hulu, features a blend of traditional and computer-generated animation. Daily Planet Productions’ ability to adapt to different styles and mediums has made it a versatile and respected studio in the industry.

Studio V9

Studio V9, located in the heart of Chicago, is known for its innovative approach to animation and design. Established in 2009, the studio has quickly made a name for itself with its cutting-edge work in 3D animation, motion graphics, and visual effects. Studio V9’s portfolio includes projects for major brands like Nike, Pepsi, and Samsung, as well as collaborations with prominent advertising agencies.

One of the studio’s standout projects is the “Dreams of Dali” virtual reality experience, created for the Salvador Dali Museum. This immersive VR experience allows users to explore the surreal world of Dali’s paintings in 360 degrees. Studio V9’s ability to blend art and technology has earned it a reputation for pushing the boundaries of animation.

Caliber Media Group

Caliber Media Group, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, is a full-service animation and multimedia production company. The studio specializes in creating engaging content for corporate clients, including animated explainer videos, training modules, and promotional materials. Caliber Media Group’s team of animators, designers, and writers work closely with clients to develop customized solutions that meet their specific needs.

One of the studio’s successful projects is an animated series of explainer videos for a global pharmaceutical company. These videos simplify complex scientific concepts and make them accessible to a broader audience. Caliber Media Group’s focus on clear communication and visual storytelling has made it a trusted partner for businesses looking to leverage animation for marketing and education.

The Role of Education in Illinois’ Animation Industry

The presence of prestigious art and design schools in Illinois plays a crucial role in sustaining the state’s animation industry. Institutions like the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and Columbia College Chicago offer specialized programs in animation, providing students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the field.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

SAIC is renowned for its comprehensive animation program, which covers a wide range of techniques, from traditional hand-drawn animation to computer-generated imagery (CGI). The program emphasizes experimentation and encourages students to push the boundaries of the medium. Graduates of SAIC often go on to work for top animation studios or start their own ventures, contributing to the vibrant animation community in Illinois.

Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago’s animation program is another significant contributor to the local industry. The program offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Animation, providing students with hands-on experience in various animation techniques. Columbia College’s strong connections with local studios and industry professionals give students valuable opportunities for internships and job placements.

The Future of Animation in Illinois

The animation industry in Illinois shows no signs of slowing down. Advances in technology, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), are opening up new possibilities for animation studios. These technologies allow for more immersive and interactive experiences, expanding the potential applications of animation beyond traditional media.

Moreover, the increasing demand for animated content in advertising, entertainment, and education is driving growth in the industry. As more businesses recognize the power of animation to engage and communicate with audiences, the need for skilled animators and innovative studios will continue to rise.

Emerging Trends

Several emerging trends are shaping the future of animation in Illinois:

  1. Interactive and Immersive Experiences: Studios are increasingly exploring VR and AR to create interactive and immersive animations. These technologies offer new ways to engage audiences and tell stories, making animation a powerful tool for various applications.

  2. Hybrid Animation Techniques: Combining traditional and digital animation techniques is becoming more common. This approach allows studios to leverage the strengths of both methods, resulting in unique and visually striking animations.

  3. Sustainability and Eco-friendly Practices: As environmental concerns grow, animation studios are adopting sustainable practices. This includes using eco-friendly materials and processes, as well as creating content that raises awareness about environmental issues.

  4. Collaboration and Cross-disciplinary Projects: Collaboration between animation studios and other creative industries, such as gaming and graphic design, is on the rise. These cross-disciplinary projects lead to innovative and dynamic content that pushes the boundaries of animation.


Animation studios in Illinois are making significant contributions to the industry, producing high-quality content for a wide range of applications. From established studios like Calabash Animation and Daily Planet Productions to newer players like Studio V9 and Caliber Media Group, Illinois is home to a vibrant and diverse animation community. The state’s educational institutions also play a crucial role in nurturing the next generation of animators, ensuring that Illinois remains at the forefront of the animation industry.

As technology continues to evolve and the demand for animated content grows, Illinois’ animation studios are well-positioned to lead the way in innovation and creativity. Whether through traditional animation techniques or cutting-edge VR experiences, these studios are shaping the future of animation and leaving a lasting impact on the industry.