Turning static into dynamic is always spellbinding. After all, starting from the first movement, it is already impossible to predict what will happen next. It remains only to observe.
From hand-drawn legendary projects of the last century to cutting-edge CGI technologies, animation invariably captures our attention with its liveliness, immediacy, and proximity to reality. The brightest animated characters and stories remain in our memory for many years, charming and leaving an unforgettable emotional aftertaste.
But let’s leave empty talk. The reason we meet here is more specific.
So, you are looking for a decent 3D animation studio that will not only take on your project but also shape it and bring it to the fore in the animation space. You are in the right place.
We are ready to point you in the right direction and provide you with all the knowledge you need to choose a great animation provider. What’s more, we’ve got a fresh list of top 3D animation companies that won’t cost you a fortune, but whose talent and cutting-edge approach are definitely worth giving a shot. Well, let’s dive in!
Digital, interactive, VR … Where else will the classification of 3D animation types take us?Learn more
Choosing a Decent 3D Animation Studio: Nuts and Bolts
When it comes to 3D animation, there is a lot of analytical work to be done. Look for the right balance of skill and creativity. Very often it leans to one side at the expense of the other.
Think for yourself. Great tech-savvy teams with no creative flair and no art direction expertise are unlikely to produce a satisfying result. And given the high cost of 3D animation compared to 2D or motion graphics, trial and error is definitely not the best method. And in conditions of a limited budget (and this is the most likely option), there can be only one attempt.
After we have scared and upset you, it makes sense to let you relax. Grab key tips to help you get in the analytical mood and choose a worthy studio.
1. Assess Animation Styles Professional Studios Offer
Professional Studios employ different animation styles in video games based on the game’s genre, tone, and artistic vision. They often blend various styles to create a unique and cohesive game aesthetic. From the smooth movements of characters to the dynamic environmental animations, the animation style contributes significantly to a game’s visual identity.
Let’s specify what is the difference between 2D, 2.5D and 3D animations commonly used in game design:
|2D Animation|| |
In 2D games, characters and other elements are often represented as sprites—two-dimensional images that are integrated into the game. These sprites can include characters, backgrounds, objects, and various visual effects. 2D animation is also used for particle effects like explosions, fire, and smoke. To create a sense of depth in a 2D game, developers often implement parallax scrolling, where background layers move at different speeds as the player navigates through the game.
|Combining 2D character animations with 3D environments provides a visually appealing style, often used in games that want to maintain a classic side-scrolling feel with modern visual depth: Platformers, Puzzle Games, Beat ’em Ups.|
|3D animation is a type of animation that uses three-dimensional computer-generated graphics to create moving images. This technique involves creating a virtual environment and characters in a three-dimensional space, allowing for realistic and dynamic animations. This animation style is very popular among AAA publishers.|
There are also different art styles that are used by artists to create authentical game style and unique game experience. When choosing a Studio to work with, assess their portfolio and whether the animation style remains uniform across characters, environments, and in-game objects. Consider the balance between stylization and realism in the animation style. Some games opt for a more realistic approach, while others embrace a stylized or cartoonish aesthetic. Assess how well the chosen style complements the overall theme and narrative of the game the Studio offers as its case.
Realistic Animation enhances immersion in games that aim for a lifelike experience, such as sports simulations or narrative-driven adventures.
|Stylized||Stylized Animation allows for creative and imaginative character designs, making it well-suited for games with fantastical settings or those targeting a younger audience. We mean Platformers, Adventure, Fantasy, Family-Friendly Games|
Cartoon animation’s exaggerated movements and expressive style lend themselves well to games with humorous or lighthearted themes, like casual games.
|Pixel Art||Pixel art evokes a sense of nostalgia and is often used in games that pay homage to classic video game aesthetics or have limited graphical resources: Retro Games, Indie Games, RPGs.|
|Motion Capture (MoCap)||Motion capture adds realism to character movements, making it particularly effective in games that prioritize authenticity and detailed animations. It concerns Realistic Sports, Action Games, Story-Driven Games.|
|Procedural Animation||Procedural Animation allows for dynamic and responsive character movements, making it suitable for games with expansive, unpredictable environments: Open-World Games, Sandbox Games, Survival Games.|
|Interactive Animation||Interactive Animation engages players by allowing them to influence or control character movements, adding a layer of player agency to the experience: Action Games, Adventure, RPGs.|
|Skeletal||Skeletal Animation allows for more realistic and fluid character movements, making it suitable for games that prioritize detailed combat or character interactions.|
2. Ask About the Tools Used
The software that a company uses to create 3D animation is very important as it directly affects the quality. It’s best to use Autodesk tools like Maya or 3ds Max. This is the industry standard for high-quality animation. However, the cost of this software is quite high, and not everyone wants to fork out.
Using free or cheap software can negatively affect the result. In addition, their functionality is much poorer and does not allow animators to customize programs to suit their needs.
3. Assess the Level of 3D Animation Team
Collaboration with a 3D animation team involves considering various criteria to evaluate their skills, creativity, and overall contribution to a project. Here are some key criteria to assess animation artists:
Evaluate the team proficiency in fundamental animation techniques, including timing, spacing, and movement. Assess their competence with animation software, such as Autodesk Maya, Blender, Adobe After Effects, or other industry-standard tools. Knowing their understanding of core animation principles is important. Consider the relevance of their latest works in portfolio to the specific requirements of your current project.
Creativity and Artistic Vision:
Review their skills in creating storyboards and concept art, as these early stages often set the tone for the entire animation. Evaluate how well the team pays attention to small details in their animations, such as facial expressions, subtle movements, or environmental elements.
4. Request Information on Team Composition
Before starting cooperation, you need to understand who will work on your project and how the team is formed. Perhaps the company has a static set of animation specialists, or it can customize the selection of them depending on the task at hand. It is good if the animation company has separate specialists in different types of animation. The best option is if the composition of the team is described down to the smallest detail of the duties of each member.
5. Learn More About Processes and Communications
Each studio has internal schemes for working and building communications. It is important for you to understand how well it all works. You can ask the following questions:
- How does communication work?
- Is it possible to change the composition of the team?
- How often do approvals and feedback sessions take place?
- What principles and standards does the team follow?
- How is quality assessed?
At Kevuru Games, we can highlight the following procedural features:
- Advanced project management. Each project is assigned a separate project manager, who ensures timely communication with clients and the exchange of all necessary information between them and the team. Each project also has its own account manager, who additionally controls the fulfillment of all the company’s obligations to each client.
- Full supervision of the project life cycle. Thanks to double control, the team works as an autonomous system and does not need additional control from the client. We provide planning, estimates, setting tasks for performers, ideas for optimizing work and improving the project.
- High-capacity recruiting model. The client can change the direction of work at any time, and if we do not have the necessary in-house specialists, then we undertake to find and hire them for this project at the right time in the required quantity.
- Strong internal control. All artists up to senior specialists are supervised and checked by the art director, who guarantees the impeccable quality of work in accordance with the wishes and needs of the client.
- Flexible team selection model. We form a team depending on the characteristics of the project. We have dedicated specialists for realistic and stylized types of animation who are best guided by their specifics and can represent them in accordance with the highest standards and current trends.
- Effective project development methodology. We work according to the Scrum method. On a weekly call, the team gives a report to the client about the work done for the sprint, accepts changes, and talks about further plans. Thanks to this, the work goes consistently and smoothly, the client sees all intermediate results and has full control over the process.
6. Read Reviews From Real Customers
Real clients are not a slip of the tongue or even prioritization. This means reality, existence in nature – oddly enough, but everything is simple.
But the fact is that, unfortunately, there is the practice of falsifying reviews in the name of a perfect company image. They are ordered from third parties or written by company’s employees themselves.
Some statistics: according to BrightLocal research, 82% of consumers have experienced fake reviews in the last year. And although circumstances often try to convince us that everything in this world is bought and sold, let’s not lose heart and get down to business. More precisely, let’s start recognizing fake reviews.
Here is a small but essentially powerful list of signs of a fake review:
|A similar writing style for several reviews in a row||Text style, characteristic phrases, presentation, and word order – if you have any doubts when reading the next review, then most likely this is not the first “essay” of the same person. Pay attention to excessive artistry, an abundance of comparisons and metaphors, this is also not typical for real reviews. After all, they are written by customer representatives, not writers.|
|General phrases and lack of specificity||“Great job, keep it up!” – this is the standard option for rating work on platforms such as ArtStation or Behance, but not for the feedback section on the 3D animation studio’s website. Even if a real customer had initially opted for discouraging brevity, the company would likely have insisted on more detailed comments for the website.|
|Feedback from a non-existent company||It’s an amazingly impudent trick, but quite real. There is an immense number of companies in the world, and not everyone will go to Google to check another name that doesn’t tell you much. It is unlikely that the studio will allow itself an invented review on behalf of famous giants – it can get caught red-handed on this. But it can come up with an imaginary client and write an enthusiastic comment – why not.|
An honest review always includes the client’s company name and the name and title of the person who left the review. Such a presentation shows that the company has nothing to hide – you can check if the author of the review actually exists, and if necessary, even contact him or her.
And one more thing – check out additional websites that may have company reviews and are harder to fake. It can be Clutch, The Manifest, DesignRush, and others. Methodically study all the information about reviews about the company that you can reach. And with the power of the Internet, you can get to almost anything, you know.
7. Seek Passion for Animation
As trivial and technophobic as this advice sounds, don’t be in a hurry to roll your eyes. Enthusiasm is the main driving force of any project, especially a creative one, which can only be achieved with sincere, genuine passion for your work.
The most memorable authentic things are created by people who love their job. The ideal animation studio team you are looking for is proactive, driven artists who believe in themselves and their skills, grasp project ideas on the fly, and are great at teamwork. And this is not a utopian picture, such teams exist.
Try to make sure that the studio you choose is eager to bring your project to life and not sluggishly considers it another plus in the portfolio. The recommendation sounds rather vague, but there is no formula for determining the presence of passion, this can only be understood on an intuitive level. Don’t be afraid, you will definitely feel if the enthusiasm comes from the team. This is partly visible in the portfolio, in the questions that you are asked, in the presence of counter offers and proposals. etc.
Ten Years on the Market vs One-Year-Old Novice
Very often the question arises, who is better to turn to – a seasoned veteran of the animation industry with an impressive number of years of professional experience or a budding newcomer who is still in full swing. The question is reasonable, and there is something to think about. However, for the most part, all reflections, most likely, converge on the analysis of the 7 points indicated above.
Most likely, given the portfolio, clients and passion, the newcomer will be the best in terms of passion. This is the most obvious option, because the studio needs to expand its portfolio and attract clients, which is only possible on its enthusiasm. For the time being.
The sadness of the situation is that passion, even for a beginner, is not at all a predetermined state. It is possible that the guys came to the market just to make a quick money – after all, animation requires a lot of resources and therefore is an expensive pleasure – and they are not very interested in the idea, mission, goals, and even their image as such.
On the other hand, worldly-wise old-timers with an immense portfolio and well-known clients who once collaborated with them (the uncertainty of the time frame is important here) can also either retain maintain enthusiasm for the next anniversary or lose it along the way.
Thus, we observe a double-edged sword. That is why, at the very beginning, we have talked about the need to find a reasonable balance of skills and creativity. Of course, years of professional experience are an indisputable trump card in the aspect of mastery improvement. But they should not be a decisive factor in your final choice of the best professional 3D product animation studio. Choose it guided by a set of criteria, and if they are all equally balanced, then everything will work out.
5 Top Picks of 2023: The Best 3D Animation Companies to Hire
Well, now it’s time to move on to our super bonus – a magical list of cool 3D animation companies, experts of reasonable price-quality ratio, and gurus of putting a wide variety of ideas into effect.
As AAA Game Art Studio, Kevuru Games has expertise that enables it to work with customers, including studios and major publishers. The team at Kevuru Games, consisting of game designers, artists, programmers, and project managers, is committed to making projects they work with a success.
They have experience with various game genres, such as role-playing, MMOG, adventure, strategy, riddles, board games, and educational games. The team aims to offer full-cycle game development services: concept art and design, testing, quality assurance, game monetization advice, and post-release support. Let’s delve into two example projects of the Kevuru team.
One of the popular projects of Kevuru Games is a PC simulation game Big Farm Story. According to the Wiki it has more than 500 million players worldwide. The game’s enormous interactive elements necessitated the most meticulous animation production. Kevuru Games team has been working on the Big Farm project for over a year and a half, developing 2D animation for:
Personas Birds, Plants, and Trees;
Aspects of an interface;
The illumination of structures
The animation of the surrounding objects and environment has been carefully implemented to enable a wide range of possible player actions, realistic movement, and rapid response of any item the player wants to interact with. Furthermore, Kevuru Games was involved in the animation of props, precisely many military and commercial ships traversing expansive maritime areas.
One more popular game that exceeded 600 million downloads is Monster Legends. It’s an RPG mobile game where you can fight epic battles, gather hundreds of creatures, and participate in fantastic events. Create new species, grow and tame legendary strong monsters. The game’s primary source of fun are the monster battles, each of which has unique characteristics that aid in selecting the best combat plan. Consequently, Kevuru Games animated each character according to their description, unique traits, and the client’s instructions. Kevuru Games artists created intricate battle animations for multiple characters in Monster Legends, and each of them won over a lot of fans. Our animators’ profound knowledge enabled us to bring them to life in a way that suited their personalities and abilities.
Pixune describes itself as a combination of game and 3D animation studios. A small but passionate Polish team follows all modern gaming and animation trends, keeping up with the times and all current industry achievements. Despite its young age, the studio has already managed to work with many clients and create an impressive portfolio. It’s a multi-award-winning firm with expertise in producing NFT graphics, 3D animation, and gaming art of the highest caliber. The team works with the game’s graphics, including character design, environment, user interface, and more. The talented staff will assist with every stage of 3D animation, including storyboarding, concept art creation, 3D modeling, rigging and animation, rendering, lighting, and directing. Furthermore, they have experience designing outstanding NFT.
A full-cycle game studio, Room 8 Studio provides photorealistic AAA-level artwork; its portfolio of various photorealistic creations, including characters, cars, and gaming components, attests to this. The team also creates game trailers, cinematics, background scenes for PC and console games, and videos for mobile games.
The studio collaborated with leading publishers, including Remedy, Ubisoft, Gameloft, and others, to provide top-notch artwork. This studio would be a great option if you are creating a realistic-looking, large-scale game.
For mobile, casual, social, and console games, RetroStyle Games provides a comprehensive range of services, such as 2D concept art, 3D modeling and animation, complicated asset production, Unity integration, and level design. Their team of artists can provide you with AI-driven Game Art services ready-to-use game assets that are compatible with all major game engines.
11 bit studios is at the forefront of animation innovation. The studio is dedicated to exploring new technologies and techniques to deliver animations that meet the expectations of the gaming community. With an eye on global expansion, 11 bit studios aims to make its mark on the international gaming scene. The studio’s commitment to excellence in animation positions it as a valuable partner for developers worldwide.
The Best 3D Animation Services Close at Hand
Each animation project is a separate and unique story, which must have a colorful visual interpretation that reflects all its details and nuances. The one who sees only the terms of reference, who has long forgotten the words initiative and enthusiasm, who only follows a well-defined plan, and indifferently presents the result to the client, will not be able to become a good animation storyteller.
At Kevuru Games, we are used to being story driven. This helps to achieve results that far exceed customer expectations and remain in memory for a long time. This is our mission, and we are glad that we managed to reach this level. You can view our portfolio and, of course, feel free to drop us a line about your project – we will be happy to delve into it and share with you our thoughts, initial estimates, and counter-proposals.