Discover the best of the best in VFX with the top 15 companies and studios of 2023.
Creating your own visual effects is a highly skilled and time-consuming process that most filmmakers, and other creatives, don’t have the resources to cover.
You can hire a VFX studio to produce bespoke effects for your project, but this approach to creating special effects is usually expensive.
The alternative for most video, gaming, or other visual projects, is to opt for stock VFX libraries, to purchase visual effects individually or in bundles, which come with a license for your use of them.
In this article, we’ll walk you through:
- The types of VFX companies you can use for your media projects.
- A list of the 10 best VFX studios in the world that you should know about.
The 5 best stock footage VFX companies to add visual effects to your projects, starting with our own, ActionVFX.
Types of VFX companies
There are a variety of visual effects companies that specialize in creating a wide range of visual effects for film, television, games, and other media. We’ve listed some of the most common below.
VFX stock footage companies
VFX stock footage companies have libraries of visual effects that customers can either purchase individually, as a bundle, or get full access via a subscription. This is the most affordable way of accessing professionally produced visual effects for VFX projects.
Here at ActionVFX, we are included in this category. We offer a wide range of pre-made visual effects that can be purchased individually, or via monthly subscriptions designed for individual users or studios.
VFX studios specialize in building visual effects on a contract basis for specific projects. Customers provide a brief of what they are looking for and the studio provides a bespoke service to build the effects for each project.
VFX studios can also be broken down into the following sub-categories:
- Film VFX studios: These include many of the studios associated with Hollywood blockbuster movies, but there are also lots of smaller studios around the world providing visual effects for a variety of purposes. These companies specialize in creating VFX for film projects, including feature films, short films, and commercials. They may work on everything from creating complex CG characters and environments to compositing elements into live-action footage.
- Television VFX studios: Television VFX companies specialize in creating visual effects for television projects, including TV shows, documentaries, and music videos. They may work on a wide range of VFX tasks, including compositing, animation, and 3D modeling.
- Advertising VFX studios: These companies create VFX for commercials and other types of short-form video content. They may work on a wide range of projects, from simple product demonstrations to more complex, effects-driven commercials.
- Gaming VFX studios: Video game developers are huge users of visual effects and there are specific studios to help create them. These companies specialize in creating VFX for video games, including console games, mobile games, and PC games. They may work on a variety of VFX tasks, including character animation, particle effects, and environmental design.
- Virtual Reality VFX studios: These companies create VFX for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences. They may work on a variety of projects, including games, educational content, and more.
Post-production VFX companies: These companies offer VFX services as part of a larger post-production process. They may work on films, television shows, commercials, and other types of content.
Top VFX studios in the world you should know
This list covers 10 of the most well-regarded VFX studios worldwide that you should know about, even if your budget won’t stretch to hiring them.
- Animal Logic: An independent creative digital studio based in Sydney Australia, Vancouver, Canada, and Los Angeles, US. Their work includes The Lego Movie 1 & 2, Peter Rabbit, and Captain Marvel.
- Digital Domain: A Los Angeles-based VFX company, with studios around the world, that has contributed to numerous high-profile films, including Titanic, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Tron: Legacy.
- DreamWorks Animation: DreamWorks is a Glendale, California animation studio with a history of producing many animated blockbuster films, and high-quality TV series. Some of its most successful projects include the Shrek series, the Madagascar series, How to Train Your Dragon, and Kung Fu Panda.
- Double Negative: Double Negative is a London-based VFX company that has worked on numerous blockbuster films, including Inception, Interstellar, and the Harry Potter series.
- Pixar Animation Studios: With headquarters in Emeryville, California. Some of its most famous animated entertainment films include the Toy Story series, and it also works on Disney productions.
- Industrial Light & Magic: Located in San Francisco, ILM is a division of Lucasfilm and has been a pioneer in VFX for decades. They have worked on many iconic films, including the Star Wars series, the Indiana Jones series, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Studio Ghibli: Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio, founded in 1985, known for producing high-quality animated films, television series, and other works. Some of its most famous projects are My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle.
- Framestore: Founded in London in 1986, Framestore has won multiple Academy Awards for its work on films such as Avengers, Gravity, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Martian.
- Walt Disney Animation Studios: The studio has a long history of creating high-quality animation films since it first began working in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. One example of its innovative mindset is that it produced the first technicolor cartoon. Based in Burbank, California, it still produces some of the best-loved, high-quality animated films, which often include a range of visual effects that enhance storytelling and create immersive worlds. Some of its most well-known feature films include Lion King, Frozen, and Encanto, among many other favorites.
Wētā Digital: Based in Wellington, New Zealand, Weta Digital has won several Academy Awards for its visual effects work on films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, and Avatar.
Bonus VFX and animation studios to know about: Moving Picture Company (MPC Film - New York, with studios around the world including Paris, London, Amsterdam, Bangalore, Shanghai, and Montreal), Rhythm and Hues Studios (closed in 2020), Method Studios (LA, New York, Atlanta, Pune), and Crafty Apes, with studios across North America, including in New York, Montreal, and Albuquerque.
Best stock visual effects companies
Many stock visual effects platforms offer a range of pre-made elements that you can use in your film, video, or other projects.
Here are 6 of the best, starting with our own:
1. ActionVFX: Best VFX company for raw stock footage
At ActionVFX, our in-house team of VFX professionals produce high-quality stock visual effects (VFX) for use in film, television, and other media. Our comprehensive VFX library includes high-quality VFX elements, available in high resolution, that are highly realistic and super easy to use.
Our customer support is also world-class and our customers are consistently satisfied with the support they receive, as our average net promoter score (NPS) of over 80 clearly demonstrates.
Raw visual effects footage to add your own touches
Unlike other stock effects on the market, our stock VFX elements are provided to you as raw footage. This means you can see, and edit, the underlying layers, and elements that make up every one of our final VFX shots. You get to understand how we built the shot and can change or adjust it, as necessary.
Our raw footage can be used as it comes, or as a starting point for creating your own custom VFX shots. For example, you can use the raw footage as a base layer and add your own elements or effects on top of it, so the final effect is uniquely yours.
You can download all our VFX elements in formats that are easy to use and integrate into a variety of software, including Adobe After Effects and Nuke. We also provide detailed how-to articles and tutorial videos to help our users get the most out of the VFX elements they want to use.
Access the Full Power of ActionVFX: Subscribe Today and Save on Element Purchases
At ActionVFX we offer both one-time purchases and subscriptions for our VFX elements. Additionally, after you subscribe, you get access to a library of over 1500 free bonus elements through Free for Subscribers. We offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try out our visual effects subscription at zero financial risk to you.
When you subscribe to ActionVFX, you gain access to our complete VFX elements library on a recurring basis. You can opt for a monthly or yearly subscription, depending on your requirements, and enjoy significant cost savings compared to purchasing individual clips separately. Our subscription model remains the most cost-effective option for utilizing our VFX elements to their fullest potential.
We have pricing plans for both individuals and studios. Individual plans start at $14.99 per month (you can cancel at any time) for five credits per month, for 2K resolution downloads. With an annual subscription, you get two months free. Typically, each credit allows you to download a single VFX element, so for 15 credits you can get up to 15 credits per month.
If you run a studio and have a regular need for VFX stock footage, you can opt for a studio subscription starting at $99 per month for 2k resolution effects, or $199 per month for up to 6k resolution. With our studio plan, your unused monthly credits roll over to the next month, so you never miss out on what you’ve already paid for. Annual studio plans also give you two free months.
Your subscription automatically renews at the end of the subscription period, or you can choose to cancel it. Every asset you download through your subscription is covered under the ActionVFX Lifetime License. Under this license, you can use any of the effects you downloaded forever, in as many projects as you want. Just store your downloaded effects in a safe place, because you will lose access to them once you unsubscribe.
A subscription with ActionVFX is a convenient way to access a wide range of high-quality VFX elements for your projects on an ongoing basis. Subscribe now for access to our VFX stock library.
2. Video Copilot: Best for VFX to use in Adobe After Effects
Video Copilot is a software company that produces a range of video production tools for creating VFX assets, including special effects, 3D models, and motion graphics. It is not specifically a VFX stock footage company, but does provide some VFX elements as a starting point to create more complex effects in video editing and compositing software.
Pros and cons of Video Copilot
All Video Copilot’s VFX assets are specifically built for use in Adobe After Effects, if you use other video editing or compositing software its effects may not be compatible. Its plugins allow users to easily create a huge range of professional quality effects, including explosions, fire, smoke, and more.
Because it is software that helps create VFX from scratch, as well as providing some stock effects, the cost of Video Copilot’s products can be expensive, particularly if you need multiple plugins or assets. If you have a tight budget, this is something to consider.
3. Footage Crate: Best for stock video footage
Footage Crate (by Production Crate) is a VFX company that produces and sells video footage and visual effects elements for use in a variety of media. Its stock video footage includes shots of landscapes, cityscapes, nature, and more, and can be used to add visual interest and realism to video projects, without having to shoot them on location.
In addition to stock footage, Footage Crate also offers a selection of VFX elements, including compositing elements, particle effects, and others.
Pros and cons of Footage Crate
Footage Crate’s pricing is competitive and it offers effects in a wide range of categories. However, VFX elements downloaded usually need to be cleaned up and adapted to make them work in projects, rather than being ready to use, exactly as they come.
While Footage Crate’s products are generally high quality, it is important to carefully preview any footage or VFX elements before using them in your projects to ensure they meet your needs.
4. FX Elements
FX Elements offers a wide range of special effects elements, including explosions, fire, debris, and more. Additionally, it offers a selection of compositing elements, such as green screen backgrounds and matte paintings, used to combine different visual elements and create seamless compositions.
Pros and cons of FX Elements
FX Elements have a large library of VFX elements, although there is a lack of variety in the type of elements offered. It offers no large-scale pyrotechnic effects or explosions in its library, for example. Additionally, users have found that some elements break the edge of the frame, which requires a clean-up for wider shots.
5. Visual FX Pro
Visual FX Pro is a recent player in the VFX market. It was established in 2020 by a former VFX freelancer and is focused on providing quality visual effects at affordable prices.
Pros and cons of Visual FX Pro
The Visual FX Pro website, while providing high-quality effects, includes a relatively small range of stock video footage and visual effects. Subscribers may find that customer support is patchy due to the small size of the team behind Visual FX Pro.
How to use stock VFX companies
Using a stock visual effects company is a convenient way to access a wide range of pre-made VFX elements for use in your film, television, or other media projects. It’s straightforward to start using most of them. Here’s how it’s typically done:
- Search for the VFX element you want on the VFX company’s website, or use the search function to find what you need.
- Preview the element to make sure it’s what you need.
- Purchase the element individually or sign up for a subscription.
- Download the element to your computer and import it into your video editing or compositing software.
- Use the imported VFX element in your project. You should be able to scale, rotate, or adjust it to fit your needs.
- Credit the VFX company in your credits or on your website. Check each company’s guidelines on how to credit their work.
How to choose your perfect stock VFX company
When choosing a visual effects company to use in your project, there are several factors to take into consideration, as it can be time-consuming and budget-busting to create your own from scratch. To choose the perfect stock VFX company for you, there are a few questions you should ask yourself as you make a decision.
- Does the VFX library include everything I need now, and will need in the future?
- How often is the library of effects updated?
- Can I make my own changes to the effects I download?
- Where have the company’s visual effects been previously successfully used?
What will it cost me to get access to the entire range of visual effects I will need?
Are you a VFX artist in search of a wide variety of premium assets? The ActionVFX library is the answer to your needs! By subscribing, you'll get unrestricted access to our collection, as well as over 1,000 bonus assets at no additional cost. Visit our website now to explore our offerings and become a subscriber.
At ActionVFX, we believe in letting our work speak for itself. That's why we offer an incredible selection of free VFX elements for you to try out! See the quality of our assets for yourself, and stay informed about new releases by checking out our release schedule.
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