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Nickelodeon Animation Studio

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Nickelodeon Animation Studio
FormerlyGames Productions Inc. (1990–1998; still used as a legal name)[a]
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1990; 34 years ago (1990) (as Games Productions Inc.)[a]
March 4, 1998; 26 years ago (1998-03-04)
(as Nickelodeon Animation Studio)
HeadquartersStudio City, Los Angeles, California, U.S. (1990–1998)
Burbank, California, U.S. (1998–present)
New York City, New York, U.S. (second facility, 1999–present)
Key people
Ramsey Ann Naito (president)[1]
ParentNickelodeon Group

Nickelodeon Animation Studio (also known as Nickelodeon Animation) is an American animation studio owned by Paramount Global through the Nickelodeon Group. It has created many original television programs for Nickelodeon, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly OddParents, Rugrats, Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Loud House, among various others. Since the 2010s, the studio has also produced its own series based on preexisting IP purchased by Paramount Global, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Winx Club. In November 2019, Nickelodeon Animation Studio signed a multiple-year output deal for Netflix, which will include producing content, in both new and preexisting IP, for the streaming platform.[3]

The studio was founded in 1990 under the name Games Productions Inc. A subsidiary called Games Animation was established in 1992.[4] It oversaw the production of three animated programs for Nickelodeon: Doug, Rugrats, and The Ren & Stimpy Show. In 1992, Nickelodeon began work on Games Animation's first fully in-house series, Rocko's Modern Life. Games Animation produced much of the network's mid-1990s output in partnership with other animation companies like Klasky Csupo. In 1998, the studio moved from Studio City, California to Burbank with the construction of a new facility. It was renamed Nickelodeon Animation Studio and later Nickelodeon Studios Burbank. In 1999, a second facility in New York City was opened, named Nickelodeon Animation Studio New York.[5]


An official timeline of Nickelodeon Animation Studio's productions, posted in 2022.

1990–1998: As Games Productions[edit]

The Nickelodeon Animation Studio's beginnings lie in the roots of the channel's Nicktoons endeavor. In 1990, Nickelodeon hired Vanessa Coffey as a creative consultant to develop Nicktoons,[4] charging her with the quest of seeking out new characters and stories that would allow the channel a grand entrance into the animation business.[6] The high cost of high-quality animation discouraged the network from developing weekly animated programming. Although most television networks at the time tended to go to large animation houses with proven track records to develop Saturday-morning series, often generally pre-sold characters from movies, toys or comics, Nickelodeon desired differently. Inspired by the early days of animation and the work of Bob Clampett, Tex Avery and Chuck Jones, Nickelodeon set out to find frustrated cartoonists swallowed up by the studio system.[7] Nickelodeon president Geraldine Laybourne commissioned eight six-minute pilots at a cost of $100,000 each before selecting three. Seeking the most innovative talents in the field, the products of this artists' union – Doug, Rugrats and The Ren & Stimpy Show – represented twelve years of budget-building toward that end.[6] Coffey was hired as Nickelodeon's Executive Producer of Animation between the pilots and series production.[4]

However, despite the best efforts, relations became strained with Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi. In fall 1992, the studio fired Kricfalusi. Coffey asserts that John was in breach of contract for not delivering on time, creating disturbing content and going over budget.[8] Kricfalusi suspected the real reason was that the network was uncomfortable with more crude humor.[9] Nickelodeon objected to most of his proposed plotlines and new characters—including George Liquor, an Archie Bunker-ish "All-American Male." After Kricfalusi and Nickelodeon missed several promised new-episode delivery and air dates, the network—which had purchased the rights to the Ren & Stimpy characters from Kricfalusi—negotiated a settlement with him.[9] The creative tug of war was closely watched by both animators and the television industry and covered in the national press.

In response, Nickelodeon moved the series' production to its own studio, Games Productions Inc. According to Vanessa Coffey, "Nickelodeon had a corporation already set up called Games. They didn't want to spend money to open a new corporation, so they put [Nickelodeon's animation division] under Games."[10] A subsidiary called Games Animation was established in 1992.[11] The series was moved to Games and put under the creative supervision of Bob Camp, one of Kricfalusi's former writer-director partners.[9] Nick's plan was to hire bright, young animators and let them do almost anything they want.[11] Coffey soon stepped down as animation vice president for Nickelodeon, to pursue her own projects. She was replaced by Mary Harrington, a Nickelodeon producer who moved out from New York to help run the Nicktoons division that was a near-shambles after Kricfalusi was fired.[11]

Games' initial duty was to continue producing The Ren & Stimpy Show after Nickelodeon dropped Spümcø and Kricfalusi from their duties on the show. At the time, Games was located in an office building in Studio City, California. Apart from The Ren & Stimpy Show, Nickelodeon's other Nicktoons were produced out-of-house at other studios (Jumbo Pictures and Klasky-Csupo), with oversight from the Games team.

In 1992, animator Joe Murray was approached by the studio with intentions of developing a new animated series for Nickelodeon. The series became Games Animation's first in-house production, Rocko's Modern Life, which premiered on the network in 1993. Games worked on the show for three years and employed over 70 people during the course of its run. Executives did not share space with the creative team.[12] The show ended in 1996 as its creator Joe Murray wanted to spend more time with his family.

Following the end of Rocko, Games Animation produced the pilots for Hey Arnold!, The Angry Beavers, and CatDog, along with the former's first 26 episodes, and the second's first 13 episodes. The latter was produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio along with the other two by this point forward.

1998–2009: As Nickelodeon Animation Studio[edit]

In 1996, Albie Hecht, then-president of Film and TV Entertainment for Nickelodeon, met with Nickelodeon artists for a brainstorming session on the elements of their ideal studio, and, with their feedback (and some inspiration from the fabled Willy Wonka chocolate factory), created "a playful, inspirational and cutting-edge lab which will hopefully give birth to the next generation of cartoon classics." He added, "For me, this building is the physical manifestation of a personal dream, which is that when people think of cartoons, they'll say Nicktoons."[13] Nickelodeon and parent company Viacom threw a bash to celebrate the opening of the new Nicktoons animation studio on March 4, 1998. During the launch party, a gathering of union labor supporters formed a picket line to protest Nickelodeon's independent hiring practices outside the studio's iron gates.[13]

Located at 231 West Olive Avenue in Burbank, California, the 72,000-square-foot (6,700 m2) facility, designed by Los Angeles architecture firm AREA, houses 200–300 employees and up to five simultaneous productions. It also contains a miniature golf course (with a hole dedicated to Walt Disney), an indoor basketball course/screening room, an artists' gallery, a studio store, and a fountain that shoots green water into the air.[13] The Nicktoons studio houses five, project driven production units. Each has its own color and design environment and includes a living room, writer's lounge, and storyboard conference room. The studio also has a Foley stage (for recording live sound effects), a post-production area, sound editing and mixing rooms and an upstairs loft area with skylights for colorists.[13]

In September 1999, Nickelodeon opened a major new digital animation studio at 1633 Broadway in Manhattan. The New York studio primarily took over production of Nick Jr. animated properties.[14] At the same time, the Los Angeles facility animated the intro for The Amanda Show.

It was reported in 2005 that the Burbank studio was up for sale; this was later corrected, as the owner of the building was selling it.[15]

In mid-2006, Nickelodeon announced a collaboration with DreamWorks Animation to create shows based on DWA's films. The first DWA co-production was The Penguins of Madagascar, which would eventually premiere in November 2008 (followed by 2011's Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and 2013's Monsters vs. Aliens).

In 2007, Nick launched El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera (the first Nicktoon created in Adobe Flash) and Tak and the Power of Juju (based on the video game series of the same name). Back at the Barnyard (a spinoff of the theatrical film Barnyard) was released that same year.

2009–2019: Studio collaborations and acquisitions[edit]

In 2009, Nickelodeon acquired the rights to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Mirage Studios.[16] In early 2011, Viacom bought 30 percent of the Italian studio Rainbow SpA, the creators of Winx Club.[17] Following both purchases, Nickelodeon Animation Studio began to produce new content for both franchises: a continuation of Winx Club and a reboot series of TMNT. Since they were produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio,[18] Nickelodeon refers to both continuations as official Nicktoons.[19]

By 2013, Nickelodeon's deal with DreamWorks Animation had reached an end; according to Bob Schooley, Nickelodeon Animation expressed a desire to refocus on "more Nickish shows."[20] Looking for original concepts, Nickelodeon Animation Studio created the Nickelodeon Animated Shorts Program, under which it would produce new animated shorts with the potential to turn into whole shows. A select few were greenlit and premiered within the following years.

In 2016, Nickelodeon's Burbank animation facility moved into a five-story glass structure that is part of a larger studio complex. The move was intended to bring animated productions currently produced elsewhere in Southern California under a single production facility.[21] Because it houses both animated and live-action productions, the Burbank location has been renamed to simply "Nickelodeon Studios" (which is not to be confused with the original Nickelodeon Studios at Universal Studios Florida, which closed in 2005).[22] The studio also houses the Nickelodeon time capsule, first buried in Orlando, Florida in 1992 at the original Nickelodeon Studios and later at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort in 2006, which has moved to the new studio by the latter's closure and rebrand on June 1, 2016.[23] The capsule is set to be opened on April 30, 2042. The new studio opened on January 11, 2017.

2019–present: Expanding brands[edit]

In October 2018, Brian Robbins became president of Nickelodeon.[24] In November, he appointed Ramsey Ann Naito as head of animation at Nickelodeon;[25] she was later promoted to president of Nickelodeon Animation Studio in 2020.[26] In both roles, Naito reported to Robbins. Under Robbins' presidency, Nickelodeon began to focus more on expanding some its preexisting franchises. At Nickelodeon Animation Studio, this effort encompassed the first-ever SpongeBob spin-offs (Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years and The Patrick Star Show) and a CGI reboot of Rugrats. The studio also collaborated with corporate sibling CBS Eye Animation Productions to produce Star Trek: Prodigy.[27] In 2021, Avatar Studios, a division of Nickelodeon Animation dedicated to producing projects from the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise, was launched.[28] In 2023, the studio signed a first-look deal for animated series and features with Lion Forge Entertainment.[29]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The studio was founded under the name "Games Productions Inc." in 1990. Although the studio was rebranded as Nickelodeon Animation Studio in 1998, Games Productions still exists as the legal name of the studio.[30]


  1. ^ "RAMSEY NAITO NAMED PRESIDENT, NICKELODEON ANIMATION | Nick Press". NickPress. Archived from the original on September 25, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  3. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (November 13, 2019). "Nickelodeon, Netflix Team for Original Animated Features, TV Series". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 3, 2021. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Owen, Rob (May 5, 2016). "Nickelodeon Animation Studio: Pop-Culture Powerhouse Got an Unlikely Start". Variety. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  5. ^ David Kilmer (September 22, 1999). "Nickelodeon opens animation studio in New York". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Nickelodeon into animated work". The Prescott Courier. August 9, 1991. Archived from the original on October 20, 2021. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  7. ^ Daniel Cerone (August 9, 1991). "Kids network finally adds kids' staple: cartoons". Eugene Register-Guard. Archived from the original on December 16, 2021. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  8. ^ Duca, Lauren (December 18, 2014). "One Woman Is Responsible For Starting Nickelodeon's Golden Age Of Cartoons". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on May 8, 2021. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Andy Meisler (November 21, 1993). "While Team 2 Works to Reform Ren and Stimpy". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 8, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  10. ^ "Nickelodeon Animation Studio: Pop-Culture Powerhouse Got an Unlikely Start". May 5, 2016. Archived from the original on August 5, 2023. Retrieved August 5, 2023.
  11. ^ a b c Andy Meisler (October 17, 1993). "New Kings of TV's Toon Town". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 15, 2019. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  12. ^ "Where Rocko the series was produced Archived May 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine," Joe Murray Studio
  13. ^ a b c d Wendy Jackson (April 1998). "Studio Tour: Nicktoons". Animation World Magazine. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  14. ^ "Nickelodeon Animation Studio to Open". The New York Times. September 20, 1999. Archived from the original on November 13, 2020. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  15. ^ Amid Amidi (September 16, 2005). "For Sale: One Tacky Animation Studio". Cartoon Brew. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  16. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (October 21, 2009). "Ninja Turtles move to Nickelodeon". Variety. Archived from the original on December 24, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  17. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (February 4, 2011). "Viacom takes stake in Rainbow". Variety. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  18. ^ "Nickelodeon Animation Studio: What We Do - Winx Club". Nickelodeon. 2014. Archived from the original on June 13, 2014.
  19. ^ "Nickelodeon Packaging Guide Refresh". Nickelodeon Consumer Products. Viacom International, Inc. July 14, 2016. Archived from the original on April 30, 2019. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  20. ^ Schooley, Bob (February 16, 2014). "Ratings, desire of Nick to get back to the more "Nickish" shows". Twitter. Archived from the original on March 6, 2014. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  21. ^ "Inside the Studio: Under Construction". YouTube. Nickelodeon Animation Studios' Official YouTube Page. August 18, 2015. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  22. ^ Geoff Berkshire (March 10, 2015). "Nickelodeon Animation Builds New Facility Just in Time for 25th Anniversary". Variety. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
  23. ^ Roseboom, Matt (February 26, 2016). "Nickelodeon Time Capsule to be moved to new Nick studios in California". Orlando Attractions Magazine. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  24. ^ Sandberg, Bryn (October 1, 2018). "Viacom Names Brian Robbins President of Nickelodeon". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 2, 2020. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  25. ^ "Nickelodeon Names Ramsey Naito Head of Animation, Chris Viscardi to Become Producer". November 6, 2018. Archived from the original on January 20, 2023. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  26. ^ "Nickelodeon Promotes Ramsey Naito to President of Animation (EXCLUSIVE)". September 2020. Archived from the original on January 20, 2023. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  27. ^ "Nickelodeon Animation Reaches Across Platforms to Boost Franchises". October 5, 2022. Archived from the original on March 6, 2023. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  28. ^ Zorrilla, Mónica Marie (February 24, 2021). "Nickelodeon Launches Avatar Studios, Will Expand World of 'Avatar: The Last Airbender,' 'The Legend of Korra'". Variety. Archived from the original on March 13, 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  29. ^ Sarto, Debbie Diamond (July 13, 2023). "Lion Forge and Nickelodeon Ink First-Look Animation Deal". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on July 15, 2023. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  30. ^ "GAMES PRODUCTIONS INC. :: California (US) :: OpenCorporates". Archived from the original on August 5, 2023. Retrieved August 5, 2023.

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