Blue Sky Studios is an American computer animation film studio based in Greenwich, Connecticut that has been owned by 20th Century Fox since 1997. The studio was founded in 1987 by Chris Wedge, Michael Ferraro, Carl Ludwig, Alison Brown, David Brown, and Eugene Troubetzkoy after the company they worked in, MAGI, one of the visual effects studios behind Tron (1982), shut down. Using its in-house rendering software, the studio had worked on visual effects for commercials and films before completely dedicating itself to animated film production in 2002 with the release of Ice Age.

Ice Age and Rio are the studio's most successful franchises, while The Peanuts Movie is its most critically acclaimed film. As of 2013, Scrat, a character from the Ice Age films, is the studio's mascot.


1980–89: Formation and early computer animation

In the late 1970s, Chris Wedge, then an undergraduate at Purchase College studying film, was employed by Mathematical Applications Group, Inc. (MAGI). MAGI was an early computer technology company which produced SynthaVision, a software application that could replicate the laws of physics to measure nuclear radiation rays for U.S. government contracts.[3]:12-13 At MAGI, Wedge met Eugene Troubetzkoy, who held a Ph.D in theoretical physics and was one of the first computer animators. Using his background in character animation, Wedge helped MAGI produce animation for television commercials, which eventually led to an offer from Walt Disney Productions to produce animation for the film Tron (1982). For Tron, MAGI hired Michael Ferraro, a systems architect, and Carl Ludwig, an electrical engineer.[3]:13 As MAGI's success began to decline, the company employed David Brown from CBS/Fox Video to be a marketing executive and Alison Brown to be a managing producer.[3]:12-13 After MAGI shut down, the six individuals—Wedge, Troubetzkoy, Ferraro, Ludwig, David Brown, and Alison Brown—founded Blue Sky Studios in February 1987 to continue their work in computer animation.[3]:13[4]

Ferraro began to build a programming language specifically tailored for Blue Sky's proprietary animation software, CGI Studio.[3]:12-13 At the time, scanline renderers were prevalent in the computer graphics industry, and they required computer animators and digital artists to add lighting effects in manually;[3]:13 Troubetzkoy, Ferraro, and Ludwig developed CGI Studio to use ray tracing,[5] which allows the renderer to simulate the physical properties of light and produce lighting effects automatically.[3]:13-14 To accomplish this, Ludwig examined how light passes through water, ice, and crystal, and programmed those properties into the software.[3]:13 Following the stock market crash of 1987, Blue Sky Studios did not find their first client until about two years later: a company "that wanted their logo animated so it would be seen flying over the ocean in front of a sunset."[3]:13-14 In order to receive the commission, Blue Sky spent two days rendering a single frame and submitted it to the prospective client. However, once the client accepted their offer, Blue Sky found that they could not produce the entire animation in time without help from a local graphics studio, which provided them with extra computer processors.[3]:14

1989–2002: Television commercials, visual effects, and Bunny

Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, Blue Sky Studios concentrated on the production of television commercials and visual effects for film. The studio began by animating commercials that depicted the mechanisms of time-release capsules for pharmaceutical corporations. The studio also produced a Chock Full O' Nuts commercial with a talking coffee bean and developed the first computer-animated M&M's.[3]:14 Using CGI Studio, the studio produced over 200 other commercials for clients such as Chrysler, General Foods, Texaco, and the United States Marines.[6] Blue Sky Studios also produced the computer animation for the "Mathman" video game segments of PBS's Square One Television.[3]:14

In the mid-1990s, MTV hired Blue Sky Studios to animate their network IDs, which led to additional collaboration between the two companies on the film Joe's Apartment (1996), for which Blue Sky animated the insect characters. Other clients included Bell Atlantic, Rayovac, Gillette and Braun.[3]:14 The Braun commercial was awarded a CLIO Award for Advertising.[3]:14 Recalling the award, Carl Ludwig stated that the judges had initially mistaken the commercial as a live action submission as a result of the photorealism of the computer-animated razor.[5][7] In August 1997, 20th Century Fox's Los Angeles-based visual effects company, VIFX, acquired majority interest in Blue Sky Studios to form a new visual effects and animation company, temporarily renamed "Blue Sky/VIFX".[8] Following the studio's expansion, Blue Sky produced character animation for the films Alien Resurrection (1997), A Simple Wish (1997), Mousehunt (1997), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) and Fight Club (1999).[3]:15

Meanwhile, starting in 1990, Chris Wedge had been working on a short film named Bunny, intended to demonstrate CGI Studio. The film revolves around a rabbit widow who is irritated by a moth. The moth subsequently leads the rabbit into "a heavenly glow, reuniting her with her husband."[3]:15 At the time, Wedge had been the thesis advisor for Carlos Saldanha while Saldanha was a graduate student at the School of Visual Arts; Wedge shared storyboard panels for Bunny with Saldanha during this time. After Saldanha's graduation, Blue Sky Studios hired him as an animator, and he later directed a few commercials. It was not until 1996 when Nina Rappaport, a producer at Blue Sky Studios, assigned Wedge to complete the Bunny project, which required CGI Studio to render fur, glass, and metal from multiple light sources, such as a swinging light bulb and an "ethereal cloudscape". In the initial stages of the Bunny project, Carl Ludwig modified CGI Studio to simulate radiosity, which tracks light rays as they reflect off of multiple surfaces. Blue Sky Studios released Bunny in 1998, and it received the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Bunny's success gave Blue Sky Studios the opportunity to produce feature length films.[3]:15

2002–present: Feature films

File:Blue Sky Studios logo.svg

Due to the F/X market crash, Fox decided to leave the visual effects business. In March 1999, they sold VIFX to another visual effects house, Rhythm & Hues Studios,[9] and considered selling Blue Sky next. At the time, the studio got the opportunity with the Ice Age script to turn it into a comedy. In 2002, Ice Age was released to great critical and commercial success. The film got a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and established Blue Sky as the third studio, after Pixar and DreamWorks Animation, to launch a successful CGI franchise.[10]

In January 2009, the studio moved from White Plains, New York to Greenwich, Connecticut, taking advantage of the state's 30 percent tax credit and having more space to grow.[11][2] The studio stated in April 2017 that it intends to stay in Connecticut until 2025.[12]

In 2013, Chris Wedge took a leave of absence to direct Paramount Animation's live-action/computer-animated film Monster Trucks.[13]


Blue sky studios feature films 2

Feature films

Released films

# Title Release date Budget[14] Gross[14] RT MC[15]
1 Ice Age 2002 $59 million $383 million 77% 60
2 Robots 2005 $75 million $260 million 64% 64
3 Ice Age: The Meltdown 2006 $80 million $660 million 57% 58
5 Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! 2008 $85 million $297 million 79% 71
6 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 2009 $90 million $886 million 45% 50
7 Rio 2011 $90 million $484 million 72% 63
8 Ice Age: Continental Drift 2012 $95 million $877 million 37% 49
9 Epic 2013 $93 million $268 million 64% 52
10 Rio 2 2014 $103 million $500 million 46% 49
11 The Peanuts Movie 2015 $99 million $246 million 87% 67
11 Ice Age: Collision Course 2016 $105 million $408 million 15% 34
12 Ferdinand 2017 [16][17][18][19]

Upcoming films

# Title Release date Ref(s)
13 Spies in Disguise September 13, 2019 [1][2][3][4]
14 Waybuloo March 5, 2020
15 Cardz September 6, 2020 [5]
16 Nimona 2021 [6][7][8]
17 Land Middle of Tintin July 2022
18 FruityTales December 2023

Films in development

Title Ref(s)
Anubis [1][2][3][4][5]
Mutts [6][7][8][9]
Alienology [10]
Frogkisser! [11][12]
Escape from Hat [13]
Family Guy [14]
Untilted Dragon Ball Super film [15]

Television specials

# Title Release date
1 Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Script error
2 Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade[16] Script error

Short films

# Title Release date
1 Bunny Script error
2 Gone Nutty Script error
3 Aunt Fanny's Tour of Booty Script error
4 No Time for Nuts Script error
5 Surviving Sid Script error
6 Umbrellacorn [17][18] Script error
7 Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe [19] Script error
8 Scrat: Spaced Out[20][21] Script error



Academy Awards

Year Film Category Winner/Nominee(s) Result
1998 Bunny Best Animated Short Film Chris Wedge Won
2002 Ice Age Best Animated Feature Chris Wedge Nominated
2011 Rio Best Original Song "Real in Rio" Nominated

Golden Globe Awards

Year Film Category Winner/Nominee(s) Result
2015 The Peanuts Movie Best Animated Feature Film Steve Martino Nominated

See also


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  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 PR Newswire (April 4, 2002). "Blue Sky Is Red Hot With Ice Age". Press release. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
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  30. Script error FruityTales (2020) Rodney Coderbottom and Fender Pinwheeler Cameo in the episode [[Where's Fun When I'm F-Fear?

Further reading

  • Friedman, Jake S. (2014). The Art of Blue Sky Studios. San Rafael, California: Insight Editions. ISBN 9781608873173. 

External links

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Template:Blue Sky Studios Template:Animation industry in the United States Template:Fox Entertainment Group

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