We’re all familiar with the story of animation powerhouses such as Disney/Pixar, but a lot of the time most people don’t really recognize what other animation houses are churning out one big hit after another. With the release of The Croods, we’d like to run down how DreamWorks Animation has evolved in the animation front since its beginning.

The start of a company is always tough no matter what. They’re trying to find their niche, their rhythm of sorts as they trudge along through their first couple of movies. Unfortunately they happen to begin with battling Disney head-on between their picture Antz and Disney’s A Bug’s Life, two bug-centered movies that both made good bucks. But that didn’t stop DreamWorks Animation from conjuring up what turned out to be their next bona fide hit, and a slightly different form of animation: The Prince of Egypt, a CG/hand drawn animation hybrid of a film about Moses. But where to go from there animation-wise? Do they continue on the path of hand-drawn animation? They did for awhile, making The Road to El Dorado and a couple more pictures (like Sinbad), but they never received the same kind of commercial success as The Prince of Egypt did. Still, they were part of the trend of integrating 2D and CG animation, so you can’t say they didn’t try.

DreamWorks Animation, founded by former Disney guru Jeffrey Katzenberg along with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, knew that in order to move this company forward as a possible force to be reckoned with, they need to change things up a little bit. Now Aardman Animation has been going on for awhile, capturing the hearts of many across the globe with Wallace and Gromit. Well one day DreamWorks decided they wanted to get into the claymation/stop-motion animation game, mix it up a bit. A few signed papers later and they made the adorable Chicken Run. What resulted was a nice relationship with the company that spanned for another film, Flushed Away which was CG instead of the normal claymation/stop-motion animation, but they stopped after that. The stop-motion claymation worked, but they were still looking for that one movie, and style of animation, to push them forward as a company.

DreamWorks Animation was already a good, legit company, but they just didn’t know how close they were from going down the movie franchise path. Back in 2001 there was a little film that they formed together, their first independent CG animated movie called Shrek. Finally they were really getting into the CG animation wave and the gamble paid off massively. Shrek spawned off into three other films and a spinoff movie to boot. Needless to say they found what at that point would be one of their main forms of animation used by the company from that point forward, making a variety of CG films after that point (Madagascar, Monsters vs. Aliens, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon), perfecting their style and detail of animation in the process. As time went on, they latched onto the 3D trend that’s still being used by DreamWorks and pretty much every single studio out there today. So they’re being trendy.

Years later, DreamWorks Animation is on the verge of shifting once again, but this time in the distribution department. They moved from Paramount Pictures over to Twentieth Century Fox, which brings us to the present day. Their final film at Paramoutn was Rise of the Guardians, which was considered a flop because it only made $100 Million domestically. The Croods is the first DreamWorks Animation movie at Fox, and it’s an exciting time for the animation house indeed. They’re just as popular as ever with a number of movies ready to be made under their banner. They haven’t strayed too far from CG animation so we’re hoping that they challenge themselves and deliver even more high quality pictures for years to come.

What’s your favorite DreamWorks animated movie?