Studio Spotlight: Giant Ant is Refreshingly Unique & Quirky

Motion Design June 20, 2019 3 min read

As we embark on another industry spotlight, today we are going to focus on a mid-sized studio out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada that has really been making waves with their unique brand of illustration based animations and quirky perspectives.

The first thing to note about today’s spotlight, Giant Ant, is that they have Jorge Canedo Estrada on their talent roster. Estrada spoke to Motion Array about the motion graphics industry not too long ago.

Estrada got his start at Buck before working his way up to associate creative director at Giant Ant where it’s obvious that he plays a big role in the voice of the studio. Along with a team of talented animators, editors, writers, and the leadership of partners Leah Nelson and Jay Grandin, Giant Ant has become a go-to for fresh ideas and elegant execution of creative work.

To get a sense of just how original the work of Giant Ant is, take a look at their most recent animation reel.

More on the animation in a minute. Let’s start with a deeper dive into the live-action side of the studio. The first thing that becomes apparent when looking at Giant Ant’s work is their ability to tell a story with beautiful visuals.

Take, for example, the trailers Giant Ant created for the DOXA Documentary Film Festival. These are the simplest tailers you could imagine on paper. One shot, one object, and a solid background. But each one builds suspense for the reveal with clever sound design and slow anticipation to reveal a very clever word or phrase related to documentaries. Before the reel is over, you’ll be playing a game with yourself to figure out the reveal and wondering what will come next.

Then there are these quirky Visa spots that step away from the traditional fancy camera work and high locations and replace them with practical, hand-crafted sets with an emphasis on “craft”. Giant Ant pairs these clever visuals with scripts written in haiku that are recited by the greatest voice over talent in the world, Morgan Freeman.

The result is something completely different than any other credit card ad you’ve probably seen and way more memorable.

Of course, Giant Ant also knows how to tell a great live-action story with no words at all. Something as seemingly mundane as a button maker is transformed into a vibrant story through Giant Ant’s approach to stylized camera angles and color treatments in this spot that turns a rainy day into a sunny one for Six Cent Press.

So, we know Giant Ant has a great grasp on live-action creative, but where they really shine above many other studios is in their completely unique approach to animation and illustration. Here are a few of the pieces that stand out amongst Giant Ant’s slew of creative work.

The team and communication startup brought a song from the ’40s to Giant Ant and wanted a creative animation to go with it. What Giant Ant came back with was an amazing homage to 40’s era cartoon styles, mixed with cartoon shaded 3D elements, and blasts of Slack’s vibrant color palette, for something that is exceedingly fun to watch and compelling throughout. The root in the old, mixed with modern touches stands out from most of what we see in advertising today.

One of Giant Ant’s greatest assets is the ability to do so much with so little. Rather than overwhelming viewers, they often look to get the most out of sparse elements by finding new ways to make them exciting.

This is the premise behind the 22nd Annual Sag Awards graphics Giant Ant created for TNT/Turner. Although there are some whimsical line drawn elements, and a few sophisticated backgrounds, the hero of these graphics are simple 3D text words like “Actor” and “Story”. But the Giant Any team turns the concept on its head by placing the text in unique patterns that come together with fluid and constant camera movements. Making for a spot that is never ever dull without hitting you over the head with visual elements.

Of course, when eye candy is what’s needed, Giant Ant knows how to deliver there as well. When they created these Channel Red Interstitials for Target, Giant Ant used nothing more than the concept of circles and spheres with Target’s trademark red and white to build stunning animations that take you on a journey and almost leave you breathless, while never missing a step.

And here’s one more example of how Giant Ant can create a vivid and engrossing story with seemingly simplistic visuals. When creating the launch video for the app, Giant Ant turned to the use of flat shaded, somewhat simple illustrations, with the occasional surprise 3D element to tell a story that covers the spectrum of what offers in a light-hearted and quirky way. It’s beautiful to watch, and fun too.

From the wide range of work in both live-action and animation, it’s no wonder some of the biggest names like Target and Sprite turn to Giant Ant as well of some of the most innovative companies like and Slack. Giant Ant always brings something new to the table with flawless execution and style.