The Rise of Independent Animation on YouTube and Social Media

With the predominance of large animation studios such as Disney or Cartoon Network in the film and television industry, independent animation has had little to no chances to flourish at all, up until the past decade with the rise of YouTube and social media platforms.

The internet has breathed new life into independent animation, as it allows a much more direct connection between animator and audience. There is a much greater opportunity to see content unfiltered by large corporations with agendas, which have opened the gates for a new wave of creative and amazing animations, and even studios, to rise up as solid competitors to larger names.

The first and most recent example of a successful independent studio is Spindlehorse Cartoons, founded by Vivienne “VivziePop” Medrano, who produced two full-length pilot episodes for two of her own passion projects: Hazbin Hotel and Helluva Boss. Hazbin Hotel had been in production for roughly 4 years, and managed to create a full 30 minute episode with freelance animators and crowdfunds from fans of her work.

In just two days, the pilot received over two million views and became an instant hit for adult animation. The show also featured many different characters of diverse gender, race, and sexuality, as the creator had always intended for the show.

Much of the show’s success can be attributed to numerous livestreams that were held prior to the pilot’s release, which showcased the animators and the voice actors interacting with fans while working on the show. The interaction Spindlehorse Cartoons has with its fans is something larger corporations could never hope to achieve.

The success of Hazbin Hotel has also inspired other animators to begin producing their own cartoons, such as Ashley Nichols (who worked on Hazbin Hotel) who recently announced her latest project “Hell Puppy.”

Another successful and long-time veteran to YouTube is Corridor Digital, which actually produces live-action content with high-quality visual effects.

The channel was originally founded by Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer, two friends who were passionate about making short films with visual effects. As of today, the Corridor channel consists of 9 employees, and has produced 2 television shows, 1 feature length film, 5 commercials, and hundreds of short films.

Corridor also created the viral video series “Bosstown Dynamics,” a parody of Boston Dynamics’ robotic engineering.

Many people were fooled to believe the video was real, with the impressive motion capture work they achieved using the skills they had been refining for the past 10 years. The channel has also found success with their new series, “VFX Artists React,” where they take popular movie and TV scenes and break down how the VFX shots work, or how they do not.

Social media has opened up a massive opportunity for new animators and filmmakers to make the content they’re passionate about, and not the same formulaic films seen in the past few years. Audiences are finally starting to see content they find relevant again, thanks to the direct connection they can have with creators.

With this new platform for creators, the future of independent animation looks bright.


I recently read an article about the controversial opinions that professionals in the animation industry have. Many illustrators, animators, and producers responded to Twitter thread, voicing their opinion on the industry and how it can improve. A specific tweet was made by Josh Weinstein,

He focuses on the issue of the common and simple way of categorizing animation– “kids animation” and “adult animation”. The art of animation goes beyond those two categories and is much more than being made for just two different age groups. It is an expression of thought, ideas, and messages that are not always targeted to just kids or adults. The point is beautifully conveying a story that hopefully anyone can see and understand. It should not be about what age group it is being made for, but what the story tells and why it is being told.

Animation can fit into any genre or category such as comedy, drama, romance, action, horror, etc.– not just kids or adult animation. When people refer to animated short/film, they should not refer to it as a kids or adult animation, but what the animation is actually about and what genre it would fit into.

Each animated film is unique in its own special way, and should be treated as such. Going beyond calling them kids or adults animation will give respect to the workers that took time to produce and create a film that carries meaning, ideas, and profound thought.