This project started with a simple question: What are the most-viewed independently produced animated shorts on Youtube?
As I soon discovered though, no online resource tracks that info. So I decided to do it myself. After some time researching, I’ve put together the following chart. (We’ll soon link it in the site’s navbar for easy access and will aim to update it regularly.)
The chart includes only independently produced animated shorts with over 60 million views on Youtube. Thirty-eight films met the criteria to be included on the list.
The chart does not include animated music videos, studio shorts, or episodic shorts that are part of a larger series. On the latter point, it is often difficult to distinguish what is a series and what isn’t, and I’ve made my best effort to separate standalone shorts from episodic content. For example, Alan Becker’s Animation vs. Minecraft Shorts series aren’t included because they are clearly labelled as episodes that are part of a series, but Becker’s short Animator vs. Animation IV is included because I considered it to be a sequel to earlier shorts and not explicitly an episode of a larger series.
A few observations after putting this together:
- Nearly half of the most viewed independent animated shorts on Youtube are produced by just five users: TheOdd1sOut (5 films on the list), Alan Becker (3), Cyriak (3), Guldies (3), and Pes (3).
- What works on the internet is not necessarily what work works at an animation festival. This is not a new observation, but the point becomes really obvious after seeing the data put together like this. With a handful of exceptions, most of the shorts on our most-viewed Youtube list did not have notable play at animation festivals. The only filmmaker who has consistently bridged the festival/Youtube divide is Pes, whose films perform equally well in both spaces. He owns the current most-viewed indie animated short of all-time on Youtube — Fresh Guacamole — which also happens to be an Oscar-nominated short, the only such-honored film on the list.
- The most-viewed indie animated shorts are almost exclusively directed by males. I was able to identify only three films directed or co-directed by a female: Five Nights at Freddy’s by Ihascupquake and Jaiden Animations, Sidewalk by Celia Bullwinkel, and Dust Buddies by Beth Tomashek and Sam Wade.