Five Atlanta digital entertainment companies to watch

Industry insiders say Atlanta, already a hotspot for news, music and tourism, is now a breeding ground for digital media and interactive entertainment companies with creative professionals working in gaming, 3D, animation and even audio books.

“The digital entertainment industry is changing constantly,” said Asante Bradford, digital entertainment and interactive media project manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “It has taken off, and we’re starting to see a lot of that here with our content creators.”

The Georgia Department of Economic Development offers film, television and digital entertainment tax credits of up to 30 percent. With that financial boost leading to more businesses locating and expanding in Atlanta, keep an eye on these five innovative metro-area companies.

Hi-Rez StudiosFounded in 2005, Hi-Rez Studios is helping put Georgia on the gaming industry map. “Tribes: Ascend,” released in 2012 and created by Hi-Rez, was ranked the eighth-best shooter game of all time by PC Gamer magazine. But it's another recent creation that makes it a company to watch. Released in early 2014, “SMITE” is a multiplayer online battle arena game for Microsoft and Xbox One with millions of registered users worldwide. An even newer game, Paladins is doing well too.

The growth, along with qualifying for state’s tax credit, allowed the Alpharetta company to double its full-time salaried staff, grew from 75 to 150 workers in 2015, according to the company. Hi-Rez' website currently lists more than a dozen job descriptions.

ListenUp Audio BooksLook out for ListenUp. Founded in 2005 and based in Atlanta since 2012, ListenUp publishes and distributes audio books for purchase online and through iTunes. The audio books range from ListenUp original titles, such as “Funny Story: The Incomplete Works of Topher Payne,” to classics and bestsellers, such as “Pride and Prejudice.”

Many of the audiobooks have been nominated for Audies, considered the Oscars of the audiobook industry. ListenUp also produces audiobooks for many publishing companies, including HarperAudio and Random House Audio.

ListenUp said it works with as many as 200 contractors.

Awesome IncorporatedAwesome Incorporated’s name alone doesn’t make it a shoe-in for this list, but its potpourri of work — 2D and 3D animation, visual effects and broadcast and motion graphics design — certainly does. Founded in Atlanta in 2006, Awesome Inc. is responsible for the Adult Swim series “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “Squidbillies” and “Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell.”

Awesome Inc.’s creations for Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, FXX, CNN, TBS, Logitech and others have reaped the company accolades. “Too Many Cooks,” a video created for Adult Swim, has won the “Certificate of Typographic Excellence” in the TDC (Type Directors Club) Communication Design Competition.

TRICK 3DFounded in 2006, TRICK 3D is an Atlanta computer graphic production studio that specializes in, yes, 3D content creation. Over the years, it has developed works — or as its website says, “animated awesomeness” — for big names, such as Hasbro, Lego and Cartoon Network. TRICK even produced an original CBS Christmas special, “An Elf’s Story,” based on the popular  “Elf on the Shelf” book.

In September 2014, the company installed the TRICK 3D STAGE, a 6,000-square-foot studio space in west midtown that is the first of its kind in the Southeast.

Atlanta ImageArtsA veteran compared to the other companies on the list, Atlanta ImageArts in 2015 is in its 18th year as a full-service production company for both broadcast and corporate television, as well as live events. Some of its big-name clients include A&E, ABC, ESPN, Home Depot and Kraft Foods, but there is a smorgasbord of others who utilize ImageArts’ expertise.

For its work on the Peabody Awards and Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards, ImageArts received multiple Southeast EMMY nominations, and its endeavors with corporate clients have garnered the company many a Telly.

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