Somewhere in a quiet street of East London, Animade, an animation studio, is digitally crafting stories and rendering reality, one frame at a time. Mike Guppy, its Senior Designer, talks to me about the power of video.
“Animade is a forward-thinking animation studio. We make everything from TV ads to social campaigns to video games—all with lashings of character!” There are currently 16 people, including producers, animators, illustrators, designers and developers. "Everyone gets a chance to throw their hat in", says Mike, "We often work on projects that bring our different skills together—like animated web-toys—which is always fun.”
The studio itself is like a liveable playhouse. There’s a game area hidden away in a corner, a ping-pong table near the kitchen, and lots of toys including plastic pistols from the project Ready Steady Bang. It also seems that everyone is a plant enthusiast judging by the abundance of them everywhere: on tables, by the window sills, and hung way up high. “We have a fantastic studio culture that balances work and play, and one that is constantly engaged with the creative community. We run ongoing studio projects like our blogs Hover States and Alpha Channel, which is an opportunity for us all to check out the inspiring things other people are making and to reflect on our own work. We are also launching a new talks series called Sauce which is really exciting.”
The imagination is an infinite place, full of magic and marvellous worlds. Animation gives life to the seemingly impossible and is a great example of what technology can accomplish. “I love projects that provide us with creative autonomy. It leaves you free to experiment and try new techniques and processes.” This type of freedom allows Animade to push boundaries and take people to higher dimensions. Characters like the comical Airbnb marathon runner are compelling because of their oddness, but also their humanity.
...it's a company bonded without bounds, unified by the love for making things come to life.
John Lasseter, of Disney and Pixar, once said that “no amount of great animation will save a bad story.” How things look on screen is not enough to deliver something meaningful to people. We need characters with their own lives and narrative. Animators are storytellers, and storytellers need storyboards. Apropos of this, the folks behind Animade created ‘Boords’ to scratch their own itch. The product is so popular that within the first few days 1,500 people subscribed to its newsletter. “As an animation studio, we produce a ton of storyboards, which can be a very time-consuming thing. So we set about trying to make a web app that lets you quickly and easily create storyboards. After sharing this with a few of our peers, it became obvious that there was a huge demand for this kind of app. So we began developing Boords, which is currently an invite-only beta, but will soon be available to all!”
In animation, technology is merely a means towards the goal of a great story
In animation, technology is merely a means towards the goal of a great story. Boords is a fine example of experimenting with technology to make the process of storytelling better. With its tagline “storyboarding made simple,” Boords makes adding, removing, replacing and re-ordering content super easy, which you can then share with workmates or send to clients.
Animade demonstrates that in animation, there’s no such thing as boring. For example, for its client Aberdeen Asset Management, it managed to turn “dry investment advice into something fun that got more than a million views on the client’s website alone.” It’s probably Animade’s ability to turn the boring into fun that allows them more enjoyable future projects too. Without disclosing too much information, the current one is simply a “party-themed web-game.” I’ve been told to keep my eyes peeled because “it’s always fun to see what happens when animators and developers get together.”
Animade started out as a company called Chambers Judd, founded by James Chambers and Thomas Judd. But soon after, the studio wanted to establish its visual identity and clarify what it does and can achieve. Marvel was used extensively for the re-design of animade.tv. Mike himself uses Marvel for creating clickable wireframes and designs for websites. “It is a great way for understanding the user journey. Being able to embed Vimeo videos directly into the prototypes was a great feature.”
The brand feels more like a declaration now, more sure of itself, as if to say it’s finally arrived at where it wants to be. The logo, a bold infinity-loop, signals to us that it's a company bonded without bounds, unified by the love for making things come to life.