Blue Zoo Animation Studios | Tom Box, Adam Shaw, Oli Hyatt - Co-founders of Blue Zoo
Before I get in to the actual talk itself, I have to say that being the early bird I am, I had a long wait after my arrival at MPC before the talk actually began. During this time, there was a screen at the front of the conference room with an animated Blue Zoo logo, in which lots of the small characters, like the one on the image above, are peeking through the text itself. This made me giggle repeatedly for about half an hour, and I'd love to meet the person who came up with it because it's so simple but immediately gave you a real feel for the humour of the studio. This talk was a bit different to other industry ones I've been to previously, as it was an interesting insight in to what it was like to start up a studio as just three students who had graduated from university, and how they've turned the company in to one of the biggest animation studios in the UK. What was most fascinating was the current state of the industry at the time that they graduated; the first ever version of Maya had been released and was only just able to be run on home computers. Apparently someone did a test for rendering a frame that might take ten seconds now, would have taken up to an hour on the computers they were running at the time. So this, alongside the fact that things like Vimeo and YouTube weren't what they have become now, meant that there were some serious challenges they had to face. Some of the benefits though, were that there wasn't nearly as much competition as there is today, home studios have become extremely accessible and with that comes a desperate need for uniqueness and a higher quality than ever to be able to succeed. What I didn't actually realise, was that one of their first productions was a show called Blue Cow, which I remember watching on TV when I was young. How strange! We were also shown some of the other earlier works, including a couple of the opportunities they had to be directors of their own series. This is something that would be incredibly rare now, so having the opportunity to be paid for something with complete creative control is something they clearly treasured and are very proud of to this day. This brings us to one of their latest and most ambitious projects, Digby Dragon. We were shown some of the development stages for each character, all of which had to be adapted and grown for the target audience as the original designs were much younger. What is particularly unique about this show, is that the island environment that it takes place on has been designed as a complete asset, so the characters can roam around as freely as they wish as opposed to having specifically designed one off sets for scenes.
I can honestly say that this presentation was hugely inspiring and it was a genuine pleasure to hear the tale of a success story such as Tom, Adam and Oli's. I'm really looking forward to seeing Digby Dragon come to life in the near future and particularly excited about the next quirky short from Blue Zoo Animation Studio too!