According to McGee: “Some of of biggest successes as a company have come from taking huge risks. Obviously you have to have the talent and the capabilities to do it, but the self-belief and dedication to doing it is the only way as an innovative company that you will succeed taking on those challenges. If you keep being safe then there’s only way you go – and that’s not to a good place.”
As McGee has mentioned, the company has a raft of projects to deliver for clients across different sectors, and virtual reality is a new one that’s set to be a big area.
He explained: “VR is completely immersive storytelling. Once you’re in this environment, the way we communicate stories is very different. It’s not like watching a film, you’re free to look wherever you want, so how do we, as storytellers, hold your attention to steer you through that 360° environment? Well, we’re not sure yet. We’re at year dot and the lessons we’re going to learn will be a steep learning curve with this revolutionary technology.”
He wasn’t exaggerating about the learning curve, revealing that the some VR experiences on the market have been found to cause some users to fall over, vomit and get upset. “There is a whole new set of rules,” McGee added.
But how does a company set out to overcome obstacles like new technology and client requests while upholding its reputation in the process? Skills – lots of them.
“We have to design and think of ways to solve problems. At Framestore we employ a huge range of people including physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists, putting them in teams with animators, fine artists and graphic designers, as well as writers and storytellers. It’s this mix of skills, creativity and science that come together to make Framestore unique in the stories it tells,” McGee revealed.
He continued: “It’s difficult to find the right staff. Not only do you have to have creative skill and technical skill in the same person, that’s hard enough, but you also need a really good communicator – getting all three of those things in a person is a challenge.
“I did a talk at an educational conference a few weeks ago, and as an exercise I took one shot of Sandra Bullock from Gravity and listed the number of people involved in it – 40. Next to it I listed all the degrees they had and there were about 12 types including archaeology, anthropology, medicine, chemistry, physics, maths, media, English, history and art. Ultimately, where we find the skills come from very different sources, but they combine those three things: technical, creative and communication.”
Framestore, seemingly well aware of its humble origins, has given back to budding creatives and entrepreneurs who are in a situation McGee once was. “We actually invested in Bournemouth University to put a Framestore within it. It’s complete with equipment, setting students real projects so that when they’ve finished degrees, they can go to a post-grad place and have a real showreel with real work,” he said.
“At the same time, they’re being trained by our people with skills that they’ll need. Once they’re here, we encourage people to play with technology and be innovative in their thinking, but we encourage people to make things – we also give life drawing classes, sculpting classes to keep traditional skills up as well. A computer is only a tool at the end of the day.”
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