Side was originally set up in 1997 purely as a sound studio to service the commercial and broadcast sectors – but like many of the creative services firms in and around London’s Soho, the management team quickly realised that there was a great opportunity to tap into the rapidly growing games industry.
Over the years the firm has expertly used its experience and contacts gained from working on radio, TV and film projects to provide a full dialogue production service to the games industry.
By 2004 the production arm of the company was fully established and working with leading agents and directors to provide character performances for developers and publishers. And then two years ago the firm set up Sidelines, an agency specialising in providing professional writers for interactive entertainment projects.
Throughout its life the firm has had a big impact on the production for games including Fable II and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
“Being in London is incredibly important for Side as the city has one of the most concentrated pools of high quality acting, directing and writing talent in the world,” explains creative director Andy Emery.
“In order to tap into this and ‘champion’ performances in video games, we’re continually meeting with agents and directors, attending actor showcases, theatre productions and preview screenings. Being based in central London allows us the flexibility to meet the talent and make introductions to clients, often at very short notice. The transport links, especially the proximity to key airports, are an added bonus for clients attending sessions from Europe, North America and Japan.”
Side’s creative writing agency has developed will in the past year too, adds Emery: “It’s been a really exciting year for Sidelines and we’ve placed writers on a number of high profile titles. We now represent a diverse set of writers.”
And as the games industry’s familiarity with services and outsourcing increases, there’s an increasing sophistication in the way companies like Side are being treated by developers, says Emery – his team is being involved at the start of the game’s production much earlier these days: “With greater focus on character performances, we’re being brought into projects at a much earlier stage. We’ll be recording projects at the beginning of next year that we began pre-production work on back in April 2009 – this would have been unheard of only a few years ago.
“Developers can see the benefit of having our team involved much earlier in the process for directing staging sessions, script read-throughs, casting and rehearsals. This can open up a whole range of opportunities to improve the final quality once full production begins.”
Next year, Emery says the firm will grow its specialist audio localistaion service. “An increasing number of our publisher clients no longer accept inferior dialogue production for their localised games and expect the same high production values as the English version.
“Meanwhile we will continue to engage with creative talent developing even more exciting and believable character performances. It’s going to be another exciting and busy year.”
Number of staff: Ten full time staff
Location: London, W1
Previous projects: Dead Space Extraction, Fable II, LittleBigPlanet, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Currently working on: APB (Realtime Worlds), Star Wars: The Old Republic (LucasArts/Bioware) and various others