Axis Animation MD Richard Scott discusses Scotland’s international reputation and just what the firm is up to

Scotland Focus: Flying the Scottish flag in games

Scotland-based firms Axis and Flaunt have spent all their existence working with games clients. Whether it is Axis’ triple-A trailers for Need for Speed: Rivals and Halo or the broader audience work of Flaunt on Age of Empires Online and LEGO Harry Potter, games are in our blood.

Having an international outlook is something that I think companies in Scotland are very good at. There is something about being Scottish that appeals globally; it might be the accent or the heritage connections that many people around the world feel. Either way it works to our advantage.

The great thing about games and entertainment in general is that there are no real international barriers to reaching audiences, so over time we’ve seen many Scotland-based companies have a lot of success reaching around the world with their games. It’s so exciting to see Scottish titles have such an enviable reputation worldwide, and that’s not something you always see a lot of from the more traditional areas of Scottish film or television.

Axis made the decision to focus on North American clients in 2005 and it has been the main driver in our expansion and growth in reputation. We also continued this international focus when we started our sister company, Flaunt Productions.

We have managed to achieve this international growth entirely from our Glasgow base but have added to this with agents, talent managers and partners to allow us to open more doors. 2014 will see us have a dedicated business development person on the ground in Los Angeles and we are really excited to see what the results are from this.

Besides international clients, we are also on a constant search for global talent. While we maintain a powerful in-house team, we often supplement that with external suppliers with specific skills. For example, the surge in casual games has meant a move away from realism to more diverse visual styles. So we’ve beefed up our relationships with concept artists, designers and illustrators from around the world.

Throughout the process of being more international, we’ve had great support from our local development agency Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International. They have supported our attendance at the top industry events as well as providing support and advice on new markets such as Canada and Japan. They have a great ability to be able to call on Scots around the world for input and connections via their GlobalScot network.

Axis Animation and Flaunt are very lucky to work with these international clients and our goal is always to be involved in the most interesting and creative projects we can find. Although we have this worldwide reach with clients, we always look for local partners in Scotland to work with on these productions. There are a lot of talented companies in Scotland with skills we can use; we love being part of a local community serving the wider entertainment world.

Come together

Axis has worked regularly with sound and music specialists Savalas and facial capture and scanning specialists Dimensional Imaging on a range of different projects. It was great working with Savalas on Halo 4: Spartan Ops and being able to blow people’s minds with the fact that all of that great storytelling and action was made right here in Glasgow.

The other thing that Scotland has in its favour is a strong heritage for storytelling. For us, characters and stories are at the core of everything we do, it is what really engages audiences. All the changes in distribution channels and consumer behaviour puts us in a great place to take advantage of these core skills. Games consoles are becoming broadcast channels, mobiles games are ubiquitous and great stories are being adapted from television to games for a different experience and audience.

Axis and Flaunt will be moving to take advantage of this convergence and we are looking at opportunities in episodic content, interactivity, real-time rendering and co-production partners to tell more stories.

We’ve just recently set up axisVFX, a boutique visual effects studio specialising in visual effects for television drama and independent film. This is part of a general diversification plan.

We are really excited about how we can apply our experience with the games industry to these new areas, for example using real-time engines to create more realistic pre-visualisations for animation and visual effects.
What’s next for Axis & Flaunt? We are moving into our new 8,000 sq ft studio which the whole team is excited about. We’ll continue to solidify our relationships with global clients and suppliers, going to all the big industry events. It’s an ever-changing time in games, with constant seismic shifts, so you have to stay on top of who’s who and what’s what – you never know where the next shift will be.

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