This week SohoSoho is delighted to chat with the animation and motion design studio Northforge. These guys have come a long way in a short period and have already made their mark on the animation scene in the north. Now they're working with agencies and brands across the country. The last few months have seen them produce some great work and they've even found time to launch a new website and brand identity. Here we showcase their new site and the work they've created recently.
We chat with their Managing Director Matt Simpson. So enough from us. Over to Matt and the talented Northforge team...
- Hello Northforge. Thanks for taking time to chat to Soho Soho. So to kick off tell us more about your studio. For instance when did your team come together and what kind of services do you offer?
Sween set Northforge up 8 years ago; followed a few years later by Wray and more recently (2015) Jim and I joined them to make Northforge what it is today. Having all run studios we were aware of each other’s talent, so we were pretty excited to see what we could do together – and we’ve not looked back. When we set out we concentrated on the craft, making each piece as good as it could be, and then used that project to go get the next, it worked! and we enjoyed it that much we’re still using the same model today. Obviously we have bills to pay, but as it’s our business, we can make decisions that feel right for the studio not the bottom line.
- Leeds along with many northern cities have thriving design, post and agency scenes. How do you think working in Leeds differs from working in London?
Leeds is very exciting at the moment, it’s going through a real change – we’ve just joined a group of like minded businesses across the creative sector of Leeds under the name allin.leeds. Initially to back the channel4 bid, but longer term a collective for the great good, sharing experience knowledge and weight to support creativity, education, diversity and the community. It’s a really amazing thing and we’re looking forward to see what we can achieve. As for the Leeds/London thing, culturally its different, but we think that’s a great thing, it give us different experiences we can harness and bring to our work. It’s fantastic to see all our cities diversity shining through.
- What do you think makes your studio stand out from others?
We’re a relatively small studio but we punch well above our weight, we’ve purposely gone high-end, having recently moved to Houdini (after the horrific death of our much loved Soft - image). Houdini is normally only offered in much bigger studios, but as we predominantly work with agencies that take care of creative, client and budget, it makes it possible for us to concentrate all our efforts on what we’re good at. We’re uniquely positioned to offer that level at a fraction of bigger studios; our full day is equivalent to what some charge an hour. That doesn’t mean we’re budget driven or we don’t understand the need for those studios, but clearly it helps us to maximise the hours we can spend, and that can only improve our output.
- Have you been influenced by other animation studios?
Every day. We constantly share and discuss great work. Obviously the likes of Man.vs.Machine, Psyop, Future Deluxe, The Mill, Buck and Passion (to name a few) are the benchmark, but we love work from all ages and mediums from Milt Kahl and the guys at Disney, Studio4c, Souviens Ten Zan.... we could go on all day! What is important to us is that we’re not just copycatting other studios work, so we seek inspiration from all forms, that way we hope to not fall into the echo chamber of treatments/ideas.
- Do you have plans to expand the business into new emerging areas such as VR?
We’ve done a fair bit of work on VR, its important to us to stay current. Even though not many of our regular clients are requesting it yet, like any new tech, it inspires new techniques and processes can push us in new directions we can cross pollinate into other work. It has really exciting possibilities and can be immensely powerful, if used in the right place for the right project.
- What projects are you most proud of?
Honeymonster for The Gate Films was a highlight; we had the opportunity to bring the big man to life with a mixture of traditional and modern techniques, working with some incredibly talented people. And no matter how many times it happens, it’s always magical to see your work on the TV.
- What are your latest projects?
As always we’re blessed with a diverse mix of work. We’ve just started some lovely character work for a new app, photo-real 3D stills for print, a huge creative for a renewable energy film, and a web banner for a campaign we’re crafting to get it under 200kb! Never a dull day.