Assembly has become one of the world’s best animation and production houses. Its skills extend from beautiful animation work, amazing visual effects and stunning digital and VR experiences, like a series of games to promote the film Kubo and the Two Strings, and engaging websites for global brands like Verizon and PWC. Partners Jonny Kofoed, Damon Duncan and Matt von Trott reflect on the year that’s been and what lies ahead.
How does Assembly define its work?
Craft, with a heavy focus on design. On a practical level, anything that goes on a screen. We have such a broad range of work from creating new technologies to traditional commercial projects and we are very proud of being able to deliver to any brief, but it does make our business a little hard to define!
What have been your biggest learnings or challenges over the past year?
Balancing the peaks and troughs of business in general. Having enough permanent staff to be able to tackle large projects, but keeping enough workflow to survive the quiet times. To combat this, we’ve had to find and use specialist freelancers, especially in the area of visual effects.
What’s the best new technology you guys are using?
We recently installed a Sodastream machine which we are already seeing some instant results with, and Damon has started using one of those stand up desk things. Aside from that, our 3D dome scanner (that we built in-house) has become invaluable on some projects. It has a computer-controlled robot arm, and uses photogrammetry to digitally replicate 3D assets. In particular, assets that are traditionally difficult to model by hand. Using gaming engines like Unreal and Unity have also been an exciting development. We have created a range of projects from VR to interactive games. It has also become a valuable tool for pre-vis and client viewings on challenging projects like Vector Bridge Lights - where we recreated the Auckland Harbour bridge in 3D and presented WIPS in VR. This meant the client could watch the animation from a variety of key viewing angles before the live event. On a smug level, our facility is now solar powered. A good chunk of our image processing is powered off grid!!
What technology is over-hyped?
VR is still exciting to us but is yet to reach the general consumer, so it's hard to justify for most brands right now. Wouldn’t necessarily say it's over-hyped as it's still an impressive technology experience, it just needs more uptake and applications.
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