Pillowfort Are Smashing It
If you are getting over four million views on YouTube and you are, well, smashing it. That’s the numbers for the first season of the Smashers children’s YouTube cartoon series animated by Leigh Ryan and Stuart Murray of Geelong’s first animation studio, Pillowfort Creative.
Not bad for a couple of local creatives who only launched their startup last year.
Commissioned by Yarraville-based animation and virtual reality production studio, Kenny Productions, the Smashers series follows on the well-travelled path of children’s series produced around toys – think the Lego movies, the old Masters of the Universe cartoons and more recently the My Little Pony Movie. In this case, it’s China’s Zuru Toys and the Smashers range.
And it’s a big market to be playing in.
In 2017, the worldwide animation market was worth US$254 billion (Statista, 2018). In the G21 region, the total economic output for creative industries in 2017 was estimated at $2.1 billion, or 5.9% of the overall regional output (GRLLEN/Creative Geelong Inc, 2018).
Creative industries tend to be lean operations, and Pillowfort is no exception. But behind that leanness of operation is some heavyweight experience. Illustrator and 2D animation artist Leigh Ryan has exercised his craft at Toyota, Coca-Cola, Barwon Water and Aeroplane Jelly and has worked on the Cartoon Network animated show The Grossery Gang based on the product line by the same name created by Melbourne-based toy firm Moose Toys.
Stuart Murray is also an experienced illustrator, and his skills in 2D and 3D animations were on show recently with his work on character animation for the 3D troll characters for the upcoming Snowgum Films’ short feature film, Troll Bridge (based on Terry Pratchett’s short story).
Leigh and Stuart said the opportunity to work on Smashers came from previously working with The Grossery Gang producer, Kylie Risson at Kenny Productions.
“We were fortunate to play a vital role in the production of Smashers – from consultation during script writing and the creation of new characters, to animating the final product. Part of our collaboration included liaising with Singapore-based storyboard artist, Vann Law, and script writer, Declan Fay (Ronny Chieng: International Student). Working with world-class artists from our studio in the Creative Geelong Maker’s Hub on Little Malop Street was an incredible experience,” Stuart said.
“We’ve chosen to work in Geelong because of our friends and family, and it’s just a great local environment to be creative. I’ve lived here all my life and am committed to the region. Digital technology means we can engage with clients globally and work seamlessly using platforms like Slack and Skype,” Leigh said.
Pillowfort Creative is based at Creative Geelong’s Makers Hub in Centrepoint Arcade where they work primarily on 2D and 3D animations for creative and corporate projects. But you can get a glimpse of animation at work at the regular Creative Geelong workshops.