Logo Rob Buckley – Freelance Journalist and Editor

Bees make honey

Bees make honey

The latest of VTR's subsidiaries is a graphics house that doesn't like to restrict itself to any one industry. Rob Buckley puts his head into The Hive to see what the firm's working on

Jack of all trades, master of none? That's the kind of accusation David Southwood would like to avoid for his new project, graphics and new media house The Hive. Ten years at VTR, Southwood's plan for his company is for it to be the best at everything.

“A lot of places are film graphics only,or commercials only, or games only,” he maintains. “We go across all of them. We want to take the nice bits - I've come from a quality post-house and I want to do the top work.”

The company formed when the VTR group decided to merge VTR's 3D department with sister company AMG Effects. “There's Blue, The Machine Room, VTR and soon and it made sense to spin us off as a separate entity, too. So they gave me a budget and told me to make money, which is what I'm doing, basically.”

There's little sign of The Hive asserting its own identity yet: the only clue to its existence in the facility it shares with The Film Factory are a few flyers at reception.

Still, at 15 animators, The Hive is a respectably-sized a Frogs for a Swiss bank add to the countryside motifs and the animals of The Hive company, but Southwood wants to maintain a boutique style atmosphere. “There are a lot of people, but l want the animators to interact with clients. Clients are on first name terms with us - I want it to stay that friendly.”

The company already has a good client list, including The Cartoon Network and Ginger TV, which took some animations the firm had done on spec and put them on TFI Friday. MGM is getting menus done there for its forthcoming Some Like It Hot DVD and the company is working on games, stings, idents and a few commercials as well.

So how does Southwood convince prospective clients they don't want to go to the games, broadcast graphics or film specialist down the road, but want to get into bed with The Hive?

“When people come in here and see the stuff we can't put on our showreel, they love the range of things we can do, from real-looking to cartoon,” he believes. “I didn't know you could do that,' is a pretty common reaction.”

The one-stop shop opportunity also exists within the group, but Southwood is still waiting for that first call to start the rush. He can still use the other companies' facilities when he needs to, though.

Can the one-facility-suits-all approach work? Southwood thinks so. “I've been in the industry ten years, watching it go up and down, up and down. I've seen film companies go to the wall because they concentrate only on films. If there's one thing I've learnt, it's don't put all your eggs in one basket. Just keep a steady balance.”

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