Admit it. You have whittled away minutes, if not hours, playing Farmville, Words with Friends or Candy Crush on your phone or tablet. If this guilty joy sounds common, you are not the only one. Today, more consumers are playing games and, subsequently, creating a new market opportunities for advertisers. Not surprising, the greatest opportunities are on mobile phones as this market fragment is by a wide margin the biggest and fastest developing with regards to gamers. The total value of global animation industry was whopping USD 254 bn in 2017 and is projected to reach USD 270 bn by 2020. Most of the segments in the animation industry are growing at the rate of 2% YoY.
The need for animation, VFX and gaming has expanded with the upsurge in targeted broadcasting hours by cable and satellite TV, penetration of mobile devices, availability of low cost internet access along with the growing popularity of streaming video. What’s more, the demand for Animation and VFX content to power immersive experiences such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is growing exponentially. One of Australia’s leading 3D Animation and game development studios with over 16 years of experience servicing the Gaming and Advertising industries, specializing in creating dynamic visual content for Gaming, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is Red Cartel. The company delivers cost effective graphics and application solutions including Virtual Reality development, Cinematic Sequences, Mobile applications, Augmented Reality and Casino/Club animated graphics.
The journey that spans almost two decades
Like every other renowned company, Red Cartel was also founded in a garage by Landon Curry. In 2001, Landon and his two work-mates started a 3D animation studio called Twitch Studios which re-branded in 2008 and became Red Cartel. Initially, Landon and the team created content for console games, TVC’s and property visualization. During downtime, they were always looking for new technologies which led them to their first international VR for Red Bull Brazil in 2014. Red Cartel has utilized many new technologies as they have evolved including Hololense, Meta, ARkit/ARcore and a wide variety of VR headsets including its recently opened large scale – free roaming VR arcade called Simosity.
Prior to Red Cartel Landon worked in the 3D industry as a freelancer, which is still very common in this industry. Working as a freelancer, the work was somewhat unpredictable for Landon, which made it difficult to plan too far ahead financially. The upside is there are freedoms with freelancing that you don’t get as a full time employee and often you get paid a slightly higher rate. However, Landon always had a bit of entrepreneur in him, which was partly inspired his parents having their own businesses. He has also been inclined to think outside the box and take risks in situations where others would take the safer path. And this was the stepping stone for Landon to start Red Cartel.
Achieving triumph over struggles while staying honest with the goals
The triad that founded Red Cartel has specific skills; one person specialized in animation, other in compositing and the third in technical animation (Particles/VFX). However, over the years, these roles have grown and evolved to the point where Red Cartel has teams that specialize in these tasks as well as a large team of programmers.
Landon says there are many risks with starting new businesses. The foremost is that you need initial funding to purchase equipment. You also need to gain credibility and promote your services which can be very difficult if you have no content to show. The team solved this by creating a series of short clips (a demo reel) that showcased the various skills they had. However, the biggest risk Landon faced was cash-flow, waiting for payments whilst paying freelancers and getting new projects in was particularly challenging in the first few years.
Apart from these, the financial strain was very high when they started Red Cartel, which eased off over time, but it took years before there was some solid stability. “Owning a business is very challenging and takes a lot of hard work but it is also very rewarding when it is running well,” Landon says.
Leading from the front with new technologies
In the mobile technology bracket, Red Cartel does a lot of work for Mobile Virtual Reality (Gear VR, Google Cardboard etc) as well as Augmented Reality projects, particularly in the field of ARkit and ARcore. These mobile VR and AR technologies are constantly improving which allows the company to push the limits of the devices and what is possible with these technologies.
There has been numerous moments since the inception of the company, when the team felt their work has finally paid off. Some of these moments stand out that include landing high profile projects like Red Bull VR and eBay VR, and being asked to demonstrate VR on live television was a notable moment too. The team always look forward to receive such awards for their work, because seeing your work on television and on the big screen is quite an achievement, isn’t it?
Going beyond, Red Cartel expects lots of growth. They are opening an office in Brisbane and will be looking at opening an office in Macau in the coming years. They will also be developing many more large scale Virtual Reality games as well as AR applications both for consumers and B2B. Nonetheless, they always aim to be at the forefront of new technologies and are looking forward to future challenges and new ventures.
Fun fact: The nomenclature of the company was conceived by one of Landon’s business partners at the time. The Cartel part of the name signifies a group of people working together and Red seemed to work best out of the colors they tried. Moreover, it’s also difficult to find an appropriate name for a new creative business that still has a free domain available.