Last week saw the return of Prewired's Summer Hack to CodeBase Edinburgh. The idea is simple: A week where young people can get together to learn about a particular problem set, and build a software (or this year, also hardware) solution to help solve those problems.
We caught up with BAFTA nominated Selina Wagner, Animation Director, Blobina Animations
Tell us more about the work Blobina does.
I create 2D animation for TV, film, games and apps. Over the years I’ve created more than 40 TV commercials for clients such as Chester Zoo, NHS 24 and the National Trust for Scotland, as well as many short films for clients such as the BBC, Glenmorangie distilleries and Chewits. I also create my own short films and apps. My latest film, ‘Spindrift’ is currently being screened at its 17th international film festival and was nominated for Best Animation at the Scottish BAFTAs in 2017.
Working with my husband Jason’s company, Ping Creates, we devised and launched our own app for pre-school children, Peekaboo Planet, which has led to creating more content for children.
Tell us a bit about the founders at your company - who they are, what's their background?
Blobina Animations is run by myself and I hire in freelancers as they’re needed. I grew up on a small farm on one of the north isles of Orkney, was obsessed about making things move and so studied animation at the Edinburgh College of Art. I graduated in 2002 and landed my first job working with Axis Animation creating a whole series of Scottish Power commercials. So I went from being a student to sitting in large meeting rooms with clients and agencies overnight. I then packed up and went travelling round the world for a year with my now husband, and set up Blobina Animations in 2005 when I returned.
What kind of clients do you work with?
I specialise in storytelling – I have a bit of a knack at distilling down really complex stories and retelling them using animation so that anybody can understand them. I have created short animated films for Ardbeg Whisky, Sumerian and Ethos Consulting to help them reach customers. I’m currently working on my third short educational film for the Moredun Research Institute. They are a fabulous client to work with and I enjoy working directly with the scientists who show me jars full of parasites at our meetings! I am also just about to start a project with the University of Warwick Social Sciences team.
I am also a founder of Kettle of Fish, where we are aiming to create the first educational platform for pre-school children using machine learning. As part of this we are currently creating our first interactive storybook, ‘There’s a Crocodile on the Roof’.
Why did you choose CodeBase as your home?
I have been sole trading for many years and when we had our little boy, I decided to continue working from home part-time. But now, he will be starting school in August and it is time to move forward with my work. Jason and I had been looking for a place to set up our businesses in the Stirling area where we could connect with other businesses and the wider community. Then CodeBase Stirling launched and we were one of the first companies to move in. It ticks all those boxes.
What are the advantages of being based in CodeBase?
CodeBase provides us with much more than just an office space, but a way to link to others, learn from others, get valuable business support and be part of something much bigger. We are really excited about what CodeBase can do for the wider community by providing workshops and events for all those interested. We are actively involved with local schools and education centres such as Stirling University, Dunblane High School and Developing the Young Workforce.
You recently attended the animation conference, Move Summit. How important is it to attend to conferences and seminars?
I feel it’s really important to regularly attend events like these. I have been guilty in the past of not attending because I’ve been snowed under with work, but that was a mistake. Meeting people, learning from the experience of others and networking are massively valuable, especially to someone like me who could quite easily never see anyone because I have to be chained to my desk creating animation (which everyone knows is a time-consuming process!).
What do you gain/learn from attending such events?
More than anything, it’s great to meet other people in the animation industry. There are so many different techniques and ways of creating animation, that there is always someone who has done something in a way you might not even have considered! The Move Summit was great in its variety – there were workshops covering scriptwriting all the way through to showing how to animate a bird in flight!
What are your plans for growth?
I feel that I’m at a crossroads with the business. I need to decide which direction to take it in and start planning for growth. I’d like to move forward from being a sole trader and become a limited company and potentially hire more regular staff. I need to consider all the possible options and move forward in the best way for me and also take a good look at what’s going on in the animation industry and where I could fill a gap.
What are some of the biggest challenges you're facing?
Finding the right talent is always hard – that’s another reason that going to events is important. I mostly go by recommendations but would like to build upon my freelancer network.
I’m excited about where Kettle of Fish is heading and the future of Blobina Animations. I have lots more ideas up my sleeves and look forward to getting started on them!
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