Alt.vfx, a Brisbane-based post-production company that’s active in Asia and setting up in Los Angeles, has come a long way since it was formed five years ago. It recently won four Lotus awards at AdFest, including Production Company of the Year. We asked Takeshi Takada, a founding member and executive producer, for his perspective on an industry that is changing as rapidly as the clients it services.
Do you see yourselves as a creative company?
We like to be called upon from the start of a project—to get involved at the early stages and pitch ideas to make the project better. There’s no point joining halfway through or at the end. Not all projects turn out like that but that’s how we try and approach them.
Everyone in advertising wants to ‘own’ the creative product. Do you sometimes meet with resistance from clients?
Because what we do is so tech-focused, they need us to be involved and benefit most if they get us involved from the start. We position ourselves as a solution provider, or problem solver. Sometimes I don’t know how to fix something or make it but we have enough passionate people around us that we can always make it work. And we have access to people who want to collaborate and be part of our journey. I think that’s a pretty special position to be in.
What makes life difficult for you?
Things are happening a lot faster than they did five or 10 years ago. Everyone expects things to happen instantly so managing that is quite challenging in terms of turnaround and the quality we have to deliver. We’re surrounded by rich content so expectations are higher. Managing expectations is one of the most important things.
You recently formed a VR team. What do you see as the implications of technology like this for your business—do you agree it’s been overhyped?
This happened not over one or two years but in three months. We wanted to adapt and be at the leading edge. I think this is going to go further than VR. It all comes down to the creative idea. Yes, it has been super-hyped, but I think it’s going to go a bit further in 2017, what with the PS4 and HoloLens—the technology is becoming more accessible for people around the world. I don’t see it as an advertising gimmick. I think it should be a tool to help society or enhance living.
Do you intend to branch out into other mediums?
You never know what’s around the corner. You read every day about CMOs getting sacked, about creative versus media agencies…what they should really be concerned about are business-consulting firms investing in digital solutions. The landscape we’re in will be totally different in two years and we need to adapt and evolve with it, but to do that we still have to focus on the core part of our business, which is craft and creativity.
You have worked in Japan and have produced work for some Japanese brands. What work from Japan stands out for you from the past year?
Ads in Japan are still very commercial-oriented. From my point of view the story and finished quality are important; it needs to be a complete film, and you don’t see many of them in Japan. It’s very sales driven and less about branding, but we are seeing a bit more of that these days—rich content around brand identity. You can’t expect people to become fans of a brand through 15 or 30-second commercials. The Toyota Vitz film we worked on was a complete package. They ran it on their website, in bits and pieces, and are still running it. They are going for longevity—not just thinking in terms of three-week rotation, but in terms of months, trying to create a story out of it to get people to like the brand and make it more personal.