Brisbane-based post-production company Alt.vfx has established a presence in Tokyo in partnership with Connection, a production startup that launched late last year.
Alt.vfx has one full-time staff member in Tokyo, Mai Fukuda, who was formerly creative traffic supervisor at Publicis One. The company will operate from a studio within Connection’s premises.
Takeshi Takada, co-founder of Alt.vfx, said having someone on the ground in Japan would enable a smoother workflow on projects for Japan-based clients. He said the company has seen an increase in the volume of business from Japan, but until now has been obliged to manage the work in Australia.
Brands the company has worked with include Toyota and Daiwa House. It also works with agencies ranging from boutique outfits such as Six Inc and Tugboat to Dentsu and Hakuhodo.
Takada said it had taken a long time to find a suitable person to hire. “It’s hard to find competent, creatively-minded producers who are bilingual,” he said. At the same time, he said he saw Tokyo becoming a creative hub for Asia-Pacific at least for the next five to 10 years due to upcoming events such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the World Expo 2025 in Osaka. He said Alt.vfx aimed to cultivate business regionally as well as in Japan.
“I feel some momentum, an influx not just of tourists but of new business, new creative talent and most importantly there’s a lot of cool stuff coming out of Tokyo,” he said.
The move into Tokyo follows the establishment of a technology and design offshoot called T&DA, which Takada said would have a bearing on future work in Japan. Takada said Alt.vfx was taking on more diversified assignments including augmented and virtual reality work and that digital transformation had helped liberate the production sector.
He added that in Japan, Alt.vfx hopes to take on more meaningful “social good” work as well as regular commercial projects. “We don’t want to be limited to work to sell more alcohol, food or cars,” he said. “We also want to work on things that help people, partnering with universities or other institutions directly—the kind of projects where you build something worthwhile.”
As an example, he said that in Australia the company worked with the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) on an installation to help improve road safety. He said production companies had only recently begun to have the opportunity to work with such institutions directly.
“Not forgetting our mainstream work, but there are opportunities we miss out on if we’re only under the umbrella of agencies or production companies… Working with Facebook, Google, governments and brands directly is enabling us to flesh out ideas and it helps us to turn work around faster when there aren’t multiple layers above us,” he noted.
Like that of advertising agencies, the business model of production companies is under pressure, forcing them to rethink the way they operate. In some cases, this means developing a more collaborative model. In a separate recent development in London, two major production companies, Blink and Rogue, announced the formation of a joint-venture that will result in a large creative production hub.