Moving on to discuss his early career, Tom talks about his early freelance work before setting up his first company with James, Chambers Judd, and how his RCA MA did not leave him prepared for work in the commercial world. Of the projects he did with James, he says that “slowly, they became less freelance and more us using our base and getting people to help.” He explains the processes that led him to realise how and where their portfolio needed work, and how this change in focus in turn led to further success.
Tom then spends some time discussing two of the company’s very successful personal projects, the micro-tutorial series Lernz, “about the obvious places, where we saw people were animating badly”, and frankenSim, a playful interactive tool that allowed them to experiment and innovate without wasting clients’ time. Both of these led on to further commercial work, frankenSim giving the studio new tools to work with, and Lernz attracting Facebook to commission Animade to produce an animation.
Asked what the bad times were and how he dealt with them, Tom replies that he came close to giving up on animation and joining James as a web developer at one point, but fortunately did not, and only ended up acquiring more skills as a result. He regrets having wavered for so long about what direction to take, but admits, “At the same time, we wouldn't have learned everything that we did.”