Curveball Media

16-bit style game 'player select' screen with five avatars of Curveball employees

In 2019, some of our BA (Hons) Illustration and Animation students were given a live brief by Curveball Media to create an iconic ident for their company. Lee Carnihan, Marketing Manager of Curveball, describes how working with the students helps both parties, and their delight at the final results.

Watch all the final animations on YouTube

"One of the things we like to do as a company is nurture talent and enthusiasm. We want to help people develop the skills and perspective so they can achieve what they want to in work and life.

And we do that because that’s the kind of people we are. We know how hard it can be to get a foot in the door, to take that first step, to decide what you want to do with your life. If we can help someone else, a student for example, do that, then we feel good about ourselves.

And who knows, we might end up employing them or working with them in some way later on. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. What matters most is that we get the chance to help someone else find their feet, explore ideas and see them progress.

So, when it came to working with lecturer Rachel Larkum and the animation students at Cambridge School of Art, this was pretty much a no-brainer for us. We specialise in making animated explainers videos and video production so we knew we could offer them something, and learn something too.

It was the perfect opportunity to see the talent the school was developing and give them a taste of a live brief to cut their teeth on. Doing that would give them exposure to the video production industry and help them make a more informed decision about how they could develop their skills and which direction to take their career in.

Claymation figure of a zombie using a pc

The brief was simple

We asked the students to create an animation ident that explained who Curveball Media was and what our values were. We didn’t get too prescriptive. We showed them our six-hour day video, and described who the people in the team were and what our values were.

What we wanted was something that would make us memorable in the mind of a potential customer. Something that would give a customer an insight to who they might be working with and make that a positive differentiator, a reason to choose us over a competitor.

We left it open in terms of how the students should approach this. It could be an animation. It could be stop-motion. VFX. That was up to the students to decide.

What we wanted them to do first was to come up with an idea, a concept of how they would portray us, and then decide how to execute it.

Because, one of the main things we wanted to get across to the students is that if you have a bad idea, no amount of good execution will make up for it. The video or animation simply won’t work, by which we mean be engaging for the audience. You need a good idea first followed by good execution. The success of the end product rests on the idea and the thinking behind it.

Animation still of a person pointing at their face

We were not disappointed

What amazed us most was the quality of the thinking, and the variety of ideas and execution. There was sushi. A cake. A lighthouse. A zombie. A catapult. A caveman. A baseball bat. A magic trick. 666. An animated voice-over interview. 8-bit characters jumping all over the place. Everything from the literal to ethereal ambient abstract metaphor.

You name it, they came up with it.

The students were also very receptive to our feedback. They took things onboard and developed their ideas and thinking to produce something even better. This gave us a lot of confidence in them, that when they left university they would be better prepared for working in the media industry.

Their approach also proved there was solid thinking behind the ideas: not just logic and reason, but emotional and left-field thinking too. And the passion that the students poured into it was encouraging. They really wanted to create something that worked. Something they were proud of.

In fact, one or two of the ideas we could have presented to a client without any changes, or with only a little extra tweaking. They were that good. And we’re very much looking forward to working with them next year."