Jumbla: The Art of Mind-Blowing
For the past eight years, Jumbla has been showcasing ‘the art of mind-blowing’ in the form of animation. Originally founded in Melbourne, the company opened its London office in 2017 and is looking further afield as it continues to expand.
Working across 2D and 3D animation, Jumbla has been responsible for some of the most visually arresting work coming out of Australia for the best part of the past decade. With clients such as Microsoft Studios, Suzuki, Toyota, and Barclays, the company has found its distinctive place within the market and is hitting its stride. You can check out their 2019 reel below:
To talk all things Jumbla, LBB’s Adam Bennett spoke to creative director Oz Smith.
LBB> Where do you see Jumbla right now, and how does that affect your work?
Oz> We have always had a broad approach to our work and that is reflected in where we are today. We try to tackle as many styles and techniques as we can which is no mean feat considering how quickly the industry develops and changes. So we now have a broad team of artists who each have their areas of specialisation from 2D, to 3D, character to motion graphics, illustration, graphic design and cel animators. This is represented when you look at our work that for each project we put together a bespoke team of individuals instead of relying on a dogmatic pipeline, which creates interesting and unique pieces of work.
LBB> Since you guys started in 2011, has there been a project you've worked on that stands out as especially defining or significant?
Oz> We worked on a project called Lucy's Story which was an enriching process for us. The brief was to create visual content for a monologue by someone who suffered from psychotic episodes. From the start the process was collaborative and we were able to depict abstract and sensitive themes without being too explicit which Lucy found really inspiring. She was unable to elucidate how she was feeling through this time and was struck by how vivid animation could be to express this. She loved our interpretation of what she went through and I think she found it really helpful and part of her therapeutic process. Technically we were able to bring together a few different techniques to create the overall effect including 2D, 3D and cel [hand-2drawn] animation. Lucy was so inspired and liberated by the possibilities of animation that she enrolled in Jumbla Academy to learn how to do it herself!
LBB> And what about more recent work? Is there a project that stands out?
Oz> More recently we have done a large project for the NSW fire service which involved creating a team of superheroes from scratch. We designed and modelled these characters in 3D to have a high level photoreal quality which was something we've never tried before, usually going for a more stylised approach. The characters were sculpted in 3D then rigged and animated including hand animating the lip sync which was a challenge for everyone involved. We then integrated the characters in motion graphics pieces with UI and techie HUD graphics to make them appealing to the demographic which was school-age kids. It was a real test of our fluid way of working and was a real success.
LBB> Is there a particular kind of brand that you're especially keen to work with in the near future?
Oz> We are doing more and more work in the gaming sector and would love to continue this by working on bigger and bigger projects. We have done some high profile work creating cinematics and would love to do more of this type of work. It plays to our strengths perfectly having an illustrative approach, strong storytelling and punchy editing while utilising the most current techniques with 3D and character design and animation. Also we're finding that this is where the budgets are at the moment so it gives us the chance to spend more time and play everyone to their strengths within the team.
LBB> What makes Jumbla unique in the Australian market?
Oz> We make the impossible possible. Well, that's a line from our manifesto but we like to think that alone makes us stand out. However we do have a few other distinguishing features. We are the largest (and fastest) short form animation studio in Australia...that no one has heard of. Part of our Jumbla story is that we have a large pool of amazing talent that can cater for a HUGE range of styles in-house. We offer 2D, 3D, illustrative, character, mixed media, VFX and CGI. If you can put in a brief, we can deliver it.
Not only that, we're beating the diversity odds. In a male dominated industry, we have almost double the industry average of chicks in the office. Greater diversity means more creativity, which ultimately delivers better ideas for our clients. Oh and we’re the only animation studio with our own in house sound studio!
LBB> You guys work in both Melbourne and London. When it comes to animation, how do you work different across the two markets? Are there things that work better in one but not the other?
Oz> The benefits to our clients in having both these offices means Jumbla’s has a 24 hour workflow that is geared for lightning-fast project delivery thanks to its cross-hemisphere team of 40+ in-house production and design specialists in London and Melbourne.
This melting pot of global talent works collaboratively to help our clients access industry-leading animation in quick-time, on any subject, in any style.
LBB> What do you guys tend to keep in mind when you're hiring? Are there any particular skill sets you're on the lookout for?
Oz> In the animation industry, you’re only as good as your work. And your work is only as good as the talent that creates it.
And like any industry, talent can be hard to find and we’ve found the best from around the globe, which is why we have all manor of amazing dishes on international food day.
Not only that, unlike other studios, our hiring policy is to look for and develop specialist skills rather than a team of generalists. For our clients and partners this means you get an industry leading approach regardless of your brief.
LBB> What does the future hold for Jumbla? Where will you be in five years?
Oz> With studios already in London and Melbourne, we have our sights set on expanding our Jumbla love to other global markets over the next five years.
Our growing portfolio of gaming clients is on the rise (in line with consumer demand) which puts the US on the radar.
We’re also constantly exploring new technologies such as AR, projections, experiential as well software and automation hacks.
At the end of the day we just want to keep doing mind-blowing work that our clients can be proud of.