DAVID reviews

4 December 2017

A new frontier for Nexus.

by Jason Stone


A visit to Nexus is like that bit in a James Bond film when 007 pops in to see Q to discover what the finest minds of the secret service have been developing in the basement.

There is always an impressive array of new tricks and even if you can't entirely understand them, you can still appreciate their cleverness.

The news that co-founder Chris O'Reilly is headed to Los Angeles to open Nexus's first US office provided a perfect excuse to learn more about this new endeavour, as well as find out what's happening at their Hoxton headquarters.

So it was that DAVID sat down with Nexus co-founder Charlotte Bavasso, as well as Judy Hill - who looks after New Business - and Sam O'Brien - PR & Marketing - to talk about the opening of their Los Angeles office.

There is a daunting level of innovation at the company, does Bavasso think their willingness to operate in experimental areas of technology ever persuades potential customers that they're not the right company for a simple piece of 2D animation?

She ponders it for a moment: "It's interesting you say that. The tools never really mattered to us. As we've moved along we have adopted technology, but it's never been about the technology."

She warms to her theme: "It's always been about telling a story as best as we can, with the most beautiful design. I mean, I think technology is super exciting but it's just a way of telling a story to a broader audience."

Charlotte Bavasso's willingness to engage on this question speaks volumes for her open-mindedness, and the implicit emphasis on creativity above everything else is hugely encouraging.

It helps dispel the idea that Nexus has become a tech company that just happens to make animation. Bavasso understands why some people might think that of Nexus and she concedes that there's a difference between their approach and that of rivals who are essentially film production companies that happen to work in the realm of animation.

It's always been about telling a story as best as we can, with the most beautiful design.

Charlotte Bavasso   


Judy Hill who worked at some of the most successful live action film production companies before she joined agrees that the proposition is different at Nexus. She describes it "a place that doesn't sit still and the momentum and opportunity is incredible." It's somewhere she's kept on her toes because "it's a place that constantly challenges itself."

The scale of the operation and Nexus's mastery of the latest technology is an important part of their ability to service clients like Google, Dreamworks and Facebook who like to associate themselves with cutting edge innovation. It also means they are well positioned to meet the needs of agencies whose clients are insisting they need to move into VR, AR or whatever shiny object has caught their attention this week.

The difficulty, of course, is that innovation is often supply-led and needs to be married with a demand which can mean the tech wizards are sometimes creating a solution in need of a problem.

But by continually developing and experimenting, Nexus are always going to be in a great position to provide whatever's needed once the 'problem' has been identified.

As we explore this issue, Bavasso intervenes with a spirited point about the collegiate spirit at Nexus - she describes how a 2D animator like Felix Massie has been able to convert some of his work into a VR experience because he's surrounded by colleagues who have the expertise: "Putting these people together is what it's all about."

The move to open an office in America has - it turns out - been a long time coming. One of the first pieces of business which Nexus ever won was the title sequence for the Spielberg movie 'Catch Me If You Can' and a conversation started then about whether or not it made sense to open a US office. That was 2002 so they haven't exactly rushed into it.

Why then have they finally decided to take the plunge now? For Charlotte Bavasso it's about something that's happening in LA: "It's about talent, and it's the crossroad between brand and entertainment and tech. And that's super interesting to us."

She cites an meditation App as an example of something that brings together these three aspects. As with so many of Nexus's projects, the way they talk about it makes it sound as though they are invested entrepreneurially in the venture, and this is where it seems they really excel. In a lot of instances, their clients are able to treat them more like partners than suppliers.

Ultimately, this is another motive for establishing an LA office. Nexus wants to form the kind of relationships with agencies they've developed in London. There's a recognition that you have to be there to enjoy that kind of harmony: "It's about the work that we all care about, want to do together, and I think there's a lot more scope for us to be doing that."

In the next breath, Bavasso starts talking about the untapped potential of agencies on the East Coast and in the Midwest and you begin to realise that Nexus's ambitions probably won't be satisfied by a single US office. Watch out, America...!

David Reviews is hand-crafted by Lovely Lenzie Ltd, 7 Seven Sisters, Lenzie, Glasgow, G66 3AW. Editor: Jason Stone. Phone: 0141 776 7766. E-mail: jason@davidreviews.com.