It’s fair to say Matt Beveridge enjoys his work. “When you tell your other half you spent the day animating Scrooge McDuck diving into a money bin, it doesn’t really seem like a proper job,” he admits.
But who can begrudge him a little fun? His company Pebble Studios won several awards for the resulting project, a mini episode of Disney’s Duck Tales in 360 video to help launch the new series. As well as getting 4-5 million views on Facebook and Youtube, “the core fanbase was really engaged with it,” says Matt.
Today might be less fun so far, but it’s exciting nonetheless: Matt has been overseeing the finishing touches to Pebble Studios’ brand new office space at The Frames in Shoreditch. His team are already at their new desks while their offices’ meeting rooms are being finished, shelving installed and a breakfast bar is taking shape.
Matt launched Pebble Studios with his brother James and their friend Charlie in 2011. Matt’s background was in motion graphics and moving image design while James came from Marketing and Charlie from Finance.
"We started off from my spare room in Greenwich doing animated infographics for corporates,” says Matt. Shortly afterwards the company branched out to make online video content for the advertising and marketing sector.
Since then Pebble Studios has grown to around 30 full time staff and expanded into film and new tech fields such as augmented and virtual reality, winning several awards for its VR work. The company’s work is “evolving all the time”, and encompasses online video, TV and cinema advertising and content for events including VR headset experiences, live screen graphics and visuals.
One recent highlight for Matt was going to the Hebrides to film a tour of the Bowmore Distillery. The idea was to create a first-person VR experience which people could go on at whisky events round the world. “I quite like my whisky anyway so it was nice to do something for them,” he says.
Another notable project was a VR trailer for Time After Time, ABC’s time-travel show about Jack the Ripper. Matt’s team created a photorealistic Victorian London street scene and an empty Times Square from scratch. “We had really good fun making it as real as it possibly could be,” says Matt. “We’re based in East London which is Jack the Ripper territory so we took high-res photos of buildings in the area and incorporated them into the environment.”
It’s Pebble Studios’ VR work which really helps the company stand out. “We’ve done a lot of very high-end work in VR,” says Matt. “Character animation for Disney, photorealistic architectural environments, film environments with integrated graphics — we can do all of that, which very few people can.”
Pebble Studios have built up a strong team of full-time staff, bringing in freelancers only when necessary. “When you have a larger full-time team they get to understand how each other works,” says Matt. “You get a much more flexible, fast-moving and cost-effective team as a result.”
However, growth shouldn’t be for its own sake. “When they get beyond a certain size, companies can get quite impersonal.” says Matt. “We want to grow in order to offer our clients better services.”
The company has moved offices several times as the team has grown: The Frames is their fifth office in seven years. Matt wanted to stay in Shoreditch as he loves the area. “It’s fantastically creative and there’s always stuff going on,” he says. His staff agree. “Some would complain if we went beyond a certain radius of Shoreditch House.”
Pebble Studios’ previous office was only 100 yards away from The Frames on the same street. Matt was intrigued by the new building as it started going up. “There was some fantastic artwork in the main atrium and it just looked really high quality from the outset,” he says.
As well as the ideal location, The Frames offered something different. “We were torn between a leased office and a fully serviced office and The Frames is almost the perfect balance between the two,” says Matt. It was also cost-effective. “When you take into account the communal spaces that the Frames offers, plus the meeting spaces, shared kitchens, phone rooms etc., it worked out quite a lot cheaper per square foot than either the leased or serviced offices we looked at.”
For a company with ambitions to grow, the flexible leases offered by Workspace were another key factor. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen in two, three or four years so the fact that we can move within this building or hire extra space does make it an attractive option,” says Matt. “Hopefully now we’ve found a home that we can settle into for a while.”
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