Creative Talk with Tony Leslie, Partner at Waxeye
Waxeye describe themselves as ‘crafters of captivating stories, makers of magic’. We find out how magic they are.
Waxeye have been in Auckland for 10 years. How did you come to life?
We had always wanted to create our own studio. My business partner Paul James and I have known each other since school and that vision has been there from our days studying.
What was been the biggest challenge in starting your own agency?
It was fun and exciting times back then, we started in a basement under Paul’s house with a couple of computers and no clients. The biggest challenge was learning how to manage and run projects to ensure it wasn’t only a great creative outcome, but a great experience as well.
You cover animation, 3D, VR, live action and digital – are your clients progressive in the VR space?
Our background when we started Waxeye was in 3D and visual effects, but we wanted to do more diverse projects and learn new things. A founding principle was to be adaptable, so we took on projects in digital and live action. Over the past few years we have really expanded in new tech and digital, and now are actively working on AR / VR and gaming projects as well.
Our clients come to us because they want to push the boat out and explore what they can do with new technology like VR or help tell a story with animation. We’ve had some brave clients over the years and created groundbreaking (and award winning) projects together - like the Air New Zealand virtual flight lab for example. New technology is fast evolving and more and more companies want to have a part of it. We’re currently working on a very exciting project - so watch the space.
What does a typical day at Waxeye entail?
We are an open plan studio and all work in a flat structure, and also always have internal creative projects on the go, so can be really varied and enjoyable juggling lots of different types of projects.
A typical day at Waxeye starts with a great coffee and a team catch up to plan the day ahead. Then we get creative in our unique ways. You’re likely to see the motion team reviewing some animation, or clients coming in to review progress on their A/VR project while the digital team is designing, building and testing websites and apps. And a bit cliché but loads of fun is the ping-pong table in the garage that gets a lot of use around here.
What are the main technologies you work with and why do you prefer them?
It really depends on the project. We’re creative explorers and we’re learning something new with every project we embark on - including the technologies we use. Personally, I get really excited when we bring the best technologies together to create something unique. Like we did with the Upstarters project at Techweek just recently, where we’ve combined Animation, AR and VR using the same assets and software.
Are there any new / emerging web technologies that have you excited?
Right now we are pretty excited with combining all these various skills together in solutions, whether it for marketing or training and education projects. We have recently employed more developers, as we are seeing growth in more 3D and apps within web browsers.
When hiring, what are the top qualities you look for in a designer / developer? Do you prefer people who have cross over skills or specialise in one area?
We are finding people with more crossover skills of a huge importance. As one day we could be completing an animation and the next day incorporating that into a app. So having individuals that are motivated and passionate are a huge bonus as technology move so quickly.
How would you describe the culture at Waxeye?
Balance is important, I think we all understand when it’s important to be on task and when it’s ok to relax. Time for staff personal well-being is important, as we recognise this helps produce good outcomes and good work.
We have a very relaxed and inclusive culture here at Waxeye. There’s no egos. We like people to like to come here and create cool stuff, love what they do. We value the uniqueness that everybody brings to the team - including our clients! We work hard to create great work, but we also have fun along the way. And balance is very important to us so if you want to take a day of and go surfing or spend time with your family - that’s totally cool.
How about personality? Is this an important hire factor for you?
We’re a small team, so getting the right fit of personality is very important to us. There is always opportunity to grow and learn new skills - but you need to have the right attitude to make it work and put your skills to use.
What’s next for Waxeye?
Waxeye is turning 10 this year and we’re proud of that and who we are today. Who knows what the future will bring, we like to go with the flow. But we’re very excited about the possibilities that new technologies will bring - and the new things we’ll learn, new people we’ll meet.