Tomorrow Studio: Our first year in a digital media business incubator

It’s been great being a part of the maturation of Tomorrow Studio, South Australia’s first ever digital media business incubator, as its first birthday officially rolls by. From launching a bold idea brimming with promise, the SA Government’s Department of Trade and Economic Development can now take pride in the the tangible outcomes for start-up businesses they’ve helped facilitate. South Australia’s digital media sector is indebted to you.

When we moved danimations into the Tomorrow Studio in Adelaide back in June last year, we could not have predicted how attached to the initiative (and the community growing inside of it) we would become. As one of the original wave of tenants, we’ve seen businesses come and go, but more importantly, we’ve seen our own attraction to the place shift from the dangling carrot of Government-subsidized rent to the more valuable ready access to business partnerships and opportunities to learn and grow.

Emma Sterling & Dan Monceaux in the Tomorrow Studio

Entering the Tomorrow Studio (and enjoying the low overheads) allowed danimations to tool up to offer new services, and position ourselves well in the emerging market of online video service providers. It also provided us with a very attractive and functional premises in which to hold meetings and generally operate. As months went by, we got to know our fellow tenants and built trusting relationships with the more compatible businesses. As you would expect in a space populated with businesses in start-up mode, not all collaborative projects have had happy endings. From our own successes and failures, and those of others, we have identified and realized present and future business opportunities that we simply would not have been exposed to otherwise. We’ve also made some wonderful, new, creative friends in the process.

Moving into the incubator dragged Emma Sterling and I out of our home-office, and into the beginnings what has become a burgeoning and vibrant digital media community. Our commercial collaborations really fired up after we presented a workshop to fellow tenants on the merits of developing a video showreel to promote your business. Intelligent Software Development then contracted us to deliver a promotional video for them, in under a week.

The delivered product attracted our next job, for a start-up engineering firm WirebyClick. We worked with Extra Artists’ (now Soda Cube) on the Wirebyclick video incorporating 3D animation for the first time, satisfying another client and developing a collaborative workflow with our studio neighbours.

Fellow neighbours Proactive then saw our work and contracted us to deliver a video to help them market their product, Proactive Vue. Again, we delivered on spec, on budget and on time and in the process developed some new production techniques.

Proactive Vue – Realtime Paperless Publishing for business from Dan Monceaux on Vimeo.

Since then, we have included the skills of SodaCube and those of Awesome Fighter Animation in several more commercial tenders. On a more exciting front, we are also embarking on some speculative ventures with Boomerang Books and Cresell IT independently. Another great thrust of creative energy has already been invested in the Triple Threat Animation project, along with fellow artists Awesome Fighter Animation and games developer I Love Biscuits. With a focus on developing entertainment-based intellectual property designed for online commercialization, you can find out more about that project after it officially launches at AVCON on the 23rd of July. What do you know? Adelaide’s premiere video games and anime event is a studio tenant too.

The experience of calling an industry-specific business incubator home for the past twelve months has been (for the most part) overwhelmingly positive. We’ve grown and developed faster, and with better integration into the digital media community here in SA than we possibly could have while working from our home. I sincerely hope that news of the Tomorrow Studio’s many virtues and success stories spreads far and wide, and that the model is transposed to benefit emerging business and cultural communities in other sectors in the future.

Dan Monceaux

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Tomorrow Studio: New tenants, talents and collaborations

Since moving our business, danimations, into the Tomorrow Studio in Adelaide back in June, Emma Sterling and I have been more committed than ever to turning our skills into a sustainable business in the digital media sector. Designed to assist emerging practitioners with a complementary peer group, business advice, workshops, shared facilities, inner-city location, Government-subsidized rent and more, Tomorrow Studio tenancy really does sell itself.

Tomorrow Studio, 193 Wakefield St, Adelaide
Tomorrow Studio, 193 Wakefield St, Adelaide

While we have been busily developing sample products of our video and animation services and planning the imminent relaunch of our website, several of our more established neighbours have been forging new partnerships under the Studio roof, like the one between web-designers Digital Lamb (Steve Ready and Bec Harper-Wells) and 3D visualisation team Extra Artists (Dan Cormick and Sonia Tynedale). Taking a different course, game and simulation developers Holopoint have already outgrown the space, and moved on to more suitable premises.

In their wake, Holopoint left eight vacant spaces behind in the studio, most of which are now filled. Among the new tenants are three energetic lads who work as Awesome Fighter Animation (Tim Cannan, Levi George & Jonny). From what we’ve seen of their previous projects, they’re a talented and energetic team, and we are already planning a collaborative animation project involving them and the team from fellow first-wave tenants I Love Biscuits (Kyle Leffers and Hannah Murdoch).

The other new tenants represent a spread covering web design, web development and video production. The incumbent video producer is Miles Rowland from Closer Media, whose work demonstrates solid craft and much promise. New tenants whose work I’m less familiar with include web-developer Michael Russel from whois.com.au and Melissa Bagnara, the latest early-career designer to join our ranks.

While Em and I had been eagerly anticipating the new tenants’ announcement for some time, we also felt that the vacancies could have been more broadly advertised. A waiting exists for prospective tenants to join, but finding this list in the first place relies largely on the would-be applicant’s social networks and detective skills. All current tenants could benefit more from a greater diversity of business practise under the Studio roof (we now have five businesses whose practise overlaps in web-development areas for example) and the best way to stimulate this would be to increase public awareness of the Studio and encourage more applicants to apply.

Another studio tenant, Holly Owen (Champagne for the Ladies) also recently vacated her office to move overseas, and as I understand it, current waiting list members will be considered and short-listers interviewed for this opening very soon. To join the waiting list, and to read more about the Department of Trade & Economic Development’s Creative Industries campaign, visit http://www.creativesa.org.

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Tomorrow Studio: a new home for digital media in Adelaide

Back in June, Emma Sterling and I moved our digital media business, danimations, into an exciting new premises. Located at Level 1, 193 Wakefield Street in Adelaide’s downtown CBD is the Tomorrow Studio, a South Australian state Government initiative to bring complementary start-up companies from the digital media sector together, to foster a culture of collaboration and rapid growth. We are very proud and fortunate to be a part of it.

Offering the added benefits of heavily subsidised rent, terrific shared facilities and a tenancy contract that can be exited with minimum fuss, we applied back in the first quarter of 2009, and moved in with the first wave of tenants in June. The culture of collaboration is strong already, and under our roof we have a spread of businesses offering services including web, graphic design, animation, 3d graphics, multimedia, network services, video (that’s us), simulations, game development and electronic publishing. No two businesses are in direct competition, and we’re able to keep our own hours with 24 hour access to the building. Many of the tenants (us included) have lock-up offices, while the remainder work in the building’s open-plan central space.

Emma Sterling edits in the danimations office
Emma Sterling edits in the danimations office

We’ve had a great run with the Department of Trade & Economic Development this year, and the Tomorrow Studio move follows our receipt of a Tomorrow Start grant which has help us upgrade our computers and aquire new technology and software- thrusting us over some major hurdles stunting our business’ growth. With the official champagne launch rolling by the other week, we finally feel like we’re ready to rhumba in the new space.

The Department of Trade has recently announced a second round of grants available to start-up businesses in the digital media sector, and there are currently some vacancies for new tenants in the Tomorrow Studio following the announcement that Holopoint (a leading games and simulation developer) has outgrown the space and is moving to another more suitable location.

For more information on the Tomorrow Start grants and the Tomorrow Studio, visit http://www.creativesa.org/

Dan Monceaux

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