Over the next few weeks, animators from across London are coming together for a unique challenge at ZED, HP’s pop-up studio for creative professionals in London’s Soho.

Curated by New York-based Cut&Paste and powered by HP Workstations, the contest sees six studios take part in a speed animation challenge in front of a live audience. Each gets just five hours to create a 10-second clip that shows a different stage of the life of London’s first superhero – from baby to senior. For details of when you can come along and watch (it’s free!), see this article.

Meet the team

In the meantime, we wanted to catch up with the teams involved, and find out what drove them to get up in public and expose their creative process for all to see.

We’ve already met Golden Wolf, Fred & Eric and Blackmeal. Now it’s time to meet Territory, a boutique creative studio specialising in motion, digital and graphic design. We chat to senior motion designer, Nik Hill and art director Marti Romances about live drawing, talent symbiosis and the power to persuade…

prometheus1 Heroes of animation: Territory Studio design tips
Ridley Scott’s successful Prometheus featured hundreds of UI motion screens and HUD overlays created by Territory

Q: Is this the first time you’ve done a project like this?

NH: Yes, as a studio it is, although I’ve done some live drawing events before. Marti thought it was an original idea and it gives us the chance to collaborate with some of the best animation studios in town.

I actually had my head locked into another project when I was asked and didn’t really know what I was signing myself up for, but I’m up for the challenge and can’t wait to see the result!

Q: What are the biggest challenges of this form of collaboration?

MR: As a studio, it is probably to be involved in a character-based animation project, as we are best known for our UI motion graphics.

NH: For me it’s the usual challenge of time management on the day – delivering a well executed and well conceived project. But what’s great about this level of collaboration is there are more minds to share these challenges with and this makes for an interesting outcome and keeps the energy levels high.

Q: What’s good about working in London?

MR: For me, working here is like playing in the NBA of the motion graphics and film industry. Big productions, big clients, big talent: there’s a lot of competition and that makes you improve your game.

virgin Heroes of animation: Territory Studio design tips
Territory worked with Virgin Atlantic’s in-house design team on logo design, idents and branded animations

NH: The crowded commute, smoggy air and rude people – love it! Seriously though, the sense of community within the motion graphics industry is great. You only have to freelance for a year and you get to know pretty much everyone; seven degrees of separation and all.

Q: What’s bad about working in London?

MR: Coming from Barcelona, definitely the weather, and the lack of beach and good paella!

NH: I’ve not really worked anywhere else so I have nothing to compare it with.

Q: Why do you think there is so much animation talent in the city?

MR: I see it as a symbiosis: the big clients and productions come to London because there’s a lot of good talent, and the good talent comes to London because they want to work on the best projects.

NH: There’s every kind of talent here and every kind of person.

killzone Heroes of animation: Territory Studio design tips
Territory worked with Sony and Guerrilla Cambridge to create in-game graphics for the fifth in the Killzone series, Mercenary

Q: What technologies play the biggest part in what you do?

MR: A computer with 2D and 3D software installed, and a coffee machine!

NH: Apple, the internet, advances in computer technology and advances in people’s ideas of what technology will become.

Q: What are the main qualities you look for in the technology you use?

MR: The coffee should be fresh and Colombian, if possible. And the computer should render as fast as I drink my coffee!

NH: RAM, processing power and screen size – the higher the numbers the better!

Q: What are you most proud of?

MR: We’re proud of working on some great films such as Prometheus, and at the moment we’re working on a big feature for Marvel.

dna Heroes of animation: Territory Studio design tips
The BBC commissioned Territory to create an animation explaining the fundamentals of DNA

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?

MR: Gmunk, Danny Yount, Ash Thorp, Herb Lubalin and Alex Trochut.

NH: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones – a fighter’s work ethic is second to none.

Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to start out in animation?

MR: Start doing what you like as personal projects, as if making money doesn’t matter any more. And find your own style and create your own brand.

NH: Work hard, stay positive and don’t beat yourself up, we’re all capable of having rubbish days!

prometheus2 Heroes of animation: Territory Studio design tips
Their work on Prometheus is one of the studio’s proudest achievements

Q: Who is your favourite superhero, and why?

MR: Goku, because he has a flying cloud as transport.

NH: Iron Man. The dude’s a badass and his tech is awesome. I love the human element to his character: it makes the idea of being a superhero feel a lot more plausible.

Q: If you could have any superhero ability, what would it be?

MR: To be super-persuasive: to be able to convince some clients that you are the creative and sometimes know better. I would add the ability to fly – what a classic!

NH: To be able to alter objects’ core chemical structure. Think of the possibilities…

Q: What do you see as essential attributes for London’s super-hero?

MR: He should be able to change the weather some days, and speed up the public transport, of course.

NH: Dry wit, secretly slightly depressed, obsessed with the weather, and patriotic.

Exclusive: Register for ZED today!

Want to stay on top of the latest techniques? Then register for ZED, a ‘Pop-Up Studio for the Creative Community’ being held in London, Soho, Sep 23-Oct 22. Be inspired by intimate presentations from brilliant keynote speakers and outstanding new examples of audiovisual artistry. Details here (hurry – tickets are free, but limited!).