Most U.K. companies looking to open a new office away from the din, pollution and brutal cost of living entailed by London might turn to a nice piece of greenbelt real estate, or perhaps one of the nearby provincial towns. Framestore, on the other hand, went to Iceland.
Under the leadership of Dadi Einarsson, Lead Animation Supervisor and Framestore veteran, a small outpost of talented individuals has recently opened an office just off Reykjavik's Parliament Square. For the last few months they've been quietly setting up an operation designed to complement Framestore's output in a variety of ways. Right now, for example, Einarsson's team is part of the AUSTRALIA project, working with colleagues in London on a huge vfx sequence for the upcoming Baz Luhrmann epic.
William Sargent, Framestore's Joint CEO, said, "Recently we've begun looking at ways in which we might decentralize some of the work we do. There are many approaches to this, and I'm always interested in exploring original ideas. Dadi impressed me as someone with all the necessary initiative, drive and know-how to carry it through."
Einarsson grew up in Iceland with animation in his DNA. "My mother and her partner were both traditional animators," he says, "So when I was starting out I borrowed their college notes, attempted to translate them into 3D and produced CG character animation and visual effects for Icelandic and Swedish TV." Ten years ago, he took the plunge and relocated to London. A peripatetic existence saw him moving from studio to studio in London, including a spell at Framestore working on DINOTOPIA and HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS. After a period in New York, Einarsson returned to Framestore in 2006, where his work has included the role of Animation Supervisor on the Academy Award-winning vfx for THE GOLDEN COMPASS.
Of his Reykjavik return, Einarsson said, "It felt like the right time to go back home. Iceland has all the ingredients needed for a visual effects and animation studio and there's a huge level of interest in Framestore opening here. There is a strong history of film here on the production side, and there are also an amazing number of talented individuals here who have studied animation or worked in visual effects both here in Iceland and abroad. They will thrive on the kinds of projects that Framestore has to offer."
With a population of 200,000, Reykjavik is the only metropolitan area in Iceland. As a highly modernized capital of one of the most developed countries in the world, its inhabitants enjoy a first-class city infrastructure. Its location means that it receives only four hours of daylight on the shortest day in winter, whilst during the summer the nights are almost as bright as the days. Ecologically speaking the city is a paragon, with most houses in Reykjavik benefiting from the largest geothermal heating system in the world.
Virtue notwithstanding, there's still plenty of fun to be had. As Einarsson points out, "From Reykjavik, you can drive to see geysers, glacial waterfalls, drive over a glacier on a monster truck, swim in natural hot springs under the Northern Lights and have a crazy night out on the town all in one day."