Adam Jeffcoat writes;
Niko and the Sword of Light was born from the idea that we wanted to make something different from the types of cartoons and movies that were out there. Something dark and edgy that enabled us to tell a story that would transport our audience on an epic journey to a different time, through awe inspiring landscapes full of wondrous characters and monstrous beasts.
Right from the start we wanted to do something that had not been done before. We were looking at this iPad and thinking, this thing bridges the gap between static and animated plus it is all interactive so it seemed to lend itself perfectly to this unexplored medium of moving comics. It was also the core of the partnership as Jim and I, who made up StudioNX, were 2d animation directors and friends of ours, Bobby and Kei, from Imaginism Studios, were concept artists so it was always our intention to bring their amazing work to life.
Comics were made up of panels just sitting there ready for your imagination to bring them to life but we wanted to give the user that filmic experience by bringing in animation, sound and dynamic film-making to create a sense of real tension and to give them a totally unique experience that they could sit back and be taken along a journey.
We also wanted to take the darker feel of graphic novels and combine it with the style of modern animated movies to come up with something that would appeal to both adults and children alike! The core of the story itself was dark versus light, one tiny hero against all the odds which we felt was quite apt in a time when our real world always seems to be faced with so much darkness every time you turn on the news. Also after visiting various conventions such as CTN and Comicon and speaking with industry professionals we picked up on this theme of worldly stories that seem to be so popular at the moment.
At the time of creating Niko we were all addicted to TV series such as Game of thrones so that definitely played a factor in our inspiration. We love the idea that our world could have once been a place where magic existed, where dragons roamed and where the forces of dark and light were at constant war with each other. We were also inspired by Marvel comics we read as kids and of more modern graphic novels such as Hellboy as the stories were always told in a darker and more adult way. All of the characters in Niko, however, really came from our own imaginations as we sat around in story meetings and tried to create these insane and monstrous creatures that were combinations of animals and mythical beasts that we had read about or seen on TV.
What makes our production unique is we funded the entire thing ourselves as we wanted to remain completely independent throughout. We had our first story meeting back in October 2011 and we all agreed no matter what, we would make this thing ourselves and with our own time and money. We would meet up once a week and go through script ideas, storyboards and rough character designs as we shaped the story.
It wasn’t until we were about half way through the production that we realised what an immense task this had turned out to be. We had 55 pages with around 120 hand-painted panels totalling approximately 20mins of full animation. All of this by just 4 people working evenings and weekends to get this thing done. I think it was our passion for the project that really got us through the tough times and we really felt that our positive thought would always produce positive results. For example we managed to secure the licence for an amazing soundtrack called ‘Concertos for Turntables’ featuring the UK’s famous Dj Yoda. We also got an extremely talented voice actor called Lewis Macleod on board who had previously done voices for the Harry Potter games and the Star Wars movie, The Phantom Menace.
With things going so well we made the decision to drop all of our freelance work and invest in Niko fulltime from October 2012 onwards. By Xmas we realised we needed to turn to Kickstarter to raise enough money to finish the project, hire a coder and a sound FX guy to bring this all to life on the iPad.
We only have about a week left of our campaign and so far the response has been amazing and it reinforces the idea that we are doing something people really wanted to see. As we have already hit our target it means Niko will definitely be coded for iPad and released in the summer but we are hoping to raise more funds to be able to release for both Android and Windows8 tablets later in the year. Kickstarter is an amazing platform for small teams like us to get something big off the ground and to involve the fans to really shape something from the start in this exciting new medium!
I currently work from my studio in Kingston, London. I am the co-director of Niko along with Jim Bryson who currently works in Toronto, Canada. We have quite a diverse team at the moment as Imaginism Studios is also based in Toronto, we have a sound designer in Mexico and a coder in the States so we have become quite an international team. All I can say is thank god for skype!