For the past few years, Warsaw-based visual effects firm Juice has produced a constant stream of content that has earned its stripes by being Spotlighted on Creativepool. The projects usually have a sci-fi feel as the company aims to use its expertise to not only recreate the real world, but present it as an image of perfection.
“At Juice, we don’t stop at just recreating the reality of our world. We try to make everything even nicer, almost surreal, in order to be happy about what we do,” says CEO, Adam Tunikowski.
The company started in 2006 as a design specialist but soon found its calling was in animation. Regularly creating concept designs and development style frames with still images, it found that in order to tell the wider story, animation was key.
“This turned out to be a very rewarding experience and we enjoyed it so much that we’ve turned out to be an animation and VFX company in the end,” adds Tunikowski. “That’s why we like to call Juice a design-driven post production and animation house.”
"We had run the company in a ‘family style’ where a new employee would always be brought on board by an existing employee.”
Sporting an Empire Strikes Back t-shirt, you get the feeling Tunikowski runs a tight ship, but one with the liberating feel of the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars film franchise. In its early days, Juice had an unwritten policy that only friends of staff would be considered for jobs. However, as the company has grown, fresh talent has been welcomed aboard.
“We try to keep it reasonably sized,” explains Tunikowski. “By that, I mean that the vast majority of people know each other quite well. For many years, we had run the company in a ‘family style’ where a new employee would always be brought on board by an existing employee.”
The CEO says while that arrangement had its upsides with everyone synchronized and pulling in the same direction, it could also prove challenging at times because there were maybe too many friendships in the professional environment.
"Being a small player against the big guys like The Mill or MPC allows you to think smart."
“A few years ago, we opened up to ‘outside’ blood,” he adds. “It did a lot of good in making the company feel more like a company and less like a community. But in the end, I still believe that working at Juice is more like being part of a family rather than a corporate experience.”
Naturally, operating in the competitive world of VFX and post production has its challenges, but Juice is holding its own in a galaxy of bigger stars. With offices in Wrocław and Tokyo, as well as its Warsaw base, the firm employs more than 70 creatives worldwide. And the fact the company is a lot smaller than other names in the business means it has to think innovatively.
“There is one invisible advantage in working for a smaller studio like Juice,” says Tunikowski. “Being a small player against the big guys like The Mill or MPC allows you to think smart. What I mean by that is while you’re doing amazing projects in all these great studios other people have to work in a pipeline with a structure similar to a factory.”
With tight budgets, timings and scarce resources to work with, Tunikowski says it can be uncomfortable, but there is an unexpected upside: “It allows you to come up with creative ideas on how to approach projects in unusual ways, giving you the opportunity to learn and experiment,” he explains. “All of that, and also a touch of design rooted in Juice’s DNA is something I believe will be hard to find anywhere else.”