We sat down for a chat with Axis’ Executive Producer Caleb Bouchard to talk about his love of science and art, his childhood influences and his favourite Axis projects.
What’s your career background and what brought you to Axis?
When I was in high school and drawing / painting the sci-fi fantasy and video game characters I loved I wanted to be a concept artist or matte painter, but I also revered and consumed science literature from Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking. I wanted to create art for The Monster Manual or for Magic the Gathering cards, but I also wanted to be a scientist…
I did an undergrad in physics, but decided that academia wasn’t the path for me. I decided I would go to art school and was working on my portfolio when a chance meeting (and subsequent friendship) in 2004 with the owner of a small design/animation company led to him reviewing my portfolio and offering me some freelance design work. Learning on the job I moved into programing and mastering DVDs, editing, motion graphics and eventually animation. Over that time the company slowly grew from just the two of us to 5, then 10, then 15. I started managing accounts, quotes, supervising teams, project management and supervision of post production. I was full time there for about 8 years.
At the same time, I got married, had kids, and a couple of breakdowns. My wife applied for her Masters in Fine Arts. She was accepted in Vancouver, Montreal, and at the Glasgow School of Art. Our second daughter had just arrived when she was accepted, and our oldest had not yet started primary school, so we thought a BIG life-move like this would be easier sooner rather than later. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Axis was based in Glasgow. My family relocated to Glasgow in 2013, and after a 6 month stretch being stay-at-home dad I applied at Axis, and started in early 2014.
You’re involved in developing IP projects, what are you most excited about for the future in terms of Axis and IP?
World building! Axis Studios are very fortunate in our work. We get to explore, elaborate and inhabit some of the most exciting universes in gaming, film and TV for huge clients. Developing our own IPs feels like a natural step to me. Build our own universes to play in.
What kinds of media were most influential on you growing up, and how do you think they shaped you?
I loved all forms of animation growing up. Looking back, the biggest ‘random’ influences were probably the early CGI compilations that I’d get from the library on laser disc in the late 80s / early 90s - titles like “Art of Computer Animation”, “Computer Dreams” and “The Mind's Eye”.
The Mind's Eye was a standout series which attempted to weave all types of computer animation (ads / tech tests from siggraph / art / films) into a loose narrative journey and featured music by Jan Hammer (the composer of Miami Vice). You’d get a really bizarre mix of stuff, and I absolutely LOVED it. Definitely a big influence on my music based personal projects which largely involve marrying visuals to audio and attempting to build a loose narrative that invites re-watching.
What project have you worked on with Axis that you’re most proud of?
I can’t choose just one. I’ve been incredibly fortunate. Love Death & Robots, Dawn of War III, Summoners War – I’ve loved them all and learned a lot from each one. They are my work babies!
What advice would you give someone looking to follow a similar career path to you?
All very cheesy advice. Your first few attempts at anything new will be terrible, and that’s ok. You are never too old to learn new tricks. Be yourself, there’s no fighting it.