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Denki: Great ideas are easy to find - teams are the limiting factor

MD Colin Anderson explains why studios could learn from companies such as Pixar

Denki MD Colin Anderson has expressed his view that it's great teams, not ideas, that have the potential to catapult a creative media company to success.

Speaking at the inaugural NEoN Digital Arts Festival on Saturday, Anderson said that just three per cent of creative media products make significant returns for their investors.

As he looked for companies that were achieving higher success than three per cent however, Anderson said that one in particular stood out - Disney Pixar. "Ten products in 15 years - ten commercial successes. A 100 per cent success rate."

And one of the key factors Pixar president Ed Catmull attributes to the company's success is a good team, said Anderson.

"It's the team that makes the difference. They're the limiting factor. If you give a great idea to a mediocre team, you're going to end up with something mediocre. If you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they will make it great."

"Ed could be talking rubbish - it is possible," he admitted. "But personally I don't think ten hit films in a row happened by accident."

Focusing on teams above ideas is possibly the most significant way in which Pixar differs to many companies, but it has other processes in place which Anderson believes can be learnt from.

"The directors at Pixar don't come up with all the ideas – they harvest ideas from the hundreds of people that work for them, take the best ones and use them in the film," he said.

The company also believes that being out of your depth is good for creative industries. "If you're not feeling like you're out of your depth, you're probably doing something that people have already seen and then you're competing with the rest of the world."

Finally, Pixar builds failure into the production process, he said, so it can "pull the rip cord at any point, land the project and get back on the plane."

Speaking about his own company's growth, Anderson said that it learnt many of its own lessons during its start up years.

"Don't turn into your parents," was the ex DMA Design audio designer's first, although he was quick to point out he loved DMA, but simply wanted to take the good bits and leave the bad.

It's also not enough to just make a good game, he continued. "Well marketed games sell whether they're good or not. The best scenario is to make a good game that's well marketed."

Denki is currently in the process of developing its first Xbox Live Arcade title, Quarrel, which is due for release in 2010.

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