SLIDESHOW: Airship takes off to create gaming hub

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A Lytham man is hoping to make the Fylde the centre for the gaming industry in the region as his 3D visuals company launches at new offices.

Joe Harford is the director of Airship Images, which creates 3D images for computer games and films.

Video games company Airship Images have set up in Blackpool.  Pictured is director Joe Harford.

Video games company Airship Images have set up in Blackpool. Pictured is director Joe Harford.

The company employs six full timers at its headquarters in Olympic Court, Boardmans Way, Blackpool, along with another six freelancers.

It is currently working on some of the top end video games for the likes of publisher Ubisoft.

Joe’s team specialise in adding visual effects and creating characters for the games.

They worked on the Forza motor racing games and have contributed to the Crysis and Ryse series.

Joe said: “We chose Blackpool as it is close to my home in Lytham and a great part of the world to be in.

“It’s handy for the motorway and has good rail links to London and Manchester airport is not too far way. Our aim is to grow the company in this area and develop links with the local colleges and univeristies.

“This area could become a hub for 3D images and games development. There is a lot of talent in the area and with Realtime just down the road doing similar things, we could make it a centre for this part of the country.

“The games industry has overtaken the film industry when it comes to revenue in the past five years.”

Joe previously worked for Crytek, which produced the international blockbuster Far Cry, after being head-hunted at the age of 19.

He quit his Swansea university course to move to Germany where he learned the trade over a four-year period before returning home to work for Ubisoft and then setting himself up as a freelancer.

He decided to launch his Airship Images, so named because it evoked an age of exploration and discovery, to work on larger scale projects.

They specialise in trailers for games using the game’s own engine to keep the visuals true to the game.

And the team adds special effects and visual magic to films and music videos.

He said: “We produce visual effects in films. For example when an actor is talking to a creature, they will be acting in front of a green screen or using a tennis ball on a stick for reference, and we create the creature on the finished film.

“We are there on set and record the lighting to match the scene. We create the creature, modelled in clay first then scanned in and worked on in 3D and we animate it to make the expressions matchthe acting.

“We also create special effects such as sparks when bits of metal grind together and magic effects, too.”

He said they recently worked on horror film Grave Shivers, which has been nominated for an award in the US, and are working on a big name American Football game as well as finding time to work on their own adventure game.