CDW Studios is one of the most interesting new companies in South Australia and a very special client of ours. A design school with a twist, it started out in 2011 as a series of workshops held around Australia, bringing in hard-hitting talent from the west coast of the USA. The focus was concept art: rapid-ideation illustrations which establish the look and feel for feature films & videogames.
What made these workshops (and later the school) unique was that there were no academics preaching from the pulpit. Every teacher was a seasoned professional, earning mid six figure incomes to work their craft. Each one of these teachers brought their passion for art and the industry to every session & inspired students to reach higher and work harder. Every one of these teachers had to fight to make it in the industry and loved the opportunity to give something back to students.
Striking a nerve with local artists, the workshops were a runaway success, expanding to NZ the following year. After flying around the country for several years, husband & wife team Simon & Shelley had to find a more permanent solution to meet the demand.
The school was officially founded in 2013 at The Myer Centre in Adelaide & has managed to grow year-over-year - despite being a private institution without student eligibility for government support. This year they’re celebrating a major win by partnering with Flinders University, a move which formalises their qualifications & secures much needed government support to their students.
Where CDW's story meets ours is just before their very first event. Simon was in need of a tech-savvy video team to cover his event & he wanted a full HD live switch between the computer monitor, the audience & stage for 12 hours a day every day for two weeks. These days that isn’t so much of an ask - but 5 years ago the tech hurdles would have killed most video companies.
Meanwhile, our own Ryan Jones had been playing in the start up space with a bent towards live streaming for several years (his company Pure Motorsport was the first to live broadcast Australian Rally Championship video content online) which had earned him some notoriety. Ryan and myself go back a long way and I had been his go-to-video-guy whenever he had a project in the works.
As Adelaide tends to go, a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-business-acquaintance introduced Ryan to Simon. Ryan, having projects coming out his ears (as always) was unable to commit, so he introduced Simon to me.
At the time I was working as the production manager at a TV station that was in the process of being steered off the edge of a cliff. Luckily, and in part due to this, I had an arrangement with the management that I could take on freelance work from time to time so when Ryan gave me a call, I arranged two weeks leave to put a team together to cover Simon’s workshop.
Little did we know that that workshop would be the genesis for our company in its current form. It was working with CDW & the positive feedback we received that gave us the confidence to leave our jobs & create our own company - not just act as freelancers on the side. We put in our notice to the station shortly after.
Since then, we have had the privilege of covering every CDW event & have created all of their top tier promotional content. The school has been a big believer in video - and in our capability to deliver - & we have completed dozens of projects together. When CDW opened their doors at the Myer Centre in 2013, Simon & Shelley offered us office space for our edit suites.
Simon also introduced us to Vinh - in a similar friend-of-a-friend-of-a-business-acquaintance kind of a way - when he was first exploring the online video space with Encyclopaedia of Magic. Together, Craig & Myself pumped out hundreds of videos for EoM (no exaggeration - we were doing 25 per week at one point). The strength of that relationship ultimately led to us merging our company with Vinh to create Luminary together.
CDW are more than just a client to us; they're friends, they're supporters & kindred spirits. Their company is the exact same age as ours -- pretty much to the day. Building a dream isn't an easy process & you need every piece of help you can get along the way. One of the things I'm most proud of in my working life is to see not only the team that came together more than five years ago still working together today but also to still be working closely with the client that started it all.
Co-Founder Luminary Studios