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Tim Austin


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Tim Austin

 

Life as an animator started with the Graduate Diploma in Animation and Interactive Multimedia in 1993. This was a fantastic experience that culminated in friendships that will last for a long time to come. The feverish pace set for production hasn't really stopped since then and in hindsight my career has mirrored the same pattern established with AIM. You try a heap of different things, stuff a lot of it up, learn from those mistakes, and keep on going. So here I am ten years later still running as fast as I can, still very much associated with AIM, and still enjoying a career that continues to be fascinating and rewarding. The following is a brief reflection on life post AIM.

Out of the nest
I pretty much started my own business as soon as I left AIM. I managed to pick up quite a bit of freelance work, mainly in CD roms for kids. I had always been interested in the educational content delivery and this is where I seemed to find the work. It was probably more by good luck than good management. At this stage my idea of a business plan was work doing anything for whatever money and subsequently eat. Once again an ominous pattern emerged. Over the years, the more money I made the more I ate. Ten years later I'm twice the size! I probably need a few lean years in the physical sense rather than the financial.

So at this stage in my career I knew a couple of things. I liked making educational stuff for kids and I liked to eat. Thankfully I still do both.

Babe in the woods
As the frenetic pace continued I started to diversify. Not satisfied with just doing other peoples work I wanted to start producing my own. Innocence and ignorance combined to make this sound like a good idea. Had I known what was to come I may well have resigned myself to being the animator that does the little toe on Bart Simpson's left foot in some Korean sweatshop.

It wasn't long before I had some success with my own work. The interactive children's production, 'Dragons Aren't Bad', was funded by the Australian Multimedia Enterprise. Although the production never made it onto retail shelves it was an incredible learning experience and very satisfying. In order to get this funding I needed to revise my business plan from the 'work-eat' business model to something a little more diverse. This meant seeking business knowledge.

I'd already established that I liked kids educational stuff and that I'd like to eat. I also learnt a few more things. Firstly, business plans should not contain a shopping list of the stuff you want to buy or the things you would like to eat. Secondly, you can never have too much to do. At this stage I joined the first intake of the Masters program at AIM. Johnny Bird assured me I had the time!

Making mum happy
Multimedia was on a very strong upward trend. I knew this because my new business plan had told me so. My credibility in my chosen area was starting to rise. I knew this because Johnny Bird had told me so. Both sources proved to be somewhat truthful. At this stage I was starting to secure some bigger contracts for kids multimedia projects. I also became the AIM centre's first Masters graduate. I was also made an Adjunct Professor at Swinburne University. So for both my commercial and academic pursuits I was receiving media attention and some notoriety. When I left high school I was voted 'least likely to succeed'. So for myself, and my mum, this was some vilification.

Now I knew that I liked making kids stuff, liked to eat, needed a business plan, and that sometimes it just takes a little time before your mum can have something good to say about you at the weekly mahjong game. Mum probably could have done without waiting 30 years. Still running... still happy 10 years on and I feel humble to be in a great career with fantastic colleagues doing what I love. Hardly seems fair to the masses. I do try and pay back in the little ways I can. One of the most rewarding consequences of the last ten years is I've been lucky enough to take the aforementioned experiences, both good and bad, and use that experience in teaching others in creative professions so that they may avoid some pain. So after all these years everything I have learnt can be summed up in one sentence. Find your passion, do a business plan, make sure you eat, and make sure your mum's happy.

Tim's website: www.wwigroup.com.au

Tim's Bio
After completing a Graduate Diploma in Animation and Interactive Multimedia at Swinburne University of Technology in 1993, Tim started his own multimedia production business. Before long Tim established a strong track record of securing government, institutional and private funding as well as building a diverse range of commercial clients. The interactive children's production, 'Dragons Aren't Bad', was funded by the Australian Multimedia Enterprise and was used to launch the Telstra Broadband Cable Network in Australia. The environmental education productions, 'Ollie Recycles', 'Ollie Saves the Planet', and 'Ollie at the farm' continue to be developed and distributed throughout the world. These programs have received support from many governments including the Executive Committee for the Environment in the United States where the client was invited to present to the Whitehouse as an example in best practice environmental education. In addition to ten years experience running a entrepreneurial business Tim is also a graduate from the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship at Swinburne University. He also holds a Masters Degree in Multimedia and is an Adjunct Professor in Multimedia. Tim lectures in creative disciplines and entrepreneurship for Monash University, Swinburne University, and RMIT University in Australia. In addition Tim lectures and presents to international universities on a regular basis. Tim continues to develop interactive material across all levels of education and industry. Tim is currently completing his PhD in Creative Media at the AIM Centre at RMIT.

Tim Austin, AIM coursework graduate 1993, AIM Masters by Research graduate 1999


animation & interactive media


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Other alumni stories:

Dave Jones and Al MacInnes
Australian Children's Television Foundation
Sue Earl
Sophie Raymond's animated adventure
Jonathan Nix interviewed by Sleepy Brain
Kate Cawley interviewed by Sleepy Brain