Real Visual Group

Job title:
3D Animation
Animation | Digital

The founder and CEO of Plymouth-based Real Visual Group, Nick Palfrey, states on the company website that ‘My proudest achievement to date remains the assembly of such a diverse and dynamic team’.  It is this dynamism and forward thinking that encouraged Nick to embrace and share opportunities with a new generation of talent through Creative Skillset’s Trainee Finder scheme.

Launched in 2011 with a vision for applying gaming technology to new markets, Real Visual delivers cutting edge, 3D, non-gaming applications across every platform for a broad spectrum of industries.  A partnership with the trailblazing and multi-award winning team at Unity Technologies has cemented Real Visual Group’s reputation as the world’s foremost consultancy for non-gaming applications with international clients including BAE Systems.

As his company expanded, Nick identified the need for new talent to ensure a continuation of skills and vision but, as a relatively new start up, there was a cost consideration. 

“We had three guys from Plymouth University join us in April 2013 on work experience,” said Nick.  “We hoped to offer them more opportunities but this was dependent on securing two contracts which didn’t materialise so we were disappointed we couldn’t keep them on.” 

Fortunately, however, two of the students had been to a presentation by Gina Jackson from Creative Skillset and heard about Trainee Finder, a service that matches trainees with companies across the UK’s animation, games, film, high-end TV and VFX industries.  The scheme encourages co-investment in skills and training to ensure a continued supply of a new generation of talent, capable of world-class creative content. 

“Trainee Finder was like striking gold and we haven’t looked back since,” said Nick.  

The two students who attended the gaming festival in Bath were Jason Vaitilingon and Richard Simpson.  Richard, 23, from Plymouth said, “After re-doing my A levels, I tried joining the Forces but didn’t pass so went to Plymouth University and I am doing a three year course in Computing and Games Development.  My third year was meant to be a placement at Real Visual and it was because of Trainee Finder that I was able to start.”

Jason is also on a three-year degree course in Computing and Game Development at Plymouth University.  “Real Visual offered me a placement during the summer but then they couldn’t afford to keep me on,” said Jason.  “It was then that Trainee Finder stepped in and I was able to be here as a trainee.”

Ben Wilkinson, 26, studied Game Art Design at De Montfort University in Leicester.  “Towards the end of my course, I did freelancing and then spent one year working in a defence company but it wasn’t right for me as there was little opportunity to use and develop the skills I had gained at university,” said Ben.  “Then Creative Skillset enabled me to come as a trainee at Real Visual so I could combine the defence and computer games aspect.”  De Montfort’s Game Art Design course was accredited with the Creative Skillset Tick and Ben was alerted to Trainee Finder through an email notification from the University to its alumni.

Trainee Finder helps us on so many levels by not only connecting us with some of the best and brightest minds coming out of universities and colleges today but also because with our defence work, you have to be a UK national to be involved,” said Nick.  “We applied for regional growth funding three times and, although we met the criteria, we were turned down. So it’s ironic that our funding now comes from London via Creative Skillset for which we are really grateful.”

Real Visual’s Its team has grown from six to 18 and plans to create a further 10 new jobs over the next year with its strength underlined by being chosen as the first preferred partner studio for Unity.

Harnessing that growing reputation, Nick is now looking at setting up an academy around space and architecture to encourage more new talent and give them the opportunities afforded to the current Trainees.

“We now have eight Trainees at Real Visual and they bring a different and beneficial perspective and mindset to our business,” said Nick. 

“One Trainee in particular has completely changed the way we operate by creating new tools and processes, so much so, that his team leader and colleagues just think ‘wow!’”


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