Your browser (Internet Explorer 6) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.
X

Archive for September 22nd, 2016

Post

Nimba Creations Online Shop – a Brief History

Although Nimba Creations website has been around since 2000, it hasn’t always been an online shop. Back when going online meant unplugging your phone and plugging in your external modem then waiting while your PC made a series of bleeping sounds before waiting for AltaVista to load, our website was intended to be nothing more than a basic online portfolio to accompany the hard copies we sent out to potential clients. We even had to put our website onto CDs for some people – not everyone had an internet connection and our photo-heavy pages would take a long time to load for those who did.

Nimba Creations 2000
This is where Nimba Creations online presence started

Being the picky, OCD types that we are we spent hours creating bright, bold graphics, scanning photos and slides (yup, slides) and uploading them to our website, all the time racking up a huge phone bill. The website was fairly advanced for the time, it served as our calling card and got us lots of much needed work on films, TV shows and at themed attractions.

When we started construction on our full size T-Rex (which you can read about here) we decided to update the website as we went through the process. We guessed that people would be interested to follow us on the journey of building something so unique, and it would be a nice way for us to journal our progress. We were blogging before blogs existed.

Animatronic T-rex
Nimbas largest project to date

While we guessed that it would be popular, we could never have predicted the volume of traffic that would start flowing through our website. We had constant crashes and bandwidth issues  and we were receiving a continual stream of emails from more potential clients, newspapers and interested members of the public. It was fantastic to get instant feedback on a project we were still working on morning, noon and night.

After the T-Rex was complete we started documenting all of our projects on our website, from a severed Mayan head for National Geographic to a Bigfoot bust that, in one way or another, secured work for us on Peter Jacksons King Kong in New Zealand. The more projects we did, the more we posted, the more people visited our website and the more projects came in. It was a nice cycle that we had going, but we wanted to be able to offer something more to the thousands of people visiting our site, not just the few who had large scale projects in the works.

In 2005, we decided to open a small online shop. The most obvious thing to offer was basic FX materials so people could have a go at small projects themselves; life casts, plaster, clay and prosthetic adhesive were all in our first range of products. As we were selling prosthetic adhesive, we thought we should produce some small latex prosthetic wounds – just enough for people to have a go at minor applications in their own homes. We created a single flat plate plaster mould comprising of 5 wounds, the largest of which was a cut wrist prosthetic.

Nimba Creations Online Shop
One of the first incarnations of our shop/portfolio site

With the shop ticking over and creating enough profit to make it worthwhile endeavour, we carried on with the core of our business – custom props and prosthetics for films, TV and attractions. Tom was offered a job that was too good to turn down at one of the biggest FX facilities in the UK, Artem based London, working as a full time special effects supervisor on lots of high profile projects. It would have made sense to close the online shop there and then, but instead it was kept going as a side project, the range was added to occasionally (now with gelatine prosthetics rather than latex) and the site was constantly developed, re-designed and added to to keep it looking fresh.

Miami Dolphins Robot
An 8 metre tall robot for the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium, a project Tom supervised at Artem

Then came the call of the Scottish Highlands. A gorgeous place with awe-inspiring scenery, always visited on holiday but never staying more than 2 weeks. Anyone who has visited the Highlands will know it has a very special draw; rich in cultural and mythological history, if you’ve been once you need to go back. After all, the Loch Ness Monster hasn’t been found and there are lots more fine whiskies to try. The problem is, if you’re a special effects artist it’s not really the place to be. London, yes; Los Angeles, yes; Inverness? No. So with heart ruling head, Nimba moved north of the border in 2009 and we had to double down on our efforts building our online shop and have a wild stab at that most elusive of dreams, living in the place you love and doing work you are passionate about while being your own boss. It sounds like a crazy thing to say now as we had slightly more chance of finding the Loch Ness Monster, but you only live once.

As it turned out, our move couldn’t have been timed better as the first ever comic convention in the Highlands, Hi-Ex, was being staged in Inverness that year. We booked a table at the event, brought along armfuls of our products and found an enthusiastic local, Graham Hay, to apply makeups to as live demos for each of the two days of the show. We filmed the demos on a single camera mounted on a tripod so we could edit them into tutorial videos later and upload them to our new YouTube channel.

Zombie Makeup Application Video
Our first ever video, crudely filmed but it did the trick

If memory serves us correctly, we didn’t even make enough sales that weekend to cover the cost of the table. We were new to conventions and ill-prepared, no posters or nice graphics, just a table full of prosthetics and glue. But we did have the videos. They were cut down into more watchable films, Tom did narration to explain the process and once uploaded, they started clocking up views straight away. We were pleasantly surprised and we noticed an upturn in our online sales. Then Halloween came around.

That October was a month of solid work. That isn’t an exaggeration, there was nothing but work that month. In order to meet demand, it had to be done in shifts; while someone was working, the other was sleeping. One person woke up, the other went to bed. The only outdoor activity was dropping bags of parcels at the post office. For an entire month. When it was over we were slightly shell shocked, but we also realised that we had managed to build a new business for ourselves while we lived in one of the most beautiful places on earth, doing creative work that we loved.

Tom Applies a Prosthetic
Our most recent product and application video

We have not taken our foot off the accelerator for one moment since then, we have developed new, bigger, better prosthetics, expanded our range of materials, developed our own makeup palettes, recorded more sophisticated tutorial videos, produced our own DVDs been guests at trade shows in the UK, USA and Ireland, and now our products at even stocked by Amazon.

It’s been roughly 5 years since we switched our site over from being a portfolio with a shop attached to a shop with a portfolio attached, and it’s been fantasic, exhilarating hard work and we are even more excited about the products we have coming up in the future. Watch this space.

This is our latest video ad for our online shop; our prosthetics and tutorial films have improved a lot over the years, and we wanted a spectacular short video that screamed ‘Scottish Highlands’ to reflect the new Nimba Creations and bring our story full circle. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your lastest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.