Dunedin turned rock'n'roller into TV entrepreneur

MUSIC TO TV: Animation Research founder Ian Taylor.
Fairfax NZ
MUSIC TO TV: Animation Research founder Ian Taylor.

Ian Taylor – a new Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to business and television – says he credits Dunedin and its people as his inspiration to create an animation company that has gone global.

Despite a business life which has thrown up its challenges he is committed to his companies, Taylormade Media, a television production group, and Animation Research – known for the first real-time yachting graphics package for the America's Cup.

The company later diversified into the European golf tour and cricket, providing animated breakdowns of the golfing holes and fly-ins to the key cities hosting matches.

A few days before confirmation of the honour Taylor was winging his way to Melbourne for the last couple of days of the Boxing Day cricket test, where his animation work shows audiences how close a leg before wicket decision is, or a breakdown of how a batsman has compiled his innings.

"I don't consider myself as a businessman at all, I'm an accidental businessman ... I was 40 and had spent my life in rock'n' roll bands, television and all sorts of things and on my 40th birthday I thought, s..., I suppose I should really do something," he said.

"And there's some key moments that happened. Around that time Television New Zealand was closing down the whole Dunedin TV operation – at that time Dunedin produced around 30 per cent of all local content for Television, it was huge – and I'd already made that decision I wasn't leaving Dunedin so the only option was to buy the place."

By that stage Taylor had experience in front of television cameras as a children's show presenter but remembers only having about $1000 in the bank.

It was only a long talk with his banker that won him the chance to enter the business and television worlds with half a million dollars to back his plans for children's television.

"A bank manager at the National by the name of Andrew Wilson – we walked the main street of Dunedin and I told him what I was going to do, and we got back and he set up the money ... that would never happen these days," Taylor said.

"I went from a staff of none to 20 overnight."

Taylor was born in Kaeo in Northland of Ngati Kahungunu descent and brought up on the East Coast in Raupunga, halfway between Napier and Gisborne where two brothers still live.

He was lead singer in Featherston/Wellington-based band The Kal-Q-Lated Risk for a few years from the late 1960s, before being called up for the last intake of compulsory military training – at Linton and Waiouru.

He then spent about a year working for the Speight's brewery in Dunedin in around 1970.

He began a law degree but accepted an offer to be in the children's television show Play School.

Taylor then completed his degree before moving to Spot On.

He made the leap into more technical-based television solutions that led to Animation Research from the late 1980s.