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axisVFX delivers 900 shots on hit SyFy show Happy!

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axisVFX, the visual effects arm of Axis Studios and creator of high-end visuals for television and film projects, has delivered 900 shots across eight episodes on Happy!, the new SyFy show based on the graphic novel by Scottish writer Grant Morrison.

Happy! recounts the experience of alcoholic ex-cop turned hitman Nick Sax (portrayed by Wet Hot American Summer’s Christopher Meloni) who teams up with imaginary unicorn Happy (voiced by stand-up comic Patton Oswalt) to find a young girl kidnapped by a deranged Santa Claus.

axisVFX, working in tandem with Axis Studios three creative sites across the UK, collaborated with showrunners Brian Taylor and Patrick Macmanus across the creation of Happy – a fully CG character that plays a leading role throughout the season’s eight episodes. Axis was responsible for developing concepts, animation and final rendering, ensuring that Happy, despite his cartoonish appearance, felt like a photoreal and believable addition to the show’s world. The effort, attention and screen time enjoyed by happy – some 100 shots per episode – is unprecedented for a CG character on a television show.

The team also lead the production of three 20-second marketing spots and produced animation of Happy for a series of bespoke promos for the show as well as an AR app, which enables users to see the character appear in the real world via their smartphone screen.

Grant Hewlett, co-founder and VFX supervisor at axisVFX, comments: “It was an amazing challenge to work on a TV CG character that wasn’t just a one-episode cameo, but a lead protagonist in his own right. It’s almost unheard of, and indicative of just how much the television landscape is changing in a post-Netflix world. It was an amazing journey to feel out the character and be given so much trust in his artistic direction. axisVFX but 110% into every frame, and we couldn’t be prouder of what’s ended up on screen.”

Paul Schleicher, executive producer at axisVFX, comments: “It’s amazing to be part of the growth in graphic novels being adapted into TV shows – The Walking Dead, Preacher, The Tick and so on. Happy! is a vibrant, gory, hilarious roller coaster of a TV show; it was a huge amount of fun to pitch the ever-positive character of Happy against the acerbic and nihilistic Nick Sax, and to develop what that meant in animation. The whole Axis Studios crew pitched in across London, Bristol, and Glasgow, using the individual expertise of each location in order to make this show the success that it is.”

axisVFX has previously worked on the Royal Television Society Award-nominated visual effects for the BBC’s Doctor Who. It’s artists are currently working on Aardman Animation’s Early Man, due for release later this month.

axisVFX is part of Axis Studios – a UK-based creative outfit based in the UK with a global clientele. It boasts one of the largest CGI production staffs in the UK and is on course to triple turnover to £15m between 2015 and 2018.

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