LONDON — AxisVFX, the visual effects arm of Axis Studios, has delivered 900 shots across eight episodes of 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 Christopher Meloni), who teams up with imaginary unicorn Happy (voiced by 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 on 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 character appears some 100 shots per episode.
The team also lead the production of three :20 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.
“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,” says Grant Hewlett, co-founder and VFX supervisor at AxisVFX. “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 put 110 percent into every frame, and we couldn’t be prouder of what’s ended up on screen.”
“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,” adds Paul Schleicher, executive producer at AxisVFX. “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.”