LONDON – Axis Studios (www.axisstudiosgroup.com) delivered 1,000 shots across 10 episodes of the second season of the UCP-produced Syfy and Netflix original show, Happy!, which recently premiered in the UK. Based on the graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, Happy! follows alcoholic ex-cop turned hitman Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni), who teams up with the imaginary unicorn Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt). In the second season, the action moves from Christmas time to "the biggest holiday rebranding of all time" and a plot to "make Easter great again”.
Axis worked across its three creative sites in Glasgow, Bristol and London, collaborating with executive producer and director Brian Taylor and showrunner Patrick Macmanus to raise the bar on the animation of the fully-CG character. The studio also worked on a host of supporting characters, including a chain smoking man-baby, a gimp-like Easter Bunny and a Jeff Goldblum-shaped cloud. Alongside the extensive animation work, the team’s VFX workload greatly increased from the first season. This included two additional episodes, creature work, matte painting, cloud simulations, asset building, and extensive FX and clean-up work.
A 100-strong team of artists worked to further developed the animation of the show’s lead character, Happy!, improving the rig, giving more nuanced emotions, and continually working to integrate him more into real-world environments.
“What a great show to be part of again,” says Axis co-founder/VFX supervisor Grant Hewlett. “Thanks to Grant Morrison and Brian Taylor for trusting us with their creation. We all had a blast working on it.”
“Happy! is a vibrant, gory, hilarious roller coaster of a TV show,” adds Paul Schleicher, executive producer at AxisVFX. “It’s been hugely rewarding to be invited back to be a part of the show’s evolution in its second series. The character of Happy has become more nuanced and complex, our team had a lot of fun developing what that meant in animation. We were also proud to increase our VFX and animation workload from the first season, taking our shot count to 1,000!”