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August 01
2017

ISSUE

Web Exclusive

THE BEST OF AXIS

By IAN FAILES

In the world of animation, game cinematics and visual effects, Axis is a studio looked at fondly for its creative approach to storytelling and high-octane visuals. Now, key studios in Axis Group – Axis Animation, Flaunt Productions and axisVFX – have combined to form one mega-branch called Axis Studios.

To mark the occasion, VFX Voice asked some of the key creatives at Axis to reflect on their most memorable projects from over the years that have been carried out at locations in Glasgow, Bristol and London.

See behind the scenes of the new Axis Studios.

Sergio Caires, CG Supervisor

For me, the most memorable projects are the ones where it is against all odds, but we manage to do them anyway. The old saying, “necessity is the mother of all invention,” is perfectly applicable here.

All problems have solutions, and it’s up to our cleverness, perseverance and determination to solve them efficiently. One such project was Halo 5: Guardians, where everything had to happen in parallel.

Axis Animation crafted a cinematic piece for Halo 5: Guardians, for Microsoft XBox.

This meant environment asset build, VFX, lighting and animation which uniquely was being supplied by the client in a pipeline incompatible with ours, and all of which was being developed in parallel. It’s these types of projects that really push everybody to think outside the box and be creative and innovative.

Andrew Pearce, Executive Producer, Flaunt Productions

It’s hard to choose the most memorable project since it’s in our studio ethos to make all projects unique so they stick in the viewers’ memories. Maybe the most successful in that regard was the Dead Island trailer from 2011 – it had great foundations.

Axis’ Dead Island trailer for the Deep Silver game.

Anton Borkel and Malte Wagener convinced Deep Silver to take a big risk and collaborated beautifully with director Stu Aitken and composer Giles Lamb – everyone in the crew over-delivered. I’d been in the studio two years, but this project proved to me that Axis was a studio where the owners are in it for the creative.

Jill Wallace, Studio Manager

The most memorable project for me has to be the Halo 4: Spartan Ops. It’s the project we never thought we’d get, and I’ll never forget our CEO Richard Scott and director Stu Aitken swaggering in from the client call telling us we’d been awarded the job. We’ve grown so much as a studio since then, but not lost what’s at our heart, collaboration, creativity and striving for excellence.

Axis worked on the episodic series Halo 4: Spartan Ops in collaboration with 343 Industries.

Hudson Martins, Head of FX

Most of our projects differ a lot from each other and all of them have their challenges and different results. The most memorable project from my perspective would be the Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War 3 trailer. This project was different from day one. We had the opportunity to do a project with a very dark theme.

No heroes, no winners just a pure war zone. The look we were aiming for was based on Beksinski’s artwork. We from the FX team were very excited since we would be working with large explosions and large-scale simulations that also needed to behave differently and have a special look to it.

A still from the Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War 3 trailer.

The fact that we managed to create this different piece of work containing pink explosions, a lot of blood, and with a result where every frame could look like a painting, was very exciting and still is my most memorable project at Axis Studios.

The announcement trailer for Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War 3.

Debbie Ross, Executive Producer, Axis Animation

So many projects have aspects that really stand out for me, but one piece that still feels fresh and is a bit of a personal favorite is Project Overdrive for Riot Games.

Watch Axis’ work for Riot Games’ Project Overdrive.

This project has a unique render look that captures a 2D aesthetic in largely 3D execution. Director Ben Hibon defined the look with his own amazing artwork and our lead artist, John Barclay, devised a way to shade the assets and render the 3D scenes to be faithful to Ben’s vision. The result looks fantastic. This piece is a great example of how Axis Studios is always pushing the creative process to maintain diversity and quality. That’s what excites me about our studio.

Amy Patterson, Producer at Flaunt

Lost in Oz is definitely one of my most memorable, and enjoyable, projects in my time at Axis. We started out on this crazy adventure around 3 years ago and it was just amazing to see how the full series blossomed from this small gem of an idea. The reviews of the pilot were just fantastic to read! Once the pilot was picked up we then had to band together and create a sustainable long term workflow across 3 very different timezones.

This proved to be challenging at first, especially when you’re used to working solely in your own pipeline, but with a bit of trial and error we figured it out and it was all worth it! Both in the end result on screen and also with the amount of learning and growth that was done on all sides.

A still from Lost in Oz.

Grant Hewlett, Executive VFX Supervisor at axisVFX

My most memorable project to date has to be our first episode of Doctor Who – “Flatline – S8”. Voted by Doctor Who TV as the best VFX in that series it was a great reward for a fantastic effort from our whole team.

axisVFX tackled some strange 2D forms in the 3D world for the “Flatline” season 8 episode of Doctor Who.

Working with Director Douglas Mackinnon was inspirational, terrifying and rewarding in equal measure. It was our first big cross studio project pulling in art directors, storyboards artists, concept artists, motion capture TD’s, animators, and a whole cast of other talents across the company. We really proved we could further the art of sci-fi monsters making a unique and memorable episode of a cult classic.



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