axisvfx-wizards-vs-aliensBristol and Glasgow-based visual effects studio axisVFX have created the effects for series three of popular BBC children’s show Wizards Vs Aliens.

Having also been involved with the first two seasons, this is the third time that axisVFX, established by award-winning animation company Axis and visual effects supervisor’s Grant Hewlett and Howard Jones, have worked with the team at the BBC.

The show follows the adventures of young Wizard Tom Clarke and his friend Benny Sherwood as they defend the earth from magic-eating aliens. The team at axisVFX was tasked with pushing the quality and integration of that tasty magic.

The challenges

With more than 270 VFX shots in the show it was important for the team to create the right tools for the job, especially when it came to the magical effects. VFX Supervisor Grant Hewlett said: “Streamlining the tools in this area was the key to unlocking a more efficient workflow. This new workflow enabled our team of FX artist’s greater flexibility and realism in crafting seamless effects to enhance the story.”

“Series 3 of WvA has some of the most original and unnervingly convincing effects ever seen in children’s drama”


The newly appointed VFX Lead Joe Thornley-Heard was tasked with creating a range of tools in Houdini to give their artists access to the controls they needed to manipulate the particle and fluid simulations for the complex magic scenes.


Creepy and innovative effects: Time to hide behind the sofa kids!

Fellow VFX Supervisor Howard Jones said, “almost every shot requires unique tracking, animation and compositing into the plate. Joe’s feature film background allowed us to increase the quality and our Houdini and Nuke workflow allowed us to keep to the challenges of a television production schedule.”

Bringing it to life

In his duties as on-set supervisor Grant worked with all of the shows’ directors to come up with solutions as the requirements of the shoot evolved in the studio and on location. Working with his team they delivered some innovative solutions, including 3D printing CG characters. This provided the BBC art department with practical versions for the actors to hold and interact with.

“This series I gave the axisVFX team two major challenges – make the visual effects of our alien and magical worlds feel more integrated and grounded, and find new innovations to keep our audience surprised with unexpected spectacle,” said BBC Producer Derek Ritchie. “On both fronts they have done a tremendous job. Series 3 of WvA has some of the most original and unnervingly convincing effects ever seen in children’s drama”

You can find out more about axisVFX by visiting their website or by following them @axis_vfxWant to see their work in action (or just catch up on series 3 of WvA)? Go to the show’s Wizards Vs Aliens BBC webpageDon’t forget to follow us on Twitter @techSPARKuk.