Tippett Studio brought Ted, the title character from Universal Pictures’ blockbuster live action/CG-animated comedy, back to life for the 85th Academy Awards telecast. Accompanied by friend and co-star Mark Wahlberg, the animated Ted riffed about sex last night before the duo presented Oscars for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.
Incorporating 3D character animation into a pre-recorded movie or television show is one challenge, but integrating an animated character into a live-broadcast in front of a global audience is quite another.
Behind the shenanigans of the world’s favorite crass teddy bear were the same VFX and character animation artists responsible for his creation in 2012’s global comedy hit Ted (a sequel is in the works). Blair Clark of Tippett Studio perfected the illusion alongside Seth MacFarlane (Oscar host, voice of Ted, and director of the film), telecast director Don Mischer, and the Oscar broadcast team.
For the filming of the segment, a duplicate of the Academy Awards stage was constructed at CBS Studios, with lighting and cameras situated to match the Dolby Theatre set up. The feat involved planning exact camera positions so that the animation, rendered using Dell Precision workstations, would integrate seamlessly on Oscar night with Wahlberg and the show audience. With five nominees in each category, Tippett artists created 10 different outcomes in just a four-week production schedule. As the winners were unknown before the envelope was opened, Mischer and his team sat at the ready to push the button for the correct winner during the live broadcast.
The Dolby audience saw Wahlberg walk out with a stool and a spot light shining on nothing. Ted was live comped onto the screen. And Wahlberg was on stage to present the Oscars to the attendees.