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Ted at the Oscars: The Technology That Brought Movie Magic to Life

Ted at the Oscars: The Technology That Brought Movie Magic to Life

Ted at the Oscars: The Technology That Brought Movie Magic to Life

Most of us have seen the movie, or have at least heard of, Seth McFarlane’s teddy bear creation known as Ted. And whether you love or hate him, the raucous pothead slash sexpot teddy bear is a hit, currently ranking as the #1 R rated comedy film of all time, and coming in for a close second with The Hangover for most popular comedy in its genre.  Despite this, none of us expected Ted to make an appearance at the Academy Awards on Sunday night, and most of us have absolutely no idea how he managed. After all, despite all of his racy charm, Ted is just a figment of movie imagination. So how did Ted make an appearance at the Oscars?

Ted at the Oscars

Motion Capture Technology Brings Ted to Life in the Film & At the Oscars

What might surprise many people is that the technology that brought Ted to life in the movies is the same tech that brought him to the Oscars. Motion capture technology is used in digital puppetry to allow animators to design and create an animated creation based on real movement. Golem from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit is one very popular example, while Avatar is another. Ted uses this same technology and here is how it works.

The character, in this case Seth McFarlane, must wear a suit or straps and then go through the motions of the character, or essentially pantomime it. The suit, which in Teds case was an Xsense MVN, is used to record the in depth motion of the actor. From there, animators can change the image of Seth McFarlane (using a computer), into the teddy bear we know as Ted.

Jenny Fulle, who worked on the visual and graphics editing for Ted via The Creative Cartell, one of three graphics editors on the project, explained in depth about how Ted was brought to life. Most of the motion capture recording was focused on Seth McFarlanes hands and upper body which is where Ted is most expressive.  Surprisingly to many, Ted is based wholly upon mo-cap technology and is not an animatronic or robot.

Ted at the Oscars

Ted was brought to life using Motion capture technology and animation

Ted at the Oscars

Now that you know how Ted appeared in the movies, let’s take a look at Ted at the Oscars.  Most of the dialogue between Mark Wahlberg and Ted was recorded pre-show using the same Motion Capture technology that was used in the movie.  Visual editors went over and perfected Ted to bring him to life, while Seth McFarlane recorded corny jokes including the ‘after Oscar orgy’ scene which according to Wahlberg, is at Nicolson’s house.

From there, the shots were dubbed seamlessly into the live stream from the Oscars so that to home viewers, Ted looked like he was actually there. The entire scenario was played on video monitors at the Oscars so that Oscar goers knew what was going on, but other than that, Ted was not actually at the Oscars. Mark Wahlberg on the other hand was present to hand out the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing Oscars and Oscar goers watched him performing next to an empty stool. While not quite as magical as a robot version of Ted, or the real deal, the work, stunning technology, and seamless choreography required to pull the whole thing off is simply stunning.

The entire Oscar shot with Ted lasts for 9 minutes and was recorded in early January. Seth did his voiceovers at about the same time, and then Wahlberg simply played along.  The entire segment was payed for by Universal Pictures, who thought it would be an excellent way to promote Ted 2, which is reportedly coming up sometime next year.

View Ted at the Oscars Here.

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