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Ted Talks at the Oscars

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Ted and Mark Wahlberg present at the Oscars
Ted and Mark Wahlberg present at the Oscars
Berkeley-based Tippett Studio brought Ted, the title character from last summer’s live action/CG-animated comedy, back to life for the 85th Annual Academy Awards telecast on Sunday. Accompanied by co-star Mark Wahlberg, a computer-generated Ted riffed a few jokes before the duo presented Oscars for sound mixing and sound editing.

Incorporating 3D character animation into a pre-recorded movie for a television show is one challenge, but integrating an animated character into a live broadcast is quite another.

The same team of visual effects and character animation artists responsible for his appearance in 2012’s comedy hit Ted were called on to perfect the illusion alongside Seth MacFarlane, (Oscar host, voice of Ted and director of the film), telecast director Don Mischer and the awards broadcast team.

To film the segment, a duplicate of the Academy Awards stage was constructed at CBS Studios, with lighting and cameras situated to match the Dolby Theatre setup. 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 with 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.

“It’s always enjoyable working with Ted, and having him present at the Oscars was an exciting challenge,” said Blair Clark of Tippett Studio. “As well, working with Seth and Don was great. Their trust and support made a technically ambitious presentation with a tight deadline run smoothly.”

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