Some 40.3 million total viewers tuned in to watch the Oscars on Sunday and more than a few were probably wondering just how Ted — that cute, cuddly, but foul-mouthed CGI-animated stuffed bear — made a live appearance to present alongside Mark Wahlberg.
Tippet Studio, the visual effects company behind Seth MacFarlane's creation for the movie "Ted" (in collaboration with the VFX house Iloura) and the gag during the 85th Annual Academy Awards, has explained the process for any curious viewers.
Although Tippit made it possible for Wahlberg's "Ted" co-star to appear on television before, this was the first time the company had to make it happen live. To pull it off, a duplicate Academy Awards stage — with lighting and cameras matching the Dolby Theatre set up — was built at CBS Studios, where Wahlberg was filmed interacting with the MacFarlane-voiced bear over a four-week period.
With the duo responsible for announcing 10 possible winners in the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories, 10 different outcomes were rendered on Dell Precision workstations. But one outcome Tippit's team — led by "Ted" VFX supervisor Blair Clark — may not have accounted for was a tie in the the Sound Editing category between "Skyfall" and "Zero Dark Thirty."
Whether Tippit had considered the scenario or not, Oscars telecast director Don Mischer and his broadcast team seamlessly cut back to a live Wahlberg without breaking the illusion they had created.
"It's always enjoyable working with Ted, and having him present at the Oscars was an exciting challenge," Clark said. "As well, working with Seth and Don was great. Their trust and support made a technically ambitious presentation with a tight deadline run smoothly."