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 visual effects and character animation artists responsible for his creation in 2012’s global comedy hit Ted. (Read about the making of the CG bear in the June-July 2012 issue of CGW.) 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 Awards 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.
“It's always enjoyable working with Ted, and having him present at the Oscars was an exciting challenge,” said Clark. “As well, working with Seth and Don was great. Their trust and support made a technically ambitious presentation with a tight deadline run smoothly.”
Tippett Studio continues to bring its stellar character animation and VFX work to feature films, and over the past year, the studio has expanded its work to include commercials, special digital-marketing campaigns and broadcast television. With the addition of Academy Award-winner Craig Barron, Tippett has added digital matte paintings and environments to its capabilities.