Australian animation and visual effects studio Iloura has animated Universal Pictures and MRC’s infamous talking teddy bear for TED 2. Completing more than 1,000 shots for the comedy, Iloura drew on the experience of working on 2012’s TED with Seth MacFarlane to help push Ted’s personality even further. Seth MacFarlane returns as writer, director and voice star of TED 2, the follow-up to the blockbuster that launched the career of the world’s most outrageous bear. Joined once again by Mark Wahlberg as John Bennett, the thunder buddies for life are entering into uncharted territory. It’s time to legalize Ted.
Iloura’s VFX Supervisor Glenn Melenhorst and VFX Producer Ineke Majoor amassed a team of 120 artists in the company’s Melbourne studio to work on a number of sequences that required artists to animate Ted and integrate him into real-world scenarios. To ensure the audience remains completely engaged in a story in which the lead is a talking, stuffed bear, Ted’s characterization and his live-action integration needed to be seamless and as realistic as possible. The character must never appear cartoony, and great attention had to be made to his comedic timing.
“We were fortunate in having the experience of working on the first TED film, so we knew how important the nuances would be,” said Melenhorst. “For example, Ted has button eyes, and when he interacts he needs to turn his whole head. To exude his character and emotion, we needed to rely on subtle animation techniques—such as the level his head tilts, or how much his eyebrows move. In a comedic sense, Ted is the straight guy so these characteristics were very slight, but essential to get just right.”
To help with Ted’s physical presence, MacFarlane was filmed wearing a motion-capture jacket. This gave Iloura’s animators a video guide to Ted’s physical performance. Adding animation to Ted’s head, face and legs, Iloura’s artists also added his tuxedo and other attire as CG elements.
More technically challenging work involved Ted’s interaction with his environment. Ted holds a lot of items, so every interaction with an object needed to be augmented with CG reactions. This included other actions such as when Ted sits on the couch, talks on the phone or passes a beer to his best friend John.
Further work by Iloura involved the opening ”cosmic zoom” sequence, Ted’s wedding, modelling of Boston including cars and pedestrians, photo-real CG geese and a choreographed dance sequence.
TED 2 is now in cinemas.