Ted, a prequel series to the famous 2012 comedy movie of the same name, hit Peacock this week and marks the first time an animated lead character was filmed alongside human actors in real-time for a TV series.
Fuzzy Door Tech, the technology arm of Ted and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s Fuzzy Door production company, has offered a new behind-the-scenes look at how the innovative ViewScreen transformed the production process.
Using ViewScreen enabled the entire crew to see Ted, the eponymous sentient teddy bear, while filming scenes with human actors. This is especially vital in the case of Ted because the bear’s voice actor, MacFarlane, is also the show’s director. MacFarlane could see his bear character while delivering his performance.
“ViewScreen Studio was critical for planning shots and how the team approached filming. It allowed them to visualize the digital asset in real-time and treat Ted like any other actor or live-action element. By removing the guesswork, ViewScreen transformed the creative process which resulted in a faster turnaround time,” says Faith Sedlin, president of Fuzzy Door Tech.
ViewScreen, which lets filmmakers integrate various digital assets into shots, makes it easier for the crew to create the required shots faster. Filming with VFX components, especially when they are a main character on screen, typically requires a bit of guesswork, which leads to missed shots and wasted time.
“Filming with VFX components can be challenging because an essential part of the scene is left to the crew’s imagination. On Ted, using ViewScreen meant that everyone could see the composited scene, including the digital bear, in video village in real-time,” explains Brandon Fayette, chief product officer of Fuzzy Door Tech.
By having Ted onscreen, inside the scene with the actors, it was easier to get the best performances out of everyone and deliver instant feedback based on the composited scene.
“Camera operators didn’t have to rely on eyeline tools or a stuffed bear placed in the scene to estimate Ted’s position. Using these techniques is especially difficult when trying to capture shots where Ted is moving. ViewScreen let the camera operators see the complete scene, with Ted in their viewfinder, so they could frame shots more easily,” Fuzzy Door Tech explains.
As co-showrunner, director, and Ted, MacFarlane had a lot on his plate during production. During filming, MacFarlane did not need a motion-capture suit. ViewScreen captures actors’ facial expressions, even without requiring the actor to leave their seat. MacFarlane was able to direct and act at the same time.
“We did the motion capture work in real-time on set, which we did on the films as well, but it’s now a lot easier with ViewScreen Studio,” explains MacFarlane. “You can do motion capture work without having to wear a large MoCap (motion capture) suit all day, which can be distracting and inhibiting when you’re also trying to act and direct. In the space of just 10 years, it made it a significantly different experience when shooting the show.”
Ted is streaming now on Peacock.
Image credits: Fuzzy Door and ViewScreen