Illoura discusses creating foul-mouthed CG teddy bear for Seth MacFarlane's Ted

For the film Ted by Family Guy-creator Seth MacFarlance, Australian VFX house Illoura brought the foul-mouthed teddy bear of the title to life to generally mess with human co-star Mark Wahlberg. Ted hit UK cinemas yesterday.

Iloura’s VFX supervisor Glenn Melenhorst and CG supervisor Avi Goodman led a creative team of 75 artists at its Melbourne-based studio, delivering over 500 shots for the film.

Ted, set in Boston, follows 30-something year old John (played by 'Marky Mark' Wahlberg) and his friendship with his childhood teddy bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane). The friendship becomes strained when John’s love interest Lori (Mila Kunis) enters the scene.

In order to win the job, the team at Iloura first brought Ted to life through an initial animation test, and as a result, was awarded half of the character animation scenes in the film. In fact, Iloura says that its Ted test was so convincing it set the look of Ted for the rest of the film. Iloura shared the character animation work on the film with San Francisco-based Tippett Studio.

How Illoura built up a scene from a positional model to the character animation to the fully rendered scene.

On-set Seth MacFarlane wore a mocap suit which captured his upper body movements making Ted’s performance more realistic and natural.

“We captured the data taken of Seth in the MVN suit in each scene and this gave us a really fresh performance," says Avi. "It got us more into the real world, which is what he was looking for, instead of Ted looking like an animated cartoon character. We were also always looking to match Ted with Seth’s gestures and vibe so that the performance looked natural."

As Avi points out, developing the technology to create Ted’s fur in-house was a major challenge for the artists.

“A lot of work went into getting Ted’s fur just right, especially trying to create the right amount of wear and tear on his body," he says. " It was really important for us to make Ted look like a teddy bear brought to life and not an animal or a cartoon character. It was an interesting challenge and we solved this by running a cloth simulation to replicate how fabric would fold or crease rather than using muscles and skin.”

The opening sequence of the film with the integrated logo for the studio, Universal, also created by the Iloura team. Glenn says Iloura were keen to make this a standout shot.

“The scene required a seamless fly-in using the new Universal logo of the Earth in space (sourced from Weta) zooming down to street level to show kids throwing snowballs, all within a single shot," he says. "We used the 3D files of the new Universal logo and used high-res satellite imagery to create a feeling of flying from space onto the surface of the Earth.

"We then created digital assets of houses, digital kids, and streetscapes fully transitioning these into the live-action shot.”

Iloura's past projects include Columbia Pictures’ Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; Guillermo del Toro’s Don’t be Afraid of the Dark; HBO’s The Pacific and Paramount Picture’s Charlotte’s Web. The team are now working concurrently on feature films; Emperor, I Frankenstein and After Earth.

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