About The Production
Thunder Buddies for Life:
Ted 2 Begins
In summer 2012, the world fell head over heels for
the charms of Ted. To the tune of almost $550 million
in global ticket sales, audiences came in droves to
laugh alongside the filthy bear and his best friend, John.
Bluegrass Films' Scott Stuber, who produced the comedy
alongside MacFarlane, Jason Clark and John Jacobs,
shares why our hero has so much appeal: "The genius of
Ted is that he can say things that a normal person can't...
and would probably get punched in the face for. But since
he's a teddy bear, he can get away with it."
After Ted's phenomenal success at the worldwide
box office and in-home entertainment, it was natural that
conversations among the filmmakers, Universal Pictures
and MRC would turn to a sequel. For MacFarlane,
however, it was not a given that another chapter would
automatically move forward. He explains: "I actually
hadn't planned on making a Ted 2, but any time something
does well, that always comes up. There's no reason to
do it if you're going to repeat the same movie. It's not
satisfying for the audience, and it's really boring for us."
Still, MacFarlane admits
that he has a great deal of
fondness for the characters
and the genre lends itself
to limitless ideas: "It's a
little easier with a comedy,
because comedy is generally
character-based, as opposed
to premise-based, and in
a way you treat it like a
TV series. You have these
characters that can be put in
any situation, and we felt that
Ted and John could sustain a
totally different story. They
were very strong in and of
themselves, and so it was
conceivable to do a sequel that would be worthwhile.
So, it was fun to go in and figure out what we could do
with these characters that would be completely different
from what we did in the last movie."
When it came to discussions of Ted 2, it was
mandatory that the core creative team return. That
meant MacFarlane would once again join Ted writers
Sulkin and Wild to pen the next chapter. "Making
any sequel is always a challenge because you have to
come up with something original," Stuber says. "Seth
and Alec and Wellesley wanted to make a better film
than the first one and worked hard to mix the comedy
with an existential question of who we are as people.
To their credit, they created a movie that's about
something. Not only do we continue all the great
things audiences fell in love with: the relationship
between Ted and John and all that comes with it, but
there are also a ton of surprises. We're proud to have
created something original that also includes elements
that you love from the first film."
Sulkin jokes that his working title for the sequel
was actually rejected. "My idea was Ted 2: More of
Same," he says, "but I was overruled, and we actually
did have to think of a new story." The writer agrees
with Stuber that audiences responded to the strong
bond between Ted and John in the first movie, and
he wanted the next film to address more about that
relationship. "Those were the moments that people
loved, when John and Ted were hanging out, so that
was a priority. We wanted to make sure we could
have a workable story but keep the core of the movie
with the two of them together."
It was an unlikely 19th-century legal inspiration
that would move the writing partners to tell the
second chapter in Ted's tale. Wild shares: "Seth
was reading a book on the Dred Scott case and
came up with this idea: 'Since Ted is a stuffed
animal that came to life, what if he finds out he's
not a citizen? What if he's not considered a person
and just considered property?' He wanted to
explore that and to find out if there was anything
interesting there...or if this would just be a boring
court case movie with a couple of jokes peppered
here and there. We ended up going off of this idea,
which was modeled after the case."
MacFarlane extends a theme from the first
movie, offering that as amazing as it would be if
a teddy bear came to life, at some point people
would start to see it as the norm: "Human beings
are very quickly adaptable. Probably fairly soon
after Ted came to life, people would be like, 'Oh
well, that happened. Moving on.' We kept to that
idea, and we figured that eventually the subject of
Ted's legal status would come up."
But the director surmises that this level of
comfort would be tempered with instinctual
suspicion. He says: "Human beings are inherently
tribal. To our own detriment, we have a need to put
people into little groups. There probably would be
some resistance to let a talking teddy bear into
our club, in the same way there's resistance to let
gay people into the club and-at a certain point
in time-let black people into the club. Amanda's
character has a line in the movie where she says
that in every civil rights conflict, we're only able
to recognize the just point of view years after the
fact. We never see it while it's going on. We always
think this time is different."
Producer Jacobs was pleased that the writers
took this route with the story. He says: "Ted and
John are Hope and Crosby and have special,
magical chemistry. This is the natural theme for
the follow-up to the original film, which explored
as far as you could possibly go with a love story
between a man and his teddy bear. Ted 2 takes us to
the next level of who is worthy of not being called
an inanimate object or of being given citizenship."
With the serious throughline as an inspiration
for the film, Sulkin admits that it was his love of an
inescapable television show that spurred on much of
the comedy's dialogue: "I've watched Law & Order
ever since it's been on. I know all the legalese and
everything you hear them say over and over again
in court, but it's funnier when it's this foulmouthed
teddy bear involved in a serious legal drama. That
was a focal point for me as we were writing the
script, making sure that those moments rang true."
After years of collaboration with MacFarlane
on film and television projects, the writers have
perfected a simple method when crafting a script.
"We have a system where the three of us get
together and write the outline, and then Wellesley
and I go off separately and divide up scenes,"
explains Sulkin. "Literally, it's 'I'll do the evens,
you do the odds.' We'll write our half of the movie
and then send it to each other before we give it to
Seth...just so we make sure there aren't any huge
redundancies or overlaps. We'll smooth it out, and
then we come in with Seth."
A great advantage that the writers have is
that their co-star is an animated one. This allows
them to stay as current as possible with dialogue
and topical jokes. Wild explains: "Because Ted is
animated, you can write new lines for him. Because
it's just lip assignments, when his mouth is moving,
you can sneak anything in there if the timing is
right. Seth is constantly
asking for something
more contemporary. This
allowed us to write jokes
right up until several
weeks before the actual
movie is released."
When our story opens,
it's been several years
since we've last seen
John and Ted. John has
been divorced for six
months and is down in the
dumps. Ted's home life
isn't quite the honeymoon
he expected, either. In
the hopes of saving their
marriage, Ted and Tami-Lynn decide to do what
many couples consider when their relationship is
on the rocks: have a baby.
Clark walks us through where we meet our
friends: "We find John, who is lonely because
his marriage has dissolved, and Ted, whose
relationship with Tami-Lynn has progressed
enough that they are getting married. We open up
on a big wedding sequence and see that Ted wants
to be a full person. He's moved in with Tami-Lynn
and wants to have a baby. Since he doesn't have
his own male appendage, he first wants to find a
donor and, secondly, to adopt. As we go on this
adventure with Ted, it becomes about him trying
to find his personhood. He has all the humanity of
a human, but he doesn't have the label of one; he's
still a stuffed teddy bear."
Because the state does not legally consider
Ted to be human, he doesn't have our rights and
can't adopt a child. Ted's crusade to prove that he
is a person has now begun. After he loses his first
trial, Ted, John and Samantha, their first lawyer,
embark on a road trip to New York in the hopes
of persuading a legendary civil rights attorney to
appeal their case. During this trip, MacFarlane
and his fellow writers pay homage to one of their
favorite comedies...in what the filmmakers refer
to as the "mess around" scene.
So much of the humor in Ted 2 is physical comedy,
and it was key that the team honor legendary comic
actors of that school. Sulkin explains the inspiration
for a pivotal scene: "We wanted Ted to have this
'mess around' sequence, which is almost shot-for-
shot directly taken from Planes, Trains and
Automobiles, with the great John Candy doing the
same things that Ted does here. We thought it was a
good parallel because Candy was the teddy bear of
that movie. He's lovable, incredibly disruptive and
funny. We see Ted in the same way; he tries to do
the right thing while trying to be fun. He gets into
his music and, of course, it all goes wrong and their
car ends up flying off the road and through the roof
of a barn."
This proved to be one of Stuber's favorite
sequences in the script. The producer explains: "One
of the first mistakes they make is to let Ted drive. Ted
is not paying attention, everyone's falling asleep and
then he drives the car off the road and launches into
the side of a barn. They are stuck in the middle of
nowhere in a place that happens to be a barn where
drug dealers are residing. There's an enormous
Jurassic Park-style pot field that offers this great
'ahhhhhhhhhhh...' moment for them, and they get into
trouble. When they hit the road again, there's a series
of great comedic moments before they ultimately end
up in New York City at Comic-Con."
Casting the Comedy
When MacFarlane and the producers came to
Wahlberg with the idea for Ted 2, it didn't take long for
the performer to come aboard. "The first movie was the
biggest original "R"-rated comedy of all time for a reason,"
Wahlberg offers. "It encompassed this amazing humor
but also has so much heart. In Ted, you're rooting for John
to become successful at maintaining his relationship with
Ted, and the reason why I was excited about making Ted
2 was because I knew I'd be working with Seth. This is
the first time I've ever done a sequel to a movie, because I
knew Seth would take it to another level. As long as there
were places for the characters to go and things for them to
do, then people would want to see it."
Wahlberg agrees with his producers that John and Ted
are the ultimate thunder buddies. He walks us through
where we find the lifelong friends: "In the first movie, John
was walking that fine line of maintaining his relationship
with his best friend but also becoming more mature-the
man that his girlfriend and future wife wanted him to be.
Now that it is several years later and John is a divorced,
single guy again, he doesn't want to get involved in
another relationship because he doesn't want to get hurt
or expose himself in that way."
While John has a "been there, done that" attitude, it is
Ted's turn to try to keep together a relationship that's crucial
to him. Explains Wahlberg: "Ted is doing everything he
can to hold on to Tami-Lynn. He wants to be a responsible
adult and a father, and that poses many different and
interesting challenges along the way. As John and Ted
work together to sue the state for Ted's personhood, we
see that they have a real cause for which they're fighting.
People are going to root for Ted to succeed."
Wahlberg admired the writers' ability to weave in a
legitimate, emotional story but still keep all the elements
of a raucous comedy that fans of the first film expect. He
reassures: "Even though Ted and John have both matured
somewhat, they're still hanging out as often as possible
and getting into trouble together. Because of the success
of the first one, we were able to push the envelope but also
balance the heart and humor."
MacFarlane appreciates his leading man's dedication
to the world of Ted: "Mark is brilliant at everything you
ask him to do. His attitude is always, 'If it works for you,
I'm in.' He's a fantastic dramatic actor; he's a fantastic
comedic actor, and that includes both subtle verbal comedy
and physical comedy. There's nothing the guy can't do."
Jacobs adds to the accolades and sums up the cast and
crew's feelings about their human star: "Mark has been
incredible. To do the things that he's done shows his range
beyond anything he's ever done. As John, Mark's got to be
a guy's guy, emotional and funny, and at the same time he
interacts with something that's not there. He just uses his
imagination and goes off Seth's voice."
Cast opposite Wahlberg is Amanda Seyfried as
Samantha L. Jackson-say that twice-an eager young
attorney who takes on Ted's case pro bono. Indeed, hers
is a character that MacFarlane likens to Dorothy Lamour
of the classic Bob Hope and Bing Crosby comedies. The
actress shares: "I did A Million Ways to Die in the West
with Seth, and he's a loyal guy. When he likes somebody
he brings them back; his life is his work. I was prodding
him about it over the course of six months after we
finished filming, and one day he called me. As a joke, I
asked, 'What am I playing in Ted 2?' He called me months
later and asked, 'What are you doing in June?' and offered
me the role of the new love interest."
Seyfried describes her character: "Samantha is fresh
out of law school and is trying to find her footing in this
firm. Her uncle hired her to come in as a junior attorney,
and she works very hard. She's sincere but likes the
occasional joint, okay daily, and she has her own offbeat
way about her. When Ted and John first come to meet her
in her office, she's all over the place and they're thinking,
'How's this scatterbrained stoner going to win our case
and get Ted's personhood back?'"
Stuber expands upon why the guys have their doubts:
"The first time they meet Samantha, they're not sure if
she's the right person. She's a little young, and they don't
know if she can handle the case." For John and Ted,
however, the love of 420 trumps all. "But when she pulls
out a bong and takes a rip, all of a sudden she's the perfect
lawyer. There's a fun dynamic amongst the three of them,
and she takes on Ted's fight because she believes that he is
someone who is worthy."
Sulkin explains the rationale for John's new love
interest: "We knew that we didn't have Mila Kunis for
Ted 2, and we wanted to serve that in the story and make
it part of John's emotional journey. John starts off in a
very sad place because things didn't turn out the way
that he expected with the woman he married, which a lot
of people can relate to. Then, once the legal part of the
story begins, we're introduced to Samantha and realize
this could be another great love interest for him. She's
a cool chick, whereas Lori was always getting on John
about smoking pot or this or that. Samantha is much more
easygoing and more John's speed. We hope that from the
moment the audience meets her that they'll be rooting for
these two to get together."
Returning to the cast alongside MacFarlane and
Wahlberg is Jessica Barth in the role of Tami-Lynn, Ted's
co-worker at the grocery store who has gone from dating
the bear to being married to him. "At first everything
was great, but after a few years into the marriage, they're
struggling financially and emotionally and have some
pretty heated arguments," explains Barth. "They think
that having a baby will bring them together."
When Ted is denied personhood by the state, Tami-
Lynn becomes one of his fiercest advocates. "Ted and
Tami-Lynn are both super loyal," supplies the performer.
"That's their core. They're honest and authentic, and
there's no pretending with either of them. Obviously they
have their issues, but they love each other very much.
Tami-Lynn has a heart of gold. She may not be that
eloquent, but that's what I love about her."
Also reprising his role from the first film is Giovanni
Ribisi as the Ted-obsessed Donny, who can't get it out of
his head that he and Ted will never be best friends. The
actor walks us through his murderous role: "Donny has
a fascination with Ted. He is his No. 1 fan, and it's just
gone overboard. That would probably be putting it lightly.
In this film, he resurfaces from the shadows of the gutters
of Boston, still on his mission to find companionship
with Ted. He's got a job as a janitor at the company that
originally made Ted 30 years ago. Donny finagles his
way into a meeting with CEO Tom Jessup and convinces
him to get on board with a plan to go after Ted and make
multiple Teds, which could make the company billions."
His producers appreciated the actor's attention to
psychosis. "Giovanni is an amazing actor," commends
Clark, "and everything he does as a villain elicits immediate
glee. He's returning in this chapter and maintaining
his villain-y intent. He's gone through all of the court
requirements and is back on the street...but he hasn't lost
his lust to have a Ted. So Donny goes after Ted, because at
the story's crux, if Ted is a person, it's kidnapping. But if
he's not, it's just stealing a $59 teddy bear."
Producer Jacobs was just gobsmacked by their villain:
"Giovanni is one of the best actors I've ever seen. He will
go to any lengths to make his part real and be scary. Part
of the reason that he was so funny in Ted is that he literally
becomes this character. He breathes, sleeps and smokes it."
Fellow returning cast members include the fight-club-loving
Guy, John's co-worker
at the rental-car dealership,
played by Patrick Warburton;
Bill Smitrovich as Frank,
Ted and Tami-Lynn's overly
patient supervisor at their
grocery store; Sam J. Jones,
who is synonymous with
Flash Gordon; and Patrick
Stewart as the film's narrator.
Cast members new to
the series include Academy
Award winner Morgan
Freeman as Patrick Meighan,
Ted and John's attorney who
is willing to take their case
to the highest court in the
land. Stuber walks us through this character's purpose
in Ted 2: "The idea was that they needed to lose this
case in Massachusetts and, inevitably, there's going to
be one great lawyer in America who can take this case
on. That person is Morgan Freeman's character, and he
happens to reside in New York City. Once Ted, Samantha
and John realize that they need him and decide to appeal
the case, the three of them jump in a car and drive from
Boston to New York."
MacFarlane offers what the beloved actor's
involvement meant to the production: "It was a huge coup
for us to get Morgan in this movie, and particularly for
that part. His character is a fictitious civil rights attorney
who's the most preeminent one in the country. We needed
somebody who, when you open that door to his office and
he stands up, you know instantly that this is the wizard at
the end of the yellow brick road."
Mad Men's own John Slattery was brought onto the
comedy as Shep Wild, the suave attorney who is fighting
the odd fight to make sure Ted stays property. Seyfried
introduces us to his character, Samantha's nemesis: "Shep
Wild is the big, sexy, silver-fox lawyer who has never lost
a case in his career. He represents the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts and we meet him in the scene where we
first go head-to-head with him in court to try to fight for
Ted's personhood." She loved Slattery's interpretation of
the role. "John plays Shep as a snake, a really charming
asshole. He's just perfect and made filming so fun."
Curiously, the sly attorney shares something in
common with many of the other characters in the Ted 2
universe. Screenwriter/EP Wild explains: "We basically
named all the characters in the movie after people we
know. Shep Wild is Henry Shepherdson Wild: my dad.
He's not anything like John Slattery, but we just said,
"How about my dad's name?' Now my dad's immortalized
in the movie."
The cameos in the film are too many to mention-and
too worth being surprised by outside of this document-
so know that it will take a sharp eye, no cheating at IMDB,
to catch them all.
Starships and Pot
Design and Locations
The filmmakers' desire to create a world in which
to place a talking teddy bear was established in the first
comedy, and production returned to the city of Boston to
film Ted 2. "In Ted, Boston is a character in the movie,
and John and Ted are Boston dudes," says Clark. "It's a
little ecosystem, a personality all its own, and Bostonians
understand it. When you take Mark and put him in this
actual place where Ted is the only thing that's outside
this reality, it becomes very real. When people see these
two guys at these classic Boston locations, it allows us to
ground the movie and the comedy."
Wild reflects that, in order to be accepted in this
town, Ted had to have vocals that were pitch perfect:
"Ted's voice just kills me with the Boston accent. People
in Boston are very, very particular about others doing
Boston accents, and actors in movies have done terrible
versions of that accent for years. But with Ted, it's like,
'Yeah, we approve; it's authentic.'"
The production took advantage of a number of key
locations known to locals and tourists alike, including
Boston Common with its swan boats, Seaport Boulevard
and Boston Harbor. Additional locations included Marriott's
Custom House in McKinley Square, which is the site of the
courthouse where Ted is on trial for his personhood. Built
in 1834, it has now been repurposed as a hotel.
Just past the Tobin Bridge and across the city from
Boston's Mystic River is the once-struggling industrial
city of Chelsea. Originally a working-class community,
Chelsea has seen itself gentrify over the last several years,
but still retains its mix of warehouses and residences.
What better place than for Ted and Tami-Lynn to share
their starter apartment.
Union United Methodist Church, home to one of the
country's oldest African-American congregations, is the
setting for Ted and Tami-Lynn's wedding in South Boston.
Also in the neighborhood is The Eagle bar-recently
named Boston magazine's 2014 Best Dive Bar-where
John and Ted regularly get their sip on. As well, The
Milton-Hoosic Club in Milton, Massachusetts, serves as
the locale for the wedding reception where John and Ted
perform their signature "Thunder Buddies" song.
Further afield from Boston is the Woburn Public
Library. Opened in October 1885, The Converse
Memorial Building, in which the Malden Public Library
is located, was designed by Henry H. Richardson and
built by Converse (of the famous shoe line) and his wife
in memory of their eldest son, Frank, the assistant cashier
of Malden Bank, who was tragically murdered during the
first armed robbery of a U.S. bank in 1863.
It is this exquisite setting that stands in as the
law library where John, Ted and Samantha research
their case, smoke a lot of dope and pay homage to
The Breakfast Club in a song-and-dance sequence.
As well, the 1950s-era Mill Pond Diner in Wareham,
Massachusetts, is one of the stopping points on the road
trip from Boston to New York City.
One of the cast and crew's favorite locations was the
"Tom Brady Mansion," which was filmed at a private
home in Norfolk. "Tom Brady's an icon," acknowledges
Stuber. "He and Mark are two of Boston's favorite sons.
We were shooting in a neighborhood where it was like
Disneyland to the locals. They had a dream come true:
Tom and Mark out on the front lawn." Still, Stuber says,
time was tight. "We only had three hours to film his scene.
It was during training camp, and he was gracious and just
a pro to come in and do that for us. He had great timing
and was terrific. Everything went smoothly, and Tom
jumped back in the car and got back over to Foxborough."
Some of film's biggest scenes and sets were filmed at
Appleton Farms in Hamilton and Ipswich. Established in
1638 by a land grant to Samuel Appleton, the farms are
approximately 1,000 acres and represent one of the oldest
continuously operating farms in the country-established
and maintained by nine generations of the Appleton family.
For his part, production designer Stephen Lineweaver
needed a location where the car that Ted is driving on the
trio's road trip flies off a ravine and crashes into the side
of a barn. When they climb out of the barn, Ted, John and
Samantha are surrounded by acres and acres of luscious
weed fields. Discovered on the property by drug dealers,
they are pursued in a rollicking car chase through the fields.
It was an exhaustive process to get it right, and the
team ended up looking at more than 300 barns before
they decided to build their own. Recalls Lineweaver:
"Originally, we thought we were going to use a real barn,
but then we realized that it was a much bigger event.
The car needed to shoot 100 feet in the air and fly into
the side of the barn. What dictated location is that we
needed a cliff to shoot the car from somewhere. It was
amazing how hard it was to find this location in eastern
Massachusetts, as there are not a lot of cliffs and hills
where there are farms. We looked long and hard for this
and came upon the perfect location. The trees and the
cliff were in the right place. It was remote enough so
that you can believe that there was a field of pot this big.
We then went about the business of building a barn and
bought a barn kit; it's the easiest way to do it."
The art department then went to work on aging the barn.
They weathered the wood, pulled boards out, took an ax to
some of the boards, and eventually it looked like the barn
had been there 100 years. Creating the pot fields, however,
was another challenge. "How do you drive through a pot
field when there are no pot fields?" asks Lineweaver. "And
how do you drive through it continuously?"
The art department used a combination of thousands
of bamboo plants and fake handmade pot plants, their
leaves and buds made from silk and moss. Wahlberg
notes: "They created these amazing fake pot plants with
these huge buds and the pot leaves hanging off." What
does one naturally do with fake pot? Trick a friend, of
course. Laughs the actor: "They're very realistic, to the
point where I took a bunch of them and stuck them in a
bag and told my friend that I had some weed for him. He
was so excited when he saw the weed. He held it and he
smelled it and everything. He couldn't tell that it was fake
until he brought it home to his girlfriend."
For the car chase through the marijuana fields,
production created two giant spinning turntables
(affectionally referred to as the "pot merry-go-rounds")
with plants on them that could continually wash Ted
and John's car with pot plants-as if they were going
through an enormous field. The car remained stationary
while cinematographer Michael Barrett's cameras were
overhead and on the side of the car. "The actual pot field
they drive through is only so wide in a field, but visual
effects [led by visual effects supervisor Blair Clark] put
other plants in," says Lineweaver. "It's amazing how many
departments were involved, and the sweat we all went
through to get there."
A stage in Woburn served as the locale for the interior
sets of Samantha's office, John's apartment, Ted and Tami-
Lynn's place and a number of the courtroom scenes.
Production then moved to New York City to film
exterior scenes at the New York Public Library, Bryant
Park, Midtown West and New York Comic-Con at the
Javits Center. The exterior scenes at Comic-Con set off
the climax of the movie, and the interior Comic-Con set
was being readied at the FOX stages in Los Angeles. The
art department re-created the floor of Comic-Con on a
massive, 28,000-square-foot set.
"Comic-Con gave us all an opportunity to do some
cool things," notes Lineweaver. "The challenge was
to sell the size, so we got the biggest soundstage we
could find. It became a process of how to bring all these
vendors and brands and competing companies together
and do the set justice, visually excite everybody and
make it look like it never ends."
This build would become a mind-boggling feat of
coordination for the production design department,
but they were able to bring in vendors with their
extraordinarily expensive booths and video screens and
set up over the course of three days. Clark explains that it
actually flipped the role of a traditional film design: "This
gave us the opportunity to find the sets in there. It wasn't
until we actually had all the booths up that we could look
through and say, 'Oh my God, that's a great shot. We
should do something right there.' We had things like an
18-foot Bumblebee from Transformers, a two-story Black
Sails booth and an incredible Godzilla booth."
Perhaps Ted 2's crown jewel prop at Comic-Con was a
replica of the Star Trek Enterprise. In a key scene in which
Enterprise is about to crash down, one of the characters
gets crushed himself. "Manufacturing the Enterprise was
a process," explains Lineweaver. "Seth has a perfect model
of the Enterprise, which is about two-and-a-half feet. The
Enterprise model for our Comic-Con set was 18 feet."
Lineweaver's art director borrowed MacFarlane's
model and took it up north to a designer who coordinated
its digital reproduction, and then had it blown up by a man
who actually makes giant models. Laughs Clark: "We're
all nerds on this movie, and it was fun to have an 18-foot
Enterprise built for a big stunt."
MacFarlane was quite in awe of the final set piece.
He says: "I think it was roughly the size of the one
that they used for the show. They had a big model that
they would just move the camera around in various
ways, and this one was about that big. And they built
it in record time. I had a little model of the Starship
Enterprise, and I gave it to our production designer,
and they scanned it and made it 100 times bigger.
It looked very cool."
As the production team was re-creating an event
that many people know so well-filled with beloved
characters and brands-Stuber advises that Comic-Con
was a tricky situation to make perfect: "We had excellent
media and brand partners who were terrific and helped us
to create something that felt real and magical. The people
in the know will feel like they're exactly in the right place,
whether it's San Diego Comic-Con or New York."
Stuffy Pass and
VFX of the Comedy
With their breadth of knowledge, and the learning
curve of the first film behind them, the production team
brought back as many of the original VFX crew from
Ted as they were able to, led by Blair Clark, who cut
his teeth at ILM as a model maker on Indiana Jones
and the Last Crusade and at Tippett Studio as an
animation supervisor on Armageddon and as a visual
effects supervisor on Hellboy. As a VFX supervisor on
animated comedies from The Smurfs to Beverly Hills
Chihuahua, Clark brings a wealth of experience back
to Ted 2.
"When you create a character in CG, the first few
shots take the longest because you're discovering the
character and performance while you are creating the
CGI," explains producer Clark. "From the experience of
the first Ted movie, our VFX team understands who the
character of Ted is. So now, instead of it being the first
shot on Ted, it was like the 601st shot."
As Ted is, well, a stuffed bear, it's not that his
performances are difficult. Still, the VFX team must
ensure that Ted reacts perfectly to everything-
including how he looks
over his shoulder or how
he does a double take. Very
much so, there's a rhythm
to his performance. "What's
incredible is that when you
make a comedy, you don't
want to burden the movie
and slow down the process
with technology," continues
the producer. "So how do
you create a simple way for
the actors to know where
Ted goes? He's two-and-a-half
feet tall, and you don't
want people walking through him by accident when you
animate him. So we do a process that we call the 'stuffy'
pass. The stuffy is basically a toy Ted, like the one you
can buy at the store. We take the stuffy, and we have the
visual effects supervisor mime Ted's performance while
Seth gives the dialogue from behind camera."
In fact, a great deal of technical knowledge is gained
from the stuffy pass. With the puppet on camera, the cast
and crew hear the dialogue from where Seth is standing.
This allows the actors to reference Ted's eyeline, where
he's looking, where he walks, how fast he walks and
where he goes. As well, this stuffy provides great
reference for the extensive animation team, who are
able to note how fast the VFX supervisor wants them to
move the character of Ted, how the light interacts with
his fur and what lighting he's in-as his fur interacts
with the various light.
Once MacFarlane's team had that pass, they then
shot the scene with no stuffy in the sequence, and cast
and crew were able to remember the marks, eyeline and
light references. DP Barrett's camera crew now knew
how fast to move the pan and how high or low to be, and
the actors were more comfortable with where to look.
The stuffy pass was then given to the animator, as well
as the empty plate with no Ted, and they rendered Ted
into that plate.
For his part, MacFarlane created his performance
using two techniques. The first was dialogue, as the
voice of Ted, which he did on the set with the other
actors. This way, if there were overlaps in conversation,
the team was able to capture those moments so the
comedy feels natural, not stilted. As well, MacFarlane
conducted sessions in which he wore a Moven, which is
a motion-capture suit that records his movements as he
mimics the actions of Ted. Therefore, if the production
team needed a shrug or any sort of affect-ation, the
actor/director could match that to his dialogue, and
the team captured that in the moment. It also gave the
animators MacFarlane's actual physical movements as
another asset they needed to create Ted's performance.
In addition to the stuffy, the VFX department used
the eyeline tool, which is simply two fake eyeballs on a
stick, in static areas such as a set, couch or park bench.
After the stuffy pass, this allowed the other actors
another tool on where to look when they were in a
scene with Ted. Recalls Barth: "There's a scene in our
apartment where Ted and I are having a huge argument,
and it was a challenge working with no actor in front
of me and just Seth's voice off-stage. But it was also a
great exercise as an actor. I was throwing frying pans
and toasters and whatever else I could find, responding
to somebody who was not there."
Seyfried agrees with her co-star: "It was a little
hard to get used to in the beginning, but then when you
did, it worked. It's like having an imaginary friend."
MacFarlane acknowledges that Ted's absence
on set was a creative challenge. He
says: "It's difficult for an actor to
act opposite a character that's not
there because so much of what your
performance is depends on what
you get from the other person. Here,
we tried to make it a little easier
because I was physically there doing
the lines that will be in the movie.
They're at least getting the voice of
the character, and not just somebody
doing a read-in. Still, they got used to
it pretty quickly."
As Wahlberg has the lion's share of
onscreen time with Ted, MacFarlane
and the filmmakers were constantly
in awe of how well-adjusted he was
to working with simply a voice. Clark
commends: "What I noticed about
Mark's performance on set, and what always shocked
me on Ted, is the subtlety with which he interacts
with an empty space. We hear his performance, but he
creates an eyeline and works with the empty space in
which CGI Ted will eventually be added. Watching the
skill and talent that Mark brings to his performance just
makes you believe in John, Ted and the movie more
than you know."
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