Jason Clark Talks Ted and the New VFX World Order
Well, Seth MacFarlane is not going to put that on every day. He’s directing the movie. Guys, he doesn’t have 20 minutes to stop to put a suit on. We have to redesign how it goes on him. Yeah, but the points have to be accurate and they have to be measured. Fine. Find a way to clip it on so it’s like putting webbing on if you’re a Navy Seal. You can’t spend 20 minutes putting your webbing on, you’ll be dead. You’ve got to get it on quicker than that. So they designed the system and then I said how many times have you put it on? Put it on somebody a hundred times. I want to see it go on and be up [running properly] a hundred times before we put it on Seth.
And you know what? They did, they made it foolproof and they made it industrial strength and they made it robust. They did a great job. And now we have the ability in three minutes to put him [Seth] into a MVN suit and capture his performance.
And remember we’re creating the performance from a six-foot man to a two-foot bear. If technology drove, we would die. If I had to worry about how Mark fights with the fuzzy pillow, I’d die.
DS: Your fundamental approach to the film’s visual effects seems very different from the more established production paradigms.
JC: In my world, visual effects becomes an integral piece of the film group just like lighting, grip, electric, special effects, it’s no different. They have tools on the set that are production tools and digital technology now is moving so fast that people are buying the cameras, they’re not renting them anymore. I mean, it’s that kind of opportunity. So anything that presented as this is the way we do it, I simply said, “Well, fuck, I did Stuart Little 10 years ago and we didn’t do it that way and I know it’s going to be done different in 5 years. So let’s figure out the next way.”
So going to Seth and saying without disregarding the roots of the filmmaking process, because they’ve been making great comedies for many years, let’s not lose track of what they’ve used. How can I protect that filmmaking process for Seth and interject the technology that we needed to create the CG character without interfering [with the creative process]? And that was my approach to producing the film and I think the result was to create an easy filmmaking environment that allowed for improvisation but also supported the technical needs of creating a CG character in a live action world.
Dan Sarto is publisher and editor-in-chief of Animation World Network.