Ted, the foul-mouthed teddy bear voiced by creator Seth MacFarlane, has returned to screens in a new 7-part event series for Peacock, thanks to a collaborative workflow enabled by Sohonet ClearView Flex.
The live-action TV series is produced by NBCU’s Universal Content Productions (UCP), MRC Television and Seth McFarlane’s Fuzzy Door. MacFarlane co-writes, directs and reprises his vocal performance for Ted. He works closely with a tight-knit editorial crew headed by Tom Costantino, ACE, lead editor and co-producer on the project.
Costantino began working with the system in March 2020 in the middle of Season 3 of The Orville, MacFarlane’s sci-fi comedy drama for Hulu.
“Many of the studios were caught out by Covid and no one really knew how it was going to affect work. It became very apparent to us that we had no way to continue working and keep everyone employed unless we found a solution.”
The Orville’s VFX producer and co-VFX supervisor Brooke Noska had previously worked with FuseFX, one of the show’s vendors and a ClearView Flex user. FuseFX assisted the show to build a remote networked facility based on multiple ClearView Flex Pro boxes for editing and VFX.
“Brooke and I were trying to figure out to how to keep it all going in our respective departments and how to keep it going for Seth. Then, we had a Sohonet demo.
“We’d tried similar systems with Evercast but Seth found it too difficult. There was a delay, and you had to have a headset on. But with ClearView Flex you could be on Facetime audio and see this beautiful picture in real time. It was like being in the room.
So efficient in fact, that the team have retained similar flexible workflows for Season 3 of The Orville and now on Ted. During post, the show’s media was held on Avid Nexis at Fuzzy Door while Costantino was typically in another location and MacFarlane in another.
“We can all jump onto ClearView Flex and it’s so smooth it’s like nothing ever happened,” he says. “Given how busy we all are and being able to do work in the margins is just transformative. During a quick lunch break or if Seth has a half hour somewhere to do a VFX review, as long as he has the app, or an Apple TV or a laptop we can be working. I never have to be in the same room as my showrunner.”
The team used ClearView Flex for all VFX reviews, including final reviews, and for all editing and spotting sessions.
“We have also used it for remote sound mixing for those people who can’t be here in person,” he explains.
“For example, we did a spotting session with 15 people and only five of us were in the building. We work at medium to super high resolution. CVF can definitely handle high rez, but Seth and I are just so superstitious that I edit on medium resolution. There’s no scientific reason to do so - it’s more of a hangover from the days of working from my house!”
He continues, “Even though we all got back together we still have three of the boxes (two for VFX) because it has made us efficient in ways we cannot even calculate. That’s to say nothing of the features which we use internally, such as the sketch-ups for on-screen annotation.”
TED, which debuted on Peacock on January 11, 2024, also stars Alanna Ubach and Scott Grimes.
“I treat comedy the same way I’d treat drama,” shares Costantino who has also cut multiple episodes of CSI Miami and 48 Hours. “Sometimes you look for the best performance. Sometimes, if it’s a good old-fashioned joke, you look for the best read. Mostly, you are cutting a scene for its emotional truth and the jokes will come through but you gotta believe in the characters to do that. In the case of improv as with drama too you always have your magic bin of clips, throwaways, and lines which is your toolbox to punch things up. My advice with comedy is to cut tight to keep the energy up. That’s the golden rule.”