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Transcript:San Diego Comic-Con 2011

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This panel covered Avatar: The Legend of Korra.
Roland Skipped a year last year, and didn't appear on a panel like Comic-Con so I didn't get a chance to do this now I've worked up the energy to do this since it's been what, two years now? So all righty I'll start out with my traditional welcome: [Shouts.] Good afternoon Comic-Con San Diego 2011!
Crowd cheers
Roland My name is Roland Poindexter I'm senior vice president current animation for Nickelodeon. [Crowd claps.] Thank you. Uh, you know, and really I want to start this out by thanking you. Um, Nickelodeon and [Stutters.], uh, Nickelodeon has enjoyed a lot of success obviously over the years and certainly over the last couple of years and that is all because of you great fans, all that we do including SpongeBob, Penguins of Madagascar, Fanboy and Chum Chum, a little show called iCarly, so I really want to thank you guys for all of the support that you've given the network and the company over the years and uh, especially for your undying, unceasing, incredible love for Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Huge crowd uproar
Roland All the phone calls, because of all the e-mails, because of the non-stop demands, we sat down with Mike and Bryan, and we said: Dudes, you guys have got to do something else. They said 'Okay, we can put a little something together' and uh, you know they have, and I'm really excited for them to share it with you today and thank you all for attending today. And you know what? That's enough for thank you, let's get on to the good part! And you know, before we start – actually, we're gonna give you as much as we possibly can today. One of the great things about Avatar and Legend of Korra and just this whole experience here at Comic-Con is just all of the costumes that we see, both in the panel and (didn't understand). We know that you guys have been dying to see what Korra looks like and we've had a couple of pieces of artwork online, but we actually brought our own, live Korra.
Korra walks onstage.
Roland So next year, everybody that wants to put together their own suit? You've got a high bar. [Korra exits.] So with that, without further delay, let me bring up the executive producer of The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra: Bryan Konietzko.
Bryan enters and sits.
Roland I am also pleased to bring up the other executive producer and creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra: mister Michael DiMartino.
Michael enters and sits
Roland One of my favorite people to have worked with on this and other shows is here today as well, and uh he is an incredible talent, he is the co-executive producer of Legend of Korra, mister Joaquim Dos Santos.
Joaquim enters and sits.
Roland And I think that this team here would be the first ones to tell you that our supervising director is an incredible talent. You're gonna get a chance to hear from him today and believe me you're gonna get a chance to marvel at his work in this incredible series; mister Ryu the supervising director.
Ryu enters and sits.
Roland And y'know I don't know if you guys have ever, ever done this but sometimes you can just you can almost sort of even though these guys write great dialogue and they produce some amazing picture, you can kind of close your eyes and just listen to the music of Avatar. Goosebumps! Um; we have the incredible duo that produced all of the music and are the sound designers for the entire series; the track team, Benjamin Wyn and Jeremy.
Both enter and sit.
Roland So I'm gonna shut up now and let the guys take it away!
Bryan Thank you, everyone for coming and supporting us and supporting this new series that you haven't even seen yet. So, it's very cool to be here again. You guys rule! Seriously with us fans, we did a panel uh the track team invited us to a panel on Thursday and afterwards one of the producers of the other shows was like 'Your fans are really passionate'. Uh we later found out that we think most of the room was full of Avatar fans so thanks for coming out.
Mike So we're gonna get started right away we have a trailer to show you. [Massive crowd uproar.] We know that you're very excited about the trailers we're gonna show it first then we're gonna talk about the show a little bit and then at the very end we're gonna show it again 'cause I know there's gonna be screaming and then all of a sudden ... y'know if you miss something the first time just hold tight 'til the end we'll show it again.
Bryan We uh, we did this with Studio MIR it's a new studio but it's comprised a lot of the great animators we've worked with since the pilot, so you'll recognize some of the style but y'know, with uh bringing up Joaquim and Ryu really high up in the creative team I think you'll see an increase in the sophistication of everything um, it's just been a dream working with these guys and all our friends we've created so uh, we're really excited to show this to you.
Trailer plays.
Bryan We got a lot of fanmail which is great, a lot of fun to read, um. But uh sometimes it's pretty bossy, and tell us what to do and uh, I have to admit that we've been working so hard we're all really busy and I stopped opening fanmail because like every two out of three letters was like 'We don't want Korra, stop making this series'.
Crowd boos.
Bryan Thank you. So uh, we appreciate the enthusiasm for our work, but I just had to stop opening the mail. Don't send those kind of mails. But anyways I just brought it up because it's really nice to hear your reaction to the show we've been slaving over.
Mike Yeah we're really excited to be back developing this world again in a whole new way like for Bryan and us, Bryan and I, the exciting part is to be in this world and be able to expand it, and like as much as we love the old characters, we love Aang, we love Katara, they're awesome. Um, creatively it's like so inspiring to like dive back into this world a new location, new time period it's seventy years later, a lot of new themes dealing with Korra dealing with airbending and spirituality so it's really exciting to explore that and, think you guys will dig it.
Bryan When we put together the art of Avatar book, y'know as satisfying as that was, and really nice to tell the story in a really personal way and all the art we created. Uh, y'know the artists and me just couldn't help but look through this stuff and say we could do this better now. We could make all this better so, doing a whole new kind of like fresh take in the Avatar world gives us a chance to improve all the art direction and animation and uh everything so, um, that's a big challenge and that's why we brought these guys on as the uh co-exec and supervisor director and man, Mike and I are just trying to keep up with them. The first few months were just humiliating, trying to design with these guys 'cause Joaquim and Ryu were there from the ground up. Um, Roland and Megan brought us in and said they wanted to do a new series and gave us pretty much free run in what we wanted to do creatively and um, but the most important thing was like, we gotta get Joaquim and Ryu or else we can't do this so, these guys sacrificed a lot to come work with us and we really appreciate it.
Crowd cheers.
Joaquim It was totally our honor to be asked in the first place to come onto the show. Um, and Bryan was lying when he says he was trying to keep up with us. The idea that I think the cool thing about this production that makes it really unique from other shows that I've been a part of and really a lot of the other shows that are out is that y'know, the top leads are all artists. The art sort of, is, the integrity is maintained from the top all the way through the production cycle. That's a really unique position for us to be in. Um, and I think it'll show y'know in the series when it premiers but uh, y'know more importantly than that it sort of permeates the industry and hopefully makes everybody and every show in the industry better for it. And I think that's something the original series did. Y'know when I went onto it, I was a fan and I went to you guys because I loved the way the show looked. So hopefully we'll continue that tradition. Should we uh ...?
Bryan Um, yeah. We can uh, you wanna show the art?
Mike Yeah. Let's do it.
Bryan Cool. Do the laptop. Revamping the world was bring a little more style to the character design; changing proportions a bit. Joaquim and Ryu are both amazing designers so, uh, from the get-go y'know Mike and I were like 'they want to do a new series' we're like [Groans.] and then we're like, oh man we started having ideas! And uh the first thing I said in a few interviews we really wanted Korra to be different than Aang. Uh so, let's do something about the next Avatar and she's just totally different from Aang, other than being female, just different in her personality and everything. So uh, that's also really refreshing for Mike and I. We'll be writing a scene and just stop and kinda pinch ourselves and say 'Aang never would have said this, never would have done this' and that's fun. So uh, the other thing that we wanted, uh, I didn't want a designer. I didn't want to do a sketch and then send it to Joaquim and then have them interpret it. We just told him on the phone our idea for the character. And I think ten minutes later he sent us the first image so, I wanted Joaquim and Ryu to really be in on the ground up. And uh, you'll see mostly their work here. So take it away!
Joaquim All right. And before we go on you're gonna notice that a lot of the setup here is me doing a little, kinda goofy sketch and then Ryu taking that sketch and making it one of the most beautiful things you ever seen. So that's sort of the theme for this presentation.
Begins slideshow.
Joaquim Okay. So uh, while we're in our meetings, Ryu tends to a lot of caricatures.
Caricatures of Bryke in Appa/Momo outfit.
Bryan He draws me really evil.
Joaquim And uh; that's the crew. The art crew. I look like an angry Hank Hill or something. And that was Ryu's first sketch since we had no ideas.
Korra slides.
Joaquim So this was uh, Korra's development. Um and like Bryan said I think it was that conversation over the phone that sort of led to these series of sketches that you see here. That was my first initial concept of Korra. Uh, Bryan said she's gotta be tough, from the Water Tribe. As you can see her hair is nothing like it is but the bones of the character, the main themes for the character are there.
Bryan I think we talked about, we kind of wanted her to look like a snowboarder. You know like a cool like tomboy, tough athletic you know, girl.
Joaquim Yeah the idea was to break the conventions of what you know, female superheroes you know, she's tough, she's rugged. That was the second concept, just goofing around just playing with ideas trying to get the shapes down, get the ideas across and the attitude as well. And that I think was the first basic turn that we did. You'll see her facial style is nothing like the Avatar, you know universe you've come to know, and I think initially we were playing with going a little more broad in terms of style. But with Ryu, being y'know a superstar animator and director from Korea, made sure to let us know uh, not every character can be completely unique looking, there needs to be like a through-line that every artist, because they're so many animators in Korea, so every artist could understand and draw the character a bit more easily. So, she looks different here but again the idea is there. That's a close-up on her attitude.
Bryan Yeah that was the one that we, even though we hadn't necessarily penned down the style or all the details we were like, that's her! That's definitely her spirit, y'know that's her attitude.
Joaquim And that was Ryu's first turn. You can see she already started taking a lot closer y'know uh, turn, a lot closer to the model that you know now as Korra that's been released in the press art and stuff. Did you have any ideas when you were ...?
Ryu Uh, frankly I had no idea. We were so busy, with time, we were so crazy.
Joaquim It was a crazy time.
Ryu I believe it was.
Joaquim Ryu draws better than all of us in his sleep so half this stuff he won't remember. Um, I think this was kind of, this was you taking ... Ryu's design?
Bryan I had done, underneath you can see kind of a transparent, uh like concept thing or uh, 'cause Korra already water, fire, and earthbends. So, uh, and Ryu was inspired by that drawing which really helped us get closer to the final model. So these were Ryu's drawings.
Joaquim Seven heads high, that's the uh basic proportion, again I think we ended up making her a bit thicker, and a bit more brawny.
Bryan Yeah and the old series the heads were, when I go back and look, so big ... so, I have a small head. So I relate to these.
Joaquim But the characters are, well they were a lot younger. They were aged down, so she's, sixteen ...
Bryan Seventeen.
Joaquim ... seventeen?
Bryan Most of our main characters are yeah, older.
Joaquim Some expressions again, Ryu going crazy and inspiring all of us. That's the official turn, and uh, this was really a culmination of all of us throwing our art into the pot and then Bryan and taking it all, bringing it all into this model. So it's got elements from my drawings, from Ryu's drawings, and Bryan's drawings.
Bryan I just glued it together.
Joaquim He's lying. But again what I think that sort of lends itself to is the idea that on this production, y'know even the creative leads at the top were all throwing in artistically which is uh, it's a great help, a benefit to the entire production. And there she is all grown up.
Joaquim She's beautiful.
Bryan This is the one we went with.
Joaquim I love her belly-button. Uh, that's Ryu, this is what Ryu does all day long, he's crazy.
Mike Well, all Avatars need a team of course. So when uh, when we were developing Korra we were thinking about who her friends were gonna be. Um, y'know we wanted to casually kind of like; it's taken place seventy years after the series, it's in a very much more modern metropolis kind of city. The world is a little different place like now there's benders living together in a city with nonbenders. Y'know it's like New York or something like that, yea a melting pot of all different cultures. So there's still the Water Tribes and Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation, but there's this one place called the United Republic where everyone comes together. And it's uh, it's a place that Aang and Zuko founded back in the day; after the War.
Bryan So uh- so we came up with these brothers and uh, really early on. And they're brothers from a y'know, multicultural family if you will. So one of them's a firebender, one's an earthbender. Answers a lot of questions that we got over the years! So here we have the best designers, these cool brothers, and Ryu was like 'Okay. Got it'.
Joaquim And this was his first drawing.
Crowd laughs
Mike And then we're like Ryu, what does this mean? What is this character?
Joaquim This guy goes to clown school!
Ryu I think it looks cool.
Bryan We're like, he's like, 'What's wrong?' So not that it isn't a beautiful drawing but.
Mike I say hey, Ryu can draw the craziest character that looks amazing but we're like 'Uh that's not exactly the type of character ... we're thinking of'.
Joaquim It looks like, to us, very fantastic Final Fantasy maybe?
Bryan A little looks like a magician.
Joaquim This is my first concept that kind of brought them into the era. Again, my style is not good.
Bryan Stop.
Joaquim But, the idea's there. So, that was uh, another ...
Bryan Yeah it's kind of a 1920's like Jazz age, Shanghai, Manhattan thing so uh, these Joaquim images are really cool it kind of like Dickens old world concepts and stuff and stuff so with the clothing. With that information, I think Ryu ...
Joaquim He took it and started killing on it.
Mike Reigning it in.
Joaquim It's the uh, getting a little closer – I love the ponytail that just comes out of nowhere. So that was ...
Bryan He did these studies of hair. He's like 'We gotta figure out Mako's hair'. Gettin' crazier, and crazier. We're like Ryu, it's like the twenties, come on. This isn't Twilight. This is research development. So this is the one we like.
Joaquim That's the one we were lookin' for.
Bryan And if you're wondering we did name him after Mako.
Joaquim Mako's basic proportions, he's a beautiful man. This is the color model. I think one thing that was really cool, and this was y'know your direct, direction, Bryan ... was that the color palette for the characters living in the city reflected again that era, y'know that industrial revolution type era, the color was more subdued.
Bryan And oh just to be clear. I was always the art director on the first series, but um, this time around Ryu, Joaquim and I shared that responsibility so, just a lot of dividing and conquering. I tended to do, and still do, more of the color and these guys tended to do more of the design. Um, but we all, y'know, kind of pitched in more collaborative.
Joaquim So this is his brother Bolin.
Bryan Ryu is like 'I get it now'.
Mike So whereas Mako is kind of brooding, a little bit Zuko-ish maybe. -- He's a little lighter. Bolin is his younger, goofier brother, and he's naive.
Bryan He's kind of, y'know, if you've heard the commentary and stuff, our original concept for Toph was a male character who was kind of a big, not sharpest tool in the shed. And uh, Aaron Ehasz had the awesome idea to make Toph a smaller girl, which was great. That said, we still had a lot of ideas for this guy so he found a place in the series.
Joaquim How did you come up with his hair?
Bryan His hair reminds me of a duck.
Ryu I told you. I can't remember it.
Bryan I remember. He wanted Mako's hair to go forward and Bolin's to go back. So he says, guys I get the feeling of drawing Bolin. So he started getting the character down.
Mike He's almost there.
Joaquim So there's Bolin.
Bryan Ryu's expression sheets are just amazing, so alive!
Mike And my favorite! He's reading a book called 'How to be a man'.
Joaquim So there he is, in all his glory.
Bryan I'm just happy to be working on a show with spats.
Joaquim And there they all are together.
Bryan So I cannot keep up with Joaquim and Ryu on the character design, but I can kind of draw animals.
Joaquim You can definitely draw animals.
Bryan So uh if you've read the art of Avatar book you know one of three original characters in the first concept was this bipedal polar bear dog character and um, so again kind of like Bolin we found a place for that character in the series. So as you saw in the trailer this is Naga, Korra's best friend and uh, it's a girl in case you were wondering. It's also inspired by dogs that we each have.
Mike Yeah the face in some poses Bryan it looks exactly like our dogs.
Joaquim It's like polar bear in the front, lab in the back, golden retriever in the back?
Bryan Yeah it's got dog ears. Naga's awesome, she kicks a lot of butt.
Joaquim That one especially looks nice.
Bryan Yeah it looks even better. So another character that we've been kicking around for some stuff and finally found a home in this series, this is Pabu and he's uh, he's a red panda and a black footed ferret. This is just a very early concept for the initial pitch and um, some more development and he's Bolin's little buddy. And he's called a fire ferret, which uh, one of the names for a red panda is a fire fox so uh, a little play on that. And then saw in the trailer there's a slightly different species of flying bison, just some subtle differences in the horns and the uh pattern, and the idea is that Aang found kind of a herd of these things on some island after the war. And uh, we even colored some of them too but it was just kind of a chance for me to upgrade some things kind of update the model and stuff.
Joaquim Anatomically it's much more, it's sort of ...
Bryan Yeah, I looked at old models I'd just cringe.
Joaquim I would hear him in his office, as he was flipping through the old artwork and go "Why?!".
Bryan Which, I hope means I'm getting a little better, hopefully. Yeah this is the new uh, the new species of flying lemurs which I always wanted to do the ring-tailed lemur. They have this funny patch in their fur that always looked like a toupee to me that, when I was designing Momo I thought was kind of goofy but this time I was like 'I love it!' We don't see too much of these guys in this, uh first twelve, but I think they're gonna have a bigger part in the second half. It's a freaky little toupee.
Aang and Katara's Descendents section.

Wild crowd cheer.

Bryan Kataang won.
Mike So if there's any confusion, Korra is Aang's reincarnation, but, which is different than being their daughter. She's not related to them in that way. But Aang and Katara did have three kids, the youngest of which was an airbender named Tenzin.
Bryan And then once again Ryu's like here you go.
Joaquim Crazy concepts!
Mike So we knew, y'know, as Bryan said, Korra has learned water, earth and fire, but she has yet to be able to do any airbending at all. In this series one of her missions is to train with Tenzin and study her airbending with him in Republic City. We created a little kind of sanctuary off in the bay of Republic City which is called Air Temple Island, and that's where Tenzin and his family live. You said there was a shot of that in the trailer, second shot I think.
Bryan That's one of Ryu's early concepts. Crazy colors always.
Joaquim Yeah, if you let Ryu color it, it's gonna be some crazy trip.
Bryan No offense, Ryu.
Joaquim No, Ryu, we love it.
Mike And I think Ryu's favorite character is Meelo who is the little boy.
Bryan There was a lot of speculation when we did the signing last year. Ryu was drawing Meelo, on the, uh, the posters' and everyone's like 'Who is this Meelo?' So I was trying to reign in the colors.
Joaquim But this really it kind of became the template for Tenzin, as you'll see moving forward, I remember when you did the sketch it just kind of clicked at this point.
Bryan These guys draw all digitally. Since uh, the last series ended and they went to work on other projects and they came back, all on Cintiq, um, so. I was trying to that was the other thing just trying to draw them anyways is hard, but trying to do it digitally so, uh ... I was just trying to keep up. So this is Meelo, and the inspiration for Meelo is my good friend and former professor Christopher Moss, a RISD professor, former RISD professor. He uh, has this crazy little son who when Mike and I visited in Amsterdam was just crawling all over him like 'Aaggh!' But man we gotta make that kid a character.
Mike So Tenzin is like he's a very serious kind of guy but when his kids get all crazy on him he can be very funny. He's always trying to be the zen master but he isn't so good at it, sometimes, especially when he loses his patience with the kids. So uh, he's been a real fun character to work on.
Bryan So, this one was kind of a collaboration between Ryu and myself. Y'know it's really neat. Different characters, different pairing, sometimes one of us just get it right off the bat. Mostly Ryu.
Joaquim And this is Pema, Tenzin's wife, and she's currently pregnant. Um, and she's sort of given birth to three airbenders so far and they're all driving her a little crazy.
Mike Yeah she herself is not a bender.
Joaquim There. That's crazy Meelo.
Bryan Ryu just right off the bat. He got these kids right just away.
Joaquim Any ideas?
Ryu No idea.
Joaquim Thunder-butt.
Bryan It's Jinora. She's kind of a bookworm, she's the oldest. So they're in training.
Joaquim They're all in training.
Bryan It's Ikki.
Mike She talks a mile a minute and is super funny and crazy.
Joaquim Ryu's beautiful expressions again. And just sort of figuring out the volumes of the head. Um, one thing that always amazes me that Ryu does it's become a term that we use all the time it's called far-eye. It's something I have huge trouble with but it's when you can just see the eyelash when the head turns three quarters away from the view of the camera. And you can see how on Ikki down there you can just see her eyelash and it just amazes me that he just knows to draw an eyelash there 'cause I would never do it.
Shows Meelo.
Joaquim There's Meelo.
Mike Ryu kept going 'I don't know'. We kept wanting him to be a really cute kid, but Ryu kept going 'No, he's ugly'.
Joaquim Strangely though the more ugly he was the cuter he became. There's everybody.
Mike There's our main crew right there.
Joaquim That's me in Ryu's eyes, as a silverback gorilla. Usually I'm not clean-shaven. And this is uh, whenever we're behind the deadline. Mike's holding a gun and Bryan's plotting our demise.
Bryan See how evil he draws me?
The Equalists
Bryan This is the revolution, that you might have read about. This is an early concept I did of the revolutionary leader, this creepy guy Amon, masked. So Joaquim and I paired up on this one and he sort of did the whole costume and body and I worked on the mask with him.
Joaquim This was Bryan taking what I done previously and really refining it and making it uh, uber creepy and dark and super sinister.
Bryan Trying to bring it in a little more into like, slightly steampunk kinda like 1920's vibe. Sort of motorcycle gear, y'know. And this was the final model sheet Joaquim and I did together.
Joaquim There he is.
Bryan Very creepy.
Joaquim So this is a really bad drawing of what was initially supposed to be the concept for his henchmen, the chi blockers.
Bryan So you know like, like uh ...
Bryan Ty Lee!
Mike Ty Lee. So that discipline of uh, blocking a person's chi paths to make them stop bending um, has kind of spread.
Bryan Well I mean that we had this idea that it's pretty ancient. It's kind of like this ancient order that's always been cloaked, secret, so ...
Mike And now there's these, this group of anti-benders who are using it to combat the benders of Republic City.
Joaquim So this was Ryu sort of refining a more of a ninja take on it. Just trying to, y'know just kicking around ideas so they're all really loose gestural. Gettin' a little closer playing with some crazy shapes for masks. Um, really cool looking, but I think we were going for something a little more simple a little more easy to animate. Oh, this was pretty early on too.
Bryan Yeah these were all pretty early on. There's so much like steampunk mask type stuff especially that video game, "visdev" as people like to say, so we tried to do a slightly more steampunk twist on it.
Joaquim Yeah, sort of the goggles.
Bryan Yeah, Joaquim had this cool take on this y'know, bringing the mouthpiece instead of down here like you see in most video games, like more kind of like a top-mouth like you might see in like, ancient Chinese costumes.
Joaquim So these are the chi blockers.
Bryan Yeah this was just a big collaboration, mostly Ryu and Joaquim.
Metalbender cops
Mike So, Toph, as you know was a metalbender, the first. And uh, she, she kind of like traveled the world, started teaching people, earthbenders how to harness this ability. It's still kind of a rare thing, not every earthbender does metalbending but uh, we have these kind of a, it's the elite SWAT team of Republic City. Um ... and ...
Joaquim This was early, very early, and very different from what it became. But again just getting those ideas out.
Bryan Yeah I was just looking at a lot of police uniforms from New York and stuff like in the twenties and early part of the twentieth century, kind of trying to get that silhouette and mix it with a samurai armor idea.
Joaquim A really cool concept that Bryan come up with is that, they have these spools on their back that can release and retract in these metal cables. So they can use to tie up their, the criminals they're going after.
Mike Zip around.
Joaquim Zip around the whole city with them. Like the Dai Li.
Bryan It is yeah, it's kind of a Dai Li-ish thing.
Chief Beifong shown onscreen.
Mike And then, so, Toph's uh ... this is Toph's daughter. Chief Beifong.
Wild cheer.
Mike And she's uh, she's the Chief of Police of Republic City and uh, in charge of all those metalbenders.
Crowd questioning for the father.
Bryan I don't know what you're yelling but we gotta keep moving.
Mike She's a tough cookie.
Concept Illustrations slide.
Mike So very early on uh, the network was like 'yeah do whatever you want' and we're like 'all right'. And they're like 'what are you guys doing?' So we had to do some concepts to show them what we're doing. So there's this whole thing that we're really excited, especially Joaquim and I being huge mixed martial arts fans, we're really excited about this concept of pro-bending. And it's uh, you saw little clips of it in the trailer. It's like teams of three benders, one of each discipline. You'll see some more stuff.
Joaquim But these were all early concept illustrations to get everyone excited about it internally at Nickelodeon.
Bryan So Korra taking on some gangsters. Amon, I kinda refined that concept a little bit halfway through the design stage.
Joaquim That was a rough for them training their pro bending techniques, colored up version. You can see Bolin getting yelled at by his instructor.
Mike There's a little tiny Pabu on top of the rock. And then I had done this concept in the middle of the night, Ryu was like 'I loved it!' so he completely destroyed my drawing and made it way better. And uh, so I cleaned that up. So this is Korra versus metalbender cops. Ryu's did this awesome Korra versus Chi Blockers in an alley.
Joaquim This is the Pro-bending Arena again, just a rough, and all colored up. The entire Republic City comes to watch the elements battle each other.
Bryan And uh, Ryu did this cool design of Team Avatar as this concept of them as this pro-bending team.
Joaquim And it's cool you can the progression of the character design through the early development stages.
Bryan Joaquim did this awesome, what gameplay might be like. I had to actually sit down and write all the rules it was pretty crazy.
Joaquim He made a little virtual sort of map of the ring and he was moving these little virtual characters around. It was like a little video game almost.
Bryan There was like an hour long thing me explaining to the animators.
Change to Korra on the bridge shot.
Bryan So this was our poster that we did last year. Fred Stewart, one of our two amazing background painters Emily Tetri being the other one. We just found these young artists right out of school, and we just said, we picked someone that had really cool concept style and said your style is the style of the show so we just ran with it. Fred did that.
Shows promotional of Korra waterbending and firebending.
Bryan I took a drawing of Joaquim's from the storyboard and uh, cleaned it up for that Wall Street Journal piece, so that was the rough.
Joaquim It's the rough. And the clean-up.
Bryan And man if you guys got the tee-shirt.
Joaquim This was a last minute, sort of audible call to get that one done, but it was fun.
Bryan Joaquim did that for you guys. And then we are really excited to introduce, if you are one of the fifty people lucky enough to get this limited edition print, um, we thought a really cool way to introduce someone who's coming on for the second season, uh Josh Middleton. If you know comics, you know Josh Middleton.
Joaquim Middleton, Middleton – Stand up buddy!
Bryan Somehow, I thought y'know 'yeah with the three of us', y'know 'cause man, carrying the whole art direction burden by myself for the first series was just really taxing so I thought 'well if I share it with these guys, it'll be fine'. The problem is we raised the bar really high and so we're still dying. So we thought, we need someone, we need someone to come in for the second season. So; I've been a fan of Josh's work for years and luckily enough Joaquim knew him, and um, and he's coming to work with us. So I cannot wait to turn it over to him. So he did this piece for you guys, and uh, it's really beautiful.
Joaquim Just speaks for itself.
Bryan And then another, okay, another awesome person who's coming on for the second season who's uh, an Avatar alum, is Lorra Montgomery. You know she is amazing.
Mike Right there!
Joaquim There she is!
Bryan We are really lucky that everybody who worked with us are awesome, we are so excited to add them to the team and uh, as cool as this first twelve is gonna be, man, the next fourteen will blow those away.
Joaquim It'll be awesome. And let me just, I mean I gotta officially say it, I think we officially have the most kick-butt animation crew top to bottom.
Bryan And then uh, for the poster that we signed: Ryu did this concept, sorry I couldn't fit Tenzin and uh Beifong on there too, but uh, he cleaned it up and I colored it and uh, so that was the poster for you guys.
Bryan A few more minutes left and we are gonna show you an awesome clip that Bill Rinaldi edited. He's our new martial arts videographer and coordinator. Uh, working with Kisu again, Sifu Kisu. Great master of all things traditional Chinese martial arts so all y'know the awesome classic styles that we love to see in Avatar. And then in every regard as we've been trying to expand the world and the artwork and the new story and new concept, we wanted to bring in some mixed martial arts elements. Lucky, luckily enough, Joaquim and I are friends with Mac Danzig an awesome professional fighter for the UFC uh, who came in and did some reference with us and brought in his training partner Jeremy Umphries. and then, some other people on the crew knew these amazing if you've ever heard of 'tricking'. It's this crazy, it's like stunts, it's kind of parkour and stunts. Really flashy kind of mixed with martial arts. So um, these guys ... don't try this at home. They've blown out their knees doing this stuff. You're gonna see the kind of the cool, where we're taking the style with this new video so here we go.
Mike They're currently um, starting on the first episode and gonna turn it over to them to kind of describe the new sound and what they're working on right now.
Benjamin First off I just wanna say wow. I'm incredibly humbled to be on the stage with all you guys, I don't feel like I deserve it, thank you.
Joaquim You deserve it.
Jeremy We're just starting. So it's really early so don't hold anything against us, that we say. We're gonna let you in on some basic concepts. Bryan came to us with this really cool idea of, of course you know in true Bryan Konietzko fashion it's really really difficult. Um, he said what would it sound like if in the twenties, the Chinese were inventing jazz? Something to that effect. So, yeah! So this is we're gonna have to invent a style, that's basically if Chinese were inventing jazz. New Orleans jazz in China, in the twenties.
That's the first part of the musical recipe and then the next part is the more traditional elements. We're gonna explore those a little more deeply in this series, which is really exciting. We found an incredible musician, this Chinese musician who plays like thirty Chinese instruments beautifully. Um, wind instruments, percussion, stringed instruments, all this stuff so we're getting pretty into that stuff as well. And then there's gonna be a western element string quartet, probably not as grandiose um, orchestral as the first one. But that's what we said the first time around so ... that's the idea.
Bryan We're gonna save it for, special moments.
Jeremy Right, it'll be special moments, it'll be a bit more dynamic. Um, that's the idea and so far things are starting to sound pretty cool. Uh and we're just really excited to sort of approach it from a little more of a mature angle. Not like it originally wasn't, I don't think it was children's music necessarily uh, stylistically nothing wrong with that, but the music is definitely its own thing in The Last Airbender. Um, and so we're gonna have respect for that early stuff and treat it as musical history. It's like, sort of source material that we're gonna explore as well. So we have a lot of elements to work with, um, we're definitely, if we're gonna be out of ideas that'll be our fault.
Bryan Plus, y'know, it's been a few years since we were out in 2008 and Ben and Jeremy have been workin' on a bunch of stuff and they're uh, I mean they were amazing then but their skills are uh, have just grown and I can't wait to hear what the sound design is gonna be incredible. Even their company is growing, I mean they used to do everything themselves and they're, they're in such demand doing music for Kung Fu Panda, the T.V. series for Nickelodeon. So any thoughts on the sound design?
Ben Well I thought what I was just gonna say um, y'know, seeing these visuals and the story and uh, it's definitely, it's been stepped up even from Avatar. It's a little more sophisticated, it's a little bit more adult, there's more detail, so we're gonna have to step it up as well.
Bryan And guys, we really need your continued help, trying to get that soundtrack released.
Crowd cheers.
Bryan We need you to tell Nickelodeon, you'd buy the dang thing if we put it out! So I hope you all realize that we all obviously want it to be released and have and we've been fighting for it for years but sometimes it's hard to get the big company to do what you want. So, we're gonna keep fighting for it.
Mike Ah, well, thank you guys so much for coming out and Bryan and I also just want to thank these guys and all the crew and Nickelodeon, they've been awesome, all the crew at Studio MIR overseas working crazy crazy trying to make these thing we've given them.
Mike Everybody at Burbank that we work with.
Bryan Yeah, an amazing team, Roland, Megan, Brandon, Brown Johnson, everybody's been incredible.
Mike Amazing support and creative freedom we have there, and uh, so we really are uh, treasure that and we're thankful for it.
Bryan And we, we honestly don't know, we don't have a premier date yet. Um, and ... we don't know when, it is gonna happen!
Mike We just don't know when!
Bryan We've heard a lot of crazy conspiracy theories, there's no conspiracy theory. There's just a lot of stuff that needs to premier in a lot of shows, it's like being on a tarmac and the captain's like, 'The plane's okay. There's nothing wrong with it, you just gotta wait in line'. So, um, appreciate your continued patience and trust us that it'll all be worth it.
Roland Before we show the trailer again I just want to say to each and every one of you; these guys have two goals set for Legend of Korra one is to, which is actually an achievement in itself, to do something even better than Avatar: The Last Airbender. And the second goal and this was equally as important, was to make sure that they didn't do anything in a single frame of this new show, that would disappoint anyone in this room. Because you guys are the most important. [Crowd cheers; he pauses.] I can tell you, I'm not just a network executive, I'm a fan. Believe me, when you see what these guys have come up with ... I can't wait myself!
Bryan So thanks again! We'll see you next year I'm sure. And, please roll the trailer.
Roland Let's hear it for Team Avatar!
Crowd cheers wildly while he calls out their names.
Trailer plays
Roland For more information about the Legend of Korra please check out Nick.com. Thank you very much, have a great, safe Con, and we'll see you next year!

Participants

Persons interviewed

  • Roland Poindexter (Senior VP for Animation and Host)
  • Bryan Konietzko (Executive Producer/Creator)
  • Michael Dante DiMartino (Executive Producer/Creator)
  • Joaquim Dos Santos (Co-Executive Producer for Legend of Korra)
  • Ryu (Supervisor Director)
  • Benjamin Wynn (Sound Designer)
  • Jeremy Zuckerman (Composer)

Origin

San Diego Comic-Con 2011 video

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