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First Nickelodeon brought us the incredible animated fantasy series Avatar: The Last Airbender, which followed the adventures of a young boy named Aang who is destined for the great responsibility of saving the world from a war that could tear it asunder. After three seasons, this story drew to a close but a new chapter was born with the spin-off The Legend of Korra.
This series, which has just entered its second season, centers on Aang's next incarnation, a spirited and stubborn girl named Korra. In season one, Korra traveled from her home in the Southern Water tribe to the glorious Republic City, where she faced off against tricky city politicians and a faceless terrorist called Amon.
With season two came bigger moral dilemmas for this young Avatar. She traveled back home and had to choose sides in a Civil War begun by her father and Uncle. She's also been battling spirits who seem enraged by the modern world's disregard of them. What else will season two bring Korra and her crew? Find out with us!
11:05--VP of animation introduces panel. First show creator Bryan Konietzko. Unfortuneately, co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino couldn't make it today. Next up co-executive producer Joaquim Dos Santos. And some of the voice talent! Janet Varney (Korra), P.J. Byrne (Bolin), Steve Yeun (Wan "the father of all things Avatar") enter to screams of excitement and applause.
11:08-- Konietzko tells us DiMartino is in India getting in touch with the spirit world. Also a monkey stole his jacket.
11:10--Clip for the story of the origin of the Avatar plays, the girl behind me is already threatening to cry as the opening theme plays. When Korra was heading to the Fire Nation to find allies, she was attacked by a spirit and left on an island. Her memory washed away completely. Those caring for her know who she is, but she does not. A firebender sage drops Korra into a healing pond, where she is transported to the spirit world to confront her many past lives, including Aang, and all the incarnations Airbender fans will remember from the series. She is told she must go back to the beginning, to her first life. Enter Wan. He is her guide to the her first life.
Wan returns to a shack that is his home, there we see a batch of pets (hybrid of course) and a man who appears to be part tree, he warns Wan not to venture into the Spirit Wilds. "It'll turn you into a monster" he cries indicating himself.
Wan joins a dangerous hunting exposition, giving us a look at new landscapes and the LION TURTLE! The audience explodes with cheers.
11:17--This is no clip, it appears to be an advane look at next week's episode. So, obviously, spoilers ahead. Wan gets the power to fire bend from the lion turtle, and now he wants to use it to topple the reign of the social order that leaves many hungry while the wealthy feast. He and a crew of masked revolutionaries storm the castle with his powers. Using the lion turtle's gift for this gets him exiled, but the great beats decides he can keep "the power of the element" so he might survive living in the spirit wilds. The smart money is on him not living through the night.
Wan wonders into the wilds, and steps on a frog spirit who grow large and chases him into more dangers. If it weren't for his fire-bending Wan wouldn't have a chance. New creatures, slapstick, and breathtaking new locations come across his path, including an oasis guarded by a talking Lemur person…I think that's what that is. 10:24--Spotted at the spirit oasis an allusion to Spirited Away. Taking pity on Wan, they urge him to seek out another city, where another lion turtle lies. It wouldn't be an Avatar story without a bender befriending an exotic and rare animal, Wan's appears to be a cross between a gazelle and a cougar? (It is a "car deer.") Second commercial break passed! It looks like we are getting the full episode! The audience is fixated on the screen as Wan battles a bunch of hunters, and secures a relationship with an unexpected friend.
11:27--After a spirit intervenes, Wan decides to stay with the spirits. "I've never had a pet before!" The lemur man remarks. So, Wan lives, and he is fire-bending next to a dragon! I literally have chills. The audience is in a frenzy. Wan begins a revolution, just not in the way he intended. Will he now be Korra's spirit guide? 11:30--Oof. Like Korra, Wan is one who will rush into a fray, in this instance a battle between great spirits the size of mountains! I don't want to spoil this final scene, it's too good. But the identity of Rava is revealed, and with it the reason the Avatar needed to be created. "Rava, I found you," Korra says. AND THE CROWD GOES WILD! Episode over.
11:33--This concept was one the creators came up with back in 2006, while they were working on Avatar. Konietzko explains how there was a whole new style guide to create the washes and look for this arc. Ii's beautiful, and fans outside this hall are likely to being as dazzled as we are here.
11:35--Asked about what's her favorite piece of fan art, Varney is overwhelmed saying it's all so good. Fun fact: three creators of fan art have since been hired to work on the show.
11:37-- Byrne advises the audience to not to get in a relationship like Bolin and Eska have, and if you're in one, get out!
11:39-- Yeun says he was honored to be asked to join the cast, but was nervous to be the voice of the first ever Avatar. Asked how her life has changed since the show began, "It's completely changed my life. This show is the best show in the world…I'm so inspired by the storytelling in the show. Nickelodeon is amazing." She also notes she revels in traveling the world to meet her fans. "It's been a remarkable three years, and I'm grateful."
11:40--Recording for Book Four is being recorded right now! 11:42--A Walking Dead fan Byrne is taking selfies on stage, trying to get Yeun (who plays Glenn on the show) in the background.
11:45--Explaining how the dialogue comes together. They record the scene. Then they animate, revisit with a record to plug in ADR (additional dialogue recording) like sounds of struggle. During this phase, Byrne apparently improvises lines as Bolin, including "I want to be on your back!" to Naga in an early episode.
11:47--The producers confess Studio Ghibli is a major influence.
11:48--There's a lot of people lined up to ask questions, but it's being ignored. Instead, they are asking each other questions, and now are showing a sort of power point on how the show gets made. Step one: Writing premise, outline, script. Pitches turn into an outline, which has snippets of dialogue, then is turned into a script, which typically includes many drafts.
From there the first round of Dialogue Recording is done. They are prepping to show us another scene with Kiernan Shipka (Jinora), Varney (Korra), and Dee Bradley Baker as a spirit.
Next comes Design, including character, prop, and setting. They show some designs for characters and spirits as well as concept designs for the spirit world. The audience is silent except for "oos," "awes," and the snaps of cameras taking pictures.
11:55--Storyboardin is next. They are showing a storyboard where Korra is in the spirit world, where she sees Jinora! (What is she doing there!?) Jinora is fascinated, running from one place to another, Korra chasing after her. Next, they show the animatic, which has roughed storyboards, voices, and the sketches we saw moments ago.
11:57--Next comes Coloring, which is self-explanatory. They show us the pencil sketches from before in their full color versions. Then it's time for layout, where all this is sketched overseas for animators to work on. A video shows us the next step called Key Animation, which is the main poses, then there are in-betweeners who have to create all the drawings to get from point A to be. They estimate 15,000 drawings make up any given episode of Legend of Korra. A pencil test of key animation is followed by the final, colored clip, which is vibrant. Now, it's shown with full audio design (sound effects), and just like that the mood od the show is there. Next a pass with no voices, no sfx, just the music. It's incredible to see the show parted out this way, you can really appreciate all the layers that go into making even this thirty-second scene. Lastly, the same scene with color, sound, dialogue and music. Amazing.
The sounds of the crowd from the next panel are trickling in. The panel is wrapping up, with announcements of autographing opportunities. And with one more round of applause, they are out!
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