We had a fun crew screening last week of the 1-hour finale of Book 3. This will likely be our last such gathering, as the designers’ last day on the production is sadly tomorrow (which ended up falling on the Book 3 premiere), and the background painters are finishing up a few weeks behind them. In typical Korra fashion though, we still have an inordinate amount of work to do before they leave! DON’T GO! *sniff* I love this crew. It is bittersweet, because at the same time I am VERY HAPPY about the pre-production finish line fast approaching.
We had a fun, impromptu lunch with *most* of the remaining Korra design team yesterday. After a long haul, we are in the home stretch with preproduction (design/color) on the Book 4 finale episodes. I’m going to miss these incredibly talented, friendly, and funny folks when we finish in a few short weeks. Left to right: Steve Hirt (clean up/add. prop & char. design), Christie Tseng (char. design), Melissa King (BG paint), William Nanqing Niu (BG design), Emily Tetri (BG paint), Christine Bian (BG design), Jojo Aguilar (prop & add. BG design), Mike, Lauren Zurcher (BG paint), and me.
my profile page for an upcoming collaborative sketchbook GIF Club! The book will be sold at Anime Expo!!
As you can see here, we are very lucky to have William Nanqing Nui as a background designer on Korra.
The deeper we get into the Korra production, the more horizontal Joaquim’s posture gets in animatic meetings.
Raava’s Little Helpers, aka the Korra Crew, hard at work on our Halloween decorations. (Wan drawing at the bottom by Ryu Ki Hyun)
KORRA CREW PROFILE: SYLVIA FILCAK-BLACKWOLF
Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf has been the lone color stylist on Korra since Book 1, so she has colored all of the character and prop models for the entire series (aside from what I’ve done or tweaked as the art director)––a massive undertaking. She has a wealth of varied experience in both TV and feature animation in a variety of job positions, and is an absolute joy to work with, so I wanted to interview her for this blog to share her insights with anyone aspiring to work in this industry. I also wanted to highlight the position of color stylist: you often hear of the drawing positions and the background painters, but the artists who choose and adjust the colors for the characters and props are also incredibly important to the look and feel of an animated project. Above you can see some of Sylvia’s work from the upcoming special Avatar Wan origin episodes.
BK: You are originally from Los Angeles, right? How early on did you know you wanted to work in animation? Did having the industry around you while growing up influence that desire?
SFB: Yes, but I grew up mainly in Studio City/North Hollywood area. Growing up here I was around industry people all the time but I really did not think about it. Parents and friends were musicians/actors/producers/editors/animators. I guess I thought that this was the norm and it was like this everywhere… I really was fortunate in the fact that I fell into animation. I always loved it but never really thought about it. I wanted to be an anthropologist! Ha Ha
BK: Did you have any formal art education after high school?
SFB: No, but not too long after high school I started working in the animation industry.
BK: How did you get your foot in the door in the animation industry? What was your first job?
SFB: My friend’s mother worked in animation as an ink & paint supervisor and did quite a bit at home on various productions. She asked if I could help and that was the beginning! I think my first job was doing mark-up for The Chipmunks.
BK: You’ve worked at a variety of studios. What are some of your favorite productions throughout your career?
SFB: Hmmm, Well I would have to say that Iron Giant was a lot of fun. Great Crew. Great Directors. Great Movie! In the afternoon they would cart around chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne/beer/wine. Crazy times. Spongebob Movie was fun. In general I think the crew is really important and if what you are working on happens to be fantastic then all the better. Legend of Korra is another great project that I am fortunate enough to work on. Great Crew. Great Directors. Great story!
BK: Can you describe your job as a color stylist for people who don’t know what that entails? Have you had any other positions in animation?
SFB: A color stylist generally keys all characters, props, and FX. You read the script, look at the animatics and image boards. Paint up all the models, and get them approved. Then the fun begins: you take each model that belongs in that specific scene/sequence and style them according to their surroundings. It could be day/night, fire FX, explosions, etc… which in turn then goes back to the art director/director to approve, give notes, or change. Generally most of my jobs have been color compositing which is the same as a color stylist but you get to composite the scene as well. I have also been a inker/painter and a color composite supervisor.
BK: What are your hobbies and interests outside of animation?
SFB: I build furniture, and do architectural woodcarving and sculpting. I love growing too. My husband and I took a break before the last SpongeBob Movie and went to Portland, Oregon where I had an apprenticeship under a fantastic master carver (Lee Johnson). An amazing person/experience that has taught me so much.
BK: Any advice for people looking to get into animation, either young people still in school or adults who are trying to land that first gig?
SFB: I would say that animation has its highs and its lows. You will work on great projects and some not so great projects––it’s all part of the world. Stay focused, talk to as many people that you can. Build up your reel/portfolio. Network. For every person that you encounter that is not so helpful you will find great people that will help you. Basically, don’t be discouraged. Try out different projects––perhaps ones that you may think that you are not qualified to do or maybe it’s just not your style. You can learn so much from every project that you come across. It’s all about experience. Good Luck!
Congratulations to Jeremy Zuckerman on yesterday’s release of his soundtrack The Legend of Korra: Original Music From Book One. After the years-long battle to get Jeremy’s music released, it is incredibly vindicating to see this album climb and top the charts (currently sitting at #1 in Soundtracks and #5 in Pop on Amazon).
This is a photo I took last week of Jeremy, the composer, in his studio with Hong Wang, the multi-instrumentalist behind the nuanced performances of many of the traditional Chinese instruments featured in the Korra score. Mike and I are indebted to the talents and hard work of these two brilliant men.
P.S. If you will be at San Diego Comic-Con and would like to meet Jeremy, come to the Korra soundtrack signing at the Nickelodeon Booth this Saturday, from 3:00–4:00. Mike DiMartino, Benjamin Wynn, the sound designer on Korra and Jeremy’s partner in the The Track Team, and I will be there too signing CDs (which were printed too dark and dull…).
Congratulations to Shannon Reed who won a well-deserved Emmy last night for casting on Korra! Thanks for all of your great, hard work.
Summer day with a giant Fin-dog.
Awesome illustration by Korra background painter, Emily Tetri.
This is one of my favorite Bolin drawings from the cabinets in the Korra production area, by Eugene Lee, in a style reminiscent of Koji Morimoto. Apparently Eugene drew it here so Bolin would stare into Colin’s office.
Sensual Bolin by Eugene Lee (storyboard artist) and turdish Mako by Owen Sullivan (assistant director) on the Korra cabinets.
Christine Bian, our incredibly talented prop designer, has started a Tumblr blog to showcase her exquisite animal drawings. I love this Naga piece, but do yourself a favor and check out her other work too.
So spring is almost upon us and Nick decided to wipe the Whiteboard cabinets clean and have us start anew. The Following photo set is the result of The Korra Crew’s wacky imagination… Enjoy!
Some of the Korra crew at the Korra fan art show last night. What a great event! I really enjoyed all of the art and costumes, and meeting lots of nice, talented folks. Thanks to PixelDrip Gallery for organizing this, and to everyone who sent in their artwork! Very awesome and overwhelming! Love, Bryan
P.S. The event is still going on today, if you can make it. I won’t be able to attend today, as I have a lot of non-fan Korra art to do, but they are still raffling off my Naga print, so I will be there in spirit.
RYU CARICATURES OF KORRA BOOK 3 CREW
KORRA BOOK 3 CREW CARICATURES OF RYU
We have a much bigger in-house crew these days, with full design and storyboard departments like we used to have on Avatar. Ryu couldn’t help himself with all of these new faces to parody and skewer, so he surprised us a few weeks back with a motherload crew caricature (top). Bill Rinaldi and a few folks had the idea to band together and get Ryu back with our own compilation of caricatures of him (bottom).