The Northern Air Temple, with the holes from the explosions that happened in the original series now filled in with new buildings. Background design by Angela Sung and Ricardo Delgado. Painting by Frederic Stewart.
MD: Another location we revisit from the original series is the Southern Air Temple and its statue room. Both were significantly updated to reflect the style of Korra.
BK: I always like the idea of statues in the show, but the execution of them is another matter. It is hard to keep them drawn on model and painted well from various angles. To make matters worse, the spiral orientation of the Southern Air Temple statue room presents a tough challenge when trying to keep their placements consistent from shot to shot. I begged Mike to never write another scene in this location ever again!
Avatar statue designs by Christie Tseng. Paintings by Emily Tetri and Frederic Stewart. Wan and Raava and statue design by Bryan Konietzko. Aang statue design by Christie Tseng. Paintings by Emily Tetri.
MD: Although we reused a lot of the background designs of Ba Sing Se from the original series, we needed more updated versions of the Lower Ring. The aesthetic was inspired by Kowloon, a densely populated settlement in Hong Kong. We wanted the Lower Ring to look like people kept building on top of what was originally there to give the feeling of being very cramped. Background designs by William Nanqing Niu. Paintings by Frederic Steward and Emily Tetri.
Our final drawing project was to replicate a masterpiece using four different mediums. My friend chose to do Howl’s Moving Castle, so I decided I would replicate one of the many beautiful backgrounds in Legend of Korra, done by the amazing Frederic Stewart.
From the top left going clockwise, the mediums are pencil, oil pastel, charcoal, and colored pencil.
Congratulations to the Korra design team members for taking home the Annie Award for Production Design in TV for Book 2 Chapter 10 “A New Spiritual Age”! From left to right in the top photo, skipping Mike and me: Angela Sung (background design), Christine Bian (prop design), William Nanqing Niu (background design), Emily Tetri (background paint), and Frederic Stewart (background paint). And congratulations to the other designers who worked on this special episode: Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf (color stylist), Christie Tseng (character design), Angela Song Mueller (character design), and Lauren Zurcher (background paint). Every day I am blown away by their talent, dedication, and enthusiasm, so it is nice to see the animation community recognize their work as well.
BK: Zaofu was an inspiring location for me to art direct. I gathered Art Deco photo reference of architecture, interior design, furniture, sculpture, lighting fixtures, clothing, jewelry, etc. When it came time for the designers to start generating concepts for this episode, I went through the reference folder with each of them, pointing out the design elements I liked best, and how I wanted them to think about streamlining the complex aesthetic down to its essentials so it could be reproduced repeatedly for animation. My dream design team rose to the challenge remarkably! In contrast to Lin’s no-frills lifestyle, Su lives in a palatial estate, using her Beifong inheritance to the fullest. It reminds you just how different these sisters are! Background designs by William Nanqing Niu and Angela Sung. Paintings by Lauren Zurcher, Frederic Stewart, and Emily Tetri.
BK: Asami’s prototype for the flagship Future Industries dirigible was a challenging and intricate design task, but our prop designer Christine’s enthusiasm made it a fun process. i knew the upcoming Metal Clan city and vehicles were going to be steeped in an Art Deco style, so I gave Christine the direction to make this an Art Nouveau airship. She came up with this striking silhouette and developed it beautifully. William had the daunting task of designing the elaborate Art Nouveau atrium and cockpit within the parameters of the bizarre volumes dictated by the exterior design of the airship. He executed them stupendously, resulting in one of my favorite locations of the season. Designs by Christine Bian, William Nanqing Niu, and Angela Sung. Paintings by Emily Tetri and Frederic Stewart.
MD: Korra’s story in Book Two was about humans moving beyond their ordinary abilities, and becoming something extraordinary. When she loses her connection to the past Avatars and her Avatar spirit, Korra looks deep within and forms a new connection with the cosmic version of herself. In Hindu philosophy, there is a concept called atman, which is defined as the “innermost essence of each individual” or “the supreme universal self.” This is my interpretation of what Korra sees and becomes when she meditates. The giant blue cosmic Korra is a visual representation of her inner essence. BK: When Tim Hedrick was hired as a writer on the original Avatar series, he was under the assumption for a while that when Aang went into the Avatar state he grew into a towering giant version of himself. The rest of us had a good laugh at his expense, but none of us would have thought back then that years later, that is pretty much what we would do with the next Avatar! I think Tim felt vindicated at long last. And I think he was right, as giant spirit Korra became a favorite Book Two design for me. I simplified her design and changed her proportions to give her a more ethereal spiritual appearance. Concept and designs by Bryan Konietzko and Angela Song Mueller. Color by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf.
MD: The first stop on Tenzin’s family vacation is the Southern Air Temple, where Avatar Aang grew up. Following the Hundred Year War, Aang established the Air Acolytes. Later, the Acolytes moved into the various temples and repaired them to their former states. The four Air Temples became pilgrimage sites for the Air Acolytes as the studied Air Nomad history and philosophy.
Concepts by Josh Middleton. Painting by Frederic Stewart.
I don’t know who this kind looking spirit is, exactly, only that she was designed by Frederic Stewart as a dark spirit for Book 2. (Source)
My headcanon is that this is the dark form of a spirit called Meng Po. Her job is to tend to the fog of lost souls, and those trapped within it. In her light form she’s quite nice, actually, and often discusses tea with Iroh.
The Wind Rises Won Best Writing at The 41st Annie Awards
The Annie Awards is widely recognized as the Oscars counterpart of animation, where The Wind Rises was nominated for three categories: Writing in an Animated Feature Production for Hayao Miyazaki, Character Animation in a Feature Production for Kitaro Kosaka, and Best Animated Feature.
Frozen topped the occasion with four wins including Best Animated Feature – with ten nominations there was one huge award that got away, which was Writing for an Animated Feature and it was awarded to Hayao Miyazaki.
The presenters were baffled that no one came to pick up the award – quite reminiscent of Miyazaki’s absence for his Oscar win in 2002.