The Legend of Korra composer Jeremy Zukerman recently chatted with Hypable about composing for television, an unexpected soundtrack, and the times when he just has to freak out.

What is your process of composing a piece of music for The Legend of Korra?

We start with what’s called a spotting session. Ben Wynn (lead sound designer for Korra and my business partner), Aran Tanchum (foley recordist for Korra), Bryan Konietzko (co-creator) and Mike DiMartino (co-creator) meet at Nickelodeon where we analyze the episode we’re about to begin working on. We talk about the music and sound design needs simultaneously which is fairly uncommon in the industry. It’s a good way to make sure there’s cohesion among the audio elements though. I leave with a good understanding of the music needs of the episode.

After the spotting session, I have two weeks to hand in a music preview. Of course I really only have about four solid days to compose as I’m finalizing the previous episode. That involves any revisions that have come from Bryan and Mike, prepping the music notation for recording sessions (thankfully I have a couple good people help me with that – it’s a ton of work), proofreading and tweaking the notation, recording strings, recording Hong Wang (Chinese multi-instrumentalist), editing recorded material, mixing and prepping the session which goes to the dub session (where all the audio elements are brought together – dialog, foley, sound design and music).

The actual process of composing might be very boring to watch! It’s a lot of me freaking out about how time is running out and then writing due to having no more time to freak out. I work at a computer and sometimes work with pencil and paper when it makes sense to do so. I’ve even recorded my voice to picture and used that as a map. I recently did that on a very orchestrally dense, fairly long action cue. First I recorded my voice, then I made an orchestral sketch on paper using the voice as a map. And finally I fleshed it out on the computer. There are many processes that work for me. It really depends on the type of cue and my mood…

What is your favorite part of that process?

I think it’s hearing the music come to life when we record the musicians. The simplest compositional idea will really spring to life and it’s really satisfying to record something that wasn’t mocked up in the demo because it can only be done by humans… Experiments or ideas that are realized. It’s especially nice when those ideas actually work. Ha!

Also, composing is a very solitary task and I really, really like the musicians on The Legend of Korra. Interacting with them breathes life into the process and gets me fired up.

What is the most challenging aspect of composing for The Legend of Korra?

Definitely sustaining the work flow. TV is brutal in its relentlessness. And Korra is very ambitious in every facet. It demands something way above and beyond and to not deliver isn’t an option to me personally. So there are many days where the energy and the inspiration isn’t there…but you still have to bring the A game.

Has working on The Legend of Korra been different from working on Avatar: The Last Airbender?

Very different. The nature of the anxiety has changed. It went from ‘how do I do this?’ to ‘how do I do this in time?’

I think I’m much better at what I do now. I feel more in control of the work and when I experiment it feels more specific and satisfying.

Also, The Legend of Korra tone is quite a bit more mature and with the live musicians (something I didn’t have for Avatar: The Last Airbender.) I feel like I can sometimes score Korra more like it’s a live action show, more minimal and subtle. Of course there are still plenty of grandiose epic moments.

Has working on Book 2 been different from working on Book 1?

Yeah, again I’ve learned a lot about working with the string sextet and Hong. In the beginning there was a lot more searching around in the dark (which can be really useful). And now with Book 2 there is a musical history and aesthetic in place. Still, Book 2 is very different than Book 1 in story and tone so it requires almost entirely new material. There are new instruments, themes, techniques, etc.

Is there anything special that viewers should listen for in the music of Book 2?

I wouldn’t want to color anyone’s experience. Viewers have made connections and noticed things I wasn’t even aware of as the composer! I’m excited to hear from them.

Do you have a favorite musical moment in the show so far?

Not one in particular. There is a recurring canonic idea based on gamelan that’s been fun to explore. I think episode 1×20 has some special musical moments. It’s also beautiful visually (no big surprise there, though it’s a stylistic departure).

Fans were really excited to see The Legend of Korra soundtrack released, and the response has been amazing. What has that been like for you?

I knew there was a fan base but I was not prepared for the reception. I’ve been flooded with email, tweets and Facebook messages from people who have had extremely profound experiences with the music. It’s incredible to me. I feel awful that I haven’t been able to respond to everyone but I am beyond grateful and touched.

Do you think we might get our hands on an Avatar: The Last Airbender soundtrack at some point?

There’s a decent chance of that happening. Especially because of the success of the Legend of Korra soundtrack. But it will be a TON of work and take a while to do. All that material was done on old computers and no longer supported software. And I would have to re-record some material, get some live musicians in, etc. If I’m going to do it, it has to be awesome… I think I may need to assemble a small team to put it all back together but I think it needs to be done.

If you could be a bender, what would you bend?

I thought I was an airbender… Isn’t making music airbending?

For more about Jeremy Zuckerman…

Jeremy Zuckerman grew up in New York and first worked in music as a CD shrink-wrapper. One half of the music and sound design team The Track Team, Jeremy plays many instruments, including guitar and something called a duduk. You can connect with Jeremy on Facebook and on Twitter as @JeremyZuckerman. For more information, check out his personal website at JeremyZuckerman.com.

The Legend of Korra: Original Music From Book One is available on Amazon and iTunes.

Come back for daily ‘Legend of Korra’ coverage and join in the conversation with hashtag #SeptBender!

The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

Read full article

The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

cogsworth-lumiere-live-action-beauty-and-the-beast

While it’s nice to finally see a glimpse of a couple of the characters, a big question remains unanswered: How will these objects look once they have faces on them? (Cogsworth’s face might be hinted at in the center of the clock.)

Also on the Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition is a shot from the the “Gaston” musical number. From left to right we see Alexis Loizon as Stanley, Josh Gad as LeFou (just over Gaston’s shoulder), and Luke Evans (with his back to the camera) as Gaston.

live-action-beauty-and-the-beast-gaston

Update: And here’s another look at the movie, courtesy of this person on Twitter — this time we get to see Dan Stevens as human Beast!

human-beast-dan-stevens

We’ll be curious to get our hands on the anniversary edition in September, because we expect we’ll see more from the new movie than the two stills above.

Disney released the first trailer for the live-action Beauty and the Beast in May. It was very much a teaser trailer, as it didn’t provide any looks at the characters — except Belle (Emma Watson), appearing through the glass casing protecting the film’s iconic rose.

In fact, the trailer’s first looks at the various settings (Namely the Beast’s castle) fell in line with the visual style we see in the above concept art.

Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens hit theaters March 17, 2017.

Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

Read full article

Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

That changes next month, when Apple is expected to announce that the iPhone 7 will be lacking a headphone jack. Instead, users will be listening to music via the Lightning port (which you currently use to charge and sync your iPhone).

And for 2017, Apple will reportedly go one step further by removing the Home button.

Ah, the Home button. It’s always been there for us — it’s our captain for navigating the iPhone. We use it to switch between apps, we use it to get to our Home screen, we use it to summon Siri, and we use it to read our finger print. Back in the “old days,” we used it to force quit apps when they froze on us.

In a new report, Bloomberg says Apple is planning to remove the Home button for the 2017 iPhone, which will presumably be called iPhone 7s. It’s billed as a “major redesign of the iPhone for 2017 that focuses more heavily on the display.”

Previous rumor mill reports have suggested that Apple will ditch the Home button in order to decrease the size of the top top and bottom bezels, thereby making the phone not as tall, or using the freed up space to add more screen.

Here’s a mock up of what that could look like, via TapSmart:

borderlessmockup1

What remains unclear is how users will be able to unlock and navigate their iPhone without the Home button. Reports have suggested that the whole screen will serve as a TouchID surface and a Home button (using the 3D Touch feature Apple launched last year).

Interestingly, next month’s release of iOS 10 will introduce a new way to unlock your iPhone: You’ll have to press down on the Home button to activate an unlocking. Previously, all you had to do was rest your finger on the Home button while your lock screen was awake.

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Read full article

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Now, according to Deadline, Disney is developing an all-live-action remake of the film. Nick Hornby will write the script, while Joe Roth is in negotiations to sign on as a producer.

If Mendes’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he directed the last two James Bond features, both Skyfall and Spectre, as well as 1999’s American Beauty.

You can check out the trailer for the horrifying original film below:

As of late, Disney has been announcing live-action versions of its properties left and right, including The Nutcracker (which has a huge cast of well-known actors), The Little Mermaid (with Lin-Manuel Miranda attached to help write the music), Beauty and the Beast (starring Emma Watson), and Cruella (starring Emma Stone), among others.

With the amount of remakes — especially in the live-action department — it’s no wonder James and the giant Peach is the latest to be announced.

Do you want to see a live-action ‘James and the Giant Peach’ movie?