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Michael Dante DiMartino Hi, this is Mike DiMartino, co-creator and executive producer of Avatar.
Bryan Konietzko And this is Bryan Konietzko, the other co-creator and other executive producer.
Benjamin Wynn Hi, I'm Benjamin Wynn, and I am one half of the Track Team, and I do sound design for this show.
Jeremy Zuckerman Hi, I'm Jeremy Zuckerman, I'm the other half of the Track Team, and I compose the music.
Benjamin Sweet.
Mike So, we are going to look at uh, the episode about the backstory of Roku and Sozin, which is a little bit different type of episode that-than we've done. Um, it's got a lot of epic qualities to it, if you guys wanna talk about the music a little bit, like what you were thinking, uh, when you went in and saw this episode for the first time.
Jeremy Yeah, well, we-you know, uh, [Refers to the parallel stories of Roku and Sozin's retelling of their shared history.] you guys have explained to us that you wanted uh, sort of this continuity, because we keep going back and forth between the two storylines, something to bring them together. So, we sort of approached it more like a film score.
Bryan Um...
Jeremy [Interjects.] With these sort of recurring themes that keep hap-you know, having variations and things.
Bryan Usually, we have like a main, like an A-plot or an A-story, and then cutaways to a shorter B-plot, but I think in this case it was pretty evenly split between Sozin's story and Roku's story. So, that was, that was kind of the challenge with jumping back and forth so much, having Jeremy compose music that, you know, didn't uh, make it too like choppy I guess, [Jeremy affirms.] you know-you know, we had to...
Jeremy It-it sort of actually really lent itself to being-to having continuity, you know, ironically, because it's just very thematic, 'cause it sort of-that re-recurring, you know, the recurring sort of dichotomy between the two characters of R-Roku and uh, um, Ozai.
Mike Dude, that's how we...
Benjamin Yeah.
Jeremy Yeah. [Jeremy and Benjamin laugh.]
Bryan It's ironical.
Jeremy [In the background.] It's...
Bryan Uh...
Jeremy ... [Interjects.] It's ironically uh, momentous.
Benjamin How did you go about making continuity?
Jeremy Uh, well, I-we took the, um, so the main title theme, and I just kept doing variations off that m-mostly. [Refers to the theme playing as Zuko reads the letter left outside his room.] There's also this sort of like... this theme, [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] that sort of, you know, keeps connecting to Zuko-Zuko's uh, sort of, you know, discovery. [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.]
Bryan And just narratively...
Jeremy [Interjects.] It's a trip.
Bryan ... it's a different episode for us because usually Avatar focuses on some kids. Um, Mike and I always joke it's kids and old people, but [Mike chuckles.] this was an episode that was more of kind of like a standard drama, you know, TV drama, it was like focused on these two guys, most of the time in their middle age, uh, years. So...    
Jeremy It's true.
Bryan ... it was a little, lit-different tonally for us. I mean, we do serious episodes, but-but this one I think was more like a drama, I think.
Benjamin Definitely.
Jeremy [Gives an affirming murmur.] It's actually really fun to be able to sort of indulge in that sort of seriousness.
Benjamin Yeah, it's-it's a captivating episode.
Mike Yeah, to me, these are always my favorite types of episodes in other shows is the kind of like backstory episodes where you can find out [Jeremy affirms.] about side characters and-and stuff like that.
Jeremy It's really satisfying.
Bryan I-I have to confess, I was, you know, when we were pitching this story early on, I was a little worried that we were going to have too much backstory in season three, and that maybe we-we weren't moving the, the plot forward enough. But, uh, this, you know, I'm really, really happy with how this whole episode came out on every level, and-and uh, I think in the end the... t-the whole backstory thing, [Benjamin gives affirming murmur intermittently.] the way it's tied in so closely with, with Zuko and Aang's relationships to what's going on and the-the world that they were each handed, I think it, it really enriches their story and their struggle, and-and the, the context that they exist in. So, you know, I-I was happy to be proven wrong, I'm really, [Jeremy chuckles.] really happy with-with what everyone did.
Benjamin [Refers to Zuko's storyline of deciphering what the secret messages he receives are actually about.] And Zuko's got quite, quite a story in this one, doesn't he?
Bryan [Gives an affirming murmur; refers to the invisible ink on the message to Zuko.] I'm just trying to imagine Uncle with like some lemon... you know, lemon ink, like writing that little [Jeremy laughs; Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] letter in jail. [Benjamin and Jeremy laugh; brief pause.] This-then, obviously, Ben, when we get to act three, that's just a sound design [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] like extravaganza [Jeremy affirms.] with the whole volcano thing, that was...
Jeremy [In the background.] It was great.
Bryan ... just wall to wall. [Bryan and Jeremy laugh.]  
Benjamin It's a sound smorgasborg. [Brief pause.] I feel like I'm just getting-I'm watching it too much. [Mike and Bryan laugh.]
Jeremy Yeah, could you guys not talk for a while, [Benjamin laughs.] I just want to watch this.
Bryan [Laughs.] Ho-hopefully that's a good sign.
Benjamin [Laughs.] Yeah.
Mike So, is it, is it kind of weird for you guys to work-I know you guys work separately kind of, Ben doing the sound, [Jeremy gives an affirming murmur.] and Jeremy doing the music, like, 'cause you were watching the episode with just sound, is that ever [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] kind of weird, you're like wondering what the music's going to sound like, or...
Benjamin Well generally, um, they really compliment each other in that, um, I'm always, uh-uh-you know it's not that weird to work to without music, but then when the music comes in it's like a whole new world, and it always comes together so well. So, eh-you know, it's-it's not that weird, but um, it's always a nice surprise.
Jeremy Yeah, I think we've learned to sort of, you know, anticipate what the other one's going to do. [Mike affirms.] I think we, you know, really kind of understand each other's styles at this point. In the beginning, I think it was little more difficult, and it was probably a little harder to mix too. I think [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] we-we both did a-probably a little more, left a little less room for each other. And now I think we can sort of like say, okay, this is going to be more like, you know, sound design moment, [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] sound design will carry the narrative here, or the music will carry here, you know.
Bryan But I remember we, early on we talked about that, because [Jeremy affirms.] for, at least for this studio and I think most shows, it's pretty rare to get a team that does sound design and music, [Benjamin affirms.] and um, you guys did the pilot together, you-you did both, [Benjamin and Jeremy affirm.] but it was just-just the, the grind and the schedule of doing a whole series, you know, is why it was split up, as you know. [Jeremy affirms.] And um, but, I mean you, and luckil-you know, you guys used to in the same room [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] for a lot of...
Benjamin [Interjects.] The first season. [Bryan affirms.]
Bryan ... yeah, for the first season.
Jeremy That's true, it was totally crazy.
Benjamin Season and a half, or something?
Bryan Yeah.
Jeremy Yeah, yeah, it was crazy.
Benjamin I work on headphones. [Laughs.]
Jeremy Poor Ben's in there with headphones.
Bryan Yeah. But I mean, I think even just the fact that you guys [Jeremy affirms intermittently.] aren't fighting each other, you respect that like, okay, you know, we're going to need to make room for this or that, and you know, you guys do communicate [Benjamin affirms.] as you go. So, I think-I mean, it is a pretty unique situation, as far as I know...
Jeremy Well...
Bryan ... [Interjects.] on a TV production.
Jeremy ... well, we...
Benjamin [Interjects.] Yeah.
Jeremy ... you know, we-yeah, we both, you know, we both do understand music and sound, 'cause in our own sort of endeavors, we sort of think of music and sound as the same thing. Um, so, it's-it's not really a leap for either one of us to understand the other-what the other one is doing.
Benjamin Yeah. I mean I kind of got into sound design through music, [Jeremy affirms.] um, and just really liking to play around with sound and-and manipulate it and et cetera. And so my own music is, you know, has-has qualities that are similar to sound design.
Jeremy [Refers to the theme playing as Zuko reads Sozin's personal testimony.] So, here's this Zuko, you know, discovering this-the backstory theme, keeps coming back, that cellist.
Mike He's like, [Imitates Zuko.] why does this music keep playing in my head? [Benjamin laughs.]
Jeremy [Laughs; imitates Zuko.] Oh, I'm insane!
Mike [Imitates Zuko.] Can't get it out of my head. [Jeremy laughs; refers to the profile shot of Zuko dissolving into a profile shot of Roku.] I love that little transition, uh, [Jeremy gives an affirming murmur.] where from Zuko to Roku, a little foreshadowing...
Jeremy Right.
Mike ... la-to later, where you find out that uh, Roku is in fact...
Bryan [Interjects.] Related.
Mike ... one of Zuko's great grandfathers.
Jeremy Right.
Bryan [Brief pause; refers to the sixteen year old Roku.] I thought this wa-casting of this voice was really spot-on. He's got this same kind of voice quality as the-the normal Roku that we're used to. [Jeremy and Benjamin give affirming murmurs.]
Mike Yeah, that was, Maryanne Dacey did a great job uh, you know, we gave her a big challenge, which was to cast all these different ages of the same character, and we went through a couple rounds, uh, of trying to find just the right, the right voices and stuff. And uh, I think they all blended pretty well, and you believe that old Roku could've sounded like that when he was younger. [Jeremy gives an affirming murmur.]
Bryan Yeah, it's-I mean, it's a challenge because it's not that someone might not be a good actor, it's that do they sound like, you know, this continuous character at a specific age that matches what the character design, and...
Mike [Refers to Aang mounting Roku's dragon in the Spirit World, mimicking the same action in the material world as though he were squatting, causing the rest of Team Avatar to think he's going to the bathroom.] That's my favorite poo joke on this one. [Jeremy laughs.]
Bryan That's one of the only poo...
Mike Yeah. We don't do a lot of jokes...
Jeremy That's it, we need to rewind that, [Jeremy and Benjamin laugh.] re-watch it. [Refers to the trombone playing in the theme.] That trombone is just like kind of droll.
Benjamin I know, it really-it's-it's really accurate. [Laughs.]
Mike We try-we try and stay away from [Benjamin laughs intermittently.] the-the poo and fart jokes, [Jeremy affirms.] but uh, yeah, once in a while...
Jeremy [Interjects.] You know...
Mike ... it's-it's okay.
Jeremy ... that was a quality one.
Mike [Simultaneously with Benjamin.] Yeah.
Benjamin [Simultaneously with Mike.] Yeah.
Bryan It's part of life.
Benjamin I-I was thinking it's gotta be kind of weird for you guys, because you watch this, you've probably seen it so many times at all the various stages of completion, [Jeremy gives an affirming murmur.] so I wonder, you know, what it's like for you guys to see it...
Bryan But we...
Benjamin ... [Interjects.] finally done.
Bryan ... but we, at least I-speaking for myself, I'm imagining the music from the moment we [Benjamin gives affirming murmurs intermittently.] are storyboarding even. Um...
Benjamin [Interjects.] Wow, that's cool.
Bryan ... or even before that. I mean, um... I think that's part of uh... I don't know, is-especially the more episodes we make, you get a better idea, [Benjamin affirms.] when you start coming up with an idea of, you know, pretty close to what it could look like. Um, and we just have so many talented people along the way who can, can manifest those, those ideas. So, um, you know, a-as-as you guys know, we s-we go through pretty detailed spotting meeting with you guys, [Benjamin affirms.] where-where we have the, the silent version of the episode, and we, Mike and I, sit down with the foley a-artists and uh, Ben and Jeremy and we just, just talk about what we were going for, or any feelings or concerns about the scene, or do motions, or any ideas. But its, I-you know, Mike and I always get... so excited-I think it's more like a... like, [Gives a sigh of relief.] finally, it has the m-music and the sound [Jeremy chuckles.] and the foley that it deserves. [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.]  
Mike Yeah. For me, yeah, you're right, we've seen it like, we've been working on it for, you know, eight months or something by that point after you guys have done the music. So, to hear all the sound and music together finally, it's like, it's like hearing the finished product, and it-it kind of reinvigorates my excitement for the episode, [Jeremy affirms.] because by that point I'm like burnt out on [Bryan laughs.] the story [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] or whatever, I'm like, [In a concerned tone.] is this episode even good? [Benjamin laughs.] I-I don't know, and then I hear the music, I'm like, [In an excited tone.] oh, this is awesome.
Benjamin [Laughs.] That's so cool.
Jeremy [Brief pause; refers to the string instrument playing in the theme as Roku offers his earthbending teacher, Sud, some tea.] There's the guzheng.
Bryan Now-yeah, why don't you tell people about that instrument.
Jeremy Okay, it's a-it's a uh, that one is a twenty-one stringed Chinese uh, zither-like instrument. It's-it's a lot like a harp, it lies, um, horizontally, and you pluck with your right hand and you can do all these sort of articulations with your left hand, um, like, you know, like bending the pitches, or doing, you know, various vibratos, or just these subtle sort of little details, uh...
Bryan Now is this...
Jeremy ... [In the background.] rest notes.
Bryan ... something that you, is this something you've played before Avatar, or?
Jeremy No, this was something I learned specifically for Avatar, and I um, studied uh, studying with this amazing master, uh, this w-this woman, Celia Liu, who also uh, has been teaching me, um, pipa, which is a Chinese, um, like a lute, like a guitar. Both of these instruments are thousands of years old. Um, not my particular instruments, [Bryan and Mike laugh.] those are probably about a year old. [Bryan, Mike and Jeremy laugh.] But uh, yeah, they're really amazing, really, really cool instruments, really just beautiful.
Bryan So, that's pretty cool as a, I mean, I've-I've known you for years, and you're a-an amazing multi-instrumentalist, but...
Jeremy [Interjects.] Shucks.
Bryan ... [Laughs.] it's gotta be pretty cool that the, the show has led you to these-I mean, would you have ever played...
Jeremy [In the background.] Never.
Bryan ... these instruments, or?  
Jeremy Naw, naw, I really wouldn't, so it-it really is, you know, an amazing thing. It was sort of just like, you know, a little gift the show gave, to be able to sort of indulge myself in-in learning these instruments.
Bryan And now you, you enjoy playing them, right?  
Jeremy Yeah, definitely.
Bryan These... yeah. Yeah.
Benjamin And there's also where there's the duduk, and uh, [Bryan gives an affirming murmur.] qin.
Bryan Armenian, [Jeremy affirms.] Zen Armenian, is it a double reed, or?
Jeremy Yeah. [Bryan affirms.] Yes, a little bit like an oboe, another very, you know, old instrument. It's, you know, I always say it's just like, it's what wood sounds like, you know, it's really simple. That's uh, Zuko, you know, his instrument a lot is a-is a-is the duduk. [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.]
Bryan [Refers to the wide shot of Roku and Sozin walking along the palace balcony, everything completely silhouetted by the fading sunlight.] I love that shot, [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] it's a great shot. Oh-Oh Seung Hyun...
Jeremy [Interjects.] Yeah, this whole scene is really nice.
Bryan ... storyboarded that.
Benjamin So, I wonder if people are curious about the overall lifespan of an episode, um, [Bryan gives an affirming murmur.] you know, the various stages how... [Jeremy gives an affirming murmur.]
Bryan People are always shocked, no matter how many times we say it in an interview, they're always shocked, like, "oh, how long does it take to make an episode", and you say, "oh, nine to ten months", and their just, jaws drop open, [Benjamin affirms intermittently.] and it's crazy. So, how long do you guys have?
Benjamin Mmm...
Jeremy [Interjects.] Two weeks from the day we spot...
Benjamin Ten days? [Laughs.]
Jeremy ... but in reality, since we have revisions and other things, uh, probably s-seven days.
Benjamin I'm like-like a day and a half. [Bryan and Mike laugh.]
Jeremy We do it in half an hour, we do it in real time actually. [Benjamin affirms.]
Bryan Real time. [Jeremy affirms.]
Mike That's the most...
Benjamin [Interjects.] Actually, people ask us how, how we work together, and-and I always tell 'em it... people don't-lit-few people know this, but Jeremy just calls me up on the phone, and does all of the sound effects in real time with his voice.
Jeremy It's true, this is true.
Benjamin Maybe-maybe a little bit later...
Jeremy Yeah, we'll give you a demonstration. [Mike laughs.]  
Benjamin ... [In the background.] and maybe a bit later we'll show you what he does well.
Jeremy Like, we'll give him the good stuff.
Bryan [Imitating Jeremy doing sound effects; in descending volume.] Footstep, footstep, footstep. [Jeremy, Benjamin and Bryan laugh.]
Mike Well, that's what's amazing is you guys have such a short amount of time to create this whole score, which, you know, in an episode like this is really like a movie in its' like wall to wall [Benjamin affirms.] sound and music...
Benjamin [Interjects.] It's...
Mike ... that you guys are able to produce this [Benjamin affirms.] amazing quality in such a short amount of time.
Jeremy Well, it's-it's definitely, uh... yeah, I mean definitely, you know, every time is sort of like, [In a mock traumatized tone.] will this be, you know, the one that breaks my mind? [Everyone laughs.]
Bryan Well, we always, when we do this-the next spot, it's always, you know a few hours...
Benjamin [In the background; laughs.] Yeah. I know.
Bryan ... after you finished the previous show, and you guys are always [Benjamin laughs; Jeremy affirms.] like, "really, you want to talk about a new episode?"
Benjamin I know.
Jeremy That's the one thing we never, you know, we don't really get to sort of-sort of sit back and enjoy it until later, but that's cool. [Bryan chuckles.] Sort of raise the bar, you know. [Benjamin affirms.]  
Bryan Kind of forget all the amazing work you've done.
Jeremy Yeah, well, I don't... [Laughs.]
Benjamin I mean, televi-I think working for television is a specific skill that you have to sort of hone [Jeremy affirms.] and get better at. And-and it has to do with the highest results possible for the-for a short amount of time. [Jeremy affirms.]  
Bryan [Refers to the sequence of Roku destroying Sozin's throne room.] So, any, any notes about the sound design here, Ben?
Benjamin Um... some big...
Jeremy [Interjects; refers to gusting wind sound effect as Roku airbends Sozin across the throne room.] What was that crazy air-airbending sound?
Benjamin Oh god, all these sounds are probably so many different things mixed, mixed together. Uh, I think that was, that was just a wind, you know, when you sort of ride the envel-the uh, envelope of it. I think it was, uh, bass that I probably um, sort of low p-I took out the high end of an explosion for the bass, and then I think there might even be some voice from, when-when Jeremy and I did the pilot, we'd actually did do a lot of the sounds with our voice, and I think, I still use those all the time for firebending and for airbending too.
Bryan And then you do like, like digital signal processing to...
Benjamin Right, yeah, like you could take, I don't know, the sound of our voice, you know, doing some gesture and modify that to actually sound like wind or fire.
Bryan That's cool.
Jeremy And we actually um...
Benjamin [Interjects.] Maybe we could test for this. [Laughs.]
Jeremy ... sort of made some of our own software for the, [Benjamin affirms.] for the um, for the show.
Bryan That's why we hired you guys. [Jeremy laughs.]
Mike [In a mock questioning tone.] Oh, really?
Bryan You're-you're just nerdy enough to write your own software.
Jeremy Right, seriously. [Benjamin laughs.] Getting nerdier [Bryan chuckles.] every day too. [Benjamin affirms.]
Mike What does-what does the software do? It...
Jeremy Uh, well it's, it's this program called SuperCollider, and uh...
Bryan [Interjects.] Which they didn't write.
Jeremy ... no, we didn't write that program, but it's-it's basically like a text, an audio sort of, um, programming environment, and it's all, you know, text-based. So, it's sort of like, you know, like um...
Bryan [Interjects.] It's like GOLD DOS, like you have to...
Jeremy ... well, it's-it's sort-it's sort of...
Bryan ... write-write your own code, you know.
Jeremy ... like a-like a s-language called Smalltalk, a little bit like C++, or something like that, you know, so diff-but we have these programs up there.
Bryan You-you know, Mike. You know C++, right?
Mike Yeah, I know. Kids are going to love this.
Jeremy [Laughs.] The-the f-yeah, exactly. [Mike laughs.] Uh, basically it's just, I don't know, SOAP en-engine, it's so hard to describe all this.
Benjamin Oh, I mean the patches that uh, we did for this.
Jeremy Oh, like uh, we did-well we made like kinda a texture patch, right? We used that, which is...
Benjamin [Interjects.] Yeah, I use that all the time. Actually, uh, in 310 I used that a lot, and basically it uh, if you have one sound, it will make it into a lot of sounds by playing it back at various rates and various panning positions and pitches and uh...
Jeremy Various times in the file.
Mike Yeah, so it makes like a s-a small sound sound like a huge...
Benjamin Yeah, in-in um...
Mike ... bigger sound. [Jeremy affirms.]
Benjamin ... [Refers to the sequence of Roku trying to contain a volcanic eruption, explosion sound effects playing in the background.] in the battle where there was going to be just um, you know, explosions going on all the time in the background, so in other words, you don't see the action, but it's implied that the battle is still going on. I basically took a-a whole folder of explosions, brought it into this, in this patch, and um, and it sort of generates a-a nice random natural sounding, um, bed of activity.
Jeremy Right.
Mike [Refers to the multiple sound effects that represent the erupting volcano, lava flows, landslides, and sudden spouts of gas.] So, in-in like a scene like this, which has tons of sound design and, you know, obviously lots of music too, like how many separate tracks is-are there, in...
Benjamin [Interjects.] Um, well for me, there's about twenty-two.
Mike Wow.
Jeremy And for me, this was like pretty full orchestral [Mike affirms.] thing, so there's, you know, you got all the different sort of instrument-instrument groups of the orchestra...
Bryan [In the background.] And Ben, how...
Jeremy ... um, and percussion, and stuff like that, so. [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.]
Bryan ... Ben, how many sounds, individual sounds, like audio files, will you load into one episode? One project?
Benjamin Oh man. I wish I knew that, its, sometimes I think I should-I should print [Laughs; Bryan affirms.] screenshots from these sessions, 'cause they're almost like a... strange artwork. [Jeremy laughs.] I mean, I don't-I don't mean it like, I don't mean it that, you know, that it's...
Bryan It's like abstract.
Benjamin ... it's artistic, but yeah, it's just-just so much information going on that it's uh, kind of interesting. I don't-I mean every sound is made up of...
Bryan [Interjects.] Multiple layers, yeah.
Benjamin ... you know, at least two, three, four other sounds and, you know, like explosions are never just one sound. All-all of these things are-are layered and layered and layered. So, it's a whole lot, I-maybe I'll go back and count.
Bryan [Laughs.] So, on Avatar...
Benjamin [In the background.] I'm sorry.
Bryan ... I mean, one of the challenges is we always said we wanted, even though they're doing fantastic type things, we wanted them to sound realistic, [Benjamin and Jeremy affirm intermittently.] and-and so, [Refers to Roku cooling the erupting lava with an airbending "breath".] like just that moment where Roku cools a bunch of lava instantly with some frosty breath. I mean, it's like, you know, [In a tone that indicates how seeming obvious it is.] what that sounds like.    
Benjamin [Laughs.] Right.
Jeremy [In the background.] It has to be believable.
Bryan It's like something no one could've ever heard, but...
Benjamin Right. It's funny too 'cause it's um... that's the kind of s-I mean that sound design I think can be harder than other kinds, where-I mean abstract sound design in some ways is easier to do because there's various ways to do the same thing, there's various right answers. But when something is supposed to sound totally natural, there's, there's only one answer...
Bryan [Interjects; laughs.] Yeah.
Benjamin ... so, I kind of have to, you have to find it.
Jeremy [Brief pause.] Yeah, because you're working with the technology to make these sounds, but you won't-you don't want to hear the technology. [Bryan affirms.]      
Benjamin Yeah, I mean that's the funny thing too is that wh-if you-if, if it's done properly, it doesn't even sound like sound design, it just sounds [Jeremy affirms.] like what they're doing.
Jeremy Right.
A brief pause in commentary until Roku and Sozin combine their efforts to stop the lava flows and toxic fumes pouring out of the volcano, with taiko drum beats sounding in the background theme.
Jeremy There are the trusty taiko drums that we, we-we uh, recorded.
Bryan Yeah, you guys recorded [Jeremy affirms.] a real taiko group, right? [Jeremy affirms.]  
Benjamin Yeah. Capitol Studios, baby. [Jeremy laughs.]
Bryan So, it's, I would say, you know, like the fact that, you know, Jeremy, you're learning these instruments, and performing 'em, and with a T-with the schedule of like TV shows, my guess is that it's pretty rare TV composers even play actual instruments for their scores. I mean, they're just usually just using MIDI, right? Just because of the...
Jeremy [In the background.] Uh...
Bryan ... the time constraints?
Jeremy ... yeah, they either-or, I guess they hire people a lot, but we're too cheap to hire anyone. [Everyone laughs.]
Benjamin What, you mean players?
Jeremy Right, yeah.
Benjamin I mean, even timing wise, it-it's-it would be rea-it's hard... [Jeremy affirms.]
Bryan [Interjects.] I think it would be just to...
Benjamin ... hard as-as-right.
Bryan ... schedule them. Even live action shows, I mean, they crank those things out.
Jeremy I know that with a lot of shows, what they'll do is they'll hire a, you know, a-a-a player, an instrumentalist to come in and just record tons of material, and they'll just sort of like use it throughout the, you know, product...
Bryan [Gives an affirming murmur.] Just splice themes together and stuff.
Jeremy ... the season. Yeah, and just sort of like use it as source material.
Benjamin What else is live. A lot of the drums are live, a lot of kalimba, [Jeremy affirms.] thumb piano.
Jeremy Yeah. Yeah, there's a little...
Benjamin [Interjects.] Oh, and cello, you got some cello keys as well.
Jeremy Yeah, I use cello a lot just for like, you know, 'cause I'm not a good-I can't play cello very well, [Laughs.] at all, so I use it for scary sounds.
Bryan And...    
Jeremy [Interjects.] Straight to the bow, and...
Bryan [Refers to the newborn Aang.] And then...
Jeremy [Interjects.] Aang. [Bryan chuckles; in a gushy sweet tone.] Aang is born. [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur; refers to the scene transitioning from Roku's death to Aang's birth.] I love that transition though, it's...
Bryan [Interjects.] And flute, you've done some amazing flute performances.
Jeremy Right, yeah, with my ten dollar uh, Chinese flutes, [Benjamin chuckles.] yep.
A brief pause in commentary until the elderly Sozin starts narrating his plans to invade the rest of the world, eradicate the Air Nomads with the power of the comet, and hunt down the new Avatar.
Bryan And this is... his voice, Mike?  
Mike Uh... this was, I'm blanking on his name.
Bryan Ron Perlman.
Mike [Laughs.] Ron Perlman. [Mike and Bryan laugh.]
Benjamin Oh, it is, that's cool.
Mike Yeah, [Bryan affirms.] he-he played the ol-this older Sozin character.
Bryan So great. I-I just...
Benjamin [Interjects.] He is great.
Bryan ... [Refers to Sozin's melancholy tone as he recounts his actions.] I love the depth he adds to that. I like when bad guys are more, I mean he's a bad guy, but, you know, he's got this interesting story, and where he came from. [Benjamin affirms; refers to the underwater tilt shot as the camera pans from the underside of a Fire Nation ship passing by a glacier in the South Pole, down to the depths of the water, where Aang and Appa lie encased in ice.] Oh, actually Ben, the background to [Benjamin affirms.] that pan was taken from a photograph you took in Antarctica. [Benjamin and Jeremy affirm.] I'd flipped it upside down, and... 'cause it was an iceberg, but I needed an underwater one, so I think I inverted it, and flipped it upside down...
Benjamin [Interjects.] Yeah, that's so cool.
Bryan ...  and I said, hey Ben, I used your photo. [Everyone laughs.] Thanks.
Benjamin I asked-I asked for ten thousand dollars. [Bryan, Jeremy and Benjamin laugh.]  
Jeremy [Refers to the lack of music during Zuko and Iroh's scene together.] One of the, uh, the rare moments in the episode where there's no music.
Mike Yeah, which was...
Jeremy [Interjects.] Uh... [Laughs.]  
Mike ... which was good.
Jeremy It's nice...
Mike [In the background.] Yeah-yeah, it's been...
Jeremy ... gives you sort of a breath.
Mike ... yeah, yeah. [Refers to Iroh speaking for the first time since his imprisonment.] And also, this is, this was the first time Uncle has spoken, uh...
Benjamin [Interjects.] That's right.
Mike ... in season three.
Benjamin Big moment.
Bryan To make room for that.
Benjamin Exactly.
Bryan Sonically.
Mike Yeah. [Refers to Iroh.] Um, and this is uh, Greg Baldwin, who took over for the late Mako, who uh, originally [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] played, played Uncle, and uh, he does a great job just capturing Mako's spirit and, and voice and stuff.
Benjamin [Gives an affirming murmur.] Was that a hard search to undertake?  
Mike Uh, it ended up being much easier than we thought [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] it was going to be, it was actually like the second guy who auditioned...
Benjamin Oh, wow.        
Mike ... and uh, he had, he had uh, kinda studied Mako's voice, [Benjamin affirms.] uh, for-years ago. So, he was familiar with, with how Mako performed already.
Jeremy He-he had studied him for a different project.
Bryan Yeah. Yeah, he'd...
Jeremy [Interjects.] Broad-for...
Bryan ... M-Mako had started a Broadway, uh, production, and there were recordings of this, and [Jeremy gives an affirming murmur.] Greg had-had, had that same role when he was young, and he had, so he had, yeah, spent all this time admiring and studying Mako's... [Benjamin gives an affirming murmur.] voice.
Mike Who knew years later, [Bryan, Benjamin and Jeremy affirm.] he would, he would take over for him.
Bryan And, um, believe it or not, it was actually pitched, uh, it was just part of the writing that we were doing. Um, we were doing the uh, the writing retreat for season three, we had already written that-that Uncle wasn't going speak for several episodes, um, [Jeremy gives an affirming murmur.] it, and uh, very-it was very tragic and sad that Mako passed, but it had-had actually just coincided with what he had already planned. Um, which just for, you know, our little production made it a little bit easier to take time to, to find someone, and...
Benjamin Right, you guys hadn't planned on having him speak any earlier than, than this episode.
Bryan Yeah, I mean, that was just, that was-story wise that was just the case, [Refers to Iroh ignoring Zuko during his prior visits.] Uncle was [Benjamin affirms.] very disappointed in Zuko, and... sort of giving him tough love by not speaking to him. [Benjamin affirms.] So, um... but, we, you know, we of course miss Mako, he was amazing, and he...
Benjamin He was.
Bryan [Refers to Sokka initially neglecting to hold hands with the rest of Team Avatar, skeptical on the belief that friendships that transcend an individual's life can exist.] This is one of my [Laughs.] favorite moments, this anim-the timing.
Benjamin [Laughs.] I love this too, the...
Jeremy [Laughs.] Yeah.
A brief pause in commentary until Sokka, a few seconds after getting some impatient encouragement from Katara and without a change to his skeptic expression, quickly grabs Katara's outstretched hand, to which Bryan, Jeremy and Benjamin laugh.
Bryan That's perfect.
Benjamin Yeah, that's so good.
Bryan It's a nice light ending to a heavy episode.
Benjamin Wow, that was a whole episode, wow.
Mike Yeah, goes by fast, right?  
Jeremy [In the background.] That's right.
Benjamin Yep, sure does. [Mike laughs.]  
Bryan Thanks guys, thanks for all the...
Benjamin [Interjects.] Thank you.
Jeremy [In the background.] Thanks for having us.
Bryan ... crazy, great sound and music, and...
Benjamin It's been a great journey.
Jeremy Sure has.
Bryan Well, let's talk about another episode.
Benjamin [Simultaneously with Jeremy.] Alright.
Jeremy [Simultaneously with Benjamin.] Alright. Let's do them all.
Mike Thanks everybody.  


See also