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Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion, Kristopher Carter Featured Guests At “PlayFest,” New Interview

The Dynamic Music Partners team has played an integral role in the world of animation since their inception, and now they’re getting the center stage!

The BSOSpirit Association – organizing the first edition of PlayFest, the music, animation and video games festival which will be held in Úbeda from the 23rd to the 29th July 2012 – has announced the attendance of Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion and Kristopher Carter (Dynamic Music Partners), the trio that met while working for the great Shirley Walker on the animated TV series Batman: The Animated Series, to the highly-anticipated festival. Michael, Kristopher and Lolita have been writing music for TV, film, video games and the concert hall for over fifteen years, receiving numerous Emmy nominations and receiving the award in 2001 for their work on the series Batman Beyond. Among their credits are the animated series The New Adventures of Batman and Superman, Batman Beyond, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans, Legion of Super Heroes, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Batman: The Brave And The Bold and the recent Young Justice. All of them have obtained great critical and commercial success.

After years of composing together they discovered the virtues of joining forces, and in 2004 they founded Dynamic Music Partners and have worked as a team ever since.

All of them have shown their talent on solo projects, but certainly they have proven that their work together is much more than the sum of their talents. BSOSpirit is honored to welcome such experienced musicians in the world of animation, calling it a luxury to add their names to the lineup of guests for PlayFest. Click here for the PlayFest website.

Dynamic Music Partners sat down with The World’s Finest to discuss their upcoming appearance at Playfest and what they have in store! Take it away…


The World’s Finest: First off, Dynamic Music Partners (DMP) will be guests at Play Fest 2012 in Ubeda, Spain. Can you give us a quick low-down on what Play Fest is?

Lolita Ritmanis: PlayFest is a festival celebrating music for animation and video games. During the week of July 23rd through the 29th the Andalucian town of Úbeda will be buzzing, as fans of music for animation and video games flock to this relatively small town. The concert on Saturday, July 28th will feature music for animation and video games, performed by an 80-piece orchestra and a 60-voice choir. The outdoor setting for the concert is quite spectacular. During the week there will be an array of workshops and panels for fans as well as for composers. We are honored to be invited to this festival. We will be conducting our music at the concert on the 28th, as well as sharing our music during several panels that we will be participating in.

WF: Do you know what material you’ll be drawing from for your appearance at Play Fest? You will also be part of a panel discussion – can you fill us in on that?

Kristopher Carter: We will be presenting the world premiere performance of suites from Batman and Mr. Freeze: Subzero, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, a brand new suite from Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, as well as selections from our television themes and scores to Batman: The Brave and The Bold, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Ben10. For the panels, we will present a master class for young composers on film scoring techniques, a panel showcasing a cross-section of music from the many popular shows we have worked on over the years and we will also participate in a discussion honoring our mentor Shirley Walker.

WF: You’ll be honoring Shirley Walker at PlayFest. Can you share with us her role in DMP’s creation and how she remains an influence even today? How do you plan to honor her at PlayFest?

Michael McCuistion: If it weren’t for Shirley, the three of us certainly would never have been working together as closely as we have been. Although Shirley wasn’t directly involved in the formation of DMP, she definitely had an influence in that we developed similar work styles and approaches while being mentored by her. By the time we formed DMP we were already very compatible in the way we approached scoring a project. We don’t know any specific details about her tribute at PlayFest, but I’m so happy that we’ll be able to be there to experience it along with all the other people who love her and miss her and her music so much.

WF: Now, we basically know the story of how DMP came together. How do you stay together, choose your projects, and basically plan ahead? Is it always a unanimous decision?

LR: We take pride in running a well-oiled machine. First and foremost are the relationships we build with our clients. We take great care to plan our music spotting sessions and music preview sessions so that we can collaborate in a very personal way with the producers of the show. We never phone it in. We choose our projects, but truthfully, the way it works is that the producers of the projects choose us. Very rarely does a project get handed to us. In this era, there are many people on the creative team of a series that need to weigh in on the choice of composers. We meticulously plan pretty much every phase of our work process. We have not yet run into a situation where the decision to accept work has been anything other than a unanimous decision.

WF: A couple of your recent projects were so…opposite of each other. Batman: The Brave and The Bold and Young Justice. Could you run down your approach to both of those series, and how their unique tones set up some very unique score work from DMP? In particular, what was your inspiration for Young Justice’s score.

KC: As a series, Batman: The Brave and The Bold painted a version of Batman that was lighter than some of the other animated incarnations we have scored, freely mixing comedy with the expected mystery, danger and action. There was an unmistakable element of fun in the show that we could not ignore as we created the music, and we felt that a more jazzy approach would bring the right energy and still have the stylistic latitude to be ominous and dangerous when the scenes needed it. And, of course, we needed bongo drums! Producer James Tucker asked that bongos be used in the score as a rhythmic element to drive the action scenes. Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti, the producers of Young Justice, had a particular vision of the way they wanted music to work with the scenes and specific emotions they wanted to evoke, and so we all had discussions together on a unique approach to scoring that show. We placed an emphasis on ethnic percussion, non-melodic sounds and ambient textures to capture the gritty, edgy covert-ops world of our young heroes.

WF: Just to touch upon Young Justice again for a moment, your score work here is unlike anything you’ve done before. Is this something you seek out when deciding projects, how to challenge yourself? Can you run us through some of your most challenging projects today, be it in animation live-action, or beyond?

MM: When Brandon and Greg came to us with their ideas about the look and feel of Young Justice, we were instantly excited about the opportunity to do something different with the score. With a career that spans many years it’s important that inspiration remains fresh. So, for each new production that we score, we definitely strive to create a unique sound that musically identifies that project. Then, within that sound, we have the freedom to do many subtle things while exploring the musical details of that universe. For example, we recently scored a live-action feature film called Broke Sky that had southern blues guitar gestures as the main musical element but then gradually departs from that as the story develops. And we just finished a short live-action film called Game Day in which the underscore is almost entirely marching band source, eventually evolving into an underscore/source hybrid by the end of the film. We really enjoy finding a unique musical sound for each project that will be different and unusual and stimulate us creatively.

WF: How does a show or movie’s character influence your musical choices. The Spectacular Spider-Man’s score had a great youthful exuberance to it, Justice League felt heroic, Batman Beyond was edgy and dirty. How much research and input do you get from a show’s creative team when deciding how you approach a score? What role do you want your score to play when approaching these shows?

LR: We research a show in great detail before we embark on the process of composition. Often the producer of the show will have some idea of the direction he wants to take with the project. We have yet to work on a series where we have a completely blank canvas concept wise. Creatively it is hard work to fine tune what the vibe of the show will be. This is a collaborative process all the way. When the choices we make in the composing process hit the mark for the producer, it is a very powerful feeling. We are not mind readers, but we certainly have learned a great deal about what kind of questions to ask.

WF: To quickly touch upon it, DMP has also done some video game work. How complicated is it to create a score for a video game as opposed to a television show or movie? What do you have to take into account in this arena that you wouldn’t anywhere else?

KC: Our approach to video games isn’t nearly as different from film scoring as one might expect. Like a film, music for games also needs to give the project a strong, uniquely-identifyable sound, be well-produced and recorded, and compositionally interesting. The main difference has to do with the non-linear nature of games—you have to keep in mind certain sections may not play in the same sequence as originally conceived, or also that they might loop for a long period of time based on the way the players interact with the game.

MM: Another difference is that the final rendering of the game is often not complete until after the music has been delivered. So, rather than working to a picture which has been carefully timed and edited and is rich with acting and expression, we rely much more on the story of the game itself and our idea of what the final visuals will eventually become. The wonderful thing about that is that with each game we’ve been involved with the visuals and final product turned out way better than we could have ever imagined!

WF: Also, DMP has been credited with doing some work on the DC comics theatrical logos and the like. I imagine finding the right cuts and sound for a brief 15 or 30 second logo is exceedingly difficult, maybe even more so than scoring an episode. Can you briefly give us an idea of how you score one of these logo animations? What choices and decisions do you have to make, and is it a long approval process, when coming up with small snippets of music?

MM: Any project that has a very small amount of music with extremely high visibility and featured profile requires a very different process than scoring under dialog and action. Generally, we will score these types of projects as a group, with each of us bringing our separate ideas together to form the finished theme. It’s a lot like songwriting, with the three of us in a room at the same time all contributing to the flow of the writing. Since these pieces are generally very short, often nowadays five seconds or less, each note and each sound becomes very important. So, we examine and re-examine what we’ve done before we submit it. Then, usually several committees of people will have input on what they’re hearing from us, and there will be a multi-tiered back-and-forth process with us doing revisions based on continuing feedback until everyone is satisfied. It’s tedious, but when you’re able to experience the music being featured on screen without any sound effects or dialog, it’s ultimately rewarding.

WF: A bit off-topic-ish, but fans are clamoring to for more scores from Batman: The Animated Series – among other DC animated programs – to be released. Any words of advice on what we can do to let Warner Bros. know there is a huge market for this? Is there any bit of your work you’d particularly like to see released on CD/download?

LR: I can tell you that the clamoring has been heard. La-La Land records will be releasing several of the titles that the fans have been asking for. It is a very exciting time for us in that regard. Stay tuned!

WF: To bring it back to where we started off, and I know you kind of already answered this, but any chance some of the above mentioned shows will be highlighted during Play Fest 2012? Any last words to let the fans know why they shouldn’t miss this great event, with the DMP crew conducting on July 27th?

KC: Yes, most of the ones mentioned above will be! We’re so excited with the opportunity to share our music in this venue with the outstanding orchestra and choir. One of the most compelling reasons to attend this festival is that fans will be able to experience some of their favorite music in “better-than-stereo LIVE” that can’t be heard anywhere in the world outside of the shows for which it was originally composed. We hope to see you there!


Click here for the more details on the PlayFest event.

The World’s Finest would like to thank Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion & Kristopher Carter – Dynamic Music Partners – for their participation in this Q&A.



Click on the above images for a closer look!

The above interview is also available to read through the The World’s Finest website.

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The Track Team Talks Scoring The “DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts” Line

Jeremy Zuckerman recently took time to discuss the work of the acclaimed music and sound design production company The Track Team, which he co-founded in 2004 with Benjamin Wynn, on the recent DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts line from Warner Home Video and DC Entertainment. Zuckerman and Wynn composed the music for the entire series of shorts, just one of their recent many projects in the realm of film and television.

And now, La-La Land Records has just released Original Soundtracks from the DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts on compact disc, collecting The Track Team’s entire works for the direct-to-video shorts. The Limited Edition release is now available through official La-La Land Records website and other online soundtrack specialty stores. Please continue below for the Q & A.

The World’s Finest: First off, care to introduce yourself and some of your past works?

Jeremy Zuckerman: I’ve been working in TV/Film since 2001. My first project came to me via a friend at BMI and was an ambitious short called Radius. Shortly after I began working for a company doing composition, sound design and audio engineering for commercials. After doing some time in the trenches I landed a gig composing the score to the TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender. That turned out to be a really excellent learning experience and really got my TV chops together. Currently, Ben and I are composing the score for the forthcoming TV series Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Outside of scoring, I’ve recently finished a dance piece for the Scottish Dance Theatre called Khaos; it makes use of traditional instrumentation as well as computer processing.

WF: How did you get on board for DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts. Are you a fan of DC Comics, or comics in general? Any favorite characters, or even comic-inspired animated series?

JZ: Joaquim Dos Santos (the director) brought us in. We had worked with him on the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was great for us to do a project with Warner Brothers. Really easy company to work with and the people have a lot of integrity.

Growing up I was a superhero nut like most kids. Although I have to admit, I was probably more of a fan of Underoos than comic books!

WF: The majority of these shorts bent more toward some of the lesser-known DC characters, such as The Spectre and Jonah Hex (well, lesser-known to those outside the comic world). Did that make it easier knowing you weren’t slave to anything that came before?

JZ: That’s a really good observation. Yes, it was liberating not having to work from pre-existing musical themes or much aesthetic history in general. We weren’t working with a completely blank slate but a blank state can be stifling. Option paralysis and all that… The parameters that were set in place by Joaquim, Bruce Timm and the little history that did exist, were just enough to get the creative juices flowing.

WF: Each short had a distinct style. The Spectre felt like a 1970s crime film, Jonah Hex a bleak western, and so on. Can you run us through your inspiration for all of the shorts you scored?

JZ: Sure. Joaquim had a very specific idea for the music in The Spectre The Corrigan stuff had an obvious and strong reference to Lalo Schifrin’s brilliant Dirty Harry score. For the Spectre moments we referenced those wonderfully cheesy and effective 80’s synth scores from the John Carpenter and George Romero movies. Jonah Hex was a bit less derivative. Bruce wanted it to sound like a score that Morricone could have written but never did. Morricone was definitely an influence in some of the instrumentation and harmony but we also used some more modern elements and things that were a little outside of the style of the western. We also listened to a bunch of early American frontier music, which informed the fiddle-like violin material. And of there was some good old ragtime piano music for some on screen material. The Spectre and Jonah Hex were the two that were most obviously referential.

WF: As a semi-follow-up to the previous question, was there any short that seemed to be “easier” in terms of scoring than the others? Why?

JZ: I’m a huge fan of 70s funk, as a matter of fact I play guitar in an old school funk ensemble. Also Ben and I both have a strong background in synthesizers and computer music. So The Spectre was a really good fit in that regard. I loved working on that score but strangely enough, I think I was most inspired by the Jonah Hex stuff. The narrative mood was really appealing to me and the themes were very rich in that there were a lot of ways to develop and vary them.

WF: Do you have any favorite moments, both in the actual shorts and your work on them, that you’d like to discuss? Were there any moments where, after watching the finished product for any of the shorts, you felt you just nailed it?

JZ: There are a lot of moments I’m really proud of in these shorts. The lonely cue that supports Jonah’s entrance, the Madame Lorraine violin and guitar music, the montage when Madame Lorraine and Jonah go to the mineshaft… I really like that scene in The Spectre when that dude in the hot rod is fleeing to Mexico. There’s a little synth melody in there that combined with those Linn drum sounds really captures that cheesy, yet stirring quality a lot of film and TV music from 80s possessed. The scene in Shazam where Black Adam snatches the female bystander out of the car and uses her to force Captain Marvel to return to his Billy Batson form really works for me… There are a lot of moments that I really like! What can I say? It was an inspiring project!

WF: Is it a relief to see your work on DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts get an actual CD release, given how the market here in North America tends to difficult toward these type of niche releases?

JZ: To be honest, I don’t know much about the history of the DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts releases. But I will say that I know how hard it can be to get music property released and was amazed at how easy it was with this project. It’s a really unexpected and nice surprise that La-La Land Records wanted to do this. The fact that the music will be heard on it’s own is simultaneously terrifying and gratifying!

WF: To wrap this up, where will we be seeing your work next? Will you be sticking around the DC Comics world in addition to your other works?

JZ: We’d love to work on more projects like the DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts. The niche stuff is really fun for me because there’s a bit more room for experimentation. It felt very fresh…

The next thing of ours you’ll be seeing is our work on Nickelodeon’s new Kung Fu Panda TV series. We’re really getting into Chinese instrumentation on this and are working with some amazing musicians. We’re excited to bring some sounds to American TV that are rarely heard. It’s a great opportunity to combine western scoring styles with some of the incredible beauty of traditional Chinese music.

In the future we both would love the opportunity to work in dramatic feature or dramatic hour-long TV. Ben and I feel that while we love working in animation, we also have a lot to bring to a musical landscape that fits a dramatic narrative.

The World’s Finest would like to thank Jeremy Zuckerman for his participation in this Q & A!

Click here to view the press release for this soundtrack title. To purchase the title, check out the official La-La Land Records DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts soundtrack site.

Click here to visit the official The Track Team website.

Original Soundtracks from the DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts is now available to order through the official La-La Land Records website, and through other online soundtrack specialty stores. Stay tuned for further updates and coverage here soon at The World’s Finest.

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Soundtrack Release For “DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts” Now Available

La-La Land Records is taking orders starting today for the new Original Soundtracks from the DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts CD release. The release features score music from the recent DC Showcase Animated Original Short titles released by Warner Home Video. The Limited Edition release is available through official La-La Land Records website and other online soundtrack specialty stores. La-La Land Records has previously released multiple soundtracks for DC Comics animated, television and movie properties over the last few years. Continue below to look at the package artwork for this release. Click on the thumbnails below for a closer look.

Click here to view the press release for this soundtrack title. To purchase the title, check out the official La-La Land Records DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts soundtrack site.

Original Soundtracks from the DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts is now available to order through the official La-La Land Records website, and through other online soundtrack specialty stores. Stay tuned for further updates and coverage here soon at The World’s Finest.

Discuss this in The DC Animation Forum!

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La-La Land Records Announces Limited Edition “DC Showcase” Soundtrack Title

La-La Land Records has announced plans to release a CD soundtrack for the recent DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts line. The shorts were included on a handful of DC Universe Animated Original Movie home video releases as well as its own home video title. La-La Land Records, the label which has already released multiple soundtracks for DC Comics animated, television and movie properties, will release DC Showcase – Original Soundtracks to the Animated Shorts on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011. Continue below for the cover artwork and official press release.

AVAILABLE FROM www.lalalandrecords.com on April 12th, 1pm (PST)
DC SHOWCASE: SUPERMAN/SHAZAM! The Return of Black Adam / JONAH HEX /
GREEN ARROW / THE SPECTRE: LIMITED EDITION (LLLCD 1172)

Music Composed by Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn
Limited Edition of 1000 Units
RETAIL PRICE: $19.98

Presenting the world premiere limited edition CD release of the original score soundtracks to the DC Showcase animated original shorts Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, Jonah Hex, Green Arrow and The Spectre. Composers Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn, aka The Track Team (Kung Fu Panda: Legend of Awesomeness, Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Legend of Korra) expertly create a vast musical palette of dynamic musical environments in this thrilling collection of their music from these acclaimed DC Showcase original shorts. An eclectic array of styles and motifs are referenced here in exciting fashion, from old fashioned superhero spectacle to Spaghetti Western, 70s Grindhouse, horror and more! Produced by Jeremy Zuckerman, Benjamin Wynn and MV Gerhard, and mastered by James Nelson, this is a special limited edition release of 1000 Units.

Autographed copies will be available at no extra charge from www.lalalandrecords.com upon release. Note: Autographed copies are only while supplies last and are NOT guaranteed.

Additionally, autographed copies can also be obtained from Dark Delicacies now at www.darkdel.com

Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn will be appearing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA on April 16th at 2pm to greet fans and sign copies of the DC Showcase soundtrack purchased at Dark Delicacies. For more info: www.darkdel.com

TRACK LISTING:

1. WB Logo (0:29)
2. DC Showcase Main Title (0:47)

SUPERMAN/SHAZAM!: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM
3. Black Adam (0:49)
4. Billy Batson (1:36)
5. Looking for Change (0:30)
6. Good is Hard (0:32)
7. Battle in the City (4:37)
8. The Subway Ride / The Wizard Shazam (3:51)
9. Back in the City (1:07)
10. Shazam! (3:11)
11. The Dam (1:28)
12. Gods and Ants (0:58)
13. Billy’s Had Enough (1:55)
14. Tawny’s Reveal (1:16)
15. Just One Word (0:23)
16. The Return of Black Adam End Credits (0:39)

JONAH HEX
17. Ella’s Rag (1:55)
18. Madame Lorraine (0:52)
19. Above the Bar, Red Doc
Gets Comfortable (0:51)
20. Jonah Rides into Town (1:31)
21. Madame Lorraine
and Jonah (1:25)
22. Jonah Takes Care
of Business (1:25)
23. To the Mine Shaft (2:47)
24. Jonah Hex End Credits (0:37)

GREEN ARROW
25. Late Again /Tension at the Airport (2:20)
26. Assassination Attempt / The Princess… The Queen (3:58)
27. The Conveyor Belt (2:00)
28. Merlyn andGreen Arrow Duel (1:04)
29. Safe? (Count Vertigo) (0:51)
30. Every Queen Needs a Consort (1:01)
31. Green Arrow End Credits (0:38)

THE SPECTRE
32. Mr. Brenner Takes a Dip (0:57)
33. Corrigan Assesses the Crime Scene (1:19)
34. The SurveillanceCamera Tapes (0:32)
35. Costumes (2:23)
36. Squashed (0:24)
37. Heading to Mexico (2:51)
38. An Old Friend / The Secret (2:35)
39. The Spectre End Credits (0:38)

Total Time: 60:42

DC Showcase – Original Soundtracks to the Animated Shorts will be available to order through the official La-La Land Records website, and through other online soundtrack specialty stores, on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011. Stay tuned for further updates and coverage here soon at The World’s Finest.

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“DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts” Home Video Release Retains Sales


According to various home media retailing outlets and independent research, the recent DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts collection, anchored by the exclusive Superman/Shazam!: The Return Of Black Adam animated short, held tight in its second week of sales, slipping just 50% from its previous week of sales. The release moved an estimated 35,000 DVD copies in its second week, along with an additional 12,000 units in Blu-ray editions in the same timeframe, resulting in an estimated 47,000 home video units sold for the week ending November 21st, 2010. This brings the two week total sales, combining both DVD and Blu-ray sales, to nearly 142,000 units moved.

Sales for direct-to-video animated features, especially titles featuring comic book-based characters, tend to fall an average of 60 – 70% in the second week, but the DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts collection managed to retain a higher numbers of sales in its second week. For comparison, the recent DC Universe Animated Original Movie Superman/Batman: Apocalypse saw a 67% drop in sales for its second week, though has still moved over 500,000 DVD and Blu-ray units since its debut. Note the sales numbers above do not take into account rental numbers, OnDemand numbers, or legal download numbers.

Above is the cover art for all standard definition DVD and high-definition Blu-ray home video releases for the DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts collection. Click on the links below to discuss both the recent Superman/Shazam!: The Return Of Black Adam animated short, exclusive to this new collection, along with the home video release, accompanied additional animated shorts and other topics pertinent to this update.

Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam Animated Short Talkback (Spoilers)
Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam Blu-ray/DVD Talkback (Spoilers)
DC Showcase: Green Arrow Animated Short Talkback (Spoilers)
DC Showcase: Jonah Hex Animated Short Talkback (Spoilers)
DC Showcase: The Spectre Animated Short Talkback (Spoilers)
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse Blu-ray/DVD Talkback (Spoilers)

Additionally, when asked if consumers can expect to see future DC Showcase animated shorts, a representative for Warner Home Video simply stated “Maybe.” Stay tuned for further updates here soon on The World’s Finest, including further coverage on upcoming DC Universe Animated Original Movie titles and much more.

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