Visual effects supervisor Joel Aron and Dave Filoni, the head honcho of The Clone Wars came back to Star Wars Celebration VI Saturday morning for one more panel to talk to fans about what they saw in the Season 5 premiere Friday night, and oh yeah, that crazy new trailer.
As the pair sat down with David Collins on the Valencia Theater stage, Filoni proclaimed right away how excited he was to hit 100 episodes this year.
“We sit with George at the ranch for a week or two and write about 3 outlines a day, and then just get those stories out there,” said Filoni.
Aron and Filoni said that despite the addition of technology, the time to make each episode continues to grow as they continue to add more detail and characters.
“The Lucasfilm philosophy is ‘dare to be great, challenge yourself.’ The fans demand it, they want to see something epic every week, and we have to deliver on that,” said Filoni. “That’s a LucasFilm tradition that we have to carry on.”
The series moves to Saturday mornings at 930am this fall, a change from its Friday night slot that they hope makes it even more of a family viewing experience.
A new clip showed a brand-new lush jungle planet with Ahsoka and some natives trying to take on a massive invading droid force. The visuals had the audience literally gasping.
“Wow, we’re giving a lot of stuff away here!” exclaimed Filoni after the clip. Collins started to geek out a bit over the new fauna and flora of the planet and the technology showing brand new ships and droid components. Filoni loved that even Collins, an accomplished voice actor and music designer for LucasFilm and LucasArts, could get so excited over the new clip.
“In Season 5, Anakin comes up with the idea to start training the insurgent groups who are trying to get out from under the thumb of the separatists. These new rebels will work with individual Jedi to try to come to arms and drive away the droid armies on their own. This is all borne of Ahsoka’s relationship with Lux, who it turns out is from Onderan,” revealed Filoni.
Aron next divulged that they are revealing Anakin’s personal quarters in the Jedi Temple for the first time. Filoni said the room will have many knick-knacks, a lot of droid parts and tools, the same things he might have been playing with as a kid.
“It does answer one big question: how much does Obi-Wan really know about Anakin and Padme, and what’s going on there,” teased Filoni.
Another new clip showed Anakin, in his room, tooling around with a droid. Obi-Wan walked in and started discussing Anakin’s feelings for Padme, with Obi-Wan talking about his own feelings for Satine. A poster of Anakin’s big podrace from Episode 1 was a nice easter egg for fans, with Ben Quadrinaros on the poster, which drew laughs and cheers from the fans.
“As an animated series, I think there’s a perception in this country that it’s for comedic purposes, to make you laugh, and I’m thrilled that we now have Detours to do that, they’re doing a fantastic job.
“But to keep these dramatic moments real and accurate, we had to update the way that we animate. I think we’ve gotten to the point on our show that we can tell these types of shows and give you this kind of information.”
Collins asked about Anakin’s gleams of the Dark Side in Season 5 versus the past.
“Matt Lanter and I were talking about that, we think that Anakin is mostly just much quicker to anger as the war has gone on,” said Filoni. “They continue to get more and more beat down, felling that pressure bear down on them. Anakin has a lot less patience. He has a few key things that keep him in place, like Ahsoka, Obi-Wan, and Padme. Matt’s performances this year are just fantastic, and I hate to jump ahead, but his performance in the season finale is just incredible.”
Ahsoka is “getting older, wiser, understanding what Anakin says to her and making her own decisions,” said Aron. “They’re master and apprentice, but ultimately she’s his friend, she’s his little sister at this point,” Filoni continued. “She understands more than anyone when he gets angry now. She gives hi a little more leeway there.
“Of all the decisions I’ve had to make as Supervising Director, casting Ashley Eckstein has been the best. The way that she’s handled the performance and the way that she’s reached out to fans: 34% of the Clone Wars fanbase is girls! A lot of that is due to her efforts.”
New images were shown off with things like “Episode 505 Outer Rim Meteor Field” and new shuttles. The season will feature an early arc where R2D2 and a compliment of Republic Droids have to go on a mission – all by themselves.
“We re-drew R2 this year. We had to redesign him, update his model and update his textures a great deal to get him closer to what you know from the live-action,” said Aron. Filoni said the mission has R2 and 3 other astromechs and a pit-droid taking on an infiltration mission. “It’s R2 on a true military mission for once.”
The droids, accompanied by a diminutive frog-like alien named Gascon, drop out of hyperspace and directly into a storm of comets. R2 and the other astromechs go into the perilous environment to try to fix the broken ship. Filoni said that even George Lucas just saw this clip “a few weeks ago.”
Filoni and Lucas both thought there were great opportunities for the droids and taking them “into that grand sense of wonder. It’s fun, those are the episodes that you sit down, the whole family will watch those and this is Star Wars.”
There’s also an episode based on the art of Moebius called “The Void” coming this season, an example Filoni gave of the way things vary greatly.
Some new characters like a rebel named Gregor and a diner chef, oh, and a REPUBLIC COMMANDO were shown off in images. The commando’s helmet has a bunch of hashmarks on it, marking his kills.
“Dee Baker does a phenomenal job of playing all of the Clones! You forget that it’s one guy doing all of those. It’s always a big challenge, he gets exhausted doing it, but yeah, Republic Commandos! We have so many types of clones coming your way. We hear the fans saying they’re loving the clones and the clone stories, so we’ll have many more,” announced Filoni.
Filoni revealed that to help Dee Bradley Baker keep all the personalities separate, there are three parts to a triangle, there’s Rex at the top, the very militant guys to the right and the very green ones to the left.
“We used to record him, where he’d do one voice all the way through, then the next character. Now he just has a conversation with himself!”
Going back to a new clip featuring the droids, they’re now backed up by the Republic Commando from the images. He moves and shoots more efficiently than your run of the mill clones and is actually the stylish rebel named Gregor from the same images! Huge applause for the clip as Gregor takes down tons of droids with ease.
Filoni said of the tickmarks on his helmet, “I play ice hockey, have for decades, and put the tickmarks on there for the goalie of the Boston Bruins,” though he’s actually from Pittsburgh and a fan of their teams.
“Fans love it when the Clones have those distinguishing figures, and find interesting things,” Filoni added.
Gregor’s history will all be revealed in his episode, as well.
Mustafar and the Black Suns fortress was shown off, as well as a Falleen Black Sun leade, from Shadows of the Empire.
“They’re a dangerous group of intergalactic gangsters,” teased Filoni. Their new Frigate was shown off as well. Lom Pyke, a new race of crime lords involved with Kessel Spice smuggling was also shown.
Aron, who came from ILM, still has access to the database of assets there, so he actually used the exact backdrop of Mustafar from Revenge of the Sith and used that in the Clone Wars. To show off how well it works, they showed another new clip.
It’s a baffling clip, with Savage, Maul, and Death Watch Mandalorians going to meet with the Falleen. Maul seems to have more regular legs now, something he’ll need after the season premiere.
Filoni talked about one of those butt kicking ladies of the show, Bo Katan, “for the girl that wants to get out there and kick butt with the boys! This was something that comes full circle, man, I’d love to see this character walking around a convention,” and he brought up an amazing cosplayer who has already made her full armor.
Another clip shows Obi-Wan in full Mandalorian armor being led away by jailers. Bo Katan and another in blue start to take them on, and she quickly dispatches 3 Mandalorian warriors with ease. HUGE applause.
And then, a huge surprise guest, Filoni introduces him as “their biggest fan,” George Lucas!
Filoni asked George why he wanted to come to animation.
“We were kind of taking a chance in making a dramatic animated series, which is kind of in a never never land of animation here,” started Lucas. “We’re also making a younger-skewing show that we’re developing, and of course Detours which is way out on its own.
“We can do things in animation that are very hard to do in live action.”
Filoni asked Lucas about the big Rancor that fans brought to the show, and he said “I loved that Rancor.”
Filoni said he would love to take it home but won’t fit in his office. A fan yelled, “get a bigger office” and George Lucas deadpanned “No, I don’t think so!”
Lucas talked about bringing Darth Maul back next.
“In a feature you’re very restricted by a story and storyarc. In animation we can go ‘why don’t we go way over here!’ And we did four episodes with nothing but droids. Then we did the same thing with Darth Maul and bringing him back. He’s one of my favorite characters and we killed him right away. But it’s been a lot of fun to have him and create his brother, and the witches of Dathomir.”
Filoni said, “I have something, a rare thing, something YOU haven’t seen,” to Lucas, introducing the new 3 minute trailer they showed to fans at the premiere last night.
Huge applause for Lucas and for the trailer alike. Standing Ovation, and thus ends the panel.