Record-Breaking Clone Wars Series to Visit Kamino

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July 24, 2010
Since its start two years ago, the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars has surprised viewers with its visual complexity and compelling new stories. This past Friday it was time for the creators of the show to experience a surprise of their own: Supervising Director Dave Filoni, CG Supervisor Joel Aron and Lead Designer Kilian Plunkett took a pause from panel at Comic-Con International as Guinness World Records editor Craig Glenday took the stage to present the series with a certificate proclaiming The Clone Wars as the highest rated sci-fi animation currently on television.

Before that, the Clone Wars crewers were peeling back the curtain on the creative process required to bring a show that looks like no other animated television series to the screen every week. By targeting the trio of episodes that capped Season Two -- "Death Trap," "R2 Come Home" and "Lethal Trackdown," Filoni and team were able to offer specific examples of their unique approach.

The episodes begin with story concepts direct from George Lucas, who confers with Filoni and producer Cary Silver to plot out the big beats of a forthcoming season. "I have my notebook with me when I talk to George, and from the very beginning, while we're taking copious notes on script ideas, I start drawing visually what these things are going to look like in a very rough way," explained Filoni, showing samples from his sketchbook. "George is an extremely visual guy. The best way to sell any idea to him is to actually paint it, draw it, whatever, and get it in front of him."

From these first sketches, Filoni next assigns Kilian Plunkett to flesh out and explore the designs required for the various stories. Plunkett presented some of his designs of the young Fett and Aurra Sing -- and discussed some of the headaches with the conflicting scale of the Slave I across both trilogies. "The miniature that George is most familiar with from Empire has Boba way bigger in the cockpit than in Episode II," said Plunkett. "For him, that was the scale. But for our story, it had to be bigger." In Episode II, the scale of the ship would actually change for the needs of the shot, something that could be afforded by the budgets of feature films, but such tinkering is too cost-prohibitive for the weekly TV series.

"In a movie, you could build specifically for a shot," said Filoni. "In The Clone Wars, when we build Slave I, it has to work for whatever we're going to do with it in the future, because we won't have time to rebuild it."

The latter half of the presentation turned to discussion of Season Three, and a planet familiar to Star Wars fans that could not be previously represented on The Clone Wars. "One thing we could not do before is water," said Filoni. "Not just because it's very hard to render, but because we have a style on the show that keeps us from using some canned water effect."

Instead, the Clone Wars artists opt for a more painterly solution. "This is how we think of it: How a painter would render it? Not how we would simulate it. Not what its properties are," said Filoni.

Aron showed sample clips from Kaminoan exteriors of huge rolling waves, which were not fluid simulations but rather painted surfaces that emulate the flow and turbulence of water. "It's a kind of cheat," he said. "I could achieve the water look without an expensive render. Our Kamino waves rendered at two minutes a frame. The maelstrom from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies would take days to render the sim." And that kind of heavy processing would be impossible to maintain on a television schedule and budget.

Before the panel ended, fans in the audience were able to get a brief glimpse of Kamino and more with the playing of a special Season Three trailer, the same trailer that is now available here at by clicking below.

Keywords: Behind-the-Scenes, Awards, Television, Convention

Filed under: The Clone Wars, Fans, Event News

Databank: Kamino
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