At Star Wars: Celebration III in 2005, George Lucas announced that he had begun work on a 3-D animation TV series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Because George wanted the series to be created in-house, he founded Lucasfilm Animation, with studios in Marin County, California, and Singapore. Initial key hires included executive producers Catherine Winder, animation director Rob Coleman, supervising director Dave Filoni, writer Henry Gilroy, and artist Kilian Plunkett. All involved greatly admired Ralph McQuarrie's production paintings for the original trilogy, and Dave encouraged everyone in the art department to study and emulate Ralph's design sensibilities and use of color. "Looking at Ralph's paintings," Dave says, "you have this whole 'vocabulary' of strokes and gobs of paint that define shapes and textures." Star Wars: The Clone Wars has introduced a whole new generation of fans to the adventures of Anakin Skywalker.
Dave Filoni did not know whether Hayden Christensen (Anakin) and Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan) would be available for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, so he and Henry Gilroy developed the concept of a new Jedi Master and his young female Padawan. George Lucas clarified that he wanted the series to focus on Anakin and Obi-Wan, and suggested the Padawan be paired with Anakin. The earliest concept panel by Dave showed Ashoka (originally named Ashla) with Anakin.
Using sketches and turnarounds for visual reference, sculptor Darren Marshall carved clay models called maquettes to demonstrate how Star Wars: The Clone Wars characters will appear in their 3-D, computer generated form. Darren's work helped "sell" the look of The Clone Wars to George Lucas. The first character he sculpted was Count Dooku. "His look was very extreme...as it still is," says Darren.
To understand how light will work on various characters on different planets in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, artists create concept paintings for certain scenes. The lighting concept for the clone troopers preparing for war was created by Mat Gaser.
After designers create the framework and blueprints for characters, vehicles, environments, and props, modelers build virtual 3-D constructs. Unlike practical models that require glue and special materials so they won't break, computer-generated models never fall apart. Digital rigging specialists create skeletons, layers of muscle and skin, and clothes to create "virtual puppets" for animators.
1. 3-D Story
Working from a script, the 3-D story team uses approximated assets--digital puppets, sets, and props--to create a story reel, a digital animatic to help directors and editors visualize the entire episode.
After the 3-D story reel is approved, the layout team builds the actual 3-D scene files that will be used for each shot. The scene files allow the production team to determine needs for image quality and anticipate technical hurdles.
After the layout file is finished, animators are assigned to bring each scene to life. Rigged assets are imported into each scene so the animators can create the performances necessary to communicate the story.
Following animation, the technical team begins lighting and creating the final, high-resolution assets for each shot. Wireframe models enable technicians to determine how characters are illuminated.
5. Final Shot
The camera work, modeling, rigging, and texture work of each asset, as well as all the lighting and effects work, are brought together in the final creation.
In December 2010, Lucasfilm introduced Savage Opress in exclusive screenings of 3 episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars at theaters in selected cities. Lucky fans went home with a themed poster of Savage Opress that was inspired by a classic horror movie poster from the 1930s.