Posts Tagged ‘Celebration IV’

The Clone Wars Panel Discussions

Pete Vilmur | May 27, 2007

The first two panel discussions with The Clone Wars producer Catherine Winder and supervising director Dave Filoni have finished, and here’s a brief listing of what fans just witnessed:

First, an introduction to Winder and Filoni, with a great video short showing director Filoni wearing his scratch-built Plo Koon costume to the premiere of Episode III (before getting hired on at Lucasfilm).

Interview details:

  • When Filoni initially got the call from Winder to direct The Clone Wars, he thought it was a joke staged by his friends. Winder assured him it was not, and proved it by letting him call her back on her Lucasfilm line.
  • Filoni got the job moments after his initial interview with Lucas. As a fan, he was just glad to meet Lucas and visit Skywalker Ranch just before the opening of Episode III.
  • Lucas is very involved with production – he is mostly focused on the story. He and Winder both work on the scripts with the writers.
  • The episodes will be 22 minutes long, so as a result, there is opportunity for a lot of character development. The tone of the series is based on that of Episode IV – in addition to action, there are also light moments and comedy.
  • In the new series, there will not be a “Justice League of Jedi” as Filoni puts it – the Jedi can’t do anything more than Luke, Mace, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan from the films. They can be vulnerable but are intelligent – they need to think themselves out of situations. It will show how war was a challenge for the Jedi to fight, and how the moral principles they clung to began to disintegrate.
  • According to Winder, it’s not being directed as an animated series, but more like live action in terms of its story and cinematography.

Clone Wars Panel

(Photo by Scott Ruether)

Filoni then walks the audience through a series of slides which showcase some of the sculpture designs for characters such as the clone trooper, Anakin, Obi-Wan, Count Dooku, and General Grievous. They will share some of the stylization from the 2-D animated series but also some of the reality from the filmed saga. Filoni describes the style as “leaner and more elegant.”


A video is shown which introduces much of the team at Lucasfilm Animation housed at Skywalker Ranch.

Q&A questions revealed:

  • Lucasfilm Animation had nothing to do with some 3-D animated stills recently “leaked” on the internet. They were fan-produced.
  • While continuity is being taken very seriously by the creators of the series, Lucas retains the right to make slight adjustments for the sake of the story. Filoni is extremely well-versed in Star Wars mythology and Expanded Universe, so rest assured it is in very good hands.
  • General Grievous will have a cough. When asked whether any of Grievous’ past will be revealed, the only response is, “You’ll be happy.” Filoni also says that when it comes to big legacy characters like Grievous, Lucas is consulted directly.
  • The series will debut in Fall 2008.
  • A lot of background characters – from the films and otherwise — will get to do a lot more.
  • The series is being produced in high-definition.

The audience was then treated to a preview trailer of The Clone Wars, which is currently available to view by all fans at the new! Click here to see the new Clone Wars trailer.

Stay tuned for a more comprehensive rundown of the The Clone Wars panels at Celebration IV!

Simultaneous Debut of The Clone Wars Trailer at Celebration IV and! Team | May 27, 2007

Right now, in the Celebration Theater, the first audience to witness the The Clone Wars trailer is filing out. At the same time, has posted the trailer for those who can’t be here to witness it with an audience.

Check it out here!

The Clone Wars

Video: Jane Wiedlin Team | May 27, 2007

You may know Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Go’s, but did you know she was a die-hard Star Wars fan? caught up with her on the convention floor on Saturday.

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Video: Opening Ceremonies Team | May 27, 2007

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Ben Burtt Explains Why He Used the Wilhelm

Pete Vilmur | May 26, 2007

The following was actually part of the Ben Burtt panel highlights blog below, but we felt the subject of the famous Wilhelm scream deserved its own separate listing.

“The ‘Wilhelm’ was a scream that was in a western called Distant Drums,” says Burtt. “When I was growing up, I loved recording movies off television – just the audio – and I would listen to films at night in bed with headphones. I became very interested with how sound contributed to the success of a movie. And I began to notice that many sounds were used over and over in some movies – the same gunshot, the same thunderclap – it was kind of a language because each studio had its own collection. I just love recognizing familiar sounds and how they were used.

“And one of them was that scream,” continues Burtt, “because it had been used in half a dozen or more films like Charge at Feather River and Them and many westerns, Helen of Troy, and so on. So when I got to USC as a film student, another student named Richard Anderson and myself got a copy of the Wilhelm off a movie print and put it in our student film for fun and as kind of an homage. Then Richard and I both became sound editors after we left school, and I put [the Wilhelm] in Star Wars to kind of show off to him. And then he put one in Poltergeist — and so I put one in Raiders — and this went back and forth for 20 years and nobody noticed. George Lucas didn’t say anything, Steven Spielberg didn’t say anything. And then the internet came around and it suddenly came out into the open — so now, I guess, it’s become folk art.”

Highlights from a Discussion with Ben Burtt

Pete Vilmur | May 26, 2007

Ben Burtt hardly needs an introduction for most fans attending Star Wars Celebration, but just in case you’re one of the few who doesn’t wait through the end credits of a Star Wars movie, we’ll fill you in.

Ben Burtt is the legendary sound designer for all six Star Wars movies – creating such iconic sounds as Artoo’s characteristic beeps and whistles, Darth Vader’s menacing rasp, and Chewbacca’s unforgettable howl. And that’s just three from the thousands of sounds Burtt has created for the Star Wars movies as well as the Indiana Jones saga.

Host David Collins invited Burtt to his Celebration Theater today to discuss some of the legendary contributions the sound designer has made to the Star Wars saga. Fittingly, Burtt came dressed in his original Star Wars crew t-shirt from 1976. Here are some of the highlights:

Voicing Artoo

“Artoo was a difficult problem. In the original script, it didn’t really tell you what Artoo would say or how he would speak. With Artoo it had to be a sound which implied the information and had the emotional content but were not words as we know them. At first I made a lot of electronic sounds with a synthesizer keyboard, and the results seemed kind of sterile – Artoo didn’t to seem to have a soul. What ended up working was to combine the electronic element of the keyboard which gave a machine-like quality and then add to it the human performance which ended up being me since I was available. [Artoo’s voice] is not actually recorded in real time – I do it slower at a lower pitch and then speed everything up. But out of that process came the idea that you can shape a performance with the intonations of sounds, like a little baby or a toddler who hasn’t quite learned to talk but can communicate a great deal of feeling without actually knowing the words.”

Duke Garindan

“I always wanted to do an insect man – we didn’t really have an insect man come along until Poggle the Lesser [from Episodes II and III]. We had that character that looked kind of like a mosquito from the first Star Wars [Garindan] that we found we needed a sound for. And I was wondering back a few months ago how I did it – because I keep notes and tapes – and I discovered it was an electronic buzzing which had come off of my synthesizer that was triggered by a human voice. And I listened to it and realized it was John Wayne – I had found some loop lines in the trash from the studio that had been thrown away. So the buzzing was triggered by some dialog like ‘All right, what are you doin’ in this town’ or something like that.

Charge of the Clones

“We tried this experiment in Attack of the Clones where we had these sonic charges in space. We were fooling around with that in the mix, and at first it was a joke, but I thought I’d try having silence for about a second and then delay the sound to give it scale – like the lightning occurring before the thunder. It worked great and reminded me that if you want something to have impact, you’ve got to design for it.”

Accidental Shooting

“Most of the good sounds have been accidents. The guy-wire, which became the basis for all the stormtrooper laser guns, was an accident. I was hiking with my family on vacation and we were going over the top of a ridge in Pennsylvania in the Pocono Mountains under a radio tower with guy-wires. My pack caught on the wire and plucked it as we went by, making this great sound. So I went back to California and auditioned guy-wire towers all over until I found the one that gave the most interesting sound.”

Fanboy Heaven Team | May 26, 2007

What do you get when you add a few dozen Slave Leias on a full-size Jabba the Hutt statue at the Gentle Giant booth? Fanboy heaven… and a fire marshal’s headache.

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Highlights from the VFX Rock Stars Panel

Pete Vilmur | May 26, 2007

Today, host Jay Laga’aia invited several members from the Star Wars saga’s stable of visual effects artists to the Concourse Stage for a one hour discussion on their contributions to the various Star Wars films. On stage were John Knoll, Phil Tippett, Dennis Muren, Ken Ralston, and Richard Edlund.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

Early Influences

Knoll: I had a whole series of hobbies that I did because I lived in a cold climate – I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where it was fairly cold for a good part of the year, so you spend a lot of time indoors and develop indoor hobbies. I got into photography and had a darkroom in the basement so I could learn to process and print my own film. I used to build models and do stop motion films. So I did the same sort of things that have often led to people getting into this industry.

Tippett: I got started off like most of us as a kid watching crappy horror movies. I think most of us were really taken by the Ray Harryhausen pictures. We pretty much learned in our own garages and our own backyards and bedrooms – you know, setting things on fire and ruining our parents’ tools — learning how to construct things on our own and kind of making it up as we went along. And at one point in time people hired us and we got paid for it.

Muren: There was no industry at that time – there wasn’t any opportunity to look ahead and say, hey, when I’m in my twenties I can get a job doing this, because there wasn’t any. But then George and Steven Spielberg came along – the baby boomers grew up and they wanted to see these movies, and we were ready for them after doing this stuff in our garages for years and years.

Ralston: Mainly it was the work of Ray Harryhausen. The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad seared my mind and did something to me – I became really fascinated with how it was done. It was also his work ethic – this is just one guy who is creating Jason and the Argonauts and the skeleton fight. That was a real inspiration for me. I was just like these guys – in my garage trying to do claymation with an 8mm Bolex. Somewhere down in California there’s a wall in someone’s garage still covered in fake blood, I’m sure.

Edlund: I started out in photography in 8th grade and had a darkroom in the garage. Later I started taking pictures for the sports section of the Herald Examiner during high school. After the Navy I got a job with Bob Abel and started working with early motion control using an old teletype machine to program the camera. So there was this group of us who were just poised and ready to do a movie like Star Wars and were kind of pining for the opportunity, and here it came. Luck had something to do with it, but we all had chops and we all had the means in our experience to do this.

Pre-digital Days

Muren: The nice thing about [making Star Wars] was that it was a very touch and feel industry at that time. You could feel the models whether we were shooting them or picking them up and mounting them – the model makers feel them and feel the weight of them and have a real connection with the objects they were working on. I think it affected the way we thought about the shots – the fact that they were more real. It’s very difficult to have that same experience in CG.

Tippett: We worked on our feet all the time. We stood up and moved around a lot. We touched real things – we were burned by lights, we cut ourselves with Exacto blades. We worked in some dangerous situations where bombs went off and there were intense electrical supplies so you had to be aware in a real human kind of way as opposed to an artificial environment where you can change things however you want.

Ralston: We were able to cross a lot of lines there and do a lot of jobs – if you were capable of doing it, no one was holding you back. And you had a lot of authorship on the work that was being done on the movie – you felt personally involved with what was being seen on screen.

Edlund: It’s not the same kind of gestalt – you know, you had the models from last year still hanging from the ceiling, but now it’s workstations and computer-generated material so it’s a completely different kind of ingenuity. It’s certainly not less – it freed us up from this incredibly cumbersome process of photochemistry. It’s like going from being a blacksmith to a neurosurgeon.

5/25/77 Special Sneak Preview

Bonnie Burton | May 26, 2007

As many fans know, seeing a Star Wars film for the first time can dramatically change your life. In the case of director-screenwriter Patrick Read Johnson, the experience of viewing A New Hope as a young teenager triggered his imagination and quest to join the ranks of Industrial Light & Magic.

In his upcoming film 5/25/77, produced by Star Wars legendary producer Gary Kurtz, Johnson recaptures his love for Star Wars and the magic of filmmaking in general. Starring John Francis Daley (“Freaks and Geeks”), Austin Pendleton (The Notorious Bettie Page), Colleen Camp (Running with Scissors) and Neil Flynn (“Scrubs”), 5/25/77 shows a young Pat Johnson as he struggles to convince his friends and family how important his budding special effects career actually is. If you’ve ever been that misunderstood kid who takes over the bathroom to film with makeshift models, painted backdrops and a Super-8 camera for hours on end, then you’ll understand all too well the hero of this film.

Director Patrick Read Johnson and Producer Gary Kurtz introduced had a few things to say before they debuted the rough cut of the film to fans attending.

“We had a test screening for the film in San Francisco for a formal audience, and in addition to that we had a couple of private screenings of unfinished work and that’s like this screening, so this is the story of someone who did see Star Wars quite a few months before 5-25-77,” Kurtz says. “On an aside, on that day 5-22-77, I was in the East Coast in Boston, New York and Washington D.C. doing all the morning television talk shows to help promote the film. And by the end of the day, I did a radio call in show in Washington D.C. and some college kid called in and said what a great movie Star Wars was and I asked him if he saw the first screening that morning, and he said, ‘No I’ve seen it six times already today. So I had some idea that maybe just maybe it was going to be a hit.”

“We decided awhile ago since we were in the final stages of finishing the film that we should show the whole darn thing,” Johnson says. “Let’s show them the film the way I first saw Star Wars. The way I saw Star Wars was before it was complete and the only sounds R2-D2 made were Servo sounds, and none of the blue screens were composited and you could see the grips outside the Millennium Falcon and only a couple of Ben Burtt sound effects they were trying out, no music, 10 matte paintings — so roughly like our film is. But we thought if anyone is going to get it, you guys will. We wanted to show it to you before the final coat of paint goes on it.”

Stay tuned to the Star Wars Celebration blog to learn more about what was said at the upcoming panel with Johnson and Kurtz. Those fans at CIV can attend the panel at 6pm at Theater 408 AB.

For more information about 5/25/77, click on the official site here.

Opening Ceremonies Statement

Pete Vilmur | May 26, 2007

At approximately 7:50 p.m. on Friday, May 25, the Los Angeles Police Department notified staff at Star Wars Celebration IV that a suspicious package had been reported outside the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The LAPD was in charge of the situation. All actions taken were at the order of the Police Department.

The decision to evacuate those still in line to attend the Opening Ceremonies was made for reasons of public safety and with the protection of those guests in mind. It was made to ensure that exits were not blocked in the event of a mass evacuation of the Opening Ceremonies, which at the time was still a possibility.

Celebration IV staff were under obligation to cooperate completely with the directives of the LAPD.

These orders were made out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of all fans in attendance, and we appreciate the swift response of the LAPD.

We also appreciate the cooperation and response of those fans affected by this police action, and deeply apologize for the inconvenience this serious situation may have caused.