prior seasons
Lightsabers, starships, creatures and characters – in 1977, "Star Wars" introduced a host of screen icons that helped define the cinematic landscape. Now, more than 30 years later, Lucasfilm Animation is re-imagining the distinctive look of "a galaxy far, far away" for an all-new, weekly animated TV series on the Cartoon Network – "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." For supervising director Dave Filoni – a diehard fan himself – this was no small task, and not something to be taken lightly.

"We had to stay true to the spirit of 'Star Wars' and the look that had been established in the movies," Filoni said. "There was fantastic work done by production designers like John Barry, Norman Reynolds and Gavin Bouquet, and it was our job to reflect that, but through animation. But 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' shows us more of the galaxy than we ever saw in the live-action films, so we had to forge plenty of new ground, as well."

The first step was the most difficult – developing an overall look and feel for the series. Filoni and executive producer George Lucas decided on a radical departure. Rather than re-creating the photo-realistic world of the live-action films, they would design a stylized galaxy that instead embraced the essence of the Star Wars Saga. With striking angles and an aggressive, innovative "shooting" style, the result is both cinematic and distinctly animated.

"We wanted to create something unique and fun," Filoni explains. "The movies are so recognizable, and we wanted to capture that flavor, but we also wanted our series characters to live on their own. With 30 years of history, there are a lot of expectations that come with a new 'Star Wars' installment, and we wanted to be clear that this was going to be different from what had come before."

One of the most striking design elements is the use of noticeable textures in every frame. "Many of the backgrounds look painted, while the characters and physical objects look almost like they have been created by hand," Filoni said. "Working in computer animation, it's easy to make everything look clean, but imperfection is far more interesting."

In addition to the unique design and meticulous attention to detail, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" ushered in a new way to conceive and produce stories on a weekly basis, said producer Catherine Winder. "Since the earliest days, animation has been produced using two-dimensional storyboards to plan out the action," she said. "With 'The Clone Wars,' George Lucas wanted us to try something totally new, a process he had utilized extensively on the live-action movies."

Story artists working on"Star Wars: The Clone Wars" sketched every scene using a computer program that allowed them to visualize the action in three dimensions. The result, Filoni said, allows greater experimentation and offers the creative team unprecedented flexibility. "We can pre-visualize each shot like never before, which allows us to dive into the action and do things that, before this, were literally impossible. That's the beauty of designing a new type of "Star Wars" entertainment: virtually nothing is impossible."