Filoni Talks Second Season Clone Wars
DF: When it first came about, I wasn't quite sure how it was going to work. As a storyboard artist, I said I could just draw these in half the time, but what happened was I bought into the concept. George wants to try this, so let's do it. We started talking with a team of developers behind the tool. And I think what they had never had before was a bunch of artists like me and my story guys who actually had to use it, so we started saying, "We don't need these functions here -- we don't need these buttons; we need very simply to pose the character." And then they would show us all of these more Maya-centric technical devices: a curve editor and cameras and lenses.
BD: Was it designed for more photoreal intentions?
DF: That's part of it. The other thing was we were all such 2D storyboard artists and it was a real team effort to get this tool to work, and now I use it for all my functions, even for posing characters. I'll stick them under a lens and see how it affects the models as a reference tool. Once George taught me, I really learned to enjoy it, like blocking characters on a set and really shooting it like a film and now if I have a digital set, I just go shoot on it. And you can see a lot of leaps like that around the other studios, with Avatar coming out and A Christmas Carol. We're just using this same kind of digital tool on a weekly basis and on a smaller scale.
BD: What is the latest iteration of Zviz able to offer you?
DF: I think for me a lot of it is interface-based: it's the ease of my interaction with the tool; how I can pose a character very quickly, now that we have a lot more automated poses. We have animation saved up that we can drop in and click. We worked out how to get the proxy models done faster and the sets faster, so what you've seen in the past is a lot of gray scale and we're trying to take it so that I have textures on everything. Now we can see the walls and the carpet and the floors and the trees and compose better and better shots with that. I imagine that I will get basic lighting set ups one day.
BD: How has the Singapore studio improved?
DF: They've always been a really good group and the animation talent coming out of there always surprises me. I think, much like my crew here, they've seen their work released to the public and have watched final shots to see what works and doesn't. It's a lot easier to see it for some reason in clarity once it's done. But there have been a lot of people coming over from Lucasfilm Animation and ILM and mentoring these young people. And they have been very good at communicating what their needs are. And the type of responsibilities they've done on Clone Wars -- key shots with key characters -- and will continue to do this season shows they've come a long, long way.
BD: And CGCG from Teipi?
DF: They brought a tremendous amount of experience about how to do a CG television show and they've done a bulk of work for us. We told them we want to make it better, we want to add certain things and they've improved the quality of their animation as well. I think it comes in part with everybody liking Star Wars that works on this show. They're really committed to making it better, every season.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.