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Star Wars returns to TV with the animated ‘Star Wars: Rebels’


It turns out that there is life after The Clone Wars for Lucasfilm Animation, with the announcement today of Star Wars: Rebels. The new CG animated TV series will explore the time before the Original Trilogy, when the fledgling Empire ruled by the dread Sith Lord, Darth Sidious (aka Emperor Palpatine), was still attempting to eradicate the remaining Jedi Knights and stomp out the threat of Rebellion.

A new trailer focuses on executive producer Dave Filoni – sans cowboy hat! – as he lays out his vision for the series and offers some insight into the team he’s assembled to work on Rebels. For those that aren’t aware, Filoni was also the principal creative force behind The Clone Wars. He worked closely with franchise creator George Lucas to suss out and secure story approvals, but the big ideas came from Filoni.

Filoni is clear that his plan is to have the show embrace the “visual language” that fans are familiar with from the Original Trilogy. The idea, as he frames it, is to take Ralph McQuarrie’s recognizable concept art work and render in in CG.

It should please fans of The Clone Wars to hear that Filoni’s team is filled with familiar faces. Former design lead Killian Plunkett assumes the art director role on Rebels. You can get a sense of his eye for Star Wars aesthetics on his personal website. Then there’s visual effects “wizard” Joel Aron, who reprises his Clone Wars role of CG supervisor on Rebels. Joining Filoni as a fellow executive producer is Greg Weisman, a newcomer to the Star Wars universe, but a familiar name among fans of animated entertainment for creating the ’90s cartoon series Gargoyles.

What you don’t get from the new trailer is any hint of what to expect from the story beyond the basic setting. There’s also no footage of any kind, though having Ralph McQuarrie’s work as a reference point should provide a good sense of the artistic sensibilities that rule here.

Star Wars: Rebels is expected to premiere in Fall 2014 with a one hour special on Disney channel. The series will then make its home on Disney XD.

[Updated to correct a typo.]

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