Star Wars Rebels Report: A Look at Taiwan Animation Studio CGCG

CGCG is the 3D animation studio that will be responsible for a good portion of the work on the new animated series, Star Wars Rebels.

Star Wars Rebels co-executive producer Dave Filoni recently appeared on October 18th episode of Rebel Force Radio and talked Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Rebels. In this wide-ranging interview he revealed that since Lucasfilm Singapore (the company’s overseas animation studio) was still getting up and running when The Clone Wars began a lot of the production for that show was done by another firm, CGCG. Filoni went on to say that Lucasfilm Singapore is not currently focused on Rebels saying, ”Our talented people at the Singapore studio are on other projects.”

We knew Filoni was in Asia visiting and working with animators based on comments from Pablo Hidalgo at the New York Comic Con panel, but it was assumed by many including myself that this meant he was in Singapore at Lucasfilm’s facility. Instead Filoni is back in Taiwan and once again working with CGCG.CGCG2

CGCG worked on the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie in 2008, the first two seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars series and also on the recently released LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out. CGCG on animating Star Wars Rebels. CGCG provided Modeling, Color/Texture, Rigging, Layout, Animation, Lighting, VFX, Compositing and Rendering for the production of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

One of the more interesting facts about CGCG is that apparently it is or was partially owned by George Lucas.

In a 2011 story the news website Want China Times discussed CGCG’s relationship with George Lucas and The Clone Wars:

”The 3D computer graphics maker, 43% owned by Lucas, is soon expected to make its way to the Kaohsiung Software Technology Park, Shen Jung-chin, director general of the Export Processing Zone Administration, under Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, said Thursday (Jan. 13). The Taipei-based company, which currently has 300 employees, is optimistic about the talent provided by universities in the south, said Shen (Shih Wen-hsiang, chairman CGCG).”

This is the first I had heard that Lucas or Lucasfilm owned a portion of this studio, it is not clear whether Lucas retained an ownership interest in CGCG. It is not clear if Disney | Lucasfilm retains an equity stake in the company.

“Shih declined to comment on the details of Lucas’s investment but said that his company would continue production of the animated Star Wars film series in Kaohsiung. “A lot of the creative energy in the south has not been developed,” he said.

Lucas is believed to have invested US$2.4-2.7 million in the computer graphics maker.”

A shade under $3 million was not a major investment for Lucas, but it would seem to be a great way to get more value out of his dollars instead of investing it in domestic animation resources.

“The animation company spent only ten months to complete production of Lucas’s film as opposed to the three to five years it usually takes to produce a 3D animated film.”

Now this is the impressive part, CGCG’s ability to deliver quickly could be very important particularly on Star Wars Rebels which is getting a much shorter time for development.

For continuing Star Wars Rebels Coverage check out the Rebels Report Podcast, episodes airing monthly until the show airs.

SOURCES: IMDB, CGCG, Rebel Force Radio, and Want China Times

Editor’s Note: One of the goals of Lightsaber Rattling and the Rebels Report podcast will be to provide the most comprehensive coverage and analysis of Star Wars Rebels that you will find on the web. In that effort we will focus on not just the show as it is on the screen, but also all steps in the creative process and production. We do this not only because we are looking for as much information as possible but to provide a greater understanding for how the industry works and to provide those interested in working in the entertainment industry with as much knowledge as possible about the technical and creative processes.

Disney | Lucasfilm Reveals Star Wars Marketing Calendar 2013-2015 At BLE 2013

Jedi News has it’s network of Bothan spies all across the United Kingdom and they dropped some big news today.

The following image comes from a magazine/brocure given out at the Brand Licensing Europe 2013 convention in London which was held October 15th-17th.

Judging by the Disney booth it looks like there was a heavy Star Wars presence at the show, though nothing involving Star Wars was listed under the Disney Consumer Products booth information on BLE’s website.

The important news out of the convention that was revealed by Jedi News was what appears to be the rough outline of what Disney plans to do with the Star Wars brand leading up to the release of Episode VII in Spring/Summer of 2015.

The calender features at the top a banner advertising Star Wars Rebels that reads, “A 2014 one-hour special telecast on Disney Channel, followed by a series on Disney XD channels around the world.”

This part isn’t new news but it will come as a relief to many overseas fans that because of Disney’s multiple international Disney XD channels overseas they should get to see the show in a more timely fashion than The Clone Wars was distributed in some cases.

It is then broken down into four seasonal time blocks; Autumn/Winter 2013, Spring/Summer 2014, Autumn/Winter 2014, and Spring/Summer 2015.

Autumn/Winter 2013:

LEGO Star Wars The Yoda Chronicles Episodes 2 & 3
Star Wars/Angry Birds Game Sequel Release
Clone Wars Season 5 BR/DVD Release
Spring/Summer 2014:

‘Choose Your Side’ cross-company marketing initiative
Classic Lego Games Mobile Release
Darth Vader Themed TV Specials
Autumn/Winter 2014:

REBELS Television Premiere Disney Channel 1-Hour Special with series on Disney XD
Digital Library Launch
Phineas & Ferb Star Wars Special
Spring/Summer 2015:

EPISODE VII Theatrical Release
It then concludes with a section entitled ‘Continuous Multi-Platform Engagement.’ Which lists:

Star Tours and Jedi Training Academy at Disney Parks, Starwars.com, Star Wars fan celebrations, Comic-Con, “May the 4th Be With You” fan holiday, Interactive Gaming – LEGO STar Wars, Angry Birds Star Wars, console games and iOs, Publishing (Print & Digital), Social Media and PR, & Character Appearances.

Now I wonder when this marketing information was written because we saw the LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles second episode Menace of the Sith air on Cartoon Network on September 4th, 2013 and the first two episodes where released on DVD at Walmart on October 15th; however we have no word on when the third episode will be released. Apparently the third episode was briefly leaked on-line on Youtube on October 7th but it was quickly taken down.

The other two items listed under Autumn/Winter 2013 have already been released.

The Spring/Summer 2014 mentions a ‘Choose Your Side’ marketing initiative, which one would assume is lightside/darkside and is something that has already been used in The Old Republic marketing and in the Angry Birds II game.

We have already seen a mobile port of the classic Star Wars game Knights of the Old Republic, so it is no surprise that we will be seeing the LEGO games being ported for mobile devices. I believe this is new news.

The Darth Vader themed TV Specials are probably the biggest news. This is left vague enough that it could be just about anything. It could be documentary style looks at the character it could be a few animated movies. I would hope that we see two animated features dealing with the character in the period between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Rebels.

In the Autumn/Winter of 2014 we already knew about the Rebels premiere and the Phineas & Ferb crossover, so the real news is the announcement of the Digital Library.

What the Digital Library is was not revealed but given the context of the rest of the announcement, it would seem to be video content. It probably won’t be the films (because of distribution deal with 20th Century Fox) but it could be the other content, like The Clone Wars and earlier television productions like the earlier Clone Wars micro-series, Ewoks, Droids, and the Ewok films Caravan of Courage and The Battle for Endor. I would note that this Digital Library would be later than the announced release of the bonus content from Season 6 of The Clone Wars, which according to Dave Filoni would be released in “early 2014.”

Something to note about the Digital Library, in September Disney promoted Janice Marinelli to the position of ”president, Disney studio global in-home and digital distribution and Disney ABC North America content distribution.” In her new role Marinelli will basically oversee how you see all Disney owned film and television media across all platforms. Whether or not this Digital Library will be a larger Disney-wide initiative or a Star Wars focused project from Lucasfilm is unclear.

Finally the Spring/Summer 2015 listing of Episode VII‘s theatrical release should help to pour some more cold water on the rumors of a December release that don’t seem to have any factual basis but still won’t seem to die

New York Comic Con: Star Wars Rebels Panel to Feature Imperial Theme and Giveaway

This Saturday, October 12, 2013 at New York Comic Con, Lucasfilm will be holding a panel about the new animated show Star Wars Rebels. “The Star Wars Rebels: The Might of the Empire” panel will take place from 2:45 to 3:45 pm on Empire Stage 1-E.

Today the official Star Wars Twitter account had some interesting tweets about what we may see at the panel which will be hosted by Pablo Hidalgo. From the sounds of it the Empire’s Commission for the Preservation of the New Order (COMPNOR) is going to be busyAt Star Wars Celebration Europe II in Essen, Germany (and at Disney’s D23 convention) this past summer they gave away Rebels pins with a symbol associated with the Ghost on them. The pin included a secret URL to get a schematic of the Ghost. I would expect something similar at New York Comic Con.

RebelsPin2

Description of the Panel from NYCC’s Website:

What happens when the Galactic Empire takes over a planet? What if Imperials took interest in your world, and garrisoned stormtroopers and TIE fighters to maintain order? Star Wars Rebels, the thrilling, all-new animated television series from Lucasfilm for Disney XD will ask those questions – and so will this panel hosted by Lucasfilm’s resident Star Wars expert, Pablo Hidalgo.
Details on the show are closely guarded, but fans at NYCC will get a first look at new art from the series, and learn new information about the formidable forces of the Galactic Empire. Star Wars Rebels is set between Episodes III and IV, and it is a dark time in the galaxy. In the spirit of the original trilogy, the Empire is once again the preeminent villain of the saga, and Star Wars Rebels puts the awesome might of Imperial forces in the spotlight.
Luckily, there are those who are brave and daring enough to stand up against the oppressive Imperial might: the crew of the starship Ghost. Star Wars Rebels follows their adventures as they carry out thrilling missions against these dark forces.
The series is still a year away, so don’t miss this chance to get an early look at its development.
Stay tuned to this site as well as the Rebels Report podcast for all the news and rumors that escape the Empire’s clutches. Don’t worry we can translate the Empire’s Newspeak into basic.

Review: Star Wars: Honor Among Thieves (Empire and Rebellion) by James S.A. Corey

The latest novel addition to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Honor Among Thieves marks the debut of the writing duo Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck in the galaxy far, far away. Writing under the pen name James S.A. Corey the duo takes us on adventure starring Han Solo set between the events in the novels Scoundrels and Razor’s Edge.

Honor Among Thieves feels like a retro EU novel recapturing the fun and adventure of Han and Chewie from the Brian Daley novels and the ever present threat of a super-weapon from the Bantam era.

Publisher’s Summary:

Nebula and Hugo Award nominees Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck—writing as James S. A. Corey—make their Star Wars debut in this brand-new epic adventure featuring Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia Organa. The action begins after the destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.
When the Empire threatens the galaxy’s new hope, will Han, Luke, and Leia become its last chance?
When the mission is to extract a high-level rebel spy from the very heart of the Empire, Leia Organa knows the best man for the job is Han Solo—something the princess and the smuggler can finally agree on. After all, for a guy who broke into an Imperial cell block and helped destroy the Death Star, the assignment sounds simple enough.
But when Han locates the brash rebel agent, Scarlet Hark, she’s determined to stay behind enemy lines. A pirate plans to sell a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would destroy entire worlds to protect—including the planet where Leia is currently meeting with rebel sympathizers. Scarlet wants to track down the thief and steal the bounty herself, and Han has no choice but to go along if he’s to keep everyone involved from getting themselves killed. From teeming city streets to a lethal jungle to a trap-filled alien temple, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and their daring new comrade confront one ambush, double cross, and firestorm after another as they try to keep crucial intel out of Imperial hands.
But even with the crack support of Luke Skywalker’s x-wing squadron, the Alliance heroes may be hopelessly outgunned in their final battle for the highest of stakes: the power to liberate the galaxy from tyranny or ensure the Empire’s reign of darkness forever.
Honor Among Thieves does not have a ton of ripple effects in the wider Expanded Universe and frankly thats alright. What we do get is delightful prose and sharp pacing that provide a novel that flies by quicker than the Millennium Falcon on the Kessel Run.

In this novel that focuses on Han we also get appearance of classic characters in Chewie, Leia, Luke, Wedge, C-3PO, and R2-D2. Mixed in with this we get the introduction of the smuggler Baasen Ray, Ray’s pilot the Bothan Sunnim, a thief Hunter Maas, Imperial Astrocatographer Essio Galassian, and the books co-star Rebel Spy Scarlet Hark.

Baasen Ray is another case of Han’s past catching up with him, this is something that we see repeated various times through the films and the Expanded Universe. Hunter Maas provides some colorful comedic relief. While Essio Galassian is the nominal villain of the story that is probably the weakest part of the book. We hear about Galassian early in the novel but don’t actually meet him until much later in the book and when we do it feels a little anti-climactic.

Scarlet Hark will be the most talked about character coming out of this book. I enjoyed the introduction of Hark, a character that holds her own with the movie characters and has a very interesting interplay with Han and puts some interesting pressure on Han and Leia’s relationship.

I won’t spoil to much of the plot of the novel but the race against time to get the intelligence about a potential new super-weapon was a lot of fun and the conception of this super-weapon was one of the more novel ones we have had.

If you like Han Solo stories or simply that mixture of action and banter that filled the Original Trilogy than you won’t want to miss Honor Among Thieves, it is one of the funnest Expanded Universe novels I have read in some time.

Review: Razor’s Edge: Star Wars (Empire and Rebellion) by Martha Wells

Star Wars goes back to basics with the Empire and Rebellion series. The series’ debut novel Razor’s Edge is delivered by veteran author Martha Wells and focuses on Princess Leia Organa in the early days after the Battle of Yavin and before the dramatic events of The Empire Strikes Back.

Razor’s Edge is a solid edition to the Star Wars library, but there are a few issues that prevent this fun read from being a truly great Star Wars book.

The story does a nice job intersecting the Rebels search for resources, the Empire’s search for the Rebels, a small group of Alderaanian survivors and a large pirate organization. We have seen the idea of Rebels either seeking resources or a base often in Star Wars stories, we have also seen the use of asteroid bases before, so some of the settings and plot points are familiar to longtime Expanded Universe readers.

There are a number of things that I really enjoyed about this book. Having a group of Alderaanian survivors and Leia interact was really interesting, it allows for interesting characterization for Leia, particularly the way Leia’s allegiances are spread between her home planet and the Rebellion. It also deals nicely with Leia’s desire to put her mission above her personal interest and feelings. Some of the most amusing scenes are the novels are slightly racy by Star Wars standards and involve Leia and Han’s attraction. But I think portraying Leia’s attraction to Han is relate-able and helps to portray the internal struggle that she is going through trying to stay focused on the Rebellion. This Leia and Han interplay also provides some nice lighthearted humor in the story. It is easy to play armchair psychiatrist and see how Leia’s throwing herself into the Rebellion can keep her from emotionally processing the loss of her world and her family, it is also easy to see how she would be afraid of getting close to Han because allowing those emotions out would breach the walls she is trying to build around herself as a defense mechanism.

The three most prominent characters in this novel are all powerful females. The interaction and actions of Leia, Caline Metara, and Aral tukor Viest drive the plot for the majority of the novel. These three are all well characterized and compelling characters. There is much discussion about gender and diversity in Star Wars and other science fiction, but this novel is an example of it feeling organic to the story rather then being forced. It is also interesting how these characters are juxtaposed to each other, Leia on the side of good, Viest on the side of evil, and Captain Metara somewhere in between.

Wells also crafts what is one of my favorite villains to be created in the Expanded Universe in many years. I loved Aral tukor Viest, the special abilities she has because of her species, her sadistic despotism and what little we learn of her back story had me hooked and wanting more of this pirate. Viest is like the illegitimate love child of Hondo Ohnaka and Natasi Daala. I would love to see Viest as the primary villain in a trilogy of books.

Unfortunately this leads me into my biggest problems with the novel. This is a story that begs for more fleshing out. It is often said that in terms of length, a book should only be as long as it needs to be to tell the story. Having a book that is overly long because the author is uneconomical with their words can be just as frustrating as a book being short. In the case of Razor’s Edge I think that the relative short length of the novel hurt both plot and more particularly character development.

Timothy Zahn is the master in the Expanded Universe of weaving various subplots into a novel and having them all come crashing back together at the climax of this novel. Wells does this to an extent in this novel, but to me the use of the Imperial portions in this novel felt odd. It would have worked much better if there was more integration of the Imperial story line through the middle portion of the novel.

The biggest issue I had in reading Razor’s Edge was what felt like very uneven characterization. This was a problem for me given the number of new characters we were dealing with. Some characters I thought where brought to life very vividly such as Metara and Viest, while others seemed rather generic and nondescript. On the whole among the Alderaanian survivors and the Rebels there is hardly a character that made a real impact on me as a reader.

I really enjoyed Razor’s Edge for the action and the return to the Original Trilogy time period. While I may be critical of the novel in part it is because it was good enough that I can see the tweaks that would take it to the next level of enjoyment for me as a reader.

Razor’s Edge is a solid debut novel for a new Star Wars author, but it is more of a solid double high off the outfield wall than a home run.

Razor’s Edge will be available in hardcover, ebook, and unabridged audiobook formats on September 24. For more on the novel visit Random House’s Razor’s Edge page.

Binding the Galaxy Together: A Look at the Lucasfilm “Story Group”

A seemingly minor bit of news out of the recent Star Wars: Celebration Europe convention was an oblique reference to something called the “story group” within Lucasfilm. If you know me at all you know that not only do I love a good story, but I am also fascinated by the creative process of writing and of collaborative storytelling. The idea that there may be significant changes in the decision making and creative processes of how the story of Star Wars is told has me very curious. It has me wondering…

What is the story group?
@stern_man More than 140 chars allow. Nutshell: story group is about ensuring future storytelling meshes better far more than in past
— Pablo Hidalgo
Background on Continuity and Storytelling:

In interviews with some key players at Lucasfilm we get a background on how the cross division storytelling process and continuity review has worked previously. This background allows us to guess at what has changed with what appears to be this new working group across Lucasfilm’s divisions.

In a 2010 interview Pablo Hidalgo, Lucasfilm’s Brand Communications Manager (formerly manager of on-line content) discusses his previously informal input in the storytelling process.
“20. And now, fan questions. Lord Tuetanus from Durango asks, what is the editorial process for creation of new content in Lucasfilm? Continuity, magical word, how is it controlled?
If you’re referring to published, expanded universe content, then it’s really up to the editors in our Licensing group to work with the publishing partners and the authors to develop a story, and the editors and Leland Chee review the story for any new continuity, potential conflicts, or opportunities to connect to other stories. I have no formal involvement in this, but I am an occasional guest who is allowed to sit in on story conferences and offer input from time to time.
If you’re referring to the stories that come out television production, that comes out collaboration from George Lucas, Dave Filoni, and a team of writers during a story conference. They have access to all the Expanded Universe reference books during development, and will occasionally send queries to Leland and myself to see if there’s opportunity to connect with the EU. But aside from that, I have no involvement on the story side of The Clone Wars.” (Source: Korpil.net Interview with Pablo Hidalgo, Nov. 2010)

On the publishing side former Lucas Licensing Executive Editor Sue Rostoni described the story creation process to EU Cantina.

“EUC (Fan Question): I was wondering if you could describe how you handle manuscripts. I don’t fully understand what happens when you get them. Do they come to you electronically, or on paper? How do you make edits? When editing, what do you look for?

SR: The manuscripts arrive electronically. In the past, I would print them out and edit on paper, but over the last few years I’ve grown fond of editing electronically. It’s easier for me and I believe I do a better job. For one, my writing gets sloppy after a few sentences and there’s never enough room in the margin or between lines to really get my thoughts out. There’s no limit to my verbosity when editing electronically. So I edit in “Word” using “Track Changes” and the “Comments” options.

I especially use the comment option when there are continuity issues for Leland Chee’s input, or specific things for him to note in the Holocron. Leland will make his comments in the manuscript and send it back to me.

Shelly Shapiro is more responsible for seeing that the story works as a whole and the writing runs smoothly, while I make sure the story and characters fit the sensibility of Star Wars. I watch for things that take me out of the story, sometimes just a word like “typewriter” will do it, sometimes it’s when someone acts out of character. And since Star Wars is populated by an abundance of aliens, I have to remind myself that while most readers will automatically “see” a Wookiee, it helps to have a few reminders of the appearance of some of the less known aliens.
And, of course, I want to have an emotional response to the story, to both be entertained and challenged, and to be able to identify how the events change the primary characters.” (Source: EUCantina.net Interview with Sue Rostoni, May 2011)

Leland Chee, Lucasfilm’s Continuity Database Administrator (a.k.a Keeper of the Holocron) explains the Holocron and his role in the creative story telling process.

Image by Siddique Hussain
The Holocron which Chee created replaced the old Star Wars bible (a set of large black binders) and contains various in-universe information broken down by subject matter of Character, Location, Alien/Creature, Technology (Droids, Vehicles, Weapons), Group/Organization, Terminology, Event, Flora, and Language. As of 2011 there was over 45,000 entrees in the Holocron. The Holocron is used by various individuals withing Lucasfilm as well as select licensees and writers.
”In the real world, the Holocron is an internal database maintained by Lucas Licensing that tracks all the fictional elements created for theStar Wars universe. The database includes material from the films and The Clone WarsTV series as well as everything from the Expanded Universe (EU) which includes books, comics, videogames, trading cards, roleplaying games, websites, toys, cartoons, and just about every officially sanctioned fictional element of the Star Wars universe.” (Source: Keeper of the Holocron on Facebook)
The Holocron allows folks whether it is editorial staff or writers themselves to check elements of their stories against the established continuity.

Roqoo Depot did an excellent interview with Chee in which he details what his job is and isn’t as well as his input on the creative process.
“What’s a typical day at the office?
LC: Because we have so many diverse projects going on at a time, I can never be quite sure how my day is going to go. The bulk of of my time is spent going through novel manuscripts, comic book scripts, and video game documents. Oftentimes, the authors and editors will add or point out specific continuity questions on the manuscripts they’d like me to address. As I am going through these, I am creating new entries in the Holocron database for anything new that’s created and adding any new backstory to existing entries. I also spend time going through art, whether it be interior art for Essential Guides, video game concept art, or comic art. At any point through the day, I may get calls or e-mails from editors or authors with questions or requests for reference. The scope of my duties goes beyond publishing and video games. I might be asked to check the text on the back of a trading card, or check trivia questions on a calendar, or confirm vehicle stats on a t-shirt. I might be asked to check pronunciations for an audio book, or someone needs the Aurebesh font, or someone might be looking to confirm that the appropriate translation for “Darth Vader” in French is “Dark Vador.” And I do this for the Indiana Jones material as well.

What are the most common misconceptions about your job?

LC: Star Wars continuity, even EU continuity, does not rest on my shoulders. Our licensees submit product directly to either our editors or our product development managers. The Holocron serves as a tool for them to check any issues regarding continuity, and after that, if the editors or developers have any questions, they pass it along to me to check for continuity. At the same time, I am constantly on the lookout to make sure that any new continuity being created gets entered in the Holocron. With regard to the the films and The Clone Wars, I am not involved in continuity approvals though I have often been asked to provide reference material.

At what point in the reviewing/editing process of a Star Wars book do you come in and look for continuity errors? Do you work with the author during the writing process, after the final draft is submitted, or after the editors go over it?

LC: I work with the Licensing editors at the onset looking at outlines and manuscripts. I have been present for nearly all of the writers’ conferences for the multi-author/multi-book story dating back to when I started in 2000. I work directly with the authors when there are specific continuity points that need ironing out or if the books are heavily tied to other titles currently in development, whether it involves The Clone Wars, video games, or other fiction.” (Source: Roqoo Depot Interview with Leland Chee)

In addition to the processes they described we know that there are different story conferences that occur at Lucasfilm each year. For The Clone Wars series before a season went into production, Lucas, Filoni and other writers and production staff on the series would meet at Skywalker Ranch to break the stories and assign writing duties for episodes and story arcs to writers. On the licensing end there has been a greater push in recent years of cooperation between the comic license holder Dark Horse Comics and the adult novel license holder Del Rey. This spirit of cooperation has extended to editorial staff conferences at Lucasfilm where the staff at Lucas Licensing (LucasBooks) get together with editors from Dark Horse and Del Rey and develop story ideas and plot out the direction of the Expanded Universe.

So in the past while there were certainly organized periods of time when story telling whether it was an adult or young adult novelization of a television property like The Clone Wars, or multiple stories taking place in the same time period with some of the same characters like the Knight Errant comic and novel, we have seen cooperation between Lucasfilm, Lucas Licensing and it’s licensees. What we haven’t really seen is a unified storytelling vision that has been executed across all platforms.

I think some of this stems from previous leadership, where as his own privately held company, George Lucas may have allowed the licensing division to let other storytellers play in his universe, he didn’t really consider that part of his story so he tolerated it’s existence and sometimes enjoyed it and borrowed from it. At the same time his focus was very much on telling the stories he wanted to tell. The result is you had the storytelling in Star Wars being pulled in various directions across multiple in-universe time periods. Folks like Leland Chee played traffic cop, seeming to prevent as many crashes as possible but acknowledging that it was never going to all fit perfectly.

With the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney and the announcement of new films and new TV ventures it created a great deal of uncertainty for the direction of future Star Wars storytelling in other formats. What seems to have developed is a bit of a holding pattern. Until it is known what exactly the Sequel Trilogy is going to do to continuity we don’t really know what is going to happen to the Expanded Universe.

What is the purpose of this new “Story Group?”

Disney did not become the giant corporation that it is by being stupid. The prime revenue sources for the Star Wars property will come from feature films. Everything else is and should be secondary to the films. It also makes sense that as you attempt to attract new fans and hook them on new Star Wars stories for years to come that you would want simplify the Star Wars universe, grounding everything primarily in the first six films so that they can jump in now with Episode VII or with Star Wars Rebels and the stories will make sense and fit.

To me the indication based on the description above is that the purpose of this group is to enforce narrative or continuity discipline going forward. Which means a different emphasis in the editorial oversight from Lucasfilm and not allowing as much decision making on the licensee end of things on the direction of plots and characters.

I believe that this will have two effects in the short term. The first is that it will provide a more cohesive set of stories. The second is that we will hit a storytelling bottleneck, where the pace and number of stories released in other medium will be greatly reduced until we have a clearer picture of where the story in the films is going.

Of course the beauty of the story group is that assuming the key players on the film side of the company are part of it, it should allow the story group to have access to the film stories as early as possible which will let them commission books, comics and animation that fit with this.

There will no doubt be some conflicts as last minute edits and decisions in the films could create continuity hiccups with other materials, but no matter what system you establish that is going to occur.

What do we know about the Story Group?

At present we don’t have a great deal of information about the story group.

It is not clear whether it is a formal structure within Lucasfilm or more of an informal or ad hoc working group. Based on Pablo’s tweet it sounds like it is more formal than anything they have had in place in the past.

The membership of the group is also unclear. We do not know how many members the story group has or who is part of the group.
Jennifer Heddle, LucasBooks Senior Editor
It appears that at least Pablo Hidalgo and Leland Chee are part of the group. As Senior Editor at Lucasfilm/LucasBooks Jennifer Heddle is almost certainly part of the group as well, she is the successor to Sue Rostoni and deals with both novels and comics. Simon Kinberg who is one of the three executive producers on Star Wars Rebels is also involved in the Star Wars feature films for Lucasfilm so it would make tons of sense for him to be a key figure in the story group.

Other likely names to be involved would be Michael Arndt, Lawrence Kasdan, Dave Filoni, and Greg Weisman.

At the senior leadership levels of Lucasfilm, Paul Southern is Lucasfilm’s Vice President, Licensing and Consumer Products Marketing and Senior Advisor Howard Roffman (former head of Licensing) could also be part of the story group.

Additionally it could be a bit like the United Nations Security Council where there are some permanent members and some temporary members. Individuals like JJ Abrams or Kathleen Kennedy may sit in on meetings, lead a meeting or simply send a memorandum with instructions to a meeting or they could be core members of the story group. We simply don’t have much information at this point.

Star Wars Rebels Rumor: Shooting Down the Billy Dee Williams Rumor

Some interesting speculation was put out at the end of the latest episode of Rebel Force Radio, where hosts Jason and Jimmy discussed an email they received from a fan attending Rhode Island Comic Con where Billy Dee Williams had a panel hosted by his manager on November 2nd.

Towards the end of the panel Billy Dee is asked about his role on of Leroy Jethro Moore on NCIS and if there was any plans for him to return to the show. Following this Billy Dee’s manager then asks the audience if they have seen the show and then also asks the audience if they had seen Billy Dee on Modern Family. Billy Dee then says, ” I am about to go off and do something with Netflix.” His manager interjects, “Oh right, the pilot.” Billy Dee continues, “Next week on Monday…Tuesday” His manager then asks, “What is the name of it?” To which Billy Dee replies somewhat unsure, “Uh.” Until his manager once again interjects and says “Rebels.” At this point Billy Dee continues saying, “Uh, Rebels but I can’t talk about it.” His manager continues, “your not allowed to talk about it.” Billy Dee continues, “I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about it.” His manager then says, “Whoops.” A member of the audience then asks, “Is it Star Wars Rebels?” To this Billy Dee’s manager quickly responds, “No!” and moves on to the next question.

Disney To Publish “Star Wars Ralph McQuarrie Picture Book”

The name of artist Ralph McQuarrie has been all over the place in the promotional activity surrounding the new television series, Star Wars Rebels. For fans who may not yet have a collection of some of McQuarrie’s art, Disney will be publishing a new book, “Star Wars Ralph McQuarrie Picture Book” The classic tale of good versus evil set in a galaxy far, far away, quickly became a cultural phenomenon during its time, inspiring a generation of story lovers and storytellers. Now, the original trilogy of Star Wars shines anew with the vibrant concept art of Ralph McQuarrie, the legendary conceptual designer behind the original trilogy.

Collected in a picture book for the first time, McQuarrie’s art is paired with captivating text by a high-profile author-a winning combination that will delight Star Wars fans old and new and delight generations of readers to come.

Star Wars Rebels Report: John Williams Will Not Be Composing Any Music For Rebels

This week MakingStarWars.net heard a rumor from a source at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts that;

“John Williams is writing the new Star Wars Cartoon’s theme song. Part of the deal that brought Williams back to Star Wars also brought him on to do the themes of two television projects for Lucasfilm.”

We discussed this rumor on the latest episode of the Rebels Report Podcast. We also reached out to Lucasfilm for comment on the rumor. Lucasfilm Publicist Tracy Cannobbio responded with the following;

“I wanted to get back to you on your inquiry regarding John Williams. He is not composing music for Star Wars Rebels. Of course, as was announced at Star Wars Celebration Europe, Mr. Williams is going to score Star Wars: Episode VII.

Unfortunately this rumor was a false alarm, but I think it is safe to assume whoever the composer working on Star Wars Rebels is, we will feel the influence of Williams in the shows music and no doubt hear at least segments from the famous scores that Williams has composed for the franchise.