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Creating "Yoda" in "Ambush" of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars"

Lucasfilm has announced the rebroadcast of “Ambush” on Friday, February 20, 2009, which has rapidly become a fan-favorite episode of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars CGI animated TV series. The announcement contains comments from supervising director Dave Filoni on the story challenges that Yoda presented, along with some of the technical challenges faced by the animation team in bringing the diminutive Jedi master Yoda to life.

The full press release follows.



(click to enlarge)

Witness the return of the Jedi in “Ambush,” the resounding fan-favorite episode of the hit animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, airing again at 9 p.m. ET/PT Friday, February 20, on Cartoon Network.

The diminutive Jedi Master takes on an entire droid army, while at the same time teaching the clones under his command a powerful lesson about the nature of the Force. It was this deft combination of action and Star Wars philosophy – with a touch of impish humor from the venerable Master – that secured the episode’s place at the top of the fan-favorite list. The CLONE WARS premiere episode, “Ambush” scored as the most-watched series debut in Cartoon Network history. STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS has since gone on to become the top-rated series in its time period with all male demographics, with “Ambush” consistently ranking atop the fan-favorite lists!

“Yoda is such an important icon in the Star Wars universe, and the importance of doing right by him – and the fans – was not lost on us,” says supervising director Dave Filoni. “There were heavy expectations going into this series, and since he played such an integral role in the launch episode, Yoda had to carry the weight of those expectations on his little shoulders. Of course, if he’s taught us anything, though, it’s that size matters not.”

Despite Yoda’s own confidence in the Force, bringing the Jedi Master to life was a distinct challenge for the artists at Lucasfilm Animation, who had to develop his signature look and personality in an all-new medium – while at the same time launching the most expansive look at the Star Wars universe yet. The process began with concept art, meant to convey the design of the character and to capture the various moods and expressions necessary to flesh out any given scene.

“We’ve seen Yoda in many different forms, from the puppets used in Episode V to the complete CG rendering of the prequels to the 2-D animation of the micro-series,” says Filoni. “There was a lot of source material to form the foundation, but we had to make Yoda a living part of our CLONE WARS design. And we had an opportunity to combine everything in this episode – from Yoda’s serious side, as we saw it in the prequels, to the playful side that was our first introduction to the character in The Empire Strikes Back.”

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