Disney’s Star Wars Rebels Panel and Sneak Peek at WonderCon

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Jonathan and I just got back from WonderCon 2014 in Anaheim, California and this was one of the premiere panels we were able to attend. WonderCon hasn’t *quite* reached San Diego Comic Con infamy with overnight camping for coveting seating space, but it’s certainly on it’s way, with 1 to 3 hour wait times for big name panels.
Cast and crew from the upcoming LucasFilm animated TV series Star Wars Rebels – that features many of the key talents from the Emmy Award-winning Star Wars: The Clone Wars – shared an exclusive look at the new show that gave us a glimpse of the new characters having adventures in the Star Wars universe sometime between Episodes III and IV.
The panel hosts labeled it as “a dark time in the galaxy”, where the Empire will be the main villain of the story, yet they were quick to point out that the animation style and “feel” of the show will be bright, playful and action packed. Executive Producer Dave Filoni mentioned that the style would be reminiscent of Avatar: The Last Airbender – where the animation is very expressive as far as conveying the characters emotions. (Huuuge plus in my book.)
Additionally, they acknowledged the influence of Walt Disney animation style in Star Wars rebels – pointing out the the influence from Disney’s Tangled, where 3D animation is used to capture 2D style facial expressions. The Star Wars Rebels team is seeking to capture something similar in the ongoing series.

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Anyhoo, the panel talent consisted of:
Executive Producer of Star Wars Rebel, Dave Filoni – an animation director, writer, and animator best known for his work on Avatar: The Last Airbender and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Art Director Kilian Plunkett – an artist known for dynamic action and fluid effects who has worked on numerous Star Wars projects from high profile Dark Horse Comics to LucasFilm Animation. He was the lead character designer on Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Voice of Hera Syndulla, Vanessa Marshall – a voice actress with an impressive portfolio voicing over 60 different characters ranging from Nickelodeon to Disney to countless video games.
And surprise guest:
Soundtrack Composer Kevin Kliner – the Emmy-nominated composer for films and TV including Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Madison, Wing Commander, Hell on Wheels and CSI: Miami.

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In the WonderCon exclusive video clip, the main character, a Twi’lek named Hera Syndulla and her droid Chopper are engaged in a space battle with a couple of TIE fighters. The animation style is sharp and cutting edge, and judging off of the short scene we saw, I’d say it’s fit for a feature length film, quality-wise.
Executive Producer Dave Filoni pointed out the obvious for the lightsaber wielding Star Wars nerds in the audience – the scene was veeeeery similar to the scene in A New Hope where a certain group of heroes were trying to escape from TIE Fighters. But this, he assures us, is a good thing… it’s meant to show that the series is created to evok the spirit of the original Star Wars trilogy. “It’s classic Star Wars. It’s what I saw when I was a kid in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.” Filoni explained.
In addition to the video clip sneak peek, we were also treated to the theme song for Star Wars Rebels. While the music is composed by guest panelist Kevin Kliner, the composer of The Clone Wars, the sound is vastly different. Apparently George Lucas asked Kliner to mostly avoid the classic Star Wars movie themes in that soundtrack, whereas Star Wars Rebels was encouraged to embrace them. So the main theme for Rebels is pretty much an explosion of classic Star Wars music – including the Rebel Alliance theme heard in Return of the Jedi and the iconic Force Theme.

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More good news for Star Wars fan itching for new core characters – Star Wars Rebels will be focusing on the same group throughout the entire series (for instance, Hera will be in every episode). They’re not main characters in the Star Wars universe like Luke or Anakin or Yoda, but they are intended to give us a glimpse into the “heart of the Star Wars universe”. We’re intended to see see character developement in the same characters over time, making that small “heart of the Star Wars universe” just as endearing and loved as the main players. So far, IMO.. it’s not looking too shabby!
My favorite part of the panel was when Vanessa Marshall (who is a huge Star Wars nerd by the way) mentioned her story and influence on the character of Hera. During auditions for the “top secret role”, she suspected by the dialogue that it was something Star Warsy and tried to “play it cool”. When she came in for additional auditions, she saw the illustration of Hera as a Twi’lek and tried to “not have a heart attack”.. especially when she learned she booked the part.
But my favorite bit of insider info (crazy cat lady coming out here), was when she mentioned how she envisions her lines to the droid, Chopper. Apparently, George Lucas once referred to R2-D2 as “the family dog”. So Chopper has been designed by this new crew as “the family cat”. He just hangs out, doesn’t really do what he’s told, and only does what he’s told when it somehow benefits him.
So Marshall explained that as an owner of a Maine Coon cat with pretty much that EXACT personality, she has been reading her lines to Chopper in much the same way she talks to her cat. Ummmm, awesome?!

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Also, the panelist invited this cosplaying family onstage to show off their cosplays from the not-even-aired-yet series. (Hope they end up liking the series.. don’t want another Episode 1 on our hands. Yeah, that happened to me when I cosplayed as Padme. UGH!)
But anyhoo, I’m excited to check this show out! Star Wars Rebels is scheduled to premiere this fall as a one hour special telecast on Disney Channel, followed by a regular series on Disney XD Channels.

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Are you planning on checking this new series out? Did you get to check out any panels at WonderCon 2014? Share below!

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Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

8 thoughts on “Disney’s Star Wars Rebels Panel and Sneak Peek at WonderCon

  • 23 April, 2014 at 2:27 am
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    I, dare I say it, am actually excited about this new Star Wars production… I hate getting my hopes up for Star Wars, as George Lucas has repeatedly blown holes in my childhood memories. However, with the cast and directors they’ve got lined up on this show I think I’ll break my new outlook on the franchise.

    Reply
    • 23 April, 2014 at 3:30 pm
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      With the same minds behind Avatar: The Last Airbender, I’m willing to give it a shot… But I do think I may be going into it was a “this might REALLY suck” mindset.. for which I blame Lucas. 😉

      Reply
  • 23 April, 2014 at 1:48 pm
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    My husband is uber bajiggity about this one.

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    • 23 April, 2014 at 3:31 pm
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      I’m assuming “uber bajiggity” is a… good thing? 😉

      Reply
    • 28 April, 2014 at 8:39 pm
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      Planning on watching the show? ^_^

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  • 30 April, 2014 at 3:40 am
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    I doubt I’ll be checking this series out, I’m much more into other things but it sounds like it was a cool panel and the graphics look good, if I was a huge Star Wars nut I’d be planning on watching it, but who knows. The family looked so cute with the kids with them.

    Reply
    • 3 May, 2014 at 3:35 pm
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      You might BECOME a big Star Wars nut after watching it, who knows? 😉 😉

      Reply

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