Today was the first day of Star Wars Celebration V and while I attended a variety of panels and the exhibition hall floor, two panels in particular forced me to write up my coverage quickly because of all the news pouring out of them.

They were both Clone Wars panels, first was Joel Aron's lighting and visual FX panel, and then later was the "Evolution of Clone Wars" panel with Aron and Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni.

At first, I thought these panels were going to be retreads of things I'd seen at Comic-Con, but I was treated with things very new.  Instead of a rundown of the panels, since they were basically just them talking, I'll cover all the major news points below.

Firstly, the two part season premiere on September 17th, takes us to Kamino to see the clones being trained in their training facility.  A lot of the scenes there were cut (including a scene in a Kamino infirmiry), but I would expect to see them on a DVD release of the season.  There is a "Battle of Kamino" in the second episode of the premiere.  Extended shots from the trailer were also shown, highlighting tentacled robots climbing up a Kaminoan city.  It was also mentioned more than once that in order to expand Kamino for the show, Filoni went back to the original concept drawings for Attack of the Clones and intimated that a lot of what the entire show is based on are concepts developed for the films that didn't make it in.

As far as production of the show, Season 3 is already more than two-thirds complete.  Season 4 is in production; Season 5 is being talked about.  The word is that the show really will go on as long as we continue watching it.

The next thing to remember is that every story on this show originates from George Lucas.  Though writers flesh out the story lines and Dave helps add in the finer details, these are really George's stories that they execute in animated form.  A question was asked about the possibility of Lucas Animation doing something like DC's Animated Features (like last month's Under the Red Hood release) and Filoni seemed very doubtful.  "Everything comes from George and, as much as I'm a fan of the EU, I think he'd want to just show you something new."

When asked about the possibility of a new feature film version of the cartoon, Filoni said, "I can't picture finding the time to do it.  It's better to make you guys a mini-movie every week instead."

There was much talk of Boba Fett, Pre Vizsla and the Mando warriors we saw in a couple of different story arcs in Season 2.  Filoni described Mandalore in the Clone Wars era much like Post World War I Germany and hinted strongly that Satine's government was very precarious and that Pre Vizsla (the character voiced by Iron Man director Jon Favreau) might very well be poised to be the Mandalorian Hitler of the Star Wars universe.  He confronted the EU controversy over Mandalore head on and knocked his answer out of the park.  When asked if the Slave I was okay (since it was last seen crashed over Hondo Ohnaka's hideout in season 2), Filoni remarked, "Slave I is fine.  Maybe Hondo has Slave I since he's sort of a junk dealer?  Boba's in jail, it's not like he has a use for it.  But maybe he gets out, but I don't know anything about that, because I can't tell you."

Another fan asked him point blank if Boba gets his armour and Filoni blanched at the question and danced around it rather well.  "Well, he gets it at some point, doesn't he?"

Perhaps the biggest news of the panel was the reveal of the Republic Commando's Delta squad from the video game.  They appeared in a scene showed three times during the course of the "Evolution" panel.  A shuttle came down in the rain (a very convincing and incredibly well-animated rain) and landed in front of Adi Gallia, Saesse Tinn, Plo Koon, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.  The cargo hold opens revealing the Republic Commandos, who pull down a floating coffin down the entry ramp and explain to the Jedi that "there were no survivors".  Adi Gallia is alarmed, since not even the Jedi survived.  And Plo Koon and Obi-Wan debate what this phantom menace killing Jedi could be.  All in all, the scene revealed little, but the animation has taken such a quantum leap forward in quality, it was worth watching repeatedly.

And while that may have been the biggest news, perhaps my favorite was hearing that Ahmed Best was back as the voice of Jar Jar Binks.  I know a lot of you probably wouldn't care so much about that, but as annoying as Jar Jar might be, it's doubly annoying to have someone else do the voice.  It might sound weird, but it's true.

As far as what else we can expect out of Season 3, Filoni recited a piece of the opening crawl from Revenge of the Sith: "There are heroes on both sides.  Evil is everywhere."  If there's a theme to this season, he said "it's revealing things.  And one of the biggest things is that we're going to explore is the Separatists and we'll see some of the heroes on their side and why they're doing what they're doing."

(More Pictures and coverage to come soon!)

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