I really hadn't intended to attend the premiere of the third season of Clone Wars in San Francisco at the Presidio (which is home to Lucasarts and Industrial Light and Magic) and is home to the infamous "Yoda Statue".  Hundreds of kids from the local boys and girls club were invited to the ranch along with the cast and crew of Clone Wars, as well as five or six members of the press.

Cartoon Network also had a crew on hand, filming the lead up for September 17th's television premiere of the show.

James Arnold Taylor (Voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi) seemed to be hosting the countdown to the premiere.  He interviewed fellow castmates like Dee Bradley Baker (Voice of the Clones) below:

Dee was also inducted as an honorary member of the 501st, who had plenty of Clones on hand to present him with his plaque:

After that, I had a chance to talk with the major players.  First we talked to Ashley (which Big Shiny Robot! Reporter Scarlett RoBotica wrote up for us here.)

Ashley also spoke a bit about what she liked in Season 2 and what we can expect about Ahsoka getting into Season 3.  "It's weird recording them and watching them finished.  When I saw the brain slugs episode, I squealed like a little girl."

"As far as Season 3 goes, we'll be seeing Ahsoka growing up in more ways than one, and that's really all I can say about that."

Next we got to talk to Cary Silver, producer of the Clone Wars.  Without even asking him a question, he blurted out confidently, "Season 3 is going to rock."

When asked what was different about Season 3, he explained that "George Lucas is constantly raising the bar and we're working on an established foundation of the best production team.  The show has really hit it's rhythm."

I then asked him what his favorite part of being apart of Clone Wars, he remarked, "I love being part of the Star Wars and working with Dave and George is incredible."  He also described the fan reaction to tidbits of Season 3 at Celebration V "mindblowing."

Next, I had a chance to talk to James, who was a joy to see and talk to, as always.

We talked a little about our mutual love for the newest character premiering in these two episodes, a Clone named number 99.  We both agreed that he was very "Gunga Din" and he went on to explain, "The greatest thing about this show is that George Lucas is educating kids in movies and mythology.

James had some interesting things to say about Ventress and the DVD of Season 3, but as far as I can tell after watching the episode was that he was referring to the censored shot that was excised at the behest of Cartoon Network.

Then James was attacked by Seth Green:

I then talked to Seth Green and Matt Senreich about their new Star Wars show until we were interrupted by none other than George Lucas who came over to heckle us all. (seriously.)  But that report will be up tomorrow.

After that, I had a chance to talk to Dave Filoni and he provided a few juicy tidbits about not only the premiere, but also about the show in general.

We talked about the inspiration for 99, and I asked if Gunga Din was a conscious draw, or if I was reading too deeply into it.  "Now that you say that, I can see it.  But it wasn't specifically talked about.  And this all came from George, so it wouldn't surprise me.  But 99 is such a great character and I loved what we did with his relationship with Heavy.  I would love to have drawn that relationship out even more, I'd give them their own 22 minutes if I could."

One thing that I've been very curious about (and I know a number of you are, too) is the timeline of the episodes.  I asked if we'd ever get a chance to see that timeline.  "I have it, I know it.  It will get released eventually, but Season 3 is really all about cleaning up all these loose threads.  Like this premiere really fleshes out an episode from Season 1 and we have more like that."

He also told me that it would be a safe assumption that episodes where Ahsoka is not preset is a good general indicator that it occurs before the events of the movie.

It was then time to go into the theatre.

This is the theatre where ILM shows dailies and other footage and I was told by Joel Aron, the CG Supervisor on Clone Wars, that the sound system and projection in the theatre is overseen by the former head roadie from Guns and Roses, and he likes his projection bulbs bright and his audio loud.

But before we get to the episode, I want to mention that Captain Rex introduced the film:

A member of the 501st in a flawless Captain Rex costume came out and pantomimed to Dee Bradley Baker, who was introducing the film for the kids in the audience with a wireless mic off-stage.  It got the kids pumped and then the episode began.

It's a little hard to describe how both surreal and incredible it was to be sitting there, watching the season premiere of Clone Wars.  I had Joel Aron seated directly to my right.  (We chatted a bit afterwards.)  And I had George Lucas, his son Jett, Matt Senreich, and Dave Filoni directly behind me.  And we watched the episodes in the best theatre in the country, probably in the world.  The projection was sharp, bright, and clean, the sound was tremendous.  You don't realize how well-mixed the audio on Clone Wars is until you see it in full surround sound.

I was also struck by how much better the show looks blown up on the big screen.  You can actually see the paint on the models, and brushstrokes.  I hadn't really noticed them before.  This show is truly a work of art, and you don't really appreciate that fully until you see it on the big screen.

After the episodes, it was time to go, but I was asked if I wanted to be introduced to George Lucas.

Of course I wanted to be introduced to George Lucas.

We shook hands and exchanged salutations and it was a pretty important experience for me.

Though I was probably blathering like an idiot, we talked about a few things.  I thanked him for introducing me to Kurosawa.  I thanked him for helping me name my son, which made him laugh.

I also asked him why I couldn't head to the theatres on Saturday matinees to watch Clone Wars with my son.  "I don't really know.  I mean, they're designed to be theatrical.  And they're modeled after the serials.  Maybe we'll see."

I explained to him how much of a better, richer experience it was, and my observations about the brushstrokes on the models.  "It's supposed to.  This show is really supposed to look like painted, real life marionettes in front of painted backgrounds.  It's really much more akin to something like the Thunderbirds than a traditional 3D show."

After about 10 minutes of talking, we were interrupted by dozens of kids swarming for his autograph.

I said my goodbyes and left the Presidio in somewhat of a daze.

It was a fantastic night.  And as great as I thought Celebration V was, this trumps it ten fold.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for my interview with Seth Green and Matt Senreich about the new Star Wars TV show.

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