He might have been too young to understand everything that was going on when the original “Star Wars” movie hit theaters in 1977, but now animator Sergio Paez can call himself more than just an avid fan of the fantasy adventure.
As a storyboard artist for Lucasfilm Animation, Paez, 31, worked on the feature-length animated film “Stars Wars: The Clone Wars,” a 3D version based on the animated TV series of the same name, which ran from 2003 to 2005 on Cartoon Network.
With the popularity of “Star Wars” always evident in the entertainment industry, Paez, who lives in San Francisco, looks forward to giving Jedi followers a new chapter in the space saga. He spoke to me via phone last week about his work on the film and the Latin influences he used for one of the characters.
I though we were done with “Star Wars” after “Revenge of the Sith.”
Well, [“Star Wars: The Clone Wars”] is just an extension. Cartoon Network did a couple of shorts called “Clone Wars” that were really popular. Because of that, the idea for maintaining “The Clone Wars” movie came about. We wanted to continue the story in a new 3D medium.
Did you use the Cartoon Network series as a starting point for the designs?
We looked at a lot of those designs. They were very well done. Since we were fleshing our characters out in 3D, we had to adapt a graphic style into something that would work well in three-dimensional. We’ve taken that and put more detail in the characters and gave it it’s own unique look.
Between “Revenge of the Sith” three years ago and this film, there weren’t many “Star Wars”-influenced productions except for maybe a video game. Do you see “The Clone Wars” as something “Star Wars” fans needed – a sort of fix?
I clearly think most fans are saying, “Yes, I want as much ‘Star Wars’ as I can get,” but the thing that makes it interesting for me is to see the characters from the movies, video games, and comic books turn into real personalities and real people. What we are trying to do is get deeper into who the Jedi is and where they are coming from. I don’t know if we necessarily had to fill a desire for people with a new “Star Wars,” but we had to tell the story of the clones. Even in six movies, we couldn’t tell all the backstories.
As a storyboard artist, what exactly did you work on?
I worked in the story department. What we do is flush out comic book-style images from the script. We work a lot with the director, the writers, and George Lucas to help enhance a lot of what is written down from the initial ideas. My contribution specifically was to work on a number of sequences, specifically the opening battle.
Was there ever a point in the process where you wanted to sketch in a Latino Jedi?
(Laughing) I would love to! I think some of the influences are leaning that way. Jimmy Smits, who played one of Padme’s generals in the [live-action] films, could be based on a Latino character. I had the opportunity to design a character, Gen. Loathsome, and a lot of the influences I used for his armor were Mayan and Latin American-based costume design. It’s nice that we get that freedom. There is certainly flexibility to add your personal flare.