Maya Goes to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Lucasfilm Ltd. and Lucasfilm Animation employed Autodesk Inc.’s Maya software to create a distinctive verson of the Star Wars Universe for the theatrical feature Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and will continue to use it to produce episodes of the upcoming television series for Cartoon Network. Maya serves as the creative hub for the global production that leverages Lucasfilm facilities in the U.S. and Singapore, and partner studio CGCG in Taipei

Lucasfilm chief technology officer Richard Kerris comments, ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars brings an entirely new look and feel to Star Wars by moving it into animation. We wanted to use technology that would live up to the high standards of Lucasfilm, and selected Autodesk Maya as our animation platform for both the film and TV series. We chose Maya for its creative tools, extensibility and large user base. Maya is the backbone of our global production environment, enabling us to seamlessly share work between our United States-based creative team and our production studios in Asia.”

Digital artists in California, at Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and at CGCG have already created more than 30 episodes of the TV series. Lucasfilm Animation’s U.S. team establishes the storylines and key scenes, while animators at the studios in Asia produce the animation. This around-the-clock production chain generates an average of eight finished minutes of animation each week, a rarity for film and TV production.

‘Maya has become the animation platform of choice for the film industry,’ adds Kerris. ‘It greatly reduces the complexity of working globally. At Lucasfilm, we’re constantly developing new tools, and we fit them into Maya. In essence, Maya is the concrete foundation that lets us explore new concepts and maximize productivity and creativity’without disrupting our global production pipeline.’

Star Wars: The Clone Wars has earned $32.5 million worldwide since its theatrical debut on Aug. 15. The television series is scheduled to begin airing on Cartoon Network this fall. For more information, go to the official website at www.starwars.com/clonewars/site/index.html.