Yesterday, MovieWeb had a chance to visit Skywalker Ranch in Northern California for presentations of the "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith" DVD release and the "Star Wars: Battlefront II" video game releases, both hitting to store shelves on November 1st.

During our interviews with several of the actors and crew members in attendance, the juiciest bits seemed to come from producer Rick McCallum, who talked about many upcoming projects that George Lucas is involved in, his plans for the future, upcoming DVD releases from the Lucasfilm archives and what we can expect from both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.

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THE STAR WARS ANIMATED SERIES
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Previously, it was announced that George Lucas would be involved in two upcoming television series that expanded the Star Wars universe beyond the realm of the films. As it seems, the project is still in the conceptual stages...

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"The animation is being done right now as we speak," McCallum stated, "[That work] is being done here at the Ranch. A lot of the effects will be done in Singapore. But that won't really start moving forward, I mean it's just now conceptual work and script work now. I think George is trying to get 13 scripts done first before we really get into the pipeline of it. But that'll start happening probably at the end of March."

When Rob Coleman, lead animation director on the latest Star Wars films, was asked if he'd be involved, he responded, "Rick and I haven't talked about it yet. I am involved in the animated series right now. We're here at the Ranch as Rick said and we're currently working on the project and I'm very excited about that."

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THE STAR WARS LIVE ACTION SERIES
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As for the live-action series, plans are to move forward with a production based in Sydney. The series will be shot entirely in HD, unless of course, as McCallum stated, "another medium comes along to replace it."

Apparently the team is currently interviewing writers for the project which Lucas himself will write several episodes. According to McCallum, "there are 100 hours between Episode III and Episode IV" which they'd like to shoot. "The live action television series should happen around 2007. He's [George Lucas] just trying to figure out which direction to go in. I'm really excited about that actually. Finally, we'll have a chance to answer everybody's questions."

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When actor Ian McDiarmid, who played Emperor Palpatine in the films, was asked if he'd be making an appearance in the series, he replied, "I always answer my telephone." He also stated, "nobody really knows the details of the television series, I don't think that's because people are being particularly coy. I just think a lot of things haven't been decided yet. But I know that George's intention is to follow one of the characters who's been less highlighted up to now, but has been very popular with audiences. And sure, if it's the period between the movies, the Emperor has to be referred to. But you'll remember he was referred to often without actually appearing in the first Star Wars movie. And Peter Cushing was his very effective representative. So, I suspect there might be a number of very effective representatives."

Should we expect to see animated characters in the series? "Knowing George and knowing the franchise there's going to be animated characters in there, we just haven't discussed them yet," says Rob Coleman.

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STAR WARS IN 3D
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Back in April at the film industry event, ShoWest, Rick McCallum mentioned that Lucasfilm was looking into releasing all six Star Wars film theatrically in 3D, but at the time had no definite plans. When asked about recent happenings of this project, McCallum alluded to some major progress on the front as he was quoted as saying that Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope was already 20% complete in the transformation process to 3D.

"The major tests we did were really startling because in the process you can literally pick out every visual effect. And you can change them as you deal with each element. Even though the film wasn't planned around the 3-D idea, we can actually take advantage of it.

I think it is going to be a major form of entertainment soon. Peter Jackson is using it. Jim Cameron's next picture is going to be shot on 3-D. Robert Rodriguez is using it, so is Bob Zemeckis. I think finally these big guys are dictating to the studios that 3-D is something very exciting for them. It's not for everybody. It's not for every film, but certainly for big, live action, huge movies it is. I just think you need to differentiate."

In addition, McCallum also stated that not only was Peter Jackson planning to utilize this new technology, but that he was planning on a 3D theatrical release of his next film, King Kong, sometime after the film's initial release.

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ANOTHER VERSION OF STAR WARS: EPISODE I IN THE WORKS?
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Animator Rob Coleman also revealed some upcoming changes that audiences will be sure to see sooner or later in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.

Up until Episode II: Attack of the Clones, every appearance of Yoda in any Star Wars film consisted of a live-action puppet, acted and voiced by Frank Oz. When Episode II rolled around Yoda's performance became completely CGI.

Apparently, changes have already been made to Yoda in Episode I to digitize his performance, and match the look and feel of the character across the entire new trilogy.

"We've actually have gone ahead and did that. We did that between Episode II and III. It was really an exercise to get the team back into the character. On Episode II I was really stressing living up to what my friend here created. So a lot of our focus was on that final battle sequence between Yoda and Count Dookuu. We'd nver seen Yoda do that before. But in the process we were learning about acting as animators. So it was really exciting for me to have the team back again, between Two and Episode III. We used Episode I, as a test bed, because we really didn't know what was gonna be in Episode III, and got the team back up to speed and really honed in on our acting. And using that as springboard we went right into Episode III."

When asked if George and company would ever go back and tamper with the puppet from the original trilogy, Coleman replied with a very stern, "Absolutely not."

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THE PROGRESS OF INDIANA JONES 4
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McCallum also gave an update on what's going on with Indiana Jones 4, which he is also producing.

"George is doing 'Indiana Jones', the script, which he should finish by Sunday. He's meeting with Steven [Spielberg] next week to try to figure out where they are going to go and what changes they want to make on it."

In addition, Lucas Arts is hoping to coincide a video game release in 2007, with the release of the upcoming film, which would imerse the user in the Indiana Jones storyline.

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THE YOUNG INDY CHRONICLES
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Of course, on the topic of Indiana Jones Rick McCallum was also asked about the status of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles DVD release.

"Well, it wasn't a reality in terms of the way in which we shot it. One of the things we have been doing is we've been updating all the original 16mm images and we've been redoing the soundtracks. Over the last 18 months we've been doing a number of documentaries. Plus a lot of lectures that tie in the historical aspect of what's taking place in relationship to where he is as young kid and a young man. It was an extraordinary success outside of America. Even though we had 10, 11 million really faithful viewers, and we were put all over the place, it was just during that period we had where television was falling apart."

So, why has it taken so long to release the show? "The thing about the DVDs for us is that we don't just do one video master for anything. We really try and make an effort to get the best quality that we possibly can."

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WHAT ELSE IS NEXT?
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While George Lucas himself wasn't able to be there for this event as he was playing host to 15 Tuskegee Airmen, as he is fine tuning his producing skills on an upcoming documentary called Red Tails, which starts shooting in 2007. Rick McCallum stated, that George was exploring a ton of ideas and opportunities that ranged from several documentaries to an animated musical idea he had been tossing around.

Stay tuned for more from Skywalker Ranch next week.

Dont't forget to also check out: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull