Watch: Lightsaber battles, model making, and the return of Darth Maul

The first part of our video diary was all about the build-up to the trip out to Skywalker Ranch.  Once we got there, we had time for a little breakfast and Toshi and I started to discuss what sort of questions he might ask in the interviews he’d be doing that day.

This was a different situation than when he interviewed The Muppets.  On that press day, he had time to prepare questions, and he knew he’d be doing the interview.  Because I treated this trip as a surprise, Toshi didn’t really have that sort of prep time, and he told me he was nervous about doing these interviews.

When Fox sent out the invite for the weekend, it was apparent that their big idea for this junket was having kids handle the interviews.  Anyone who came was required to bring a young reporter with them, which meant I finally got to meet the sons of guys like JoBlo’s Mike Sampson and Latino Review’s Kel Chavez.  I told Toshi that I’d do whatever he wanted for him to be comfortable as we went through the various interviews.

There were four stations for us to cycle through.  First, there was a set-up with Concept Model Artist John Goodson.  Then Matthew Wood, a Sound Editor who is also known for voicing General Grievous and many other characters on “The Clone Wars”, talked to the kids about how they create sound effects.  There was an interview about the return of Darth Maul to the final episode of the fourth season of “The Clone Wars” with CG Supervisor Joel Aron.  And then finally there was a combat training session for each of the kids with ObiShawn, a superfan who was hired by Lucasfilm to participate in the weekend.

You’ll also see a stand-up we did on the back porch of the Ranch.  What struck me most as we spent the afternoon there is that it is a peaceful place, and I can only imagine that when you’re working on the sound mix of a movie or tweaking the final cut of something, it must be great to be in that sort of environment.  Yes, Skywalker Sound is state-of-the-art and has an amazing library of effects to draw on, but more than that, when you’re working there, the rest of the industry must seem to be a million miles away.

It also struck me that there was far less overt “Star Wars” memorabilia on display at the Ranch than I expected.  It’s a working production facility, not a museum, and the movie posters on display come from every era of film and from various countries.

For the real “Star Wars” superdose, it took the Sunday trip out to ILM at the Presidio, and that’s what you’ll see tomorrow in our final video diary from the weekend.

“Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace 3D” opens in theaters tomorrow.