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'Star Wars' fan event teases 'Episode VII,' 'Rebels' cartoon

We round up some of the more compelling news to come out of the Star Wars Celebration Europe fan event that drew over 20,000 people to Essen, Germany.

From left, Jeremy Bulloch, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Warwick Davis, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, and Mark Hamill attend the launch of 'Star Wars' Celebration Europe.

While the Star Wars Celebration Europe fan fest has gone the way of the Jedi, its impact is still causing ripples in the Force.

As expected, "Star Wars: Episode VII" dominated conversation at the July 26-28 event, but there was also focus on the new animated show, composer John Williams, and some interesting quotes from Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy.

'Star Wars: Episode VII'
Kennedy seemingly assured fans the sci-fi saga is in the right hands during a panel at Celebration Europe. Most importantly, the film will go back to basics and shed the overabundant CGI seen in the prequels.

"Looking at all the 'Star Wars' movies and getting a feel for what even some of the early films did, combining real locations and special effects -- that's something we're looking very seriously at," said Kennedy. "It's using model makers; it's using real droids; it's taking advantage of artwork that you actually can touch and feel. And we want to do that in combination with CG effects. We figure that's what will make it real."

In response to a fan-submitted question from Twitter asking what Kennedy has learned from "Star Wars" fans, she replied: "They control everything. We're in service to you."

Kennedy also described a typical day during the hectic process of making another "Star Wars" movie. During the week, she bounces between the Lucasfilm office in Presidio of San Francisco and attends lengthy story meetings at director J.J. Abrams' production company Bad Robot. "Great stuff is coming out of those discussions," Kennedy said.

"The story and characters are all we're talking about right now. We have an amazing team [who] can create fantastic effects, but if we don't have a great story and characters, the effects mean nothing," said Kennedy. "And if you don't spend the time you need on developing characters, and finding stories, complicated stories, the audience gets tired because they think they're seeing the same thing again and again."

John Williams
Here's some fantastic, but not so surprising news: "Star Wars: Episode VII" will feature the sweet symphonic sounds of the legendary composer John Williams.

In an exclusive video provided by Disney for Celebration Europe, Williams appears upbeat about returning to score the saga in his own special way. "Since I don't know the story -- I have to confess to you -- that I would always prefer not to read scripts, not to hear stories, and look at cue cards," said Williams. "And wait for the moment of discovery -- with the audience -- of the film itself, so I'm as surprised as they are. So, I know where to put the surprise button having not being prepared by a script."

Star Wars Rebels

Concept art from 'Rebels.'

The orange and black colors riff off the colors seen in a Rebel flight suit. Disney

It's time for a new "Star Wars" animated show, but there's little indication that it's an adult-oriented affair since it's destined for the (usually) G-rated Disney XD channel. "Star Wars Rebels" takes place between Episodes III and IV -- a time when the Empire and Rebellion are forming -- with aesthetics heavily influenced by the brilliant concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. As for the show itself, early word is that an unnamed protagonist navigates the galaxy in a spaceship named Ghost, which will be a pivotal setting in the show just like the Millennium Falcon was in the original trilogy. A large part of "The Clone Wars" team from Lucasfilm Animation will work on "Rebels," which will premiere in fall 2014 on the Disney Channel and then will run regularly on Disney XD.

While showing off some concept art, "Rebels" Executive Producer Dave Filoni chatted up the new series at Celebration Europe.

Here's the first look at Ghost, a new ship for the new show. Disney

"I looked at his [McQuarrie's] paintings, and there are tons of paintings that he did that have never made it to the screen," said Filoni. "We wanted to create a look for this part of Star Wars that precedes "A New Hope" by just a little bit. We have created a set of digital brushes that replicate McQuarrie's style -- we're going for something that's much more an illustrative look. Ralph had such a mind for the future."

Spring 2015: The next "Star Wars" Celebration

Tickets for 'Star Wars' Celebration 2015 go on sale August 17, 2013.

Couldn't make it all the way out to Germany for Star Wars Celebration Europe? No worries. At the conclusion of the fan fest, Lucasfilm announced that Anaheim, Calif., will host Star Wars Celebration 2015 from April 16 to 19 -- a weekend that reports as "timed with the release of "Star Wars: Episode VII." There's no official release date for the movie, but this phrasing certainly lends credibility to those rumors about "Episode VII" arriving that May.

Check out more coverage of "Star Wars" Celebration Europe at the official "Star Wars" blog.