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According to Wookieepedia, the the props are made of wood.

Also, due to the brittleness of the stunt blades used during this fight, which were little more than wooden dowels, Diamond was forced to instruct Alec Guinness and David Prowse to stop their blades before contact due to their fragility.

If there isn't any particularly special feature about the props to separate them from the rest of the image, were they done manually?

How were the lightsaber effects accomplished?


I'm interested in all the movies, but mainly episode IV/original trilogy.

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@Richard questions about production have been discussed before, and the consensus seems to be that they're on-topic. It was discussed most recently here: meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/q/3596/22254 – Moogle May 20 '14 at 9:48
    
It is done with a technique called rotoscoping, both manual and later on, digitally. – Max May 20 '14 at 11:14
    
Fun fact- many of the other sound effects were recorded at the same missile range where the first atomic bomb was tested, there's a thankyou note and a bust of Vaders helmet on the base – VapedCrusader May 27 at 15:54
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Photos of the star wars stuff at White Sands (which isn't exactly the same thing as the Trinity site fwiw) tripadvisor.com/… – NKCampbell May 27 at 16:17
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You ever seen Galaxy Quest? The joke is that some people live like they believe their favorite stories are true. Of course you can use the force. Of course Lightsabres are real. As depicted in the documentary that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far far away and focuses on people who happen to look a lot like modern day actors. Nerd humor I guess – Kai Qing May 31 at 20:53
up vote 30 down vote accepted

In the video below, Mark Hamill and George Lucas briefly discuss the methods used to create the lightsaber effects in the Original Trilogy films.

The effect was largely achieved by coating a thin wooden tube with reflective material (made out of movie screen) and shining bright spotlights onto it in order to make it appear fluorescent. They then used film filters in post-production to make that effect seem substantially more pronounced and to add colouring.

Later films also used a technique called rotoscoping to add the light flares and colouration.

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You can also note this in the original Star Wars (At least in the unedited originals, I don't know about the dubbed up travesties that came later). During the Obi-Wan/Vader fight, there are one or two times when I believe Obi-Wan's saber appears point on towards the camera and the glow disappears, as nearly does the saber. – JohnP May 20 '14 at 21:33

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