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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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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about video special effects and better suited to Movies:SE –  Richard May 20 '14 at 7:41
@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
@Moogle - I was thinking that he seemed less interested in the light saber itself, and more interested in how one went about adding special effect pre-CGI. –  Richard May 20 '14 at 15:37

1 Answer 1

up vote 20 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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