Holograms are common in the Star Wars universe. The first, or at least the most memorable, being R2's projection of Princess Leia.

In this image from "A New Hope," C-3PO (left), Luke (left of centre) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (right) are sitting in Obi-Wan's house on Tatooine watching Princess Leia's holo-recording, projected by R2-D2 from offscreen to the right.  Leia's hologram image is projected just above the surface of a table, centre screen, and appears to be about half a metre tall.

Note that this is a scaled version of Leia. Possibly because that took less memory to store, but importantly supporting that holograms can be easily scaled, even by a humble astromech droid.

Then we come to:

Kylo Ren is consulting with Supreme Leader Snoke in this image from "The Force Awakens." Ren is standing alone on a raised circular dias, just left of centre at the bottom of the scene, dwarfed by the massive hall.  He stands less than 1/4 of the visible height of the hall.  He is looking up to the right, where Snoke occupies the upper right of the frame.  The hologram of Snoke, seated on his throne, is at least 5 metres tall, and raised 2 metres above Ren.

My neck hurts just thinking of a helmeted figure craning to look into the eye of that character.

Why did the viewers not scale the hologram to a convenient size?

(And boy, I sure hope the "I am your father!" shock reveal of this trilogy is not "I'm as tall as Yoda!")

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    Your last sentence was my first reaction to it: Someone has some serious complex with his height.
    – Thomas
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 13:37
  • 87
    Running a totalitarian regime 101: make images of yourself as big as possible. Pretty normal stuff.
    – Misha R
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 15:43
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    @MishaRosnach Just ask Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:21
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    @JanusBahsJacquet: or, before them, ask Mao and Stalin. Hell, ask Nero!
    – PLL
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 18:11
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    My thought on seeing the scene wasn't "I'm as tall as Yoda". It was "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain".
    – Taemyr
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 12:06

2 Answers 2


I would say the answer is as simple as an intimidation factor...

From the primary canon, we see Emperor Palpatine use the same technique in The Empire Strikes Back. He wanted to project himself larger than life even though Darth Vader has known the Emperor for years.

A bit of EWAG speculation... the viewer does not have to control over the scale of the hologram. It is based on the size of the projector and/or the size the broadcaster wants.

Scene from "The Empire Strikes Back:" Vader, in his personal chamber, kneels before a hologram of the Emperor.  The hologram, of just the Emperor's head down to his shoulders, is at least 3 metres high, and Vader looks up to meet the Emperor's gaze.

Looking to the EU we have this scene from The Last Command (part of the Thrawn Trilogy). Emphasis is mine. Thanks to Aaganrmu for the quote

The pause symbol vanished before Thrawn could answer; but it wasn’t the standard quarter-size figure that replaced it. Instead, a huge image of C’baoth’s face suddenly glared out at them, jolting Pellaeon an involuntary step backwards.

Thrawn didn’t even twitch. “Good morning, Master C’baoth,” the Grand Admiral said, his voice mirror smooth. “I see you’ve discovered the Emperor’s private hologram setting.”

To say the least, being the Emperor or Supreme Leader is going to have its advantages...

  • 3
    @AndrewThompson I was thinking more like elevator music... The person in the room can not control the output.
    – Skooba
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 14:06
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    The radio station does have control of the volume, they could broadcast everything louder if they wanted lol. It happens all the time with TV commercials. As for why the hologram was so big it seems to be pretty clearly related to intimidation or trying to make himself look important.
    – Probst
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 14:25
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    The projector Snoke uses may be controlled by a computer at Snoke's desk. Or he ordered his followers not to touch the size dial. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 14:31
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    Yeah, I don't think it has to be more complicated than "when a Dark Lord wants to have a huge and imposing image, he can make it happen, and his followers wouldn't try to adjust the size against his wishes even if it were technically possible".
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 15:02
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    ​E​W​A​G​?​ ​ ​ Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:14

Don't forget, sometimes holograms are one-way recordings (as was Leia's) and sometimes they are two-way interactions (as with Snoke). In Leia's case, you can see she's looking down. Why? Because she was looking at R2. It would be both easy and convenient for Luke and Obi-Wan to view a small-scale, because it doesn't affect Leia one bit since it was a recording anyway.

When Kylo Ren is talking to Snoke, it's two-way. Not only is Ren looking up, but Snoke is looking down, suggesting that on Snoke's end, the hologram he sees of Ren is small. How odd would it be if both ends were small? You'd be looking down at a hologram, who was in turn looking down at you. Rather like having a video chat with someone whose camera isn't aligned with the screen they're looking at.

So... in order for two-way holograms to make sense, both ends have to agree on scaling, otherwise the participants wind up looking in odd locations. And if the Emperor or Supreme Leader wants to be a giant, who's going to argue?

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    "who's going to argue?" -- more than once, nobody. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 20:17
  • See scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/108609/…
    – RedCaio
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 21:02
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    I would add that modern videochat often has this issue of "scaling", in a way. Most people usually look at their screen while videochatting, but their camera is usually somewhere other than their screen. So, in videochat, people are rarely ever "looking" at each other. Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 2:00
  • 1
    "How odd would it be if both ends were small?" You mean as was the case in almost every instance of hologram communication in Episode III? They frequently used handheld hologram projectors, especially since projecting a giant image of Sidious while on the battlefield would have been both distracting and not particularly conducive to giving secret orders.
    – reirab
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 5:55
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    @Pharap, I would consider being mounted above the screen as being somewhere other than the screen. Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 19:50

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