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, 2014 at 9:48
  • It is done with a technique called rotoscoping, both manual and later on, digitally.
    – Max
    May 20, 2014 at 11:14
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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, 2016 at 16:17
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    Those aren't special FX. The original Star Wars trilogy is a documentary, obviously.
    – Kai Qing
    May 28, 2016 at 0:16
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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, 2016 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


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, 2014 at 21:33

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