Star Wars: Behind The Scenes: Book III: Visual Effects

The series continues...and this is probably the coolest one so far.

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3. Lightsaber Evolution

For the original trilogy, the lightsaber effect utilized rotoscoping: the artistic retouching of individual frames on a length of film. Spinning wooden "blades" were coated with material that reflected the set's lights, then photographed through a half-silvered mirror. Through the camera, the lightsabers appeared to glow. This was enhanced by rotoscoping.

In the prequel trilogy, lightsabers were made with metal blades, and were illuminated by CG effects.

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