ANH Lightsabers Timeline and Miscellaneous Theories

Halliwax

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I was about to buy one of those torches too, then I saw the shipping prices :lol:


Thank you for those snippets! dcarty I really need to start picking up more reference books... Added those bits where they are relevant in the original post. I'd love to see a Vader write-up! There is so much to learn, every one in awhile I get curious and research but it's quite intense.

Here's some gifs I just made, quite compressed from the videos though:
View attachment 1472677

View attachment 1472678

The film take appears to strike the dummy in a different location:
View attachment 1472688
The effect in the film is quite different than those two bts takes, I wonder if they encountered issues with the collapsible skeleton that forced them to rig something else up.


These ones are quite interesting because they clearly show the Barbican being used on the final day of filming!



Huh, well that is quite a curious spot in the storyboards!
View attachment 1472682
LOM at it again, thanks for doing all the hard work for me ;)

i agree with the story board, i thought the same as well

...wicked
 

thd9791

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
1) The Chronicles photo really was a re-constructed hilt for record's sake, we think. So, the placement of the windvane may not matter, it's easy to spin up and down and doesn't lock anywhere. Very good eye on seeing the ridge on the bottom of the "pommel".... all AS handwheels of that model (with or without and endcap) look like that

2) Thank you for the R2 details, that's something I'm very unaware of. I don't know if the sabers were considered basic casts.. it took Brian a LOT of work to make the pulls he is doing now, which are arguably better than the cast that propsore sold :D

3) Yes, definitely the V2 in the Cantina. I haven't seen any other motorized hilts with a switch mounted on the hilt. suuper long blade, and I bet that gives us an idea of what it was, tapered, that was almost 4 feet long if not longer

4) great point on the continuity weapons being needed. I would have completely disregarded that. I bet these are some of the photos... yea, because some props were replaced (han's blaster)

5) I believe the hut, cantina, etc. used Scotchlite fabric. Especially the hut, the lumpy frayed look of the material, and the sheen, really look like my Scotchlite fabric meant for vests and stuff. I glued it to some PVC pipe and it looks just like this.

6) good note that the cut-down scene took a couple days

7) The blades in ANH duel are a lot skinnier than I thought. The best way to tell these sabers a part is the diameter of the emitter face. I personally believe there were casting flaws in the in emitter plate, and they lathed the plate smaller to save the cast. That's how you end up with the V2 or the others. This is a small emitter here
Screen Shot 2021-07-02 at 7.47.17 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-07-02 at 7.47.43 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-07-02 at 7.48.14 PM.png


let alone the skinny blade.

here's the death saber
Screen Shot 2021-07-02 at 7.49.39 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-07-02 at 7.50.13 PM.png


8) MouseVader made a very good argument that they might have had trouble holding the guts in on the Barbican, or holding the emitter on... I don't remember why, but I don't think the 1 set screw was enough when swinging it around
 

PoopaPapaPalps

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I don't know if the sabers were considered basic casts.. it took Brian a LOT of work to make the pulls he is doing now, which are arguably better than the cast that propsore sold

I wouldn't say that. There are still problems I encounter every cast I pull. In fact, that's all I seem to ever post about on my Instagram.

I do think the casts they wound up using to make the hilts were the best of lot they had, out of however many they made in the time they had to do it. The latest date for the saber designs settled on is implied to be Feb 5th, and the shooting memo says the props needed to be sent out by March 20th-22nd; that's about a month and a half to figure something out for the stunts. You can find Youtube videos online of people forging stuff the way they would've done back then, from making their own sand and cutting up scrap cast alu parts from cars and planes, and all that takes precious time and skill. It's still a mystery how they managed to get such consistency but, then again, only one V2 exists and the V3 sports defects that many of mine also have.

Making green sand, and having a fresh batch for every time you cast that isn't too wet or too dry to avoid it crumbling or exploding, that is skill that not everyone knows. To produce the cleanest casts possible, that is another thing entirely using re-melted scrap casting alu; it loses purity each time you mix and melt it with other bits. I've documented before the use of casting alu over the use of something like extruded alu and there's a significant difference in either. I'll be the first to say, and will continue to say, that I honestly don't know why or how they did it.
 
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thd9791

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yea, I'm sorry if I misrepresented you. I only speak from what I know, which isn't much about casting lol

Definitely different sabers. this is what I see:

1)
Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 12.19.10 AM.png



Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 12.09.58 AM.png

Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 12.14.06 AM.png

2) V2?
Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 12.15.53 AM.png

Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 12.12.07 AM.png


Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 12.31.11 AM.png


3)

Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 12.24.20 AM.png
Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 12.27.29 AM.png


Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 12.06.45 AM.png

Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 12.10.20 AM.png


I went through this frame by frame too finally! I definitely see what people are saying. it's my opinion we are seeing blades with collars sitting ontop of bearings, right up against the emitter face... at least for the shots where we see the blade spin in detail. The high ones.. not sure. I see the blades bend too, multiple times.

It was cool seeing the motorized graflex in action. here's the MPP clamp on the barbican
Screen Shot 2021-07-04 at 12.11.36 AM.png
 

LOM

Well-Known Member
Just found this quote I had saved in a different doc I had written up regarding the cloak collapsing:
John [Stears] also recalled a scene in which Ben Kenobi dematerialises. “When Darth Vader slices through Kenobi with a lightsaber I did this by replacing Alec Guinness in a strategic position in the action with an empty cloak shaped like Alec. It was hung so that as Darth Vader’s saber hits the cloak, an electronically-fired pyrotechnic charge cut it in two, the bottom half having to fall a split second before the top, so as to show what had happened.”


1) The Chronicles photo really was a re-constructed hilt for record's sake, we think. So, the placement of the windvane may not matter, it's easy to spin up and down and doesn't lock anywhere. Very good eye on seeing the ridge on the bottom of the "pommel".... all AS handwheels of that model (with or without and endcap) look like that
Ahhhhh - I haven't studied the real parts of Obi as intensively... Wasn't aware the windvane doesn't really lock, so that could explain that detail.

2) Thank you for the R2 details, that's something I'm very unaware of. I don't know if the sabers were considered basic casts.. it took Brian a LOT of work to make the pulls he is doing now, which are arguably better than the cast that propsore sold :D
The R2 details are quite interesting! For anyone curious about the construction of the original R2 units, the OpenR2 group on facebook (and related sites) is a goldmine.

I believe they recently acquired this interesting piece.
A raw cast aluminum R2 arm, for anyone who wants to compare it to the raw cast sabers.

An exact quote from one of the original ANH R2 engineers regarding these can be found here:
“I drew them up and got them from a local casting company (looks so similar I wonder if it was from their pattern?) and we then machined them (can't remember if the radii were on an nc machine or on a rotary table) . On the RC R2 the "hand" end part was cut off and a 1" long seloc pin (3/16" dia ?) fitted between this and the "forearm" to allow the "hand" to be "stiffly" twisted, although I don't think this was ever used (in fact I'm not sure I've ever seen the arm swung out anyway apart from what I think was an out take).” - Neil Anderson, shared by Robert Jackson

5) I believe the hut, cantina, etc. used Scotchlite fabric. Especially the hut, the lumpy frayed look of the material, and the sheen, really look like my Scotchlite fabric meant for vests and stuff. I glued it to some PVC pipe and it looks just like this.
Fair point, I'm not even certain it was available in a tape variety at this time? I think most of the references to blade material from the time are "fabric."

7) The blades in ANH duel are a lot skinnier than I thought. The best way to tell these sabers a part is the diameter of the emitter face. I personally believe there were casting flaws in the in emitter plate, and they lathed the plate smaller to save the cast. That's how you end up with the V2 or the others. This is a small emitter here
Wow, that first pic does look quite skinny! But the death saber blade is interesting... When it's on the ground it has a nasty bend in it, I wonder if that is wood that snapped?

8) MouseVader made a very good argument that they might have had trouble holding the guts in on the Barbican, or holding the emitter on... I don't remember why, but I don't think the 1 set screw was enough when swinging it around
Something was definitely up with the shroud - Prowse holds it so awkwardly. The guts having problems staying in makes sense, considering the location of the switch hole being so high up on the hilt compared to the Luke stunt. I haven't actually seen any evidence there was even 1 set screw on the shroud during ANH. I imagine there is a set screw under the shroud that holds the guts in similar to the Luke stunt though.


I wouldn't say that. There are still problems I encounter every cast I pull. In fact, that's all I seem to ever post about on my Instagram. [snip] I'll be the first to say, and will continue to say, that I honestly don't know why or how they did it.
Still, your experimentation on the casting has provide some great insight into the process of what it could've been like!

I do think the casts they wound up using to make the hilts were the best of lot they had, out of however many they made in the time they had to do it
Possibly, but I'd argue the V3 is a worse casting than the two blanks we know of that are in private collections? The seam line and casting gunk is substantial compared to the other blanks.

The latest date for the saber designs settled on is implied to be Feb 5th, and the shooting memo says the props needed to be sent out by March 20th-22nd; that's about a month and a half to figure something out for the stunts.
The thing is the stunts don't have to be ready by March 22nd, they have to be ready by April 20th for the Cantina! Tunisia filming begins in March and stunt sabers are not necessary then. So that gives them technically about 2 months to come up with something, with a couple weeks of being unsupervised, as they finish filming in Tunisia on April 4th. I'd guess they'd be finished, or almost finished by the time Elstree filming begins on April 7th - maybe even later considering how rushed of a job they seem to be and how it seems they tinkered with blades throughout filming.



Definitely different sabers. this is what I see:
1)
"Tall collar" is what I've been calling this one! Agreed 100%
I concur!
I think the first pic in #3 is the V2, but in the other images though the emitter plate looks quite wide to me. Though it could just be the V2 before getting dinged up, not sure.
I went through this frame by frame too finally! I definitely see what people are saying. it's my opinion we are seeing blades with collars sitting ontop of bearings, right up against the emitter face... at least for the shots where we see the blade spin in detail. The high ones.. not sure. I see the blades bend too, multiple times.

It was cool seeing the motorized graflex in action. here's the MPP clamp on the barbican
Nice catch on the clamp! I'm certain there's another BTS shot that shows it decently clear.. I'll have to look for it
 
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thd9791

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Thanks!

That first pic in #3 is very, very un-finished. The wide emitter plate AND the wide, stubby main emitter section are reminiscent of the V3 moreso than the V2. The V2 emitter was cleaned up to the point the main section got skinnier too. The tall collar one also has this chunky attribute, although the emitter plate itself is almost gone lol

I think the death saber fall picture is the reflection of the emitter plate. I forgot to mention that, when you watch that video its theemitter flashing at the camera, blending in with the blade.
 

PoopaPapaPalps

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
The R2 details are quite interesting! For anyone curious about the construction of the original R2 units, the OpenR2 group on facebook (and related sites) is a goldmine.

I believe they recently acquired this interesting piece.
A raw cast aluminum R2 arm, for anyone who wants to compare it to the raw cast sabers.

An exact quote from one of the original ANH R2 engineers regarding these can be found here:

Now, this is interesting. That arm is very clean in comparison to any of the casts seen in public and the V3 (still some pockmarking I noticed on the surface and underside of the arm). The folks who built R2---and this is just from anecdotes I've heard recounted---were out-of-work aerospace engineers after some union quarrels, I think, within the airplane industry. Those guys definitely knew what they were doing. The original R2 domes (not the lamp shade that inspired them) were spun in-house by them from what I've heard.

Would it have bogged production down even moreso had a request come in last minute to the R2 team to cast the bucks too after just finishing work on the R2? They would've had the know how to make the casts and they obviously made a master for the R2 arms; were they responsible for the casts? A part of me thinks it's plausible, but another part of me thinks that request going up the chain of supervisors and producers---especially after all the work done for R2---Could it be? Are there any invoices outside the memos? If someone could track down the invoices from Don Post on how many masks they made for the production of Halloween, surely this must exist somewhere.

Still, your experimentation on the casting has provide some great insight into the process of what it could've been like!


Possibly, but I'd argue the V3 is a worse casting than the two blanks we know of that are in private collections? The seam line and casting gunk is substantial compared to the other blanks.


The thing is the stunts don't have to be ready by March 22nd, they have to be ready by April 20th for the Cantina! Tunisia filming begins in March and stunt sabers are not necessary then. So that gives them technically about 2 months to come up with something, with a couple weeks of being unsupervised, as they finish filming in Tunisia on April 4th. I'd guess they'd be finished, or almost finished by the time Elstree filming begins on April 7th - maybe even later considering how rushed of a job they seem to be and how it seems they tinkered with blades throughout filming.

I completely forgot that; the cantina and hut interiors were in the UK. That time would be useful in making these. Even rushing, you'd still manage a cast a day. At my quickest, it takes me 3-5 days, or even a week, just to fully machine one of the V2 hilts.

Speaking of, I found out there was a line of bench lathes popular throughout workshops in the 70's and 80's in the UK. The Emco Compact lathes, Models 5-8:

1625457146838.png


I'm not saying the hilts were machined on these, but I am saying these were available and they were everywhere then, and a lot of what I've tinkered with my hilts to correspond with choices the original prop team made, like removing the emitter from the casts to fit the lathe and find its center; or the need for the small stump on the casts--- you'd only really have to make those choices to work on a bench lathe and not a full sized lathe. Just sayin.'

Fun bit of trivia: These things are insanely well built. Many models then are still in great working order today. In fact, ILM'er Jon Knoll has one and used it to build components for his motion-control rig that was used to film the ship model in The Mandalorian.
 
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LOM

Well-Known Member
Thanks!

That first pic in #3 is very, very un-finished. The wide emitter plate AND the wide, stubby main emitter section are reminiscent of the V3 moreso than the V2. The V2 emitter was cleaned up to the point the main section got skinnier too. The tall collar one also has this chunky attribute, although the emitter plate itself is almost gone lol

I think the death saber fall picture is the reflection of the emitter plate. I forgot to mention that, when you watch that video its theemitter flashing at the camera, blending in with the blade.
Ah! I think you mentioned this before in another thread, I remember that bit now about the bodies being a bit more on the un-lathed side of things from what we can see.(y)


Now, this is interesting. That arm is very clean in comparison to any of the casts seen in public and the V3 (still some pockmarking I noticed on the surface and underside of the arm). The folks who built R2---and this is just from anecdotes I've heard recounted---were out-of-work aerospace engineers after some union quarrels, I think, within the airplane industry. Those guys definitely knew what they were doing. The original R2 domes (not the lamp shade that inspired them) were spun in-house by them from what I've heard.
Definitely! It's strangely clean, which is why in the first post I mentioned that I doubt they were from the same source, but possibly inspired in process by.

They were engineers - not sure if aerospace in particular - there is a writeup on the OpenR2 website I believe about either C&L or Peteric being an engineering company that just happened to be located close enough to production to do work, that prior had never done film work despite being located extremely close to Elstree. They really did do some impressive work on R2.

Would it have bogged production down even moreso had a request come in last minute to the R2 team to cast the bucks too after just finishing work on the R2? They would've had the know how to make the casts and they obviously made a master for the R2 arms; were they responsible for the casts? A part of me thinks it's plausible, but another part of me thinks that request going up the chain of supervisors and producers---especially after all the work done for R2---Could it be? Are there any invoices outside the memos? If someone could track down the invoices from Don Post on how many masks they made for the production of Halloween, surely this must exist somewhere.
Neil Anderson specifically said the casting for the R2 arms was outsourced to another professional company after providing them with a drawing, not a buck from his recollection. (likely traced from provided blueprints. Mr. Anderson did not recall exactly what they did, so they've been trying to figure it out) At the very least, they didn't do casting in house. It's possible Stears' SPFX team contacted that company later, but again, with how wonky casts like the V3 are, I don't think they were a pro job.

I asked them about that second bit. If I recall, unfortunately the employee who took care of all the invoices/contracts for R2 passed a number of years ago, and all of the paperwork was tossed out then.

Speaking of, I found out there was a line of bench lathes popular throughout workshops in the 70's and 80's in the UK. The Emco Compact lathes, Models 5-8:
[snip]
I'm not saying the hilts were machined on these, but I am saying these were available and they were everywhere then, and a lot of what I've tinkered with my hilts to correspond with choices the original prop team made, like removing the emitter from the casts to fit the lathe and find its center; or the need for the small stump on the casts--- you'd only really have to make those choices to work on a bench lathe and not a full sized lathe. Just sayin.'

Fun bit of trivia: These things are insanely well built. Many models then are still in great working order today. In fact, ILM'er Jon Knoll has one and used it to build components for his motion-control rig that was used to film the ship model in The Mandalorian.
Take a peek behind these guys!
84650770_2829910330407294_1118483297186349056_o.jpg

I forgot if this pic is from C&L, Peteric, or Stears' workshop... But at least here it looks like they had some good machines.

Though, I could see the SPFX team working with those smaller machines. That is some good reasoning for the stub and choosing to chop off the emitter!
 
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LOM

Well-Known Member
Thank you yet again dcarty!!

I'll edit the first post to include those reports in addition to a few tidbits tomorrow morning. Really appreciate you digging out the reference books for this!
 

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