The ANH LightSaber Blade Reference Thread

Mouse Vader

Well-Known Member
WELCOME TO THE ANH LIGHTSABER BLADE REFERENCE THREAD (aka ANH LSRF )

PLEASE – this is a reference thread. IF you want to comment, discuss – anything – then used this companion thread:

ANH lightsaber blade Reference companion thread. ANH lightsaber blade Reference companion thread

I came to The RPF looking for info on whether the fabled triangular blade was real or not as all the pictures I’d seen of ANH sabers had round blades.
I found a lot of tantalizing hints in the posts but little in the way of links to source references, those I did find were scattered over many disparate threads.

My aim in this thread is to bring together every available primary source in one place.

The criteria is:

Only contemporary photo’s or film clips.

Only quotes from people who worked on ANH.

Only contemporary documents or photo’s of same.

AND where this information came from.

IF YOU CAN ADD WITHIN ANY OF THE ABOVE PLEASE DO SO…

but please no ‘I read somewhere...’ ‘ I heard that...’ ‘everyone knows such & such’. If you must post those do so on the companion thread. I have put two such pictures on there already.
Thank you in advance.

Note: Each reference has its own ref. #. eg. - QT 1 - to allow forum users to give a short, full ref to the material here.

eg. ANH LSBR QT1.

What I Have :

Quotes.

Caution : Please pay attention to the date of these quotes. They may suffer from what I term memory drift. It takes app. 2 yrs for a memory to become ‘permanent’ during which time it is rewritten multiple times & can become subject to external influences, so the closer the quote to the event the better & even then may already be starting to drift esp. if the person concerned is busy with other related stuff.

In short all quotes should be taken with a pinch of salt.


Triangular blades:

Just one reference so far – a quote from Gil Taylor here :

The return of old-style props in movie making

I found it on this thread:

ANH Stunt Lightsaber "Blades"--Triangular??? Gil Taylor sez so...

QT 1 : (May 2008 ; 30+ yrs after ANH) It reads:

...And it's not just fans who are sick of implausible and plasticky CGI. Gil Taylor was the cinematographer on the first Star Wars back in 1977. In fact, he's the man who made the lightsaber glow. "It was very do-it-yourself," he says. "The lightsabers were just triangular bits of wood which were covered in reflective material that I projected a spotlight on to. They've gone over to digital now, which I never used and I don't believe in. Personally, I'm incredibly bored with those effects; they've taken over everything.


I have seen many references to a discussion/s on this forum about the triangular blade but apart from the above referenced thread have failed to find it/them.

If you know where they are please add a link to them.


******

Square blades:

Again from thread:

ANH Stunt Lightsaber "Blades"--Triangular??? Gil Taylor sez so...


QS 1 : Post #75 by Scarf man (Quote is from 1978) :

‘On a hunch I dusted off my copy of "Star Wars scrapbook" by Stephen Sansweet, and found what I was remembering. It was a replica of the "official Star Wars fanclub newsletter" #1 from 1978. (This publication would later be renamed "Bantha Tracks")
Transcribed from the book by me below.’

The problem of getting the Light Sabers to work fell upon
Special Production and Mechanical Effects Supervisor
John Stears.

(Snip)

The 'blade' part of the Light Saber is actually a four-sided
blade attached to a small motor in the handle. The motor
is used to quickly rotate the blade.

Two sides of the blade are coated with a highly reflective
material similar to the material used on motion picture
screens. One of those two sides is painted four inches
higher than the other side. When spinning, this gave the
blade its flashing effect.

A device was made to lock a light source onto the camera,
allowing the camera both to move freely and to be aligned
with the light source and the blade's reflection.

The film was then taken to a special effects house and
rotoscoped, an animation process involving the frame-
by-frame drawing of previously photographed live action.
this animation process added brightness, flash, and
color to the Light Saber blades.


******

From : ANH Stunt Lightsaber "Blades"--Triangular??? Gil Taylor sez so...

QS 2 : lonepigeon post # 25 (post is May 2008)

I would need to check my research for specifics, but I looked into this when writing an article for the Insider awhile back. My determination from several period interviews was that the ANH blades were square - two sides coated, two uncoated.

Unfortunately I haven’t found any more from lonepigeon regarding these ‘specifics’.


******

Round blades:

From: Is Darth Vader's saber blade painted (ANH) & blade flexing.

QR 1 : post #16 by Vadermania. (All from Feb 2019)

During my conversations with Jon Bunker (the person I got my lighsaber blank from back in 1997, he was involved in the making of the original stunt lightsabers from ANH) he said that they experimented with triangular blades for ANH, but went with square (wooden) blades for the shooting…

And

QR 2 : post #24 by Vadermania.

Had a phone conversation with Jon a minute ago and asked him again about the stunt lightsaber blades used in ANH. He does not remember billard/snooker queues. He does remember lightweight (balsa) wooden sticks, painted black, and then covered with scotchlite partially. And those were round, not square. The blades were designed to break to minimize the risk of injury to the actors.

And

QR 3 ; post #58 Do.

A mess, really...when I asked Jon about a taper on the balsa blades he said they weren‘t tapered...

Cmon, at least the Luke Graflex stunt has a tapered square or triangular blade…



******

From :Is Darth Vader's saber blade painted (ANH) & blade flexing.

Mmm : post #189 Matty matt (post is Mar 2019 – Memo is Jan 1976)

Has this memo been discussed before? It mentions the lightsaber blades.

001a.jpeg



& post #197

It’s from January 1976.


Transcription reads:

6) LASER-SWORDS :

The Sp.Fx. Dept. hope to test new swords on Wednesday (21/1) [Jan 21st] ; it will not be necessary to test the rotating swords. Test to be made on the tapered round sword. Test also to be tried on the on sword which has small cup in convex dish.
John Stears and Roger Christian to have a meeting Monday morning (19/1) on the type of sword handles George Lucas prefers.



******

Quotes from videos :


QV1 :

Transcription of what Peter Diamond has to say (about blades only) in Empire of Dreams (VC7 below). Documentary released 2004 (& on bonus disc in the 2004 boxed set) :

At 50.04

‘… the first swords were bits of wood with front-projection material wrapped around them...’

At 50.20

‘… I had to teach them, if that was the sword [gestures], to stop before they touched ‘cause blades were breaking – we bloke… broke so many blades - they just kept snapping...’

Note: there are edits throughout Peter’s commentary so what you hear said maybe cobbled from different parts of his actual conversation.


******

QV2 & 3 :


Transcription of what Mark Hamill & George Lucas have to say in Star Wars Featurette The Birth of the Lightsaber ( also VC 9 & 10 below ) Released 2004 as bonus disc in the 2004 boxed set :


MH from 4.36 :

‘… the effect of the light saber was basically a rotating pole that had movie screen material applied to it so that it would reflect its light source back at many times the intensity. The problem was that when you moved it out of a certain area it went from glowing and looking great to just a rotating pole.’

edits straight to GL :

‘… [w]e rotated with reflective tape so that it would flash and it would create light on the actors [& all that], that never really worked, as soon as they hit eachother they broke the lightsabers, so then we just used the sticks with reflective material in it...’


------------

Video / Film clips:

Note: Wherever possible non-rotoscoped footage is referenced as this better shows the blade.

There is of course the 4K77 project – a restoration of the ANH to it’s original screen version only rendered in 4K which is the best screen reference available to date.

Please only add differing copies or better resolution clips if duplicating below scenes.


******

Star Wars: ‘Designing The Lightsaber’ Bonus Clip | Official HD

StarWarsSG – May 2015. aka the Rodger Christian video.


VC 1 : Early ice cream cone footage from 0.56.

My Clip:



******

Making of Star Wars Original Trilogy Part 1 Of 2:

This is Pop culture version uploaded in Oct 2015, I have no other details of this video.

VC 2 : Unusual BTS duel clip with sound of blades clashing & sliding against eachother at end. From 11.00

My Clip:



VC 3 : Early blade test. From 12.09

My Clip:


******

Star Wars - Bloopers | The Complete Edition :

Desaur Studios – Mar 2017

VC 4 : On board Falcon, Hamill scene, good sound of saber motor. From 3.03

My Clip:


******

Alec Guinness behind-the-scenes of 'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope' :

Eyes on Cinema Nov 2015

VC 5 : Cantina seq. From 1.57

My Clip:



VC 6 : Blade clash & slide sound in death star Hanger duel out-take at : 2.39

My Clip:



******

Empire of dreams :


Released 2004 (& as bonus disc in the 2004 boxed set) .
Linked video by Star Wars Dreams Feb 2017.

VC 7 : Hanger duel & Peter Diamond interview with over dub/scenes, from 49.32 ( & shorter youtube version
)

My Clip:

VC7


VC 8 : Cantina seq. From 55.19 slightly different version from VC 4 above.

My Clip:

VC8

******

Star Wars Featurette The Birth of the Lightsaber.


Star Wars Featurette: The Birth of the Lightsaber

Bonus DVD disc 2004


VC 9 : Death star duel - blade sounds & motor noise from 3.03

My Clip:

VC9


VC 10 : Falcon / drone scene - blade visual only from 4.38

My Clip:

VC10


******

From this thread: Is Darth Vader's saber blade painted (ANH) & blade flexing.

Kurtyboy’s post # 155 pg8 – he provides these clips compiled from from the 4K77 ANH restoration project.

VC11 : This shows the blade rotating & the ‘emitter’ face static. It is relevant as it shows that the blade attachment method is independent of the emitter. (rendered here in 1080).

Obi-Wan ANH emitter


VC12 : Another example of the same thing as VC11, same relevance. (rendered here in 1080).

Stick saber

******

Screen Grabs:

SG1 : The youtube video I took this from is no longer available it was 1080 versions of all Star Wars lightsaber duels. It shows flexing of OB1’s blade.

Also shown in this thread; Is Darth Vader's saber blade painted (ANH) & blade flexing.

post #1 pg1.

sg01.jpeg


*

SG2 : Another from later in the same video as SG1 showing the same thing.

Also shown in this thread; Is Darth Vader's saber blade painted (ANH) & blade flexing.

post #150 pg8.

sg02.jpeg


*

SG3 : Kurtyboy provided this for me - taken from the 4K77 project. Shows the infamous black line, but in a single unrotoscoped frame.

sg03.jpeg



----------------------

Stills / Pictures :

These are from my notes files & unfortunately I haven’t got precise notes of where I got each from. They are mainly from RPF threads & Pinterest. They should be self explanatory, I’ll not comment.

If you recognize one as supplied by you & you would like me to credit you (or remove it) please post your request on this thread.

PC1 :

001.jpg

*

PC2 :

002.jpg


*

PC3 :

003.jpg


*

PC4 :

004.jpg


*

PC5 :

005.jpg


*
PC6 :


006.jpg


*
PC7 :


007.jpg


*
PC8 :


008.png


*
PC9 :


009.jpg


*
PC10 :


010.jpg


*
PC11 :


011.jpg


*
PC12 :


012.jpg


*
PC13 :


013.jpg


*
PC14 :


014.jpg


*
PC15 :


015.png


*
PC16 : This one is by Kuryboy showing relative lengths of OB1’s & DV’s blade.

016.jpg


*
PC17:


017.png


*
PC18 :


018.jpg


*

PC19 :

019.jpg


*
PC20 :


020.jpg


*
PC21 :


021.jpg


*
PC22 :


022.jpg


*


----oooo0000OOOO0000oooo----

I was going to upload all this as a PDF but got error of 'file is too large' (15MB)

Any ideas how I could do this?
 
Last edited:
Top