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Star Wars Special Effects

Movie special effects are created with special film processing techniques, and by using specialized computer programs to modify the images. The 1977 movie "Star Wars" became immensely popular because it is a tale of the struggle of good against evil. The story, written and directed by George Lucas, is a science fiction space odyssey that takes place a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. The main protagonists of this saga are Jedi Knights with special powers that can tap a universal Force that enables them to move objects by telekinesis and influence the behavior of people through mind control. Jedi knights learn their craft from the pointy-eared Jedi master Yoda, whose charismatic personality is augmented by his use of English sentences with non-standard grammatical structure.

Starwars special effects

Two of the main characters of the story are Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, siblings who are members of the resistance against the Imperial forces led by Darth Vader, the evil Jedi Knight subverted by the dark side of the force. Luke will later learn that Darth Vader is his father. Some of the scenes that made the film unforgettable were the action sequences with state-of-the-art special effects.

Although there have been sequels and prequels to the original story, some film clips of Luke and Leia playing as children have recently been discovered in the vaults of Halfway Productions. The clips show Luke (played by Gabriel Zamora), and Princess Leia (played by Zoe Zamora) mastering the use of light sabers and ray blasters. The weapons used here were placed on the "stun" setting and handled under adult supervision.


Demonstration of why the light saber is the preferred weapon of Jedi Knights.
The film clip requires the QuickTime player.
Lightsaber sparring
Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia sparring with light sabers.
Click Here to see the film clip. (5.4 Meg)

The technique used to create the lightsaber effect consists of filming actors sparring with props composed of handles that have rods attached to them. Using a process called rotoscoping, the film is processed frame by frame by drawing the outline of each lightsaber blade onto an animation cel and painting the correct color for the blade. Each animation cel is placed over a black background and filmed with a diffuser over the lens to get the glow around the edges of the lightsabers. The actual footage from the movie is double-exposed onto this same film to obtain the final result. A similar technique is used with video recorders, but the frames of the digitized images are manipulated and merged using graphics computer programs.

What is a Wormhole?
A wormhole is a theoretical distortion of space-time linking two locations of the universe through a path that is shorter in distance or duration than would otherwise be expected. Einstein proposed wormholes in 1935. He co-wrote a paper with Nathan Rosen showing that general relativity allowed for "bridges" where space-time is folded to allow transfer of matter from one point to another in the universe. The concept of wormholes is frequently used in science fiction for faster-than-light travel.

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