RvD Frequently Asked Questions
How did you do those lightsaber effects?
We used Adobe After Effects to rotoscope the prop blades and add glows to them. Essentially the same way ILM does it. After Effects was also used for a variety of other visual effects you see (or don't see) in RvD.

How long did it take you to make this, and when did it come out?
We choreographed and filmed over the course of three weekends, and spent about 4 months on the effects in our spare time, finishing March 1st, 2003.

Did you guys have any martial arts or sword training when you made this?
Neither of us had any formal training of any kind at the time of making RvD. Just watched a lot of movies.

Where did you get the lightsaber props you guys are fighting with?
I build all of my own lightsaber props out of aluminum stock using metalworking tools including a lathe and mill. You would need training and experience on such machinery to build these sorts of props, and if you are just getting into it, you're better off either going simpler and making a prop from hardware store parts, or paying someone who makes saber props for a business.

Lightsabers from the Big Yellow Box is a site which has instructions on how to build some very inexpensive lightsaber props from materials available almost everywhere.
Parksabers.com is a business that sells very sophistocated lightsaber props (mostly with EL blades) and now has a few stunt saber models that can be used for dueling. They say to allow 12-14 weeks from the time of ordering.
RandomSabers.com is another place that makes sabers built for fighting, and does custom designs, though I have heard they also take several months.
Sabershop.com is my own personal lightsaber prop business. When I occasionally (every few months or so) get the time to build a handful of stunt sabers (similar to those seen in my projects) I sell via eBay and have all the info and schedules on the site. I do not take custom orders on Sabershop, and I only sell what I have made, once it's made.

Aluminum tubing (like you can find at your local hardware store) was used for the stunt blades.

Where was this shot, and what is that thing in the background?
RvD was filmed at Carco Electronics, who built flight simulators for the aerospace industry. The machine in the background is a satellite tracking positioner, the specifications of which were top secret. After the machine was finished being built, it was shipped off to an "undisclosed location".

What kind of camera did you film with?
Canon GL-1 camcorder.

Where did you get your lightsaber sounds?
Most of my sounds are from TFN's Fan Films Sound FX Resource, and some sounds I rip from the actual movies.

How did you do the smoke effects in RvD?
The smoke appearing from wounds in Ryan vs. Dorkman is actual smoke, digitally composited into the shots using After Effects. I first filmed myself burning insence in front of a large black sheet shrouded in shadow, with the smoke backlit by a bright light to make sure it "pops out" from the blackness behind it. I then could take those smoke footage layers and composite them into the shots by simply darkening them a little and setting the layers to Screen mode in After Effects.

How did you do the floating lightsaber handles?
The floating lightsaber handle was done in two ways. For the wide, far away shot of the handle floating between us in our "force tug-o-war", the handle was an image of the handle (photographed on set) that I animated to wiggle around.

The closer shots of the handle were achieved by performing the shot with a puppeteer moving the handle via a rod screwed onto the end of the handle facing away from the camera. Then an empty background plate of the shot was photographed. In post production, the puppeteer and the rod were masked off in After Effects and replaced by the empty background footage.

For more information (and in-depth tutorials) on lightsaber visual effects, check out tutorials.ryan-w.com

No affiliation with Lucasfilm, Star Wars, or LucasArts.      us@RyanVsDorkman.com