RIP, Bob "Darth Vader" Anderson

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RIP, Bob "Darth Vader" Anderson

Post by GeorgeC » July 27th, 2012, 2:54 pm

For a long time, one of the secrets kept about The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi was that Dave Prowse was NOT in costume in many of the more elaborate (and most dangerous) lightsaber duel scenes. He was in fact doubled by one of the stunt coordinators and the fencing instructor for the original series -- Bob Anderson.

Bob Anderson had a long career in movies starting in 1952 and going all the way through The Hobbit last year. The Hobbit would prove to be the cap to his career and his last project. Bob Anderson passed away the first of January, New Year's Day, 2012.

Known as a meticulous coordinator, he become known as "Gruff Bob" because of his perfectionism. This work ethic paid off in some of the best action scenes in the Star Wars series (before it became "Wire-Fu").

My favorite lightsaber duel is still the original Father Vs Son duel in The Empire Strikes Back. Empire has been called both operatic and Wagnerian at times during the film. The cinematography and choreography for the lightsaber duel above the carbon freezing chamber is particularly good and created a great iconic moment in the series.

Here's one of those great still images that I found online...
The silhouettes are best, no?

Image


Lightsaber enhancements, stage lighting glows,and frame masking by yours truly on Photoshop!
The original photo was black-and-white. The lightsabers were white in the unmodded image.

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Re: RIP, Bob "Darth Vader" Anderson

Post by Ben » July 30th, 2012, 7:07 am

Very atmospheric...though you're a bit late on the Bob Anderson news! ;)

I like what you did to the b/w image you had above - yes, the silhouette images are always striking. Interestingly, the pose they have in that still from Empire was used on the teaser Revenge Of The Jedi posters, even though it was from the prior film.

By comparison, here's an official image I have in my Elstree Studios archive, similar to the one you posted, but in original colors:

Image

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Re: RIP, Bob "Darth Vader" Anderson

Post by GeorgeC » July 30th, 2012, 3:17 pm

Ah yes,

the infamous Return/Revenge of the Jedi poster where the artist switched the colors of the lightsabers around!

Since everybody's so used to seeing the poster that way LFL never bothered to correct the error in any of the reprints/reproductions I've seen. I used to have a red beach towel with that image on it.

I've seen the image you posted before. Very, very old publicity still. You can also tell the sabers are airbrushed, too. Classic -- it may have been used in some of the licensed storybooks released around the time of the original films. I don't know -- I got rid of my copies of that stuff years ago.

I have to admit that sometimes I like the airbrushed/old-style rotoscoped-by-hand look of the lightsabers better than what's been done in the Prequels and Clone Wars CGI series.

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I had the hardest finding a blue color that I liked AND figuring a way to light it up without getting thicker than Vader's blade!

It's a very easy effect to achieve in Photoshop... You basically draw a thin white "tube"/"blade" that tapers to a point on a separate layer over the characters. (They do something similar to this in AfterEffects for the movies now.) I usually label the label "Luke's" or "Vader's blade". You have to do the blades on separate layers... If you try to put both blades on the same layer, they'll turn out the same color. There's a whole method to the madness to getting the glow effect and colors just right but sometimes I had to go off the "usual" path and alter setting a bit.

That blue blade is definitely hard to get consistent in Photoshop. It's such a light color in the blue part of the spectrum that it's very easy to make it TOO light or TOO dark.

Also, compression affects color perception/quality.
I can see that in JPEG format the blade looks almost green! AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!

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A big recurring mistake made today is that the digital artists constantly oversaturate the blue blade color in the restorations of the original films and the Prequels. It's just too intense -- the original blades (Obi-Wan's and Luke's first lightsaber) were softer and nowhere near as harsh as what I see in the Prequels and the "digital restorations" of the original films.

Vader's blade also tends to get rendered a bit TOO red now. It's actually closer to a hot pink in the original films -- the ones I saw in the theaters 30 years ago!

It's sad to see the LFL technicians don't care enough to get the look of the original effects RIGHT in the home video releases.
I have to go back to the 2-disc DVD edition releases with the laserdisc masters to see the proper colors for the sabers...


BTW,

Here is the color version of the B & W photo I posted.
I think it might be a still capture from "Empire"... There's noticeable blur and blade widening put in to indicate motion. Kinda makes the blades seem more organic IMHO. Nice look.

Image

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Re: RIP, Bob "Darth Vader" Anderson

Post by Ben » July 31st, 2012, 5:55 am

Technically, I should point out that this isn't the still you're looking for. ;)

Both Luke and Vader occupy different positions on the rafting than in the one you Photoshopped.

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