Lightsaber bows!

January 3, 2016 at 04:39 PM · Hi everyone! My orchestra will be performing the Star Wars Suite for a concert in March. We were wondering where we can find lightsaber bows like the ones seen


Anybody have any ideas? Thanks:)

Replies (17)

January 3, 2016 at 04:52 PM · Glow sticks taped to the bows.

January 3, 2016 at 08:56 PM · Thankfully, the music isn't by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven etc, otherwise lightsaber bows would be causing a few graves to be spun in, and I don't suppose such bows would be particularly light, either :)

January 4, 2016 at 05:03 AM · Having had an interest in how fan films manage the lightsaber effect some years ago, I want to point out that it is likely that what is being used in that video is nothing more than conventional violin bows. Look up "lightsaber rotoscoping" and you'll find many programs exist (varying in cost and quality) which would allow you to add this effect to a video after recording it. The idea is that a program is used to paint over the bow (or the prop lightsaber) in each image. It's mostly a matter of taking the time to track down the bows in each frame.

Watching the motion closely, you'll notice some weird behavior at edges of the visible parts of the "lightbows", such as when they move while partially behind a stand. Because of that, I would be incredibly surprised if these are anything more than regular violin bows with an effect added to the video. Therefore, it would not be possible to do a live, in-person performance with that exact effect. However, if you're patient enough to deal with all the bows in an orchestra going behind stands and other people, you might be able to produce a similar video.

EDIT: I now think I am partially or completely wrong on this (for reasons posted by others below), and I am surprised that this might be possible with LEDs or something similar. It's possible that differences between the colors that I observed might have more to do with relative brightnesses and differences in how a video camera based on RGB might saturate yellow vs. the other colors here. Oh confirmation bias!

January 4, 2016 at 06:10 AM · "I don't suppose such bows would be particularly light, either :)"

This would depend on whether the violinists were allied with the light side.

January 4, 2016 at 06:52 AM · If you look very closely, at 5 seconds (give or take a millisecond) you can see that the light on the yellowish bow is made of several dots of lights. You can see that on other bows too usually when there's a fast change in direction. Also you can see there's a little wire that goes into the players' sleeve in a few of the frames throughout the video. So while it is totally possible that it was touched up on rotoscoping, I think someone just bought a bunch of the light-up lightsabers they sell at Toys R Us and cracked them open and stick the LED strip that is inside them on the back of the bows.

January 4, 2016 at 07:31 AM · After you pointed that out, I'm starting to think certain colors may have been touched up to differing degrees, with the yellow probably almost not at all. Based on the edge thing I mentioned, perhaps only the green ones are edited (or are most edited)? I suppose it's a predictable human trait that I only saw details that supported my initial idea.

January 4, 2016 at 11:45 PM · Arguments against the hypothesis of a post-production lightsaber effect in this particular case include,

The video was of a school orchestra playing live - an audience would surely have expected to see a lightsaber effect in such a program. Provision of a lightsaber effect post-production in a video would be time-consuming (every frame would need to be "doctored") and expensive, which would be quite out of proportion in an amateur video.

Reflections of light from the lightsaber bows can be seen on the fronts of some of the violins. Perhaps a professional film production company could have inserted the reflections, if asked nicely and for a substantial fee, but somehow I rather doubt it in this instance.

January 5, 2016 at 12:08 AM · you know, I've been curious about developing a polyurethane clear bow with LED lights responding to intensity of volume or pitch. The bow becoming either a tuner or a visual volume display. Now the problem for me would be time and budget restraints. Basically the stick can be 3D printed and electronics can be inserted and have the frog, button and hair done by a luthier. It may be a fun side-project once I'm released from BSc. Also, the stick can be double layered for TIR, making it to appear to have solid glow of one colour.

If I ever develop it, how it may sound? Heck if I know, I'd be surprised if it doesn't snap from tightening the hair.

January 5, 2016 at 12:08 AM ·

January 5, 2016 at 04:53 AM · Not only are there reflections on the violins but the girl in white to the left is especially lit up by the bow- so personally I don't think this is special effects but real light sectors, probably issued by the Empire of the Third Parsec.

One would think the strings would be melted if they aren't careful!

January 6, 2016 at 04:57 AM · It may be a combination of both LED light strips on the bows, and post-production editing to get the glowing effect actually.

Here a link to the type of 12V LED light strip I'd use perhaps: I'd try sticking a strip of lights on a cheap bow, and hooking that to a 12V battery pack.

January 6, 2016 at 02:22 PM · Thanks for all your comments guys! I'll definitely start looking into the LED idea:) (Does anyone know how much they weigh though?)

January 6, 2016 at 02:54 PM · In the video I think I caught a glimpse of a wire disappearing from a player's right hand up their sleeve, presumably to a power supply.

January 6, 2016 at 03:35 PM · Jasmine, that depends on how much money you are willing to spend.

September 28, 2016 at 09:48 PM · Definitely LEDs. You can kinda see the wires. But Google the performance. On other videos you can totally see the wires. On one the wire gets in the way of a kid playing and he has to adjust it. So as long as you're wearing long sleeves (that can cover up the wire) this shouldn't be a problem. Might want to make sure the wire disconnects at you sleeve though.

September 28, 2016 at 10:44 PM · You could always try a low tech option making sleeves to cover the bows using something like this:

It might produce a similar effect with creative lighting effects?

September 29, 2016 at 12:39 AM · The high school and middle schools do a finale piece all together at the end of the summer concert and we did the main theme. We attached glow sticks to our bows via rubber bands. We unscrewed the hair, put on rubber bands, put the hair back on, and then slid the glow-stick through the bands. It worked well, and didn't impede bowing anything that much.

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