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On the movies
A lightsaber is a science fiction weapon from the Star Wars movies, it is a metal hilt that projects a finite blade of energy. It can come in several colors sometimes representing to the alignment of its user. Since it appearance in the Star Wars movies it became very popular and several toys and merchandise was design to fulfill the desire of swing a lightsaber by many people thus commencing the lightsaber duels. But until the refinement of cheap house-made digital effects, the lightsaber could not have the same bright and sounds of the ones that appear in the movies. It was just a matter of time for this to happened until fans could have the technology and skills to reproduce o create new battles based on the movies.
In this movies its assumed that the characters have some sort of relation to the Star Wars universe. A lightsaber duel has his own laws, for instance its assumed that fighters have some sort of Jedi or Sith power, and that they can push things or people with their mind or attract and repeal objects. Also for its unique properties the lightsaber has its own use different of the regular swords, for instance it can heat up metal or it can be turn on or off for combat proposes. The first lightsaber duel ever made appeared on Star Wars (a new hope, 1977) between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
On the internet
Since the technology of digital effects the lightsaber duels have become a meme, their are many lightsaber duels represented in pictures and videos. Some lightsaber duels could not contain lightsaber duels at all, but the idea can be recreated while making the sound of the lightsaber with the mouth, a notorious example of this behaviour is of course the Star Wars Kid, this example is technically not a lightsaber duel since the Star Wars Kid is fighting alone, but it could be accepted as one in a broader definition since the Star Wars Kid is imagining his enemies.
Fighting with some sort of sticks or brooms (as the Star Wars Kid did) is not usual within the lightsaber duels since the fighters want to make the fight as close to the movies as possible, for that matter fighters prefer toys or even exact replicas of the lightsabers, or even for that matter theres entire sites dedicated to the self manufacuration of light sabers
According to the technical possibilities theres at least three options for a lightsaber duel:
1. Just a casual fight using toys or replicas without the digital effects.
2. A carefully edited and digitalized fight, with the exact CGI and sounds appeared on the movies.
This type can be divided in two:
2.1: footage made by the creators intentionally for the purpose of a lightsaber fight.
2.2: footage edited from somewhere else, not intended as a lightsaber fight, incluiding swords or some sort of weapons but with digitally added lightsabers.
A third possibility is the case of Stephen Colbert that raid his viewers to edit footage of him on a green screen with a lightsaber, this instance does not fit in any of the criteria above so it could be a sui generi case:
On the August 10, 2006 episode, Stephen Colbert was shown wielding a lightsaber in front of a green screen, a parody of the Star Wars Kid internet phenomenon. This was done as part of the “Better Know A District” segment, when Colbert visited California’s 6th congressional district, the home of Star Wars creator George Lucas. The greenscreen footage was subsequently edited by fans and their results were posted on the Internet, primarily the website YouTube. Colbert featured some of these clips on the August 21 episode and issued the “Green Screen Challenge” to the public--a contest to create the best video from footage shown in the August 10 episode. Lucas himself made an appearance on the October 11 episode to showcase his own entry.
Other clips of this can been seen here on the official website
Non digital edited fights
Digitalized lightsaber fights
A notable mention is the video Ryan vs Dorkman, according to wikipedia
Ryan vs. Dorkman was produced as an entry in a lightsaber choreography competition hosted by TheForce.net, a prominent Star Wars fan site noted for its fan film-making community. According to the official TFN entry for the film, the backstory involves Ryan and Michael, or “Ryan_W” and “DorkmanScott” as they are known on TheForce.net’s forums, meeting after their friendly online rivalry over who is the better saber artist escalates too far. The fight to the death will determine once and for all who is the most skilled with a saber. Though fan-made lightsaber duels were already commonplace on the internet at the time of its release, RvD gained attention due to the quality of the lightsaber special effects, which some compared to the visual effects created by Industrial Light and Magic. It was also lauded for its careful and clear cinematography and its fight choreography, praised by some fans[who?] as being equal to or even surpassing the fighting showcased in actual franchise films.
In the spring of 2006, the short became a viral video after being posted on such websites as eBaumsworld, CollegeHumor, and the front page of YouTube as a “Featured Video.” The YouTube video officially surpassed one million views on January 30, 2007, along with tens of thousands of hits at other sites. As of April 2010, the original RvD had surpassed 4.8 million views on YouTube. A version of the film uploaded to Google Video also surpassed two million views. In early 2008 Wieber and Scott re-mastered “RvD” and is available for download on the official site. The re-mastering involved removing the “greenish-yellow wash,” re-doing some effects, fixing rotoscoping errors, reversing the effects from the de-interlacing (which gave diagonal lines a “jagged” look), re-framing certain cuts and upgrading the audio track from a loud mono track to a softer stereo track. A more detailed explanation is on how they re-mastered and it is available on the site. Both Ryan and ‘Dorkman’ were featured in the music video for Weezer’s 2008 song Pork and Beans which included many other internet video stars. The two can be seen fighting with lightsabres amongst the band playing, and the drummer seems to be playing with lightsabers instead of drumsticks.
For the careful edition of Ryan vs Dorkman, the video gained popularity and was turned into a series. Growing even more the interest in both making and looking for new lightsaber duels.
Early examples of lightsaber fights on the internet can be found (before the YT era) in sites like: theforce.net or atom.com due to the extent spread of this phenomena its hard to tell which videos were done first of its theres some kind of relationship between the videos since it is a global and well known cultural milestone. But its not hard to believe that many fans made their home movies inspired directly on the original movies without the fully awareness of the existence of other videos.