The Secret Behind the Speeder Bike Chase in ‘Return of the Jedi’

'Return of the Jedi' / Image courtesy: moviesnmayhem.com

‘Return of the Jedi’ / Image courtesy: moviesnmayhem.com

We’re taking a break from the automotive world today to appreciate transportation in one of the most famous scenes of any ‘Star Wars’ movie: the forest speeder bike chase in ‘Return of the Jedi’.  We’re already partial to the action-packed sequence since parts are said to have been filmed just down the road from Southern Oregon in California’s Redwoods National Park.  So we know where the spectacular backdrop came from.  And now, thanks to an article written by Travis Okulski and posted by Jalopnik.com we also know how that scene came to life.

The scene has members of the Empire and the Rebels on a wild chase through a heavily forested grove (video below).  The vehicles, which loosely resemble motorcycles without wheels (or slimmed-down snowmobiles), dodge and weave in and amongst the trees with incredible deftness at what appears to be great speeds.  While in motion the fictional speeders hover, never contacting the ground.  The challenge was finding a way to create the illusion of the speeders’ smooth, fast travel.   Dirtbikes didn’t cut it – the video turned out to be too bumpy.  In the end the solution was remarkably simple yet required a whole lot of editing patience, and fancy (if somewhat slow) footwork.  Rather than steal Okulski’s thunder we’ll just direct you to the article to read for yourself.   Then, maybewe’ll  pop some popcorn.  This news calls for ‘Star Wars’ marathon!

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