Behind The 63 Scenes Of The Empire Strikes Back

When modeler and LEGO Star Wars fan Hauke Jürgensen, aka Codyaner on Eurobricks, from Germany, came out of his Dark Age (the period of time between when a person loses interest in LEGO and when they rediscover it as an adult) in 2015 he didn’t expect that it would lead him to recreate the Original Trilogy through a series of incredible custom dioramas and models.

After enduring a 5 year Dark Age, during which he sold his collection of LEGO sets, in his late teens, it was the return of Star Wars to theatres that reignited his passion and he began collecting Star Wars sets again, but he found that – as an AFOL this time – building sets out of the box wasn’t as stimulating as it had been, and in 2019 he hit upon an idea.

“I came to the conclusion that it would make sense to start a project which takes a bit longer and consists of different builds. As my favorite SW trilogy is the original trilogy I came up with the idea of re-creating all 3 movies out of Lego with multiple scenes.”

Starting with A New Hope in January 2019, it took him 15 months to complete all representative 55 scenes he had selected to tell the story of the first Star Wars movie. Giving himself a short two months to recover and plan the next chapter, he started work on The Empire Strikes Back in May 2020.

“After watching the movie like for the 200x time in my life and making notes of which scenes I wanted to build I had quite a long list of 60+ scenes,” Jürgensen explained.

With list in hand, he storyboarded the scenes he wanted to build to help him determine what perspectives and scales to use. Battle plan complete, Jürgensen began to build and photograph each of the scenes in chronological order – a process he documented in his development thread on Eurobricks.

Eschewing the stock LEGO model because they were too big to fit into his vignettes and not detailed enough to satisfy his own expectations, Jürgensen constructed his own from scratch. Knowing that he didn’t have the inventory or timeframe to devise each and every model himself, he made good use Rebrickable and Youtube to help him find instructions and recipes.

I like to use other Midi- or Mini-Scale MOCs. For the AT-Ats I used 2x the amazing design from my friend Ridgedbrick as they had the perfect scale to create a Mini Scale version of the Battle of Hoth but still have astonishing details. For my Escape from Cloud City Moc I used the Micro Scale Version of the Millennium Falcon from Ron_McPhatty. Furthermore, I used some playscale Models like the X-Wing from Jerac and the Snowspeeder from Flying Waffle.

For the most part, Jürgensen relied on his skill as a builder so that he didn’t have to use any effects – whether practical or special, though on occasion he did have to utilize some LEGO-appropriate wizardry to create the impact he wanted.

“In general I try to not use any special effects but rather use practical effects. Nevertheless, when I initially started I used Adobe Lightroom to bring some light to my lightsabers. For lightnings I use micro LEDs from a company called Lightmybricks. They offer a big variety of different LED formats and colors. These are really easy to incorporate into builds by using hollow bricks or modified bricks. I also started using their LED lightsabers as they are providing a way better atmosphere to the overall scene than using after-effects.” Jürgensen shared with us.

Digital (left) and practical (right) effects on Luke’s lightsaber

He also made a great effort to use LEGO bricks in all aspects of his dioramas, and purposefully built the backgrounds – like the cloud-filled skies of Bespin – instead of relying on printed or digital backdrops.

Having built well over 100 models for his two photo series, Jürgensen was able to pick out his three favorite scenes from his most recent enterprise – The Empire Strikes Back photobook – based on how difficult they were to re-create and how challenging they were to complete.

  • The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi – I really wanted to incorporate this scene but first I had no clue on how to build a hologram of the emperor. I could have used special effects to achieve this but this was not the direction I wanted to go. So I used all my trans blue bricks I had on hand and tried to build the hologram of the emperor by my own. Besides that I incorporated some LEDs to get the hologram look.
  • This is no cave – that Space Slug creature was a real pain as there are not a lot of lego mocs out there I could have used as inspiration. The goal was to capture the look and form of that beast. After experimenting on some different solutions I came up with the idea of using Lego Ball Joints to make the Space Slug… it was also movable because of that used technique.
  • You will go to the Dagobah system – clearly one of the most challenging small scenes I did as there is no official Force Ghost Lego Minifigure. To capture that look I used the Light Exposure Effect functionality of the iPhone Camera. By using this and pulling the Minifigure away in the moment you are taking the photo you can achieve this Force Ghost effect.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this project is the minimal budget and technology that went into the production, because – aside from having to spend a decent amount of money on LEGO bricks – the whole of The Empire Strikes Back photobook was shot on an iPhone 11, in a small lightbox that Jürgensen bought on Amazon.de, and touched up with VSCO, a free photo-editing app – proving that anyone with access to enough time and bricks, plus a minimal amount of equipment, can complete a similarly impressive endeavor.

Entertainment Earth

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