16 Star Wars tech facts you almost certainly should know

8. Maz Katana was a digital dream made real

It seemed initially like a waste to cast an amazing actress like Lupita Nyong'o in the Force Awakens...and then hide her behind a CGI character. But it was hard to argue against the onscreen effect - her fully computer generated alien counterpart, Maz Kanata, was a joy to watch.

Tracking Nyong'o's performance in the Medusa Performance Capture system, developed by the Disney Research team in Zurich, every micro expression was recreated onscreen for a remarkably lifelike performance. It showed (as with The Force Awakens as a whole), that the best use of special effects is when practical and digital tools are both employed in perfect harmony.

9. Not making lightsaber noises under your breath is *actually impossible*

Bzzzt thrrp!

Even the consummate professional Ewan McGregor couldn't stop himself from hmmzzzing as he swung his laser sword around. They had to edit out his noises in post-production.

10. Spielberg's War of the Worlds owes a debt to Revenge of the Sith

Steven Spielberg - another tech trailblazer

Lucas had hoped to get his mate Spielberg into the director's chair for Star Wars but it was not to be. The Jaws and Indiana Jones director did help out with Episode III however – including the Anakin and Obi-wan lightsaber duel, which was one of the high points of the prequels. Apparently Spielberg took that knowledge of modern visual effects into his next big thing, War of the Worlds.

11. Episode III had more special effects shots than the first two prequels put together

Digital FX are increasingly prevalent in the prequels

350 visual effects in A New Hope gave way to 2,200 digital effects shots in the last of the prequels to be released – and yet Revenge of the Sith is the only Star Wars film not to receive an Oscar nomination for best visual effects.

12. The asteroid sequence in Empire apparently includes a shoe and a potato

And one of these lines is actually a

It's been suggested that Lucas' constant tinkering brought a object protest by the visual effects team – we understand chipping in with a potato, but who throws a shoe?

13. Star Wars DIDN'T introduce Dolby Stereo to the world

Dolby Stereo was a bid deal for early Star Wars screenings

Lucas' original is certainly the film that made Dolby Stereo popular – but the first film to feature the sound tech was actually Barbra Streisand's A Star is Born. Which is a bit of shame because Star Was is a hell of a lot more memorable - probably even in the Streisand household.

14. The dialogue on the Blu-ray edition is as close to the original sound as you're ever going to get

The original tapes

The original tapes

Star Wars sound maestro Matthew Wood told us: "On this Blu-ray release one of the things that came available to us that we found deep in our archive was the original production rolls. These were the rolls that were used for the original dialogue recording, and the entire production recording that were done on the set."

15. You can buy the graphics cards being used for Star Wars 7's effects

Nvidia Quadro M6000

JJ Abrams might not be the biggest proponent of digital film (he's gone back to proper film stock for the new film) but he is a fan of digital effects and you can own the Nvidia Quadro M6000 graphics cards being used in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A word of warning - they aren't cheap...

16. The mixing desk at Skywalker Sound cost a million dollars

Skywalker Sound

"It's a few years old now, but brand-new it cost $800,000. But that's before installation," one of the sound engineers at the Ranch told techradar earlier this year. "After everything is said and done it costs around $1 million."

Article first published in May 2014. New facts added Dec 2016

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.