The Original TIE Fighters Were Purple

Illustration for article titled The Original TIE Fighters Were Purple

Roaming through discarded exposures and lighting film tests, a cinema enthusiast has discovered that George Lucas originally wanted Star Wars' Imperial TIE Fighters to be purple. Thankfully for everyone except Prince, this horrible idea was discarded for technical reasons.

Gene was told by one of the Star Wars model makers that the initial color of the TIE fighter was "a shade of maroon"—which in theory is a mix between crimson and brown. In reality, it looks like a dark pinkish purple on these shots. He points out that "this was an interesting choice as everything in the movie appears to be a different shade of gray or off white. Technically, it was an interesting choice as well since a maroon model probably wouldn't be as prone to bluespill as a gray model." I think that by "interesting" he really was trying to say "hideous."

According to Gene, the team abandoned Lucas' original idea after doing some composition tests. Apparently, the purple-maroon hue made the TIE Fighters to blend quickly into the black space background, as they went away from the camera. Gene started to investigate and ultimately found proof of the color test in some old wedges—"short pieces of film that test various exposures or lighting configurations and aren't meant for projection."


He also found other interesting unknown pieces of trivia, like the fact that the special effects team used LEDs to create the ion engines of the fighters, instead of using traditional incandescent bulbs. That was a risky move at the time:

Illustration for article titled The Original TIE Fighters Were Purple

LEDs will work, they just didn't put out a lot of light. That means you have to increase the exposure time and though you can get them to work, it will take more time. What's interesting to me is the fact that the bluescreen is switched on. For a light pass, they were just generally burned in and (usually) just shot against black. It might be a pass that will help the matte as well as a light pass.

LEDs or no LEDs, the mere possibility of the Evil Galactic Purple Empire shrivels my testes. [The Replica Blog Forum]

Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`


Well, from an operations perspective in the real Imperial fleet this would've made more sense as they'd be harder to see, and harder to see means harder to shoot (remember they seemed to rely a lot on "pick[ing] up your visual scan[ning]" in the Star Wars films, though the games relied on "sensors"). But then again they'd have been a lot harder to see on screen, and this is an exercise in cinematography afterall.

Coincidentally, there was a study done some time ago (believe it was during design of the F-117) that found that military aircraft would ideally be colored pink as between changing ambient lighting and altitude they'd effectively be invisible.