Star Wars Film Cell Light Boxes




About: Im a model maker who makes film and game props in my spare time. If you like my work please visit my blog it has more work. email me at backwardsprops @ gmail . com (with out the spaces, stops...

I love star wars and a while back i got s lot of film cells on ebay of star wars.

i guess these are from the remake from some times in the mid 1990.

I got loads and chose 8 of them and backed them onto a piece of card and used to have them on a shelf. they weren't getting looked at as much as i really wanted so recently i decided to see if i could make something more cool and useful.

This is how i went about making some film cell light boxes.

Step 1: Tools and Materials.


-craft knife or scalpel
-sand paper -soldering iron

-film cells of choice
-mount board or card stock
-large box frame 300mmx300mm
-paint for the frame (only if you want to change the colour)
-button or switch
-LED strip -resistors etc.

Step 2: Choosing Your Film Strips.

Using my iPad as a back light i looked at my film cells and checked them out to see which ones i wanted to use.

the film cells i had were of three sizes 2 large ones and 3 each of medium and small.

i decided to use all of the one i had but split them into two groups.

one group of one long strip and three medium, the other group of the other large strip and the three small ones.

Step 3: Cutting the Mount Board.

I measured the size of all the strips. The three sizes were 155mm x 35mm, 110mmx35mm and 95mmx35mm.

i also measured out the size of the glass of the box frame as the card needed to be exactly the same size as the glass.

once i had all the measurements i drew out a large square the size of the glass and plotted out the four holes for the film cells.

I did this two times as each card will have different sized holes as the film cells for each frame are different.

once i had cut all the holes i placed the card in the box frame to make sure it all looked right.

Step 4: Attaching the Cells to the Card.

Once i had the card with the holes in i attached the film cell to the under side of the card. the film cells that i have had an audio track down the left hand side of the perforations. so when attaching the film cells to the underside of the card i had to make sure that i had placed the audio track down the right hand side so when viewing it from the front it would look correct. (i also wanted to see the audio tracks as i think they are cool) I used a small amount of clear tape to hold the film cells to the underside of the card. I placed a sheet of tracing paper over the rear of the cells to diffuse the lights and make it so you cannot see the light through the film cells. I then turned the frame over to see if they were in the correct place. Using my iPad as a back light. (as i hadn't made the lighting set-up yet) I repeated this for the second frame. i placed it all together to see what they look like. i like the look of the black film on the white(cream) card but i want to make the frame black or a darker colour.

Step 5: Painting the Frames.

I gave the wooden frame a light sanding and then a few coats of a matt black paint. Than I put the card and film cells back in the frame when the paint had dried.

Step 6: Lighting the Frame.

Using the led strips I measured out the length of each row of film cells and cut the led strips to the lengths (maybe longer) and I wired them together. Once the LEDs and battery clip and contact switch were all working I stuck the LEDs to the back board of the frame. I used the double sided tape on the rear of the LEDs. I also used a bit of electrical tape to hold the wires in place. I then placed the contact switch on the rear bottom of the frame so it can be pressed when you want to look at the cells. I glued it to the frame using hot glue.

Step 7: Finishing Up

Once the LEDs and switch are in place add the 9volt battery and close up the rear of the frame. You then can hang the cell light box where you want and enjoy your cells anytime you want. I chose not to have a switch for the lights because I don't want the cells to be lit up all the time as I would forget to turn them off and the battery wood run down, also it's make it a mystery until the button is pressed.

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    12 Discussions


    Question 2 months ago

    Could you please explain the connection to the battery and the contact switch and how that was done?
    I am making the same thing but unsure of how to connect the strip to the contact switch and the batteries

    3 answers
    backwards lambmusma004

    Answer 2 months ago

    well its not too easy to describe it in words, but i will give it a go.

    make sure you wire the + of the lightstrips to the + terminal on the battery connector. (using the same colour wire for all + and a different colour for all the - makes it very easy)
    and make sure you connect the - terminal from the battery connector to one side of the switch and then the other connector of the switch to the - terminal on the lightstrip.

    if you look at the picture in the instructable, you will see a black and red wire joining the light strips (and a close up of the wires soldered to the lightstrip) so in this instance I wired the + with the red wire and the - with the black wire. there is also a photo of the contact switch with a black wire on both connectors, this shows the - wire being split into two parts and the switch breaking (and completing) the circuit to turn the lights on and off.

    backwards lambmusma004

    Answer 2 months ago

    there are multiple instructables about wiring simple circuits and there are also youtube videos. someone lower in the comments linked to some youtube videos.


    4 years ago

    backwards lamb lovely tutorial I'm after one bit of advice. How to wire up these led strips? Is there a tutorial as my electrical knowledge isn't that great

    2 replies

    Hi, a guy on youtube (and indestructables) called DIY Perks has made a number of videos using these light strips and say in each one how they work. DIY Light shelf and DIY LED Panel for example are good places (the first being more simple and in line with this project)


    4 years ago

    Hello backwards lamb. I have purchased all of the equipment to make this, except the led strips, wires, etc. Where is the best place to get these? eBay? Thanks

    1 reply

    hi, yeah that's where i got them from. or depending on where you live, there are online shops that sell parts for electronics. maplins in the uk for example.

    hope that helps.

    if you do make it post some pictures i would love to see it.


    4 years ago on Step 6

    Will the lights over expose the film cell over time? In other words, will the cell image deteriorate with exposure to LED lights?

    1 reply
    backwards lambKimberlyH2

    Reply 4 years ago on Step 6

    i dont really know but i would not have thought they would continue to expose as they were designed to be used in a very bright projector over and over again and the LEDs are only on for a short amount of time each time one looks at them. They get as much light being displayed so natural light will shine through or on to them.


    5 years ago

    awesome/cool!!!! hey y'all posted this on my bday!