Before the days of digital photography photographers had to go through the hassle of developing and printing their shots before they knew if the shots were any good. In those days the only way to get an instant photo was through Polaroids. In movie-making it was with Polaroids that continuity of wardrobe, props and shots was safeguarded. Continuity is particularly a concern in the production of film and television due to the difficulty of rectifying an error in continuity after shooting has wrapped up. It also applies to other art forms, including novels, comics, and video games, though usually on a smaller scale.
Most productions have a script supervisor on hand whose job is to pay attention to and attempt to maintain continuity across the chaotic and typically non-linear production shoot. This takes the form of a large amount of paperwork, photographs, and attention to and memory of large quantities of detail, some of which is sometimes assembled into the story bible for the production. It usually regards factors both with-in the scene and often even technical details including meticulous records of camera positioning and equipment settings. All of this is done so that ideally all related shots can match, despite perhaps parts being shot thousands of miles and several months apart. It is a less conspicuous job, though, because if done perfectly, no one will ever notice.
Decades later it is these continuity Polaroids that give us a unique look into the production of Return of the Jedi. These Polaroids show costumes, background extras and aliens, rarely seen props and details of the sets and glimpses of deleted scenes that we never got to experience on the big screen. Enjoy this gallery of Return of the Jedi Polaroids and step back to the production of a little sci-fi movie shot in 1982.