Blender: A Star Wars Crawl

While working on my edit of The Force Awakens, I was challenged to make a new crawl that acted to summarize the past 30 years. I had attempted to make crawls in the past, but ultimately was disappointed in the outcomes. Most programs were unable to preserve an infinite horizon for the text as it moved up and backwards in the frame and resulted in premature fading of the text. I was determined to find a solution to this problem. Not wanting to shell out any extra money to do so, I looked into the free program called Blender. This program is primarily used for 3D modeling, but I hoped to use it’s vertices to create a custom 2-dimensional crawl in a 3D environment. I happened upon this wonderful tutorial and was able to pick up some basic blender skills.

Many thanks to Chipper Videos for this basic tutorial that got me started.

While this tutorial was invaluable with introducing me to the idea of the crawl, It ultimately was overwhelming and so I took a solo approach and applied trial and error. After numerous youtube videos and reading multiple blogs, I was able to produce this:

This crawl was rendered with Blender’s default grey background and so it required some chroma key work (green screen). I set the appropriate chromo color, added a screen capture of the star field and was able to have a custom crawl. As you can see in the video, the text prematurely faded as it reached the upper regions of the screen. This particular crawl utilized animated text with a static camera. Upon reflection, I thought it might be easier to animate the camera rather than each segment of the text. It then occurred to me that the original crawl did just that, move the along a plan at an inverted angle. So I made some adjustments to the text size and spacing and then animated the camera and voila!

Many thanks go out to friends at fanedit.org for spurring me on to achieve this. I am currently working on a template to share with the fan editing community in order to give a free professional looking option for space opera fans around the globe to utilize in their custom creations. For obvious reasons, the template will not include the Zoom out Star Wars logo, as I don’t own, or pretend to own it. Click over to fanedit.org in the coming week(s) to look for the custom crawl creator utilizing the free program Blender.

As always, credit is due and given to LucasFilm ltd. for producing such an iconic introduction to film.

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