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Star Wars Intro

Updated for After Effects 6.5 By Stephen Schleicher

The last time I wrote about creating the Star Wars intro complete with text scrolling to infinity (and beyond), I had After Effects 5.0 in mind.  Since then I receive about one request a week from fan boys wanting the tutorial updated for the latest version of After Effects.  In this exercise, well use parenting, 3D layers, and a bunch of text to build that intro for your latest Star Wars fan film.

Gathering your materials
Before we begin, you should gather together all the elements you will need for this project:

? Star Wars font.  If you dont already have it, Google a search for Star Wars Font Download and you will find a suitable one for your project.  You will only need this font for the Star Wars title.
? Rambling text.  Use a word processor to type your opening comments for the text scroll.  I prefer to use a word processor as it will be something you can save and edit later on (and it includes a spell checker).  For this exercise, I used an Ipsum Lorem text generator to create five paragraphs worth of information.
? Star field background.  Any star field will do.  I rendered mine out in NewTeks LightWave 8 using multiple combinations of the default star field object.
? Planet of interest.  After the text scrolls by, the camera will generally tilt down to reveal a planet.  Again, I rendered mine out in LightWave using a model obtained on the Internet.

Just in case you dont have any of these elements, I have been nice enough to include these (sans font) in the project file at the end of this exercise.

Scrolling Text
Lets tackle the big issue first, as the rest will fall into place quite easily.

Step 1:  Launch After Effects and create a comp using on of the AE Presets.  I will be using the DV NTSC preset.

Step 2:  Open your text document and copy the contents.  The first problem you will encounter in After Effects if you try to paste the text from the clipboard will be a single very long line of text.

This is something we definitely do not want.  With this method, if you try to resize the bounding box of the text layer, you will simple squash and stretch the text.  In other words, simply pasting text into After Effects will not generate the word wrap you expect.  Instead you need to use the Text Tool to draw a bounding box.

Step 2a:  Select the Text Tool from the Tools Palette and in the Comp Window click and drag out a text bounding box.

Step 2b:  With the text bounding box selected, you can now paste the clipboard text into the region complete with word wrap and line breaks.

The only thing remaining is to resize the bounding box so all of the text is visible.  But how do you know how large to resize the bounding box?  If you look carefully at the lower right and corner of your text bounding box, you will see a small plus sign (+).

This is there to let you know there is more text than the current bounding box size.  With the Text Tool selected, click and drag this control point until all of your text is revealed.  In the case of the Ipsum Lorem text I used, I had to resize quite a bit to get it all in. 

HINT:  In After Effects 6.5 if you need to zoom in or out of your composition, use the scroll wheel of your mouse while the cursor is in the Comp Window.

Select an appropriate font style for this project.  I chose Arial with an easy to read size of 30 pixels.


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