Enjoy An ASCII Version Of Star Wars In The Palm Of Your Hand For May The 4th

Everyone by now has probably seen the original — and best; fight us — installment of the Star Wars franchise, and likely the ASCII-art animation version of it that improves greatly on the film by eliminating all those distracting special effects, human actors, and the soundtrack. But what we haven’t had until now is a portable player for ASCIIWars, to enjoy the film in all its character-based glory while you’re on the go.

While this tribute to [Simon Jansen]’s amazing ASCII-art achievement might seem like a simple repackaging of the original, [Frank] actually had to go to some lengths to make this work. After getting [Simon]’s blessing, the build started with a WEMOS D1 Mini, a good platform for the project less for its wireless capabilities and more for its 4 MB of flash memory. A 240×360 TFT LCD display was selected to show the film; the scale of the display made most fonts hard to read, so [Frank] used Picopixel, a font designed for legibility on small screens. The animation file is stored on the SPIFFS file system on the D1’s flash memory, and a few lines of code parse it and send it to the display. The final touch is mounting the whole thing is an old slide viewer, which magnifies the display to make it a little easier to see.

As much as we applaud [Frank]’s tribute to [Simon]’s effort, there’s no reason to confine this to the Star Wars universe. If you read up on the history of ASCII art, which goes surprisingly far back, you might be inspired to render another classic film in ASCIImation and put it on a viewer like this. ASCII-Metropolis, anyone?

13 thoughts on “Enjoy An ASCII Version Of Star Wars In The Palm Of Your Hand For May The 4th

  1. May 4th is actually the day in 1961, 60 years ago exactly, that the Freedom Ride started. Initially a small group, they were testing whether interstate busing had been desegregated, as previously mandated. It followed the 1947 “Journey of Reconciliation”.

    And when they gave up, too much violence, Diane Nash of SNCC decided it had to continue, fear might otherwise stop the civil rights movement. So a whole bunch of others got on the bus.

  2. You can also telnet to towel.blinkenlights.nl and see it in its terminal glory.

    There’s some other interesting stuff on Simon’s website. The steam-powered record player playing the Sex Pistols is a nice little touch!.

  3. As I write this I’ve just clicked my “ASCII Wars” ROX icon and am watching it scroll by next to my browser window. Kudos to Frank. I have had it running on my PocketCHIP ever since NTC posted a blog entry about it (few years back), which was the first I’d heard of it. Since then I’ve written players in both FreePascal and classic BASIC (bwBASIC to be exact). I extracted the movie from the JavaScript string on their site. So I occasionally play it via my OrangePI Zero on my 50″ TV. ::sigh::

    Oooh! I’ll have to put it on the RaspberryPI attached to my projector so I can watch it on my 8ft screen! Why hadn’t I thought of that yet?

    Fun to have it in its own little player. Now if there were others… cartridges would be cool.. :-D

    1. There used to be a mac terminal command that would play any MP4 into an ascii movie. Always kinda dim. you might have to get it from the apple developer connection thing.

      1. That was a whole different thing, which is also found in Linux distributions. While most hand-made ASCII animations rely on the shapes of characters to draw objects, these ASCII movie players just converted shades of gray to characters that have a proportionate number of pixels illuminated. Some would even do color, though very coarsely. The difference in look between the two techniques is instantly recognizable. Or maybe you know of a smarter ASCII generator. That would be something to sse.

  4. Way back when, I wrote a program to print a file in a terminal window at a specified character rate, so that ASCII animations would play right. I thought about extending it to an actual application, so that it could also handle animations done for the Tektronix 4010 series graphics terminals (yes, that’s a thing, too), but that was when my sense of “this has gone far enough” kicked in.

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