Stars in the Background Challenge (World Settings)

Copying the starfield from the opening crawl of ‘Star Wars’, the Properties > World > Stars feature produces a perfect, very easy result…

…So long as the camera is static. However, when you move the camera, then it differs from Star Wars because the stars in Blender have z-axis depth (whereas, in Star Wars, they were clearly just filmed on a flat plane). Obviously, I do not want the stars to have this sort of parallax.

Does anybody know how to make the stars all flat against the background, or does anybody have any other suggestions? (Note that the camera is sweeping over a BIG area, and so I don’t think it’s too practical to just stick an image of stars there as my background).

Actually sticking an image of stars there in the background is probably the best way to go (it’s often done in traditional film-making as well) because it guarantees no parallax. However, how to stick them there makes all the difference.

When doing a large pan or dolly against a star background I sometimes use a section of a very large sphere on which a starfield image is mapped. If you keep the curvature shallow (meaning the BG object is only a small portion of the entire sphere) there’s little noticeable distortion of the star images. This is the method I used for the BGs of the Halo:Genesis 1 short you can see on my Vimeo page.

An alternative using flat plane(s) can be set up using a separate scene and an orthographic camera, imitating a rostrum-style animation stand. Here the pan & scan on the BG is matched to the perspective camera of the main scene, then composited into the full scene using a Render Layer. This has the advantage over using transforms in the Compositor of greater camera control.

Okay, thanks for the tip, Chipmasque.

Because I’m essentially copying the Star Wars opening crawl, I believe that a 2D plane should suffice, since there is only dolly moves, not the pan and/or tilt moves which would necessitate the texturing-stars-onto-a-sphere technique you mentioned. Obviously, when the camera pans and tilts, then the 2D nature of a plane is exposed. But when the camera is just tracking (as in Star Wars) then it’s not.

It would be nice if you could opt to make the stars 2D in the Blender World settings, but I guess I’ll have to use a work-around.

I watched your video, it looks very cool. Congratulations.

I’m going to mark this as “Solved”, but if anybody thinks they have a better solution (and best of all, knows a way to make the Blender World > Stars themselves 2D), please still share.

Thanks to Chipmasque and everybody else, as always. Hope future lurkers can learn from this.

If it’s not considered too much trouble to set up, using the separate scene with ortho camera can give you much greater control over the look of your starfield, letting you concentrate on getting the perspective camera working on the critical parts, since the stars aren’t part of that setup. This is comparable to what was done with the original Star Wars opening, where all the elements of the scene were photographed separately and the comp’d together using optical processes. Digital is SO much easier!