The opening exposition crawl is a hallmark of every Star Wars film and it’s hard to imagine any movie in the universe starting without one. Did you know it’s very, very easy to transform that scrolling text into an optical illusion, simply by watching two sets of them side-by-side? Thanks again, brain!
American University professor Arthur Shapiro and pretty much the go-to guy for optical illusions, not only demonstrates the weirdness in the video below, but explains why it occurs.
If this all seems familiar, the effect is nothing new, being a variation of the well-known “leaning tower illusion”. As the Wikipedia entry explains:
The illusion occurs because of the way the visual system takes into account perspective. When two identical towers rise in parallel but are viewed from below, their corresponding outlines converge in the retinal image due to perspective. The visual system normally “corrects” for the perspective distortion and as a result perceives the towers correctly … however in the case of the two identical images of the Pisa tower, the corresponding outlines of the towers do not converge but run in parallel, and as a result the towers are perceived as non-parallel.
The scrolling Star Wars text is simply a “dynamic version” of this illusion, according to Shapiro.
So, if you were looking to weird someone out today, this should do nicely!