It was 1997 when Simon Jansen started his remake of the first Star Wars film — Episode IV – A New Hope — as an ASCII animation (or "asciimation," as he coined it).
It was in 2015 when the dedicated New Zealand Star Wars fan added the last scene. That's right, it's not finished yet. In fact, it's only about 40 percent complete.
For reasons that are a mystery even to himself, Simon Jansen began creating individual frames of A New Hope after a chain of joke emails. Though not particularly keen on animation or ASCII art, Jansen was just enough of a Star Wars obsessive to keep up with the project.
Obsessive is pretty much the only way to describe Jansen's project. With more than 16,000 frames at 15 frames per second, the animation only lasts about 18 minutes. It's not a perfect, shot-for-shot recreation. Those 18-plus minutes manage to cover almost 40 percent of the original. And Jansen had much less than that completed two years after he started the project, when he went viral before it was even a term.
"I do little bursts," Jansen told Wired in 1999, describing his work ethic toward the project. "…if you were to sit down and a film over days and days, you'd go be a bit strange."
It seems people have offered to help him complete the project but Jansen writes in the asciimation's FAQ that he'd "really like to finish this myself" and that it "may take a long time but I ask people to be patient." He suggests folks take on asciimating the newer Star Wars flicks.
There's no way for me to embed Jansen's brilliant labor of love in this post, so you can just head over to Jansen's site to see it. It's worth the extra click, I promise.
Jansen also claims to have invented the world's first jet-powered beer cooler. This guy is cool.
One Frame At A Time: A long time ago in an encoding standard not so far away, an early 'net user tried to remake "Star Wars" in ASCII art form. He got further than you'd guess.
Previously: Star Wars Roguelike
screenshots via Star Wars ASCIIMATION
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