When I saw this setup, print in Esquire, I assumed they had built a physical crawl, dragged through the camera's field of view to create the effect. Looking closer, though, it's obvious that it was the camera that moved in this setup, slowly and carefully rolled back over the glossy, printed plate, which measured about six feet long.
It looks like a colored lightbox with the letters glowing through an opaque film. Awesome. You know, it's amazing what you can accomplish even without computers. Kidding, computers are life.
So That's How They Filmed the Star Wars Opening Crawl... [gizmodo]
Rare Empire Photos from Maxim Magazine [starwars] (with a bunch of never before seen candid shots)
Thanks to ray, who, together with gun, makes one of my favorite weapons.