Le Pas (1975) - Piotr Kamler

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Music by Bernard Parmegiani

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Piotr Kamler Day

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I discovered the world of Polish animator Piotr Kamler after searching on YouTube for films scored by composer Bernard Parmegiani, whose music I came across via UbuWeb. Parmegiani and Kamler were both colleagues of musique concrète mastermind Pierre Schaeffer, and they participated in the experimental research arm of the French television station O.R.T.F. founded by Schaeffer in 1960. Some have dubbed the abstract films and animations created under Schaeffer's management of the O.R.T.F. "concrete cinema." Today I will be posting films by Kamler produced during his tenure in this department as well as some examples of his later work. These clips originate from the 2007 DVD Piotr Kamler, à la recherche du temps.

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MSX Demoscene

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An MSX1 demo: Bold by Dvik & Joyrex

MSX was the first attempt to standardize software and hardware between different home computer vendors. With its 3.58 MHz processor, Microsoft BASIC, three-channel sound and modest graphics the MSX represented a very typical 8-bit home computer of the early 1980s. Several well-known companies such as Sony, Canon and Philips produced their own models, but their efforts were largely shadowed by the king of the hill, the Commodore 64. In spite of the tough competition, in some countries, such as The Netherlands, Spain and Brazil, the MSX line of computers was actually quite popular. A big factor in the success were the quality games produced by Konami, well-known for its numerous popular game series.

The MSX demoscene is a small but curious resident of the demo world. It could be roughly divided into two eras: the Dutch scene of the early nineties and the MSX renaissance of the late nineties. The Dutch demos ran on the advanced MSX2 computers that had improved graphics modes and often expansions such as additional memory or a sound cartridge. The effects seen in the first wave of demos were typical for the time: scrollers, colorbars, wobblers and even simple flat shaded vector graphics. Interestingly, in the Dutch scene it was considered perfectly normal to sell demos at fairs to other people, to get compensation for the hard work. In contrast, usually demos are distributed for free among the sceners and demo watchers. Many Dutch demogroups also went on to produce commercial games for the platform.

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A Dutch MSX2 demo: Unknown Reality by NOP

When the MSX started to disappear from the face of mainstream computing towards the mid-nineties, the Dutch scene also cooled down. It wasn't until 1997 that new demos started to appear, this time ...

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Demo Effects in a Nutshell

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Tint by The Black Lotus (1996)

Visual effects are the building blocks of demos. To impress the audience, an effect needs to look good, have some novelty in it, and be technically well-executed. Especially during the early years of the demoscene, in the late eighties, creatively pushing hardware was highly regarded, but later on visual quality became increasingly important. The capabilities of home computers have improved considerably during the last 25 years, which has let the programmers create effects that would have been way beyond the reach of the early 8-bits such as the Commodore 64. Likewise, old tricks have become outdated or unfashionable and fallen out of use.

Scrolling text from an Ikari crack intro (1988)

Most demos released in the late 1980s or early 1990s featured some kind of scrollers: text sliding across the screen. Several variations such as sinus or parallax scrollers exist, but the basic idea is still the same. Scrollers were often used for informative purposes, like displaying the credits or for sending greetings to fellow groups. Other common effects of the time were colorbars, wobblers and sprite graphics moving on top of the background. Common to all of them is that they directly reflect the capabilities of the contemporary hardware. A bit later image-based effects, such as various tunnels and zoomers, started to gain ground, reflecting the move away from bitmapped graphics hardware, which was ill-suited for such feats.

Flat-shaded vector graphics from Vectormania by Phenomena (1990)

Bump+texture mapped 3D from Solstice by Valhalla (1995)

Vector graphics such as rotating objects and scenes became popular in the early 1990s, first in the primitive flat shaded format. Throughout the nineties the sophistication of vector graphics increased little by little and at the end of the decade you could see texture mapping, real-time shading and ...

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The Demoscene -- an Overview

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Ikari crack intro for Commodore 64 from 1989

1. Introduction

The demoscene is an international collective of programmers, graphics artists and musicians who create real-time audio-visual presentations with home computers. These people call themselves demosceners or just sceners. The real-time presentations are in turn called demos. Geographically the demoscene is a European phenomenon, with relatively little activity on other continents.

In this article, we want to introduce demos and the demoscene to the uninitiated reader.1 In the recent 10 years or so, social scientists, humanists and media researchers have written a number of texts that present the topic. These studies have been overviewed in our online research bibliography, Demoscene Research.2

Generally, the existing studies can be separated into two domains. In the first of these, the demoscene has been viewed as artistic activity. Secondly, many researchers have assessed demoscene culture as a particular way of life, for example as youth culture, counter culture, multimedia hacker culture or gendered community.

These existing works have opened up important and relevant points for discussion. But at the same time, they have often taken quite an abstract and an outsider perspective to demoscene practices. Having been active demosceners ourselves from the 1990s, we feel that the real live action of being in the scene should also receive its share of attention.

In this introduction, we thus focus on what demosceners do and the diverse artifacts they produce. We describe the basic concepts used by the sceners and explain the scene's key social conventions. The final section concludes with tips for further reading.

2. What Demosceners Do

As the name already suggests, the main activity of the demoscene is making "demos". A demo is a series of computer graphics effects with a music soundtrack. In most cases the demo -- short for demonstration ...

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The Simpson Verdict (2002) - Kota Ezawa

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The reading of the verdict in the trial of OJ Simpson. Using sound from the actual TV footage - only one camera was allowed in the courtroom - and reducing movement to a minimum of changes in facial expression, Ezawa's animation heightens the racial implications of the trial and the cynicism of the verdict.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM UBUWEB

Ezawa meticulously recreates, frame-by-frame, animated sequences from television, cinema, and art history using basic digital drawing and animation software. His aesthetic is a highly stylized mixture of Pop Art, Alex Katz, and paint-by-numbers pictures, to name but a few of his stylistic antecedents. This painstaking process creates an in intriguing facsimile of the source material, which include the Kennedy assassination, the O.J. Simpson trial, and clips from the film Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? (1966) .

-- DESCRIPTION FROM UBUWEB

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#14 (2005) - Peter Baldes

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From Peter Baldes's longrunning series of 'Hypertemporality Animations'. Definitely worth spending some time with.

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DOUBLE DECK (2010) - Nicolas Sassoon

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Unknown Continents (2010) - Anders Bojen & Kristoffer Ørum

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Unknown Continents from Kristoffer Ørum on Vimeo.

Computer generated landscapes in films and computer games increasingly influence the way we imagine alternatives to our present day lives. In collaboration with Ardor3D, who have worked with among others NASA, the artists have developed a real-time 3D programme. Continents emerge on one globe after another in an infinite series of alternative worlds. Each potentially inhabitable world is a unique computer generated model and exists only while it is observed.

-- DESCRIPTION OF UNKNOWN CONTINENTS FROM THE SHOW "ADVENTURES IN IMMEDIATE UNREALITY"

Originally via VVORK

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Soviet Sci-Fi Animation in the 1980's

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In the years leading up to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, several of its animation studios were releasing experimental short films based off short stories penned by prominent, American science fiction authors. This post assembles some of these futuristic and otherworldly animations.


 

Здесь могут водиться тигры, 1989
Here There Be Tigers (Based on the story by Ray Bradbury)
Director: Vladimir Samsonov
Studio: Ecran

 

 


 

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