Moleman 2 – Demoscene – The Art of the Algorithms (2012)

So it continues, but where did it start? Independent artists, sportsmen outside the law… The colorful culture of the city has become
a platform for a variety of forms of self-expression. A human thought, visuals, beats and melodies, the sculpting of scents
and materials to unique shapes can all express a human emotion. But what happens if someone chooses
to express themselves through numbers? In the 1980’s, something changed the world forever. Computer technology, mostly due to the appearance
of affordable Commodore 64’s, entered households worldwide, providing the opportunity for everyone to create digital art. But existing art forms weren’t the only ones
to be re-implemented on these computers; brand new forms of art also appeared,
ones thought to be impossible up to that point. Computers provided an opportunity for the
creator to produce visuals and sound effects and combine them to create the ultimate audiovisual experience, by using only the language of mathematics and
writing program code, without physical interaction. As a result of such techniques, demos were born,
and with them, the demoscene subculture. A demo can best be understood as a spectacular
animated music video which is usually a few minutes long. And yet it’s something entirely different from a traditional video. – So it’s not a video or an audio file. – No, it’s an executable program.
– Yes, it’s software. – Yes, it’s software like like a computer game. People who play video games may
be familiar with the term ‘demo’. This software, however, should not be confused
with the artworks demosceners call ‘demos’. – Game demos are promotional copies of the game
that have, for example, two levels out of two hundred. – A demo in the demoscene is an artwork
that has nothing to do with game demos. They do have one thing in common though:
Demos are made using the same techniques as video games, the same skills are needed to create them,
and they both end up as executable programs. Of course, there are many differences along the way. – If you’re making a game professionally, or if you’re
making a game even for, even for you and your friends, – there is a set thing that you have to follow.
With the demoscene, you can pretty much break all that. Sir Garbagetruck. American coder, organizer,
who has moved to Europe. Has a self-admitted problem with finishing demos. – You can either do abstract, you can have a plan.
There are so many different things, – and the creativity involved and just being able,
the freedom involved to doing whatever the heck you want to. – You can encounter problems in the scene
that ignite your programming creativity, – to find out how to do something
more simple, smaller, more efficiently. – The point of a demo is to create an music-video-like experience
using visuals and audio that you can really enjoy watching. – Some friends sit down – coders, designers, graphicians,
musicians – and they decide to do something spectacular, – or not spectacular but fun to do.
And then they decide to show it to others too. – That’s the concept, a gratifying hobby you can enjoy. – Most people haven’t studied this. In fact,
I don’t think anyone has studied this, – everyone here is a self-taught programmer, artist, musician.
From this perspective, it’s a naive artform. – Apart from being an outlet for self-expression,
the demoscene doesn’t make much sense as it is today. BoyC. Coder, member of Conspiracy and Digital Dynamite. His demo Chaos Theory, created in his demotool Addict,
has been shown in the United States at Siggraph, the world’s most renowned computer graphics conference. – People always made demos for fun. – And of course back in the day, to show off to each other,
“Look, what I did with this computer.” – In the ‘90s when we started getting serious about
this kind of stuff, we were continually surprised by demos, – because we saw things on the screen
that we didn’t think were possible. – We saw these things, and our jaws just hit the floor, thinking
“Oh my God, you can do THAT with that program?” – This is what really moves us, motivates us, to find new
and impressive way of rendering graphics. The similarities don’t end there. The birth and eventual popularity of the demoscene can be
largely attributed to the appearance of computer games, the removal of their copy protection,
and their subsequent distribution. – When people started cracking games on the C64
twenty, twenty-five, almost thirty years ago, – after they were so happy after they cracked them that they
left their names there, in the high score list, or in a graphic. – Then they realized that it’s even cooler to
prepend a picture in front of the game, for example. – They added text scrollers and greetings
and it got more and more complex. – This is starting to sound a lot like graffiti to me. – Yeah, it’s similar, they sometimes I’ve heard
it said that the demoscene is “digital graffiti.” – When someone cracked a game, they put little “intros” or
“cracktros” in front of the game introducing the group, – saying “We’re cool because we
cracked this game and you didn’t.” – And then these groups formed, and the challenge
wasn’t just cracking the game anymore, – but also making better looking intros in front of the game. – People got to the point where they stopped caring
about the game and only watched the intros. – And I was also one of those people! I liked the music a lot,
the fonts were cool, and they did some unbelievable things. – Sometimes they were more technically
advanced than the game itself. – Then there was a point where people
who were doing this started enjoying it so much – that they decided they didn’t need
games anymore, just the intros. – That was the moment the demoscene was born. – If you had a computer, that was already an elite thing,
and you had to meet other people who had computers; – the thrill came from creating things with the computer,
instead of just playing games. – That’s why the demoscene was able to take shape. Slyspy. Musician, graphics artist, member of United Force. Has quite possibly written more music
than any other Hungarian scener, and has recently gained popularity outside Hungary
after he started making his own demos and animations. – We met at the ‘Csoki’, the Csokonay Community House, – that was the center of the Hungarian
computer culture, the weekend club. – That was where I first saw demos on the C64,
and I immediately took a liking to them. – For a few years I was just interested,
then as groups started forming, – I slowly got involved in it
like other people doing these things. In the last 30 years, the demoscene,
having evolved from cracktros, as well as computer science itself,
has gone through radical changes. Over time, the tools, the limits,
and the purpose have all changed. – Back then it all revolved around coding, exploiting tight
hardware limitations, like on an 8-bit C64 or an Amiga. – In those days the attitude was
“we’ll prove that we’re the best.” – World records were easy to measure, because
like the C64, all the computers had the same capabilities. – So they went for world records for drawing the
most sine-dots or largest number of wavy scrollers. – And if someone could drew 250 dots,
but his neighbor was able to draw 253, – it escalated into a 48-hour caffeine marathon
to figure out how to draw 257. – The limits are broader now, so it’s more about design. – Demos try to be unique artistically, but still,
the demos that gain the most respect are the ones – that are exciting both codewise
– by pushing limitations – and also artistically. – The point is to present a product
that makes people sh*t themselves! Of course, this is the easiest to achieve when the
audience knows the limitations of that given computer, and is aware of the technical possibilities. Naive observers may not be
astonished by a rotating cube, even though perhaps even the engineers creating the computer
wouldn’t have thought that to be possible on the system in question. As limitations expanded, it has become
possible to create spectacular demos that can be enjoyed without a particular technical knowledge. This can also be attributed to a change in artistic perspective. – Nowadays the roles are more diffuse, demos and intros
usually have a sort of a producer or director – who has a vision for the final big picture,
and they’re the ones trying to manage the workflow. – The director.
– Yeah, the director. – Some demos are purely about technology,
“Look, I made a cool effect, whoa, great.” – Some don’t use much new technology,
but they look great, and that’s their point. – And there are some which, well,
try to convey some kind of message. On Tuesday, I realized that I help people
sell other people stuff they don’t really need. This happened during lunch. – It’s become harder to appreciate demos that
only display a cube or a good looking 3D scene – even if it looks good, it needs to have
a concept to really be appreciated. Gargaj. Coder, musician, member of
Conspiracy and Ümlaüt Design. Main organizer of the Function demoparty,
actively takes part in a variety of foreign events. – A part of the thing that the United States doesn’t
often see about the demoscene is how social it is. – It’s a very social thing. The small community of the scene itself is as important
to keep the creation process alive as the artists themselves. The communal event of the subculture
itself is called the demoparty, a computer-related event where fans of the scene compare
their skills, exchange experiences and ideas, and socialize. Productions are entered in a variety of categories and
ultimately they’re subjected to a final audience vote. In essence, these parties keep the demoscene running. – Very few people do productions “just for kicks”,
to release them on some website; – the idea is usually to enter a competition at a party,
and to see it on the bigscreen and hear it on the PA, – and the audience either likes it or it doesn’t,
but at least it has an effect on them. – We are a bunch of opinionated people
who like to see people make things. – Seeing your work on a bigscreen, being watched and applauded
by two hundred people, there’s nothing better than that! – Some people like to release demos to
for the challenge of beating other teams. – Some people enjoy just competing. – Some people enjoy going to the competitions and entering
something that they know other people are going to hate. The roots of demoparties reach back to the 80’s, and their existence can also be owed
to illegally cracked and distributed games. – These parties were originally copyparties,
people came together to copy stuff. – You mean you couldn’t just steal stuff – Sure you could, but you had no Internet back then,
and besides postal mail, – the easiest method was to just drop by
your neighbour’s and copy a floppy. – And if you had more than forty ‘neighbours’,
you rented out a hall. – They came together, they copied stuff,
and eventually demos appeared, – because some people were just
interested in making intros. – Currently there’s only one party here in Hungary
that’s a multiplatform, ‘PC’ party, and there’s also an 8-bit one. – There aren’t any serious prizes here, so it’s more about,
I don’t know, the moral victory, the experience itself. Function is currently the biggest
Hungarian multi-platform demoscene party, hosting 150-200 enthusiasts annually since 2003. About a quarter of them participate
in the competitions as well. – The hard core was always around 100-200 people, and that has
since shrunk to 50-60, so we know each other pretty well by now. – What do you expect from this kind of party? – Do you expect good demos, or do you expect the community
to show up? Is there a specific goal, or is it just ‘there’? – We expect people to show up, enjoy themselves,
and bring great productions. – I couldn’t rank these things. – All I know is when a party ends and you look around
at those 100-150-200 people who showed up – because that’s the size of Hungarian parties – – then you just instinctively know that you have to
do it again next year, period. I can’t explain why. – It’s about seeing happy people. Whether they’re happy
because they saw great demos they never saw before, – or because they started chatting with someone next to them
and now they’re swapping sources and they got something to use later, – or because they experienced that atmosphere
when the organizers announce the start of the compo, – and shut off the lights, and the first entry appears,
and they got shivers – All of these things happened to me when I started to go to parties,
and I couldn’t just pick one of them, – all I know is that when I came back from my first party,
I thought “Yup, that was it, I’m sold, I gotta go to more of these”. – I was wondering whether it’s worth it to organize parties.
I mean you don’t really get sponsors, – there are no products to sell, so it’s only organized for fun
and for the purpose of meeting up, right? – Financially, it’s not worth it. – We don’t get state funding, because what we do
isn’t considered to be art or culture. -We don’t do this because it’s worth it or not. – Sometimes people do things they know that aren’t worth it,
but they do it because they know they have to. – We have a lot of returning foreign visitors. – They not only show up to check where ‘Bucharest’ is,
but because they’ve already been here and enjoyed it. Arles. A small town in Southern France, not far from Marseille. It’s popular among visitors due to
it’s authentic Mediterranean old town, but in October, people are attracted for a different reason. In recent years, Arles hosted one of
France’s best known parties, MAIN, partly organized by Hungarians. – We organized a party in Hungary, and on the last two occasions,
the foreigners were watching the videostream over the Internet – and later asked for our help with organizing their party. Pasy. Coder, organizer, member of
Fresh!Mindworkz and Rebels. Has quite possibly coded more demos
than any other Hungarian scener. Technical lead organizer of the Main party in France. – First it was only me travelling to a meeting,
later I collected a team, – and eventually the entire technical team
ended up being Hungarians. – French organizers are much better with financial
and political organizing, keeping contacts, that sort of stuff. There are many similarities between Hungarian and foreign
parties, but there are plenty of differences as well, not necessarily limited to the giant display
mounted on the roof of the party hall, which incidentally provides a competition platform
for a variety of productions as well. – The budget for a Hungarian party is the amount
they spend on two or three people here. – The heads of the association are
really good at finding sponsors, – and art is curated a lot more here in France,
it doesn’t matter what kind of art it is. The demoscene is one of the few forms of art
where the artists are all part of one collective. It’d be hard to imagine multiple, independent
communities or outlets of expression or that someone would create demos while detached
from the main community, publishing works in different places. – If people stop making parties, demoscene will die. – Because you need real contact in real life
with people you make demos with, – and you meet with to talk,
even it is just once-twice a year. – You feel the demoscene when
you are talking with the people. – It has happened that a demo was
played for which I have written the music, – and someone walked up and asked
whether I used a certain instrument or a certain synth, – and we started talking and we’ve become friends. – Our biggest rivals are also our best friends,
I’m happy to say that. Parties are of course not only about the competitions,
but also about gaining experience and having fun. Aside from technical lectures, the schedules often
consist of scene-related live acts or bands, and in several cases, a demoparty has become
memorable not only because of the demos shown, but because of the actual party itself. – At Polish parties it has happened that the
organizing team was already drunk on the first day – and people are arriving, trying to find the party – Finns just sit around drinking vodka
straight from the bottle – and then someone walks up to
pee on someone else’s bicycle. – There haven’t been any deaths though.
No deaths and no births. – I’d like to know how it feels to be female in the scene,
‘cos it seems like a boys’ club. – Is it easy to find friends? ‘Cos it’s mostly males. – Sure, it’s not that hard. Of course everyone have
their own little theories about how it works. – When I started, there were already a few girls in
the scene all around Europe and in Hungary as well. – You had musicians, graphics artists, coders,
a lot of visitors, tagging along with their boyfriends. – I don’t know about activity,
I’d guess it’s around 90/10, no? Or 80/20? – I’d say 80/20. Demos aren’t the only things to compete at parties: other categories include pictures, music, standalone pieces
of code, even photos and miscellaneous other productions. They do have one thing in common though:
They’re mostly finished just before the deadline. – Everyone has way too little time to make demos,
so things are left to the last minute. – You usually go without sleep for the last few days,
only concentrating on your demo. – That usually manifests as flaws and little imperfections,
because they’re literally finished at the last minute, – but this also provides a thrill that keeps people going. – So in a sense it’s like a mental extreme sport. – Sometimes it happens that the demo is finished at the party.
-Yes, I heard that somebody is finishing at the last moment. – Someone is finishing the demo
– It’s not like that, it’s not perfect, it’s not perfect. – No, when I was leaving home, it still crashed at
the begining, there is still a few major flaws to be fixed. – It’s a whole different feeling to go to a party
and have something to enter than to just attend – It’s a whole different feeling to go to a party
knowing you’re gonna spend the entire party in a corner – in front of a laptop trying to hack something together. – Yeah, it has happened,
even if it wasn’t the entire party. – But that has it’s charm too, sitting there working
on something, people come up, take a listen, take a look – You can look up, check out someone else working – You can ask for advice from other musicians, if you’re
working on music, or from other coders if you’re a coder. – Yeah, if it crashes you just yell over,
“Hey, could you check this out for me?” – And you end up with three people debugging it. – What’s the minimum amount of time
needed to make a demo? – 90 minutes. – Yeah, it can be anything
from 90 minutes to several years. As the evolution of computer science started expanding the
technical borders, a demand for artificial limitations became clear. This is how size-limited demos, or ‘intros’, came to be. The point of these is that the final executable file isn’t allowed
to exceed the given size limitation, for example 4 or 64 kilobytes. – My classmate brought me these files on a floppy, saying – “check this out, you’re not gonna believe
what this is gonna show you in 64 kilobytes!” – You have an executable file, you run it, you get four minutes
of music video, and it’s so amazing it blows your mind. – Pounding techno music.
– Yeah! – You see a 4 kilobyte intro, showing off
a shocking amount of high-quality visuals, – and you can’t even fathom how much 4 kilobytes are: – You start writing something in Wordpad
and you go over 4 kilobytes very fast. – Get your… let’s say CV in the Microsoft Word.
Your CV is already three times bigger that this intro. To store one letter, or one character,
you need one byte of space. 4 kilobytes of space means 4096 characters.
That’s little more than a page of text. That’s the maximum amount of data
a 4 kilobyte intro can consist of. Running such a program, however, can allow the
computer to generate 5 minutes of visuals and music in full HD resolution, in realtime.
Like this one. – When you are limiting yourself to a very tight size,
like 4 kbytes or 64 kbytes, – you really need to use not-so-usual ways of drawing to
the screen, or getting sound out of the speakers. While 64 kilobyte intros can store 16 times
the information of 4 kilobyte ones, they’re still considerably smaller
than content stored the traditional way. Normally, 64 kilobyte space allows one to store about 4 seconds
of average quality MP3, or about half a second of video. – You watch a five minute video, it blows your mind
because it’s so awesome and ultimately it turns out – that the file would fit ten thousand times
on a DVD or CD. – If you rendered it to video,
it would only fit three times. Some people think even 4 kilobytes of space is too much. This is why we can encounter productions and
competitions for 256 or even 128 byte intros, where the limitation is merely this amount of characters.
Nowadays, these usually consist of short animations without sound. – We saw 3D visuals in 128 bytes. – Jaws dropping everywhere, screaming ovation, everything.
And then they showed the bytecode on the bigscreen in a hex editor. – “This is it.” And we applauded the code, because we
couldn’t believe that someone did it with only that. – We feel the need for the limitation,
you know, to feel more creative. Just as artists strive to conquer artificial
limitations on modern computers, people who write demos for retro computers are driven to
explore technical limitations in the most profound ways possible. Commodore 64, Plus 4, ZX Spectrum, Amiga. Computers long out of production, sometimes with
technologies and barriers from 30 years ago, and yet they continue to be utilized to present
more and more unbelievable things from time to time. Their popularity is best demonstrated by the fact that the
C64 can still claim to have the most productions ever released, having over 18000 compared to about 14000 on the PC. – There’s a smaller group of people
who love these computers, – and perhaps they don’t even care about other machines,
because they have their own demoscene turf. – Back when there were more sceners,
there was this less-than-serious rivalry thing. – It was a bit exaggerated, C64 users versus PC users,
especially Amiga users versus PC users – You know, kinda like Depeche Mode fans
versus Cure fans, and so on. Reptile. Started as a musician, later worked as a coder. Member of Astroidea, with whom
he has won a variety of competitions. – The Amiga was a computer way ahead of it’s time.
It was an incredibly well built machine, very imaginative. – And for a lot of people, the PC hurt because they
considered it a step back in many ways. – The Amiga wasn’t a computer for the masses! That was the
point, it was like the Harley-Davidson, it had an elegance to it. – And then the PC came along, the mass-market
machine, plastic junk with interchangable parts. – Businesswise, this was obviously a better model, – but the elegance of the Amiga created a really strict culture
around it; people would kill for what the Amiga means for them. Ajkarendek. A small ordinary village in western Hungary.
Streets are quiet, people are nice. Once a year, however, something changes. Every summer the town is flooded
with fans of 8-bit computers for 3 days, who are there to take part in Árok Party, an event
that’s been running for almost fifteen years now. – Árok Party is THE genuine party for the C64
and other 8-bit computers in Hungary. – Initially we made it a strictly demoscene event, that was the
intention, but then we realized there are more people interested. – Others showed up, some made hardware,
others just played games. Poison. Graphics artist, member of Singular Crew. One of the main organizers of the 15-year-old Árok Party. – It’s one of those parties which are mostly about friendship,
despite the common heritage these people have. – A lot of veterans show up to hang out,
when we meet every summer. – There’s been years with almost a hundred people, some of
them Czech, some of them Polish, sometimes a Swedish guy – There used to be a rule that you weren’t allowed
to bring machines that weren’t 8-bit, – and it used to be really strict, but eventually even the
organizers brought their own stuff, running emulators – They couldn’t bring phones. – Yeah, phones would be a problem with that rule, my phone
for example is basically a thousand times faster than a C64. – We thought about extending the competitions
beyond the usual graphics, music, demo stuff, – but we also try to come up with some playful stuff
you don’t see at other events. – This year we had a real-life adventure game,
which you had to play in the village itself. – It had nothing to do with computers,
you just got a map and you had to do quests. – Oooh, this must be some sort of level
– It’s a f*cking plasma effect! – Yeah, it’s a ‘sub-subculture’ party. The hype around the Commodore 64
continues to live on in a variety of ways. The popularity of music made with the C64 is undiminished. Today, there are a lot of people experimenting with performing
C64 music live, whether with an orchestra, or even a cappella. And of course, there’s been examples of popular
producers getting inspired by C64 music. SIDRip Alliance is a band who adapts C64 music
to the arsenal of a rock band. – We were in eighth grade,
and we were all avid C64 gamers. – You had a tape recorder where you
could record the music from the television. – We’d record the music from the TV, and then
we’d listen to it on tape. C64 game music – So basically you’d listen to game soundtracks? – Yeah, game and demo soundtrack. – There’s no sheet music, so you have to figure it out – It’s hard to make sheet music out of 1, 0, 0, 1 – You only have three channels, and dividing three
channels between six instruments, that’s a rough job. – I guess the hardest part was that there are a lot of
tracks that were never intended to be played live. – They don’t have well-defined musical keys, they just
meander around, and although they do have a method to them, – you can’t just say “Okay, this is a major scale,” no. Rearranging C64 music for actual
instruments is a tricky task, possibly because on a computer, just creating a single note requires
a radically different approach than on a physical instrument. You can’t just pluck a string or press a key. – There are some similarities between current
synthesizers and oldschool musicmaking; – they both start out with a sinewave or a triangle wave,
for example, instead of samples. – You don’t just grab a trumpet, put it behind a
microphone, and boom, it’s inside the machine. – No, you take your basic waveforms
and you modulate and tweak them. – So you have to give a command to the machine in its own
language saying “Take this sound and modulate it so and so.” – Yeah, take a sinewave, set it to frequency X, say 1kHz,
turn on the filter, set it to lowpass, cut it off at 2000Hz, and so on. Vincenzo. Musician, member of
Conspiracy, Rebels and Fresh!Mindworkz. Capable of producing music on any machine,
regardless of the number of bits available. – The C64 SID is pretty limited,
but you can do a lot of things with it. – You can only use three channels, which means
you can only play three sounds at once. – Being creative is exponentially useful here. – This is basically the sheet music. With speed 3, using
instrument 1, with full volume, you play a note at pitch F-1, – then it goes on, and here it hits a ‘GATE’,
which means it stops the note. – Then we switch to instrument 0
with the pitch G-1, and then we mute it. – The sound generation itself, the editing of the
sound parameters, is done on a different screen. – You start at number 0, you start with the value 41, which means
‘square wave’, then a square wave again with modulation C, – which means shifting up an octave,
then 41 00 means ‘square wave with no pitch shift’. – And how do you know that?
– Experience. – I guess you couldn’t have learned this from a book.
– Experimenting, it’s all about experimenting. – You have all these basic sounds
you can play around with and combine. – It’s not that complicated, if you learn the fundamentals,
you can easily make music on a C64. – He’s full of shit, by the way, don’t believe a word what he says,
I heard a demo of his where he had a horse neigh programmed in! – How did you do that? I mean it really IS a horse neigh! – Oh easy, 02, 06, 41, 68, 7B – Limitations forced these people making
computer music to create something out of nothing, – and you can’t do that without
an insane amount of genius. – Live act with a Commodore 64? Is that even possible?
– Some people have done it, yeah! With the appearance of the Amiga and the PC,
music tools evolved further. First, trackers appeared, bearing a slight resemblance to C64 software,
but with the ability to play back digitized samples, eventually allowing people to
write complex pieces of music. Today, demo music is written with the newest generation of music
software, the same tools used for songs you hear on the radio. A 4 or 64 kilobyte intro, however, due to the
restrictions in size, can rarely allow digitized sound, so one must revert to the original approach seen on the C64,
and create sounds using basic waveforms. – How does the demoscene follow musical trends?
Does what’s hot and what’s not matter? – I told you, I have dubstep poisoning!
– So even demosceners do dubstep? – Insane amounts! Insane amounts of bigbeat, insane
amounts of drum-and-bass, insane amounts of dubstep. – Occasionally you get a cool metal demo,
usually from Finland. – So there are no restrictions,
not even within electronic music. – Not at all. There’s ambient, there’s even a lot of drone
ambient, where it’s the same buzzing note for ten minutes. – I can think of demos with samba soundtracks,
but it’s not really a trend. – Despite them being computer music,
they’re really catchy, there’s a lot of genius in there, – and if these tracks had been written commercially,
they would’ve been hits. Their melodic style guarantees it. – Mostly demoscene musicians are just demoscene musicians.
– I see, so they are separated from the musical scene. – Not completely separated, but yeah, you find
demoscene musicians doing cool drum-and-bass tracks, – and they will only release them in the
demoscene, and nowhere else. – Commercially exploiting the music of a demo is just so far
from the philosophy of it all; nobody is really interested in that. – The problem is that the quality and popularity
of music isn’t always on the same level. – I mean I’m not sure if you can hear it in the background,
there’s some brilliant electronic stuff you can hear now, – but what goes on in the outside world? “Come on Barbie girl” Computers’ graphical capabilities have evolved considerably
over the past thirty years, simultaneously with their musical ones. Today, artists use tools to create a 3D model
that makes the workflow similar to sculpting an actual statue. 20-25 years ago, in the age of the C64,
graphics artists found themselves facing limitations that made drawing pictures pixel-by-pixel the fastest way. – This software is keyboard-controlled. – That’s what makes it so fast to work with, if you get used to it
and get used to its features, then you can draw with it relatively fast. – And when you zoom out to full screen,
here you can only view the picture. The biggest challenge, however, is that while the C64 only has
16 colors, it can only display 2 or 4 colors on a single character. Drawing applications mark these character limits with a grid. – See, you can see that I can’t use orange here anymore, – because I’m already using three colors
in this character besides the black background. – So this is where you start doing tricks,
swapping some colors so you won’t notice. – Your eye won’t necessarily be able to discern
if a couple of pixels are the wrong color. – That’s part of the beauty of pixel art,
you gotta adhere to the limitations. – Putting it together dot by dot isn’t enough,
you have to pay attention to the limitations of the hardware. – If you look at most C64 graphics artists who produce
pictures today, most of them don’t use a C64 anymore. – There are a lot of cross-platform tools, which means it’s
running on a different platform, you have a lot more features, – but it’s designed to make the end result viewable on a C64. – The newest fad is to make converters
instead of drawing tools. – This means you can use any image editor on the PC,
hand the result over to the tool, – and it tries to figure out a way to present the picture
on the C64 in the best looking way possible. Here, the programmers compete in using undocumented,
essentially faulty functionalities of the computer to create more versatile video modes which can be used
to produce pictures in higher resolutions or with more colors. The rules of these modes are so complex that keeping
them all in mind while drawing is practically impossible, which is why tools are written
to convert finished pictures to such formats. – You can’t humanly comprehend
these types of limitations anymore. – Stuff like, “I can use the background color in every
third character, if it’s a wide pixel, and above it, – in every raster line I can use three other colors,
and then,” whatever. You can’t keep this stuff in mind. – The crazy thing is, new video modes for the C64
are still being found today, stuff you’d think isn’t possible. – Every year we think “nah, this is the limit,
you can’t do more,” and still someone always does. – So chipretro is blossoming and the limits can still be pushed.
– They’re certainly pushing the envelope, yeah! The progress in computer science has
obviously upgraded the visuals as well. Nowadays, the tools used for
making pictures shown at demoparties are the same tools used for creating
popular animated films or computer games. It’s possible, however, to find
subgenres unique to the demoscene, such as logos, which are meant to display text
in a spectacular manner, similar to graffiti. These logos sometimes appear next to the demo
in the informational text files as well, in which case they are recreated by only using
the ASCII character set of the computer. In the 80s and 90s, it wasn’t just the production process
of such artworks that was more difficult than today. Without the Internet, general communication and the distribution
of such works was performed the analog way, through ordinary mail. ‘Swappers’ who eventually created
their own networks across the globe, put demos, games, and copies of other software
onto floppies and exchanged them via postal mail. – We, mailtraders, have one-hundred contacts with other
people. And we were some kind of peer-to-peer network. – I have stuff from these guys, I write a letter,
pack all the stuffs and send it to the other guys. – It was important, if you had something new,
you had to get it out to these other people. – Here in Hungary, you had guys who had more than
five-hundred contacts sending stuff via ordinary mail. – Who the mailman had to do an extra round for. – We have full envelopes of floppys,
four floppys, eight floppys all around Europe. – So I had let’s say twenty huge
envelopes in my postbox every day. – Swappers were important people that time in the
groups, because they would distribute your stuff. – After every party I released a pack. All the intros
from that party was included in the pack. Demos and applications weren’t the
only things to be distributed via mail. Teams of self-appointed editors
started so-called diskmagazines. These weren’t just textfiles, but executable
programs displaying their content. – You had a disk, a PRG file, and it was a magazine,
you loaded it, you selected a category, news, columns, etc. – And then you sent it to friends, acquaintances,
neighbours, and that’s how it spread around. – If you go back to these early diskmags,
you’ll see terms like “Stamps back!” – You know, guys were trying to They didn’t have that much money,
but you know, you had to keep up all your contacts you had. – And if you had a hundred contacts,
you’d say “Stamps back!”, – meaning send my stamps back to me,
so I can use them or try to use them again. In these days, even downloading wasn’t the same. To be exact, the correct term would be “downwhistling”. – It was in the middle of the 80s when Hungarian national TV
and radio had some experimental broadcasts, – where they ‘whistled down’ software. – Basically, if you save a C64 program
to a cassette tape, you get this bleepy noise. – And then they took this noise, broadcast it,
and you could record it. – So if you had a cassette tape recorder, they’d say
“Commodore users, Spectrum users, start recording,” – you’d record it, take the cassette, and use it
to load the programe on a C64 or Spectrum. Today, PC demos or intros are
generally made in one of two ways: Either from scratch, programming
the demo from the ground up, or by utilizing a demotool created
by the coder of the group. – Demomaking, the way I used to do it for example, if I wanted
to make a 3D object, back then in the group Digital Dynamite, – I’d draw a 3D blueprint of the letter D
on graph paper, then use the grid to say – “Okay, this point in the top left will be 0,0;
one square is a unit, so the next on will be 2,0” – I wrote down the numbers, typed them in, and eventually
somehow managed to display it, because it was in the memory. – I did this a lot of times, and it got on my nerves, so I said “Okay,
I’m gonna write a program that creates the source code for me!” – So I just plot the letter D somehow,
and it spits out the source code. – If I needed to cite ‘real life’ examples, then our tool is
Photoshop, 3D Studio, and Premiere combined. – They allow you to create textures procedurally,
create 3D models, animate them, edit the animated 3D scenes, – and then you press the spacebar and the demo is played. – We don’t use commercial tools, because
we do 64k intros, we wanna make small files. – We needed specialized tools, so we made some. – So this is basically the timeline. That little
white cursor shows where we are in the intro. – This is kinda like Premiere, a standard video editor. – These are various events, for example these are
post-processing effects, like contrast, blur, stuff like that. – See, this is a complete 3D model,
put together in this tool. – We don’t work by defining triangles, we instead say
“here’s a torus, with this radius and this number of points.” – That’s storing three parameters
instead of twelve thousand points. – That’s what 64k is about: using three
parameters instead of twelve thousand points. These incredibly small sizes are achieved by creating
intros with binary program code and its parameters instead of using large pre-generated
3D models, pictures, videos, or music files. The computer then uses these parameters
and algorithms to produce the visuals and sound. – It’s all built out of images like that. There’s nothing mindblowing
in there, but the end result is really well tied together. – This is not a water simulation,
even though it looks like one. – Those are not real sparkles, even though
it looks like the sun is reflecting back. – So none of these are simulations of real things,
just different methods made to look like the real thing. – These are the events being rendered, for example this layer
is the clouds behind the sun, not sure if you can see it. – The next one is the sky,
a simple rectangle with a color gradient. – The next one is the water, you can see
that it’s just a simple texture scrolling. – The next one is the sparkles on the water,
which are simple particles. – The trick is that we have this effect where you can offset
lines horizontally, and if you apply it, it looks like water flowing, – you have the scrolling texture
and it has sparkles of light on it. – So with this stuff you can do really
spectacular things in a really small size for a 64k. Of course, not everyone wants to make a demotool. Some people have more fun starting from scratch
every time they make a demo. – I’ll draw three times forty lines, and
I’ll have the camera rotate around it. – Here we have the lines, and now
we start adding effects one by one. – First, let’s bend them. – This is the line that makes them bend,
here’s how it works: – you have the center of those little axes there, XYZ coordinates,
and I’m going to rotate them using their distance from the origin, – multiply it with a sine value
depending on the time, do this on two axes, – then write the result back to the original
XYZ vector, and render them on screen. – Let’s say I want the lines to be longer
if they’re farther from the origin. – V stands for the length of the lines: it’s the distance
from the origin, meaning the absolute value of i, divided by ten. – That’s why they’re longer when they’re farther away, because
if the coordinates are bigger, it means they’re farther off. – Down here I add V to the coordinates: X, then Y, then Z. The complexity of program code can grow infinitely; even among the most spectacular demos you can find some
where the demo was created entirely from scratch, without the use of a demotool or other such software. With time, works that cannot be classified as music,
graphics or demos have appeared. This gave birth to the ‘wild’ category. – It can be a really well rendered animation,
a short film, or any sort of horrible crap. Murphy. Coder, graphics artist, member of Exceed. The editor of,
and a genuine demoscene encyclopedia. – A few years back, I think it was at Breakpoint, they had
a wild entry which was this huge machine they pushed on stage, – they had a 3x3x3 or 8x8x8 LED cube, and all sorts of
blinking crap on it, and it just stood there doing it’s thing. – There’s been liveacts at wild compos, meaning
it wasn’t projected, but people went up on stage. – Someone takes a microcontroller from
a refrigerator and makes a demo for it – But we can safely consider it a joke!
– No! – Okay, sure, when he’s making
it he considers it dead serious. – Yeah, and when you’re watching it, you’re watching it
seriously because it goes on for three minutes, – it has good looking effects, great music, – it’s just that when it starts off, and he mentions that
this is a microcontroller used in the whatever brand of refrigerators, you can’t helping think “Riiiight, let’s see”. – At some point someone made a production for a really extreme
platform, and they’ve been trying to top each other ever since. – Practically speaking, there are no platforms in the world
which haven’t had demoscene activity on them at some point. – From pocket calculators to apartment buildings. While they don’t strictly tie in to the scene,
one could perhaps classify the animations which are displayed on the wall
of the 18-story Schönherz dormitory at Budapest University of Technology every year
during the Schönherz Qpa a wild demo. Originally, this merely meant using lamps
placed in the dorm room windows, but from 2010, the display was upgraded to provide a higher
resolution and colors for the event entitled The Matrix. – In Hungary, you had this competition called the
‘lamer demo’. It didn’t really take root anywhere else. – Not our fault! – The idea was that most of the wild demos were meant
to be ‘funny’, so why not make a separate compo for them? You have the nicest hair in the world! Can I touch it?
Wait, I didn’t mean that, NO! – For a few years, this was the most popular compo. – Yeah, ‘cos you didn’t really need
large amounts of technical knowledge, – you just took some primitive animation,
and added some “hilarious” music or voiceover. – There were some genuinely funny ones,
but most of them were just exhausting. This child will start using Windows at the age of 38,
get a heart attack at the age of 40, and die at the age of 41. The demoscene is the most popular today
in Germany and Northern Europe. These countries also host the largest annual parties as well. Breakpoint, in Germany, held 8 times until 2010, hosted more
than a thousand people from almost 30 countries around the world. Similarly grandiose are Assembly in Finland,
or The Gathering in Norway, which both originated as demoparties, but are now
open for the masses of computer gamers as well. Smaller events occur all over the world, and the number
of productions released so far have grown over 50000. The roster is obviously huge, so becoming one of
the best and most recognized isn’t an easy task. But from time to time, Hungarian groups
have proven their place among the best, presenting artists whose reputation
spreads across continents. – NVIDIA was organizing a demoparty in San Jose,
in the US, and they asked Gargaj to host the event! – They wanted someone authentic, so they took
a Hungarian dude to the US to speak English! – There are always a few groups
who are remarkable, sometimes British, – sometimes Norwegian, sometimes German,
sometimes Finnish. – And yeah, sometimes Hungarian groups
manage to make their way to the top as well. Conspiracy is one of these groups, formed in 2002
by members of the 3 most active groups at the time. – We appeared in the scene with this group
to challenge the kings of 64k at the time, – the ones who bludgeoned anyone to the point
that people withdrew releases from compos – when they found out that there’s a Farbrausch intro,
because they had no chance! – And with our first release,
we just blew them away! – Conspiracy showed up at Breakpoint,
has a four-parter, you know, – four whole complete demo parts in one 64K intro,
which was astounding! – Is still going? – Is STILL going??? – We made it in complete secret, nobody knew
that we had an intro, nobody even knew that we existed. – We wanted a blockbuster effect,
you know, boom, here we are! And it worked! – We’re sitting there at the competition, the intros are
playing, and some of the last ones are being played, – ‘cuz you never know how many intros are there, they
never tell you, you just go “Oh another one! Excellent!” – So there were some good ones, then Farbrausch’s
intro gets played, which is a really damn good intro, – the first intro to have an animated human person,
a naked chick for good measure, so go figure! – So their intro ends, everyone thinks the compo is over,
and then they start playing ours as the last one. – Tomcat is sitting behind me going “They might as well just
not play this one!” ‘Cuz you know, Farbrausch was just that good. – So we had our intro, Project Genesis, and it’s ten minutes long,
very very versatile, and there are parts in it for everyone to like. – We put a huge logo in the front saying ‘Conspiracy’, – no-one knew what the hell who they were or what
they wanted, but we left the actual credits to the end. – We used realtime cloth simulation to put out a Hungarian
flag, and we had our names appear in front of it. – So when my name appears,
Tomcat punches me in the shoulder – and goes
“F*ck you, you bastards never mentioned this!” – Gargaj just jumped up, and started waving the
Hungarian flag in the front row, that was excellent. Their initial success was followed by even more. Their 64k intro
Chaos Theory is possibly the best known Hungarian intro in the world. It’s popularity and reverence is best shown by the fact that the
French demogroup FRequency created a 4k remix for MAIN 2010. – Two weeks ago, we were searching for an idea
to do a quick compo for the 4k. – We were watching demos like usually
late at night with friends and we thought: – Hey, why not take a 64k and try to make it into 4k? – And when we said this, the first 64k
that came into our mind was Chaos Theory. – It’s really famous in the intro scene, – because it’s quite the first demo to have such an
entertaining music and such complex visual in a so tight size. Of course, Conspiracy isn’t the only
Hungarian group we can be proud of. Exceed, in 2000, made demo history when they won
both of the biggest demoparties in one year. Their 64k intro Heaven 7 is still considered to be among one of the
best to this day, and their demo Spot won Assembly in Finland. The list of Hungarian groups’ successes could go on: On the C64, the demo Soiled Legacy by Resource used to be
considered as one of the 10 best demos on the platform for years. – The funny thing is, this sort of
Hungarian spirit exists in the scene too. – Consider the period of time around
the Olympics in Barcelona or Sydney, – when the entire country was rooting for Egerszegi Krisztina,
Kovács Ági, Darnyi Tamás, Nagy Tímea. – I think this kind of support can be felt by demogroups too,
we know we’re a little handicapped due to the history, – we’re sort of the underdogs, – and that creates that Hungarian spirit where you
get a small team just blowing away the competition! – So what happened around ‘91-’92? – It was unusual because this being the Eastern Bloc,
even the active sceners had a problem with the language barrier. – There was a huge group of people though. We had
demoparties with over a thousand people here in Hungary. – The scene was huge back then, and we were fine on our own,
‘cos there were years where you had six to eight parties. – There’s been years where you had as many parties
as four other countries combined – so much stuff was happening
that we were doing fine or our own. – To show how successful Hungarians are,
there’s a site called Pouët, – which is the biggest demoscene site and
has almost all the prods you can think of. – It has a Top Ten chart of the most popular demos, – and I don’t know how it is now, but there used to be
a time where three out of ten were Hungarian ones. – So what’s the highest honour for your work? – When you win a party, especially if you win
against people who were doing their best. – It depends I guess. My favorite recognition
is the kind where someone comes up at a party – and says “whoa, you’re the one who made the wow.” – You know, when you can see that the work has travelled
all the way down the chain, to people who only heard of it, – and are surprised as they go
“Wow, you made that? I saw it so many times, I loved it!” – Indeed, that’s the best, when they don’t know you made it
and they find out. I think that’s the best kind of recognition. One of the idiosyncratic motifs of mutual
reverence in demos are the ‘greetings’, where the creators of the demo pay respect
to the groups they greatly admire. Being greeted in a demo made by one of the
popular groups is considered a badge of honor, as it expresses that they consider
your work to be one of the best. – So do you have ‘celebrities’ or ‘legends’ in Hungary? – Legends are made by people who are younger, for example
I guess today it’s Gargaj and his group who are the most popular, – so for newcomers, they’re the ones
who are considered legends. – You’ve been legends too! – Yeah, I read diskmag articles about Murphy. It’s really
bizarre to meet someone you’ve read so much about! Occasionally, a demo becomes
popular outside the scene as well. – I’m in Szeged, piss-drunk, and above me, two guys are
talking about 64k intros and Conspiracy and stuff like that. – I look up, ask “What? you know Conspiracy?”
“Yeah! They’re awesome!” – “Hi, I’m BoyC.” Dude’s eyes widen, he goes
“the f*ck are you doing here?” – “What? I came to see a concert” – We were boozing next to the ELTE around the ZP, and
these three girls show up, some friend brought them along, – and a buddy asks me to show them Chaos Theory,
‘coz I had a video of it on my phone. – So I show it to one of the girls, and she goes
“Oh I know, we studied this one!” The demoscene is dead. – The phrase “the scene is dead”
has been around for the past thirty years. – I joined the scene around ’98, and already in ‘98
people were trying to bury it or well, it was different! – Fifteen years ago you had half a dozen or
a dozen parties a year, and that dropped off a lot. When we did SCEnEST in ‘96, we had twelve-hundred
paying visitors! That was one hell of a party! – The generation who were attending high school later
went to university, grew up, whoops, family happened, – work happened, everything happened, and
the enthusiasm is still there, but the time isn’t. – Really sitting down to make a good demo,
the last time that happened, was in 1999. – Now it’s no group, no demo?
– No, not really, there are always plans, but it never happens. – Why?
– Because I’m old! – And you can’t write demos now?
– I can but – I’m old and lazy. No, I mean,
I don’t have the time, or rather, the mood. – You go home after working ten hours – don’t laugh – ten hours in the office, you don’t really wanna go home
and do the same thing afterwards, it doesn’t work. – There’s still a new generation, but they’re not as
numerous as they used to be in the “golden era”. – To create a demo there is a lot of work involved within. – And not necessarily the same instant feedback
and gratification you can get from, say, – making a YouTube video in five minutes,
and then you get like fifty thousand hits – from people telling you that either
it’s brilliant or that you suck. – You don’t get that in the demoscene, – you might get like twelve people saying how brilliant
it is and three hundred people tell you, that it sucks. – So the payoff isn’t necessarily there for kids to say:
“I want to spend that amount of time”. – Back then Orange was a great example who could go from zero to
hero in a year just by working hard to produce something world class. – Today, if you start from scratch, it takes about four years. – A viral video on the Internet lasts what?
Less than 15 minutes of fame. – But, you know a demo we remember demos from last year,
the year before, ten years ago, fifteen years ago. – If you could put out a rotating cube on the screen,
you were the king. The standards are so different now. – Think about it, you go to the movies, watch Avatar,
that’s the kind of quality you’re up against. – That’s why you have to help them. It’s almost as if you
have to prepare them mentally to create their first demo. – Yeah, it is a problem that they don’t dare to, but it’s a pretty
silly attitude, if you can’t then you can’t, but you at least tried. – It’s all about the attitude. The point is whether you
want to be successful in the scene or just want to be present. – If you want to be successful, you have to write a tool,
work for years, find a graphics artist, find a designer. – If you just wanna have fun,
just sit down and make some demos. – Think about it; the scene is a rather technically-oriented,
artistic, computer-centric, underground, free-for-all thing. – Are you surprised that it’s not popular?! – I think it’s normal, you have the Internet now, console this,
console that, kids are occupied by different things. – Back then, you know, we didn’t have the Internet,
we just hacked away on our little computers we bought – We bought? I mean our parents bought!
And we thought it was really interesting, what we could do. – In any given city you had a limited number of computers,
and some people started doing creative things on them, – in some way it was a privilege. Nowadays, everyone
uses computers, so you can’t really spread that far. – If kids sit down in front of the Internet today, they have
the whole world in front of them, they do what they want, – they play games, they browse. It’s different,
the world works differently now. – You gotta realize, back in ‘95, the most spectacular things
you could see on a computer were demos. – Games were mostly still 2D at the time,
they were a step behind. – They were way beyond games made by professional studios,
they were capable of producing better quality. – Now all you have to do is to go to YouTube, – and check out the showreels of the ten best
VFX studios to see what the top of the line is. – We didn’t have Toy Story and things like that. – Now someone can go to the movies, and then see
a 4k intro, and obviously wonder what the point is?! – You can’t really visually match up a cutscene made with hundreds
of man-months of work with the spare-time activity of 5-6 people. – So it’s more about new ideas nowadays. – The older ones are always complaining
about the lack of newcomers, – but there’s always a few new groups, new guys,
they learn their chops, and they evolve. – I’ll say this: I’m really really lucky to have the demoscene.
I feel very fortunate, and it worked out really well. – So how did you find it? – I was looking for programming stuff,
and I accidentally stumbled upon it. – And when I saw it, I just thought,
“Wow, what’s this, this is so cool!” MaxUser6000. Travelled all the way from Transylvania
to Budapest to present his first demo ever at Function 2010. – When my demo was running,
my heart started beating really fast! – Like a band playing on stage?
– Exactly, like a band on stage! – So what was your aim when you sat down to
make a demo? ‘Cos there is pretty tough competition. – Do you wanna place well? Or win? – I was just thinking of the demo, to make a demo that doesn’t
assault the audience too much, maybe they’ll even enjoy it a bit. – That’s what I planned,
and it turned out better than I intended! “Better than intended” in this case means that the demo
finished first in the demo competition after the audience vote. And while there isn’t much to be gained apart from
recognition and some modest prizes from the sponsors, there’s a chance that experience gained in the
scene will provide him with a good job offer. – The biggest job market for demosceners
is obviously game development, – or sometimes people end up working
for animation studios. – I for one ended up as a game developer, – because the CEO of one of the older game development
companies used to attend parties to headhunt new talent. – I don’t want to lie, but for me, for about 7-8 years, this was
just a hobby, for 7-8 years I was just making music constantly. – Then I reached the point where
I was able to make a living out of it, – because I did it for so long that
the demoscene became a springboard for me. – It’s a great sandbox to learn in, if you do something,
you get immediate feedback. – Your demo is played, the crowd is jeering, they’ll
tell you immediately if it was crap or if it was great. – And you can learn a lot from this
how to put it, blunt and unfiltered feedback. – You learn what works and what doesn’t. – The people who started this in the early-mid-’90s, they’re
probably all working for some game development studio now, – or some sort of visual effects or post-production company. – These people really know their stuff, you know? – And they work in really big companies
like Pixar, or Apple, Microsoft. These people not only work for some of the biggest companies, many
European game development studios were founded by demosceners. Demogroups were responsible for the birth of DICE,
creator of the Battlefield series; or Remedy, authors of games
like Max Payne and Alan Wake. Several demo musicians have also worked on
successful game soundtracks as well, such as Assassins’ Creed or the Unreal series. We’ve also seen multinational corporations such as NVIDIA, Intel
or Microsoft organize their own demoparties or demo competitions, providing their own tools for the creators to produce with. Artists in the scene aren’t motivated
by publicity or worldwide success. As professional they are, their works are only intended for
those few hundred people who understand and appreciate them. Their works may be world class, yet they don’t seem to mind
that the world itself has probably never heard of them. – The demoscene is an amateur league.
People don’t take it as seriously. – I mean, even if the coder and the graphics artist put
something extraordinary in the demo, it’s still a hobby. – If the musician writes a great song
that could be a hit single, it’s still a hobby. – It’s about showing your production to
that very small circle of people. – I don’t want to do something that interests everyone,
because that’s the best part about it, – that it’s limited to these few people,
it’s their hobby, and that’s it. Whether we recognize the values of our era
and our past depends on us. What we learn from our cultural
environment also depends on us. There’s always a new and exciting scene to discover. Whether we color the future or let it fade to gray,
ultimately, depends on us.


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