That Demo Party I’m co-organizing for April, Blockparty, now has the speakers list finalized. These are people who are speaking specifically about demoscene and scene-related topics, as well as the dozens of others speaking at the hosting conference, Notacon. Here are my own personal takes on the speakers; the speakers page has more generalized information and biographies.
Andy “Phoenix” Voss: Allow Me To Demonstrate
To start off, we snagged Andy Voss, who’s better known as Phoenix of the group Hornet. Hornet is sort of a dormant group these days (they refer to themselves as “ex-members” occasionally) but during the early 1990s these guys quickly established themselves as the go-to-group for keeping track of the latest and greatest on PC Demos, and demo music. The “Hornet MOD Archive”, for example, was just an amazing piece of work, and if you were a musician (and I sort of was), you weren’t anything until you get your music on there and it got rated by the staff. Andy is considered to be one of the top experts on the history and knowledge of the demoscene in North America, so it made sense to ask him to speak about the subject and provide an introduction to the whole idea of why we would have a party like this.
Jim “Trixter” Leonard: 8088 Corruption
Trixter’s become one of my best friends over the past few years; in the Jason Scott League of Extraordinary Compulsive Disorders he’s known simply as the Eye of Doom. The reason for this is that I can drop a montage of video in his inbox, and he will respond with feedback like “It appears you changed the framerate of the second shot, and your autofocus kicks in at 00:32:22.” His eye for detail and his wide-ranging audio, video and archiving skills make him the most Jason Scott-like person in the planet. Surprisingly, we still get along.
Jim’s talents with programming and his incredible eye led to a demo called “8088 Corruption”, the details of which are over here. Basically, he got full-motion video and audio on an original IBM PC. I’m not making this up, and I’m not exaggerating. Obviously, this got a lot of attention, won awards, and was one of the big mind-blowers of the previous few years. At Blockparty he’ll be bringing the original hardware he ran this demo on, and explaining how he put it all together. And maybe even a surprise or two. (He’s got an eye for surprises.)
Andrew “Necros” Sega: Taking Tracking Mainstream
I’ll just explain why Necros is in this speaker list from the most memorable experience I had regarding him. Back in 1996, I had the pleasure of attending the North American International Demoparty, also known as NAID. He was giving a presentation on “tracking”, which is basically the use of a computer program to make music, using samples and programmatic references to samples to generate songs. This is how I used to make music in the early 1990s and so did a ton of other people. But Necros was considered to be one of the greats, and I stood in the back of the presentation hall to listen to him speak.
At one point, he said “Let’s say we have a baseline here…” and he just hacked in a bunch of numbers, as quickly as if you were typing your own phone number three times. When he was done, he hit PLAY on the program, and a perfectly formed, well-done, intense bass-line was playing. The effect on the room was instantaneous; hushed, amazed silence. If this doesn’t sound impressive, imagine a guy giving you some tips about drawing portraits and he talks to you about using proper pen technique, looking at you, and his hands idly sketch out a perfect rendering of your face. It was just friggin’ amazing, and I still remember that 11 years on. Andy has since gone into professional music creation, and it’s going to be quite the presentation.
Christian “RaD Man” Wirth: Building Character: ANSI from the Ground Up
My man, my buddy, my close friend Rad Man, co-organizer of the Blockparty, will be presenting a primer on the idea of ANSI and the creation of ANSI artworks. He’s given speeches on the “Artscene” and on running an Art Group, but this is more focused on showing how to work in the medium, because the problems and solutions that came up in ANSI art creation are in many ways similar to problems that exist and have always existed when you want to express yourself creatively with a limited medium. Since he’s in town anyway, it made sense for him to flex his knowledge and skills in this direction, so he’ll be giving a presentation as well. It’ll be great.
We’ve been kicking around the idea of making a “mini-doc” about Artscene History, using his built-up presentation he’s been giving the last couple years. There’s always something new for us to work on.
David “Polaris” Valentine
Beausoleil “BuZ” Samson-Guillemette: Techniques for 4kb Intro Development
Northern Dragons are currently the most active and premier Demoscene group in North America, so of course we’d be quite amiss if we didn’t have representation from these fellows at the event. So, both the founder and one of the members of ND will be presenting at the event, and hopefully entering some of the competitions as well. In this presentation, they’ll be talking about 4k demos, which are what they sound like; entire graphics and sound productions that are taking up a total of 4096 bytes. If that sounds insane, that’s what the demoscene is all about! Insanity, rubber ducks and blowing your mind. These guys are also doing the invitation demo for this party, which will be coming out at the end of the month.
Nullsleep: Squarewave to Heaven: An introduction to the Chiptune Music Scene
What self-respecting demo party could pull itself off without a representation of the currently-hot 8-bit scene? Nullsleep and I have been interacting on and off for years now, since we both remix old stuff into new, and spend time tracking down both old examples of cool stuff and finding new contexts to put them in.
If you’ve not heard of “Chiptune” music or the “8-bit scene”, then let me send you over to 8-bit Peoples and take a shark-bite out of your productive workday. A lot of this also shows up in a documentary that is making the rounds as we speak. Again, you’re in for a treat.
I know how it is for people when they’re planning trips; they usually wait a couple of months before the event to even start thinking about scheduling or arranging things. Well, now is the time. This is going to be a great party, at a great con, and I’m going to personally ensure you have a fantastic time. Get over to the Registration Page and sign up!
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