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Blockparty Speakers List Finalized —

We’ve finished assembling the speaker’s list for Blockparty 2008, the second Blockparty. Here’s the list, as it appears on the site.

The Fat Man: Art Behind Enemy Lines: A Target-Rich Environment

In the first five minutes of his talk, Fat will define Art once and for all,
especially in context of high technology creation and experience. Thus
having taken the mystery out of it and having reduced it to a science, he
will quickly realize that he has ruined the whole damn thing. The rest of the
talk will consist of his backpedalling like mad, trying in vain to put the
cork back in the giant monkey’s butt before the whole Blockparty is covered
with icky, sticky dogma.

The Fat Man, George Alistair Sanger, has been creating music and other
audio for games since 1983. He is internationally recognized for having contributed
to the atmosphere of over 250 games, including such sound-barrier-breaking greats
as Loom, Wing Commander I and II, The 7th Guest I and II, NASCAR Racing, Putt-Putt
Saves the Zoo, and ATF. He wrote the first General MIDI soundtrack for a game,
the first direct-to-MIDI live recording of musicians, the first redbook soundtrack
included with the game as a separate disk, the first music for a game that was
considered a “work of art,” and the first soundtrack that was considered a
selling point for the game.

On a 380-acre ranch on the Guadalupe River, The Fat Man hosts the annual
Texas Interactive Music Conference and BBQ (Project Bar-B-Q), the computer/music
industry’s most prestigious and influential conference.

Jake “virt” Kaufman: FM Synthesis – Beyond the Adlib

Photo by minusbaby
Like Silly Putty, potato chips, and penicillin, FM synthesis was a delightful accident. It was most famously used in the Yamaha DX-7 keyboard,
allegedly designed by the Japanese as revenge for World War II, and seen by the knob-twisting analog crowd as “like trying to paint your hallway
from outside through the letterbox.” Despite this, it took pop music by storm, and inexpensive one-chip FM synthesizers flooded into in video
games, home computers, and even mobile phones.

Luckily for us, an entire industry of pointy-headed sound programmers has largely tamed FM since the 80s, and figured out how to create every type
of sound imaginable. In an uncanny impression of an expert synthesist, Jake will show that for all its mathematical intrigue and spy-novel
thrills, FM is easy, free, and fun to use, and sounds neat!

Jake Kaufman is equally happy writing for a Game Boy or an orchestra. He recently created music and sound effects for Konami’s Contra 4 for the
Nintendo DS, described by critics as “awesome” and “dude, awesome”. Following in the footsteps of pioneers like the Fat Man (see above), he aims
to advance the state of the art even as he squeezes every drop of goodness out of older technology. He participates in the chiptune community and
the demoscene, and is the founder of VGMix, a site devoted to fan arrangements of game music.

Fred Owsley: Circuit-Bending Will Get You Laid!! (Maybe)

Circuit-Bending is the art of taking things apart, putting them back
together, and ending up with a brand new, completely unexpected
mutation of the original parts. Think of sampling, but with hardware.
Nothing’s out of bounds when you circuit-bend the piles of consumer
electronics available around you, and the results can be insightful, weird,
or just a great way to spend a weekend. Circuit-bender Fred Owsley will
walk you though an introduction to the tools and trades of circuit-bending
as well as show off his own recent works involving everything from a
gas mask to a “that was easy” button that is anything but easy.

From a very young age, Fred has always liked to take things apart,
from all his toys to the interior of the family van, few screws were
left intact. With an interest in electronic music, a soldering iron,
some electronics know-how and toys from goodwill, he started circuit
bending in 2005. So far his projects have included various keyboards,
keytars, a gas mask, a musini, and a recently finished x0xb0x. When
not at his regular job as a computer security researcher, he can be
found at his workbench abusing some electronic toy into producing
amazingly horrible noise.

Jim “Trixter” Leonard: Self-Preservation Mode: Lessons Learned While Archiving Demoscene History


To stay ahead of the curve, demos have always used hardware to the fullest extent available, sometimes in unorthodox and unauthorized ways. But when that hardware becomes yesterday’s news, it is those very tricks that cause such demos to become lost to history. For half a decade, Hornet has been working on the Mindcandy series, a collection of DVDs reproducing demos to the best of their ability. But what’s involved in that process? Trixter of Hornet will discuss how a combination of ebay, charity, and outright fakery can be used to restore for the present what has nearly been lost to the past, and how you can apply these techniques to your own archival projects.

Jim Leonard is the founder of MobyGames, the world’s largest online game database,
and the MindCandy series of demoscene DVDs. Jim was involved in the PC demo scene in the 1990s as well
as the archival demogroup Hornet, and the residual flashbacks of that episode prompt him to code 8088 assembler for fun in his spare time.
Every few months, some part of the Internet discovers “8088 Corruption” and freaks out. Jim, meanwhile is musing about Mindcandy Part III and the next big thing to save.

Jeri Ellsworth: CPU Not Required: Making Demos with FPGAs

Jeri Ellsworth
In the endless battle to make your demo quicker, more impressive and yet
still balance the changes in CPU, a whole other way of approaching this
situation exists: FPGAs. Short for Field-Programmable Gate Arrays, this
dedicated hardware, well-documented and fun to program, will give you
speed and flexibility that a world of softcode and compilers just can’t
touch. After going over the basics of this hardware, a simple demo will be
presented and the process explained.

Jeri Ellsworth is best known as the engineer behind the C64-DTV, a
Commodore-64-in-a-Joystick that has sold over half a million units. She
has founded a computer chain, designed race cars, and is hard at work
building a classic arcade in Oregon.

Tim Cowley: Automated Psychedelia : Translating sound into color and motion

Tim Cowley
If you’ve always wanted to know how to create programs that simulate the neurological disorder ‘synesthesia’, or the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, look no further! This seminar will rocket through a brief history of psychedelia and synesthesia and how it relates to computer graphics and music, define key technological elements of a generic music visualization framework, discuss important problems relating to meaning extraction and presentation, and present a simple HLSL-powered, graphics hacker oriented, visualization framework. All of the source code for the framework will be available as well.

Madman. Genius. Visionary. Psychonaut. Graphics God. Bodhisattva. These are all words that Tim Cowley would write into his own bio, if he were a little
more arrogant. Tim has been shovelling triangles as fast as he could since he got his hands on an OpenGL Red book in 1999. Since 2003, he’s been making
demos with the Northern Dragons, on the GBA, PSP, in TextMode, and occasionally using one of them expensive ‘graphics cards.’ He currently works on the
3d engine inside MS Office, is preparing to start his M.Sc. at Digipen, and is about to reach 1 million downloads on
the Psychedelia visualization pack.

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