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Blockparty: 4k Music —

At the first Blockparty, BarZoule was scheduled to come and speak with his cohorts in Northern Dragons about 4k demos. He was scheduled for a time and then had to pull out at the last moment; another speaker filled his place. This year, BarZoule (who also won the Demo competition for 2008) offered to make up for this with an impromptu talk to fill a space left by a canceling speaker. This talk was recorded and is available on

It’s entitled “4k Audio: Dos, Don’ts and Pitfalls” and probably the most entertaining part for me is the inevitable artistic speaking BaZ employs and he works his way around English. Hailing from Quebec, BaZ goes in some very strange linguistic by-paths, but the content is still pretty amazing and very understandable.

The talk is even more impressive when you find out that BaZ slammed together his powerpoint presentation on a teammate’s machine while listening to another talk. Everything is borrowed and he’s doing this all for the first time in front of a crowd. Quite a show when you keep that in mind.

And what is the talk actually about? Well, BaZ is one of the wizards of the darkest of arts, the 4k demo, that is, a graphics-and-sound demo program that is 4096 bytes in total. 4096 bytes! To have anything coherent come out of such a small program, and have it play music or show graphics, requires a surgeon’s steady hand and an artist’s eye and ear. BaZ’s talk walks you through the music side of things to learn some of his magic tricks. Very informative.

More of the Blockparty talks coming up.

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  1. Flack says:

    I just felt like pointing out that the animated GIF posted above is 100x bigger than the demos these guys code. I’ve looked through several 4k entries and it is genuinely magic what these guys do with such little code.

  2. Dan Moniz says:

    4k demos are undoubtedly cool, but as he admits right up front, they’re using packers, which means the size of the executable (on disk) is 4k, but expands at runtime as the contents inside the packed executable are decompressed and run.

    Depending on the compression ratio of the packer, and how “compressable” their source data (e.g. music, textures, code, etc.) is they’re able to work with a lot more than 4k of original content. It just all has to fit down into 4k at the end.