the amiga demo scene

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The Scene : Historically, the scene was born with the C64 computer. It was a group of peoples, all around the globe, who were much more interested in exploring the capacities of their machines (and at the same times theirs !) than simply playing games. They wanted to know/show how much pixels could be written on the same image in a certain amount of time (every 1/50 second, the “VBR” time, or if you prefer the time needed for the electron beam of your tv to go from the pixel in the top-left of the screen to the bottom-right, and go back to its first place). On PAL (european machines), this is 1/50 of a second (a little bit less on NTSC -us- machines). This is synchronized with the AC power outlet. This amount of time was the kingdom of the demomakers. You take mathematical skills, some imagination, a strong technical knowledge of the physical working of the different chips inside the machine. If you add some artictic wishes then you get a DEMO. So, in other words, what do you have in a demo : mathematical calculations, 3D objects, light sources, nice handmade pictures, bobs, sprites, playfields, nice music… in a sort of animation film. Remember : the computers, at this time, were hugely slower than today’s ones. The microprocessor of an amiga 500 was only 7,14MHz fast. So, you can think that this is nothing if compared to what is done today, but what is done today is inspired by what was done at this time. The first demos was used to introduce cracked games, and give the user some options for playing : unlimited lives, unlimited weapons… Some introduced BBS (Bulletin Board System) : computer servers where you could download and upload all kind of software, most of the times cracked ones. There ofcourse was also a “legal” side of the scene with animations made just for the pleasure of making an artistic creation and braking the limits of a computer. On amiga, the most known demo groups were (non-exhaustive list, no order) :
  • Scoopex
  • TRSi
  • Investation
  • IRIS
  • Sanity
  • Stellar
  • Melon Dezign
  • Spaceballs
  • Andromeda
  • Ephidrena
  • Paradox
  • … and so many more !
Until now, the peoples who made the Scene live in the 90’s still use to code, and still get together in what is called a “Party”, where they show the result of their work. Below are some pictures of demos : You can find links to youtube videos in the vidz links section, and uae config files that works well in Janus-UAE (AROS version of UAE) in the technical | coding | demomaking section.
Arte / Sanity This one is one of my favourites demos of all times, with 3 or 4 others. It runs in OCS/ECS mode (max 4096 colors, but most of the time effects are in 16), on a 7.14MHz amiga 500 : there is everything we want in a perfect demo : creativity (original effects), technicity (real time rotating zoomer, spherical moving mapping…) and a f**** great music.
Ice Demo / The Silents This one has a special place in my heart. The ambiance is so strange, with a really cool and flying music of Audiomonster (for me, the best composer on Amiga). Very nice design and cool effects. Also on ECS/OCS chipset.
Desert Dreams / Kefrens In this demo we have an idea of the kind of (friendly) battles that was raging in the demoscene at this time between demogroups. Kefrens answer there, with this demo, to The Silents and their Ice Demo. A little 3D film at the begining, some really nicely designed and technical effects, a very good music (but not as good as the ones of Ice Demo and Arte).
Nexus 7 / Andromeda A very smoothy, very well designed and technical demo.
State of the art / Spaceballs a musical / trance demo with nice effects and a good music.
Timurlenk / Ephidrena Dark ambiance and nice 3D/Glenz effects. Very good anxiogen music.
Darkroom / Stellar For me this is the best 40kb intro that have been made. Realtime rotating fractals, strange plasma effects, in a blue and dark ambiance, sustained by a nice music.

Author: jess

for a long time amiga, aros & demos lover and musician (linux musician, drummer, modules in protracker and octamed, recording and mastering in ardour)