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FAQ

inercia's "about the demoscene" FAQ v1.2 by ps

1) what is a FAQ?

2) what is inercia?

3) computer digital art?

4) demoparties?

5) there is a community for this kind of crap?

6) hack? crack? warez? phreaking? are these related to demoscene?

7) so what exactly is the demoscene all about?

8) just out of curiosity how do you do that? like.. what programs do you use and stuff.. ?

9) where can i find the best/latest demos?

10) so where does inercia fit in this picture?

 

1) what is a FAQ?
FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions. it is a document that answers questions that most users usually ask; and you are reading it, congratulations.

2) what is inercia?
inercia is a portuguese non-profit organization which came together with the intent to spread computer digital art in portugal.
right now we are a group of about a dozen people, most of us finishing up university, and we organize demoparties, promote demoscene related events like demoshows, bustrips and workshops; and basically just try to make new people interested in digital arts aware that a community for such things already exists and it's willing to help you push the envelope on your computer arts talent.

3) computer digital art?
yes; art made with computers: be it standalone graphics/music or coded audiovisual realtime presentations (from here-on mentioned as demos)

4) demoparties?
a demoparty is where the people who do demos get together and officially release their latest productions to the community.
it's some sort of a mix between a conference and a lan party. it derived from the old copyparties where people would get together and copy the latest warez.
there is an average of 1.5 demoparties per week, most of them are held in europe (central and northern). in portugal nowdays there is atleast one each year, and it's inercia who organizes it.
in japan, australia and the usa, despite having rather decent music scenes, there doesn't seem to be much of an active demoscene, the best theory to explain this so far is that all talented coders are working professionaly (games, newmedia) or more into cracking/hacking/phreacking/virus kind of stuff and therefor with no real interest/time towards democoding or other demoscene related things.

5) there is a community for this kind of crap?
yes there is. amazing isn't it? it started since the computers became mass distributed. you remember the days when everyone had a c64, spectrum or amstrad? well, it's even _BEFORE_ that. somewhere around early 80s, groups started distributing the latest programs in a disk with a small intro containing silly chiptunes, some cute effect and a couple scroolers; those were the earlier demos. they somehow got dettached from the crack/warez scene and went into a scene of it's own, copyparties became demoparties where the groups would show off their latest logos, tracks and code rotines in small competitions.
as the machines technology developed the most supported machine became the most powerfull one, the PC.
There are demos for pretty much all platforms you can think of: amstrad, atari, gameboycolor, dreamcast, playstation, Texas Instruments calculators, spectrum, mobile phones, you name it.. the most famous and higher supported ones were the c64, amiga and the pc. Lots of discussions have arised to why this or that platform is better then the other and why stronger restrictions means higher display of talent but the fact remains: The PC is the current most active demoscene; supposedly because most people, even non-sceners, have one and demosceners quite much enjoy showing off their mad skills to the masses.

6) hack? crack? warez? phreaking? are these related to demoscene?
there is usually some initial missunderstanding about where the demoscene stands in relation to the other computer underground scenes. mostly due to the cracktro scene. so here is a brief explanation of what's what:
hack is an overabused word people use to describe something put together or broken into without other people really knowing how it got done.
a hacker is the person who accomplished it.
a crack is a program that breaks another programs copy protection/password/serial number.
a cracktro is a very small program that shows some gfx and tune, some raster bars, scroolers sometimes starfields aswell. cracktros normally come in the same package with a crack program or a warez release. They exist solely as a reference to who did the release.
a program beeing distributed, full featured, and without direct consent of the original makers (which normally ask money for it) is what we usually call warez. if they are audio related we call them audiowarez.
to phreak is basically to hack into a phone or someone's phone connection; to make calls without paying and consent.
this is all big display of both coding abilities, inner structure of electronic systems and distribution/courrier contacts but, despite also beeing computer underground scenes, they are not directly connected to the demoscene. well, not officially anyways, although some groups do have divisions branching between diferent scenes (fairlight and razor1911 are the most known demogroups to do this) the similarities are obvious between the computer underground scenes: they all use group names, their group members use secret handles or nicknames to hide their true identity, they achieve through collective effort what would seem alot harder to do solo.
there are more established computer scenes then the ones i mentioned before: ascii&ansi, virus, music/netlabel scene, ISO cracking and media re-distribution. But basically and to cut a long story short, the demoscene is not illegal and most demosceners are not usually connected to illegal scenes.

7) so what exactly is the demoscene all about?
it connects coders, computer graphicians and musicians into releasing a realtime presentation; the main idea is to astonish the viewer: be it by demonstrating the machine' capacity or their makers talent and creativity, in most cases both.
there is also the social aspect of it all; demoscene projects usually involve group effort and community respect; for example, there are people who don't code, track or do graphics but are still considered to be demosceners due to their devotion to organizing demoscene related things like demoparties, events, competitions, even managing their own demogroup, and spreading demoscene information through diskmags, newsletters, online forums and portals.

8) just out of curiosity, how do you do that? like.. what programs do you use and stuff.. ?
well, you can use gfx related programs if you are a graphician: gfx2, deluxepaint, neopaint, etc if you are into 2d indexed color gfx.
or you can use photoshop, paintshop pro for example if you are into more realistic 2d hicolor (15/16/24/32bpp) image manipulations.
you can also use 3d studio max, lightwave, maya, milkshape, bryce, etc if you are into 3d modelling and animation/video rendering.
more info on scene graphics and artists can be found at http://gfxzone.org and http://pixel.scene.org
if you are more into music making, most sceners use trackers, which are basically like hardware samplers with some fancy software features. nowdays there are 4th and 5th generation trackers, with built-in virtual synths, that are starting to break the use of samples mentality but are harder on the processor to play realtime along with graphics so most coders still opt to unencode the mp3s of the musicians recording. these new generation trackers kind of render the earlier tracker formats obselete but they open the doors for more professional sounds with proper audio mastering.
http://www.maz-sound.de is a nice place to start your way into the computer music making world.
most PC demoscene musicians made their way from fast tracker and impulse tracker into modplug, psycle, buzz and reason. The more commercially successfull ones are also using reaktor, max/msp, soundforge, cooledit, samplitude, cubase, logic audio and the usual bunch of vst/vsti/dx effects/synths.
http://noerror.scene.org is a nice place to find your way through the music scene world. there are lots of groups, usually called netlabels, out there that have been formed on the web with the sole intent of distributing music to the world through the internet. most of them are considered a part of the demoscene.
As far as coding is concerned most demos are made with c/c++ (borland or visual studio) although some have been made in pure assembler and pascal.
there are lots of coding tools made by demosceners which other demosceners tend to use to make their life easier (ptc,demogl,jpeglib to simplify graphics access; bass,fmod for sound; using other peoples demoengines like DSD demosystem, demopaja, 3pixels demoengine, to save the trouble of coding a 3ds loader/exporter is not that uncommon either)
http://www.cfxweb.net http://www.demogl.org and http://www.flipcode.com are nice places to start checking if you are thinking of getting into democoding.

9) where can i find the best/latest demos?
http://www.scene.org is _the_ source for finding all productions from the latest demoparties and includes a usefull viewing tips section.
http://ojuice.net is the portal which most demosceners use to daily/weekly check for news.
http://www.pouet.net is sort of a database for scene productions, includes comments and bbs style forums.
http://demoo.calodox.org http://www.monostep.org http://ths.demoscene.org are are the most famous PC demo review sites.

10) so where does inercia fit in this picture?
well, inercia's aim was and is to ressurect demoscene in portugal.
let me explain, during the move from bbs's into the internet, most of the demoscene related services in portugal like the infinity diskmag and mailinglist disappeared, the groups that existed slowly started getting uninterested in the scene due to lack of demoparties and overall "scene is dead" spirit: people get older, university keeps you way too busy, 9 to 17 jobs wear you out and the evil opposite sex steals all life and energy from you. but despite beeing busy with studies/jobs at inercia ourselfs, we don't like one damn bit the current state of things in portugal where we are considered to have the lowest demoscene activity in european community. so, in a desperate attempt to overthrown the evil greeks from the second to last position, we have set our minds to claim our rightfull "anything but last" place.
our attack plan is as follows:
- organize a demoparty atleast once a year that brings together people of all ages and corners of the country, and abroad, to show and see what can one do with a computer.
- moralize people into computers to contributing to the artistic side of it all instead of playing games and leeching porn/divx/warez all day.
- help evolve the current quality/quantity of computer arts in portugal by promoting group discussion through active participations in mailing lists, irc channels, netforums and lan parties
- develop the interest of computer users into knowing what truly can be done with their machines through carefully selected demoshows in schools and universities.
- open portuguese community eyes and mind into the computer arts in general. (computer assisted graphics, electronic music, new media webart)
- demonstrate to the capitalist driven "demoparty" organizers how to properly promote computer arts.