STNICCC Directors Cut DVD
"As unlike Bridget Jones Diary, as it is possible to get without invoking
either Zombies or Chainsaws.."- Ed Trumpton, The Daily Telegraph
"Errm, about the Zombies, I remember that Alcoholica were there for some of
the time!"- Paula Richards, Widows Knitting Monthly
"It's a kind of male love story."- Paul Flexitip, Timeout Magazine
"No it isn't!!"- Jack Chick, Homosexualist Crusher Express
It seems that the more you try to get away from the past, the more it comes
back to haunt you. Richard Karsmakers, former esteemed master editor of ST
News, latterly Microsoft worker slave no D#0045643-3, and now happily
(re)married broken away from the MicroBorg collective and teaching or some
such, has found this out the hard way. Rather than fight the urges to
commemorate the glories of his previous existence, he gracefully gave in to
those urges. The most recent result of this nostalgia downdraught, is the
video of the 1990 ST News International Christmas Coding Convention, remixed
from clunky 80's tape media down to a nice and shimmery DVD directors cut.
As you might expect, for a minority appeal production, it is most definitely
"Not available in the shops". However, it can be obtained from the man
himself, or via a series of Atari-related dealers and resellers. In the UK,
16/32 Software are bravely standing in, and putting their considerable
reputation on the line to sell it. The DVD comes in a smart plastic wallet,
with a semi-professional black and white cover picture, just to build up the
atmosphere of cultishness. Inside the box there are two disks (with the
early editions.) The first is the finished DVD, and the second disk is a
bonus CD-ROM with lots of misc goodies, more of which I'll tell you about
Spinning up the DVD reveals a smart multi-part front-end menu. There are
several 'jumping-in' points where you can pick up the action at certain key
moments. Of course, you could just go and start at the beginning..
The directors cut DVD is remixed from the original 1990-vintage video
footage. What you get, quality-wise, comes with all the charming flaws of
home-video making, c.1990. This is definitely not DVD quality footage. Once
you get over that initial shock, the more subtle charms of this production
start to make themselves felt.
The original video was a very limited run special edition, namely as
competition prizes for the party. The DVD remixing has allowed the original,
rather linear and very home-made production, to acquire some tasty extra
features to make it more broadly appealing. Karsmakers has indulged in a
massive fit of captioning. This was used to particularly good effect in the
sequence when the crews were being introduced. For the first time, you can
properly identify many of the people who made our early ST-owning days so
interesting. Also, captioning lends itself to some piss-taking on a grand
scale, on which note, I wonder when the Dynamic Duo are getting their
complimentary copy of this DVD?! I also like the nice Commodore 64 SID-chip
background music which is used in a lot of places to good effect. In
general, and without knowing anything of the original video, it seems that
the soundtrack has benefited a lot from the DVD remix.
Of the rest of the production, it is a stirring together of the sort of
'action' shots that you get at any coding party. People sitting at computers
coding, sitting at computers eating, comatose in sleeping bags, and so on.
There are several priceless moments within that, such as the fact that
Michael 'Bittner Rap' Bittner, was caught on camera watching the 'Life's a
Bitch' demo for the very first time at this party. Then there is the
ultimate burp, from Perceval of Zuul, set to the music of the 1812 Overture!
Breaking this up, are several "sketches" and action sequences, where people
acted up to the camera, and sought to impersonate Monty Python. Most of
these were done in-party, such as the Alcoholica sequences, the total
awfulness of which were heavily suppressed! Some bits, such as the 'Dairy
products recognition' inserts, were filmed after the party.
(Thought for this review:- Looking back at Alcoholica, don't you think that
they look and act like a lot of current PeeCee sceners do now! But
Alcoholica *were* playing themselves strictly as a pisstake!)
All good things have to come to an end, but there are a couple of bonus
items on the disk, such as the Carebears "Home Movie", which is set to a
sinister soundtrack, and a 'hidden' bonus section of the party footage,
including a Promotional animation of the company whose offices were being
borrowed for the party, all in its 1990 state of the artness, which is after
solid polygons were invented, but before textures were introduced.
The bonus CD-ROM is a packed beast. It contains all the material currently
on the internet relating to ST-News, STNICCC and Thalion Software. This
includes the contents of the websites relating to these, all the back-issues
of ST-News ever produced. There is a lot of material, particularly a big
photographic record for the 10th anniversary party taken by Alex Crouzen,
which I've got a much stronger personal connection with, than for the
original STNICCC. There are also the competition entries from that party on
there too. Oozing out the edges, are all Karsmakers-produced 'warez', and
quite a lot of mp3 tunes, such as the Jochen Hippel 'Give it a Try' CD.
To conclude, this is a pretty complete overview of what went on at the
STNICCC, the next best thing to actually being there. In fact, if you take
things like avoiding sleeping in wormbag discomfort, it is probably better
in some respects than the original party! I don't see this having a great
appeal for the younger scene members, who may not have been 'into' the scene
back in 1990. But for those of us scene-oldies whose failing memories can't
get enough of Sammy Joe shaking his girly hair whilst playing air guitar,
this DVD cannot be beaten!
Now it is time for Felice to get out and remix some of his mighty camcorder
footage from down the ages!
CiH for Alive Mag,May '04