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Alive 9

            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

Alive 9