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Alive 11
Sceen Magazine
                     The Demoscene on paper, at last!
You  could  say that to read of the life and times of the demoscene  on  the
printed  page is a Diskmag editors wet dream.   In spite of criticism of the
dead tree woodpulp format,  it is still the holy grail to see their works in
print on something you can physically pick up in your hand.

The  majority  of  us are content to carry on  dreaming,  but  Hamburg-based
'Sceen'  team have turned this dream into reality.  Their subscription based
72  page periodical magazine provides a glossy and fashionable  window  onto
the activities of the demo scene. It is a intended to be showcase of much of
what  is  considered  cool  and  interesting.  As such, it would  be  a good
introduction for any newcomers.  Even  before I get into reviewing  the main
part of the magazine,  I must congratulate the creators of  Sceen for making
such an expensive and high-risk venture happen at all.

There is a cover DVD,  I think available to subscribers only, which contains
much  of what is being reviewed or discussed in the magazine.  So you get to
see  the  winning demos and intro's for the Scene Org 2004 awards,  and  the
winning  demo's  for  Breakpoint '05,  in a user-friendly  and  non-platform
specific  format.  My personal favourite was the Black Lotus 'Ocean Machine'
Amiga  demo,  because  I  feel  a closer kinship with  the  shared  Motorola
heritage.  There  were  also some damn fine 4ktro's for the peecee too,  the
rather spacial 'Parsec' being a deserved first place winner at BP '05. There
are plenty more bigger demos, and some examples off the not so demo specific
articles as well, but I've only had a brief look at the DVD.

The  overall  look  and feel is very contemporary  in  style.  It  certainly
wouldn't  look  out of place in the style section of a  big  newsagent.  The
cover  is  not at all geeky,  the very tools of the trade which are  usually
given loving emphasis,  computers,  are conspicious by their absence.  It is
the end-result of all that realtime or precalculation, all those noughts and
ones switching on and off, that is important here.

The impression to a casual browser,  picking it up for the first time, would
be  that  of an upmarket music journal with a techno theme.  If it  were  on
direct sale in a newsagent near you, then it might subvert a lot of people's
expectations, once they got their teeth into the content.

'Sceen'  is  published  by  a trio consisting  of  Alexander  Scholtz,  Enno
Conners,  and Hakaan Toepper. The magazine is presented in English, which is
very  thoughtful  of them,  and to get the widest possible  scene  audience,
English  being  the lingua franca (ha ha!) of Western Europe.  The  footnote
about  distribution of the mag is interesting.  It is currently available at
major  creative  festivals  and technical trade shows.  It will  be  on  the
newsstands  for 2006.  I can't quite see it nestling up against the ranks of
PC  Format  in  my local WH Smith somehow?  This is nothing to do  with  the
quality  of the mag,  just the boring profit-centered attitudes of the major
retailers. Ah well, we'll see.

Anyway, time to turn to the contents, and see what is inside.

Immediately after the first page,  and the contents page, there is a picture
of a Woody Guthrie tribute made out of an Amiga.  This was made, courtesy of
a  band  called  'Ender Error'.  The home-made Amiga guitar  is  incorrectly
described  as "Rocking it 8-bit",  or is that to do with the sound  quality?
"This machine kills fascists"!  - Indeed it does, but you have to get a good
swing in a downward arc on it first!

Two pages of news, or 'Random Access'. A Pacman guitar, the Bitfilm festival
sort  of  blurring  the  line between  conventional  movie  compo  and  demo
competitions.  Also  Widgets like a NES console hollowed out to use as a DVD

"Aliens  ate  my  Demomaker".  Filipe  Cruz,  aka 'ps' gets  to  grips  with
Breakpoint 2005,  he seems to be a little bit shocked that there are drunken
people passing out there ;-) Over the following pages,  there are a generous
helping  of  pictures  of  the  winning  competition  entries  and  suitable
captions.  These  are also a good companion to the giveaway DVD,  explaining
what  these  demos are about,  if you are not intimately familiar  with  the
Peecee scene.  There is a bit about the live events and bands at BP '05, and
it  is  great  to see old friends,  'The David Hasselhoff Big Band'  get  in
there.  Dipswitch  analyses  the  trends  from the BP '05  releases,  he  is
generally pleased with things,  compared with previously, where the scene is
"recovering from the irritation of 2004".

The  Scene  Org awards,  are considered in detail,  and here the best of the
best are reviewed.  Some choices like Planet Risk being a jury decision, and
considered controversial, as it is a 'love or hate' demo.

Moving onto a less scene specific topic. The lengthy and sometimes difficult
birth and rise of alternative methods of music distribution,  netlabels,  is
considered by Moritz Saur. This had its beginning in the BBS distribution of
Amiga soundtracker modfiles,  toured the dizzy days of the dotcom boom,  and
is  now  recovering  from the fallout of the crash,  and may  be  of  future
interest  to  the  big  bad  record  companies.   One  of  these  netlabels,
MonoTonik,  is considered in more detail,  as the founder,  Simon Carless is
interviewed.  A page is also devoted to Stadtgruen,  another netlabel, their
main man,  Martin Donath reveals "I always got an 'F' in music at school. To
this day I don't know much about notes and all that. I simply do my thing."

Something  a bit on the wild side now,  as John Paul Bitchard shows off  his
crime  scene lookalike pictures,  the Evidencia series.  He's a busy artist,
and  likes to make people consider the bloody aftermath of the most  violent
video games.

There  are a couple of pages,  where people access the Machinima movie maker
through the Sims 2 game,  Lots of possibilities from this one. The winner of
the  'Make  Something Unreal Contest' is Machinima made,  and  the  creator,
Freidrich  Kirschner  is interviewed.  The entry,  "Person 2184" has a  very
orwellian theme.  Other entries,  such as 'Engine' by Tomislav Bezmalinovic,
are also considered.

Klaus  Neumann  tells  us  of his movie making  efforts  with  "Drv3r",  and
reflects  that his grandchildren will be surprised that movie making  didn't
always have a pause button.

Nico  Barbat  takes a good long look at the Pokemon  Mini  demo,  'Shizzle'.
There  was  a  mighty struggle to get the technical info and  even  the  cpu
details, off what was a completely closed and undocumented system. It took a
year to hack the hardware. 'Shizzle' is included as a movie on the DVD, they
even managed to get the skyscraper flyby from Second Reality in there! For a
4k ram,  4mhz 8-bit processor, and cartridge access, the six minutes plus of
that  demo  manages to pack a lot in!  It is not surprising that the  phrase
"Pokemon Mini me beautiful" is seen a lot on

By  way  of a complete contrast, tries to get us  overweight
sceners exercising with their brand of training shoes!

Several  pages  follow,  discussing the art of VJ-ing,  or live performances
with lightsynths and DJ-ing with images and animations.  Jeff Minter was not
mentioned, but maybe another time?

Another hardware plaform,  slowly growing as a demo platform,  is the mobile
phone. The birth of modern demo effects on a moby is considered to be around
2002  at  the  Assembly party.  The state of the art,  and  possible  future
evolution  are considered.  (Mobile phones with dedicated 3-D graphics built
into them.)

'Amondo',  a very slick 3-D movie is featured here,  apparently made on some
middling spec peecees and commonly available softools.  Not really realtime,
but a stunning end result, going from the screengrabs.

Art meets Mario, with Jon M Gibson, who recreates real canvas, pencil, paint
and collage paintings of some of his favourite 8-bit gaming memories.

There  are  a  couple of articles which concentrate on  computer  music,  to
finish  off  with.  Firstly,  'Chiplandschaften' comes to chip music via the
Amiga.  Where  as  "It's  all  about" Considers  the  world  of
remixing classic game soundtracks.

There  are  a few other bits and pieces,  such as a handful  of  advertising
pages.  These do stay on-topic, and don't overwhelm the rest of the mag, and
a back page with the credits and publishers information.

To try to condense our feelings,  'Sceen is very self-consciously arty. This
would  fit  into the Alternative Party sceneview quite  well.  They  already
tried  something like this,  a 'fusion' of demoscene and other  avante-garde
interests  in  paper  form,  but not going as far as 'Sceen'  has.  To  some
extent,  we are seeing a convergence of the hardcore coding-based scene with
many  other  related  artforms.  We  can even see  this  with  the  YM-scene
musicians closer to home as well.

There is a mixture of reverence for the demoscene mainstream,  that is,  the
peecee scene,  but at the same time, a sneaking regard for limit breaking on
some  quite  small platforms to restore some balance.  My favourite  article
being  the involved story of hacking the Pokemon Mini to make the  'Shizzle'
demo.   If Sceen did realise its ambition of being made available to a wider
public,  it  is  written well enough to make the idea of the demoscene  more
accessible to them.

I wish Sceen magazine well.  This isn't one I'd get every issue for, but I'd
be  interested on their views on some of the minority  platforms,  including
CiH, for Alive! Mag,Oct '05
Alive 11