Underground code

The Demo Scene never cease to amaze me. The technical quality of these demos is amazing – complex 3D scenes rendered real-time, procedural textures, real-time sound synthesis, and incredible low foot-prints.

Recently I stumbled upon demoscene.tv which features recorded videos (flash video) of many of the best demos. Of course part of the fun is actually running these demos, to be amazed that they are indeed real-time, but sadly my laptop is not geared towards neither CPU or GPU intensive activities.

A few selected demos:

fr-041: debris by Farbrausch

Lifeforce by andromeda software development

Sampling the past

The Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument was the first digital sampler ever created. This ~£20000 synthesizer revolutionized the digital music scene (at least for the few artists who could afford it at the time).

This YouTube video (from 1983) shows Herbie Hancock jamming away on his Fairlight CMI (probably a Series IIx, because of the page-R pattern sequencer). Notice the light-pen driven GUI on the monochrome monitor!

Jan Hammer was also a Fairlight devotee – this early and incredible corny music video (featuring the Miami Vice Theme, of course) actually shows several screenshots from the Fairlight GUI.

Structure Synth v0.7 (“Nostromo”) released

I am pleased to announce that a new version of Structure Synth – Version 0.7 (“Nostromo”) – has been released.

Available as Windows binaries or Linux source.

Structure Synth V0.7 (Nostromo)

Structure Synth V0.7 (Nostromo)

New Features:

  • The GUI has tabs now.
  • Syntax highlighting.
  • Better Linux support, fewer compile warnings.
  • Screenshot support.
  • The tokenizer/parser has been improved.
  • Very preliminary and experimental POVRay support.
  • Bug fixes.

Assorted stats:

So far 95 hours of work has been put into Structure Synth, with 2/3 of the time spent coding, the rest of the time spent on design and web site creation.

Structure Synth is currently 4788 lines of C++ code (.h and .cpp files)

POV-Ray support

From time to time I still get a moment to work on Structure Synth, and I’ve just started working on some nice new features.

POV-Ray support is coming along quite nicely. Here is a preview:


POV-Ray rendered output.

Also, the user interface will be improved with tabs, full-screen and screendump support:


The new user-interface.

Light synths

By coincidence I came across Jeff Minter’s company Llamasoft and surprisingly discovered that it was still going strong.

Jeff Minter, probably most famous for his somewhat… surreal C64 games (“Attack of the Mutant Camels”, “Revenge of the Mutant Camels” and even “Metagalactic Llamas Battle at the Edge of Time”), apparently has been hacking away on light synthesizers for the past twenty years.

His light synthesizers are complex visualization modules either music-controlled or driven by human interaction. And his latest incarnation, Neon, is actually used in the Xbox 360’s dashboard.

Neon Light Synthesizer

The Neon Light Synthesizer in Action.

Who would have guessed that Llamasoft code would end up in the Xbox 360 firmware?