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Ubuntu Seeks Idents on Demo Scene
Mark Shuttleworth guests at Sundown
William Pollard (will789)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2006-10-10 12:02 (KST)   
Mark Shuttleworth explained at Sundown that Ubuntu is looking into ways to include demoscene animation during the wait for Ubuntu to boot. The project returns to the origins of the demo scene, an identity projected while loading software. As Wikipedia points out "the making of intros and standalone demos evolved into a new subculture independent of the software piracy scene," but according to legend, there was a time when if "a cracked program was started, the cracker or his team would take credit via an increasingly impressive-looking graphical introduction called a crack intro."

Mark Shuttleworth.
©2006 Will Pollard
Ubuntu is a version of the Linux operating system and can be freely copied or downloaded by anyone. Mark Shuttleworth is part of Ubuntu and Canonical, a company offering commercial support for Ubuntu. People at Sundown considered Ubuntu stable enough not to require much support but they may not be typical of most office users.

Sundown is a U.K. party event on the demo scene, similar to Assembly in Helsinki or Breakpoint in Bingen am Rhein, but on a much smaller scale. Budleigh Salterton is a small seaside town near Exeter in southwest England. The Town Hall appears on lists of village halls in Devon, but it is one of the largest.

Between events, demos can be downloaded from scene.org and mirror sites. They are usually zip files and may require moving files between directories. There are also collections on DVD but this requires merging RAR files. So there are some technical issues in reaching a wider audience. One route is demoscene.tv. This assumes broadband but half a megabyte may be enough for the "old school" channel, concentrating on small files, typically 64 kilobytes so written directly to graphics. There are some examples on YouTube and Google Video that can be found by searching on "animation" and "demoscene." Google Video also has an interview with Kris Sum and a 3sat TV broadcast from Breakpoint, in German with English subtitles.

Budleigh beach.
©2006 Will Pollard
"Idents" are used by TV companies between shows to identify channels. There is a whole industry around this. Sadly, all that is left on YouTube of an earlier phase in digital animation is an ident for ABC. The ABC You'll Love It logo from 1985 was produced by Cranston Csuri. A recent search showed nothing else on YouTube by Csuri, or John Stehura's Cybernetik 5.3, or anything by John Whitney. Work from the '60s and '70s now exists on film only and is exhibited on rare occasions at festivals.

The Ubuntu approach seems to be still relating to idents as promotion but not limited to any logo or restriction on distribution. The format would have to be generated on each occasion, as there is no way to predict the duration of the time it would take for Ubuntu to boot. Also new hardware may become available during the performance. The discussion at Sundown was exploring possibilities so there may be more definite ideas on a future occasion. What is clear is that Mark Shuttleworth is interested in including some demos with the Ubuntu distribution, possibly starting next year.

One attraction would be the limitations of the environment, in some ways going back to the old school requirements for tight code and direct access to hardware. Recent work has made use of standard capabilities in Windows. The creations are interesting but there is less of a challenge for programming.

Old School kit surviving.
©2006 Will Pollard
At Sundown the old school music choice was "plesiosaur" by Syphus. There is a very short screen shot video below. As the Amiga is now rare there will be an mp3 later, probably on the Syphus site. The Amiga is holding on well, with Starstruck from the Black Lotus winning the Assembly 2006 demo competition against PC competition.

The Amiga will still be there at Sundown next year. But there may also be a section for best design to vary between thirty seconds or four minutes duration.

- Syphus 

©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter William Pollard

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