Hugi Magazine #33: MP3 Power

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Review: Mindcandy Volume 2 (By KeyJ / Kakiarts)

After four years, the long-awaited DVD with 30 of the best and most influential Amiga Demos has finally been released. I grabbed the disc at tUM and one of the first things I did when I arrived at home was to feed my DVD player with it. As someone who missed the Amiga heyday in the late 80s and early 90s, I found it particularly interesting to see all the classics, even if it's a decade later on a lame DVD player :)

The disc comes in a standard case with nice cover artwork. The first positive surprise is the 12-page booklet. In addition to some general information about Mindcandy Volume 2, it gives some brief information about all the demos in the DVD: Name, group, people involved, release year, party and place, hardware type and comment on what is special about this demo.

As mentioned earlier, the DVD contains captures of 30 influential Amiga demos, starting with the rough and simple "RSI Megademo", going all the way past masterpieces like "Hardwired" and "Nexus 7" to the modern Amiga style as in "Lapsuus" and "Silkcut".

But it's not only the content that's great about this DVD: It's the whole presentation. First, there are three audio tracks for each demo. The first one is captured from a real Amiga audio output and is thus as close as ever possible to the "real thing". The second track is an impressive 5.1 remix of the original MOD file (if present; demos with streamed music got remixed too, but don't sound as good as the tracked ones). The third and coolest one is the commentary track: In most cases, it's a comment on the technical background of the current effect, spoken by Trixter, one of the DVD's producers. For 13 demos, there are voice commentaries from at least one of the original creators, which is even more interesting. All the commentaries are also available as subtitles in English, German and French.

Mindcandy 2 is also one of the very few DVDs that actually take advantage of the (limited, but nevertheless existing) programming abilities DVD menus have to offer. Two never-seen-before play modes have been implemented by the creators of the disc: A random mode that makes sure that none of the last 12 demos is played again and a "jukebox" mode that allows the user to create a playlist(!) of up to 12 demos.

However, the most impressive fact about the DVD is the amount of work that went into the as-perfect-as-possible video capture. All the footage was recorded from the RGB outputs of various original Amigas and processed by a broadcast-quality professional scan converter prior to uncompressed(!) recording on a PC. Scenes that were buggy on the fast AGA Amigas were re-captured on slower ones to give a jerky, but accurate rendition of the scene. The remaining noise was partly removed by hand, as were occasional capturing glitches from the scan converter. "Patterned" display modes of early chunky-to-planar demos (which only converted 50% of the pixels to run smoothly on a 030) were converted to "full-pixel" ones to make the MPEG encoder happy. And finally, all scenes that didn't run properly on any Amiga the DVD creators had or were unusable after capturing have been recorded in WinUAE and cut into the final footage. This is just an impressive amount of work.

I can just conclude that Mindcandy Volume 2 is the best DVD of any kind I've ever seen. I heavily recommend this disc to everyone who is even remotely interested in the Amiga demoscene!

-- KeyJ / Kakiarts