Syntax Party Report
by ozzy 2009
31 October 2009, Melbourne Cup Day. 35 degrees celsius, the hot women were travelling to the horse races and the cool dudes were travelling to the third Syntax demoparty. The Melbourne Cup had Shocking, and Syntax was shocking. Syntax 2009 represented the unity of the entire Australian demoscene coming together to show off what Australia has to offer. The result was one of the greatest demoparties ever conducted and is one to be remembered forever!
The event wasn't to begin until 1pm, but some eager sceners arrived around 11am and for a few hours we had helped set up the equipment, seating, and determined the best arrangement for the acoustics using nothing but fractals and imaginary raster bars (not really). The venue this year was Bushwa & Hooey Cafe Bar in the heart of the city of Melbourne. Hannah was the venue owner and although she knew nothing about the demoscene, by the end of the night, we turned her into a scener! She was a fantastic host and enjoyed every bit of the night just as we did. The venue itself was rather cosy, lots of tables and chairs and couches for people to just lounge around in.
The projector screen ended up at the back wall, so that it was visible from every point in the venue and even to street outsiders, which often brought passers by to a stand still wondering what the hell was going on. The rest of the equipment was laid against the walls leaving the centre of the room free for everybody to mingle, sit, dance or watch the prods that were being played from a C64, Amiga or PC throughout the day. Sceners took requests from the Mindcandy 2 DVD in the time leading up to the compos.
There was no knowing how many people would arrive, the website had a registration list of about 70 and around 50 people showed up for the night, which is an extraordinary turnout for a corner of the world that barely gets any attention globally. The majority of people were from Australia, coming from all ends of the dry continent, including Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland. All four people of the New Zealand demoscene has made an appearance as well (we love you all ;P ) and there were a few people from Germany in attendance too! Syntax 2009 also saw an abundance of old faces as well as new. Many of the greatest Australian groups from the 1980's and 1990's had made an appearance and submitted lots of demos and there also many new people with new groups to contribute and soak up the awesome show.
The people at Syntax were just the friendliest, funniest bunch of people ever and we all got along like old mates and the entire party benefitted from a positive vibe - a sign that the party will be spectacular for future years. The heat of the day lulled by the early afternoon and the weather was perfect, sunny, but not too hot. Great weather for a couple of beers and a venue that opened onto the street! There were still many people ticking away at their computers finishing productions for late entry. It got emotional when a person was having troubles coding something without it ever working, then when it finally did, tears of joy sprung!
The competitions started a few hours later than scheduled, but nobody seemed to notice or care and everybody was already having a great time. To start things off: the ASCII/ANSI competition was run, only three entries, with two of them featuring the iconic Australian beer VB - this sort of thing can only happen in Australia. The Crocodile Dundee ANSI by Ozzy won the competition and the entries kicked off great anticipation of what was to come.
2D/3D Graphics competition was second, with some truely inspirational artwork on display. We were not sure how they ever made it to Syntax Demoparty when they should all clearly have been on display at The Louvre Museum of Art. Although the compo was open to all platforms and image styles (including 3D), every single entry was for the C64 platform. Leon/Singular won this competiton with a fantastic piece depicting an armoured beauty.
The next competition really got people jumping around in excitement: The tracked music competition. It was a tight decision, but cTrix pulled it off with a memorable tune entitled "Demo Disco Party". The other entries were just as hot. The Chip Tune competiton closely followed the tracked music competition, with cTrix bringing out his original GameBoy to belt out some radical tunes, however, blackbeltjones stole the show with an absolutely amazing tune that will have your grandkids still dancing. (And wanting to smash some guitars!)
By this time it hit about 8 o'clock and we had a intermission to allow people to cast their votes on the first half of the competitions. The organisers provided a great PartyNet with a very easy-to-use voting system. Between 9 and 10pm, the remaining competitions had begun.
The second part of the night kicked off with the Animations competiton. Due to technical complications, there was one entry by Amnesty that wasn't shown, so check it out if you haven't already. The Halloween theme didn't necessarily make an appearance until the winning animation entry by dildil entitled "Dark Justice" was run. Upon screening, the audience remained silent in shock and awe at the incredible quality of the animation, not to mention greeting everyone at the party in the animation itself! Thanks to the TTT team who went around got everybody's name to enter onto the animation!
The next competition received the most controversy, receiving only two entires: The Newskool Demo competition. It still managed to display some fantastic work and S!P's "Spiritual Bliss" was a fantastic 4k production showing that Australia can compete with the world in this category. With just two entries, it led to what may have been the closest vote for the night. The Tremendous Trio's Petey & Jaydee "Fistycuffs" demo showed off some exhilarating gameplay based on an upcoming Petey & Jaydee game engine tweaked into a demo.
Launch Point at Syntax presented us with a few announcements. Jazzcat announced the launch of Vandalism News #52 – an Australian Commodore 64 diskmag well worth reading. Voltage & Slack_ launched the latest version of IP65: an IP+UDP stack for 6502 based computers, coded in ca65 assembly. Multiple live demos on C64 showcased the new EPROM image running on a C64nic+ accessing and playing SID files, running C64 programs and accessing web tools via the party network. A graphical demo pulled data off the internet and dynamically updated on the fly.
Last but definitely not least, the Oldskool Demo competiton began, featuring a massive 10 entries! Each entry was truely fantastic, ranging from the quirky and funny to the tremendous and mindblowing. A lot of the entries had the crowd in laughter such as the "Hello Kitty" demo by Chrome, or the "Rasternator" demo by ript/disasterarea. The Force showed a heroic return to the scene with an excellent demo entitled "Awakening". But after 3 years of competing in Syntax, A Life in Hell/Warriors of the Wasteland had won the show and blew everybody away with a sensational demo called "Chase That Feeling". The demo had a very entertaining tune complete with vocals via a voice CODEC, hence pushed the machine to its limits with its programming and displayed some great graphics too. Records were also broken. Truely a worthy demo for the fabeled Syntax shield trophy!
After another brief break for voting and discussion, the votes had been tallyed up and the results ready to be revealed. Prizes included a CPC, Atari with Synthcart, oldskool pong games machines, software, flags and even a book entitled ‘The Complete Guide to Syntax’ (and confusingly had nothing to do with the demoscene!)
It wasn't just the people who won each competition leaving as the winners for the night, everybody that was at Syntax left as a winner. We came together, had a brilliant time, enjoyed the productions, got drunk as hell and all up had a phenomenal day. All this would not have been possible if it weren't for the extraordinary work put in by the organisers: A Life in Hell, GaiaSword, Rob, Ript, and especially cTrix! With a special thank you to Hannah for hosting Syntax 2009. All these people put in great dedication and effort to create a successful party and what resulted was the greatest party Australia has ever seen.
Move over Melbourne Cup, Syntax is here to stay. See you in 2010!
Syntax 2009 Results