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20 Revisiting "The Golden Path" and "Wir sind Einstein"

on Sun 25 Jul 2010 by menace author listemail the content item print the content item create pdf file of the content item

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Revisiting "The Golden Path" and "Wir sind Einstein"
by Mystra and Axel of Brainstorm

Download the pdf here

Slyspy has really hit the spotlight of the demoscene in recent times, having produced two of the most acclaimed demos of the last 12 months: "The Golden Path" and "Wir sind Einstein". Both demos have received huge amounts of positive feedback, and The Golden Path received three scene.org awards for 2009: Best demo, Best direction, and Best soundtrack. ZINE sat down with Slyspy to talk about this eventful year, as well as the earlier years of his scene career.

The Golden Path - Winning demo of Assembly 2009

Slyspy grew up in the outskirts of Budapest, the capital of Hungary, and he still lives in his childhood neighborhood today. The area has a mixture of old residential houses with gardens, and building estates from the communist era. Growing up under a communist regime, it was very hard to get your hands on a computer. Russian computers and Hungarian clones were available, but import of western computers was restricted. Slyspy was lucky, though. His father managed to buy a Commodore 64 in 1985, when Slyspy was only eight years old. "It was expensive, and it was an exclusive thing to own a computer in those times", Slyspy recalls.

"It was an exclusive thing to own a computer in those times"

Another strike of luck was that he grew up close to Csokonai Cultural Center. This was where the first computer club of Hungary was formed, and many Hungarian sceners started their scene careers within this club. "It was an exclusive club in the beginning. If you wanted to join, you had to get approval from two existing members. It was the coolest thing for me to become a member of that club", he says with a smile. "This is where I was first introduced to intros and demos, in 1988 or 1989". His current group, United Force, was founded by Tiger in 1992 - within this very community.

Many know Slyspy mainly as a musician. He has provided music for many demos, and he has competed in many music competitions over the years. ZINE asked him what made him venture into producing visuals as well. "I have always been interested in visual art and design, and I worked together with Tiger on the design of the early United Force demos", he tells us. "But I didn't have the hardware myself to create demos or animations, so I stuck to doing music". Slyspy actually left the demoscene in 2000, when he formed a band. During these years he started producing music videos as well, so when he decided to make a demoscene comeback, the path was laid for him to take control of both visuals and audio.

In 2007 he showed up at SceneCON with an animation for the wild compo. This was the first scene production in which he took total control of the visuals, in addition to the music. "Progress Down Below" won the compo, and it was nominated for best animation at the scene.org awards. This was the beginning of a new era in Slyspy's scene career.

Slyspy's creations are oozing of freshness

His first realtime production, a 64k intro entitled "No?", was released at the following year's SceneCON. The intro was made using BoyC's demo-tool aDDict2. "There was a heated debate going on at scene.hu, about whether demos made using demo-tools are real demos or not. This debate was what triggered my interest in demo-tools, and I wanted to try using a demo-tool myself. I wanted to see how the process worked", he tells us. The "experiment" surely was successful, as both his recent hit demos have been made using the aDDict tool.

Wir Sind Einstein scored 4th place at Breakpoint 2010

"The Golden Path" was released at Assembly 2009, where it was ranked third in the demo compo. Unfortunately Slyspy was not able to be present at the party in Finland, so he was stuck with watching the compo on the online stream. "I was very surprised to see the reactions the demo received", he recalls. "I didn't understand the hype. I didn't understand why people liked it so much. The fact is that BoyC and I were quite ashamed to enter the demo in the compo, because it was made in a rush, and it contains some pretty lame scenes and objects. Actually the demo was made as my testrun of the aDDict3 tool. I actually only started to learn aDDict3 three or four weeks prior to Assembly, and I was also just learning 3D modelling at that time."

Wir Sind Einstein is as colourful as all of Slyspy's works

When ZINE is asking him about the creation process of the demo, he is replying that he didn't have a concept or storyboard for the demo in the beginning. "I just wanted to figure out how the tool worked, so I made some random scenes to get to know the tool's possibilities. When I had enough scenes, and understood how the aDDict tool worked, I came up with an idea for the demo: "Run through all the scenes. Fast!", he tells us with a smile. "In truth", he continues, "I had a more complex idea originally, but I didn't have enough time to do all the scenes I wanted, so there are only three parts in the demo. Three days before the deadline I only had two (more or less) finished scenes, and only 30 seconds of music - and a two month old baby who woke up at least every third hour during the night."

When asked about where he got inspiration for the different scenes of the demo, he tells us that he had three main inspirational sources; the music video to "The Sound of Violence" by Cassius, the opening sequence of the French-Hungarian cult film "Time Masters", and the classic spacewarp effect from "2001 A Space Odyssey".

"I started to google bach midi-files and played them backwards"

When it comes to The Golden Path's music, Slyspy tells us that it had to be made in a hurry. "I remembered reading an interview with John Lennon, where he said that the Beatles song "Because" was based upon a Johan Sebastian Bach piece - played backwards. So I started to google Bach midi-files and played them backwards. That's how I found the theme for the space part of the demo - it's Bach's "Well Tempered Clavier" played backwards!"

"Wir sind Einstein" was released at this year's Breakpoint, where it ranked fourth in the demo competition. "The main difference in my approach of this demo, as opposed to The Golden Path, was that I now had a clear concept from the very beginning, and the music was finished months before the demo. But technically it was the same approach", Slyspy explains. "My idea was to create a demo about science. I think science has similar dogmas as religions, but we tend to think that science and technology is more valuable than those narrow-minded religions. Most people don't know that most scientists and researchers are really dogmatic people, and they control our thinking and life with the help of technology. Of course, science is controlled by business and money. So, that is what the song in the demo is all about. And I wanted to create a happy and colorful propaganda film for science, like the propaganda films for military without camouflage. But I think nobody got that ironic joke", he tells us with a smile.

A scene of Wir Sind Einstein

Slyspy continues to tell us the story behind the title "Wir sind Einstein". "Albert Einstein's first wife, Mileva Maric, was a mathematician, and she and Einstein developed the theory of relativity together. But Einstein decided to erase her name from the publication and sign it with the term 'Wir sind Einstein' instead. This means 'We are Einstein', as well as 'We are one stone'. As Einstein has become a symbol of science and scientists in popular culture, I decided to use the 'Wir sind Einstein' term both in the music and as the title of the demo. In addition, I thought it might create some extra positive vibes to release a German titled demo at a German demoparty."

The Golden Path was created with Conspiracy's Addict-Tool

Slyspy's style is quite unique, and we asked him how his style has developed. "Before I started creating tool-demos, I did a few 2D animations. In these animations I used only 2D layers - like in 'Resistance' (winner of the wild demo compo at SceneCON 2008), where I used photographs only. In my demos I use 3D scenes instead of photos, but I put them to use the same way as I used 2D images in my animations. First I create simple 3D events, for example a rotating cube or something flying towards the camera. Then I can insert these events in the timeline of aDDict wherever I want, just like in the video editors. For example, If I want to make a tunnel which is built from toruses, I create a scene where only one torus flies from the endless space towards the camera. Then I put this event repeatedly underneath each other shifted in time, and I get a tunnel made from toruses. If I clear the Z-buffer of the events, they work like a simple 2D layer. This technique lets me create complex visuals relatively fast. So, I don't create complex 3D scenes, but plenty of simple scenes instead. And then I use these in the timeline editor like simple 2D animation sequence layers."

"Einstein decided to erase his wife's name from the publication and sign it with the term 'Wir Sind Einstein'"

This is shown in the attached screenshot, which shows the timeline of Wir sind Einstein. "The green events are the 3D scenes. As you can see there are lots of events being played at the same time - blue sky, clouds, planets in the background, dns molecules, pipes, those black mechanic structures, yellow ball particles and so on - and there are a lot of repetitive events", Slyspy explains.

The timeline of all the events in Wir Sind Einstein, displayed in the demo-tool ADDict by Conspiracy

"When starting a new demo or animation, I usually haven't got an exact script", he continues, "but I have a well defined idea of what I want to do - except for with The Golden Path. I always know the start and the end of the story, and I have a rough concept about effects and scenes. But anything can change during the process, because of technical problems, new ideas - or the deadline."

At first sight Slyspy's demos can appear quite chaotic - or even random. But he assures us that there is a system within the chaos. "I agree that at first sight it might seem random. But if you watch it closely you will see that every action is synchronized with the music. So, it is definitely controlled chaos - and it does take a lot of time to control it, because there are hundreds of events in the demo."

Slyspy draws inspiration from movies, music videos, as well as Youtube and Vimeo videos. His favorite director is Michel Gondry. "He has a really original viewpoint, and he has great visual ideas. But the main reason why I am fan of his videos and movies is because he puts a lot of feeling into his works. I think demos need more heart", Slyspy tells us. "That is why I never watch demos when I need inspiration, because most demos are very cold, and often about technical skills only."

When ZINE asks him about the future, Slyspy assures us that he has a lot of ideas that he wants to materialize. Time is limited, though, being the father of a one-year-old, so who knows what the future will hold? He reveals, though, that he currently is working on a 64k intro. Hopefully the future will bring many Slyspy productions - the ones he has produced so far have come as a fresh breath to the demoscene, and we would love to feel more fresh breaths in the future.

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