[demoreview #6: zooooooming in.......................]
Or: 'the subtle art of going deep into infinite worlds'

zoom { 'züm }
1: Movies, Television: to bring a subject, scene, etc., into closeup or cause it to recede into a long shot using a zoom lens and while maintaining focus
2: Graphics: to show a smaller area of an image at a higher magnification ("zoom in") or a larger area at a lower magnification ("zoom out"), as though using a zoom lens on a camera

Along with lateral (scrollers) or parallactical movements, the expressive power of zoom has been immediately taken and adopted by the demoscene. "Classic" examples could be the Second Reality rotozoomer (or World of Commodore's one, to calm down immediately the Amiga-lovers).
But probably even the tunnel effect is something that comes close to the "zoomer" concept.

One of the best tunnels the scene remembers is the one in Lasse Reinbøng by Cubic Team.
Initially it's not a tunnel, it's just a drop of water on the Cubic Team and $een logo. Then the scene rotates, distorts and gest transformed in the proper tunnel, that is deformed, radially multiplied and at the end, fades out.

With "Lasse Reinbøng", probably, a category of 2d effects like the tunnel effect reached their climax and disappeared.

Or better, they evolved into more complicated effects.

TBL's Captured Dreams zoomer

The "real" zoomer appears in the scene, in fact, around 1997, when The Black Lotus produce a demo, Captured Dreams, that, even if with a certain lack of unity on the design side, has a bunch of effects that remain impressed in the minds and remembrances of the audience.

After the initial sequences, the demo title is shown. The scene is composed by an hand in the centre, that carries a pill and a rounded shape (a "captured dream", maybe). But suddenly, the camera makes a zoom towards this shape and dives in the scene that it encloses, showing an astral gizmo, a flower, the TBL logo, an eye; at the end, the camera gets into the eye itself, and the scene fades in a tunnel (in a "free directional tunnel", to be precise).

The tunnel effect stays on the screen for some seconds, and then, in the same way we entered, we exit the tunnel and we make our way backwards through the inverted sequence of images, at two or three times the speed. Probably it's one of the most surprising zoomers of history for the freshness of the effect.

Contour and the rotating zoomer

TBL themselves, masters in this genre of graphical presentations, will repropose the effect some years later and on another platform in their last PC production, Contour. The demo is hardware accelerated, and maybe it shows the ingenuities of the first accelerated demos, with too low-poly 3d shapes and splattered textures because of the hardware filtering.

But if there's an effect for which the demo is remembered from 1999, year when it won it came second at Takeover, that is the ending zoomer. This time the zoomer doesn't simply enlarge the images, but some other complexity is added: rotation.

"Contour"'s zoomer is nature-themed: we can spot, among the elements that compose it, a few plant's leafs, a coleopter, some flowers, a lizard. The lizard is the penultimate element of the zoomer, and its faceted eyes reflect the insect of the beginning. Everything ends ina fantastic Louie picture: a little girl that hugs a soldier, probably returning from the war. The image closes the demo.

Spot's/Exceed initial zoomer

A technical note: the magic of the zoomer is vaguely cracked to the expert eye for the artifacts that you can notice while the images are zooming. If you look closely, in fact, you'll notice the borders of every quad that makes each image.

Another demo that will remain for the initial zoomer is Spot by Exceed, the same group that made the more known Heaven 7.

"Spot"'s zoomer reminds for its presentation "Captured Dreams" itself: a lamp lights the "Spot" logo, and projects on the background some realtime shadows. The "O" of the logo is really the object we'll zoom into: the camera gets through it and starts to spin in a series of galaxies, planets, lens flares and clouds, to arrive floating at the house where the proper demo will take place.
Proper demo that is a boring flyby with animated objects, but the initial zoomer saves it all.

The final fractal zoomer in Shale

To close, another, last type of zoomer is in the scene from the beginning: the Mandelbrot, or fractal zoomer.
We could write pages on fractal theory; the argument is summarized well in this Wikipedia article. Indeed, a fractal image is a graphical representation that you can enlarge indefinitely, discovering always new and different particulars.
The demoscene has always tried to reproduce in realtime the computationally-intensive zooming into a fractal, using more or less different tricks.

One of the most smooth fractal zoomers is in an Italian production: the Shale intro, by Chalice. When the intro is reaching the end, while the distorted names of groups and sceners are greeted on the screen, the zooming fractal is shown, with a psychedelic palette cycle. What hits is the speed and seamlessness of rotation and zoom.

Where does a zooming fractal end? Has it an end?
Has demoscene an end, or, is it "dead", as someone is saying from time to time?
It doesn't matter, as long as you continue zooming.
posted by friol at 10/04/2007 08:37:00 AM - under: , , - comments? here (13)

the Tunnel - demoscene blog(c) friol 2o18