Tag Archives: demo

New ANSImation: Star Trek: The Trouble With The Rangifer Tarandus

In December, I created a new ANSI animation for the holidays called “Star Trek: The Trouble With The Rangifer Tarandus”, which was released in Blocktronics’ “Darker Image #2” artpack.

Here’s a video version of the ANSImation:

But (as always), the best way to view this is to use SyncTerm to connect to my BBS, Guardian of Forever, and watch it there.

So far, each of my ANSImations have been a way to try a new technique in ANSI, whether that’s parallax scrolling, perspective transforms, or whatever. This time was no exception. I came up with an idea for a Star Trek “transporter” effect that could work in ANSI. The effect would have three parts: first, a set of “rays” streaming downward (ala Star Trek: The Next Generation); second, the rays coalesce into a sparkly white/yellow outline of a sprite; finally, the white outline crossfades to the actual sprite itself.

For the first and third parts to work, I cooked up a function that calculates the dominant low color of a given ANSI character. For example, if it’s a solid bright green block, then the dominant color is green. But what if it’s a gradient block with red in the foreground and gray in the background? My function will figure it out. With the ability to calculate these dominant colors, I can create the illusion of a gradient moving over a portion of an image; or the illusion of a sprite fading in/out.

Anyway, I had this idea for a while, but never coded it up. As Blocktronics’ pack release neared, I figured I’d take a stab at writing my code to see if I could pull something together. Surprisingly I was able to get the transporter effect mostly working in just a few days. I managed to draw a background of the Enterprise’s transporter room, then started thinking about who I wanted to “beam up” in this animation. Since the pack was coming out so close to Christmas, I figured I’d do a Star Trek / Santa Claus mashup. The idea was silly, unexpected, and I could keep it very simple. The only thing really happening is two objects beaming in, with a bunch of dialogue bubbles. I drew ANSI sprites of Santa and his bag, using various pixel art pieces I found online for inspiration.

Once I pulled it all together, I showed my kids without explaining ahead of time what it was. They each reacted by laughing in surprise when Santa was revealed. That was NOT who they were expecting to show up. Since they liked it so much, I figured it was good to contribute to the pack.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, although one thing I learned is that it is very difficult to translate this transporter effect from the terminal to a GIF. In a terminal, it’s simply thousands of individual characters changing. But in a GIF, to do the same thing would requires thousands of frames! I worked around this and kept the GIF version to about 240 frames, but even when I set the GIF with the smallest possible delay between frames, it back way too slow. But maybe that makes it perfect to include here, since it will allow you examine the transporter effect a little more closely:

An animated GIF that shows the transporter effect from my recent ANSImation.

New ANSImation: Star Wars opening crawl

Screen shot of the later version of the opening crawl for “Star Wars.”

When Star Wars debuted in 1977, the first sequence audiences took in was the iconic opening crawl: a wall of yellow text rolling up the screen, shrinking toward a vanish point in the distance.

Screen capture of an opening crawl from a Flash Gordon serial.

This crawl was George Lucas’ homage to the old Flash Gordon serials of the 1930s (which inspired many other parts of Star Wars visual style). Since then, the crawl has become a common trope cribbed by TV shows, computer games, and others.

When I was thinking of ideas I might contribute to Blocktronics’ “Detention Block AA-23” Star Wars artpack, making an ANSI version of the crawl was one of my first thoughts.

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New parallax ANSImation: Millennium Falcon dodging asteroids

I want to push boundaries.

That’s what the original Star Wars films did. Industrial Light & Magic revolutionized special effects with novel new techniques for motion control and amazing model work.

When I work on ANSI projects now, I try to think about ways to do things in ANSI that weren’t possible in the 1990s because of low bandwidth or limited processing power.

How about parallax ANSImation? Well, I cooked up a new one for Blocktronics’ new artpack “Detention Block AA-23”. It features the Millennium Falcon dodging asteroids. Check it out:

Want to know how it came to be? Keep reading.

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More VT-52 demos

Ever since I was made aware of the “Beat Nick Part 2” demo, I’ve been eager to find other Atari ST demos and animations that make use of the Atari’s VT52 text mode.

This week I found three more. I made some video captures of these demos as they appeared in the Atari ST emulator Hatari and I include them below for your enjoyment.

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VT-52 demo: Beat Nick Part 2

Since I began telnetting into Atari ST BBSes again regularly, I’ve gotten interested in VT52, which was the Atari ST’s native terminal mode. The Atari supported 16 colors in low-resolution, and 4 colors in medium-resolution (80 cols).

If you know BBSes, you can think of it this way: VT-52 was to the Atari ST what ANSI was to the PC. Using VT52 codes in a text file, you could make colorful menus, animations, and sounds.

Anyway, a while back I came across this VT52 demo by Synergy from 1992.

I thought it would be fun to fire up the Hatari emulator and watch the demo. I captured the animation as a video so that you can see it, too:

Pretty impressive when you consider this is generated by just a text file.