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8-bit trip
August 23, 2009 5:30 PM   Subscribe

1500 hours of moving legobricks and take photos of them.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy (98 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fucking AWESOME!
posted by maudlin at 5:35 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pretty fricken sweet.

The text and superimposition effects kind of aren't so cool, though.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:40 PM on August 23, 2009


1500 hours? Obsession much?
posted by netbros at 5:45 PM on August 23, 2009


Best part is the sliding Pong game.
posted by stilist at 5:45 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Absolutely. Fucking. Brilliant.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:46 PM on August 23, 2009


Lego. Is there anything it can't do?
posted by FishBike at 5:51 PM on August 23, 2009


Damn.

Those are some insanely dedicated Lego enthusiasts. And I mean that in the best way.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:00 PM on August 23, 2009


So what did 8, 16, and 32 bit in video games refer to anyway?
posted by 517 at 6:10 PM on August 23, 2009


Sliding Pong was cool, but the hands-down best part was the rotating cube. I can't imagine having enough patience to work do the projection (or write a program to do it), lay it out and animate it so smoothly.
posted by DU at 6:14 PM on August 23, 2009


Oh 8-bit music. The way people use e.g. that dinky 6581 SID soundchip is amazing. Great video, made me want to quickly fire up IK+ or something, and pray at the altar of Rob Hubbard for an hour. (Play with Legos, not so much.)
posted by Glee at 6:16 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


So what did 8, 16, and 32 bit in video games refer to anyway?

Bus width, I assume. But your question reminds me of my 10 year old who doesn't know much about computer architecture. He was arguing with me over how many "bits" certain animations were.
posted by DU at 6:17 PM on August 23, 2009


I think it refers to the amount of information used to describe any single unit on the screen. An 8-bit game has a very limited color pallet and not a lot of detail. As more bits are used to describe things on the screen, things such as dithering and greater color choice are enabled.
posted by hippybear at 6:20 PM on August 23, 2009


So why do we keep some posts about mental illness and not others?

really, though, I quite enjoyed that
posted by logicpunk at 6:28 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, International Karate will always be awesome. Sucks on the Wii with the controls, but still awesome. :huffs hand and rubs on pant leg:
posted by cashman at 6:33 PM on August 23, 2009


So what did 8, 16, and 32 bit in video games refer to anyway?

A mix of things really, but I think addressable memory (how many bits you could work with at a time) was/is the common yardstick. 8-bit architectures commonly work with 8 bits of information (i.e. a number between 0 and 255) each cycle (that's your clock speed, today measured in GHz).

So basically, a 1 Hz, "8-bit" computer could "do something" with 8 bits of data once every second. ("8-bit graphics" amounts to e.g. a colour palette of 256 colors, "8-bit sound" with similar limitations like number of channels, etc.)
posted by Glee at 6:36 PM on August 23, 2009


No, 8-bit was 8-bit CPUs, which limited the general program logic, though the word size was generally 16-bit, in that the CPU could operate on that size data and addresses in memory but the CPU registers were limited to 8-bit (covering data values 0 to 255).

(I will ignore x86-centered descriptions since nobody in their right mind actually implemented game consoles with this family of CPU, until Intel cut a deal with Microsoft to adopt it in the original x-box.)

So 8-bit games were generally severely memory-limited, where 4K was a large amount of data and the program max was 64K unless you went into bank-switching, was its own special circle of hell for the unwary.

The Super Nintendo was a hybrid 8/16 bit system, backwards compatible with the 8-bit 6502 but more 16-bit capable and featured 24-bit addressing, for a maximum of 16MB of address space before bank-switching.

Sega chose the 68000 series for the Genesis, which was a 32-bit architecture with 16-bit data buses.

Data bus width isn't programmer visible, it's just something you've got to account for when timing is tight and you're trying to write the most optimal code.

Screen bitdepths were 8-bit for a long time, but all consoles used hardware CLUTs (color look-up tables) so the pixels were indexes into a larger color palette. You can do a lot with 8-bit color and a properly-balanced CLUT.
posted by @troy at 6:41 PM on August 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


So what did 8, 16, and 32 bit in video games refer to anyway?

Historically, this has referred to the size of the integer or general-purpose registers in the CPU. This is the size of data that a single instruction can act on, e.g. an 8-bit system could add two 8-bit numbers in a single instruction.

Wider registers tended to make things faster, but also general processor technology improvements made a big difference. 32-bit processors were faster not just because they could process more bits at once, but because they were several generators newer than 8-bit processors, too.

Often this is the same as the data bus width, but not always. There are plenty of processors with external buses narrower (and sometimes, wider) than the integer register width.

It didn't typically have anything to do with graphics quality. 8-bit machines didn't have 8-bit-per-pixel graphics, you were lucky if you got 4 bits-per-pixel back then.
posted by FishBike at 6:47 PM on August 23, 2009


yeah @troy's explanation is the correct one. My attempt at simplification lead me all kinds of wrong places...it's almost 4 am here so I'll retry that sleeping business I keep hearing good things about. /afk
posted by Glee at 6:52 PM on August 23, 2009


It grieves me that I will never, in my life, be able to claim responsibility for anything that is even 1/1000 as cool as this video.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:00 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


/derail

I think I kind of understand it now.
posted by 517 at 7:15 PM on August 23, 2009


the lego parts of the video were killer. i wish the non-lego stuff was not used.
posted by snofoam at 7:27 PM on August 23, 2009


Which parts were non-Lego? It all seemed to be done with plastic bricks to me.
posted by hippybear at 7:37 PM on August 23, 2009


Screen bitdepths were 8-bit for a long time, but all consoles used hardware CLUTs (color look-up tables) so the pixels were indexes into a larger color palette. You can do a lot with 8-bit color and a properly-balanced CLUT.

The SNES had an 8bit color mode, but the NES only 56 colors of which apparently 25 could be shown at a time.

The interesting thing about these old devices is that they didn't even have a complete video memory. Even with just 5 bits to store a bitmap, a TV screen would take up 192kb, which would have cost a fortune back in '83.

What the did was, store the location of each sprite in memory, and then as the video scan lines moved across the screen, they would basically check whether or not the scan line was over the current sprite. If it was, then they would show it. They did the same thing for the background tiles.

As far as what "X-bit" actually means, it's kind of ambiguous. It can me bus width, or it can mean the size of a CPU register, or it can be the log (base two) of the addressable memory. But in reality it's fuzzy. The 8088, for example was a 16 bit chip with an 8 bit data bus.

All those numbers are related, if they are the same the design is pretty simple. You load one word off the bus into a register, and you can use that register to index memory. All of the old systems could address more then 258 bytes of memory (28) and most 16 bit systems could do better then 64kbytes (216). As computers get more and more complicated, they're likely to have lots and lots of buses running around with different bit-depths.

When people talk about 64 bit machines today, they're mostly interested in having more then 4gb of memory (which is the most you can have with a 32 bit CPU). The speed difference between 64 and 32 bits isn't that great when doing integer math, whereas it was frequently a problem on 16 bit machines because you would have to do multiple operations to deal with numbers larger then 216.

Mostly when people say "8 bit" or "16 bit" they're talking about a generation or era of devices.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 PM on August 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd guess he means the b&w segments or the overlays. Both were still Lego, but less cool.
posted by stilist at 7:40 PM on August 23, 2009


Which parts were non-Lego? It all seemed to be done with plastic bricks to me.

There were obviously some parts that were simulated, anything where you had video playing on a 'flat' "lego surface" was computer generated.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 PM on August 23, 2009


No, the last zooming death spiral was all Lego, and the coolest part to boot!
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 7:42 PM on August 23, 2009


In fact, on third / fourth look, even the parts that look like video are actually lego animations.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 7:44 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


More .. . .

See the white sign that says 天丼てんや? That's a chain of tempura restaurants. Now, there is much better tempura to be had, but if you find one eat there anyway since it's good eating and cheap.
posted by @troy at 7:49 PM on August 23, 2009


There were obviously some parts that were simulated
Eh?

Looked like B&W 1-dot smooth tiles to me.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:54 PM on August 23, 2009


There were obviously some parts that were simulated, anything where you had video playing on a 'flat' "lego surface" was computer generated.

I suspect that they quantized the videos down to two colors and then physically built the frames out of legos. If you're going to go to the trouble of rendering anything, why not just render the entire video? If their 1500 hour quote is true, they certainly had time to actually build everything.
posted by Pyry at 7:57 PM on August 23, 2009


@troy: " Now, there is much better tempura to be had, but if you find one eat there anyway since it's good eating and cheap."

What?

This video was great, despite the inclusion of hipster feet.
posted by boo_radley at 8:03 PM on August 23, 2009


The "video" sequences could certainly have been Legos, as far as can be judged from this video. You can't discount that based on the assumption that it would be too tedious. There is, however, a brief transition where a white glowing blob appears, and that is certainly some kind of CG post production. Which does kind of undermine one's faith a bit. Also, if those sequences are Lego's, then it indicates some kind of computer print out of where the pieces should be at each frame which was strictly followed in assembling each frame, which is not so romantically tactile, improvisational, and artistic as the some of the rest of the animation seems to be.

But the guy does deserve to be commended for whatever character trait permitted him to achieve this.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:12 PM on August 23, 2009


I've got two big totes full of legos, but unfortunately far less time than these two.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:19 PM on August 23, 2009


This is so so demosceney.

I love it.
posted by aubilenon at 8:26 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Simpsons Gondry did it!

Actually, this should be a lesson that you should never let yourself not follow through on an idea just because somebody did something like it before.
posted by fungible at 8:27 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nice one. Yay vid-guy. Yay poster.
posted by pompomtom at 8:34 PM on August 23, 2009


I suspect that they quantized the videos down to two colors and then physically built the frames out of legos.

Why would you suspect that? It would be insane. And if they really did do that, why would they only shoot their creation from one straight down angle? And why would they bother flipping rather unimportant pixels in each frame.

If you're going to go to the trouble of rendering anything, why not just render the entire video?

Rendering the flat 2-d video to look like that would only require a simple PC and you wouldn't even need to do true 3-d rendering at all. You could probably do it with one of the more advanced video editing packages, and it wouldn't require any "work". You just run regular video through a filter.

Rendering the 3d scenes the way they are would be really complicated. You would have to have expensive rendering software, and you would have actually have to sit down and "model" the actual Lego structure on a computer. It might not actually be any quicker to do it by hand in the first place. And to me the radiosity in the 3d portions was pretty clear. That means you can see reflections of the legos in eachother, which means either it was real or it was done on a very expensive render farm. You'll also notice a person in the beginning of the video.

So basically the difficulty goes like this:

A) 2D rendering of video into a flat 'lego' image: very easy

B) hand animation of 2d video on a flat lego image: Very difficult, if you actually cover every pixel the way they did

C) hand animation of the 3d lego world: Hard, but less difficult then hand animating the 2d portions, given their complexity

D) 3D rendering of that video: Also hard, requiring tons of 3d modeling and radiosity rendering.

Finally, if they were really going to go 3d, there would have been a temptation to 'go crazy' with the video and do all kinds of crazy stuff with lots of scenery. A and C seem like the most plausible thing to me.
posted by delmoi at 8:36 PM on August 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have no idea what y'all are talking about with bits and rendering and radiosity (although I am learning new words). I just popped in to say I loved the clip.
posted by dogmom at 8:54 PM on August 23, 2009


E) Occam's razor: Dude, they animated pong on a moving, sliding, shape-shifting wall. Do you think mapping a few frames of lo fidelity 2-bit encoded video to animated Lego is really going to slow them down?

Besides, you can see the cracks between the bricks in those frames. What, they painstakingly rendered and simulated the cracks?
posted by loquacious at 8:56 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoa! That was a smorgasbord of nostalgia. Legos, Pacman, Pong...ah. Good stuff, thanks for the link.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:12 PM on August 23, 2009


Rendering the 3d scenes the way they are would be really complicated.

The fact that you're even entertaining the notion that the 3D parts were rendered makes you unqualified to comment on the veracity of the 2D images. To paraphrase The Dude, "Your thinking on this case has become very uptight."
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 9:18 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Err, I first misread delmoi's comment as though he were arguing for the idea of it being CG.

Carry on.
posted by loquacious at 9:33 PM on August 23, 2009


Despite the analog methods, this came across as very demoscene to me. Which is also awesome.

I love chip music, but I still had to turn down the volume on this.
posted by Kalthare at 9:35 PM on August 23, 2009


/ laments giving $5000 box of Legos to unappreciative kid. That guy probably just buried them all in the backyard, like the other $10,000 worth of Legos I had./
posted by Balisong at 9:46 PM on August 23, 2009


Wonder if they used a motion control rig. Seems likely.
posted by bz at 10:17 PM on August 23, 2009


A) 2D rendering of video into a flat 'lego' image: very easy

If you look closely at the HD version there are subtle changes in the cracks along the LEGOs and the lighting of them that has convinced me that doing what they (he) did using a computer would not be "very easy."

B) hand animation of 2d video on a flat lego image: Very difficult, if you actually cover every pixel the way they did

Not difficult. Tedious and time consuming.
posted by Bort at 10:17 PM on August 23, 2009


1) the 3d stuff was obviously done by hand. The visuals have all the signatures of physical objects situated in 'real' space.
2) the 2d animations, as well as the closing spiraling vortex thing, were not obviously done by hand. Ambiguous 'cracks between bricks' aside, there is nothing to mark them as definitively real: no change of plane or of lighting, nothing that suggests the animated frame exists within a larger 3d space, no camera movement. And even if they were done by hand, the same results could have been achieved cheaply and easily by digital methods.
3) there are parts that obviously were subject to digital manipulation, such as the titles, or at 2:10 where images are being overlaid or swam around in the background, and where, at around 3:15, the Kung Fu guys are glowing (as well as lacking any obvious situation in "real" space).

Therefore, I think it's reasonable to conclude that any parts of the video that could have been done digitally, probably were.
posted by anazgnos at 10:19 PM on August 23, 2009


Wonder if they used a motion control rig. Seems likely.

I believe so. If you take a look at the last video on their website, they've used one there (at about 4:20).
posted by Bort at 10:22 PM on August 23, 2009


Sorry, second to last video - "Plasticdudes."
posted by Bort at 10:32 PM on August 23, 2009


E) Occam's razor: Dude, they animated pong on a moving, sliding, shape-shifting wall. Do you think mapping a few frames of lo fidelity 2-bit encoded video to animated Lego is really going to slow them down?
Uh, yes. It's a 50x60 array. That's 300 pixels, and unlike a lot of the rest of the video it's all full frame rate. There are 48 seconds of 2d pixelated video so that means 432,000 total pixels. If you assume an average time of 10 seconds to change out a Lego, that's 1,200 hours right there, just for the 2D video. And, it looks like they would all stacked on top of each other, meaning it would require a complete tear-down to replace a frame. Even if you think they pieces with a flat top so you could pull out individual pieces, it would still take a lot of work. And even if you figure only about 20% of the tiles change each frame, that's still 240 hours of work. 15 days working 8 hours a day. And I think 10 seconds is really fast for working 8 hours straight doing that kind of thing.

That's compared to the 3D portions which are 1) Lower frame rate, and 2) mostly only feature a few legos changing between frames, or swapping/moving sprites.
Besides, you can see the cracks between the bricks in those frames. What, they painstakingly rendered and simulated the cracks?
No, they had a standard template they overlayed over the image.
The fact that you're even entertaining the notion that the 3D parts were rendered makes you unqualified to comment on the veracity of the 2D images. To paraphrase The Dude, "Your thinking on this case has become very uptight."
I don't think it's a remotely realistic possibility that the 3D sections were rendered. It dosn't look like 3D rendering to me at all, and like I said I thought it would be a lot more work. What I wrote above was an attempt to answer the question "If you're going to go to the trouble of rendering anything, why not just render the entire video?".

The answer is that it would be easy to render the 2D sections, but difficult to render the 3D sections, much more difficult then doing them by hand.

The pong section was pretty impressive, but still only involved changing a few tiles between each frame.

Look. The key diffrence between the 3D scenes is that the diffrences between the frames, in terms of the legos, is small. The whole scene isn't rebuilt, rather, a few peices are added or removed. They could have pre-built the "sprites" for the karate dudes, for pacman, etc. and simply swapped out the animations. A lot of the stuff where you build part of it, take a picture, build a little more, take a picture, and so on.

But for the video frames, they wouldn't have been able to do that. Tons and tons of pixels change.
posted by delmoi at 10:55 PM on August 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


yea, I was thinking motion control too. fun video.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:18 PM on August 23, 2009


Okay, I watched the video in HD, and there is so much subtlety in the brick spacing spacing between frames of the "video" sections, that there's no way it's rendered. It helps to realize the "pixels" aren't flat tiles, they're stacked 2x2 bricks.
posted by potch at 12:01 AM on August 24, 2009


I believe so. If you take a look at the last video on their website, they've used one there (at about 4:20).

Same "motion control rig" that's visible at 0:40 in that video?
posted by effbot at 12:44 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, all that just to convince me that they've got way too much time on their hands.

It was neat though.
posted by phylum sinter at 1:05 AM on August 24, 2009


Okay, I watched the video in HD, and there is so much subtlety in the brick spacing spacing between frames of the "video" sections, that there's no way it's rendered.

Wouldn't it be substantially easier to build an entire field of each color of brick, take a picture of each, then composite each "pixel" in software? That seems pretty easy - notice that the Lego grid is exactly squared with the video grid.
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:10 AM on August 24, 2009


I'd vote for the 2d scenes being real. If you watch a single colour area of them, the lighting and cracks flicker and change just as you'd expect them to for a real stop motion animation. I'm not an expert, but I have spent a lot of time looking at and rendering graphics as an amateur, and it looks real to me. That, and I can see a few hundred hours of mindless pattern placing seeming very reasonable to someone who's spent hundreds more doing more complicated animations.

I'd be more surprised if it turns out they did do them with some clever video work, because the combination of a person who cares enough to do all the other stuff in lego, but is then also snazzy with a video editing package and willing to fake it seems unlikely.
posted by lucidium at 2:43 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, these guys are from a tiny village in a farming district which is about as in the middle of nowhere as you can get in southern Sweden (the aesthetics in their other videos isn't some hipster irony - that's how everything looks at Västgötaslätten). They have all the time in the world to spend on fun stuff like this.
posted by effbot at 3:30 AM on August 24, 2009


Now look what you did:

Hello, this Is Rymdreglages new fancy website. But why this extraordinary with text and everything? Well after five years you people out there found us, at last, and start to visit this page. This site was obviously not made for that and reached the maximum limit of bit flow in one hour or something.

But it wasn´t much to see anyway. If you want to listen to the rest of our 44 songs and not only 8-bit trip (well 2 of the 44 is on youtube) you just have to be a little patient. Hopefully they will be on Spotify and Itunes and other modern places on what we call ajnternejt in a few days.

So thank you very much for visit our youtube chanel and keep on enjoying this site. If you stare at this text with crossed eyes for an hour or two you maybe able to reach a higher level but I am not sure.

2009-08-24 (just four month left to Christmas) /Rymdreglage.


I should have grabbed the ZIP archive before leaving for work :(
posted by effbot at 3:33 AM on August 24, 2009


I built a truck out of Lego once...
posted by nax at 4:00 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, all that just to convince me that they've got way too much time on their hands.

Yeah, why can't they just sit in front of the TV like everyone else?
posted by Fleebnork at 5:06 AM on August 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do you like the result regardless of how they did it -- is it the resulting film that fascinates you and would you like it as much if it looked identical but was all computer-generated? -- or are you excited because someone spent a school year of working days doing it with little plastic bricks?
posted by pracowity at 6:15 AM on August 24, 2009


1200 hours for the 2D parts is based on the piece swapout being 10 seconds each - whereas I think it probably took way less time; you pair up with one person calling out binary (black! black! black! gray! black!) and the other slotting pieces in; you can easily put in one every two person-seconds. Breaking them down can wait till after every N frames; no reason to believe they only have enough black/gray for one frame at a time. That part was still probably hugely outsized in cost-per-time compared to the rest of it, but I think it's reasonable. Imagine they hadn't done it, and they said "oh, yeah, this took 800 hours."
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:15 AM on August 24, 2009


Not to bring up Michel Gondry again, but after reading this discussion, I'm reminded of an interview I read once where he was disappointed that people were confused by the same thing in the Fell In Love With A Girl video. People thought the 2D sections were rendered instead of animated - mostly because they were animating according to a computer-plotted chart based on a pixel-filtered video sample, and as said above, there was nothing to suggest the blocks existing in 3d space. The result felt a little too smooth and didn't have the "animated" feel they wanted, so people were sure there was a cheat.

I have no idea if these guys really did it or not, but then I don't have all the time in the world. (Nor a team of interns doing my every bidding like Gondry does.)
posted by fungible at 7:41 AM on August 24, 2009


I can't help feeling a bit bored with all this 8-bit fascination and general 80's post modern revival (or is it ironic? Who knows? Who cares?). The great thing about 8-bit, day-glo, jump suits, electro, whatever-else-you-want-to-take-from-the-80's, was that it was new. It was something we hadn't seen before, it was technology giving us something exciting.

Now all we seem to get is backward looking nostalgia. Wouldn't it be great if these guys put all that time and effort into finding something new rather than something retro?
posted by ciderwoman at 8:20 AM on August 24, 2009


Wow.
posted by dejah420 at 8:29 AM on August 24, 2009


Wouldn't it be great if these guys put all that time and effort into finding something new rather than something retro?

Is that the equivalent of saying "wouldn't it be great of Glenn Gould would stop interpreting Bach and just compose his own music"?
posted by hippybear at 8:36 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


The great thing about 8-bit, day-glo, jump suits, electro, whatever-else-you-want-to-take-from-the-80's, was that it was new.

You know who wasn't around to experience all that "newness" in the '80s? Teenagers. They weren't even born yet. It's all new to them.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:42 AM on August 24, 2009


Is that the equivalent of saying "wouldn't it be great of Glenn Gould would stop interpreting Bach and just compose his own music"?


If you were in any way suggesting that lego has the same depths as Bach I'd consider that question, but I know you're not.

I'm just bored of post modernism, I guess. There was a post on here the other wek (apols don't have time to trawl) for a fitness video that was just the same, all ironic graphics and 8-bit soundtrack, and I have to say I just sigh a bit when these things come up. Ironic form doesn't make up for a lack of content.

Right now clothes are 80s, music is 80s and graphics are 80s. Thank god we've got a recession to make it really authentic.
posted by ciderwoman at 8:55 AM on August 24, 2009


Irony is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. I found it to be a labor of love, expending a huge amount of time to create something which had a specific look and feel to it which was appropriate to the medium used. And 8-bit music is, likewise, a way of adopting strict parameters which allows for freedom of exploration within those parameters. Some artists require narrowing their set of tools in order to give them boundaries to fight against. Otherwise, confronting the blank sheet can be too overwhelming to begin, sometimes.

If it isn't to your taste, say so. But to dismiss it as post-modern and ironic is, I think, doing a great disservice to the artists who have been working in this medium (8-bit music) for quite some time.
posted by hippybear at 9:04 AM on August 24, 2009


If it isn't to your taste, say so

Nope, nothing to do with my taste. I loved the Gondry video, but this, while admirable as labour of love, seems to me just more of the same. I'm all for artists narrowing their set of tools, adversity can often lead to some startling innovations, but beyond being a lot of work this doesn't appear to add anything to the x million other 8-bit lego things I've seen on youtube.

So congratulations to them for all the hard work they've put in, but again, I can't help wishing it was something more.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:10 AM on August 24, 2009


It didn't seem ironic to me at all. It seemed charmingly earnest.
posted by not that girl at 9:10 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


The great thing about 8-bit, day-glo, jump suits, electro, whatever-else-you-want-to-take-from-the-80's, was that it was new.

You know who wasn't around to experience all that "newness" in the '80s? Teenagers. They weren't even born yet. It's all new to them.


I think we boomers often forget that fashion - whether it be clothes, movies, music, or art - is for the young. That used to be us; now it's not.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:53 AM on August 24, 2009


I think we boomers often forget that fashion - whether it be clothes, movies, music, or art - is for the young. That used to be us; now it's not.

Really? Remind me to tell Anna Wintour, Zhandra Rhodes, D&G, almost every film director I can think of, oh I can't be arsed to go on save to say that the above statement is bollocks. You may have given up on it but it doesn't mean others have.

And anyway, it doesn't address my initial point in complaining about it all, that when it was done first time around it was genuinely something new whereas you could easily take something like the La Roux album and say it was a lost 80s album and people would believe you.
posted by ciderwoman at 10:06 AM on August 24, 2009


Wow, all that just to convince me that they've got way too much time on their hands.

This phrase (and its ilk) is one of the most obnoxious phrases on the Internet, if not the most.
posted by Legomancer at 10:09 AM on August 24, 2009


I found it to be a labor of love, expending a huge amount of time to create something which had a specific look and feel to it which was appropriate to the medium used.

My take also. Realising they're Swedish ("Rymdreglage" = Space lever/control) I paid a little extra attention. Seems at least the animator (Tomas Redigh) is somewhat active in the demoscene (e.g. his name popped up in some demo competition results from Dreamhack—a huge Swedish LAN party).

And just looking at the guys I'd say they're fun-loving Swedish computer/music geeks rather than the American hipster stereotype. I.e. a lot less "ironic snob" and a lot more "sincere love (of Lego/games/chiptunes/etc.) and general dorkiness."

The clothes etc. might lead one to believe they're ironic hipsters, but the superelaborate hyperesoteric fashion+music vanguard here in Sweden who actually are hipsters would never spend 1500 hours animating Legos.
posted by Glee at 10:09 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


You may have given up on it but it doesn't mean others have.

Excuse me? What have I given up on?
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:34 AM on August 24, 2009


Well from your last post, fashion. Apologies if I'm wrong but the phrase "That used to be us; now it's not" is what I'm basing this on.
posted by ciderwoman at 10:38 AM on August 24, 2009


I know, right? I feel for Petrarch, trying to be all "My classical Latin formalism, let me show you it" when he could have had ciderwoman telling how played that shit was.
posted by everichon at 1:26 PM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well from your last post, fashion. Apologies if I'm wrong but the phrase "That used to be us; now it's not" is what I'm basing this on.

I meant to say that the industries associated with each fashion (and the leading lights you mention) no longer are focusing on the desires of baby boomers, but rather on the culture of the young, since they are more heavily influenced by the rapid changes in popular fashion trends. Hence, they can recycle '80s fashions without irony and market them successfully. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "giving up on it," though. I'm not in the biz, just a consumer.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:01 PM on August 24, 2009


I know, right? I feel for Petrarch, trying to be all "My classical Latin formalism, let me show you it" when he could have had ciderwoman telling how played that shit was.
posted by everichon at 1:26 PM on August 24


Quite the opposite, everichon, if you'd bother to read my post. I don't think this has anything to it apart from nostaligic irony, that's what I don't like about it. That has nothing to do with Petrarch or Bach or any other artist, unless you consider them empty nostalgists as well. Do try and keep up.

You're right, mental whip, I do see your point now, and the young generation will always play with the tropes and motiffs of the generation before, I think what saddens me about all these 8-bit things is that they're less playing with them than just recreating them wholesale. What's the point of recreating an 8-bit computer character? Of course you can say why does there have to be a point, and the answer is there doesn't but I just find it a bit wearisome when it's done over and over again and still it says nothing.
posted by ciderwoman at 3:15 PM on August 24, 2009


Do try and keep up

Flagged as ADD-ist.
posted by everichon at 3:26 PM on August 24, 2009


When did this thread turn into grad student seminar thunderdome?
posted by mrmojoflying at 3:50 PM on August 24, 2009


you pair up with one person calling out binary (black! black! black! gray! black!) and the other slotting pieces in; you can easily put in one every two person-seconds. Breaking them down can wait till after every N frames

Except they have tons of legos that change each frame and then change right back. If they were doing it by hand, they wouldn't have had so many pointless transitions. As far as speed goes, while someone might be able to do it quickly then 10 seconds/pixel for a few minutes, there is no way they could keep up that pace for hour after hour day after day for months. It would quickly become mind numbingly tedious. And all just to achieve the same effect as a cheap computer gimmick (and yeah, simulating the gaps would not be difficult).

Also If they really had done it by hand, wouldn't they have used a more interesting camera angle on the lego field as it played?
posted by delmoi at 5:21 PM on August 24, 2009


Is it cynicism or jealousy that keeps you from admitting you're wrong?
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 6:30 PM on August 24, 2009


Is it cynicism or jealousy that keeps you from admitting you're wrong?

Oh come on. No one has presented any evidence that the videos are real other then the existence of "cracks" which they think are somehow impossible to fake with a computer.
posted by delmoi at 7:16 PM on August 24, 2009


Oh come on. No one has presented any evidence that the videos are real other then the existence of "cracks" which they think are somehow impossible to fake with a computer.

I've watched it several times, and I'm inclined to think the 2D stuff is computer-generated. I still think it's a splendid little movie.
posted by not that girl at 8:01 PM on August 24, 2009


So what did 8, 16, and 32 bit in video games refer to anyway?

This is actually startlingly complex. I've tried and tried to answer this, but it's really, REALLY hard to explain clearly without having to just about write a doctoral dissertation. I'm actually throwing away a long explanation here because it's just insanely over detailed. It would take me several hours, I think, to write this up, and I can't imagine any sane person really caring.

Short answer: 8-bit is a machine powered by an "8-bit" processor (which isn't completely true): Atari 800, Commodore 64, Apple 2, Nintendo Entertainment System, or machines of comparable power. 16-bit is a machine powered by a "16-bit" processor (also not entirely true).... PC up until about Windows 95, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, Apple Macintosh, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo. 32-bit sort of started with Windows 95. The first 32-bit consoles were Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox and later. This is an extraordinarily coarse approximation, only true if you don't look too closely.

Early machines were incredibly limited in terms of palette and memory, so they couldn't do much. 8-bit machines typically had no more than 64k of RAM, about 30 typewritten pages, to work with, and had to carry the operating system, the program, and all graphic and user data in that tiny space. They usually had maybe 200x200 graphics, if they even offered bitmaps, and rarely (never?) had more than 16 colors. 16-bit machines typically had about 512K, 640x480 or so, palettes of hundreds or thousands of colors, and MUCH more sophisticated ancillary graphics hardware. They were a giant leap forward. 32-bit machines are so sophisticated they can actually fool you into thinking that images are real. (see: Photoshop).

These homages are reminders of just how ridiculously limited those machines were, and yet what (relatively) amazing things the programmers of the era were able to do with them. "8-bit" in this context is riffing on having crappy graphics and rotten sound, but doing something neat anyway.
posted by Malor at 5:43 AM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you assume an average time of 10 seconds to change out a Lego

How do you manage to type so much with those sloth-like fingers of yours?
posted by chrismear at 6:57 AM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


"and rarely (never?) had more than 16 colors"

Didn't the Atari 800XL have some stupid amount of colours? (I'm sure this was done by cheating)
posted by ciderwoman at 8:01 AM on August 25, 2009


Just stumbled across this 8-bit Miles Davis tribute.
posted by cloax at 11:31 AM on August 25, 2009


and now a site-wide search has revealed an fpp already. disregard.
posted by cloax at 11:32 AM on August 25, 2009


ciderwoman: from what I can tell from Wikipedia, Atari 8-bits had 16 colors, as well as 16 shades of gray, but normally these were two separate display modes. There was a sophisticated hack that let programmers switch back and forth between the two modes on successive screen lines, allowing a row of color and then a row of brightness, which gave a pseudo-256 color mode. But it wasn't very accurate, and probably was good only for still images. They also refer to a multiply-interlaced "4096 color" mode, but that sounds like it was horrible to look at.

"16 colors" is a pretty fair first approximation, but like the rest of the comment, is only true if you squint and don't look too closely. :)
posted by Malor at 2:33 PM on August 25, 2009


Further, I'm drawn like a moth to a flame to that whole concept of "bitness". I tried desperately to avoid this in the original post, but I'm being drawn inexorably back as I clarify my thinking to myself. Please forgive me in advance. I know this is irrelevant to almost everyone. I'm compelled to post this: please don't feel compelled to read it. :-)

"8-bit" computers weren't really 8-bit -- a true 8-bit computer can address only 255 bytes of memory, the number you can uniquely specify with 8 address lines. (which are representations of bits -- either on or off.) Obviously, shipping computers supported 64k, which is 16 bits of addressing, so all early consumer machines were actually 8:16 hybrids. They used segmented memory. The 64k of RAM was broken up into 255 chunks of 255 bytes each. Your code would both be smaller and much faster if you kept your algorithms within the same page, because you could use opcodes that used just a byte as the address. Segment:offset addresses required two bytes, so they both took more of your precious RAM and ran slower, because the CPU had to load two bytes instead of one to figure out where to go. So, ideally, you broke your programs up into different "subroutines" of 255 bytes or less, and tried hard to avoid jumping between them except when you really had to. This is a very weird way to think, and made complex algorithms much harder than they should be.

"16-bit" computers took two main approaches. Intel, with x86, extended the segmentation idea; the original IBM PC and XT were 16-bit processors with 20 bits of addressing, or one megabyte. They divided system memory into 16 chunks (4 bits) of 64k (16 bits). Just like the earlier 8-bit computers, your code would run a lot faster if you stayed within the same segment, using two bytes for your addresses instead of three. Just like with eight-bit machines, programmers hated this passionately. Compilers started to obscure some of the messy details, but early string limits being 64k, for instance, came directly from this problem. So PCs were a hybrid 16-bit approach; you could call them 16:20, like the first generation was 8:16.

The other "16-bit" approach was the Motorola 68000, which was really a 32-bit computer with a 16-bit address bus. All addresses were 32 bits long. All registers were 32 bits long. Actual writes of values to memory happened 16 bits at a time, but this was largely invisible to you. You wrote 32-bit values, and the processor did two cycles of 16 bits, and you didn't see it. There was no segmentation, just one long view of memory. You also had a lot more registers to work with. Different architectures had different numbers of address lines available. The Amiga, for instance, offered 24 bits of addressing, or 16 megabytes of RAM; the upper 8 bits were meaningless on that architecture. This was a wonderfully clean approach. In the Amiga's case, you could call this a 32:24:16 hybrid -- 32 bits internally, 24 bits of addressing, 16-bit data bus. Calling this a "16-bit" computer was true, but only in the sense of the actual speed you could coax out of the hardware, not the architecture.

In most of the ways that mattered, the 68000 was a 32-bit processor. This was, as you can imagine, WILDLY superior from a programming standpoint, and was the reason that the 68000 lived so long against Intel's unbelievable process muscle. Eventually, Motorola just couldn't keep up with Intel anymore. After Apple abandoned 68K (and Snow Leopard, shipping this week sometime, will put the final nail in that coffin, dropping all 68K support), it faded into embedded devices, which is a real shame. Note that you can still buy 68000 processors, thirty years after they were introduced.

Once PCs shifted to actually running in 32-bit mode, Intel added another form of paging, PAE mode -- which allows for 36 address bits, or 64 gigs. Early versions of XP supported this fine, but SP2 and later disabled PAE mode, claiming driver issues. That's why XP is limited to 4 gigs of RAM, 32 bits of addressing. PAE mode is not as messy as earlier segment:offset approaches were, and doesn't impact code quality nearly as much. Individual programs are just 32-bit. They don't really know about the paging unless they need to monkey around at a driver or system level. The paging complexity happens in the OS. So Pentium+ machines can be sort of classified as 32:36 hybrids, but it's a much better hybridization than the earlier attempts.

And now, of course, we have 64-bit computers, which have taken an approach much like the 68000 of yore; addresses are just 64-bit, period, and the upper bits don't mean anything. This means that 64-bit address space is flat, and you don't have to do any weird crap to just talk to any memory you want. The actual physical address lines are far fewer (I think AMD has 40 address lines on current Phenoms, for instance, allowing a terabyte of main RAM), but adding more will be invisible and painless. On average, we use about 1 new bit of addressing about every 18 months to 2 years, so assuming that processes will keep shrinking indefinitely (which is probably stupid), 64-bit computers should last 50 to 60 more years before we start really feeling their limitations. A program you write today is likely to run fine on the physical hardware that ships in 2050, though whether the OS support will still be there is questionable.
posted by Malor at 3:47 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Malor (getting way off topic here), Snow Leopard drops PowerPC support. 68k support was dropped ages ago, with Mac OS 8.5.
posted by zsazsa at 9:28 PM on August 25, 2009


Oops, you're right, I got my chip generations confused. Thanks!
posted by Malor at 9:49 PM on August 25, 2009


getting way off topic here

Nope, you guys are right on point. Great stuff, very interesting!
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 10:14 PM on August 25, 2009


addresses are just 64-bit, period, and the upper bits don't mean anything.

I'm sure those bits are handled just like any others as far as memory protection and paging.
posted by delmoi at 11:58 PM on August 25, 2009


The Amiga, for instance, offered 24 bits of addressing, or 16 megabytes of RAM; the upper 8 bits were meaningless on that architecture.

There was an interesting consequence of having 32-bit addresses where the upper 8 bits were ignored by the first implementation of the architecture (68000 chip). Some programmers decided to get clever and use the ignored 8 bits to store other information for "free", efficiently making use of this "wasted space".

Subsequent implementations of the same architecture (e.g. 68030 chip) didn't ignore the top 8 bits of addresses, because their address bus was a full 32 bits wide. Programs that used the earlier trick to store some data for free crashed horribly on the later machines as a result. The history of computers is full of such clever tricks that turned into nightmares later on.
posted by FishBike at 8:01 AM on August 26, 2009


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