Assembly'2003 party report
by Milan Kolarovic (a.k.a. Acumen)

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The very beginning August and the few weeks and even months prior to that, the time of sleepless nights and strain due to the upcoming event and competitions it hosts, all the above have become a very familiar to me after five years. Yes, it was time to get ready for another Assembly event, for the 5th consecutive time. I knew long before the event was even confirmed that year the 2003 and Assembly'03 along with it would act more as a sabbatical year for me. Due to extensive amount of hired work and active "real life" on top of that, I knew I wouldn't have much time to prepare material for the competitions this year. Also as time moves on and more ambitious projects are born and developed, the amount of time for one person to complete a project thoroughly naturally has increased aswell. My current main project(s) are most likely to see daylight at Assembly'2004, 2005 or even as late as 2006. I was however able to find enough time this year for one contribution. More of that later on. It was time to leave towards the party arena, more precisely to the oldskool area where I had obtained my "VIP" ticket this year aswell.

It's handy to have a party schedule of your own.







My video files:
Loading area on the first day 0.9mb
View of the dark party arena 1.2mb
Axes Denied at the concert 0.7mb
Purple Motion at the concert 1.5mb
Abyss jamming as PM performs 2.2mb
Some off-scene party activity 1.3mb

The four day event started at the Hartwall arena, in Helsinki city (Finland), on thursday 7th of August, and lasted until the weekend closed on sunday the 10th. This article views the event and competitions from my perspective and of those areas that I'm most interested in. I had brought my own digital camera, Sony Mavica CD500, with me to the event. Both the photo and videoclip amounts I took were huge, totaling to over 1GB of data.

Related links: - official website
Assembly'2003 final results - mirror's Assembly'2003 directory
MBnet's Assembly'2003 pages

Like in every year before, the event had grown a bit from the previous year. This ment more party visitors, more new ideas and more scheduled events aimed to please every party visitor. The growth and changes in the event and what it holds in have been slow and steady each year, which in my opinion is only a good thing. The event's future financially and in all other ways appears to be on a rock solid basis and quaranteed for years ahead with the current table of contents. There is no need for radical changes besides every die-hard scener's wish to exclude gamers from the event competely, but as for now Assembly offered something for everyone.

I got a ride back and forth to the event from my friend in his nice leather-seated Volvo S80.

Assembly'03 was visited by over 5000 party visitors, which doubtly includes single day participants, so the total number goes probably well over 6000 or even 7000. The amount of visitors each year has grown so that an alltime record has been broken each year. It's safe to say that Assembly is the Nordic's, perhaps even the world's, biggest demo-scene event, and it was here for the 12th time.

The Hartwall arena on thursday afternoon.

• Competitions in general

The number of competitions hadn't changed noticeably from last year, but as always there were changes with'in the existing competitions. Few competitions, such as browser demo (former flash compo) and freestyle graphics (former raytrace compo) had been altered so that they could be approached with more creativeness than before. Especially the freestyle graphics compo should fascinate more participants to enter their work than what it did as solely a raytrace compo, although those good at raytracing probably felt a bit left aside this year. I'll definetly attend the freestyle graphics compo from next year onwards, as long as the competition gives room to the use of photographic ideas, skills and realization. This method was already seen in the works of many competition finalists this year. There was also a number of unofficial competitions, such as tinymusik competition.


The Asus stand offered both knowledge and support to all those interested in over-clocking and modifying. Here's an AMD running at 4055GHz.

• Music competitions

Music competitions had gone under very little changes, only minor tweaks here and there. The instrumental, oldskool, vocal and fast music competitions gathered a reasonable amount of entries this year aswell, although I was sensing a diminishing factor in both the amount and quality of entries contributed this year in each of the compos.

The two main music competitions, vocal and instrumental, gathered around 200 entries altogether. I participated in both the vocal and instrumental music juries, for the 4th time since Asm2k. The number of music competition entries in general has gone down every year, but it hasn't reached a "panic button" -stage yet, atleast amount-wise. My only contribution for the competitions this year was a song called "Residue of Desire" which featured a very talented finnish guitar player Timo Toivonen. Luckily we had started co-working on the tune early on, and were able to evolve the song through many versions and sketches. For once I didn't have too many fishes to fry and distractions at the same time. This song was also the very first co-operative tune I had ever released, and it's already safe to say that it won't be the last. Ideas for new songs and themes carrying out unique sounds and styles had already began to form right after the Assembly.



The party arena before the lights were turned off.







The darkened party arena.

The instrumental music competition was won by !Cube with an orchestral song called "Acula class". Quasian also now re-emerged after many years of silence to the top 3 by placing 2nd with a song called "Mist of deceit". Firestorm of Doomsday wasn't as successful with his this year's music entries, and placed "only" at 4th position with a song called "Betrayal". However I'd expect he'll be making a return to the top in the following years as he told me his time to prepare this year's entries was very limited. My song called "Residue of Desire" finished 8th, which is a decent result as I've never been victorious in pure music competitions in the past either.

If there was one uniting factor seen in the competition, it would have to be the amount of movie soundtrack type of approaches in the final's 15 songs. I would have enjoyed to hear more songs in "traditional styles", as this type of orchestral songs in my opinion require strong visual "stimulation" to reach their fullest strength and intensity. However the efforts seemed to pay off as many of these orchestral songs did well in the competition. The overall quality in the competition was quite good, but perhaps not as high as I would have thought.

The big screen as my song (featuring Timo Toivonen) started to play.







A nice little addition to this year were these big volume meters which were active during the song competitions. They were build into about 12 separate stairways which located between the grand stands.

The vocal music competition was a bit more even as the point margins between the finalists weren't as large as in the instrumental music compo. Ten songs were selected for the final instead of the usual fifteen (see the "music jury process" part of my report to learn why). The competition's victory went to Aisth with a song called "Pearls", which was no suprise. The mastermind behind Aisth is better known as "Jugi" in the demoscene. Firestorm's song "The Way of Peril" was to be found on the 8th place, which is quite a drop compared to his last year's achievements. The competition's overall quality was modest, and my guess is that if the quality nor the amount of entries won't increase in the following years, the future of the whole competition could be in jeopardy. Atleast the competition and rules might get reorganized. However on the positive side I must say that there was a delighting amount of more rock-ish songs with quality and effort than before. In my opinion the diversity of music styles in such competitions is only a positive thing.

Jugi of Aisth collecting his reward after their victory in the vocal music competition.

The fast music competition presented 10 songs, out of which Ari "artz" Pulkkinen's song called "Back to Roots" won the game with a clear point margin. The author of the winning song has a history of victories in this particular competition. I actually visited Ari Pulkkinen's home studio on thursday, as his was working on his vocal music competition entry. The overall quality of the fast music competition has stayed somewhat on the same level from the beginning of the competition's history. The one and a half hour timelimit the competitors have can't understandably permit complex symphonies being made, but there's always been a clear favourite of the audience which has also won. The rules of the competition however could be tightened a bit, since it's rather easy to go around them. The sample set is released right before the competition's time starts, but it has always combined pretty much out of the same elements (few drum samples, few basses, etc). There's nothing stopping people from using pre-created melodies and patterns, and infact a whole song can be done by just assigning the given samples to their predicted places in a pre-arranged song made prior to the event. The fast music competition has never had many of entries, so if you're seeking the best way to get your work heard and winning chances maximized, this is the compo you should participate in.

Ari 'Artz' Pulkkinen receiving his winning diploma from the event's main organizer Jussi 'Abyss' Laakkonen.







Photo from my visit to Ari Pulkkinen's home studio on thursday.

The oldskool music competition has been dominated for a years by Britelite, but this was about to change. This year's victory went to Reed of Fairlight with a very clear margin to the second. Britelite's song "Popstar" gained the 4th position. One long era of Britelite's success in this competition now came to a small pause, but I'd bet he's already planning a new one to begin from next year onwards. The competition's overall quality was pretty good, no significant decrease of that was to be seen.


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