Emulator vs. Video (Amiga)

category: general [glöplog]
This topic came in mind when collecting some great Amiga demos/intros for my Planet Scene CD.
Several people are always waiting for video versions of the famous Amiga demos after the big parties. But why not using an emulator when you don't have the real machine? Of course this will not work for PPC demos, but atleast for the great AGA demos there is imo no need for video versions. Despite the fact that still many ppl are ISDN or even modem users it's imo also more fun to watch a demo 'semi real' in an emulator instead of a video. Even the heavy Loonies intros 'The Castle' or 'Impossible' or the late TBL demos (incl. Magia) are running really nice here. So grab (Win)UAE (or a real Amiga of coz) and enjoy some kickass demos :-)
added on the 2003-05-09 02:30:36 by Crest Crest
erh, if you tried one of the latest uae versions .. you might have noticed something.

emulation isn't always right.
added on the 2003-05-09 10:21:14 by dalezr dalezr
I agree with you, Crest. So, could you tell me where to find a real good amiga emulator? What's wrong with UAE?
added on the 2003-05-09 10:40:16 by {OdS} {OdS}
emulation of Amiga on a PC is not very good in WinUAE if you don't have a really fast machine ... even if you had, some prods not run very well ... i still viewing demos on my 1200+040. I couln't see the PPC prods, but this is the stuff that i wait for video conversions to see it, for example, the last madwizards prod for breakpoint 03 (impresive!) ... for the rest, i prefer my old 1200 :D
added on the 2003-05-09 10:47:43 by humphr3y humphr3y
Currently there are three known Amiga emulators around.

UAE and WinUAE - it's versatile, and can emulate a any kind of chipsets and CPUs, but can't really deal with demos. Hence it's often referred the 'Useless Amiga Emulator.'

Fellow and WinFellow - a cute little ECS/OCS Amiga emulator, works quite correctly. The only but major drawback is that it only emulates ECS/OCS, and can't handle AGA, which means you can only watch old A500 demos with it. Furthermore, it sometimes applies some weird antialiasing on the image, and distorts the original picture.

Amithlon - it's actually a PC operating system that is compatible with AmigaOS. But it's rather an OS emulator, and not an Amiga emulator, it's aimed to run Amiga programs on PC, and not demos that push the limits of the hardware and exploit undocumented features.

To summarize, there's no real Amiga emulator. Despite of the high quality of today's C-64, Atari ST and other emus, nobody bothers to create some really working soft-Amiga. Hence if you really want to digitize Amiga demos, you'll need the help of a high quality framegrabber card, that costs around 200-500 Euros.
added on the 2003-05-09 10:58:22 by tomcat tomcat
Well, thank you for the info! Now I'll download and test, test, test, test....
added on the 2003-05-09 11:22:45 by {OdS} {OdS}
The same compatibilty problems apply to Dos/GUS demos running on Windows with GUSemu, SoundBlaster demos running on Windows with VDMSound and, I believe, all other home computer emulators out there (Amstrad CPC, C64, Sinclair Spectrum etc.).

I believe that, if there are people motivated enough to test a new Amiga AGA demo on UAE for example (like Crest in this case), they could report their findings on the production's comments. That way, more people may be interested in watching it using the emulator rather than using the video version.

Video is nice when you have nothing, but realtime, even when emulated is the only way you can possible reach high framerates in fast moving scenes. I watched the DemoDVD recently, and even there frames were inevitably chopped.

Finally, I think that reporting strange behaviour or bugs in a demo to the actual emulator developer is the only way to make any emulator even better.

I have seen chapi-chapo only with GUSemu (it runs, but has timing problems) and 9fingers also chops at some point, even on a reasonably fast PC.
added on the 2003-05-09 11:26:51 by moT moT
A base with divx of old demos that can't run in modern computers and emulators is an interesting thing. There are some historical AGA or ECS which I couldn't run for some reasons, and divx was the alternative option. It was nice to be able to run old PC demos from DemoDVD even through video, cause few of them are not able to run even on the 486 I have here. Actually, I wish someone could DivX the
demo Optic Nerve by Silents PC.

But yes! If it's possible to run some things with an emulator, and if it's easier for the watcher (Because when I first got WinUAE, it was a pain in the ass to find the Kickstart roms and Workbench and libraries and learn how to use the emulator, make a virtual HD, change some options that would give me speed, etc. Other people in my case, would prefer a video) then yes it's a better thing sometimes! Even with the real Amiga, I also had a lot of problems at the beginning to run it. That's why it's easier for someone who is totally illiterate with the machine, but just curious to see how an Amiga demo looks like, to get hold of some demos in DivX..

And the Amiga emulation has a lot of way in front. Other machines (especially the 8bits) have 95% emulated (There are some demos on CPC, C64 that won't run, but that's about 1%) but the Amiga is a beast and a big variety of demos, especially old demos using hardware techniques, won't run well or at all. Even AGA demos! New AGA demos makes it well, because they are mostly based in software effects. (3d and again 3d, TBL stuff for example) But just try to run Love by Fairlight for example on WinUAE, it's totally wrong at some parts! It's a great feeling running this demo on my A1200.
added on the 2003-05-09 11:38:59 by Optimus Optimus
To my experience WinUAE has become quite good at emulating demos, and with a fast machine almost all demos run 1-frame. Only problem is that the music/sync often is wrong, but if for most prods it's acceptable.
added on the 2003-05-09 11:41:25 by jar jar
that's what i was talking about. they were changing the sound-emulation quite often in the later releases of uae. the first versions were fine, but now it's impossible to enjoy anything in uae that makes use of the sound emu.
added on the 2003-05-09 12:40:32 by dalezr dalezr
The speed of WinUAE is actually a problem sometimes.
On my PC some demos don't run properly, because they're timed per-frame. Senseless by TBL I think is a good example, it runs WAY too fast.
And then there's other problems... The Castle (not cgx-version by the way) and When We Ride On Our Enemies create a very large swapchain in memory, and render frames ahead to get a more consistent framerate. But on my PC it's so fast that it actually wraps around, and I get a sort of split-screen effect.

Also, it's not entirely realistic that the demos run in 1 frame so easily... since most AGA demos run in 2 frames because of C2P.

And old A500 demos which use copper/blit effects heavily, often don't work (properly).

So I would prefer high-quality DivX recordings of actual Amigas, that will give you the most authentic presentation, and it avoids compatibility problems.

(I never had problems with the sound myself, by the way, I just tweaked the soundbuffer settings a bit).
added on the 2003-05-09 12:51:04 by Scali Scali
watching highend amiga demos is a great way to test your download speed every once in a while. the alternatives would be pr0n, games and linux distros... not a difficult choice imho.
added on the 2003-05-09 14:18:33 by havoc havoc
The Amiga emulators are of course quite far away from being perfect, but personally I have no real problem with demos like Perfect Circle or intros like The Castle (sometimes display errors at the top of the screen). But I can confirm that several older AGA demos aren't really that enjoyable with WinUAE, the Deep Psilocybin Remix is just one example. It seems that atleast the current UAE versions are more friendly with heavy 060 code, on the other side I'm not trying for every old AGA demo another UAE version (that's for the hardcore freaks). 'Passengers' by Three Little Elks is a quite good test demo for UAE because you can choose from many different quality settings within the demo.
For ECS/OCS demos I also prefer clearly the (Win)Fellow emulator, I'm normally not watching ECS demos with UAE.

But for a real high quality DivX you will also need a quite powerful machine (besides the HD space and a broadband inet connection). Just take the Raw Confessions video as an extreme example. Atleast on my pIII-450 it's not really enjoyable (and referring to comments also on more powerful machines), but maybe it's also encoded in a strange way.

In general watching demos isn't just 'Plug 'n Play'. For the first DOS demos you had probably also to fiddle around with different configurations until you found the near perfect one. And even with the Windows era running demos can be still quite tricky.
added on the 2003-05-09 16:36:24 by Crest Crest
scali: yup, on a real amiga it's safe to assume that chipram write speed is slower than the raster scan (as long as it's interleaved mode), so you can cut down latency/and or get another buffer that way :) It would be nice with a 7mb/s limit to chipram in uae...

Even if many demos are running about runframe on uae (ofcourse many are actually limited to 2 frames), it's still not as good/smooth as the "real thing" because of the different scan rates etc.. But for slow stuff like little nell etc. uae is great, as long as the sound sync tweaking works. (and ofcurse stuff like 14 bit audio etc. doesn't really work)
added on the 2003-05-11 00:01:31 by Psycho Psycho
I usually first try the demo in UAE, and if it doesn't work I wait for the video.
added on the 2003-05-11 10:44:12 by dairos dairos
video look fugly, i prefer emulators
emulators play crap, video is better
added on the 2003-05-11 18:08:58 by tomcat tomcat
I prefer videos, if they're encoded decently that is.
added on the 2003-05-11 19:34:19 by tomaes tomaes
Emulation is for GAYS. And you're not GAY, are you?
added on the 2003-05-11 19:39:50 by hooligan hooligan
no, i prefer REAL HARDWARE
added on the 2003-05-12 00:56:06 by havoc havoc