While I had to explain the name of that effect on the French version on my blog, it suddenly becomes crystal clear here. Indeed a distorter is an effect showing a text or picture shaken or twisted by waves, ripples or other patterns. Maybe not the most beautiful effect yet it can be pretty technical I believe since you can distort the picture in different ways and of course the picture can be small or big, hence more or less impressive as well.
It appeared with the first batch of demos in the 80s and was more something of a technical challenge than anything else, something in the vein of the motto « try to beat this ». As a consequence screens featuring distorters looked quite raw as can be seen in the screenshot below taken from the 1991 Dark Side of the Spoon demo by ULM, a democrew mostly known for their crazy tricks and love for overscan (and fullscreen) effects, ie screens displayed on a larger surface than the usual screen size.
For a very long time distorters were nothing more than that : a pure coder’s effect with what we used to call « coder’s design » if you see what I mean. 🙂 Yet you can always find exceptions like the small and stylish distorter we can see in the 1993 Froggies over the fence demo by Legacy, Overlanders and St Connexion. Instead of being huge and « brutal » it is only one element among others making the whole screen really pretty and nicely designed as you can see by yourself :
Luckily enough more recent productions opted for this point of view offering us nice examples of distorters. We can enjoy some of them in the nice Mind Rewind demo (2003) by Reservoir Gods (see the video at the bottom of the page courtesy of Evil/DHS) or in the polished to the max Odd Stuff demo (2001) by Sector One and Dune shown below :
As the new generation of the distorters uses pictures instead of stack of « junk » elements the effect now really looks great. From a coder’s effect it has truly become a stylish one and I’m not lying when I’m writing that I really like it better that way 🙂
The short but also very nice looking Natrium demo by Rave Network Overscan released in 2011 won’t make me lie : distorter now is a beautiful effect and the following screenshot taken from the Fantasia demo by Dune and Sector One (2003) shows it as well :
I think there is no need for further explanations nor examples better move to video excerpts first with the Fantasia demo and its nice distorter effect :
The last video excerpt puts my consciousness a bit ill at ease (hope this sentence makes some sense to you) : for sure it is a distorter but this screen taken from the 1999 Suretrip demo by Checkpoint uses a very different technique (a combination of texture and c2p if you want to know) but I don’t want to get into coding details as I am totally green at this. All I can say is that to me this distorter belongs to the next generation of effects and is way more impressive than its ancestor. 🙂