For once I am going to write about an effect whose name is clear enough ! Indeed what I would call by the name of chessboard seems most of the time referred to under the similar name of checkerboard. Never mind, all that matters is that you fancy a surface made of black and white squares. Did I forget to add that this « carpet » is always moving either from the left to the right or from the front to the background (or the other way round) ?
This is indeed a very old effect born with the very first demos on Atari ST, that is to say in the 80s ! Come to think about it I wouldn’t say that the checkerboard is a real effect. Oh sure it is born from programming but it is seldom alone on the screen, it is more like a background effect, here to set a « frame » in which other effects will evolve. As it is, the checkerboard plays that role perfectly !
This first example taken from mythical 1989 Cuddly Demo by The Carebears shows how a nice checkerboard can make the difference ! Even tho it is clearly very « oldschool » looking it still looks great. Here the main attraction comes from the red vectorballs and the additional text shaken by a distorter effect.
This superb screenshot comes from 1991 Cosmic Demo demo by The Watchmen and I have to confess that I have recently found out about this production ! And what a nice surprise this was with two very colorful checkerboards with nice vectorballs ! This screen is simply awesome even tho I can clearly say that I’m being a bit biased here. 🙂
The checkerboard that can be seen in 1993 Ventura demo by the Overlanders – yet coming as a guest part coded by the guys of Naos – is another example with a nice logo, a scroller, a moving background that scrolls upward and objects made of dots. All in one, another very nice looking screen ! In my humble opinion even an old effect can look good as as longs as coders and graphicians work together on new and stylish ideas.
As years passed on, especially in the 90s when demos focused on design, the checkerboard changed skin and was used in new ways as can ben seen in 1993 World of Wonders demo by Dune and Fantasy. Here it goes distorting frantically !
In the short but fast paced Alive demo by Zeal (1993), the checkerboard becomes part of the background to the end scroller and is displayed like a rotozoom (sort of as it doesn’t zoom). It shows once again, as if needed, that it fully plays its role as an adornment.
The checkerboard to be found in 1993 Humeur Vitrée demo by Hemoroids isn’t quite as peaceful as this time it does go zooming like mad ! This variation can be found in a couple of demos but it is a bit too « fast and furious » to me and I really like the good old checkerboard better. Anyway you will find a video excerpt at the bottom of this page that will help you fancy how it looks like. 🙂
To speak the truth I prefer the variation seen in other demos such as Necrosys (1994), still by Hemoroids. It is more a combination of a zoom and a checkerboard yet it is a colorful and slower way of seeing things that turns more pleasant than my previous example.
This effect has been seen so many times over the last decades that it can hardly amaze us any more. Yet it still appears in modern demos, mixed up with other effects and often displayed on larger areas of the screen, what is commonly called overscan. We have been give several nice examples as can be seen in 2010 Appendix demo and in 2012 Drone demo both by Dead Hackers Society.
A checkerboard can only be fully appreciated when moving so let’s have a look at some excepts starting with a tribute to some pioneers of the 80s, namely The Carebears with the famous Cuddly Demo :
Feeling dizzy ? Then don’t watch that video of Humeur Vitree by Hemoroids !
Let’s keep rocking with the huge zooming checkerboard from the Drone demo by Dead Hackers Society :
A last excerpt with the checkerboard marking the credits sequence of the Alive demo by Zeal :