I decided to call this effect by the name of lavalamp as it looks like a plasma merging with metaballs. Think about round shapes colliding, merging then moving on with a coloured background. It should remember some of these psychedelic bottles with bubbles that move endlessly. Anyway this effect comes in two flavours even tho I should add right now that I am fully aware that they result from completely different coding formulas, one of them being more line a sine curve. Yet they both remind me of a lavalamp this is why I decided to write about them in this article. You shall blame me for this choice later. 🙂

The most classic shape looks like two or three waves combining. To me it is not very technical yet quite pleasant to the eye as can be found in 1993 Alive demo by Zeal :

You cannot see it but the waves keep moving of course.

When it wears this presentation I would rather see it as a transition effect or a simple ornament in a text screen. It would take ages if I wanted to set a list of all demos that features this kind of lavalamp effect as it really used to be very common (yet enjoyable). Fortunately some coders managed to make it more interesting and a lot more consistent as the example you can meet in 1994 Phantom demo by Arkham :

Darker colors immediately add some depth !

The second shape worn by the lavalamp looks way more impressive as you can witness dozens of bubbles moving around and merging into a coloured liquid. Sure, it has to be a matter of taste but I love this effect ! Have a look by yourself with the earliest attempt as can be seen in 1993 Humeur Vitrée demo by Hemoroids (by the way you can also find the first shape of a lavalamp in this production).

Isn’t it awesome ? I never grow tired watching it !
A most classic example in the rightly entitled Lavalamp demo. This is a collaboration between MJJ Prod and Checkpoint and it is very pleasant to the eye courtesy of graphic artist Exocet.

As time went by, many effects have gone through changes, improvements or updates and so has our lavalamp. Now it is more complex, sometimes displayed in overscan and it benefits from better looking motives. In the end it still amazes us !

Have a look at the following screenshots : the first comes from innovative 2013 MonogAtari demo by Cerebral Vortex. It is one of the very few demos running in high resolution (understand 640 by 400 with a single color) and that makes a real difference !

high resolution and a great grid effect as well !

The second example uses the regular screen resolution (320 by 200) and as a consequence it can display 16 colors (of course it looks a bit blocky too). It comes from 2003 Posh demo by Checkpoint. Even tho they are different, both really look great, don’t you think so ?

Well, that’s it, I think that all has been said. Once again I need to point out that I know that some of the examples cited above are not really what I call a lavalamp and to speak the truth I am not even sure this effect has a name but who really cares ? 🙂

As usual we close this topic with a few video excerpts starting with 2009 Cernit Trafandir by Dead Hackers Society a demo that shows gorgeous lavalamp waves in overscan. What a treat !

Then we enjoy the colorful bubbles from 1993 Humeur Vitrée demo by Hemoroids :

And we make a final stop to admire the undulating shapes that entertain us in 2003 Posh demo by Checkpoint :