Group in Focus: Nuance

Written by Magic of Nah-Kolor

Hugi had an ultimate meeting with Raven and Cosmic about their group Nuance.

"The NUANCE DEMOSCENE FAMILY is a loose non-profit-organisation of several multimedia artists creating extremely creative and technically advanced multimedia presentations. A short explanation on what the demoscene is and what demos are can be found over here. We have coders, graphicians, musicians, 3d-artists and some more creative parts that work together as a unit to create multimedia-presentations that are different from ordinary presentations. We try to push the limits of both... the technical and creative side. It's a hell lot of work, but we do it just for fun... and to gain experience."

Description aired on the Nuance Website.

Introducing Raven and Nuance

Nuance celebrated its 20th birthday in 2011. Time for Hugi to finally find out what Nuance is all about. Hugi had an exclusive audience with Raven. "My name is Harald Wittmaack, but my friends just call me Harry and also a lot of my friends outside the demoscene call me 'Rabe', which is just the German word for

'Raven'. In real life I'm born in 1972, I live in the south of Germany in the beautiful city of Ulm and I'm working as project manager and lead graphics designer in a company that covers software development as well as design related stuff like print design, web design and entertainment design. Beneath that I'm doing freelancing for a major game publisher in terms of rapid prototype sketching, but that's more for fun than for money. I seriously started doing 'graphics' on the C=64 in 1989 with quite some friendship stuff for cracking groups and game companies. Sadly most of this stuff is lost because of disc failures. I continued doing graphics on the Amiga, where I founded Nuance together with some others. I was just stunned of the possibilities the Amiga gave me in resolution and colors", Raven tell us and continues:

"Nowadays I mostly do 2D graphics on the PC, demodesigns and organizing in and for Nuance. People quite often tell me that my pictures and logos can be easily spotted as 'Raven style'. That's quite right, at least concerning the techniques I use at my demoscene digital paintings. I heavily use the smear function to give them a smoother look and I paint them directly at the target resolution. When painting for customers or the prototype stuff I use huge resolutions and paint only using brushes. At the end it gets resized to the target resolution. Et voila. Demoscene painting means the freedom to create whatever I want in the way I want it to. Even if other artists devilish my use of the smear function in Photoshop! This just helps me to create 'My style'. Quite often I stick to the good old 'demoscene motives' like strange creatures and women. Just because there isn't anything more beautiful than a woman's body (besides what I call a beautiful mind, which is with no doubt the most beautiful thing there is) and there isn't anything that is more the opposite of it than creatures, dragons and scary stuff. Possibly it is just melancholy of the old demoscene pixel days. Who knows. But melancholy is normally not my preferred type of feeling."

But when, how and by whom did Nuance get founded? What's the story behind Nuance? We kindly asked Raven to go back in time and share with us the very beginning of Nuance! Raven shares with us: "When I moved away from the Commodore 64 scene in my early days, I teamed up with several guys (Professor, Frenchy, Lomex and some more) living in my area of southern Germany, Ehingen/Donau near Ulm that is.. We often met for watching demos, eating tons of Pizza, doing endless Amiga sessions and started doing first stuff on the good old Amiga 500. We worked some time on several things and developed our skills on the Amiga as most of us were just active on the Commodore 64 before. It finally was the 11th of November 1991 when we founded NUANCE together and released our 'Introduction Intro' to the demoscene. Soon after we also started meeting with the demosceners in our area from Sanity, ByteBusters, Travellers and Elicma."

Nuance - Going multiplatform

Nuance is originally an Amiga group. But later on they released productions on quite a lot of platforms. Raven, can you tell us something about this? "We started out as a pure Amiga group and released stuff on the Amiga for quite a while, but after some time a lot of members lost interest in the demoscene and in between we had the common problem that we had tons of composers and 2d designers but no coders. We started to do some wild stuff and got some more attention, which made it possible to recruit coders on other platforms and started working on them. We liked to discover other platforms and release demos and intros on platforms like GBA, Xbox, Linux, Nintendo DS and lately we're also active on the good old Vectrex. We're planning to do some things for even more oldskool platforms, just because it's fun and brings new challenges. We have quite some old hardware floating around but since we're all working in stressy jobs... things take more time! Overall we'd love to do releases for the Amiga again, but we're still lacking appropriate coders for it", Raven comments.

Zcareplex mk5 and Sommerville

On Breakpoint 2010 Nuance ended on a 5th place in the PC demo competition! The demo was called Zcareplex mk5. The demo was created by Cosmic and Pro of Nuance. Then there was Sommerville. 2nd placed demo at Revision 2011. Code, textures and 3d modelling by Pro, music by Noisefever, 3d moves and modelling by Marlitt and finally 2d graphics, textures by Raven. This demo got a second place at Revision 2011. Quite a nice demo with cool firework routines and a nice dance on the roof of a house. Some scenes look like ASD's "Happiness around the bend". At the end of this article you find a youtube link to this demo.

The title of Nuance's Breakpoint 2010 demo, Zcareplex mk5, doesn't make heads or tails for me. What is the explanation of this demo name? Cosmic explains: "I know this sounds really complicated and no one ever will be able to fully remind this one. I kind of find 'scary' is a cool word and I prefer to put my angers into my pictures and designs rather than against other people (others should do the same). I found the combo of 'Scare' and 'Plex' quite nice and I always replace 'S' as 'Z' in most of my titles, this leads us to the 'Zcareplex' part of the title. I just added the 'mK5' for a plus of coolness! It just sounded for me as there is a version 1 to 4 and the 5th one was the one for the release. Let's call it 'posing'!"

Some scenes in Zcareplex mk5 resamble some that can be seen in a few Plastic demos. Did Nuance get some inspiration from this Polish group? "Not really. I've read on Pouet that some think the demo is quite 'Plastic or ASD wannabe'. I find the demos from Plastic and ASD quite great (respect!), but copying their style is not my/our intention. This really wouldn't work and it would be dead boring! At no point of the creation of the demo it was intended to copy one of these styles. They do their thing and we do it our Nuance way. Would be a weird feeling to see someone copying us just because he likes our demos.

Did ZPL really look plastic like? Can't understand that one. They're more 'crispy' and 'more sparkling" than we are! :D My personal inspirations come from traditional artists like Bekinski. He's a cool guy and he already has been copied by Giger enough! I'm mostly influenced by the intros I've seen in my youth with sinus scrollers and copperbars. That's the kind of stuff I would love to reuse with today's technology", Cosmic comments and continues: "I personally want to add, that we never try to copy anyone's style. If you have a closer look on the NUANCE demos you can even see who was the lead designer of the releases. The ones I do together with Pro are usually more influenced and driven by heavy 2D stuff and less 3D, even if we mix this up much more in the latest demos. At ZPL-MK5 you can see a clear difference between Cosmic's style and mine. We're quite different when it comes to design, storyboards and the way we approach new demo designs. But this adds a nice flavour to all the stuff we do. Basically we do what we feel to do without any consideration what is 'hip at the moment'. Nothing more. Nothing less."

The Ultimate Meat-Thing BBQ

Nuance is known for holding a free BBQ at the ulimate meeting parties at the end of the year. How did the BBQ tradition start? Could Raven tell some anecdotes about the organized bbq's and will Nuance continue with this tradition? Raven starts his story: "It started out in the year of the NVision party. (2008 -ed) We realized most releases will be going to this event and even if we got one of the demoboxes, we felt that we have more responsibilities for the small demoscene parties than one single commercial event that surely helped the US demoscene but sucked most releases of smaller parties. Still it defines the quality and therefore the future of small parties if quality releases can be expected or not. So we shortly decided to release our demo at the Buenzli and not at NVision.

We had long discussions about this. Especially Pro and myself discussed quite hard and concluded that it is the best decision to release the demo at Buenzli. But we wanted to do more and finally decided to put all the prize money we would eventually get into a barbeque with the demoscene we love so much. It turned out we won both, the demo compo and the jury prize, which made us happy because we knew that the 450 EUR secured the barbeque from the financial point. We found 'the Ultimate Meeting' was the perfect place to do the barbeque. The real party is outside. Even in Winter. 'the Ultimate Meat-Thing' was born! It was such a nice experience to barbeque and party with all the demosceners and friends that I decided to put my money (and some other Nuance members teamed up) into it and rearrange 'the Ultimate Meat-Thing' again in 2009 and once again it made us smile!"


The demoscene goes trough new eras from time to time. Revision has replaced Breakpoint for example. The awards went from Germany (Breakpoint) to Norway (The Gathering) and now to Finland (Assembly). What is Raven's view on the next couple of years of demoscene frenzy? Raven: "My view on the demoscene has always been the same: Creative people gather to create stunning visual arts in several fields. The sentence 'the demoscene dies' is one of the sentences I heard too much already. Possibly because everyone is afraid of the changes the demoscene undergoes. But ask yourself: Can the demoscene be dead with so much people active, even if some of them are old? I'm 37 and I'm still active. A lot of the older demosceners returned to the scene and still there are some newcomers. In my humble opinion the demoscene will continue for a long time. Even when Revision replaced Breakpoint. But there are so such more parties worth visiting to feel the true demoscene spirit. The scene definitely changes. But not for the worse. More people become active on oldskool platforms again. I restarted doing C=64 graphics in early 2009 and it's huge fun! I have no fear of the future concerning the demoscene. You shouldn't either. Just don't talk of "the end" and do what we all do best: DEMOS! Gathering in friendship! Learn from each other! It's the most fun part of it all!"

As usual there is always an ending to an article. Before we leave Nuance and Raven we asked Raven what the demoscene can expect from Nuance in the future. "As you all noticed we've regularly been making PC demos for years even if most of us have jobs that demand much more of the sparetime than the ordinary jobs. Still we manage to find inspiration and the motivation to go on. We're still searching for new grounds to do things for and team up with other groups to do so. Latest example is the Vectrex Demo 'Lineart' we did together with Metalvotze. Working with other teams and demosceners of other groups together will most definotely become a growing aspect", Raven comments and concludes: "We also would love to be more active on the oldskool platforms like Amiga and C=64 and heavily search for talented new members. We're working on several parallel projects, but all of them just take time. The barbeque is, as said, already in planning stage and I'll secure the financial aspect of it again, just because it makes me happy to barbeque with all the sceners. In 2011 we have celebrated our 20th anniversary and we surely have enough motivation and inspiration to continue for years. Overall this is just what we want... contribute to the demoscene and party with friends."

Links related to this article

Official Website


Nuance releases at Pouet

Sommerville demo on youtube