Flatpack Projects
Film, and then some

The wonderful world of Spectrum animation

Ian Francis
Tuesday 6th October, 2009 Posted by Ian Francis

Ginger beards and chunky pixels are temporarily back in vogue, with BBC4 drama Micro Men taking a satirical look at the early-80s computer wars between Sinclair and Acorn. Longtime 7inch viewers will know that ZX Spectrum Orchestra have been inhabiting this hand-coded world for many years, showing steely levels of commitment which go way beyond retro kitsch to create electro tunes and perfectly-formed animations on the most rudimentary processors. We took them to Norwich in a minibus a couple of years ago and it was a joy to see them getting mobbed by Sinclair fans at the end of the show. At our forthcoming event in London you can enjoy a brief 20Kb-sized retrospective of some of their finest film moments, including the premiere of new piece Alpha Omega.

alpha omega by ZX Spectrum Orchestra

In his background notes animator Mike Johnston describes the film's origins in the theories of mathematician Gregory Chaitin and a recurring dream about a ghost-ferry (which reminds me of the railway in Spirited Away). He also confesses that he has finally made the leap from working on an actual Spectrum to an emulator on his laptop.