New Beginnings

In 2020 I participated in the Small File Film Festival, presented by Simon Fraser University. The thesis of the festival is that all submissions must be under 5 megabytes. A few years prior, I had pursued a business idea of selling albums on Gameboy Advanced cartridges (it fizzled out after I got banned from Tindie, SAD). Through this, I had encountered METEO, an incredibly unstable Windows XP program that converts video files into ROMs playable on the Gameboy Advance. I assume this was sold along flash carts to compete with the PSP. It’s never a good idea to pick the medium before picking the message, but that’s never stopped me before. One of my favorite albums of that year was BUY NOW by Eyeliner, a super unique sound. Track 9, Chit Chat, always sounded like the theme to the end credits of a game, and the duration is about what fits on a cart with reasonable compression. So I decided to make a compilation of game endings set to this, on the original hardware. So I assembled a bunch of longplays of GBA games (my favorite was this Spiderman game, where the devs photoshopped themselves into stages, wonderful), and picked out the best points. I edited it all in native resolution, because adobe premiere is fine working at 240x160px. After putting some filters to compensate for compression, I generated a GBA ROM from the video file, which was WILDLY over 5 MB. Turns out the weak CPU of the GBA (along with being a sketchy program from 2004) meant that the bitrate for even a 240x160 video was pretty high without really compressing it. After an afternoon of changing parameters, I got it under 5MB, although at a lower quality than I expected. The artifacting kind of defeats the purpose of using GBA games as the source (I could’ve used any). In a perfect world, I would’ve extracted the sprites from each game, but that would’ve been far too intensive.

I got to attend the Zoom film festival, and won “Best Cross Platform Work”, and some money. Nice!

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.