This is impressive and actually looks like a real movie scene. And to think this only fits in 256 bytes makes you rethink how bloated the things we are using everyday are and also how powerful current browsers are.
I am however more impressed by the 8K demos such as "the Sheep and the Flower"  which was shared on HN recently or "One of those days"  which is a remake of an actual Youtube video  (granted not exactly the same video by the second but the style is immediately recognizable). They are way bigger than this 256 bytes movie but convey a lot more graphics and story.
If you nest any valid elements inside an unknown element like <asdf>...</asdf>, browsers just ignore the invalid wrapper element but still display the nested children. This fact is exploited by spec authors when introducing new tags to allow backwards compatibility: elements like canvas, video and audio all specifically allow optional children that are automatically hidden - but they won't be hidden in older browsers that don't know about the new elements. This allows you to easily define arbitrary fallback content for older browsers that don't support the new elements, just by nesting children in them.
I can't stress enough how much I admire that it is true 256 bytes, instead of usual 1k game jams, where submissions are presented as zipped, gzipped, and postfixed, and not including assets to fit the criteria.
> [...] where submissions are presented as zipped, gzipped, and postfixed, [...]
Well, you can always include a decompressor in your entry. PNG bootstrap has been popular enough in the JS demoscene for a long time and it starts to be effective for 1K or larger demos. There are other alternatives for smaller sizes, and 256B demos just happen to be too small to put any kind of decompressor in general.
> [...] and not including assets to fit the criteria.
That “YouTube explanation” doesn't actually explain how any of the Dweets work. Don't get me wrong, his work is amazing, I loved seeing it and I'm excited to listen to him show it off; I'm just saying that anyone looking for a detailed walkthrough of how any of it works, that video will disappoint.
Stuff like this makes me believe that the entirety of life really could be encoded in DNA. I've read that if you gzipped the human genome, the file would be about 4MB, which intuitively seems too small to represent a human. But if this behavior can emerge from 256 bytes, then clearly my intuition is off.
4MB are enough to discriminate between 2^(3.2 * 10^7) possible states. Suppose you have a decompressor that can interpret a percent of a percent of a percent of a percent of those states as functional lifeforms. There are about a trillion species on the planet; let's say there are a trillion times as many potential species that don't currently exist and a trillion variations within each. And then let's multiply by another trillion for good measure. Wolfram Alpha tells me we've left a margin of error of roughly* ten to the ten million.
Is a misconception that DNA is enough by itself to replicate a living being, there are biological bases in the embryon that need to be pass down from the parent as biological infraestructure for the new being to form.
But in theory, would it be possible to genetically engineer a simple life form, like a bacteria, to eventually produce a human, in a process similar to the kind of metamorphosis you see in insects. Of course, this the bootstrapping code would take quite some space, but if we could do that (at least in theory), it essentially means that all you need to make practically any living being is a single generic cell and a few megabytes worth of data encoded as DNA.
I mean, when we get infected by a virus, our cells are able to produce a completely different life form (if you consider viruses life forms), so why not going from a bacteria (which can also be infected by viruses) to a mammal. It will obviously take a lot more code, and evolution can't get us there, but the idea is similar.
Life generated from DNA in a vacuum would probably be pretty boring. The entirety of life requires some surroundings to interact with, and as it stands there is but one of those, and singular things don't compress well.
Also, have a look at the Mandelbrot set again. There's quite a lot of information in, arguably, a very modest process.
And finally, to suggest that these 256 bytes are less impressive than they are, consider what hardware and software is needed to support it. These 256 bytes would not lead to the same illusion on a C64.
Can someone explain to me what are we seeing in the short film? I see some black and white animation with boxes moving and some noisy lines on it. But I'm not sure I understand what it means. Anyone can help me understand?
What's remarkable about it is how small the file size is.
It's 256 bytes!
To explain how impressive that is, the entire film itself is about 58 times smaller than a screenshot of the film's first frame. You could fit the entire film on a 1.44mb floppy disk over 5000 times and still have some space left over.
Normally, videos are made up of a series of images with some information in between that says which part of an image goes where.
But this film contains no image data. It only has some math for drawing boxes at different brightnesses at different times.