Author Topic: Interview with Loaderror / Ephidrena  (Read 1825 times)

Offline 4pLaY

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Interview with Loaderror / Ephidrena
« on: March 26, 2020, 08:41:17 PM »
Hello Loaderror. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello!

I'm currently living in Shanghai/China with my wife and baby girl. In my daily job I do GPU driver development for ARM. Just turned 40 this summer. Waiting for my 40 yo crisis to kick in.

When I'm not in front of the screen you could find me playing company football (the most extreme of extreme sports), drawing something on paper, studying Chinese. I love eating so Shanghai is a good place with its wide variety of food.

In the demo scene I try to push out at least one production every year. I have a todo-list of stuff I want to try out. Just implemented something I had thought about for 11 years last Sunday. It finally took one evening to do it.

When did you get interested in computers and what was your first computer?

I got addicted to C64 early (5-6 years age) and I would run away from home to play on this computer at my relative's home. My parents then got me an Atari 2600 where I played classics like E.T, Galaxians and Joust. After a couple of years my second cousin visited with a C64 and showed me variations of the program:

10 PRINT "hello"
20 GOTO 10

Which I thought was incredibly neat. My parents later bought a C64. Starved of games I started copying Basic programs from the C64 manual. What really got me interested in coding though was the dreadful US Gold arcade conversion of Vigilante for the C64. That pile of trash made me think I can do this better. I still got this Vigilante C64 rewrite on my bucket list.

Later on, my second cousin brought along an Amiga 500 and showed me Mental Hangover and Budbrain Megademo. He told me how some of the effects were "impossible" and I loved the end part of Budbrain. This is how I learned about the demo scene.

Do you still have any Amiga(s) today? If yes, which ones and what configuration(s)

I have an Amiga 1200 with a 060 and 64 MB RAM back in Norway. It is currently serving as Slummy's test machine. I also may have an A500 somewhere and a Pegasos 2.

Can you tell us how you got involved with the demoscene?

My first encounter was through my second cousin showing me Budbrain Megademo and Mental Hangover on Amiga 500. Then fast forward a few years to 1995 and a friend asked if I wanted to go with him to Bush Party 2. At the time I was a fan of demos, but I only knew how to get them by magazines or ordering them through PD companies (yes).

He cancelled the trip, but I went anyway. Once there, I didn't know anyone, but I had a bit different demos compared to other Amiga guys and I had a 030 so people came to me to try how various demos ran on it. This way I met Accede/Romeo/O2/Xhale and the LostVision guys and many others. I joined Codbowels as a graphician at the time. This group renamed to Astra Syntex and then finally Donut Fetish. Later I went to Odyssey 95 where I met Frequent and Cyberstarr. Soon after we formed Ephidrena.

Can you tell us a bit about the story behind your group Ephidrena?

I can only speak from my own memory, hope it is correct :)

Ephidrena was founded in 1995 by Cyberstarr and Frequent at the Odyssey 95 demo party. The name stems from a Future Sound Of London tune called Ephidrena. This tune got a lot of horse samples! We liked to listen to underground music such as FSOL, Autechre, Aphex Twin, Orbital, ambient, drum and bass, goa trance etc. For me it was a revelation to meet these guys, since in my home town I didn't know anyone who liked this kind of music and I didn't know where to get it either. So Frequent became my main provider of cool music and sent me a lot of mix tapes.

Our somewhat unified music taste helped inspired a lot of our demos. Often paired with roughed up graphics and typography. For many demos the graphics were made using natural media such as oil paint on canvas. Plastic covered newspapers with oil paint. Music made from banging objects together in front of the microphone or playing toy instruments. Also, photos taken by ourselves rather than stock images from the internet. The dymo font in Fake Elektronik Lightshow comes from a real dymo writer etc. I think it livened things up to put real stuff into the process. On our latest demos it has all gone a bit too digital I think.

In the first year we had the members Cyberstarr, Frequent, Loaderror, Zixaq, Stoney and Cheetah. Later we had the fresh forces of Nerve and HOW joining us bringing in Atari power to the mix.

Always liked how these guys like to finish things and release. So if something is made, it doesn't go to waste because a project gets abandoned. From my early scene career I felt a bit let down whenever making something and it wouldn't get into a released demo. With Ephidrena, I felt everyone were very serious about finishing every prod we started. It was also a great group to learn in. Frequent and Zixaq taught me much about music (from slamming my old horrible Octamed mods). I learned a lot of asm from Cyberstarr and Accede/DNF. And Cheetah and Stoney taught me about the world of crazy typography design and what good looking colors are supposed to be like.

In our first years, we met quite often in person to make demos before a party. I have fond memories from our gatherings with pizza and coke and demo making in Zixaq's basement. We still keep in contact on the internet and at least the guys near Oslo meet from time to time for fun and party.

I could go on forever I guess. :)

Do you remember which tools you used back when you started out, and what are you using these days for development?

In the beginning we used these tools

Then:

- Brilliance => Pixel graphics, overlay animations
- Truebrilliance => 24-bit graphics, textures
- Sagakrakken => Some home made tool to combine a true color image with a light image
- Imagine => 3D
- Amos 303 emulator => 303 sounds in the swaptro
- Loaderror's Amos sample generator => samples in Photons
- Protracker => Music
- Toy instruments from Zixaq's basement => Music on Photons Dodraugen demo
- Golded => Coding editor
- PhxAss => Demo coding
- AsmOne => 4k Intro coding
- Octamed => Goa trance compo entries
- FastTracker => Multichannel compo entries

Hardware:

- Standard: Scanner, Amiga, Pc, Camera
- Acrylic paint and brush => Backgrounds in Janne Ahonen and Adam Malysz
- Dymo textwriter => Fake elektronik lightshow overlays
- Cans, toy cars, coins, tumble drier => Adam Malysz and Janne Ahonen sounds

Now:

- FS-UAE / WinUAE => Emulator
- Sublime, Atom, vim => Editor
- Vasm/Vbcc/Clang => Coding
- Gimp / Photoshop / Brilliance / Inkscape => Graphics
- Maya / Lightwave / Blender => 3d
- Assimp => 3d importer/exporter
- Real Amiga => Test
- Asmone => intro coding
- Shadertoy => Create tables and stuff
- Reason, Renoise, ++ => Music

Custom homemade stuff:
 
-- Sliced-palette picture converter
-- Streaming music converter to eph sound format

Hardware:

- Phone, Mac, PC

Do you have some tips for anyone that might want to start doing Amiga productions in 2020?

There has been released several good demo frameworks lately, with cross-dev setup and everything. For example, the one from Haujobb released recently. So if you want to get quickly up and running and ready to create some effects I would use one of those.

Watching the videos from Photon`s YT channel could be a nice 2020 way to get into Amiga coding as well.

I have a feeling many start making an Amiga prod, but never finish it because there is a lot of boring basics to get over before you get to the visual/audible parts. Such startup code is really a major creativity killer.

What would you consider the best production you worked on and why?

From a technical standpoint, the latest demo is usually the best, as it will have something new and exciting we couldn't do before. I'm happy with those tunnels/balls on Knarkzilla for my own reasons, although nobody else really will notice what those were about :)

"Fake Elektronik Lightshow" is probably my personal favorite as it has got a mix of hip-hop, chip, acid, graffiti, rubber objects coming up from the underground, stupid texts, Dymo font and even some Swedish danseband acts all in one package and it feels kind of coherent. The spitfire part was arguably a bit off the first 100 times I watched it, but now it feels just right as well.

Most of the demos got a story behind them. They are a great way to remember the old days.

F.ex, Janne Ahonen was made by me and Cheetah in a stabbur, without the other guys knowing about it. Even when they were at times inside that same stabbur while it was getting made. So we had to switch our screens to something irrelevant, whenever they came around to look at what we were doing.

The last pieces of "J " was made while on a boat. Known as "Lugarkoding". The J'_ was going to become our non-pronounceable symbol and replace Ephidrena over time. Just like when Prince tried to ditch his name in favor of his own symbol and became "the artist formerly known as Prince". Sadly it only stuck around for one or two demos before it got replaced by a rhino.

Most of Substral was made while lying down flat as I kept my Amiga in the high bunk of my army bed while doing the military service. There was no way to sit up straight, so I had to code in the horizontal position getting legendary neck pain in the process.

The recent trilogy Neonsky, Negativ Prosess and Hexel were pretty cool to do as it was a rare combination of only me and Frequent bringing up a new demo system. It got more focused on hardware powered effects and streaming music in a different style to what we had done before.

Can you tell us what you consider your favourite Amiga demos?

Difficult to answer. Browsed through the ADA demo list and picked something which made my gut tingle:

Deep & Deepmix/CncdParallax
Smokebomb, Fetish/Ozone
2cb & Klone & Nonstop/DCS
Gift, Planet Potion, Gush/Potion
Lucy, 9fingers, Eurochart40 intro, We Don't understand/Spaceballs
Subside, Horizons, Singularities,Trauma/Unique
Roots2/Sanity
Invitation None, Blur, Fad/Sonik
Noxie/Loonies
Peanut/Efreet
Dance Diverse #2/Suburban Base
Extra Life/Abyss
Nexus7 / Andromeda
Phi/Artwork
Motion2 /Bomb
Showbase Shape/C-Lous
Dust/Elude
Mokkademo/Epadrena
Napalm & Datablade/Floppy
Lech/Freezers
Burning Chrome/Haujobb
C42/Juliet and Case
Deus Ex Machina & Mind Traveler /LED
Offbeat & Raybong/Loveboat
Kioeia/mavi
Planet-M & Baygon/Melon
Fat, Azuli, Traffic/Mystic
Grid2/Nature
Jesus Christ Motocross/Traktor
Vision,Control/Oxygene
Zif/Parallax
Friday at eight, Twisted,The Prey/Polkabros
G-force, Extension/Pygmy
Switchback/Rebels
1000% (and friends)/ Scoopex
Authentix/Skarla
Electroboy inside/Smoke
Toltect9/Subspace
Goa/Tint/Glow, Mind the carrot 2, Tractorbeam, Startstruck (and friends)/TBL
15 years of fame, GBG, Live Axxion The Showdown/ Uprough
Passengers/Three Little Elks
The ventures of Prince Dakkar and his pilgrimage to the abyss /Tulou
Chaosland, Sumea, Factory, Psychedelic/Virtual Dreams & Fairlight

What do you think of the state of the demo scene today?

It is exciting to see people making comebacks. I think some coders in particular, are returning to finish those effect ideas they've had accumulating in their minds over the years of away time from the scene. There are several groups with 20 or 30 year anniversaries coming up, so hoping there will be some prods to celebrate that.

The spectrum of platforms present in the latest comments page on Pouet.net is really rich. Opened the page right now and could see Windows, MS-Dos, Amiga OCS/ECS, Atari ST/Falcon, Nes/Famicom, Zx Spectrum and C64. Each of these platforms got their own style so it is quite exciting to see they are all alive and kicking.

Not sure if the scene is recruiting a lot of young talent, but I think some closely related scenes may, such as ShaderToy, is attracting many people with its online community and sharing concept. I guess if we could get the level of code sharing going as we got in the Shadertoy scene, maybe the demoscene could spawn more higher quality entries as well, because not everyone would have to reinvent the wheel all the time. It pains me now as I'm implementing a bog standard scene player and I know I'm just chewing through the same old bugs and performance issues that have been solved a million times up through the years of the demo scene.

Ok.. rant finished :)

What do you feel you got out of the whole experience of being active in the Amiga demoscene? for example, did it lead you to code professionally in any way?

I think the scene influenced my life a lot. I've known the scene since Budbrain and Mental Hangover were released. And actively joined when I was 15 or so and went to my first demo party (Bush Party II). When I finished university I got hooked in by Slummy/Spaceballs to start working in Falanx to work on the Mali GPU (I know that according to scrolltexts and nfo files we're enemies, but sometimes we also meet and play chess and collaborate on world domination). From that point on it was more than just a hobby (later on this company were bought by ARM and today Mali is an established GPU in the mobile market.

Many of my best friends are from the scene and I keep meeting people who got some relation to the scene. For example, I just moved to China. Going home from a company event I asked a colleague how come he knew DirectX/OpenGLES that well? He said he read these articles by a guy called I ..... and I just shot interrupted him and shouted Q!!! IQ/RGBA, who is the mastermind behind Shadertoy, had somehow got reach into China and caught his attention. Probably China's only demoscener though. What a coincidence :).


Is there anyone you would like to send some greetings to? Or perhaps you have some other last words?

There are too many to greet! Thanks to the rival groups that keep this hobby interesting year after year. The ones that every time you see their prod pop up in the entry list after your own prod make you go: "you bastards, just you wait until next year!"

That is the end of this interview, thanks for taking the time to do it Loaderror, I am sure our readers will appreciate it :).