PART OF VAMPIRE USERS INNER VIEW SERIES

(Interviewed by Ras Voja / vox)

Please introduce yourself, as you like.

My name is Chad Essley, and Im an independent animation director / cartoonist from the Pacific Northwest USA. Im doing all of the art and animation for our new Vampire exclusive game, Jake & Peppy.  

I ve used computers for art & animation since the release of the Commodore 64 (Actually since the release of the RCA Studio II, if you  can count that one for my first made digital art), and Ive been a cartoonist since I could hold a pencil.  

Explain your IT and Amigan background in short.     

Ive used computers for making art an animation since they were invented for home use. Starting with making pictures in black and white on an early RCA Studio II home video game system, then the Commodore 64 and Koala Pad, followed by the Amiga 2000 HD.    

In my early 20s I got the chance to work on a mentors  Amiga 4000 computer, doing some animation on commercials and broadcast television spots. My life was forever changed, and I acquired my first Amiga 1200 and video grabber / sound sampling devices for it. I started to make my own animations on this system, and went on to make five animated films that aired on the childrens television show Sesame Street in the early 90s. It just wasnt possible to do this on any other platform at the time. Full screen 720×480 at 30 frames per second with color! The Mac and PC / Atari just couldnt do anything similar at the time. Not even close.   

(Image: Sesame Street Counting Numbers
Recorded on Hi-8 footage digitized from video using a Vidi-RT 24 parallel capture card, and then animated in DeluxeP aint 4.)

I’ve used computers for making art an animation since they were invented for home use. Starting with making pictures in black and white on an early RCA Studio II home video game system, then the Commodore 64 and Koala Pad, followed by the Amiga 2000 HD. In my early 20’s I got the chance to work on a mentor’s Amiga 4000 computer, doing some animation on commercials and broadcast television spots. My life was forever changed, and I acquired my first Amiga 1200 and video grabber / sound sampling devices for it. I started to make my own animations on this system, and went on to make five animated films that aired on the children’s television show Sesame Street in the early 90’s. It just wasn’t possible to do this on any other platform at the time. Full screen 720×480 at 30 frames per second with color! The Mac and PC / Atari just couldn’t do anything similar at the time. Not even close.

Image: Sesame Street “Over-Under” By Chad Essley. Drawn on paper, scanned using a security camera and the Vidi-RT 24 parallel capture device, composited and colored in DeluxePaint 4 & Brilliance on the Amiga.)

Amiga has great tradition drawing software and Animation.  – What do you use today and what have you used on Amiga and other systems?  

Today, I use TVPaint 11.5 Pro on the PC for nearly all of my animation work. A direct evolution of TVPaint from the Amiga. (In fact, TVPaint development inc, made the last version of TVPaint free, which you can still download from their website!). It was done on my request, since I love to use it, and I want it available to everyone in Amiga community.    

ve just been asked to design a short looping animation that honors 30 years of TVPaint and they want me to make it honor the Amiga in some way. Ive got a few ideas in progress on this. Released soon… Ha  

– DPaint 4 AGA, Art Department Pro or TV Paint and   Photogenics :))) *or all but why? –  

I use DPaint 4 AGA and Brilliance, the most I would say. I place Brilliance slightly higher than DeluxePaint in many ways, and I wish we had the source code for it. Not many people know it, but you can load in TWO animations inside it, one in the foreground, and one on the spare page, and rub through elements from one to another. It was very powerful for me back in the day, and essential to my work in doing some very simple and manually difficult compositing. ADPRO was essential for me, as well as AnimatED for synchronizing iff sound to animation.   

Could some of their elements be included in some dreamed next Amiga paint and edit software?   

Absolutely. I would love to see Brilliance taken to the next level on Vampire. Or something like it, with new powers!  

The one thing Amiga animation / paint programs were missing was…SOUND. The ability to simply import an iff soundtrack and hear it in real time with your animation would have been killer to have back in the day. I heard it was possible with Disney Anim Studio, but only in low resolution. Disneys onion skinning was very fast. DPaint had it but it was far too slow to use, and Brilliance just didnt have it at all. TVPaint 11 on PC is the perfect example of how imported sound should work when scrubbing the timeline in an animation software. They really came along and did it the right way on PC / Mac / Linux. I wonder if it would be possible with a new animation software for the Amiga. And the animbrush! Dont forget the animbrush if anyone makes a new animation software for Amiga. TVPaint 11 still has one on PC. Its essential.  

What about 2D Animation?   Please explain your motivation to draw and animate.    

Ive been drawing and doing artwork since I could hold a pencil. Several of my uncles were commercial artists. Even my great grandfather had an aspiration toward art, and he started painting when he was 75 years young, proving its never ever too late to learn something new. I was always interested in animation and cartooning, but I had no way  to study it where I lived. In fact, I had teachers who told me No! We just dont teach that here. Home computers gave me a way to play around with digital art and give it motion, but it wasnt until I moved to the Pacific Northwest in my 20s and met other working independent animators, that I learned to bring my cartoons to life using the principles of animation.  Im motivated to draw and animate simply by being alive. The world is such a completely unbelievable, ridiculous place to be. People are so varied and amazing. Im just driven to make my little reflections of it in digital or real ink on paper. Its a kind of meditation for me to keep exploring artwork every day. 

You were recently involved in making and Amiga game, Why was Vampire 4SA “the chosen one” and how was creation experience and learning curve?      

Well, actually Ive always wanted to make a game of some kind, but I lacked any sort of programming ability or time to do so. I especially wanted to make a game for the AMIGA! A real dream of mine since the late 80s!  

I always admired the demoscene, and the incredible programmers that just made the machines sing, along with the incredible amount of interesing games released for the Amiga, but I had no idea how to get involved in any of it. It wasnt until I saw the development of the Vampire FPGA machines that I got really excited about Amiga again. Getting involved in the Telegram Vamped Supergroup, I was posting a little Amiga art here and there when I was approached by my Kenji in NZ, who asked if I would be interested in perhaps designing graphics for an idea about a new Amiga game he had. It would be a game made specifically for the Vampire! I was absolutely delighted with the prospect of this and we began working together right away. Word of our work spread a bit, and soon we found yet another serendipitous partnership with a mindblowingly talented musician. It was no other than Antonio in Spain aka SampleMind from the modscene!! And so our little dev group became a truly transcontinental team. Our collaboration has been very harmonious, easy and fun. But I must say, none of this would have happened without the amazing programming talents of Kenji. Its stunning to see ideas thrown out there in a chat, and see them implemented days later. Just incredible. Its been very fun to be a part of and watch the game grow with our ideas as a group.

Out of all these, Jake & Puppy was born, currently needing V4SA latest core and a joy pad. Later, keyboard support will be added and we need  a V2 to do Vampire V2 backport. It can be downloaded here – currently Alpha 0.75B. Its part of “Vampire Original series” and we hope to add some more content, graphics and maybe even sound up to 1.00 and later. 

 You had an outstanding graphics artist included and project leader/coder.   Something about work with him and his influence on game look?   

 I have nothing to say about this …. except that I was asked to be a part of this new game, and lend my style to it. Im honored to do so and I hope the game is fun for everyone. I wanted the artwork to be fun, unique, cool and strange. So I hope that comes across in some way. 

How testers reacted to game and how do you expect V4SA owners will react to it?   

The reaction so far has been incredible. One guy on YouTube in France did a review and from what I understood, he found the game too difficult! Good! Ha ha.. (We do have a kid mode for those that find it too challenging. 😀 

What can you tell us about drawing and music on Amiga? Specially about speech use in Amiga games, animations, parallax scrolling and having an OS even with “saycommand included    

Our programmer Kenji and musician Antonio might have more to say about the music aspects here. But Im sure multi channel 16 bit SAGA audio is going to be an incredible improvement to our game and many others. Finally going beyond 12 or 14 bit sound. As far as animations, parallax scrolling, etc. The Amiga could already do so much. Were finally getting some new abilities in the world of 680×0 processors with Vampire and RTG graphics, that were long overdue. The Amiga compatible experience of it all makes it silky smooth. Its fantastic to design for a system that brings it all together so nicely.

Chequered double OK, Balls, Cats, Butterflies and other strange and cute animals and objects are visual repersentation of Amiga. Can it evolve?  

Well, I tried to design a Vampire character for Apollo team, which they use a bit, I dont know how nice it is, ha ha. As far as images that promote Amiga in generalI propose a huge Apollo OS pixel art middle finger! A message to everyone involved in the various lawsuits surrounding the Amiga brand. To those that thought Amiga would die, and to those that seek to drain everyone of money and simply litigate the fun out of everything in the Amiga community. Seriously. Weve had enough Open source is going to crush you, and take away the keys to the plastic car you think youre driving. Go away and come back when you can come to the table with a good heart, and can beat me at Speed ball II!    

(Well, kind ofJust kidding!) I have no idea. I like the  Boing Ball. Its timeless. I dont think it needs to evolve, personally. 😀 

Game:Plans to do extended speech and music edition?    

 The standard edition will have speech and multi-track music. Nothing expanded as such planned at this date.  

Plans Expanded paid boxed product (small microSD, download formats) ?   

We have discussed a boxed version of some kind, yes. I personally would endorse a version boxed and shipped in microsd format if feasible. I have quite a bit of cartoons and concept art I could share out for a special version for people to buy, but again I have no idea if this is even something people might be interested in!  V2 version maybe?   

Oh I SINCERELY hope so! Right now, our coder has no Amiga 1200 with V1200 to test on, which is the main hindrance. If you can donate a 1200 to our guy, and a V1200 we will party with you at some big Amiga gathering and tell you all our secrets. Or at least buy you several pints. 

Will it be included to ApolloOS and would you accept that it is included in Coffin R58+?    

We need to figure this out among ourselves. I personally would like the game to sell commercially at first before being included in ApolloOS or Coffin for free. At least until its been on the market a year or three. 

Any closing message to aging Amigans in 2021?    

Keep the faith and rock on! Amiga is back and stronger than ever!  

GET VAMPED!   

-Chad Essley, USA

Videos:

Contact: chadessley@gmail.com

Cartoon Monkey website

Twitter

IMDB

TV Paint hadbook

Written interview conducted by Vojin Vidanović (creator of the community FAQ)

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