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                        ALMATHERA CONFERENCE ON IRC
===========================================================================

On March 22, 1995, a moderated IRC conference was held with Almathera,
makers of Photogenics, the new 24-bit paint/manipulation program.

Special thanks to Martin Brooks and Jkay for assistance in moderating the
proceedings.

Future IRC conferences are being planned.  MacroSystem Germany and Quasar
Distribution are expected to be our next guests.


<Jason> Ok, let's get underway.
   Almathera, would you like to introd uce yourselves and who's there?

<Almathera> Okay, on the panel we have: Paul Nolan <the original author of
   Photogenics>, Jolyon Ralph <technical director, also programmer>, Jason
   G. Doig <programmer, also author of Dogenstein 3D>, THP <SteeV @
   Almathera, Netsurfer and CD cutter>, and Mark Tipper, our GFX man.

<Jason> Can you give the home audience a brief overview of your company and
   your products?

<Almathera-Jolyon>: We've produced over 14 CD-ROM for the Amiga, including
   CDP D1-4, and many others, Photogenics is our first Amiga application
   and is a state -of-the-art 24-bit paint/image manipulation package.


<Ectohead> Sorry to open with a non-Photogenics question, but here's a
   two-parter: 1) Is there a new version of Video Creator coming, and is
   there an upgrade path, and: 2) CDPD4 is great - how about more support
   for Sernet CD32-Amiga user s, like CD32Keys, and a script to boot from
   RAD: for difficult discs like FreshFish?

<Almathera-Jolyon> 1) A new version of VC is under development, there will
   be a cheap upgrade.  NTSC is one of the major new features.
<Almathera-THP> 2) There's an early startup in CDPD4 <blue button when
   booting> - mail me if you've any problems <thp@cix.compulink.co.uk>

<Rog> 1.  I've heard CyberGfx will be supported.  Will there be support for
   Retina and EGS?  2.  Will there be good distribution for North America
   for Photogenics?

<Almathera-Jolyon> 1) CyberGFX support is written.  We have no current
   plans for EGS support <except an EGS-displayer has already been
   written>.  Retina support will come when MacroSystems improve their
   24-bit Intuition support so we can a ctually *use* it ;->.  It is highly
   likely that GyberGfx will be available for Retina soon *anyway*.  We
   also have a Retina displayer now, which is very fast.
<Almathera-Jolyon> 2) We currently have 4 *big* companies fighting for the
   US distribution rights.  This should be sorted in the next few weeks.  I
   should have mentioned, 4 *North American*, not necessarily US.

<Bjarian> Hello and thank you for the demo program on March's Amiga Format.
   I am looking forward to April's Amiga Shopper with the tutorial.
   However, I am confused about the Cybergfx and why you cannot get a
   direct driver from the Picasso II guys to support their 24 bit graphics
   card?

<Almathera-Jolyon> Photogenics is a standard Intution program.  The Amiga
   OS do es *not* support running in more than 8 bitplanes.  CyberGfx
   patches the OS to al low this, which is much more than normal graphics
   board drivers do...  It's also much faster than the normal Picasso
   drivers.

<dlman> Okay, another 2 part question, 1) will Photogenics compete with Art
   Department Pro, and if so, will there be an upgrade for ADPro Users?

<Almathera-Jolyon> Good question.  Photogenics does not claim to do
   everything that Adpro can do.  <Currently>.  Obviously, we're working on
   these features for future versions.  Competitive upgrade from Adpro&tc
   is a possibility, although our program is extremely low-priced anyway ;->

<U4ia> ok a few questions here now number 1: being producers of cd-roms
   distributing freeware etc do you not think you are making money from
   other peoples hard work?  this is not directed at almathera but as a
   cd-rom producer as a whole and 2: do you think that producing a gfx
   package for a dieing machine is worth t he time when the future of C= is
   shakey to say the least and maybe do you have plans to port

<Almathera-THP> 1) When we started doing CD-ROM, the Fred Fish collection
   cost nearly UKP100 <over here> on CD.  We brought it out at under UKP20.
   Buying PD / freeware on CD is still the cheapest way for most people to
   obtain this softwar e in bulk.  Doing these disks isn't a simple task of
   dumping a HD to a CD in general, unless the structure already exists
   <such as Aminet>.  In general, we spend 1 or 2 months full-time doing
   each disk, and production costs need to be met.
<Almathera-Jolyon> 2) I don't see the future of the Amiga is that insecure.
   There are several companies fighting for the rights for the Amiga now. 
   The Amiga's future is pretty much guaranteed.  Porting is a definite
   maybe, but the Amiga version takes priority at the moment.

<Genom> I looked Photogenics over at my dealer, and have decided to
   purchase it, now my question is, will you release more painter modes,
   savers, operators etc, as plug-ins?  This is something I expected from
   ADPro, but it never hapened, exc ept for that ridiculously overpriced
   Loader upgrade.  Also, How will you distribute these if you do?  Living
   in Mexico puts a damper on my mail, as it gets here very late.

<Almathera-Jolyon> We are always writing new paintmodes, GIO loaders,
   plug-ins , &tc.  Some of these will be available freely over the
   Internet <ShowHiqHam8 was uploaded to Aminet last week, but didn't
   appear for some reason> Some will be available commercially <eg Scanner
   drivers>

<AMosaic> I have noticed that the demo version of Photogenics is rather
   slow on my A3000 with a pocasso II, how long do you think it will be
   before there is direct Picasso II support?  And...  I tried to buy a
   copy of Pg this morning, but safe harbour said it hadn't been released
   for sale.  When?  The beauty of the Amiga Home Page depends on it. 
   (Donate a copy?  :-) )

<Almathera-Paul Nolan> 1) CyberGfx on Picasso 2 is *cool*.  Fast.  That
   will be available in version 1.2 <mid to end April>
<Almathera-Jolyon> 2) Safe Harbour *should* be able to get it.  You can
   always order it direct from us ;-> Ok, my turn.  :) I was talking to
   another company who expressed some amazement a t the Photogenics
   package...it's got an incredibly expensive box and a t-shirt a nd you
   still bring it in under US$100.  How?
<Almathera-Mark> We're stupid ;-> Seriously, good packaging is always
   important.

<Ectohead> Firstly, I did forget to thank you lot at Almathera for the
   support you've thrown into the Amiga so far (it's the Elastica album,
   it's hard to type to!  :-) but anyway, the question: VC again.  For the
   next version, will you use more of the disc space available for a bigger
   supply of QuadAnims, pictures, etc, or even some CD music tracks for
   novices - heck, I have a couple of bands I've been producing who'd
   probably donate a track for pure promotional value!  It's a shame to see
   space go to waste :-)

<Almathera-Jolyon> Yes, we've got 2 new tracks already, and we'll be
   interested in anything anyone wants to contribute.  More quads and
   images of course ;-> <mav> Who does the out-of-UK distribituion?  Seems
   like lots of good products for the Amiga are in the UK.  (I may have to
   move there!!) ;) US-distribution is not yet sorted, US companies seem to
   take an age to agree to anything ;-> - we can ship international direct
   orders ;-> How about Australia?  The European side is pretty much
   covered.  We've got distribution in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, &tc.
   <We're just checking what the Oz di stribution is ;->
<Almathera-Paul Ralph, the MD> Don Quioxte in Australia is our general
   distributor over there.

<scientifi> In photogenics, is there some sort of module possibly made by
   third partys?  and if so, the developer package cost how much?  Is it
   available?

<Almathera-Jolyon> The GIO format <graphic input/output> which covers
   loaders, savers, scanners, displayers, printers, grabbers &tc is fully
   documented with example sourcecode.  All developer files are freely
   available <supplied on disk 3 with every package>.  Anyone interested in
   writing support for Photogenics should contact me on
   jralph@cix.compulink.co.uk.  Support for plug-in type modules <effects>,
   etc will be available in a forthcoming version.  <Free documentation
   again>

<Corinna> Is there any hope at all of Photogenics supporting the MAGIC
   drivers d eleveoped by Nova Designs?  (ImageFX) It would be much easier
   for the user than saving the pic, quiting ImageFX, loading Photogenics,
   and then reloading the picture.  Also, would is be fea sible to license
   your GIO format to other companies?  (like Nova?) Thanks for your time!

<Almathera-Jolyon> 1) We looked at MAGIC, it's possible, but Photogenics
   work s on totally different internal buffer formats <more memory-
   efficient>, so it's not easy for us to use.  Nobody has asked us to
   licence GIO yet.  ;->

<jalovick> Basicly, concerning Australian distribution, Will Don Kuioti be
   the only distributors ??  ..they are in the north, and Australia is big
   .. :) .. 

<Almathera-Jolyon> Well, we're always looking to expand our distribution...

<Bjarian> I am enjoying the plasma feature on Photogenics and I am trying
   to make a cycle where the plasma field can be a cycling background.
   Can this be done now or in the near future?  Can small predetermined
   increments be made in cycle style, as in DPaint cyctle backgrounds?>

<Almathera-Jase> Make sure you clean your screen afterwards ;->
<Almathera-Paul/Jolyon> Not really - you can't do 24-bit colour-cycling.
   But doing a sequence with ShiftHue might do a similar effect.

<Amosaic> Well, Cybergraphics will be excellent once you can install it
   without being a computer scientist (actually, as it stands, even that
   didn't seem to be enough).  Any hope of Almathera supporting what little
   is left of the Amiga mark et in the US by buying ads in AmigaReport, the
   Amiga Home Page (shameless plug) and AC?

<Almathera-Jolyon> Firstly, CyberGfx is still under development.  Yep, it's
   a pain to install at the moment.  But that will be sorted.  Once it's up
   and running, it's *great*.

<peejay> <sidenote> 24bit Photogenics painting is awsome!

<Almathera-Jolyon> Secondly, we will be looking at all sorts of advertising
   for the US market.  It may well be our US distributors, once finalised,
   will advertise themselves.

<Jkay> Hi!  regarding the "additional loaders/savers" topic ...  I know a
   LOT of folks would LOVE a PCHG loader/saver...  help us ECS users!  :)

<Almathera-Jolyon> Ah!  Well, I was thinking of doing PCHG (Palette Change
   Hires for those who don't know) support, but I didn't know if anyone
   would want it!  I'll have another look at it and maybe soon I'll get a
   PCHG.gio written!

<dlman> Well, I was just wondering as far as the file types that
   Photogenics will support,

<Almathera-Jase> I'm doing them!  All of those!  And some more.  Wavefront
   .RLA, etc.

<Gilesey> I have two questions..  a) Will photogenics be speeded up for us
   less fortunate peole who only have a standard 1200, since I did the
   three key salute because the speed was quite unworkable for me.  and
   secondly on the note U4ia brought up and was kicked and banned for
   speaking his mind, don't you think you are just stealing others work, no
   matter what price you put it at?

<Almathera-Jolyon> a) I'd like to improve the performance, but it's already
   doing so much work with 24-bit data that it's dificult to get it running
   any better.  A standard 120

<Almathera-Jolyon> b) No, I certainly don't think that.  You have to
   remember that there are lots of people who do not have access to the
   internet and cannot get free software that way.  Why should people pay
   1-3 pounds for PD software on diskette?  Anyway, this isn't the subject
   for today.  If there is enough feeling about this then I'll be happy to
   come back another day to discuss that subject directly.

<Jason> So I am.  First off-You know how long I've been waiting for Video
   Creator NTSC ...how is the upgrade coming?  Both floppy and CD versions
   were considered...  Second- It's been asked twice, but I don't think
   I've seen an answer...is there any consideration or work being done on
   porting Photogenics to another platform?

<Almathera-Jolyon> A- Work is continuing on VC NTSC, a decision for a
   floppy version has not yet been made, but is highly likely.  B - We've
   got some plans for porting, but don't expect to see Photogenics on other
   platforms this year...  

<louie> Hi.  oout here in NY none has seen PG yet Any chance of demo if so
   where?

<Almathera-Jolyon> The April issue (Issue number 69) of Amiga Format
   carried a coverdisk demo of Photogenics.  I believe someone uploaded the
   demo to ftp.tomah awk.something (sorry, I'm not much help am I?)
   although we didn't authorise the upload I'm not realy complaining!  When
   we get a new demo version we'll upload that to aminet.  As for
   distribution - at the moment anyone can buy Photogenics directly from
   us.  We ship international air-mail orders for 62UKP (which is around 10
   0usd) directly.  The address is in Amiga Report (plug plug) and you can
   order by email if you want to!  (again, email details in amiga report
   dealer section).

<scientifi> Are you or plan to use the datatype of 3.1

<Almathera-Jolyon, Jase, Paul> We don't support datatypes because they are
   currently limited to max 256 colours, so loading a JPEG (for example)
   would be much worse than using dedicated code.  They're also very slow.
   We're aiming for direct support for all the filetypes you'd ever
   possibly encounter :-) Adding a 'datatype.gio' as a last re sort if
   you've got some really strange format file that only datatypes supports
   is of course possible, we may well do that soon... 

<Bjarian> Hello again I have one comment and four quikie questions.  I use
   DODOShop on a Quadra and SGI.  Photogenics on my A4000 screams in
   comparison.  Question 1.  WIll you distribute 1.2 on CD rOM?  question
   2.  Will you be developing layers, ala DoDOshop 3.0?  question 3.  Will
   you be making a structured drawing companion to Photogenics, ala
   Frustrator (Illustrator)?  and Queston 4 If I am XXLarge, will the
   T-shirt fit?

<Almathera-Paul> :D
<Almathera-Jolyon> Q1. Yes, possibly. If there's enough interest.
<Almathera-Paul> I'm working on a multiple-positionalbe-distortable-layers
   system which will kick ass!  :D
<Almathera-Jolyon> Q3 It's something I'd like to do (structured gfx
   package) but we don't have any firm plans for one.  Q4.  We only have XL
   sized T-shirts.  Actually, we don't seem to have many (any?) left.  You
   should have bought it earlier :-) GA

<Sporran> Bit of a subjective thing this, but the AF demo of PG seemed
   rather slow on my 50MHz 1200/030 - is the full version quicker?

<Almathera-Jolyon> I use a 50Mhz 1200/030.  A lot of it was developed on
   that machine.  Make sure you're running PAL (or NTSC) modes, *NOT*
   DblPal or DblNTSC or Productivity modes, they have such severe bandwidth
   restrictions that any program running in 8 bitplanes (eg Photogenics)
   has problems.  Mode promotion - Just say no kids!

<Patrik> Will you (or have you) branched out into the oh-so-lucrative world
   of PCs?  Do you think it's possible to survive as an amiga-only developer?

<Almathera> I'll just mention here that anyone can email questions to me at
   jralph@cix.compulink.co.uk once the chat is over...  Yes, we're
   obviously looking to port to PC eventually.  I think we'll wait until
   PCs get a sensible OS first.  (So no work to do this year :-)

<Bjarian> One last comment.  I have been a developer and know what kinds of
   problems can occur.  It is easy to criticize and not so easy to turn 1
   and 0 into program magic.  Your work on Photogenics is great, take
   heart.  Tell us about what other products you have, I read you have a
   networki ng product?  Keep up the good work, God Bless CHeersQ

<Almathera-Jolyon> We don't have our own networking products, but we are UK
   distributors for all of IAM products, including Envoy 2.0 and DiskSalv 3.0

<Jason> As far as future products go-what's in the works?  We've heard of a
   CD involving Sidewinder's music, what is it, when is it, and how much
   will it cost?

<Almathera-Jolyon> Not sure about future product annoucments yet.  You'll
   hear all the latest news in Amiga Report..  :-)

<joeghi> Is there a 040 FPU version of Phothogenics with also a PICASSO 24
   bit saver?  And where I can find Photogenis here in Italy?  Thanx (This
   is a question f rom Layout which was ignored).

<Almathera-Paul Nolan> Photogenics uses fast integer mathematics for all
   operations, so there is no benefit at the moment for an FPU version. 
   Future versions may come with FPU versions.

<Almathera-Jolyon> Photogenics comes with Picasso 24-bit saver as standard.
   In Italy, Photogenics is avaialble Axxel or DBLine or Rainbow Computing.
   Mail me if you need contact numbers...

<Jason> That should about wrap it up.  Thank you, everyone, for coming, and
   special thanks to our guests, the Almathera guys.  Almathera guys, want
   to give your e-mail addresses for future reference?

<Almathera> Anyone can mail me at jralph@cix.compulink.co.uk for questions
   about any Almathera products...