Interview with Saffron

by 3D Addict

    3D Addict


    Please tell me a little bit about yourself.

    Certainly. My name is Pauli Ojala, I'm Finnish and I just turned 18 years old a few months ago... I'm living in Helsinki, which is actually a very nice little town with pleasant weather, a beatiful sea and nice modest architecture. Currently I'm hecticly trying to finish high school, after which I'll be free to take a shot at some stressful university entry exams and then spend a nonproductive but unavoidable year in the service of The State.

    In scenelife, I'm Saffron, a graphician in TBL aka The Black Lotus, which of course is an evil multinational syndicate of Taiwanese origin. I joined last year, but so far my gfx haven't made it to any productions. But perhaps.. someday..

    Please describe yourself as a person.Are you a cool type of a guy or more funny one?Do you take life seriously or are you more relaxed and live the life without thinking much about the future?

    Ummm, without starting to psychoanalyse myself (a deceptive activity, and not very much fun in the end), I could say I'm a serious type, not very sociable... I'm pretty "accomplishment-oriented", I want to be doing something that I can be satisfied with. That's probably why I'm usually quite thorough with what I do, and also why I have a habit of taking too much work on myself, leading to a life of much stress and not much good sleep (still I don't get that much actually done until I've got a pressing deadline, but oh well..)

    Sound quite familiar to me :)What was your first computer, and what computer do you use now?Do you also miss the the good old days of c64 and A500?

    I've always had a pc and I'm not happy about that - I could have enjoyed a real computer in the golden age of homecomputers, but instead we had this ugly grey box with CGA gfx on a monochrome green monitor with automatic motion blur (slow phosphore). By the time I realised that the Amiga was in fact a cool machine, it was too late as I had already spent my precious pocket money on a spanky 486 or was it a Pentium already.. ;)

    Currently, I have an average Pentium II box with loads of memory... I'm very interested in any pc alternatives, and the PowerPC was (still is) promising, but it seems that Apple has again managed to totally screw everyone and that an open PowerPC platform with a good operating system (BeOS) won't become reality. Too bad really. :(

    Since I have a tendency for nostalgy, I've been watching some c64 and Amiga stuff in emulators. Running Arte in a window on the NT desktop is an interesting experience... It's great that emulators preserve the scene's past achievements, but also a bit sad that they're relegated to nothing more than a curiosity status for today's Windows kids, with no continuation of the scene spirit.. (oops, I said "scene spirit" in an interview, I thought I promised myself to never do that)

    :)How and when did you become involved in the scene and when did you start drawing?

    Let's see, I saw my first scene prods (Crystal Dream 2, issues of Pulse - what a great mag that was!) in autumn 1993, about the same time I got a 14.4k modem, but I wouldn't call that "getting involved". Like the average nerdy pc kid, I had been doing Quickbasic programming so at first I thought I should be a coder. In the beginning of 1994 (or maybe at the end of 93... I'm sounding like a demented war veteran now, rambling about dates..) I tried to join a random local group as a coder, but they liked my graphics more. So I ended up as a graphician.

    Until that point I hadn't been doing much drawing, but that got me to start learning. The computer drawings I was doing at that 93-94 period were in fact done in hires truecolor in Windows software, I think Photomagic was the name of the app that I was using... but in late 94, as I wanted to become a "real" scene graphician, I came to the conclusion that I had to learn pixelating. So ironically enough, I went from truecolor to 8-bit, while in the past years many old Amiga graphicians have done the exact opposite. Maybe that's why I have a special love for oldfashioned pixelating by hand.

    Overall I feel that doing scene gfx has taught me a lot about art in general. Colors, contrasts, composition, shading, texturising... There's so many things that combine to make a great picture, and I can't think of a better way to learn about those things than pixelating, which involves creating your own color palettes and setting every pixel yourself...

    Yes I agree, pixelling is indeed a very special way of drawing. Which hardware/software do you use for drawing, and where do you get the inspiration from?

    I've got good old DeluxePaint 2e of course. As far as 320*200*8b pixelating goes, dp2e has always done what I need, and besides there hasn't been any alternatives on pc anyway. Now there's grafx2 or whatever it's called, but I haven't bothered to try using it for anything sensible. Last year, there was an alpha version of a Brilliance clone by a Rage coder and it looked very promising, but the version I have is unusable and I haven't seen any newer ones released, so I guess the project was dumped.

    On the Windows side, I use mainly Metacreations Painter (used to be Fractal Design Painter) for the actual painting, and Photoshop for everything else (compositing, color adjustments..) Photoshop seems to be the favorite with many other scene graphicians, and I agree that it's a great piece of software, but in my opinion for painting its brushes just don't have the feeling and flexibility that Painter has. Maybe it's just that I'm too used to Painter, or I haven't really figured out the proper way to draw in Photoshop.. Other apps I use more or less regularly are Freehand (the least horrible among vector drawing packages), AfterEffects (a wonderful 2d video compositing app) and 3ds Max 2 and Rhino (I don't do that much 3d, but they're there..)

    For drawing there's really one extremely useful hardware device: a graphics tablet. I've been using one for a couple of years now for both pixelating and truecolor painting. It's not even very expensive anymore, mine is a tiny (A6 size) Wacom Artpad but it's just as useful as the bigger ones I've tried. It's accurate, feels natural, very lightweight and pressure sensitivity really makes a difference when your app supports it properly (ok Wacom, you can now send me the pr money..)

    Inspiration? It's at least a strong source of motivation that happens quite often when I see something done by someone else and I get that "how did they do that" feeling combined with a bit of jealousy... but inspiration is perhaps something a bit different. There's really not much logic as to what triggers it; there's a lot of beautiful images everywhere, but only a few really capture the mind. A newspaper image, a city view or nature (I'm not much of a nature person though) could have that effect, and also the real masters of fine art often do - I was in Norway last summer and saw a lot of paintings by Munch, which left me feeling very inspired.

    How many hours a day do you spend in front of your computer, and how many of those hours are used on making gfx?

    Too many in front of the computer, and too few of those drawing. It's very annoying how much time can be consumed by something like following a couple of websites regularly. I really wish I were able to spend more time drawing... I remember that old Lazur interview, where he says something like "I get home at five and then draw until eleven". Maybe that's a bit too obsessive already, but even with just an hour or two a day I could have a new picture finished every two weeks or so, instead of making just a handful of pictures in a whole year.. Well, at least I'll soon have the possibility of making oil paintings at home (I really enjoy oils, but until now I've only painted at school and so), so maybe I'll get more productive even if it's not on the computer.

    When drawing, do you have a perfect vision in your mind or do you draw more freely, by letting your image evolve in whatever direction you may feel like it.

    I often have a strong mental image about what I want to do, but it can be rather frustrating because the actual pic can never fulfill that vague vision of perfection. When it comes to the actual drawing, it's a lot better to do preplanning even though it can be boring. On the computer, there's a lot less room for artistic whims, taking the image to new directions, so if you try to do that the result can turn out very disappointing. On a real canvas it might not hurt to sprinkle those brush strokes more freely, but for pixels you need a very strict mindset - it will become crap if you ignore the rules.

    Please describe in steps how do you create an image.Do you start by making an sketch on paper, or is everything done on the computer.

    The first question is reference material. When I draw some "natural" object, I use some sort of reference, photos or maybe a live sketch. It's great if you think you can draw something without a model, but there's just so many ways light and surfaces can work together that it's impossible to imagine exactly how something would look. Therefore using a model is in fact less limiting, and I think an essential function for the artist is to perceive the world and constantly learn from the richness of "real" things instead of dwelling in the confines of his own imagination.

    Of course there are many ways to use reference. You can base the entire composition on a model, but usually you probably have the composition thought out and you need a reference for some particular object or element. Anyway, with a photo reference I find it best to think out the colors and lighting myself rather than trying to stick to the local colors or light values of the model, obviously because the result is more interesting, but also because these things are the foundation of the image so it's important that I actually determine to myself what I'm trying to do here.

    It varies whether I do paper sketches or start directly on the computer. When I'm doing something small (not a fullscreen pic) in Painter, I draw the simple forms and outlines of surfaces with Painter's pencil tool and then start painting on that. But for a bigger image, I refine it on paper and then scan the sketch for the purpose of extracting outlines. I don't own a scanner so it's always a bit of a drag having to move drawings and disks between home and school...

    Anyway, when I've got the outlines and basic composition on the screen, it's time to start creating the colors and the surfaces. That means just drawing single-color areas, trying to approximate the light spots and shadows and trying to get some good colors there (with an 8-bit picture the colors need more attention because the palette has to be thought out first). I don't really like this phase because if it doesn't look good (and it often doesn't since I've only got a few large color areas) I get the depressing feeling that the picture is going totally wrong from the start. Then I might get so frustrated that I just leave the picture and don't work on it for weeks or months or even ever again... it's true that this is an important stage but anything done here isn't final and will be changed, I should keep that in mind..

    I always try to force myself to finish drawing those basic surfaces before I start doing details, but somehow it just happens that I get bored and leave part of the picture as just outlines. So here starts the real work of applying textures and colors. With an 8-bit picture in dp2e, this means just shading and antialiasing pixel-by-pixel between the color surfaces, click click click (except that my tablet doesn't say click, but anyway..) Four years ago I didn't really believe that the great Amiga pics I was seeing were actually pixelated like this. Now I do, and I quite enjoy it actually. As I see it, applying all the pixels yourself is the closest you can get to the pure essence of computer art. There's a funny duality about pixelating work, as it's very tedious routine work, but still it's not mindless at all, in fact it requires constant concentration to keep the technique interesting. After doing it for 15 hours straight you reach a very interesting state of mind. ;)

    Yes, I remember that myself when I was doing pixelling on my Amiga.From all the clicking(I used a mouse), tiny hand movements and constant focus on the big pixels, one become part of the pixels in a way :) I know from my own experience that it can take days and often weeks to draw a good picture.How long does it take to draw a good picture for you, and what are the most important aspects of making a great image?

    It's entirely possible to make a great painting in just a few hours, but a computer image is different. I'd say ten hours is probably the minimum for a fullscreen pic using Painter/Photoshop, less than that and the result is probably lacking detail, looking smudgy or unsharp, or using some clicheic shortcuts like filters or "easy" readymade brushes. This is all very subjective of course... Pixelating takes a lot longer although the process is essentially the same. A fullscreen 320*200 pixelated pic probably takes me on average like 30 hours in total, but I guess it can go up to 50 hours or even longer if the background were very detailed too. It's hard to say, as those hours are of course divided over weeks and often months. My usual pattern is that I start really slow and when the deadline is nearing I have to work around the clock. That sucks, but so far I haven't managed to finish a compopic before the deadline is just hours away... :( Anyway I can't imagine working for 50 hours nibbling on every detail of a real painting, so this just further demonstrates how different computer art is as a medium.

    It's really hard to say what makes a great picture, but I think the use of color and light values and contrast might be the single most important thing. Art teachers seem to have a special love for composition though, nothing they enjoy more than finding in your picture all kinds of triangles and parallel lines and other supposedly evil things that they say are distracting... Whatever, but I say it really doesn't matter if you've happened to align some object too close to the center, if the colors and use of light serve to create harmony and depth.

    To make a really great image though, it should portray some kind of emotion to the watcher. I don't mean just a feeling of "wow" or "that's some really nice use of yellow", but something deeper. This is really difficult, because all the technical superiority can't give it that emotion if the content doesn't have it. Most of modern and contemporary art abandons the tradition of imitating nature in an attempt to try to reach that emotional content more directly, but still a lot of that art doesn't succeed.

    What do you find the most difficult to draw, and which phase of your drawing do you enjoy most.Personally I like mostly making the finishing touches when the image is about 95% complete.

    That's fun too when you're almost at the end and you don't need to worry about the pic anymore. But I think my favorite phase is when it's about 70-80% complete and all the pieces are starting to fall in place and I can see what the final pic is really going to be like. The feeling of satisfaction is just overwhelming, and suddenly I've got real motivation to continue. I wish I could transfer some of that motivation into the earlier phases, because I very often get completely stuck when I'm doing the first color surfaces or when I'm starting to pixelate the first details. When I'm having one of those days, everything I do to the picture seems to just take it in the wrong direction and I get completely put off by it. That's maybe one of the reasons why I finish so few pictures.

    Do you use any special techniques.Please describe which drawing tools and techniques do you use mostly.

    Painter is full of all kinds of geewhiz brushes, but I never use any of those - I stick to the airbrush tool for most of the time, working with a bigger one at first and then with a tiny (1-3 pixels) for detailing. Some of the blur/smudge type brushes are pretty useful too, especially if I'm in a hurry. Then there's the pencil, which I use for drawing sketches. So my technique is very straightforward actually... when drawing in truecolor, I don't create any palettes. I pick colors from Painter's color wheel and throw them in the picture. When I've got enough colors on a particular area, I can just pick them from there without going to the color wheel all the time.

    Which of your own images do you consider as the best one and which was the most difficult to draw?

    The answer to both would be "My kitty cat can say miao", which conveniently brings us to the next question...

    [ download miaosteps (42Kb) ]

    Could you tell us about the making of "My kitty cat can say Miao"

    That's my only pic so far that I'm really happy with. It was in the works for a long time... I originally started on it in last November or December for the gfx compo at tp7. I had found this photo of a girl and her cat sitting next to a big rock or something in a newspaper; I think the story itself was about Russian refugees... so I thought I'd like to make a pic based on that. Still I don't think it would be very fair to call it a copy. The original photo wasn't very large to begin with, and I only used a detail of it. It was also greyscale, and so it had a rather low resolution because of this raster halftone pattern that newspapers use. Another factor was that it was an outdoors photo, so the lighting was flat, it didn't have much contrast - the girl's face was almost a uniform shade of grey. This wasn't bad in the original photo because other elements balanced it out, but I only wanted to use that face.

    So I ended up creating the colors, lighting and details by myself, the photo provided the basic composition. The first time I started working on the pic, it went terribly wrong. I was already in a hurry to get it done for the party, and then I got really frustrated with it because the colors weren't really working and I hadn't managed to get rid of the flatness - her face looked overly smooth, didn't have enough contrast and so I didn't get the expression I wanted either. Still I actually almost finished it the night before the deadline at the party, but in the end it didn't get there, and I'm glad it didn't :)

    After a month or two I got back to work with the picture, went back to the beginning and tried to get it right. This time I had time to think about it and try different possibilities, and it really got started on a better track. Of course it happened that there was a party coming up again (the gathering) and I didn't get up from my lazy ass until the party was just days away, so again I worked for the entire night and even got it in a somewhat decent condition (decent enough for bigscreen viewing, that is) an hour before the deadline. I had lost contact with dominei who was supposed to deliver it there, but then a miracle happened and the picture actually got entered into the compo thanks to tmk who also came up with the name because it needed one. At least that's how I think it happened, I hadn't got any sleep so my memory is really hazy.. :)

    The pic got a lousy 9th place, but the gfx compo results were completely fucked up overall anyway. Since I had the deadline pressing on me, many parts of the compo version were just thrown together in a rather pitiful way. So for the final version, I went back and completely redid the cat, the girl's hair and her dress (other parts were changed too but not so much). The final version was released over a month after the party, at the end of May or so (I think I wrote the finishing date in hidden text in the pic's background, so you can check it yourself :))

    Interesting story with the actual naming of the image:) What do you think about the quality of the Assembly'98 pixel and raytrace compos?

    The pixel compo was disappointing really (I wish I had participated, because since 94 my pic has been disqualified every year, and this time I might have actually got it on the big screen..) The pics by Visualize and Mike were clearly the best ones IMO. They're very similar, both have a woman's head and some colorful textures.. but that doesn't decrease their worth :) Especially Visualize's is as classy as I'd expect from him, not very original though, and it's a bit of a shame that he doesn't seem to be doing any handpixelating anymore.

    The winners are another matter. The 3rd placer by Avocado is cute but there's absolutely nothing exciting about it - a sort of a 1995 flashback but in the wrong way. "Unique" by Kidlove has a nice concept, but it doesn't work too well to my taste at least. The orange/blue color scheme is dull, it feels like it wasn't given much attention. The bodies could perhaps have been placed in a more interesting way than just one round pile with no pattern to their placement.. but to his credit, lighting seems very correct all over. If he actually made the composition himself (taking the bodies from different sources), it's a very impressive achievement... About the winner by Pixel, I'll just say that I don't like it at all. It's better than his extremely bad and tasteless pic that placed 2nd at asm97 though. Public voting for gfx compos is simply a bad idea if fair results are wanted, that's been proven over and over again..

    I don't have the raytrace compo entries, but my impression was pretty good, this was certainly one of the better raytrace compos I've seen. Tudor's pic is the one I've got the best look at (well obviously since I got it from himself :)), and I really liked it - the atmosphere is well accomplished and the 3d characters themselves are well done too. There's a lot of nice details, but it's really dark, so it didn't look very good on the big screen at the party.

    I also really like "Soil" from Assembly'98 animation compo.It's style is very special.How long did it take you to create it and what software/hardware did you use.Also what were the main inspirations/influences?

    Thank you, it's flattering that you actually bothered with the 20-meg download. ;) I started thinking about doing an animation when it was announced that the SGI would be the prize for the animation compo rather than the demo compo (obviously a good decision - no demo group can afford to keep the machine anyway since it can't be shared). So yes, I admit that the tiny hope of winning that machine was my motivation. :) I didn't really get started on the animation until the last weeks of July though.

    I'm not much of a 3d artist, so I thought I should do something a bit closer to my skills. I had quite a bunch of ideas on what I wanted to do, but in the end I managed to realise only a fraction of them. The final result is a mix of 3d animation, 2d animation, 2d stills, compositing effects, and then some stuff that's a bit hard to categorise, the "infinite zoomer" for example. The themes that I wanted to bring forward here were vague ideas of birth and growth, evolution, and how all life has basically the same origins (the name "Soil" is supposed to imply a "soil of origin" that nurtures the seeds of life, or something :)). But I'll be the first one to admit that all these fancy themes and implications don't come across in the final work much at all, so they don't really matter. =)

    [ screenshots from Soil ]

    [ download full quality version of Soil (20Mb) ]
    [ download highly compressed version of Soil (8.7Mb) ]

    The first part I worked on was the baby's head that appears on the righthand side of the two credits screens. He's a 2d animation drawn in Painter. The animation had about 80 frames, but only 9-10 of those were really drawn as complete separate pictures. The inbetween frames I did by interpolating and then manually touching up the areas that needed it (eyes, nose, mouth). This was quite a bit of work and I wasn't sure whether this technique would result in a decent animation... Well, the final frames certainly look nice, but the movement itself (the baby turning his head) is pretty jerky because I didn't really have any way of keeping the steps between frames constant. Because of the jerkiness I couldn't use the baby alone, but it turned out to look pretty nice in the credits screen, where the eyecatching part is on the lefthand side. So I managed to hide my poor animation skill decently enough there =)

    Another part that took a lot of work was the zoomer, which is also the longest single part in the anim. The pictures for the zoomer were drawn separately in Painter, and I then used AfterEffects to place them on top of each other as layers so that the pictures change smoothly and the zoom appears constant. This was hell, because the zooming and rotating made it very complicated to keep the pictures aligned correctly. AfterEffects is a great program because it allows every parameter to be controlled with bezier curves and even their velocities to be controlled with derivative curves, but managing all these curves really was a headache. But it worked out in the end, there's only a bit of jitter visible in the result (for example when the dragonfly appears it doesn't completely keep in sync with the background.. but it's relatively minor overall).

    The 3d clips are pretty crummy, but at least all the objects and textures (a couple of textures were modified from existing ones though) are made by me. Each of the scenes was created in one evening and then rendered during the night. There's the metaballs, the jellyfish, the flower, the sea bottom, the silly lightball and the ending landscape, so that makes a total of 6 nights spent rendering... The landscape was done in Bryce, as evidenced by the clouds that go way too fast - I hadn't used Bryce before so I don't really know if there's a way to change the speed of the clouds hidden somewhere in that weird app. The landscape was done in the last evening before the party, and so was the beetle that flies over it. The beetle is a looping 2d animation of course, and yes, the way it flaps its wings is pretty stupid. But I didn't come up with anything better that would have been as easy to do :) (the beetle still picture I had drawn before, and I had to do the flying beetle by modifying it)

    A lot of compositing was done in AfterEffects of course, though I would have wanted to do a lot more; also the background graphics and other compositing elements are often pretty sucky and I really ought to have put more effort into them. Btw the film noise was created by me so it isn't done with a filter. Just in case anyone cares... So that wraps it up I guess. All in all, it was stressing at times but I really enjoyed this little project of mine. Next year I hope I'll be able to force myself to start earlier and spend more time thinking up a coherent theme, not that it would allow me to win over those haha-funny storyline anims but anyway... Oops, I shouldn't forget to thank Lizardking who provided the excellent soundtrack. It's one of the tracks on his upcoming cd, and from what I've heard the album is great work all over. So all of you rush to order it will you! =)

    I must admit, the soundtrack was truly excellent.Can't wait til Lizardking finishes the album. Is drawing in 8 bit color mode a limitation or a challenge for you?

    I don't think it's neither really, but a completely different medium for computer art. Earlier I called pixelating a purer form of computer art, maybe that's overly sentimental, but I really think 8-bit lowres pixelating is something that shouldn't be allowed to just vanish. Lowres is an important word here, because I haven't seen many interesting pixelated hires pictures. When doing hires, you have so many pixels to set that you have to have a very strong routine and just shade between the surfaces like a machine, otherwise it'll take you a year. So there's no room for the wild color and texture experimentations that have become the most interesting aspect in lowres graphics. Take Danny's pixelated work for example: sure it's technically good, but the pixelating technique is not interesting. I guess it's a question of taste whether it even should be.

    Still no one can deny that the advances in pixelating techniques that scene graphicians have made are really astonishing. The scene has come a long way since checkerboard dithering; in the past few years lowres pics have been able to turn those rough pixel blocks into beautiful flows of textures, it's just incredible. Ra of course was the one who really made the breakthrough with his color techniques, but Made has also done a lot to advance the state of the art here. The worth of his work has been argued over a lot, but the fresh blood he brought to pixelating can't be denied.

    I think the fact is that these astonishing pixelating techniques are one of the real accomplishments of the Amiga/PC demoscene. Commercial game coders have surpassed the demoscene in quality of 3d engines and all that, but no game graphician or anyone is reaching the same standard in quality of pixelating. True, pixelating is pretty useless today. So what? Demos are useless by definition anyway. People are still coding incredible demos on the c64. The same should go for pixelating, this medium is true underground computer art and we should preserve it.

    That's a really nice way of making your point :)Unfortunately less and less people do the actual pixelling...
    What do you think about raytracing?

    Personally I haven't done much of it, the few scenes in Soil are really my only decent work. But it's certainly a significant form of computer art, in fact it's probably already the dominant form of computer gfx outside the demoscene. It demands a lot from the artist, as it mixes traditional 2d art, sculpture and animation. One person can't really master it all, which is why we have 3d artists who only do modelling and animating, leaving the textures to the graphicians. I think it could be taken further though, for example lighting and composition are also things that could be worked together with a 2d graphician.

    ....and what about redrawing?

    I think I've already said most of what I have to say on this topic. To sum it up, it's impossible to do a black&white categorisation of copy/no copy. Use of reference is ok, even desirable IMO, but one should stick to photos and not directly copy from another artist's work. Also I think it's taken too far when someone's copying the entire picture detail-to-detail with the same color scheme, or when there's scanning. Scanning for the purpose of extracting a couple of outlines might still be ok, but painting over a scanned picture just sucks.

    Being an active scener for some time now, you must have seen a lot of pics made by other graphicians.Who is your favourite graphician and why?

    Ra is Ra, his work from 4-5 years ago still kicks so much ass. But he's not been active for years now, so concentrating on current graphicians, Visualize is my favorite. He was good already a couple of years ago when Jamm was releasing all that great stuff (I still value Dream and Nation Zero 2 really high), and I'm glad to see he's back. Resurrection Now from last year was already interesting gfx-wise, and his two Pulse prods from this year both rule. Tour is a great slideshow (the design really doesn't have that much to do with a complete demo) with great hires pics although some of the raytraced stuff is getting a bit cheesy in all its colorfulness. 73 Ms on the other hand is a great demo too, and the graphics work is just perfect. This is really the best demo at the moment I think. I just Dream that I could do something as great some beautiful day =)

    Other graphicians I respect highly are Made (for reasons I mentioned earlier), Haplo, Nero and Cyclone... I haven't seen much from Nero, but the work in The Fulcrum is enough to convince me. The huge pic that scrolls behind the credits is just incredible, and the color technique is quite interesting as it's an elegant solution to the problem of making such a giant pic with 8-bit palette (I think I got the file from gfx zone, so thanks for making it available :)) Cyclone is probably the one who's done the most to advance pixelating lately. I don't always like his color choices or texture technique, but it's very innovative and plain fun to look at and examine. His work is great evidence in favor of my argument that pixelating is a unique medium that needs to be preserved.

    Do you have any favourite groups, musicians, coders, diskmags?Favourite demo?

    It's not fun to say "Pulse" you know. They have gobbled up all the best talent in the scene and become a living demoscene monument that just scares newcomers away, thus contributing to the problem that the scene isn't getting much fresh blood anymore. ;)) well perhaps it's not really their fault... but they are scary nevertheless =)

    Byterapers' new work is impressive too, the final version of Sexadelic is just great. If it's mr. Sex who coded that (I don't remember anymore), he might get the top spot on my coders chart. Musicians, well, umm, Dune is usually good but that's no news.. Groo did great stuff a couple of years ago, but of people still active I like the two polish pulsers Scorpik and Falcon.

    My favorite demo I already mentioned above, and as for diskmags, well, there's not much choice is there. It's nice that there's at least one actively released traditional diskmag again, but Hugi would be good even if it had competition. The 3-4 month interval between issues is ideal, and there's enough content to make it interesting yet not so much that it would be Imphobia-style exhausting.

    What are your future party plans, are you heading for Compusphere'98 or the party'98, other parties?

    Probably not. If I get pictures done, I'll try to get someone to deliver them for me. And if we got to do a demo or intro, I might be going just to see it on the big screen there. I've been to the party once (in 95), and it was a nice enough experience, but then again I kind of like just staying home and eating the chocolate unimaginative relatives gave me for christmas. Yeah.. I'm just not much of a nice social person I guess.

    Hehe, same here :) What does the scene mean to you, and which aspects do you like/dislike about it?

    I have a lot of respect for what the scene has accomplished over the years, and the community that has developed is something very special. Not that I've ever really been part of it though; friendship is a nice word anyway... Sceners seem to like to think of this as a very tolerant community, but is that really the case? I can't answer that. At least the scene is a great channel for creativity and groupwork, even though attitudes get sometimes negative and destructive. Overall the scene is very good as far as hobbies go.

    Have you ever considered a carrier as a professional graphician?(If you are already a proffesinal graphician tell a little about you work)

    As soon as I get this school out of my way, I'd like to. So far I've done two summer job periods and a bit of freelance work as a graphician for a software company that makes groupware.. that was quite ok, but of course I'd like to do something with a bit more of that luxurious creativity involved - pixelating 16-color icons and designing marketing material perhaps isn't utilising my talents to the fullest. Maybe that'll happen, maybe not. I might still end up doing a career in some completely different field, who knows.

    What are your other interests/hobbies, besides your scene activities?

    Well.., I enjoy reading, watching movies and listening to music (electronic stuff on the Kraftwerk-Aphex Twin-Autechre-Terre Thaemlitz axis mainly). With friends I go to a movie, a cafe or maybe for a walk, and then I've got some projects going on with some people, for example a tiny fringe magazine where I do everything layout and gfx related plus a bit of other stuff. So I don't do all that much really... I'm just happy with what I have mainly.

    Who is your favourite artist outside the scene?

    Of the old masters I especially appreciate Caravaggio and Velasquez (I never spell that right), and then the early modernists like Cezanne and the impressionists... In our century there's a lot of good stuff in the field of fine art of course but it's just got so broken up that no one really stands out (well Dali ís Dali, I've gotta hand it to his moustache). Among commercial artists there are of course many excellent ones but somehow the names don't stick in my head. Anyway I appreciate many graphic designers and companies (designers republic? well they've got some really innovative work but the imitations of their run-of-the-mill stuff are annoying), 3d artists and classic commercial painters.

    Do you believe in God?What is the meaning of life?

    This gets profound.. :) I certainly don't believe in God in any religious sense, religions are dangerous things that provide false security and encourage group mentality. But perhaps I believe in an inborn beauty of the universe, a harmonious structure underlying everything. In that vein the meaning of life could be to take part in that beauty by contributing something in a way that satisfies yourself. Or maybe the real meaning is just to eat as much as possible before you die.

    One last question: how did you come up with your handle/alias?

    This one I changed to in early 1995 or so, I went through a few handles before that.. Well, "Saffron" is pretty generic, but actually I think it came from a short story by John Varley (he's pretty good as far as 70's scifi goes), one of the moon stories I guess. So Saffron was a character there, I don't remember what kind of a character but probably not one that I wanted to identify with, I just thought it was a cool name.

    Would you like to say Hello to anyone?

    For group loyalty's sake to the TBL'ers, hello Tudor, hello Fear, hello Nix (should mail you again sometime?).. Hello to Jeremy, with whom I'm working on a scene-related project right now. Hello to some people I've met. Hello to mom and pa and friends. Hello to anyone who thinks he'd like to have me saying hello to him.

    hehe :) Thank you for your time, and best of all in your future plans as a graphician. :)

    Thanks to you too, and thanks to anyone who's actually read this far ;) I can be reached at, if someone would like to do that. Bye!

    check out Saffron gallery

   news    galleries    articles    database    links