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This is a generic disc, designed for PC and Mac users too, but you might have expected better support for the Amiga from the likes of Walnut Creek. With Mb of space to play with, you would have thought they might have had enough room to include more than just one icon. The result is a very confusing load of drawers and files - if you don't have Directory Opus, or equivalent, you'll get lost.
But a lot of effort has been made to make sure that these files and utilities will work directly from the CD-ROM. After all, what is the point of having Mb of data on CD if you have to keep on copying on to your hard drive? Although everything has been tested well, Fred says he's tested it and I believe him , some applications will not run without a few Assigns being made.
This disc, and presumably the ones which will follow in the FreshFish series, contain an awful lot of stuff that would not make it on to the FF disks with a "k". If in doubt, stick it in a new drawer is Fred's motto. Almost everything useful on the disc is duplicated in an archived format for use on a BBS. All in all, this disc is a bit of a disappointment.
It is aimed at getting out the latest fish stuff on CD-ROM quickly, but the rest of the space on the disc is somewhat wasted. Hopefully later editions will improve. Not the surface of Richard Baguley's brain, but an ealry picture of Mars from several miles up. The disc does contain various animation viewers, sound files, and utilities, but virtually all these are designed for the PC. However, the bulk of the disc is comprised of GIF images.
GIF viewers and converters for the Amiga are supplied. The images are grouped according to planet. Interestingly, there are over forty images of Mars, and only four of the moon. The images are generally of very good quality, having been digitally converted from NASA images, rather than scanned in from transparencies. There's also a large number of text files.
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Most of these consist of excerpts from the Space Digest, available via Internet. For example, I was very surprised to discover that no plausible mechanism has been proposed to explain the source of Oort clouds [Eh? There are some more general fact sheets though. One miserable icon, that's all they could be bothered to do and it was only a dummy one. Room for improvement! Hopefully, there'll be an update with lots of nice pics of Jupiter being bombarded, which will give the chaps at Walnut Creek the opportunity to Amigify the whole thing. On it are images of various fractals, all generated by Fractal Pro, which you may remember from an Amiga Format coverdisk not too long ago.
As well as standard mandels and Julias, there are also some miscellaneous things. One such set is the Wolf set, a set of the author's own devising which, apart from being overly labelled with copyright messages, is quite interesting. Some of the images are saved as animated sequences, so you can sit back and relax as the set slowly expands.
Actually it doesn't - it expands quite quickly, but it was a nice idea. Among some of the more dubious images to be found are a collection of fractals which have been composited with digitised images of "beautiful women". In a stunning and "original art concept" these pictures show women with fractal skin, or bikinis made out of the Julia set. I think he must have got the compositing controls mixed up, because the "aesthetically pleasing" parts of the models are always covered with whirling Mandelbrot images. Usefully, all of the images come with their associated.
I think it would've been useful if MegageM had included a version of Fractal Pro on the disk. Maybe not the latest one, but at least some old, slow version that you could actually use with this data. Thumbnail pictures are provided to guide you through the depths of the Image drawers.
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This disc aims to solve all those problems by providing a huge store of fonts and clipart, copyright free, which you can incorporate into your own animations, demos, pictures or DTP escapades. Taking the clipart first, much of it is throwaway stuff. It's all black and white for a start, which might be okay for DTP if you are only producing black and white output , but it is a bit sad for anything else. You could go through and colour them up, but it would take a rather long time.
Many of them are halftoned - which not only makes them almost impossible to colour, it can also make them very difficult to print if your software does its own Hmmm. That's all very welt, but what's the point? I wonder how he persuaded them to pose Just click on the files you want to view and they pop up on your screen. And none of the girls have got their baps out either [How shocking] - Ed]. There is a wide variety of stuff there though, so you may find something useful. Bizarrely, they are not the same images - obviously they couldn't be bothered converting them all to IFF.
This is a bit annoying, as you can't view them any other way - they might at least have provided some thumbnails. The fonts are another matter. There are quite a few of them. Unfortunately, most of them are stored in Adobe-type pfb files. This means that unless you have something that wants type 3 fonts e. Lightwave or Imagine , you are a little bit stuffed. The only way to use them is to convert them to Compugraphic jobs. That rather defeats the purpose of having them on CD if you ask me.
There are a few Compugraphic fonts on there too, but only about 5Mb worth of them, i. A lot of them are dodgy conversions, and if you are into fonts, I'm sure you have most of them anyway. This leaves aside the moral aspects. Most of the fonts are conversions of freeware Postscript fonts, or samplers from font collections. Using them could infringe copyright. Many of them come with text files explaining the copyright situation, and need to be read carefully. I'm sure you could find lots of useable things on this disk, but I'm equally sure that it could have been a whole lot better.
Some of the images could be used for party invitations or business cards for women in the "service" Industries. I'll leave It to your Imagination why this scores badly Most of the clipart is useless unless you are doing a retrospective on 17th Century woodcuts. Get the full picture You might just about be able to recognise this picture, but does the game it came from get an illustrious Amiga Format gold award?
There is only one way to be sure If you want to communicate with people all over the world you need one of these. You also need to know how to use it. There's only one place you'll find all the answers. Or is it an image from the greatest Coverdisk since Imagine! Have Commodore been sold to a bunch of South American meat- packing glitterati? Is the future of the Amiga safe for generations to come?
What software was responsible for this picture? Where can you get it and what Amiga system do you need to run it? There is only one place to find out —get On sale NOW! Many people have been ashing us for this, so here It is at last. Over the next few months we will Introduce Assembly language programming for the Amiga, and cover a variety of topics such as opening screens and windows, and even programming the hardware directly. For this first part, we will lay down the basic groundwork necessary to make a start, and discuss some of the tools you will need, so no typing this month, but plenty of reading!
Let's have a look at the procedure you might use to run a bath: 1. Enter the bathroom. Turn on the hot and cold taps 3. Bath too hot? If so, turn down the hot tap. Is the bath too cold? If yes, turn down the internal structure The diagram below shows you the internal structure of the processor, and the various registers which it contains. Each of these controls a different part of the CPUs operation.
Is the bath full? If no, go to step 3. If yes, continue. Turn off taps. This procedure contains all the basic elements of a program. A program is a sequence of instructions, which when followed cause a certain result to happen. In this case, the result is the run bath. Not only does our program contain sequence, but it contains decisions. For steps 3, 4 and 5 we check to see if a certain condition has become true, if it has we will perform a different action to the one we will do if it has not. Finally, our above example has a loop in it.
At step 5 we check to see if the bath is full, if is is not, we go back to step 3. These three elements, sequence, iteration and decision when moulded together like this give us a program. These instructions themselves form the programming language. The bath running example was a very high level approach. We were not worried with how the water got from the wafer board to our taps, or the exact sequence for turning on a tap. An even higher level might turn the above program into the following one step: 1.
Run the bath. If you were asked to do this, you would then break this down into the individual steps necessary to perform the action. This is generally the difference between a high level language such as BASIC and C, to a low level language like Assembly language; which we are going to learn. With the higher level of language you lose some of the control - after all "Run the bath" doesn't state how hot to make it, or how much water to put in, or indeed which order you are going to do it in.
You may lose control, but it's much quicker to "write the program". The lower level approach gives you much more control, you can make all the low level decisions yourself - like whether to run the hot or cold water first, how deep to make the bath, how hot to make it, and so forth. Of course, it takes a lot longer to write this program down. And indeed, you are more likely to make errors. Your computer is a very simple beast. At its very heart is a device called a microprocessor. In the Amiga, this is a member of the series, manufactured by Motorola. The microprocessor is highly complex, but the process it's designed to perform is simple.
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From the moment you switch it on, it starts going through a list of instructions a program held in memory, and running them. It only stops when something absolutely hideous goes wrong, or you switch your computer off. These instructions are called "machine language", and this is the lowest level of programming you can perform on your Amiga. Machine language consists of a number of simple operations, such as arithmetic instructions, and instructions to move information around in memory.
There are also the operations necessary to make decisions, and then move to different parts of the program accordingly. What does all this mean? Well, the above is the machine code to add 1 to the th memory location inside your Amiga. The first thing to note is that the above is in the binary number system. We work in decimal, we have ten digits, and then we carry one to make If you remember maths lessons when you were five, you might recall a units, tens, hundreds and thousands column, a bit like this: 1 The number "" would be "Three in the thousands column, 4 in the hundreds.
Pretty simple stuff, but computers don't work in tens, they work in twos. Each individual binary digit is referred to as a Bit Binary Digit. If we have a four digit decimal number, we can have 10, combinations, from to If we have a four digit binary number we can have 16 combinations, from OOOO to The binary system works just like decimal, but with 2s instead, so instead of powers of ten in our column headings, we have powers of two: 8 4 2 1 So, the number 13 would be one in the S column, one in the 4 column and one in the 1 column, a grand total of 13, and the binary number: 1 You can easily convert numbers to and from binary in this way, get a piece of paper, write down the column headings in powers of two, and to convert to decimal from binary, write the number down under the columns and add up the totals, for example: 8 4 2 10 This is 6, one in the 4s and one in the 2s.
Converting to binary is just as straight forward, say we want to convert 14 to binary: 8 4 2 1 Well, the first column heading, 8, goes in to 14, so put 1 under that column. Subtract the S from the 14, which leaves us with 6 4s go into 6, so that a 1 under the 4s which leaves us with 2. That is one under the 2s which leaves us with nothing, so a O under the Is. The binary result is: With four column headings we are limited to numbers in the range, but we can easily add more. After the 8s column comes the 16s, then the 32s, 64s and so forth. Just keep doubling it.
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But in the meanwhile, back to our add instruction: oooo ono oon iooi oooo oooo oooo oooi oooo oooo oooo oooi oooo oooo oooo oooo OK, we could convert this to decimal. If we did we'd end up with a pretty large number. Forty odd years ago programming was done in binary like this. If it went wrong, it was hell to find the offending instruction, as you would have to look at lots of little red lights, on for 1 and off for O. No nice high resolution displays in those days. Computer people are lazy, there is little point in doing work which you don't have to do, so before long, this programming technique was made easier by programming in first the octal, and then the hexadecimal number system.
We'll skip octal base 8 , in these days there is little point in it. Hexadecimal, however, is much more useful. It is base 16, and has 16 digits, from O to 9 and then A for 10, B for 11, up to F for Ah, that's interesting you might think, F is 15, which means every four binary digits can be represented in one single hexadecimal digit. Nice one, so let's now write our machine code instruction down in hexadecimal: Ll j fc'rvfordr Kit" p S38S? Ah, that's nicer. Indeed, we can see some of the instructions information in there.
If you recall, we were writing the the value '1' into the memory location Let's break this instruction down. The first four digits are the instruction itself. The next two bytes of our instruction, the is the value we wish to add, 1. The next four are the memory address we wish to write to, lOOOO in hex. Great, machine code looks relatively easy, only there are many of these instructions, and you couldn't possibly hope to remember them all. So, we've made our machine code program a little easier to write - we would enter hexadecimal into a keypad, and some electronics would convert that to machine code.
There might even be a program inside the computer already written to help us with the easy entry of data into the computers memory. This is all well and good, but numbers like for one of the many versions of ADD are a little hard to remember, and imagine if you had a program consisting of lines of machine code, that's a lot of hexadecimal digits, you are bound to make a mistake eventually. A much better approach, is for us to write our machine code in english, and for the computer to do the hard work: add. We have substituted the instruction "" for the word "add", which means add something to something else.
The series of processors are Bits inside the older processor is technically a Bit processor to the outside world, but on the inside it's Bits , which means it can process 32 Bits of information in one go, four bytes. We can specify if we wish to deal with a full Bits a long word , Bits a word , or 8-Bits a byte processor. We'll come back to this. This is Assembly language.
When we have written our program in Assembly language, we run a program called an Assembler which will convert it line by line into machine code which the microprocessor understands. This makes the programmers life a lot easier. Of course, development didn't stop there, things could be made simpler still.
Assembly language is very straight forward, each instruction is translated directly to one machine language instruction. An Assembler is effectively a very powerful translator. It shows the words "Hello world" on the screen. When you've written it, you run a program called a Compiler, which converts it into machine code ready for the microprocessor to run.
The Assembly language version of this for the Amiga is nearly 25 lines long, and a whole lot less easy to understand. So why do it? Why force yourself to write programs in Assembly language which are going to take longer to write, be harder to follow, and you're more likely to make mistakes in? Good question. Why Assembly is something that's worth asking yourself. If you are learning programming to write some utilities, and maybe the odd small application which opens a few windows and does some simple things, then maybe ysu ought to be learning C.
Let's have have you are able to optimise code to make the very best out of the processor you are running on. Compilers aren't so good at this yet. You will learn to understand what the processor does, what component parts make up your computer, and how to work with them. With high level languages such as C you will never learn all of this. These things will prove invaluable to you when you do come to program higher level languages, as you'll know a lot about the operations that will eventually be performed by the microprocessor after the program is compiled, ie, you'll write better C, So, having decided we definitely wish to program in Assembly language, let's make a start.
H siKBfi;! For a language such as C you do not know how many, or which, machine code instructions are going to be created from your C code. The C program to say Hello World, when compiled directly with no optimisations comes out at just under 10, bytes. The machine code equivalent is under bytes. On the left you cart see the Machine code and on the right Is the assembler - for easy comparison.
For reference, let's weII start to become available look at the Chip. The Chip was designed in the late s to provide a jump away from 8-Bit to Bit technology for Motorola. So, what is all this 8 and Bit stuff then? J1 CA Amongst the many pins on a Chip, 16 of them are dedicated to the transfer of data to and from other chips in the computer, such as memory for example.
Because each of these pins can only carry a 1 or a 0, you'll see that it can read or write Bits at a time, or a single word.
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This is what makes the a Bit microprocessor. Motorola, however, were very clever - although it was Bits on the outside, they made it Bits on the inside, so that they could expand the range later and provide a full Bit Chip, which they first did with the , , and now the Chip. Out of the 64 pins on a standard Chip, 16 of them are therefore for the transfer of data to and from other devices, in particular, memory. These pins, collectively, are called the Data Bus. So, what do all the rest do? Well, 24 of them are the Address Bus. So, what is an address bus? Well, each individual location of memory on the has a unique address.
It has to, so that the Chip can specify which byte it wishes to talk to at any given time. It's like street numbers - you might live at 57 Lobster Avenue, in the same way that a particular byte may live at memory location J1FE When the wishes to, say for example, read a byte of memory from a certain address, it uses the Address Bus to specify the binary address of the byte in question, and then the memory will return the value at that location on the Data Bus.
The whole operation is controlled from the 's Control Bus, which contains special pins to specify things like "I want to read some memory please", and "I want to write some memory". Typical isn't it, you wait all day for a bus, and three turn up at once some of these old jokes are worth bringing up for air occasionally No they arn't Ed.
The remaining pins on the are for supplying its power supply. One brief visit back to the address bus, you will recall that on the Chip there are 24 pins in it. Actually, to confuse you, there are only 23, numbered from 1 to 23, Because the is a Bit processor it does not access individual bytes, it accesses words, so the units column which would be address bus pin 0 does not exist.
The Chip has special control for accessing the individual bytes in a word. Anyway, let's assume Bits on our address bus, what is the largest number we can represent? If you work it out, converting it back to decimal, you'll see that the result is bytes of memory, which is the maximum amount of memory a normal can support. Those of you who have fallen asleep by now may not have noticed that IK Kilo-Byte is bytes rather than This is simply because is not a very round computer number, it is in binary.
You'll notice that all the "Magic numbers" in computers, such as 8 Mega Bytes, K, and so on are all powers of two, nice round computer numbers. We digress, back to the Chip. So we've established that the Chip has a Bit data bus, and is capable of addressing up to 16 Mb of memory. The has a full Bit address and data bus, incidentally, so those of you with an A have a full Bit processor capable of addressing 2 to the power of 32 bytes of memory 4 GIGA bytes!
You cannot write information to ROM; its contents are set when it is manufactured. All of the machine code programs necessary for your Amiga to work are placed in this ROM. Owners of 1. ROM is special because when you switch your computer off, its contents remain intact, it is non-volatile- RAM Random Access Memory , on the other hand is different.
You can read and write to RAM, and when you switch the power off, unless it is battery backed up, the contents are lost. The Chip itself is a simple beast. So, how does it work? Well, when you switch it on, it sets an internal counter to zero, this is called the "Program Counter", and is used to tell the where the next machine code instruction is in memory. In the meanwhile, the program counter PC is incremented to point to the next instruction, and so the process continues.
This is called the Fetch- Execute cycle. Modern CPUs such as the have additional gadgets inside the processor to speed up this process, but they aren't important to us at this point. As well as the PC, the Chip contains several other internal storage locations, called registers. All of these bar one on the are Bits. They are just variables which instead of been held in main RAM, are held in a tiny amount of RAM which is inside the Chip itself. Access to these registers is far, far faster than accessing main RAM, so as we learn Assembly language, you'll learn the importance of making the most of them.
Motorola were very generous when giving out registers, there are 8 general purpose registers called the Data registers. These are numbered DO to D7. In addition to these, there are 7 address registers, AO to A6 which can be used by the programmer to store addresses. We'll get to this next month. Finally there is the PC, of course, and the status register which is only Bits long. The Status register SR contains special information about the current microprocessor status, such as "The last arithmetic operation caused a carry". We have a small sprinkling of Assembly language, we do know one instruction, so just how easy is all this then?
Well, if you've followed the above, really easy. I dO,d7 add. The GigaMem product memory and executes just Controller, a special cheaper does this. This is an it only has an 8-Bit data bus. Chip found in the A, and in multi-tasking environments - This is an upgraded three times the performance of where the processor pretended , with larger caches. It is the MMUs do not draw power, making it multiply and divide sped up are used for many things, on ideal for portable computers considerably. Amigas they can provide virtual which run off batteries. I've put the machine code next to the Assembly language instructions, so that you can get used to the relationship between the two.
So, what do you think that the DO and D7 registers contain after these three Assembly language instructions have been run? We've introduced a new instruction here, move. Move is a very important instruction, it enables you to move data from one place to another. That can be from register to register, register to memory, memory to register and so forth. So, the first instruction moves the literal value into DO. DO now contains Zero.
We now move the contents of DO to D7. D7 now also contains Zero, Then, finally, we add the literal value 1 to D7. DO contains 0, D7 contains 1. OK, so it didn't do anything exciting like print "Hello World" on the screen, but it is our first Assembly language program. Now we're ready to make a start, so we'll need to get some software together, including that all important Assembler. Firstly, and most importantly, you'll need an Assembler.
I'd recommend HiSoft's DevPac 3 Assembler, This is a powerful, and easy to use application which is ideal for beginner and expert alike. It comes with the Assembler itself, a text editor in which you can write your code, and a debugger allowing you see what your program does step by step. On top of this, it comes with the all important include files which contain special information which allow us to talk to the Amiga operating system.
Earlier versions of DevPac have been given away on cover disks in the past, but if you're serious about Assembly Language it's worth buying DevPac 3. Other than this, I recommend that you consider getting the Amiga Developers Kit, version 3. This is available from Commodore at the cost of 23 pounds, and comes complete with the very latest disk based reference for every library function, heaps of example code, utilities, debugging tools If you're serious about Amiga development, you might also like to enquire about becoming a registered developer at the same time.
For this series, I'll be using the DevPac Assembler and MonAm3 - the Debugger supplied with it, although if you have a different Assembler you shouldn't have any difficulty using that instead. Sorry to scare you like that, but I'm sure you are as fed up as I am with being fed that the Amiga is great for producing amazing images - I already know that. That's the reason I bought one and why I'm proud to be working on the best non- games Amiga magazine. Hopefully, that first sentence has a' it, got rid of those people who think they can t ly a copy of Lightwave and be transformed Into Ron Thornton overnight.
Craig Collin- Is a young man who knows how much hard work jnd practice it takes to get anywhere near that level. If you are into animations, Craig's name will already be familiar to you. He has also just produced an excellent video see this issue's Window Shopper for a review as well as producing our fabulous cover image.
The quality of his animations are phenomenal - featuring incredible effects, plenty of action and, most of all, good storylines. However, the thing that has made his creations to date even more impressive is the equipment and software that he uses. While many of the professional companies such as Amblin and Foundation Imaging have huge rendering "farms" comprising several networked Video Toasters, Craig works with only a standard Amiga. What's more, all of his animations have been created using Imagine 2, a program that almost everyone has since it was given away by Amiga Format.
Craig's work is proof of what anybody with any artistic talent and perseverance can achieve - without thousands of pounds worth of equipment. After receiving a copy of Craig's Imagine video and being suitably awe-struck, I decided to go up to Normanton West Yorks to speak to Craig and find out how he went about making the video and to find out more about him.
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Despite his academic success, he spent a year and a half searching for a job. He is now 26 and works part- time in a warehouse, and spends the rest of his time working on animations. How did you first become involved with Amiga 30 graphics? Like a lot of people I bought a to play games, then a friend showed me Sculpt 4D. I used that and fell in love with 3D. Then I started buying more and more equipment - faster accelerator cards, more memory and moved up to a On the software front, I got into Turbosilver the predecessor of Imagine. Where have your creative influences come from and has anyone really Inspired you?
Like almost everyone in our age-group I watched and enjoyed films like Blade Runner, 12, Aliens and the Star Wars trilogy of course.
It's the look of these two directors' work - they have a grunginess about them. It's that grunginess that attracts me. The Star Trekky clean look, which I don't think will exist, doesn't appeal to me at all - I go for the dirty look, I like Ron Thornton too, he's the kind of animator I would like to be - to me, he's a god. I think the job he's done with Babylon 5 is absolutely amazing and that's why I've just bought Lightwave.
I also hope to use this package to do logo animations for companies. Anime has been a big influence as well; I am especially a fan of the Bubblegum Crisis. The powersuit used in Soldier X was actually based on the Boomer units from that series. A lot of people think he was based on the Guyver, but I'd actually designed Soldier X a few months before I actually saw the Guyver.
Of Course Akira was a big influence too. John Lasseter is an animator who has had a big influence on my work. He told me, basically, don't always move your camera around, and that characters, screenplay and stories are the most important aspect of animations. That's why my animations are story-driven, they are not just a sequence of flashy images.
That's quite a list Moving on to the video, what hardware did you need to create It? Graeme Sandiford met up with the man himself to find out what his secret to success is. They both have an editing socket built-in. The editing system I used to control the two videos was a Centronics one. What software did you use for the video? The two 3D packages I use most at the moment are Imagine 2 and Imagine 3.
But, in the video I used Imagine 2 about 95 per cent of the time and Imagine 2. In my day-to-day use of my Amiga I also use Directory Opus nearly all the time. DPaint IV is also another important program, I use it to create brush maps for objects and painting backgrounds. For producing the video I also purchased Scala - I used it to transfer trie animations to tape. I used it because it can play animations automatically in interlace mode, and it is quite fast too - faster than DPaint. I use Essence textures extensively as well. Mainly for simulating fires and other effects. If you look at the corridors in Soldier X and Aliens, you'll see that they're absolutely filthy - 1 used Essence textures to give that impression.
One of the things I noticed, and liked, about the Aliens film was the way the whole complex was an absolute mess. I wanted to try and create the same kind of look and "feel", and get away from the clean, plastic fook of most 3D-generated images. I found that the fractal textures produced a satisfactorily dirty and weathered look to the models. The fire effect was also an Essence texture - it really worked well. To actually model the flames would obviously have been difficult and the textures worked well and quickly.
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