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|| Interview: Ravi Abbott (Kickstart - UK Amiga Expo, The Retro Hour)|
Ravi Abbott is known for his various documentaries and videos such as "Downfall Amiga, after Commodore" or Amiga Computer Buyers Guide 2022, runs the podcast The Retro Hour together with Dan Wood, writes for the Amiga Addict, is a DJ and has as his latest project to bring back a combination of user meeting and fair for Amiga fans to the UK after several years with "Kickstart" (amiga-news.de reported). We asked Ravi Abbott about his motives and motivation for all these projects:
Amiga-News (AN): Ravi, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. I assume the preparations for the Kickstart are keeping you busy. How did you come up with the idea for this event?
Ravi Abbott (RA): Years ago, the UK used to host large events such as World of Amiga, which I attended as a young person and miss the atmosphere it provided. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a consistent event in the UK for all Amiga users to come together for many years.
Having attended international events, I've always wondered why this is the case. In the past, there have been some fantastic events such as VCF 2020 at Bletchley Park, Amiga 30 in Peterborough, and the impressive big user group meeting Workbench.
A national event was planned before COVID-19 hit, but unfortunately, it was cancelled. As someone with experience in the events industry, I decided to take on the challenge of creating a self-sufficient and consistent annual event model in the middle of England.
AN: What was your motivation and what makes it different from others like AmiWest (USA) or Amiga 37 (Germany)?
RA: Since the Amiga is currently experiencing a surge in popularity, I was motivated to seize this opportunity and grow the event as much as possible. Events like Amiga37 and Amiga Ireland have been a tremendous source of inspiration, with their impressive turnouts, energetic vibes, and well-organized music performances influencing our event. Markus has done an excellent job, and we ensured that we selected a date that wouldn't conflict with these incredible events. We would like to emulate the success of Amiwest, which has consistently run for years.
Although we don't have exact numbers, committing to vast spaces is challenging especially in this tough financial time. However, I believe we've struck the perfect balance between the number of attendees, a fantastic venue (the oldest professional football club in the world), and interest, which allows us to build on this foundation every year and improve the event each time. Our focus on creativity and the future is central to our vision, and we're eager to celebrate the great history of Amiga developers, musicians, and artists in the UK with visitors from around the globe.
AN: Well, our readers do know you by the podcast "The Retro Hour" and many interesting videos. So, please tell me, what is your motivation to do this? What drives you? What do you want to achieve?
RA: I have always enjoyed exploring technology and the stories about how it developed and people's unique paths to entering the industry. Computer technology has grown so quickly that often great stories and achievements are missed, lost, or untold. Mainstream media has always been dismissive of gamers, and retro technology often discusses gaming without intelligence or thought, even though it has helped develop so much of our current lives. We wanted to start a podcast where developers and creatives could talk directly to the audience with honesty and respect. One day, I hope the podcast and videos can help people studying video games in the future or simply be interested in the subject. It's so important to get these stories told because throughout the time we have recorded the podcast, sadly, some of our guests have passed away.
AN: And is it "just a hobby" or is it a full time job?
RA: I first started doing a podcast as a hobby. Doing it weekly for 7 years has pretty much turned it into a part-time job and takes up a lot of my time, but we all really enjoy it, and that's why it has lasted so long. Another addition to the podcast is hosting panels at gaming shows and events, which I really enjoy. Covid was a big reset time for everybody and personally helped me take more risks. We set up Amiga Addict Magazine at the start of Covid, and that's also now turned into a part-time job as well!
I don't think I could ever be a full-time YouTuber due to hating video editing, and my release schedule being very inconsistent. I enjoy doing YouTube videos, but I never really focus on massively growing my channel. I just hope people enjoy the videos I do make.
I am currently organizing a huge UK Amiga Expo for 600 people. I have a background in the events industry in the UK and really enjoy going around the world to Amiga events. Currently, they seem to be very popular worldwide, but the UK is missing out, so I hope this event can become a regular thing and a home for the UK Amiga community to get together.
AN: As we can read in your YouTube description, Commodore Amiga is your main passion and you love it since you were a kid. When was the idea born to use the Amiga not only to play games, but to conduct interviews and make videos?
RA: The Amiga was such a groundbreaking machine; it fueled creativity. Not only could you play games, but you could also make them! These days, we see packages by companies like Adobe on modern machines. Many students are taught the same software on the same machines, and it feels more restricted and compliant to me. The Amiga broke the boundaries of what you could do with a machine. If you could dream it, you could make it. This is what I really love about the machine. I would love to see these ideas applied to modern computing in some way and people breaking free of the mold.
AN: Of course, we need to know: which was your first Amiga model and are you still owning an Amiga?
RA: I used to own an A2000, which was my first Amiga, but unfortunately, I no longer have it. Currently, I have two A600s which I use for DJing, a CD32 with a Terrible First TF360 prototype, an A4000 with a ZZ9000 card and toaster stickers, and a unique Amiga A600 laptop that I have been constructing to function on lithium batteries and enclosed in a Lego case.
AN: Have you tried your hand at programming? If so, what caused this career to fail? ;)
AN: What do you think is the fascination with retro computers in general and the Amiga in particular? Nowadays, we're always looking for the newest and fastest, aren't we?
RA: The limitations of computing have always fascinated me. The ability to create something amazing with just a small piece of code or a small processor is like magic. The demoscene is a standout in digital culture and has led to so many developments. The best thing about retro computing is that it saves machines that would otherwise be dismissed. When I use a new machine, I feel guilty if I'm just using it to browse the web, knowing there is so much power on the system that's unused. The Amiga is great for hacking, upgrading, and learning. The foundations of my computer knowledge come from Workbench and learning to code from the back of magazines, something you don't tend to see anymore in the culture of using plugins or engines. Getting down to the metal has a strong appeal.
AN: Making a video is one thing. But how do you prepare? How do you choose a topic and how do you go about it? Do you first research all the necessary information, then create a "shooting plan" and then write your script? You are using much video material: how do you find it? And how easy is it to get permissions to use it?
RA: I usually look at YouTube and see if there is a gap in knowledge or a subject that people have not covered before. Then, I research the subject by looking at magazines from the time, chatting with friends about it, and ensuring that I have consistent research and references. Once that is done, I record a voice-over and write a script. The main issue is using footage. I try to contact the owner of the footage, but I also make sure that the clip is short and fits YouTube policies. It’s amazing how much incredible footage is out there if you look at old show videos on sites like archive.org or the waybackmachine.
AN: What is the advantage and possibly also the disadvantage of a video compared to an essay/book? For the future, can you imagine writing a book?
RA: Video editing can be a slog. Editing a video takes a long time, and there are so many aspects to consider, such as getting the sound right, acquiring permissions, and meeting YouTube's guidelines. Additionally, ensuring that the video is neither too long nor too short can be challenging. While video editing is not my preferred form of content creation, I enjoy writing. For the past two years, I have served as the Community Editor for Amiga Addict magazine. Recently, I launched a Kickstarter campaign for a book based on 'The Retro Hour Podcast.' This journey has been interesting and has allowed me to improve my writing skills, as well as learn about the publishing, editing, and printing processes.
AN: What would you like to see in the future of the Amiga? Do you think it makes sense to invest time and money in the development of new hardware and software or should we rather enjoy what we have and use and expand it?
RA: The Amiga scene is growing rapidly around the world, with more hardware and software being developed than in years past. This is a fantastic development, and I hope it continues. For many, the Amiga represents an escape to simpler times, and I worry that in the future, people may not understand or appreciate that. However, the key aspect that people will always appreciate is the ability to do amazing things with limited machines, and not dismiss them as obscure or irrelevant. The demoscene will always push the boundaries of the Amiga, but emerging scenes such as music and art also offer creative opportunities that I hope will continue for generations to come.
AN: Ravi, thank you very much for the interview and good luck for the Kickstart!
The Kickstart will take place on 1 and 2 July 2023 in Nottingham (UK) at Meadow Lane football ground, home of the oldest professional football club in the world. Guests include Mike Dailly of DMA Design ("Lemmings") and Simon Phipps of Core Design, creator of Rick Dangerous. The aftershow party will feature live music from DJ Formula, DJ H0ffman, HarleyLikesMusic and Vogue Renege. The event has room for 600 Amiga fans, tickets can be purchased now. (dr)
[News message: 19. Mar. 2023, 06:30] [Comments: 0]
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