Guy Shavitt / The Thing,
Added on November 26th, 2009 (4670 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Guy Shavitt. I'm 36 years old and I was born on March 9, 1973 in Tel-Aviv, Israel. I live in Tel-Aviv and work for a software company called YCD Multimedia as VP of Research and Development. YCD develops digital signage solutions for three main areas: digital merchandising (e.g. digital menu boards in restaurants, customer-facing screens showing promotions at the point of sale), digital ambiance (e.g. 3x3 large video wall displaying ultra HD content in a bar), and internal communication. I am married and have two daughters who's three and seven years old. My interests are cool and innovative technologies, music and anything surrounding my family and work.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
As far as I remember, I never had a handle. I used my full name and initials instead.
What group(s) were you in?
The first group was called The Thing and consisted of Nir Pedhazur and myself. This was in 1987 or 1988. Nir and I later joined The Force and formed two sub-groups within The Force: Sidchip Scratchers (SCS) and Twisted Design.
What roles have you fulfilled?
In the beginning, I was a coder of intros and demos. I occasionally created fonts and other graphics as well. But shortly after, I started to compose music with a player that I developed, and that became my main task. I composed music for demos and intros by The Force, for several other demo groups, for disk-based magazines, and during my last active year, for two games: Crazy Cars III from Titus and 3D World Champion Boxing from Simulmondo. I composed close to 90 tunes in total.
How long were you active for?
I was active between 1988 and 1992.
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
It may sound funny, but I can't remember how it all started for me. After playing games for a while, I got interested in programming and started to learn machine code. At around the same time, I met Nir. I think one of my friends at that time was Nir's neighbour and he introduced me. We started to write stuff together and even tried to sell a game to an Israeli company, but we failed to convince them that it was going to be the next big thing (probably because it truly wasn't the next big thing). We released some intros but they weren't distributed too widely because we didn't have that many contacts. This is where Danny Bouzaglo from The Force comes into the picture. I think he contacted me and suggested us to join The Force, which we did. Danny did a very good job of building a network of contacts around the world, and so our intros and demos were distributed everywhere. This is how other groups outside of Israel learned about my music and later on contacted me to do exclusive tunes for them, which I happily did!
The C64 scene in Israel was pretty lame, and it's very hard to estimate how many people that actually owned a C64. All I can tell is that most of the non-gamers were crackers, and there were only a few coders, musicians and graphicians. I can count maybe ten people that I knew were coders. There were probably more out there, coding for fun and never getting their stuff spread. All in all, I guess there were no more than a few hundred users in Israel during the peak period.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
Usually, I would get back from school, sit in front of the computer and start coding, composing music or watching new demos that I got from my contacts. I also met Nir quite a lot as we lived a short 10 minutes walk from each other. Danny lived in another city so we talked on the phone or sent stuff via snail mail to each other. From time to time, I would take the bus and pay him a visit or he would come visit me. It's funny to think about this today when everyone is so accessible via Internet and emails, visible with online video, Skype, Facebook, etc. I feel very lucky to have experienced the C64 scene. It was very unique and will probably never return.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
The main thing I invented was my music player which I was really proud of at the time. In the beginning, it was pretty lame and limited, but it got better and better. If you listen to my music from 1989 to 1992, you hear improvements I did with the sounds. I used to compose music on Future Composer, then port the notes to my own player and create the instruments and effects. I never had the energy to develop my own music editor and thought Future Composer had exactly what I needed.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of my music and my music player. I'm also proud of some great ideas for demos that I came up with, but most credit goes to Nir who turned them into reality.
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
I'm afraid I'm not going to be original at all here: Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway and Maniacs of Noise. I remember how excited I was every time a new game was released with music by Rob Hubbard. I also liked Vibrants work very much!
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
The opening of the borders was revolutionary no doubt, but sprite multiplexing was also very cool and benefited both the demo scene and the game industry. For music, Future Composer was a great tool and MON's sounds were extremely refreshing.
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
No, unfortunately. The scene in Israel was non-existent, and taking a five hour flight to Europe was not an option at the age of 15. We were disconnected from the scene, and the two things that kept us up-to-date were demos and disk mags.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
It was about being innovative, cool and about breaking barriers. It was a stage for greatest talents. It also allowed people that were ordinary and average in real life to be superstars thanks to their talents, whether they were coding, drawing graphics or composing music.
What were the particular highlights for you?
The moment when a good idea for a demo came up and the moment when I saw Nir turn this idea into reality were true highlights for me! I remember that every time Nir did something new and amazing, I was absolutely in shock that he made it work. Nir's perception was always that things were worse than they actually were. He could do something amazing but for him it was not smooth enough, not accurate enough, etc. He was always like that – modest and too self-demanding.
Any cool stories to share with us?
Just a little anecdote: It turns out that many guys from the C64 and Amiga scenes are working in the same industry I work in today, which is digital signage. The core technology of the video playback somewhat reminds me of the things that were done on C64 and Amiga, and I guess guys from these scenes are well-equipped with the right skills and right way of thinking. Many others naturally went on to create games.
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
I lost contact with everyone many years ago, but thanks to applications like Facebook – and because I'm becoming an old sentimental and nostalgic guy – I'm in contact with a few people from that period again.
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
It must have been in 1987 or 1988. I'm afraid I don't have it any more. I probably gave it to a friend of mine or something.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
Yes, it was. We were all very fortunate to be part of it!
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
No comment. ;)
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Special thanks to the people spending their time (and money) to preserve the great legacy of the C64. You are doing a great and important job! Thanks to the people who supported me during my active period. It was a pleasure to be part of it. I wish everyone great success!
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