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08 Ra of Nooon & Sanity: The artist is back.
In Focus: Ra of Nooon & Sanity

An interview conducted by Magic of Nah-Kolor


Picture description by Ra: "TRSI logo sticker from 90's made by J.o.e., one of my favourite old scene logos, it contains 65000 pixels of pure demospirit. This is an old TRSI sticker, from a time when swapping was more common in the scene than using BBS's, with letters full of disks and papers, flyers and sometimes stickers... I found it a few weeks ago searching for memories in my old affairs..."


Ra is a graphics artists and also happens to be the founder of the legendary PC group Nooon. In the early nineties he was also active as a scener on the Amiga. In Hugi issue 34 we already interviewed Moby of Nooon & Sanity and finally, many months after the first contact, which was in the first quarter of 2007, we got a talk with Ra exclusively for Hugi #35. Enjoy this interview with one of the best graphics artists from the early demoscene in the beginning of the 90's.


Getting to know Ra


Magic:
Hi Ra, please introduce yourself to our readers.


Ra:
Hay, my name is Olivier Jean Charles Bechard, French Caucasian, living in the South of France, I've been known as Ra of Nooon for 15 years, for the scene of course.


Magic:
Please tell our readers, in order of chronology from the past to the present, which groups you have been part of and when this was and what was you did in that group.


Ra:
Around 1990 I discovered the demoscene with a local group called Devils, for which I made my first pixel graphics, which were used in the demo called Colors on Amiga 500. After that, I joined Pure metal coders, where I stayed a few months, then Dreamdealers with their crazy attitude (hay Pib, Redlight, Freddox), and I finished staying in Sanity, which made the demo Arte, running on Amiga 500, too. After that I founded the 'Nooon' group together with Moby, my musician and wisesource.


Magic:
What's the origin of your scene nickname 'Ra'?


Ra:
When I left Devils, my nickname was Rhah, at this time a lot of people called me "rha" or "rah" or "rhahlovely". "Rhah lovely" comes from Moebius squetch book, but my "rhah" comes from Platoon, just have a look at the end credit of Platoon, you'll find what I had in my mind. After that, the Devils group spread lots of letters all over the scene world insulting me as a childish asshole. I decided to act like an asshole, and to make two goals with one strike, I changed my name into something more simple to remember, and I changed it to something similar as rhah to prove that I'm not gonna hide myself... Like always I made another mistake, I later got to hear that there was a well known guy from ancient Egypt who had the same nickname...


Magic:
What is your life like anno domini 2008? Are you married? Do you have kids? Please tell us about the life you have now or would like to have.


Ra:
I am not married or engaged, been with some girlfriends, nothing spectacular. Life is short and I missed it or I was not able to catch it the good way...


Magic:
Not able to catch it the good way?



Ra:
I said that to explain perhaps too much computer not enough party. I forgot a "maybe" in my answer, but anyway when I was young I was thinking I would have kids, a wife etc, actually I still don't care about kids.


Magic:
What made you start making graphics on computers way back in your childhood?


Ra:
I started my first graphics on computer at the age of 7, in 1981. It was made of an 8x8 box, the ascii characters. At this time, there was a French TV series called "Small genious" where you could see a c64 and some primate robots, and the film "Hacker", and of course James Bond was one of my references.


Magic:
Since you left the scene, what is it with graphics you do in real life exactly? Have you worked in the games industry for example?


Ra:
Yes, I worked for different videogames companies, on only shitty projects, I made shitty graphics during the last 10 years. If you see my name in a video game, don't buy it. Steal it.


Magic:
Can you give some examples which games you worked on? And why would we need to steal them?



Ra:
I meant copy them, which is stealing in a way. Titles I worked on: Rankeinstein/GBA, Asterix & Obelix/GBA, 360/GB, Atlantis 3/PSX, Gift/GBA, etc. I can't remember them all...


Ra and his time in the demoscene


Magic:
You are the founder of Nooon. Where does this name come from? How was it chosen? Can we expect something from Nooon in the future?


"The worst moment was at the Party 1994 when they refused my graphics compo entry"


Ra:
It comes from my old friend Elmobo (Moby). He and I were searching for something which could represent our mind spirit back then. The groupname was chosen during a phonecall, Moby sent me a letter with a "no", a big "no" (in French "non") at the end of his letter... Exactly he wrote: 'noooooooon'... He was certainly against something Dunno my own future =) If we plan a production it will be announced at www.nooon.org.


Magic:
What does Amiga mean for you or what did it mean for you?


Ra:
My "jeunesse", Amiga is a platform, a very small one... and means nothing more than obsolete.


Magic:
Do you still watch demos? If yes, which of today's demos do you like?


Ra:
Yes, some in the past, but more often now, Barti of Nooon is still involved in the scene, he showed me demoscene tv etc... Just a few demos are good enough for the masses who have no interest in 3d engines, I can't remember the names of those demos, except for Animal Attraction and Media Error...


Magic:
What was your best moment in the scene? And your worst?


Ra:
My best time in the demoscene was certainly spent on all the parties I went to, pure pleasure. The worst moment was at the end of 1994 I think, at The Party 1994 in Denmark when they refused my graphics compo entry.


Magic:
I noticed you have registered yourself on Pouet.net. Do you like this website?


Ra:
I don't really understand how to access the forum subjects on Pouet.net, so I just visited two topics =) I love all the logos, really love them, I want the same for my web site =) 200 logos or more =)



Magic:
It seems you have watched a lot of demos since you became active on Pouet.net. Please share with us your experiences in watching today's demos..


Ra:
Before I watched these demos, I was doing nothing, now I work 10 hours per day. Demos are, like Navis said, a little box in demoscene.tv, a way to share motivation. But I think a few demos are adult demos with a real direction. Some demos try to show us an anarchist way, and just make a 3d scene out of a coke bottle. Other demos show us Disney remakes or try to explain us the meaning of life without any brains involved in them... Anyway there still exist some real masterpieces like for example 'Beyond the wall of eryx' or 'Media error', which has proven I'm wrong =)


Ra, behind the graphics


Magic:
Which real life artists are your idol(s) or have influenced you in your line of work?


Ra:
17 years before, as a kid, I loved Carlos Nine's work, he used strange colors, like I was doing in my pictures, and his style is just what I was dreaming to do. You can see some copies of his work in Arte by Sanity or Stars by Nooon. Anyway, my real inspiration source for technique was not Carlos Nine's strange colours, but was the big advertisements you can see next to roads or in a metro: 'the 4meters per 3meters giant zoom'. I got to understand how colours run from them.


Magic:
Which scene gfx artists inspired you to also make scene graphics?


Ra:
My best regards to Michael Balle, Walt and Uno, who inspired me directly or not..


Magic:
What is your opinion of the following scene artists: Archmage, Facet, Peachy and Bridgeclaw?


Ra:
I loved Peachy when he was drinking, Archmage, mhhh, never seen him out of control, Bridgeclaw I can't remember... Facet hmmm.... I haven't seen any graphics from all these guys for a while, for sure they were good pixel artists but after all, there is no purpose for being a "pixel" artist with 1280x1024 resolution... We can of course design or decorate something too common, but now we need also to be inspired by our own, our life... our inspiration.


Magic:
Can you tell us some nice anecdotes about working on the Arte demo with Chaos? Did it take you much time to make the graphics and design for this demo?


Ra:
Arte, 880kb on the floppydisk, 3 modules of 200kb each, 800kb of graphics, and when it was the time to present this demo at The Party 3, I think the party staff cut the demo at 2/3, they thought it was finished... OR perhaps that, at one point I decided to visit Mr.Pet in Hamburg, after 24 hours of driving, when I saw his car, I just pushed it with mine (it was raining). Lotsa more, souvenirs, souvenirs...


Magic:
What is the best picture you have ever drawn in your demoscene period? Please explain why and tell us something about the making of this picture.


Ra:
I'm not proud of any work done yet but as far as I can remember, my Einstein picture was a new step for me, got 2 photos, 1 drawing of Einstein for making mine. A new step to realistic style... Of course it was in 320x256 resolution with 32 colours, and only a mouse for it... 65000 pixels...


Magic:
Where did you get your inspiration from when drawing gfx on the Amiga in the old days and where do you get your inspiration from today?


Ra:
Painting on Amiga was all about technique and a way to see something, so inspiration came from copying real life masterpieces, doing our own trying to make it as photorealistic as possible. Nowadays, I take inspiration from what I want to say.


Magic:
What would be your advice for a beginning graphics artist?


Ra:
Try to do better, put more mind into your drawings. In graphics if something is done, there is a purpose, so, to make good graphics, nothing more than a brain is necessary.


Ra and today's demoscene graphics


I asked Ra about his opinion on the following pics:



Me & Louie's Sister by Wade of Alcatraz:
"Using photo without scan for zoning and light, good colors and general light, not enough pixel details to my mind, too much smooth used."


Arrivel by Prince of The Obsessed Maniacs:
"Using scans for background, perhaps Poser tool for bodies, colours are childish, and details are not enough integrated with the environment, anyway this picture is one of the most interesting ones I have seen, all heads have their face turned towards the camera, like you are the king. A good picture."


SMD5 by Helge of Haujobb:
"Using layers, and drawings all good, strange things: the dragon head and the girl are a bit transparent behind the ground and the trees... Perhaps for a better integration, but it's uncontrolled.. no conclusions, good picture anyway."




Hugi34 end picture by Tascha:
"It's a Hugi picture? Great, great picture, great sound to it, can you feel the bass? Anyway, I have seen a bunch of dragon pictures, only here, two dragons in four pictures... Lotsa pictures made for videogames or videogamesforums used to have a dragon with a girl, around the same colours and environement light, the girl is dressed all the time with only underwears and always with a transparent part, the wind makes their hair flow... sometimes the sun, sometimes the moon..."


Magic:
What do you think of today's graphics and design in demos?


Ra:
Seems design has totally taken the cake for itself. I saw three pictures and one logo in one hundred productions...


Magic:
What do you mean with 'design took the cake for itself'?


Ra:
The design in 3d demo does not really need pixels, pixels are only used for textures.


Magic:
What is, in your eyes, the difference in graphics from your demos in your Amiga days and the graphics you have seen now in demos?


Ra:
They are around the same except it seems easier to paint but it needs more time to create now it's 1280x1024 and before it was 320x256.


Assembly 2008


Magic:
When did you visit your last scene party and why did you decide to visit Assembly 2008?


Ra:
My last pary was The Party 1995. I wanted to visit Assembly in the Finnish arena as for me it is one of the greatest events, perhaps the best one as you can see gamers involved in the democompo.


Magic:
Please tell us about your adventures on Assembly 2008. How did you like Assembly 2008?


Ra:
The Assembly organisers are very nice, I spoke with many of them. The organisers are very into the demoscene. You can see that they made a lot of effort to show demos to new people and I had a lot of fun at Boozembly. I will try to come again next year.


Magic:
What did you think of the Assembly 2008 graphics competition?


Ra:
Some good Wacom techniques, I finished 9th with my picture. Not bad.


Magic:
You made a comeback on the demoscene. You competed in the Assembly 2008 graphics competition with a new picture called After Death. What can you tell us about this picture?



Ra:
The simple thing is that I made the details for this picture in the same time I took care about the drawing but I made a mistake in the hair, at one point I turned the hair in some direction so I was forced to turn the head as well. When you make a hair cut there is the limit of right and left and this limit (in middle) forced me to turn it around.

About my inspiration: I didn't use any model or inspiration from television or paper model. I only used my memory. But for me 'After death' is an illustration, as it's a personal picture because it's my first art picture. In a sense, this picture represents my state of consciousness - it's my first artistic picture.


Magic:
What were the best moments of Assembly 2008 for you and why?


Ra:
When I met Sir Garbagetruck and visited Boozembly for the first time. Also talking to Mazor and Smash, Destop and der pipo. Kissing Finnish girls too. All great.



Leaving Ra Behind


Magic:
In retrospective, how do you look back on your time on the Amiga and PC demoscene?


"Seems design has totally taken the cake for itself"


Ra:
First of all I was a kid when I entered the scene, I was searching myself on what I was able to do etc... instead of playing games and watching demos. Making and creating is much more interesting for everybody. I mean, to my mind it should be everybody's first goal: less gamers on earth and more creative people... Games or ludic activities will not change your life, and of course other lives... So for me, the demoscene was a school. I'm sure the demoscene will go through the next step soon, someone who will involve sceners in real purposes in contras to proving each other their skills. The scene also needs to enlarge its activities (for more pleasure large is better ). Now we need singers, dancers, choreographs, cameramen and also 3d, 2d animators and much more... We need a better way to publish music, to spread our messages, to explain, to speak, to shout, for real masses, and after that, perhaps status will recognize our importance, and money will flow...


Magic:
Why did you decide to make a comeback to the demoscene?


Ra:
For the motivation, to get better, to learn and of course to motivate others just like they are motivating me. Also working with El Mobo has always been a pleasure. To get new memories of parties and to have fun releasing demos. Demos can also give opportunities to work on other projects, be they commercial or artistic ones. And at the very end of the end, just to be proud. Proud of myself and proud of the message I deliver. For me a demo is basically a way of saying things, it's not for me a way to promote a 3d engine, it's not a hobby. Take my Assembly 2008 "after death" picture for example, it could mean a lot to some persons and nothing to others. The title of this picture does not mean I am back but it mostly is my vision of life after death.


Magic:
I noticed that you competed in the graphics competition at Main 2008 party last week! What can you tell us about your picture which is titled 'before and after'?


Ra:
I made this picture for two reasons. The first one was to practice some techniques. I integrated a photo (this photo is the 'before' in this picture) and 'after' is what I can do with it. It's like an English lesson: I can learn what is before and what is after. Not the end. This picture was also made to show it to an advertising company to ask them if I can work for them. To show that everything is possible. I am going to make 4-5 pictures like this to show them. (For example a logo, a cartoon etc.)


Magic:
In Hugi#34 we interviewed your old friend Moby. What would you like to tell him?


Ra:
That I will be very very very happy to see him with some côtelettes de porcs.


Magic:
Why would you like to see Moby with some côtelettes de porcs? (What's that?)


Ra:
Haha! It's Homer's (from the animated Simpsons series) barbecue dream. I have a small private garden which is perfect to barbecue in...


Magic:
What can we expect from you on the demoscene? Will you perhaps work on a demo again?


Ra:
I will enjoy to, just a matter of time, I'm working on olivierbechard.com putting unfinished logos and very old old ones online... nooon.org exists too and so I hope I'll be working on a demo soon, it will just be a matter of time.


Magic:
As a good ending to this interview, please take this opportunity for some greetings and last words.


Ra:
A very big kiss to Finland, my best visitors (3 min 30 per visit)! And also a kiss to Canada and of course Norway, Denmark, I'm not gonna greet Germany =) They stop their visits after 30 seconds!! I speak about www.olivierbechard.com. Anyway, thanx to all I met during these few days on pouet: Archmage, Hyde, Devistator, Sink, Oxb, Wade and all others. Greets! Special dedicace to Barti: Keep on dude. And to Moby: Kisss.


Links related to this interview


Ra's official website
Nooon official website
Stars by Nooon PC demo
Arte by Sanity Amiga demo



Ra & Magic
Comments
s!nk | 2009-07-10
un pti coucou olivier, je me souviends pour la ARTE quand tu etais passé me voir pour envoyer des gfx en allemagne
chromag | 2009-07-11
Great Genesis logo!
magicnah | 2009-07-11
Genesis, great band! phil colllins rulez
LiNCOLN | 2009-07-12
yeah..great new genesis logo man!
12c4 | 2009-07-13
thx sink lincoln magic chromag,for motivating me. merci !
ALiEN^bf | 2009-07-13
A picture says more than thousand words.
warhead | 2009-07-13
niiicceee
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