tirsdag 29. januar 2019

Return Of Amiga Musicans

Amiga musicans are returning!
Welcome to another new Amiga blog from me! Welcome to 2019! Another hopefully great year for the Amiga!

2019 is going to be another busy year for me in term of some Amiga projects, like music and photo.

As several might already know, I have started work on doing brand new Amiga music for the game Ninja Remix, and I have almost completed all the music for that game! Several of the tracks are already available at YouTube. These are "Lin Fen", "Armakuni", "Hills Of Lin Fen", "Lin Fen Palace Gardens" and "Lin Fen The Dungeon". Work on 2 further Amiga tracks for Ninja Remix - "Lin Fen The Palace" and "Kunitoki The Shogun", start in February, as soon as I receive my left hearing aid from repair, then I'll be ready.

Amiga can truly look quite modern!
Apart from doing music and photo, I keep my AmigaOne 500, also known as SAM460ex, up to date as possible, and keeping a tidy Workbench as seen on the snapshot to the right here.

It's impressive that an AmigaNG system can look truly modern in 2019!

Amiga can STILL make it possible!


Walkabout Music Samples for FREE at Aminet!!!


Unknown to many perhaps, the high quality Walkabout Music Samples were part of OctaMED V6 and OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c when RBF Software owned the rights. When Commodore went bankrupt, RBF Software disappeared from the Amiga scene and focused on making MED SoundStudio for the PC, with less of a success than OctaMED SoundStudio had on the Amiga. So what is different now?

I was lucky to optain these high quality 8-bit IFF samples from Walkabout Music, as I was forced to register the PC version of MED SoundStudio few years ago, in order to optain these samples. I therefore decided to do the Amiga community a great favour, by bringing up this sample collection in 16-bit stereo RIFF WAV format to Aminet, for FREE!!!!! For the very first time 32 years later! I think it's now time!

16-bit stereo samples used in OMSS!
You will get a huge variant of 16-bit stereo instruments like brass, choir, analog and digital bass, bass guitars, guitars, drumkit, different kind of loops, beats, african, american, oceania, far east, panflutes, violins, saxophones, cellos, pianos, sound effects, strings, normal flutes and more! All in 16-bit Stereo! Great, eh?!

I consider this gift to the Amiga community as very important, and it will help inspire several to do amazing and modern Amiga music, using 16-bit high quality samples instead of 8-bit samples. Long gone is the 8-bit, so 16-bit samples should mostly be used now, until we get a new OctaMED SoundStudio running in native PPC, supporting AHI and MIDI. Then perhaps we can use 32-bit (!) samples?!

Bear in mind that in order to use these 16-bit stereo samples once available, you will need a lot of FastRAM (or high-speed RAM), and not that ChipRAM thing. 16-bit samples take up twice the space as 8-bit, and even in stereo, a bit more. But in the end it will be worth it. 16-bit gives much better clearness in term of vibration and deep bass! You'll surely be able to hear the difference! It's truly impressive, really!


Return of Amiga Musicans


These days, I happen to read on several Amiga groups on Facebook I'm member of, as well as receiving several messages in Messenger from different Amiga users, that I have inspired them to either start doing Amiga music on their own, or that several ex-Amiga musicans happen to return back to the Amiga Music scene!

This is truly awesome to see that Amiga musicans are returning to the music scene, where the Amiga is the main focus and the key instrument in their own music work!

I remember the golden years of the Amiga when it was very popular, like late 80'ies to mid-90'ies. The Amiga rocked the scene with its' awesome music capabilities and on the demo scene as well! Beautiful, instrumental sampled music flowing through the speakers in glorious stereo, together with beautiful music videos or animation!

Those were clearly the time. The best time for the Amiga, and we had many great musicans in the Amiga scene, both doing their own personal music, bringing music to the demo scene and making Amiga music for many great Amiga games as well.

With the increase of popularity of using 16-bit stereo samples in the Amiga Music scene, and seeing that such a legendaric multi-tracker like OctaMED SoundStudio is still mostly used for music composition even today, simply prove that several Amiga musicans are returning back to the Amiga Music scene, as well as inspiring new Amiga users to start with Amiga music. This means a lot, both for the Amiga as a computer platform and for me as the core inspirator as well. Amiga was once a unique but brilliant music computer, and even today, it continues to amaze people!

Lin Fen The Palace Ninja Remix Cover
Speaking of Amiga music, my next Amiga track coming soon, is to be "Lin Fen The Palace" for the Amiga version of the game - Ninja Remix, coming in February. I'm truly looking forward to that. The cover itself however, is not made of myself. I wish I had the talent of doing such beautiful creations like drawing, painting or 3D-creation.

The cover was picked up from Google somewhere, and just added texts to it. Still, it means I have to very carefully not to get in trouble, when it comes to CR - also known as Copyright. That's the tricky part, but it has worked well so far...The Amiga music you hear on YouTube with these pictures, are of course my very own.

Kunitoki The Shogun Ninja Remix Cover
Another Amiga track coming soon in February once i receive my left hearing aid from repair, is the track "Kunitoki The Shogun" for the Amiga version of the game - Ninja Remix! This one will be more of a battle track. Pulsating and making the blood in the veins pumping faster and harder!

All in all, there's much to look forward to. The wait will truly be worth it!


Wazp3D Software Render with Nova3D mode!


Wazp3D Software Render with Nova3D mode!
Wazp3D Software Render is a unique program I'm experimenting a little with these days. The latest Beta 57 provides a unique mode called Nova3D. It means to emulate some Shader effects that Warp3D Nova provides. Although, I have yet to see that in full action. Still, it's very useful to have when not having the "right" 3D driver to run Warp3D Nova itself. Therefore, the Wazp3D Software Render instead. It's not that bad, really. It could be a smart thing to use, and might be handy.

When using GIMP, i first run the Wazp3D Software Render and turn on the settings, as seen in the snapshot. Then I run programs like GIMP. It's a smart way to use that software render. Otherwise, I use the Composite2D mode in Wazp3D for all other programs, being surfing the net with Odyssey Web Browser or playing retro adventure games in ScummVM.

Well, that covers just about everything I'm doing these days, so enjoy the read ;)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim









fredag 17. august 2018

Doing Amiga Music with 16-bit Stereo Samples!

AmigaOS deserves a beautiful sunset!
Welcome to a long expected update to my well-known Amiga blog! Been a long while, and I had a lot of work to do regarding my Amiga music.

This year in August, my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex, is 6 years old, and still going strong just like when I bought it the first time 6 years ago! Amazing!

Even the good old OctaMED SoundStudio is working very well under latest AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1, as long as you don't quit it under the OS. If so, the OS freezes and a hard reset would have to be done. Such a freeze makes it impossible to click any icon to be activated. Instead, I just do a soft reset pressing Ctrl Amiga + Amiga the way we know it, after working with music.

Amiga music with 16-bit Stereo RIFF Walkabout Music Samples


OMSS doing 16-bit Stereo MAUD recording!
Since my previous Amiga blog, I have done a lot of work re-composing all of my Amiga music, including Ninja Remix, Last Ninja 2 and 3, with 16-bit Stereo RIFF WAVE variant of the famous, high quality Walkabout Music Samples, for far better dynamic and clearness, making quite a difference!

Amiga music sounds so much cleaner and better using 16-bit stereo samples! That is of course if the tunes are great themselves. Then the quality is truly worth it! I have even improved my Amiga music of tracks like Airwolf Theme, The Hobsyssel Hobbit Theme, LOST and Jan Hammer's Super-hit from Miami Vice - Crockett's Theme, all using 16-bit Stereo RIFF WAVE Walkabout Music Samples! The quality is just amazing, and where there are vibrations from certain instruments, these sound now much more realistic, and bass sounds to have a deeper more powerful tone! All in all very impressive indeed!

As you can see from the screenshot above, it's fully possible to use OctaMED SoundStudio to record directly-to-disk in 16-bit stereo, even in MAUD format, thanks to the new MAUD Sound Datatype Support, provided with latest version of A-EON's impressive Workbench Enhancer. But because my MP3 converter program - CodeAudio, doesn't support converting with MAUD files, my music has to be recorded directly-to-disk, using 16-bit stereo AIFF instead, as CodeAudio for now only supports AIFF. That's actually quite okay. The result gets perfect anyway.

Image improved with HDR in GIMP!
Last Ninja music and other well-known tracks are not the only music I have done. I have also started to work on instrumental Blues on my Amiga. A collection I call "Norway Blues".

On YouTube, I already released my first 2 Amiga Blues tracks, titled "Bergen City Blues" and "Nordic Women". They were also re-composed using 16-bit stereo samples!

My next Amiga track is under work as you read this blog, titled "Mushroom". It will be a beautiful Ambient track, giving you the feeling of actually being out in the nature, listening to beautiful music. You'll love this.

Also improving several images for my music to look at on YouTube is also very exciting! Using GIMP - the open source variant of Photoshop, I can even improve poor looking images with HDR, and then they look much better, as seen in screenshot! GIMP is a truly powerful photo editor program!

Enjoy my great Amiga music with 16-bit stereo samples on YouTube here:


Written by
Helge Kvalheim


























mandag 26. februar 2018

My Musical Amiga Projects

AmigaOS 4.1 FE Update 1 Enhanced
Welcome to 2018, all Amiga users around the world! Been quite some time since I last wrote an Amiga blog.

The reason is simply because I had to complete my Atmosphere collection of 16 amazing Amiga songs, which you can find here below, following this link:


It's been a long journey to complete this amazing collection, which you can both find on my HKvalhe account at SoundCloud (that's where the link comes from) and on my YouTube channel HKvalhe. The link to my YouTube channel is:


Doing Amiga music of Ninja Remix

Ninja Remix Amiga Cover
Now that the Atmosphere collection is completed, I wanted to do something nostalgic and special for the Amiga community. A gift...

The work I do now is to improve the Amiga music for the Amiga version of all Last Ninja games, including creating NEW music for the unreleased Last Ninja 4! No kidding, it's true!

However, here is the complete Ninja Remix music I have done for the Amiga version, which you find all of them on my YouTube channel HKvalhe:

*Ninja Remix (Amiga Faithful Theme)
*Wasteland (Amiga Club Mix Edition)
*Wilderness Loader (Amiga Version)
*Wilderness (Amiga Beat Boost Edition)
*Palace Garden Loader (Amiga Harmony)
*Palace Garden (Amiga Edition)
*Dungeon Loader (Amiga Scary Nightmare Edition)
*The Dungeon (Amiga Edition)
*The Palace Loader (Amiga Pulse Edition)
*The Palace (Amiga Edition)
*The Inner Sanctum Loader (Amiga Edition)
*The Inner Sanctum (Amiga Edition)

OctaMED SoundStudio V1.03c on SAM460!
OctaMED SoundStudio V1.03c continues to do wonder on my vastly improved SAM460ex computer, also known as AmigaOne 500!

The goal with these songs is to improve them in a way that they sound modern for the 21th century, but still remain as faithful as possible to the original creations.

A goal I believe the Last Ninja fans will truly appreciate, also on the Amiga platform.

Converting from AIFF to MP3 with CodeAudio
Making music on the Amiga is true fun, especially when you understand most of the unique effect commands you can use in OctaMED.

Alongside saving songs in MOD format, I also record-to-disk in 16-bit as AIFF files of the songs, then I run CodeAudio to convert from AIFF to MP3, so that these songs can be uploaded to my YouTube channel.

The MP3 version of the songs are of very hiqh quality MP3. Very clean and a lot of boost to the bass, without blowing up the amplifier, hehe ;)

Such wonderful music work should show that the Amiga is still very much capable of creating fantastic music, even in the 21th century, in any way!

Does it mean I am proud to own an Amiga? Oh yes, absolutely, until I die! There's no other computer system I would use to create amazing music! Only on Amiga!

Working on Amiga music for Last Ninja 2


Amiga music for Last Ninja 2
These days I'm currently working on improved Amiga music for Last Ninja 2. The first one I'm working on now is The Central Park Loader, which I hope to make as faithful as possible to the original version, but modern as possible.

The problem with the original C64 music for this game is that most of the songs were far too noisy, due to the Arpegiggo effect. Too much of that through a whole tune becomes overbearing to listen to, so for the Amiga version, this one is dumped to make the songs much more pleasant to listen to.

There are total of 13 songs in Last Ninja 2, so when all of them are completed, probably closer to May, work on Amiga music for Last Ninja 3 can start. A long, but lovely journey.

Amiga to get Polaris support in 2018!


Polaris-support coming to Amiga in 2018!
Amiga is to get a couple of really nice surprises in this year 2018! A-EON revealed that Hans De Ruiter is working on drivers for the current Polaris-based Radeon Rx 400 and 500 series of PCIe graphic boards, with both full 2D and 3D support!

Polaris is quite an advanced and modern chipset housed in latest Radeon RX cards, and with Warp3D Nova, Amigans will finally be able to experience true 3D capabilities and 4K support! Another great thing is full hardware-acceleration and being able to use ALL of the video memory found on your chosen Polaris card!

A Polaris-based Radeon RX card with 2GB of video memory should be more than enough power and speed for the SAM460ex, hopefully with a single version of such a card, that fits nicely into my AmigaOne 500. That's the plan for me anyway, as I also want to play 3D games like Wolfenstein - Return To Castle and Jedi Outcast.

Buying AmigaOne A1222 in 2020 instead of 2018

AmigaOne A1222 Tabor

My plans have been to actually buy the upcoming 32-bit PPC dual-core AmigaOne A1222 Tabor from A-EON Technology, which is based on a 32-bit dual-core Freescale PPC CPU at 1.2Ghz, with a unique FPU co-processor doing math operations.

The main reason why I'm waiting to buy this new A1222 in 2020 instead, is that I want to spend money for a nice vacation in 2018 for a chance, and perhaps have money still for something more important.

My SAM460ex is still more than good enough for the kind of stuffs I do, like creating music, editing my photos, browsing the net with Odyssey, doing emails with YAM, converting my songs to MP3 with CodeAudio and playing retro adventure games using ScummVM.

The only thing I need to improve my SAM460ex with, is once driver is ready, to buy a really good Polaris-based Radeon Rx 500 single slot GPU card for 1000 NOK, that fits nicely into my AmigaOne 500. Then I'll finally get full hardware-acceleration, and I can use Warp3D Nova to play 3D games like Wolfenstein - Return To Castle and if I'm lucky, to get the game Jedi Outcast.

I think that is probably the wisest things I can do with my money in 2018, and rather wait with the AmigaOne A1222 for 2020 instead, which is a wise decision.

Another reason for this is simply that there are still very little of new Amiga software and games, and not enough drivers to justify a buy of the new A1222.

It would be pointless to use HALF of the new A1222's resources, as the new long-expected AmigaOS 4.2 is not completed yet, which will have both multi-core SMP support, full memory protection and probably OpenGL. This new AmigaOS has been under development for the past 5 years now, and there is no indication that AmigaOS 4.2 will be completed in 2018. It's probably more likely that it will be completed for a 2019 release instead. So there's no reason to rush out to buy the new A1222 immerdiately when it's released. Waiting until 2020 is better, I think...

There's still a lot of nice power and speed left in the SAM460ex, at least for what I use it for ;) I'm happy and proud of that, and I have had SAM460ex for the past 5 years now and it's still running very nicely as never before! So yes, still very good :)

Well, this completes this blog for now on, so it's time for me to get back to working further on my Amiga music, as well as doing my photo work. See ya soon ;)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim, Norway




























fredag 11. august 2017

Atmospheric 5 Years SAM460ex Anniversary

AmigaOS 4.1 Final Update 1 Enhanced Version
Welcome to another new Amiga blog after a good while. Now there was time to write a new blog, so here we start.

As most of you already know, I own an AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex, which I bought from GGSData in Sweden back in 2012. Exactly 5 years ago on 12th of September! Pretty amazing, isn't it?

I therefore thought it would be nice to celebrate a 5 Years Anniversary for my AmigaOne 500 computer, running latest AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1, with latest Workbench Enhancer from A-EON. But sometime in 2018, hopefully with AmigaOS 4.2, I plan to buy a complete A1222 Tabor.


Atmosphere - Progress on my Amiga Music Album


Cover for my Atmosphere collection
Sometime in early 2017, I began work on a new personal Amiga Music album, using OctaMED SoundStudio to compose the tracks, then convert them from AIFF to FLAC using CodeAudio on SAM460ex.

The album bears the name "Atmosphere", and will contain 20 new songs when completed. 7 songs are already available as "singles" on SoundCloud. I will provide a direct link as we progress further this blog. We will get to that soon enough.

Some of the songs were changed in later time to better fit the "Atmosphere" album.

Many songs are Ambient, especially using guitars and other more lifelike instruments, while other songs are more rhythmical and exotic. What is cool is that there will be many different styles, making it a truly awesome album, full of fantastic modern Amiga music! Amiga being 32 years old this year and STILL going strong! This awesome work proves that the Amiga is STILL capable of making great creations, like wonderful music! I'm very proud of this!


Cover for the song - "Different Man"
The song "Different Man" is the replacement for the first song of the "Atmosphere" collection. A great 5-channel Up-Tempo Dance song opening, reflecting the man I have changed to become, in both good and bad. The song is deep indeed...

A lot of hard work has been spent on planning and composing this excellent FIRST song of the "Atmosphere" collection. "Different Man" is that song, worth listening to! A great opening!

One of the best songs on the "Atmosphere" collection, is simply the title track "Atmosphere". This is a 6-channel Ambient masterpiece with wonderful guitar riffs! This song shows why the album deserves the title "Atmosphere". And it just gets better as more work is coming!

Cover to the song - "Midnight Sun"
The song "Midnight Sun" is the 7th addition to the "Atmosphere" collection, composed & written by me - Helge Kvalheim of Bergen City Of Norway, composed on my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex.



"Midnight Sun" is a 7-channel, very beautiful Ambient Ballad. Some elements are even inspired by asian music, hence the motive for the song is not to be asian at all, but simply a melodic, ambient ballad that want your hair on your body to rise! Yes, THAT impressive!


The song is a great inspiration of the beautiful midnight sun, often seen in
places like Lofoten, further north of Norway, close to North-Norway.

As I personally never have seen a TRUE midnight sun in my life, i wanted
to create a song that was deeply inspired by it, so the result simply became
the song - "Midnight Sun". Hear the beautiful harmony of guitars and pianos!

Hope you'll love this song! As always, hard work has been spent into this song!

You'll find my "Atmosphere" collection on SoundCloud under my nick HKvalhe.


Plans for my 8th Amiga song for the "Atmosphere" collection are under work. The title for the 8th song is to be "Donuts Cops". When completed, it will be added as the 8th song with information about the song. Just like the other songs on the album. Stay tuned ;)

Well, this completes the blog for this time around. Hope you will enjoy it :)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim, Norway








mandag 8. mai 2017

Bringing Back Great Music On The Amiga

AmigaOS 4.1 Final Update 1 Enhanced
After a long delay from Amiga blogs, it's now time to return active to my Amiga blogs again. Here we go!

We're now greatly into 2017, and Amiga is still alive and kicking as never before! Great things are happening!

It might be surprising to read me saying this now, despite all the frustration that has been with Hyperion Entertainment earlier...

Speaking of Hyperion Entertainment. There has actually been a huge, important change in management inside the company, owning all rights to AmigaOS. The controversial Ben Hermans is no longer in charge, but stepped down to maintain other things within Hyperion Entertainment. In January 23th of 2017, two persons filled the position as director managers of Hyperion Entertainment. They are:

Timothy De Groote
Costel Mincea

During a recently done interview with Timothy De Groote, he revealed interesting views the company have to different CPU architectures Amiga could use, stating that the company are not "married to any CPU architecture". Read interview here:

http://www.generationamiga.com/2017/05/06/interview-timothy-de-groote-director-of-hyperion-entertainment-cvba/

The interview was very positive and surprising to read, knowing that Ben Hermans used to have a "weird" view of sticking just to PowerPC (shorted PPC), even that PPC still got a lot to show, but the new directors of Hyperion Entertainment seem a lot more open-minded about different CPU architectures Amiga could use...


ARM and x86 could turn up as CPU of choice for the future of Amiga?


ARM could be a CPU of choice for the Amiga
Now that the new directors of Hyperion Entertainment have expressed their open views of other CPU architectures for Amiga, the term ARM and x86 would be brought up again as potensial candidates.

x86 is challengig enough to support fully under AmigaOS. Although, this has been proven possible in AROS, as AROS is both available to x86 and PPC with full SMP and OpenGL support. Should also be possible for the native AmigaOS as well, when that happens. Time will tell...

ARM is these days a very interesting and promising CPU architecture! Personally, I don't know much about ARM, other than that it's very fast, powerful and uses extremely little power. ARM has dominated the embedded mobile market for a couple of years already, and is now heading its' way to the PC desktop market!

A bit off-topic, but Microsoft have actually succeeded in bringing ARM support to Windows 10, and new ARM-based PCs will house the ARM-version of Windows 10 in new PCs for 2018, which itself is quite interesting (just to give you the idea)!

So where does this leave the Amiga? While the directors of Hyperion Entertainment didn't say anything about supporting other CPUs in AmigaOS now, they are in fact very open to support other CPUs when that time comes. Who knows? Possible after AmigaOS 4.2 has been completed, and it gets the features that are needed for a modern OS, to be considered ported to other CPU architectures...

This is where ARM could fit nicely as the best choice for Amiga, being very fast, powerful and using very little power! The best choice for the Amiga? No doubt!

The possibility is undoubtly there, so it would be very interesting to see ;) But for now, we're eagerly waiting for AmigaOS 4.2. Lets hope it will be finished this year!

Bringing great music back on the Amiga!


Amiga can still create great music!
Many of you might already know that I have spent a lot of time, in almost half a year now, to create wonderful, instrumental music on the Amiga again, using OctaMED SoundStudio.

It still works nicely under latest AmigaOS 4.1 Final Update 1 on my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex, using TheMaestrix AHI tool in conjuction.

The collection (or album to call it) "Atmosphere" is the title for my new collection of great Amiga music. I have currently released 6 great songs to SoundCloud for my "Atmosphere" collection. All that have been composed and written with OctaMED SoundStudio! Songs vary from 4, 6 and 8-channel in 16-bit Mix mode, using the high-quality Walkabout Music Instruments Samples! Then the songs are further recorded-directly-to-disk in 16 bit, with SMOOTHING, in AIFF-format. Really a great possibility to do!

CodeAudio converting AIFF to FLAC
Another great program i use to record my final Amiga songs, is the program called CodeAudio. Fully registered, CodeAudio can convert AIFF files to highest quality MP3 formats, like FLAC, which is the case with all my songs!

Then the songs can be played in any MP3 players, like AmigaAMP, which also supports FLAC format.

AmigaAMP playing various FLAC songs
With these different Amiga programs, they just prove what is possible on the Amiga, even in 2017, which is amazing! Amiga is more alive than ever, and that's no lie, but the truth!

Amiga STILL makes it all possible! It's easy, cool and fun all at the same time!

The songs are then further uploaded to my HKvalhe channel at SoundCloud.

The link is the following seen here:

https://www.soundcloud.com/HKvalhe

"Atmosphere" is currently my best and newest collection of great instrumental Amiga music composed by myself. Many of the songs have amazing realistic guitar riffs! Check out the following songs in this collection on my HKvalhe channel at SoundCloud (see link above)!

Songs to look especially for, are the following:

* Different Man
* Alone Again
* Funk It Up
* Children Of The Future
* When White Does Black
* Atmosphere 

Other songs are from my earlier collection called "Julia's Diary". They are various so-called mood songs. Not with guitar riffs, but other cool rhythm effects.

This ends the blog for now. In 2018, i hope to buy the new AmigaOne A1222 (also known as "Tabor") from A-EON. This new AmigaOne will be my main computer in 2018, and will also use it to produce music with brand new PPC-AHI native OctaMED SoundStudio. We might get to know more later this year!

Thank you for reading my blog! Amiga truly makes it possible ;)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim, Norway


torsdag 9. juni 2016

Basic Tutorial With GIMP

New darkness rising in The Force Awakens
Hello everyone and welcome to the basic tutorial of using GIMP. We are taking a close look on how GIMP can improve your photos in easy ways.

First we need to upload a photo from a good camera. I have two different compact photo cameras. One is a 14.1Mpx Casio Exilim Z-2000 with many different scenaries, the other one is an 18.1Mpx Panasonix Lumiz TZ40, also with many scenaries, including HDR (High Dynamic Range). A feature that has also become very popular with Ultra HD TVs and new Ultra HD Blu Rays for fantastic use of colours and black level. A holy grail for movie lovers like myself. In term of photography, HDR can vastly improve a unique photo with many different colors. Say if the scenary was of an old tree house and the heaven full of different colors. You want to make that photo more "alive", so HDR is the thing in that situation. Multi-exponation.

An original photo before editing in GIMP

GIMP - The Basic Tutorial


You hopefully have a nice photo you want to edit, making the photo more alive and beautiful, without affecting the excellent quality of the photo.

You can also improve a poor-taken photo in easy ways. I will explain the basic procedures using GIMP, based on my own self-taught experience.

As you see to the right, there is an original photo ready to be edited. Right after it has been uploaded, i choose Image from the menu and move the pointer to "Scale Image". From there i choose to scale it down to 800 x 600 resolution, as the original size of over 4000 x 4000 becomes way too big. 800 x 600 is the most supported resolution most sites want to use for showing off high quality photos.

Scaling the image to 800 x 600 with GIMP
After scaling the photo to the decided resolution, it's time to adjust levels and curves to balance the colour and brightness. This to make the photo more alive and beautiful without affecting the quality of the image.

From the menu, you go to Colours and choose Levels first with the pointer. I usually adjust the levels to 20, giving the right balance of colours to the image, and choosing "Set Levels as Curves" from the same window. The long button near the end of the little AmiCygnix window. See screenshot.

Here you adjust the color levels in GIMP
The screenshot to the right shows you how to adjust the color levels to make the colours match the image more correctly. Before adjusting, the original photo can look a little weak in colours. You want to make the colours clearer, then you adjust the color level. Here i set it to 20, and you notice quite a difference in colour strength.

At the same time, you click "Edit these settings as Curves", which takes you directly to the Curves menu, as seen on the screenshot below. My advice here is that you slightly adjust the middle point of the curve as close to the center of the lines. That should give the right level of brightness to the photo. You will notice improvements.

Here color curves is balanced in GIMP
Soon there will be time to do some other small improvements. This time you click the menu with the right mouse button to "Colors", and move the pointer to "Auto", and another sub menu shows up. There you choose "Color Enhance", and GIMP will scan the image to see if it will need the Color Enhance to improve the image or not. 

This one greatly improves the image and makes it more alive and realistic.

You are now ready to save the image into your destination. I have a drawer called Foto on the partition called Diverse, formatted with latest SFS2, just like my other partitions. 

Same image after some editing in GIMP
Now go to the menu saying "File" and choose "Save As". I save my photos as JPEG, which is used mostly by photographers around the world.

I should point out that i use WarpView to compress images into Progressive JPG format, with 100% quality. Makes life easier with big photos, keeping the file size as low as possible. Cool, eh?

Now you have learnt something cool the basic ways with GIMP. Excited yet? There is more to come. Lets now try with a portrait of a person. The procedures are the same using Scale Image, Levels, Curves, but NOT Color Enhance. Instead we are going to use the Beautify Plug-in tool in GIMP.

Here you choose how to save an image

Beautify and Skin-Whitening with GIMP


The greatest features i love with GIMP are what i would call "make-up effects". You might wonder what Beautify, Skin-Whitening and Simple Border do.

Beautify is the most impressive feature, which is a powerful plugin for GIMP with many impressive effects, especially useful for portraits, macros and old photos, giving them new life.

Skin-Whitening is used for portraits. It's like putting on a little brighter mascarena on your face. This can be chosen in three levels of white or pink.

Portrait after using Beautify and Skin-Whitening
Beautify has many cool effects to really give a different or improved look of an image. Everything from basic color effects to Studio effects, and more.

In the section called LOMO (no, it's not a Gay-thing), you will see several unique effects. Two impressive effects are HDR and Classic HDR. While they are so-called "Pseudo" effects, they can truly improve old rather "weak" photos with new perspective!

You can also give an old image a more retro-style look, depending on your taste. Back to portrait. As seen on the portrait of myself above, it's in an ordinary situation, so no Elegance here.

Beautify has numberous cool styling effects
Seen on the snapshot just below, it shows Beautify's many unique styling effects. Here i went into the Studio section and chose "Little Fresh".

This was AFTER i chose to use Skin-Whitening with moderate pink color to make the color of my skin more natural looking in suitable situations.

The Elegance effect, as you will come over when using one of many different styling effects with Beautify, is a styling effect suitable for "party-like" images, or in portraits where you are dressed in very beautiful clothes in beautiful situations. It could be a portrait from a wedding, an important meeting, a romantic date or simple a nice, cool party. Elegance is perfect for such situations, and truly gives such an image a luxurious look, if you know what i mean? Try yourself!

Skin-Whitening in GIMP
We're now close to the end of the tutorial. Perhaps you want to put a nice, simple border on your beautiful portrait? How to do that, you think?

Very easy, go to the menu called "Filters" and point at "Beautify". A sub-menu should show up. Choose Border - Simple Border. From there you can choose what kind of border you want to put into your portrait. Very nice, isn't it? It will be like having a true portrait hanging on a wall.

Give you portrait a nice border 
VOILA! You have made your first steps into the basic of photo editing in GIMP!

Exciting, isn't it? Now that you have learnt the basic, you should try to take some really good pictures and edit them. Perhaps you even have some old photos you want to improve?

With GIMP and its' plugin Beautify, you get a really powerful photo editing tool, able to use many impressive effects to give you the kind of look you want in your pictures at highest possible quality. Better still - it's 100% FREE!

It should be noted that GIMP can only be run if you have AmiCygnix installed. AmiCygnix is a Linux-like environment that can be installed into AmigaOS4.

See Elipson's blog about installing AmiCygnix, to learn how it's done if you haven't.

This ends the basic tutorial for GIMP. Next blog update, we'll take a look at how to manipulate two different images into one. A feature very popular in the Amiga scene where we love to put the beautiful Amiga Boing Ball into different images!

Thank you for reading. I hope this tutorial will be very helpful. Happy editing ;)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim

fredag 6. mai 2016

A Slow Comeback

My new little home office ;)
Hello everyone and absolutely good to see all of you, dedicated Amiga users.

Earlier, i said i was to leave the Amiga. I did for a while, due to Hyperion Entertainment's inactivity of updating AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition. Especially for the last 12 months, but now i'm back to stay. Albeit a rather slow comeback, as i'm more careful watching the Amiga situation.

Despite slowly coming back to Amiga, i must say i have changed a lot during my insight into Amiga, after being a die-hard Amiga fan for more than 27 years now. Things have changed, and also in my life at the age of nearly 41. Been through far too much in life and one will always discover that there are far more things to life, usually far more important things, than one would think in the beginning. Perspectives change, personality changes. You get the picture. Life changes. I'm definitely a different man than i used to be when it comes to the Amiga. The simply word i would use is being more realistic.

Alongside using my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex system, i'm also using a Windows 10 PC for more serious photo-work. Especially if i want to scan and print photos, then i use the PC, or if something happens with the Amiga and i would be forced to wait while problems with Amiga get fixed, then i can use my PC next to it. Hypotetical referance, of course. Having two different computers is useful.

The Force Awakens background
Now recently, i have finally downloaded and installed the new Workbench Enhancer Plus Edition bundle from A-EON, with success, so i am relieved!

Workbench Enhancer is a new bundle, containing a couple of improvements to AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition. It's meant to fill the "void" of Hyperion Entertainment's inactivity of updating AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition's many bugs, which they haven't for more than a year. A-EON are to have credits for their outstanding work on bringing new software, hardware and functionality to the Amiga.

Most improvements from the bundle are "hidden stuffs" that happen in the background. Like a brand new updated version of SmartFileSystem V2, many new classes and Warp3D Nova. You will notice this in play if you have the newer RadeonHD cards. I only have RadeonHD 6670, so this is not yet supported.

Warp3D Nova is a long-expected more modern 3D graphic system for AmigaOS4. At least until AmigaOS 4.2 is out, with Gallium3D and hopefully Vulcan - the open source successor to OpenGL. Time will show, of course. But for now Warp3D.

Otherwise, there are some new versions of Format and Multiviewer. Now it's easier and better ways to format SFS-partitions, along with a new version of Partition Wizard. What more, there are some new tools as well. MultiEdit replaces NotePad with much more editing features. ClipViewer and ExChanger are two new Commodities that run in background inside WBStartup. Multiviewer that replaces the old Multiview with more features, has also been updated. I left it out to update, due to some erros when trying to install everything from the Workbench Enhancer bundle. So i left it out, along with CANDI. I'm very happy with my setup.

Another interesting new thing is X-Dock. A more future-proof dock system to replace AmiDock in the future. In the bundle, it's very new and lack several of the flexibility that AmiDock has, but X-Dock has potensial, so it will be interesting to see how the new stuffs will progress further in the future, which is good news.

The new MultiEdit replacing Notepad
Like i said, Workbench Enhancer can be assumed to fill the "gap" Hyperion Entertainment left with a more or less buggy AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition. At least until AmigaOS 4.2.

The bundle might not solve all of the problems with AmigaOS 4.1 Final, as it's not an update Hyperion Entertainment were meant to do, but bringing in a couple of new and updated stuffs, so it makes the AmigaOS4 more useable at least, which of course is good, so we should be grateful for that and have fun with it.

Amiga's excellent Tunenet Internet Radio!
A great welcome introduction in the bundle is Tunenet - The great Amiga Internet Radio Player. A-EON have taken up the development of this player. One of many excellent projects A-EON are working on. From the bundle, Tunenet has been greatly updated and is back on track!

With it, you can listen to broadcast music from internet on radio channel all over the world! All kind of music to small radio talks! With an audio card handling 32 bit audio, you get fantastic audio quality! Add that to a true digital home cinema equipment with great speakers, and you enter a wonderful world of music!

My ultra home cinema at home
All in all, i am happy with the Workbench Enhancer bundle, so again a great congratulation to A-EON!

Another product that has seen some improvements, is Odyssey Web Browser 1.23r3. A patch (which is an ongoing project and now at version 7) that allows Odyssey Web Browser to log into sites like Blogger and YouTube with ease! I'm actually writing this blog with Odyssey! Cool, isn't it?

This update of Odyssey Web Browser is really nice to have, until version 1.25 is released for AmigaOS4. It's now currently only available to AROS, but will make its' way to AmigaOS4. Patch 7 surely helps version 1.23r3 a lot! A great welcome! A great thanks to Kas1e for working on this patch, making Odyssey truly useful!

Odyssey loggin into Blogger with Patch!
Amiga might again feel a little more modern, and it's all due to instant work from A-EON and several developers.

Hyperion Entertainment are mostly these days more or less blamed for their inactivity of bringing important updates to the more or less buggy AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition. It is believed they are working on AmigaOS 4.2. I'm sure they do and that is great, but it would help a lot to update AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition, erasing annoying and critical bugs, maybe even improve some visual look while we are waiting for 4.2.

A-EON end up to be the true HERO for Amiga these days. They seem to have done more (with many developers) for the community than Hyperion Entertainment have done for the past 5 years! No kidding!. I'm at least watching the Amiga situation carefully.

As we are ending this blog for now, i would like to say i'm really happy to be back to the Amiga. Albeit not quite like before and not as active as i used to be, but still hanging around and using both Amiga and PC now and then. I'm still part of the Amiga community, and i will keep watching what direction Amiga takes into future.

The best thing with all these good Amiga news is that Amiga again is more useful to use, even as a "pathetic hobby" with some limitations, but if you have both an Amiga and a PC (or Mac for that matter), then you can always switch between the two of them or run both at the same time. If you get tired of the Amiga, then you can use the other one, until you get tired of using the other one, and then be using the Amiga. Best from both world, and no need to feel bored or limited.

Amiga blogs won't happen as often as earlier, but the wait will never be long. Until next time, enjoy reading this blog and have fun with your Amiga. I'll try to do too ;)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim, Norway