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piano 511

CD-ROM draft cover This is a Sentence CD-ROM -Stephen Partridge and David Cunningham

These reasons behind the ridiculous delays on this project:

Ellipsis were engaged by Film and Video Umbrella to publish this work.  Stephen Partridge and myself had reservations about their packaging, pricing and design but went along, thinking this would ultimately ease the production process. How wrong we were.

Stephen Partridge delivered a working Macintosh version to Ellipsis in August 1997 for debugging and cross-platforming.

Ellipsis had the material for over a year before any serious work was done.  During that period the generating software shifted a few levels from Director 4 to Director 7.  This meant that SP or myself could not easily open the program and diagnose problems.

By 1999 Ellipsis had added an introduction sequence (and introduced a fault into our original starting sequence) and removed the end credit sequence without our permission.  We considered this a structural interference with the work.  The end credits in particular presented a technical problem and reinstating this was time-consuming.

Stephen comments - 'as far as Ellipsis is concerned, the most frustrating thing was travelling down (from Dundee to London) 3 times specifically to sort out a previously indicated agenda, only to find that on one occasion the person I had come to meet didn't show up; another time everything was discussed and schedule agreed and then - silence and no progress.  I felt I was fobbed off all the time. It was all done very politely, there was never any anger directed either way, but it was like walking thru treacle.  I will never understand why they never contacted me to discuss problems or indicated scheduling changes.  After all the cdrom was probably amongst the simplest they had to deal with.  The delays in between contact explain the apparently inexplicable delay we experienced overall'.

At some point unknown to us Ellipsis changed the terms and conditions of the release, diverting available funding into manufacturing subsidy in such a way that the end product would inevitably be a limited edition.  We were not immediately made aware of this, which was in direct contradiction to a basic principle that Stephen and I had previously discussed with everyone involved.  These factors in combination with the delays led us to return to our original plan to publish it ourselves.

In March 2000 the project reverted to us.  What we should have done was start again from scratch with the original Macintosh version.  But we didn't know just how bugged up the program was at that stage and how difficult it would prove to restore.  Simon Schofield (who I understand had previously been working for Ellipsis - correct me if that's wrong) was engaged to continue to debug and cross-platform.

For some reason Simon started setting up the application to require very high amounts of memory (completely unnecessary) which (on an average computer) made it difficult to tell what was a memory problem and what was an actual bug.  This considerably slowed the diagnostic/debugging process.  This process was not helped by the nature of the content - there is a lot of random linking as the viewer proceeds through the work, so repeating problem sequences became very time-consuming.

I spent a lot of time during 2000 dealing with Simon who produced a series of corrected CDROMs, struggling to fix a number of problems which had mysteriously emerged since the early Mac version.  For instance: at some point a timeout script had been written into the program which caused longer sequences to cut out.  This led to much delay as the symptoms were obvious but diagnosis was difficult.

Things were moving so slowly with costs building up that SP and I decided to get a second opinion on the whole technical aspect of optimization/formatting/memory allocation/positioning of key files on the disc - an attempt to discover why previously operational elements of the work had developed problems.

In June 2001 I engaged Paul Colcutt to conduct this review.  He immediately diagnosed and resolved a number of long-standing problems including the timeout script and as the CDROM started running more predictably and reliably.  We were then able to sort out minor problems within sequences which had previously gone unnoticed.

Given the difficulties on this project and consequent delays I could not reasonably set a release date until we were certain we had a fully debugged and operational disc.

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This is a Sentence
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