ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

The First GET LAMP Interview Experiment —

During the shooting of the GET LAMP documentary, I generated what appears to be my stylistic mass of footage – over 120 hours of people talking about text adventures, early home computer software industry, inter-company politics, and a range of things about writing interactively. It was a huge range of subjects and of course only a tiny sliver got into anything on the GET LAMP DVDs – probably 3-4 hours in total.

My hope is to release almost all of it on, with a Creative Commons license, so people can listen to them, learn some additional stuff, and provide a direct-source historical record of events happening – after all, these are testimonials as well as discussions.

Just to set expectations for people waiting for specific folks from the interview list – some people had final approval of what was put in the film (they couldn’t change it, mind you – they just had a yes or no to finally appearing) and as such, I can’t exactly go ahead and just drop all their answers out in the wild, unless I check with them first. I’ll do my best to provide them with the proposed collection of clips and get a sign-off, but for now I’ll go for the low-hanging fruit and just go for people of direct historical interest who were fine with all of it going up.

As I learned the hard way with the BBS Documentary raw footage, people don’t exactly want the actual, full, unbroken interviews – my questions are repetitive across multiple sessions, I sometimes launch into stories or other tricks to bring out statements, and you generally get 20 minutes of “the good stuff” out of an hour-long tape. So, I’m doing an experiment this time – providing “cooked” interviews, where you are ONLY getting a set of clips consisting of 1. the subject’s answers 2. which at the time of editing I thought complete and relevant to the final work. This cuts things down dramatically. I have also applied some minimal noise reduction against the footage so that it compresses better and plays well, which should help as well.

So here’s the first in what I hope will be nearly all of them: Chuck Benton, late of On-Line Systems/Sierra On-line, creator of Softporn Adventure, which was later remixed into the Leisure Suit Larry franchise, and who also did a couple other great ports/works, like Frogger and B.C.’s Quest for Tires.

You’ll hear small bits of my voice, but otherwise I’m absent. The whole thing runs 30 minutes, less than the hour I ran with him originally. This was my first interview conducted with the new equipment, and the waterfall in the back, I decided, was too much to use the footage. (It turns out I could have included it, because I got MUCH better at post-processing.)

So here we go, check it out, and here’s hoping I can get many more to you this year.

Categorised as: computer history | documentary

Comments are disabled on this post


  1. Gunther says:

    That kind of editing sounds reasonable, and you most likely were and are right in saying people don’t actually want what they think they want.

    Looking forward to watching this tonight, thanks!

  2. Laroquod says:

    Enjoyed it, thanks!

  3. T. Derscheid says:

    Since this is under creative commons-sharealike, is it okay for someone to make a transcript of these? I’d love to watch all this, but the next best thing would be reading a transcript.

  4. Ant says:

    Excellent, Jason, as always. But why did you cut his story about the “rock star” game developer who made a grand entrance at conventions?!

  5. I for one would prefer you not to be absent, but to be much more present in your documentaries.

    • Jason Scott says:

      You are rare in that thinking. While people don’t mind me in my presentations and discussions, they do not want my personality and words in these things, and I understand the preference for that. I think when the subjects are speaking for themselves and do not appear to be manipulated in any way, the whole thing flows better.