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Interview with Vincent BUREL

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Let me first state a notorious fact for those who know me : Yeah ! I love software signed by Vincent BUREL ! One day I came across Aphro and I found that the design of this reverb was quite far from conventional and that more than anything it had a killer sound. Since then, Vincent released a bunch of other plug-ins that all confirmed his talent. From time to time Vincent contributes to the discussions on our mailing lists. The funny thing is that, though I only communicate with him over the Internet, I nevertheless got the feeling that he looks like his plug-ins, nonconformist and uncompromising...

Today, the BUREL products enjoy true distribution and the media start treating them as any software issued from established companies. Is this a victory ? The release of VB PACK was the perfect occasion to directly ask him this question. Thanks to Vincent for having accepted this little questions & answers game !

FeedBack : How did you first gest started in it ?

Vincent : Well, I first started with the first Sinclair ! With 1K of RAM it was really slow and hard for programming, especially since each keyboard button corresponded to one individual word of programming. I used that until the MSX was available with its Multimedia cartridge. However at the time I was more concerned with making my own sounds. I found I could get some good sound with the Poly 800 and DX27. I spent most of my time programming sounds, which considering that the quartz?s at the time were so basic that the same sounds would change quickly, this was a funny and interesting aspect I suppose. Well, really I started programming when the first Atari came out, with the video games. By playing MIDI sequences you could add a kind of human touch to it.

When the PC became affordable (it cost five times more than the Atari) I endured five years of technological stagnation. The PC with its VGA card was five years behind Atari technology. In the end, after 10 years the PC still couldn?t manage an 8-track that the Falcon Atari could. But the PC seemed like the business, so I ended up doing only system programming on it. I ended up redoing a graphic library on Windows because I thought the 3.0 version was too slow... Well, its a long story.

FeedBack : Why choose the Audio aspect ?

Vincent : Well, being surrounded by music and IT, it seems obvious. But to be honest this was all a matter of luck that suited me well more than anything else.

FeedBack : Some of your work was recently pirated and distributed on the Internet. Could tou tell us the consequence and yours fellings on the subject ?

Vincent : It?s an annoying aspect. But when you start out, you take it for granted that you?ll get pirated. I think the Net has made it really easy to pirate through being such a good source of information. I can?t really tell you the effect on sales because its hard to analyze. We know roughly the ratio of clients to consumers but we can?t tell how the consumers got hold of the product. One solution would be to make the client more faithful by offering more diverse services, ones that these Crackheads won?t get. Anyway, the problem is never going to disappear.

FeedBack : Without giving too much away, could you telll us about your up and coming products ?

Vincent : As you know ;o) the next offering will be "Mastering Professional" with compressors and measuring instruments. I?d like to have a stab at special FX (apart from reverb). Maybe next year, we?ll see...

FeedBack : Your plugins are roginial and quite intuitive. Do you make them up as you go along or are there several versions ?

Vincent : I?ve always got about 10 projects on the go at the same time and I change from project to project whenever I run out of ideas, I don?t like to think to much about what I?m doing. To begin with, after a year of research a piece of new technology will emerge. With this I make a list of what this technology can be made to do and start on some concepts. Then the programs will go to Beta-testers who will become the first users and demonstrate to me how the product can be modified.

FeedBack : What advice would you give tp someone just starting in the Audio domain ?

Vincent : Apart from giving up now ? Work like a donkey...or two. :-) Seriously though, in this domain, working on your own can make it even harder to make it. Even with the opportunities created by the Internet, no matter how good your product is, there?s still a large element of waiting and of luck to rise above the rest. Nowadays, the software side is getting a lot clearer, especially if that software has got a large demand and is easily distinguishable from other products (This isn?t the case with plug-ins and certainly not mine).

FeedBack : Your plugins seem sometimes intuitive and quite technical. Is this done on purpose ?

Vincent : I?m not going out of my way to be obscure or difficult for the sake of it. I am however, trying to make the controls and buttons more distinguishable, some of which don?t exist elsewhere. My plug-ins are often seen as quite complex when really they?re quite simple when a different approach is taken. As time goes on people are telling me that my work is getting better, clearer, less conceptual and more functional. Soon I?m going to start coming out with really banal products.

FeedBack : You only develop for Windows, are you thinking about doing anything for MacOS, Linux or BeOS ?

Vincent : Not at the moment, no.

FeedBack : Are you making a proper living from what you do ?

Vincent : OYes, ever since Media Assistance took up the commercial aspect.

FeedBack : How do you organise your work ? Do you work alone ?

Vincent : Hmm, its a bit of a battle actually ! Between debugging, researching on algorithms, the conception of graphic interfaces, sorting out my mail and personal administration, I may have about 4 hours out of 15 for programming (on a good day !). I dream of having a secretary to sort out all my administration and work related documents.

FeedBack : The instructions booktel : I remember there wasa detailed expose on reverb wich was free with Aphro. Do you want to do the same thing with the afore mantioned tool ?

Vincent : In theory, I?d like to do detailed instructions booklets for all my mastering tools. Unfortunately, I don?t know when I?ll get the time.

FeedBack : Whats's your relationship with your rivals ? Do they respect or detest you ? ;o)

Vincent : I?m not sure, I hope they despise me ! :-)

FeedBack : "We" have heard that you know Philippe Goutier quite well. Can you tell us about this collaboration ?

Vincent : I contacted Philippe some 3 years ago, when I came to work on his proprietary plug-in format for Wavelab, and since then we've kept in touch. There's no collaboration between us, but rather some cordial understanding.

FeedBack : In july 2000?s Keyboard you?ve been given a doouble page feature. Do you aspire to be a figurehead in this domain or is it not important to you ?

Vincent : I don?t really know, I just go along with it all.

Vincent : What role has the Internet got in your future ?

Vincent : I won?t deny that the Internet is a good way to make a name. However, if the Internet is a good way of communicating or presenting products, the Internet isn?t media for the masses, rather than for clans ! Therefore, there?s no point in replacing TV and paper with the Internet. If the Internet manages to catch attention of those normally hidden, it won?t replace a good promotion, distributors and commercial staff. Luckily I?ve got Media Assistance to look after all that for me.

FeedBack : Last one quickly, were you or are you a musician ?

Vincent : I?ve got a STUDIO 900 FATAR behind me that gets really jealous when I?m on the computer ! I?m just waiting for when I have enough spare time before I make my comeback !

That's all folks, I had warned you, no conformism and no compromis... Belle phrase que "This was all a matter of luck that suited me well more than anything else", ain't this a beautiful statement ? The only piece of advice I can give you is to visit Vincent's site and check out his catalogue. I'd be surprised if you were to stay impervious !

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Pascal VALENTIN, on the 13-11-2000

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