The early days
As far as I can remember, I've been surrounded by technology. My father was an electronician and had a fairly large ammount of electronics equipment at home. When I was about 8, he built me a small lab with power supplies, knobs, light bulbs and whatnot. But to be honnest, I never felt to be deeply interested into these, I was just playing with this stuff so he could be proud of what I was doing I guess.
Then, one day, I met with a computer in a shop and without knowing, this instant was defining my entire life.
The computer was a Ti-99/4a from Texas Instruments. Here are a couple pictures I took of my workspace at my parents home, with my brand new computer installed next to my little electronic lab. I was experimenting with photography, hence the black & white pics.
Although it was a color computer, I had put all my savings into the machine itself and couldn't afford a brand new TV set. So I hooked it up to an old black and white TV I had received from my grand mother. Notice the cassette tape recorder next to the computer. It was common at the time to use cassettes as mass storage to save BASIC programs.
As nice as the Ti-99/4a was, all the spotlights were now on the brand new machine from Commodore, the Commodore 64. It had supperior graphics (something I was very interested in) and sound, and had a rapidly growing library of programs and games. So that was my next purchase. Same workspace, new machine:
At that point, I got rid of most of the small electronic lab, to my father's great disapointment. My bedroom was re-arranged so I could fit all my computers equipment in the same room with my bed above. Notice the little Commodore 1520 4 stylus color plotter, a rare piece nowadays. Also of note is the small Casio VL-Tone VL-1 synth, famous for its use in the 'Da Da Da' song.
Unlike the Ti-99/4a, the C64 had its own branded cassette tape recorder. It can be seen here on top of a 1541 disk drive, also for the C64. 51/4 inches disk drives were a much more convenient way of storing and retreiving data than tapes. They allowed random access and were much faster.
Ah, at last a decent color TV.
Gotta love this picture. Have a look at the small posters above me in the pic. Left you can see an image of the' father of Commodore', Jack Tramiel (1928-2012). In the middle a poster of the cast from 'The Whiz Kids' (1983), my favorite TV series ever. Right is a poster of the entire Commodore computers line-up. Other guys of my age would have had posters of beautiful singers and actress, and I had these... go figure :P
That year I bought a SX64, the portable version of the C64, probably because it was more convenient when I was going to the computer club, or it was just a cool piece of equipment, I'm not sure. This is the computer I used to create my first commercial game No: Never Outside.
On the right side, behind some 51/4 disks, you can see a MPS-803 dot matrix printer. With these you could print on continuous rolls of papers, allowing to print large programs. The quality was awfull however.
Leaving the nest
After high-school, I went to start studies in industrial computing at the Don Bosco Institute in Tournai. Guess what, I took all my computers in my den. I was starting to work for Ubisoft overnight on 'Iron Lord'. No wonder I was very bad at the school and I quit to join Ubisoft dev team after only one academic year.
This is me in my den with the Amiga 2000 I had acquired the year before, and the beloved C64.
Here's a picture of my workspace in my appartment in Redon, France, when I was working at Ubisoft. I started working on 'Unreal' at that place. Notice a Roland D50 in the front. This is the time I started using computers to create music.
Back in my parents house, I settled in the basement to start my little computer graphics business. This is the place I worked on 'Agony'.
I had both an Amiga 2000 and Amiga 500 for compatibility testing. The 500 was set with a NTSC graphics chip while the 2000 was in PAL. At the time, games had to run at 50 frames per second in PAL territories (most of Europe) and 60 frames per second in NTSC territories (US and Japan). So we had to make sure the game was running smoothly on both hardwares. Of note is a Shadow of the Beast II poster on the wall, a gift from our producer at Psygnosis, which means this picture was taken after we had got the Agony contract signed.
The year we started Art & Magic, I bought my own house in Namur. At first I did work a little in my house for the 'Spellsinger' project (left picture). I had a small workspace with the arcade prototype running and was working from there. A few month later, we openned the offices in Liege and I didn't had the need to keep a workspace at home for doing what I was already doing at the office. I begun to shift interest and started to expand my music setup over the years into a full home studio to create music for fun and for our games. I bought an Atari 520 ST to compose and produce music using Cubase (right pic).
During the Appeal days, I moved to a more spacious house and got married to my now-ex-wife who happened to be also an amateur singer. I was doing computer graphics and videogames all day long at work so again I was more interested in doing music at home, I built a new home studio with a separate isolated recording booth (right pic).
Now the PC was gaining more traction in the music space, and I set up my music system around Cubase SX and two Mark of the Unicorn audio and midi interfaces. You can see I have only one keyboard left, the reason behind this is the starting trend to use more and more software-based synth and less hardware.
Of interesting equipment, I used an Audio-technica Condenser microphone, a tube DBX 576 pre-amp / compressor combo, R8 rythm machine, a Nova synth, two Alesis M1 Active monitor.
Back to the roots
When Appeal went bankrupt and I got divorced, I started working from home again as a freelance artist. My nice home studio and booth recording were not of much use any longer and I decided I wanted to go back to the roots, realtime computer graphics for games. I would still do music, but now that I had to choose, it would be graphics first.
I shuffled all my house and I moved down to a larger and brighter room to set up a new workspace that is pretty much the same as today. I also thought it was time to dust-off my collection of old computers and give them the space they deserved. As such I built my personnal little old computer museum next to my modern workspace. The following pics are from 2012:
My D50 and Nova are still there under my desk, but these and a FireStudio Mobile audio interface are pretty much the only audio hardware I use. The rest is pure software, mainly Cubase Artist 6.5 and a very large collection of sample libraries, synths and effetcs.
Of notable modern equipment are, a Phantom Omni haptic device, a 5 TB NAS, a hefty PC (dual quad-core Xeon E5450@3 GHz, 32 GB RAM, nVidia GTX 580 3GB), wacom tablet, PS2, PSP, Vita, PS3, Xbox360 devkits/debugs.
In my little old computer museum are a Ti-99/4a with PEB, a Vic20 I bought recently, my old beloved C64, SX64 and Amiga 2000 that were used to develop all my games of the era, a brand new Amiga 500, and an incredibly good looking PET 2001 with the original chicklet keyboard in perfect working condition.