by Silvio Sosio
Marco Patrito: Sinkha
Virtual Views. Produced and distributed by Mojave, St. George (Utah, USA)
Cd-rom available in Macintosh and Windows formats.
Finally a copy of the much awaited Sinkha, Marco Patrito's multimedia novel on cd-rom, has landed here on the Delos desk. This is the first time this column has given itself over to reviewing a piece of software, and it must be said that in this case it's well worth breaking old habits. Words like "masterpiece" and "work of art" in the case of Sinkha are no exaggeration. I can safely say that there are not many novels and films that have fascinated me as much as this cd-rom.
Sinkha isn't a game, but a real novel constructed with images, animation, music and short texts which guide the reader/spectator through the fascinating story of Hyleyn, a girl who lives in the mysterious city of Thalissar, a gigantic agglomeration of metal situated on the hostile planet Ogon. And the mystery of Thalissar proves to be of great interest to the Sinkha, a race of immortals who send the living starship Darcron to investigate.
The vistas of the city of Thalissar, with its elevators and cableways, the harsh landscapes of Ogon, juxtaposed against the almost Arcadian virtual atmosphere that exists on board Darcron, majestic starships, tiny alien robots: these are scenes that weave their spell around the imagination.
Marco Patrito first conceived this monumental work in 1991, and has been working on it for five years. All the images and animation are created entirely by computer: the three-dimensional modelling and rendering were done first with the Strata Vision programs and then with Strata Studio Pro. Patrito worked with the backing of the American software house itself, a longtime leader in the field, and they liked his work so much that they chose an image of the starship Darcron as a splash-screen for the latest version of Strata Studio Pro.
It seems incredible the work that Patrito's team managed to do back in '91 when software for modelling human figures didn't yet exist - and therefore they had to be done by hand, point by point, polygon by polygon - and personal computers were infinitely slower than they are now. Patrito worked with a Macintosh llfx, a great machine for the time, though the four years it took them to complete the enormous quantity of rendering (one alone can take several hours) contained in the cd-rom must have been just enough time.
Born in Turin in 1952, Marco Patrito started to publish his drawings in 1984. In 1991 he began a collaboration with Mondadori, enriching over a hundred volumes of various science-fiction editions with his cover illustrations. In the same year he started working in computer graphics. His style recalls that of great illustrators the likes of Chris Foss, Giger or Chiconi though one can often see the influence of Roger Dean, designer in the 70s' of album covers for Yes and Uriah Heep.
Also working on the project were Fabio Patrito, an artist specialising in computer graphics as well as another three illustrators, Tullio Rolandi, Francesco Chirico and Flavio Chirico. The excellent soundtrack is provided by Fancyfluid (Sandro Bruni and Fabrizio Goria), progressive rock with strong electronic influences, like a cross between Yes and Tangerine Dream.
Other contributors to the project, with their valuable suggestions, advice and beta testing were Maurizio Manzieri, Laura Patrito, Mario Sacco and Enrico Bonzano.
And now to finish, some figures: Sinkha contains 90 three-dimensional models comprising characters, starships, animals and vehicles; 80 backdrops, 350 locations, 590 maps and 59 animation scenes consisting of over 10,000 still frames. All of which adds up to a total of over 450 megabytes of material.
If you have a cd-rom player, our advice to you is that you go out and buy Sinkha immediately. If not, well then this is the perfect occasion to get your hands on one.
Maurizio Manzieri, another great artist from the team of Virtual Views, has open his own home page at the url http://www.sinet.it/personalpage/manzieri. There you can see his covers for the english magazine (Hugo winner) Interzone.