Howler needs help

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Old 05 May 2013   #1
Howler needs help

As you might imagine, the so-called free Photoshop has taken a bite out of our bottom line, and we're just trying keep development going on a program that fits in a very small nitch in the v-fx industry.

We are therefore offering an Adobe competitive upgrade at 50% off. It's good for other software as well. It's basically honor system, because we don't have the means to verify anything anyway. It can be found here.

http://dan-ritchie.wix.com/howlerpromotion

We are also offering a royalty free soundtrack collection at a discount price as well. The collection features film quality music with science fiction, dinosaur, and cartoon themes. It can be found on www.squirreldome.com

You can also visit our blog to see the latest developements here. http://danritchiehowler.blogspot.com/


 
Old 05 May 2013   #2
Have you thought about going the Steam route? That's how I found out about Black Ink and perhaps the expanded audience may bring more sales from people that wouldn't be in the same web circles to know about Howler. Art Rage and 3D Coat are on there.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #3
I always thought that a program with such an unusual name wasn't being targeted at a large general audience, but I suppose it is for many a Photoshop alternative (which makes sense as I bought Howler, but don't use PS). Perhaps Howler needs more of the content aware type features of the latest version of Photoshop. Content aware scaling and object removal would be nice. Perhaps look to recent research on things like "diminishing reality" (removal of objects from video), creation of images from multiple moving elements, automated rotoscoping, etc. There have been many such interesting techniques shown in recent years that haven't made it into general use yet...
 
Old 05 May 2013   #4
I've suspected for a while that the future of image editing lies in that 'magic' area were the computer just intelligently does things for you.

Since we're a motion based paint program more than Photoshop, it's important for us to be able to do a host of things across a frame sequence, and not just a single frame.
We have made some progress in the last few years.

Our motion module uses a mesh of motion trackers and morphing to interpolate slow motion video from regular video. We introduced that in version 7.2.

We also introduced rotoscoping in that version, along with some tools to help automate the process. It's not a one click adventure, but it's a step in the right direction.
But being a single developer, I often have to divert my attention elsewhere for extended periods as well. Paint programs are becoming increasingly competitive, and the feature sets age growing as well.

In version 8, I tried to focus on improving painting, because that's fundamental, and hope do continue to do so. It's important also that everything else just works, and as expected, with no drama. I've done a lot of maintenance, integrating plugins and other things so they just work, without a hassle. Our latest minor update to Howler 8 (.2) had just under 100 changes.

And there's performance. There's such a huge spectrum of hardware available today, from old netbooks to new tablets to high end workstations. It's my job to make sure we run great on all of that. We've been claiming a lot in the way of performance over the years, so we kind of have to live up to it.

We've done a lot recently to support GPUs. It's exciting to see features running 3 to 4x faster than regular threaded CPU code, but there are other ways to get those same kind of speed increases as well. It's a balancing act to get the most from what is available. After all, a program can have all the features in the world and nobody will want to use it if it's too slow to get anything done.

The thing that strikes me, is that I'll go into my development cycle cave for a few months, and when I come out, the world has changed again. There's always something to do.

Thanks for the heads up on diminishing reality.
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Project Dogwaffle is the (Un) natural Paint Program! http://www.squirreldome.com/
 
Old 05 May 2013   #5
I hate to say it again, but there's nothing about the name that tells me what it is, does or would be good for. I understand you've grown attached to that name, but having a word like paint, image, motion, video or effects in the title might bring more potential users your way. Even your website is misleading; the first few times I was there I thought I was at a shareware hosting site and wondered both where "the best 3D" tools were and where also the actual page for PD might be...

But on to the program itself. How might your core features benefit the most users, especially those reading here? The motion module appealed to me as a way to render in-between frames, it seems like it should be able to do de-shaking as well. How about using it to super-sample video for up-res or to output high-res still images? There are dedicated programs which do little more than that and yet cost more than PD. It might even be nice to have some compatibility with virtualdub's filters as well.

Is there a simple way to input say an 8bit greyscale image, blur it, and output a 16bit displacement map? That's something I've found surprisingly hard to do without a proper PhotoShop like program, my image viewers and pixel-paint programs don't seem to provide that option. Normal painting would be nice. How about painting with compound materials, so that users could paint diffuse, specular, alpha etc. simultaneously and export as a set of maps?

Just some ideas... There's a lot of cool stuff in PD, but it's also hard to tell what direction it is moving overall.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #6
g>> How might your core features benefit the most users, especially those reading here?

That is precicely where I want to go with my site at www.squirreldome.com as soon as I can. I was just going over that this morning. As for the Best3D.com... Phillip is getting there slowly. He has less than an hour a day to allocate, and most that goes into producing tutorials. He does get about 10x more hits than I do, so something must be working. Ive forwarded your feedback to him.

>>I hate to say it again, but there's nothing about the name that tells me what it is, does or would be good for. I understand you've grown attached to that name, but having a word like paint, image, motion, video or effects in the title might bring more potential users your way. .

Yes. Hmmm.
Howler FX
Howler Digital Painter
?

Our full name is technically Project Dogwaffle Howler Digital Painter, but that's a lot to swallow. It's been hard to make a break with the Dogwaffle part for various reasons, not particularly because we're fond of it. Just various parties involved with it over the years.

>>The motion module appealed to me as a way to render in-between frames, it seems like it should be able to do de-shaking as well.

Yes, we do camera stabilization and motion removal, as well as motion re-addition. The idea is that you can remove camera motion to simiplify tasks such as rotoscoping, then re-apply the motion afterward.

You can also achive an improvement over regular retiming by frame blending by first removing the camera motion, retiming, and reapplying the motion afterward.

>>It might even be nice to have some compatibility with virtualdub's filters as well.

Love that program. Didn't think it was still being developed.

As for direction of the program, from version 5-7, we set out to overhaul and modernize pretty much the entire application, by way of interface, hardware support, performance, and etc.

In the seven lifecycle, we finally got the time to address a lot of issues specific to visual effects... Multiple monitors was a much requested feature. We also did the motion module, camera stabilization, rotoscoping, etc.

As of version 8, we've pretty much multithreaded everything that would thread, so we started looking toward GPU for squeezing out more performance. We've been touting performance for a long time, so we pretty much have to live up to it, and with video going into 4k, we're sweating a little.

In version 8, we started to overhaul our brush system and painting capabilities and tablet support, and we plan to continue in that direction for 9. This is mainly because there's a lot more competion out there, and a lot of it is pretty good. Painting is our fundamental feature, and we really need to get that right.
__________________
Project Dogwaffle is the (Un) natural Paint Program! http://www.squirreldome.com/

Last edited by doghat : 05 May 2013 at 12:20 AM.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #7
Originally Posted by doghat:
Yes, we do camera stabilization and motion removal, as well as motion re-addition. The idea is that you can remove camera motion to simiplify tasks such as rotoscoping, then re-apply the motion afterward.



BTW, does PD use previous frames to calculate edges? That's one of the things I like about virtualdub's deshaker; it gives a nice psychedelic "melty" effect to the video edges when deshaking with minimal zoom.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #8
How about (PD) Howler MotionPainter? That might appeal to your target market.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #9
You certainly have a very interesting mix of tools in there now. Have you ever thought of creating a version that is aimed more at the After Effects/mograph crowd that is more timeline and motion orientated?

Having a mix of something like AE with TV Paint style painting tools would be very unique in the marketplace and of real interest to motion gfx artists and animators. Neither of the those tools have much competition in the marketplace, let alone a combination of them. And of course with Adobe's recent strategy, there is a real opening for something with even a subset of AE's tools.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #10
Originally Posted by moogaloonie: BTW, does PD use previous frames to calculate edges? That's one of the things I like about virtualdub's deshaker; it gives a nice psychedelic "melty" effect to the video edges when deshaking with minimal zoom.


Yes, we use previous frames to fill in the missing areas around the edges as an option. Or you can leave edges alone, so you can restore camera motion later without effecting the original image.

Several possible uses of restoring camera motion would be to remove camera motion, drop in a matte painting or animated object while the frame is still, or to simplyfy rotosoping, then restore the camera motion. We also have some camera tracking options in the brush keyframer. You could make an animated brush out of a rendered frame sequence or chromakeyed sequence, and motion track it to a point in a video.
__________________
Project Dogwaffle is the (Un) natural Paint Program! http://www.squirreldome.com/
 
Old 05 May 2013   #11
"Our full name is technically Project Dogwaffle Howler Digital Painter, but that's a lot to swallow. It's been hard to make a break with the Dogwaffle part for various reasons, not particularly because we're fond of it. Just various parties involved with it over the years."

You should try harder. Anyone that didn't know, would think you made Frisbees based on the name. Internal goofy names are one thing but the official commercial names of a product should not. It's obvious you have a thing for dogs but you need to get over it. Hire somebody to setup a new website, spend an hour coming up with a decent name and then your products won't have to jump over a hurdle from the get go. Plenty of people have told you this multiple times in varying ways.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #12
Originally Posted by Zendorf: You certainly have a very interesting mix of tools in there now. Have you ever thought of creating a version that is aimed more at the After Effects/mograph crowd that is more timeline and motion orientated?

Having a mix of something like AE with TV Paint style painting tools would be very unique in the marketplace and of real interest to motion gfx artists and animators. Neither of the those tools have much competition in the marketplace, let alone a combination of them. And of course with Adobe's recent strategy, there is a real opening for something with even a subset of AE's tools.


Our main animation metaphore is a timeline. There's both a filmstrip that lets you do some basic editing like copy/paste and set in and out points, and there's a timeline that lets you set keyframes for filters. A large percentage of our regular filters are available onthe timeline and most of them are threaded, and a fandful support GPU, such as the 3d designer.

An assortment of our regular filters also support an 'animate' button, but that is just a convenience so you don't have to go to the timeline if you just want to apply something you've fiddled with in a filter.

And it's not overly obvious, but most of the features on the Image menu can be applied to animations as well, such as cropping, rotating, gamma correcting, etc. This harkens back to Deluxe Paint and their animaiton metaphores in a lot of ways.
__________________
Project Dogwaffle is the (Un) natural Paint Program! http://www.squirreldome.com/
 
Old 06 June 2013   #13
Originally Posted by doghat: Yes, we use previous frames to fill in the missing areas around the edges as an option. Or you can leave edges alone, so you can restore camera motion later without effecting the original image.


Would there be anyway to adapt this to removing logo/subtitle/datestamps etc? Overlays whether static or crawling tend to be independent of the underlying video. There should be a way to isolate overlays (user select region and approx color?) and fill them in with information from other frames. (I know the results might be strange in many cases, but those are precisely they types of effects I enjoy using.)
 
Old 06 June 2013   #14
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