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Dan Ritchie
05-24-2018, 01:07 PM
Been doing this whole CG and software development thing for 35 years, and Howler for 20 years. Been sick lately, and just can't run the business and the development sides of things anymore, but don't have any kind of exit strategy. Don't want to give away free software or run some crowd funding thing.

TheLexx
05-24-2018, 01:18 PM
I'm sorry to hear of your sickness Dan and wish you all the best. I don't 100% understand what you mean by no exit strategy (eg emotional or financial, etc) and don't want to pry, but put yourself first is my advice, especially if you find you are overwhelmed by giving and not really receiving. :)

Rayek
05-24-2018, 04:21 PM
I am breaking my own rule to not participate in this forum again, because I feel your conundrum counts as an exception to (my self-imposed) rule.

First, I always enjoyed Howler, even though I never used it that much in my work, at times it gave me a tool or idea that would help me out finishing a job, so: thank you! :-)

Second, I am very sorry to hear you are in bad health, and that you can no longer maintain the business and development of Howler. My sincerest and deepest empathy. I am getting on a bit as well, and family members of mine, after running their business for over 45 years, quit their business, and it's always sad to see the end of an era. They did leave their business in the hands of a young entrepreneur, and although it is continuing, the direction is quite different, and their old customers aren't that happy with many of the changes.

Still, accept and release: the only thing certain in our lives is change, and adapting and accepting change is our only way to releasing ourselves from past chains (how deep ;-)

As for Howler's continued existence: have you cast any fishing lines to any potentially interested parties to see if anyone would be interested in taking over your Howler business? Someone might be interested in continuing Howler's development.

Is your code nicely commented and organized? Could a new developer get up and running quickly? Perhaps you could act as a mentor for a while, while migrating?

Another thought: your painting engine is quite unique all by itself. Other parts seem very modular as well, and you may be able to license these parts to others.

You say you have no exit strategy; this is the case with many individual entrepreneurs: they wait until the very last (often too late) to sell their business. Would you be willing to sell Howler to a third party to ensure its continued development? If so, it is best not to go about it alone, and find yourself a couple of experts who will be able to value your business.

But even when you do sell your business, the new owner(s) might run it into the ground. You will have to let go at some point.

Another option is to open source Howler, and hope for the best. It worked for OpenToonz. It works really well for Krita and Blender, and they make money through all sorts of methods. But you mentioned that you don't want to give Howler away for free, or start a crowd funding thing.

Just throwing some ideas out there. I'd hate to see Howler become part of the software scrapheap. I think it is too good for that.

shrox
05-24-2018, 04:41 PM
Been doing this whole CG and software development thing for 35 years, and Howler for 20 years. Been sick lately, and just can't run the business and the development sides of things anymore, but don't have any kind of exit strategy. Don't want to give away free software or run some crowd funding thing.

Rock on friend. I know what you are experiencing to some degree.

RPSchmidt
05-25-2018, 08:21 AM
I agree strongly with Rayek on finding a professional to value your IP and individual IP assets and have them float offers for either parts or the whole.

TheLexx
05-25-2018, 09:46 AM
I thought the thread title was a reflection, now I realise it was possibly a question. Well, like all decent guys you are too honest Dan. Never publically admit that "you're done" (if considering a sale) - thread title should have been "Offers over million considered, Adobe welcome to leave message" :) Hope all works out...

Asticles
05-25-2018, 09:59 AM
Sorry to hear that. Get well man. Have you tried to talk with photoline people? Maybe they're interested.

tischbein3
05-25-2018, 02:38 PM
sorry to hear that.

erikals
05-25-2018, 04:10 PM
very sorry to hear about your illness. i pray you get better.

in regards to the opensource/free/crowdfunding part, here are thoughts.

i've had people talking bad about my videos, or even mocking them.
...and other lame things.

does that mean i should delete all of the videos, since i sometimes get fed-up?

in a somewhat related way...

if your work goes nowhere, since you want to stand by your principles, does that help you?

not saying you shouldn't, i'm just curious to your thoughts on this...


p.s. i found Rayek's ideas to be very fruitful

Dan Ritchie
05-26-2018, 11:04 AM
Going open source isn't really an option without somebody to do the work. It would be more than I can handle right now to organize it. Plus it's really a linux thing, not Windows, although that happens. Open source really thrives on training.
It's funny that we talked to Newtek a long time ago, and they were pretty serious about it. I'm not exactly sure why that fell through. I'm really the development guy.
I guess I'll put it on sale again and just let it run on squirreldome. Don't know what else to do right now, unless anybody knows somebody at Adobe who wants a product aimed at enthusiasts and hobbiests.

It's really a shame. I spent more than a year developing a completely new object oriented programming API for it, hoping we could squeeze another 10 years out of it. Even had a 3D geometry instance based render engine. You can check it out here. http://squirreldome.com/WhatsNew.htm

RPSchmidt
05-28-2018, 07:51 PM
Going open source isn't really an option without somebody to do the work. It would be more than I can handle right now to organize it. Plus it's really a linux thing, not Windows, although that happens. Open source really thrives on training.
It's funny that we talked to Newtek a long time ago, and they were pretty serious about it. I'm not exactly sure why that fell through. I'm really the development guy.
I guess I'll put it on sale again and just let it run on squirreldome. Don't know what else to do right now, unless anybody knows somebody at Adobe who wants a product aimed at enthusiasts and hobbiests.

It's really a shame. I spent more than a year developing a completely new object oriented programming API for it, hoping we could squeeze another 10 years out of it. Even had a 3D geometry instance based render engine. You can check it out here. http://squirreldome.com/WhatsNew.htm

You need to aim for up and comers; maybe demo for Serif to see if there is any interest there for their Affinity product or another product along those the lines.

Phil
05-29-2018, 08:37 AM
I rarely post here since I'm not using LW these days, but I was made aware of this post.


Going open source isn't really an option without somebody to do the work. It would be more than I can handle right now to organize it. Plus it's really a linux thing, not Windows, although that happens. Open source really thrives on training.

I think that's actually where some of your pain will be coming from. I've been hoping you'd migrate from VB.NET to something that would permit cross-platform development (even if you stick with VB.NET, using a different UI toolkit such as Eto.Forms would perhaps open the door to a cross-platform package being available, also on non-Intel platforms). I've not had much luck getting PDW running under Wine, on Mac or Linux, in the past.

Open source isn't limited to a specific platform, either. There's a ton of open source (GPL, BSD) software out there for practically every platform. It's also relatively light on work - throw the code up on github and see if people want to contribute. You can also then undertake paid-for custom development on that codebase, and you could also dual-license the code to allow you to make restricted commercial builds available (with eventual release to the open source codebase if you wish), for those who want to give you money to progress a specific feature or implementation (e.g. through Patreon).


It's really a shame. I spent more than a year developing a completely new object oriented programming API for it, hoping we could squeeze another 10 years out of it. Even had a 3D geometry instance based render engine. You can check it out here. http://squirreldome.com/WhatsNew.htm

To be honest, the development of a render engine felt like a distraction from the program and I couldn't understand why this direction was being taken compared to the focused development of the original version. It just didn't make sense from my narrow view as a user of an older version of the software. Compared to the natural painting and awesome imagery of the gallery coming from the established toolset, the renderer reminded me of Vista Pro from the 90s - the images don't look compelling and I don't understand why I'd go to PDW for raytracing when there's blender/cycles out there.

I'm being blunt, but it's easy to invest heart and soul into something that, at the end, doesn't have an audience. Sometimes the solution lacks an obvious problem.

05-29-2018, 11:44 AM
I'm being blunt, but it's easy to invest heart and soul into something that, at the end, doesn't have an audience. Sometimes the solution lacks an obvious problem.

I saw this last week and it was quite thought provoking. As I get nearer that phase of my life, the process of bowing out is at the forefront of my mind.

Barring a buyout I wish you strength in walking away, proud of what you've accomplished and focused on your health.

TheLexx
05-29-2018, 12:01 PM
My very idle thought as I know it's too easy to think out loud without doing anything, but I wonder if it is possible to sell a stripped down version of Howler optimised for video restoration at a higher price :devil:, with a name change for a different market. Something like PFClean costs over $5000 so maybe a special version of Howler could cut into a little of that. In practice, it might be like one guy "locked in the basement" doing all the programing and some other marketing savvy public-friendly dude at the front doing lots of talking and selling....

Dan Ritchie
05-30-2018, 08:20 AM
To be honest, the development of a render engine felt like a distraction from the program and I couldn't understand why this direction was being taken compared to the focused development of the original version. It just didn't make sense from my narrow view as a user of an older version of the software. Compared to the natural painting and awesome imagery of the gallery coming from the established toolset, the renderer reminded me of Vista Pro from the 90s - the images don't look compelling and I don't understand why I'd go to PDW for raytracing when there's blender/cycles out there.


The original vision of the program was to help film makers get their films made. That included animated films, and things like down and dirty fx work like we did for Saban at the time. Over time, It just became obvious that not many people got it.
The whole render engine thing started as a filter for making telemetry shots like old-school green wireframe stuff. Our vendors picked up on it. They wanted to sell a product that just did ONE thing. They wanted to say "See this one thing, isn't this cool?" and that's all they wanted. I personally had no interest in selling howler as a low end tool for landscapes. I do however, love landscapes. Landscapes are at the heart of everything I've done with Howler, including the media brushes and the instant foliage painting, and pretty much from the first day.
Comparing PuppyRay with Vista pro isn't really fair. Those old programs didn't have global illumination, or run on the GPU. They were programs that did one thing, where this is one filter in a program that does 10,000 different things.
The reason for the instance renderer and the new object oriented API is completely different. It was all a matter of having more complex data types. In the beginning, we focused primarily on pixels. The idea was that we would greatly expand that to first include things like vectors and matrices, then gradients and vectors drawing similar to the language Processing, then geometries, then full rendering, then real world things like physics and materials, then more abstract things, all that can be manipulated in more abstract and powerful ways. It wasn't about having a 3D engine. That would just be a tool that would let us do more powerful paint and animation.
We never lost our focus on improving the painting experience. That continued up to the last update. We rewrote our gradient tool, our post correction tools, we added contour gradients. We wrote the groundwork for a new brush engine. We added support for uv's. We laid the foundation for a new warp tool. We added perspective tools. With the new API, we just wanted to make it a lot more powerful and forward thinking.

We did get some good looking renders in the end. The early stuff was pretty bad. Would have been nice to get the geometry in there like trees.

141894

incidentally, we don't use net framework. We only support it for plugin development, if anyone chooses to use it. We do have 2 plugins that use it.
We are C++ and AMP for performance, and classic VB with mostly custom components for GUI.

Phil
05-30-2018, 12:53 PM
The original vision of the program was to help film makers get their films made. That included animated films, and things like down and dirty fx work like we did for Saban at the time. Over time, It just became obvious that not many people got it.
The whole render engine thing started as a filter for making telemetry shots like old-school green wireframe stuff. Our vendors picked up on it. They wanted to sell a product that just did ONE thing. They wanted to say "See this one thing, isn't this cool?" and that's all they wanted. I personally had no interest in selling howler as a low end tool for landscapes. I do however, love landscapes. Landscapes are at the heart of everything I've done with Howler, including the media brushes and the instant foliage painting, and pretty much from the first day.
Comparing PuppyRay with Vista pro isn't really fair. Those old programs didn't have global illumination, or run on the GPU. They were programs that did one thing, where this is one filter in a program that does 10,000 different things.
The reason for the instance renderer and the new object oriented API is completely different. It was all a matter of having more complex data types. In the beginning, we focused primarily on pixels. The idea was that we would greatly expand that to first include things like vectors and matrices, then gradients and vectors drawing similar to the language Processing, then geometries, then full rendering, then real world things like physics and materials, then more abstract things, all that can be manipulated in more abstract and powerful ways. It wasn't about having a 3D engine. That would just be a tool that would let us do more powerful paint and animation.
We never lost our focus on improving the painting experience. That continued up to the last update. We rewrote our gradient tool, our post correction tools, we added contour gradients. We wrote the groundwork for a new brush engine. We added support for uv's. We laid the foundation for a new warp tool. We added perspective tools. With the new API, we just wanted to make it a lot more powerful and forward thinking.

We did get some good looking renders in the end. The early stuff was pretty bad. Would have been nice to get the geometry in there like trees.

141894

incidentally, we don't use net framework. We only support it for plugin development, if anyone chooses to use it. We do have 2 plugins that use it.
We are C++ and AMP for performance, and classic VB with mostly custom components for GUI.

It's the GUI VB stuff that I was thinking about, to be honest, so I drew the wrong conclusion about some of the internals based on that - sorry. It seems like the GUI is the primary roadblock to getting a cross-platform release going, also remembering back to failed attempts to bring up the release on Linux/Mac back in the day.

For the rest, it seemed like the majority of the imagery for new release announcements was around the renderer (the table of images at the top of "what's new") and I was always left asking 'why'? VistaPro was probably a little harsh, but I've not seen a PDW render yet that didn't have something alien about it that threw me off (everything seems pretty shiny rather than the typical landscape and putting this at the front of the release makes people attribute more importance to it). Do you have imagery showing a combination of the renderer and the painting toolset (e.g. the wonderful particle brushes)?

Compare this one, in particular, which is stunning : http://squirreldome.com/images/Tundra13b.jpg

to this one : http://squirreldome.com/images/RefractTest09.jpg


I'm just commenting from the perspective of a user of an older version and offering my take on the presentation of the newer versions, for what little that might be worth. It might help explain some of the drop in trade, or I might be making unreasonable criticisms. The gallery has some really amazing images in there, where the new marketing images leave me kind of cold. It's not clear to me yet how the newer versions would make creating an image like the first one easier than older releases.

Dan Ritchie
05-30-2018, 01:29 PM
I've prepared a lot of art, but it seldom gets used in the marketing.
Since my eyes went, I've been focusing more on color harmony and composition than on the details. That's why we have so many tools related to color picking and themes.

Dan Ritchie
05-30-2018, 01:32 PM
Last year, I actually painted a dead raven covered in playing cards on a checkerboard field, but nobody liked it. It was entirely from nature, except the checkerboard.

Dan Ritchie
05-30-2018, 02:00 PM
It's not clear to me yet how the newer versions would make creating an image like the first one easier than older releases.

Yes, I see your point. We did have all that information in the "what's new" area, but as time goes by, it gets shifted out by newer things.
If you're interested, and you're using an version before 11, then the foliage feature now has a visual browser for presets. There is a scale option in addition to pen size, that scales the entire foliage, and a slider for shading, as apposed to on/off. There's also an option to flatten the work, so shadows don't keep building up. The old "template" function was deprecated in order to simplify. Foliage can now be browsed just like any other media. Similar changes were also made to the original particle "optipustics" feature.

Phil
05-30-2018, 08:41 PM
I've prepared a lot of art, but it seldom gets used in the marketing.
Since my eyes went, I've been focusing more on color harmony and composition than on the details. That's why we have so many tools related to color picking and themes.

Just to re-calibrate my opinions, I asked my wife to take a look through the marketing material and then the gallery. She was deeply impressed by the majority of the gallery, but less so by the obviously-rendered images. She echoed, unprompted and without prior discussion, many of my comments. It's anecdotal, but hopefully useful information. Tidying up the site and also front-loading it with large, gorgeous images will also make a big difference. It's relatively easy to end up looking at ancient content discussing needing more than 64 MB RAM and something other than Windows 98, which is going to confuse people. There are some links to 'Doggy bags' as well, and it wasn't clear if those are needed or not at this point in time.

To that extent, even though it might be a wrench, I'd strongly suggest focusing on the awesome technology outside of Puppy Ray, either in terms of trying to revive user interest in the tool or in terms of shopping it to another developer. At the risk of repeating myself, it's very easy to fall into the trap of being technology and infrastructure focused - letting the work deceive you into overly valuing the result. As much time and effort as that work takes, and as interesting as it may be, it is only really valuable if you're solving problems of sufficient scale for a single user, or solving problems for many users (such that it pays for itself). Beautiful code and design isn't worth much without meaningful work to do (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJEWOTZnFeg is worth a look here - Ton speaks a lot of sense). I think your particle brushes and the rest of the application are the jewel in the crown (based on the quality of the work in the gallery) and should be promoted over and above the renderer and its related parts, unless you can demonstrate value to the scale of many of the more 'traditional' images in your gallery..

Dan Ritchie
05-31-2018, 10:02 AM
I'd strongly suggest focusing on the awesome technology outside of Puppy Ray,.

I don't run Thebest3d, if that's what you're looking at, just Squirreldome.com. Like I said, I'm done trying to help people make their movies. They can buy from people with flashier websites.