Sunday, December 29, 2013

The developement team is recovering from flu this week.  Life happens.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Status update

We called "Feature Lock" status as of yesterday.  That means that no new features are being added to version 9.1 from this point.  (There's always one or two that still go in at the last moment, though)
From this point, we are only finishing existing features, fixing bugs, and probably will continue cosmetic changes.  We are very likely more than a week away from "Release Candidate", at which point we will only be fixing critical bugs before release.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Here's a screenshot showing some of the new options available to lines/ellipses/rectangles:


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Here's a video showing some of the beta usage of PuppyRay GPU.  Frames have been dropped, so the video is faster than what was recorded.  The video was recorded on a AMD 1450 based netbook with 2 shader cores.  With a higher end GPU, the results should look a lot like this.  Mind you this was very beta at the time.

  video

Friday, November 22, 2013

A teaser for some new icons that have been added to the context strip:


Monday, November 18, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Plasma noise is a tool that gets used a lot.  We've added some features that makes it easier to create more interesting noise patterns.


We've got some new options coming to the context strip for various tools...



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Howler 9.1 will feature a gently redesigned icon set, and more unified color schemes.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Another new feature coming to Howler 9.1 is an overhauled Fill Settings panel with preview of your fill settings.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Here's a first look at one thing that's coming to Howler 9.1.  We now have a light-on-dark GUI rendering style.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

According to one of our users, it is possible to register Howler with Bit Defender, to bypass the compatibility issue.  Hopefully we can have more later on this...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Code wise, I believe we are ready for release.  This week we got reports of incompatibility with Bitdefender.  There always seems to be that one antivirus that gives us a false positive.  It's those little details that keep you busy.

I'm working on Squirreldome for the last several days.  Effectively, you can order the software now.  You will get a beta version, but release is only a week or so away, and the website needs to be fully functional by then, so it's going up now.

Phillip will likely be making changes to TheBest3d later this week, so we need to get synced up still.
Other than that, it's just a matter of dealing with the daily dealies until release.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

We are now setting a release date.  It looks like it will be second week of September.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

As of a few days ago, we've activated the use of keyframing in Puppyray, making it fully animatable.
All the parameters in the filter can be keyframed, so you could, for example, animate the sun rising and changing colors.  I do believe it's also possible to animate the 'texture' in the swap image, so you could load in an AVI or something to use as an animated texture.

Keyframing in Puppyray is based on a new keyframing class added to Howler in version 9, so more keyframing could be possible in the future.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I just realized I haven't blogged in quite a while.  Development has slowed down a bit this week due to being sick for an extended period.  Kind of feeling like I'd die-sick.

Anyway, we've got 3 new internal APIs being added to version 9.  One is for GDI+, which supports some of the plugins we've internalized that used GDI+ and .net framework.  They no longer use the .net framework, and rely on the new internal GDI+  layer.

A second API supports AVI and DWA files.  We aren't currently using it, but it should come in real handy in the days to come.

And the third is a new keyframing class that simplifies and unifies the use of keyframes.  It should come in real handy.  This should prove interesting if I'm able to stay lucid over the next few weeks.

We also recently integrated Twain support and fixed several bugs.

This morning I consolidated some spare parts into a working netbook, so I have a spare machine again.  It was my Linix box until it croaked a few weeks ago.  Lost my Linux and Windows 8 though, so I'm flying blind as far as Linux support goes right now.  We had plenty of time to outline what needed to be done, so we're just doing that.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Phillip is working on a new series, starting at the beginning with installation and introduction to Howler 9, beta.  There is now an offical page for Version 9, also showing some more specifics of what is new.  Mind you, we're still a month from release so there's more to come.

http://www.thebest3d.com/howler/9/


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0ICFnl3_TU&feature=c4-overview&list=UUhhWiBVGa-zLq52myfi-UlA

He also has a small feature on loading frames from an AVI file.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uPs6z8YXkg&list=UUhhWiBVGa-zLq52myfi-UlA



Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Today, the ability to load an animation file into a selection is being finished up.  It may also be possible to use an AVI file in the next few days.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We have a big animation related announcement today.

Version 9 will support trimming of AVI files so you can load in just the frames you want, using a convenient editor, screenshot below.  We are now just a little over a month from our planned release.  Be sure to check our latest offers, because we tend to cut the price pretty deep before a big release like this.

There's just 1 full day left on this offer http://dan-ritchie.wix.com/howlerpromotion
and more can be found at www.squirreldome.com and www.thebest3d.com



Friday, July 26, 2013

It looks like the version 5 features -- the Starry Night filter, and the Animated Glows and Flares filter -- will be be combined into a single filter, along with speed improvements and new animated real-time preview.  Here's a shot of what that will look like.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Finishing off the new particle gravity tool, aka "Neutrons" tool today.  Also added copy/paste for rotoscoping, so yeah, we do actually listen to our users if something is do-able.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Howler and Linux

Support for Linux with Wine is greatly improved as of our latest alpha release.  The program in general now seems very stable with main components operating as expected.  The only hold-out is the plugin interface.   There's only a small handful of plugins that are currently stable.  The main problem seems to be in how windows are attached to the main program.  Also, there seems to be some differences in how the COM interface handles specific types of data.  These may be patchable, but for now, our priority is to continue to internalize plugins.  That route is compatible with our goals overall.  We have been systematically internalizing plugins for the last several releases, starting in the version 7 lifecycle.  This effort has been to standardize the interaction of various parts of the program, the functioning of windows within the program, etc.  In rare cases, plugin windows could become disassociated from the main window.  There was also a small marshaling penalty when using the COM interface.  Basically, plugins were external ".exe" programs that executed along-side the main program and interfaced with it through a COM interface.  There were many advantages to this powerful plugin interface.  It made it possible to release new features without releasing full updates to the main program.  However, we found, that after that initial release, the benefits were outweighed by the extra effort that was required to maintain those programs separate from the main program.
Internalizing plugins lets us improve stability because plugins required a complex locking mechanize when the plugin and main program needed to run synchronously.  It also helps us to maintain a standard look and feel as the internalized plugins can use the built in preference system more easily, as well as taking advantage of the latest performance enhancements that might not have been available through the plugin interface.  Avoiding marshaling also gives us a small speed improvement.  Other improvments come just because we are going over the code again with a fine-tooth-comb.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Today we are working out internationalization issues.  Input boxes should now support the "," decimal separator in addition to the "."

This caused problems in several places where fractional numbers needed to be entered, such as the particles panel and the new Puppyray raytracer.

It looks like only minor cosmetic changes will be going into the first release of version 9, although we are still considering some color changes.  We are concentrating more on making functional changes, such as various animated filters having a realtime preview that did not have them before.

Instead of a new screenshot today, here's a snapshot of my new ride, since my 30 year old, vintage Raleigh road bike snapped in half a few weeks ago.


Monday, July 15, 2013

A screenshot of an Acer c60 based netbook with Howler 9 loading an image sequence under linux.


Latest screenshot featuring a new gravity simulation filter.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A first look at side-by-side comparison mode in Howler 9.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Showing a pic of Howler installed and running on linux with Wine, which finally crashed when trying to open a second instance of the browser.  We've come a few miles at least.







Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Are you press?

If your a member of the press, run a blog, or just like reviewing stuff, take a look.  The free-software-for-review model is actually one that works pretty well for everyone involved.

...

The new version of Howler 8 paint and animation software for Windows is now available for press review. Howler 8 is highly optimized for tablets and small sized pcs of all kinds, and runs like blazes on workstations, with full-screen, real-time performance of image processing filters and animation tools on any hardware.

Howler 8 is a full natural media painting experience, with the benefit added high-end of tools for the film-making and special effects communities that are not featured in even the more expensive competing programs, such as SSE accelerated motion prediction technology to intelligently re-time video sequences, camera stabilization and motion removal, rotoscoping, and more.

No matter what hardware you run on, Howler 8 delivers a fast and robust media creation experience, in addition to full artistic freedom to create natural looking artwork, textures, and digital matte paintings.

Contact for Press Review Copies of Howler 8:

Howler 8 Features:

  • Full natural media simulation optimized for tablets.
  • Real-time, full screen filters even on modest hardware, instead of postage stamp sized previews.
  • Paint complex animations with simple brush strokes using our fully featured animation system.
  • Re-time video using motion prediction technology.
  • Perform rotoscoping and camera stabilization for film quality special effects work.
  • Paint realistic trees and foliage with a single brush stroke.
  • 3D rendering and animating: Scenery, height maps, text, or anything you can paint.
  • Apply filters to animations very quickly with a keyframe based timeline.
  • Advanced color mixing, such as being able to mix true complementary colors.
  • Advanced symmetry works not only with brush strokes, but with filters and other tools.


Available now for Windows 8, 7, XP. Howler 8 is priced at $99.00 and can be found at http://www.squirreldome.com

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just a moment for the blog today, as I am still embroiled in marketing, which is a story all on it's own.

Puppy ray has more or less wound down for now.  There's always more to do, but  time to move on to other things.

The "Allow custom brush transforms" checkbox is being moved to a button on the context strip.  A big time-saver and a lot more intuitive.

I'm posting a "your feature requests for version 9" thread to the list on Yahoo groups.

Usually when we go into a development cycle, we have a pretty good idea of where we're going.  The same was true for 9 on some level, but right now, it seems to change every day as we look at what we can do and what is feasible and what isn't.  There's always a lot we want to accomplish, then our humanity gets in the way.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Some final optimizations and features going into PuppyRay this week, making it almost ready to check off the list and move on to other things for now...


Friday, May 24, 2013


A screenshot generated while adding new quality presets to Puppy Ray.  Generated with a small amount of global illumination and relatively sharp shadows.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

DPI in Windows

I'm looking into DPI in Windows today, and how it is handled by the system.

We are designed to run at 96 dpi, the default Windows dpi setting.  This was fine in the old days, but with new high resolution displays coming along, and (hopefully) long standing Windows bugs being (hopefully) fixed, it is becoming more important to support different DPI settings.

Over the weekend, I watched somebody running Howler on a new pressure enabled tablet device, that featured a very high resolution.  They also had Photoshop installed (which also has formatting problems in different DPI settings) so they would switch back to 96 dpi to do actual work.

I've stated before, that historically, Windows had a bug that would delete your user account sporadically when switching DPI settings.  I really, really hope that one's been solved.  That one fact kept me from looking into the DPI problem for a number of years.

Anyways.  I've leaned a few things about how DPI is handled under Windows.
There are 2 modes in which DPI is handled.  One is to let the the OS handle some of the scaling (such as fonts and window elements) and forces the program to handle other layout things.  This is a bit of a mess, because the OS handles things differently depending on which version you're using.

The other option is to have the OS render the program offscreen at 96 dpi, and blit it onto the program window.  All the windows/buttons/text/graphics appear correctly in this mode, and at a larger size, but they appear slightly blurry because they are being bitmap scaled.  This mode is turned on by turning off(!) the "WinXP style scaling" checkbox in the dpi settings program.

Unfortunately, it's all on or all off, you can't just turn it on for a single application.  You can however exclude programs from being rendered in this mode by using the program's compatibility settings.

To further complicate things, these modes are selected differently depending on the DPI you have selected.  96 through 120 dpi get the "XP style" scaling, while other dpi settings get the XP style turned off.  It can however be changed by the user.



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Black Icon bug

I am becoming convinced that the black icon bug in older versions of howler is related to screen dpi.  Only problem is, I've yet been able to prove it.

The only time I've been able to observe the black icon bug was when the dpi was set to something other than 72.

Supporting dpi other than 72 is becoming a priority.  Historically, Windows had an unfortunate bug, that if you changed your DPI, it would sometimes delete your user account.  That's a rather serious bug.

Actually, it renamed the account, but the effect was the same until you could get it sorted out.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

No big update for today, or even this week.  Spent some time over the weekend at the Production Pipeline expo in Hollywood, which was then canceled.  I'm just catching up on various marketing efforts today.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I'm running a test render on the new raytracer with the global illumination samples turned up pretty high (800 samples per pixel) to see how many it takes to eliminate grain.  It occurs to me at this point that some of those samples could be better spent on higher quality anti aliasing for not much more cost.  That's my next step.  Here's the result, anyway.  The image to the left took about an hour to render on 3 cores at 1.6 ghz. with all the settings cranked up pretty high.  Image size is 1024x768.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Just some screen shots today.  Still more to do, but showing promise.


Just a baby render last night on my netbook with the latest additions to the raytracer, which would include global illumination.  Still an issue to sort out with fog.  It should be based on the distance from the last ray and not always from the camera.  The result is the far away objects are getting blown out.

If your asking if it's a path tracer, the answer is no, on a few technicalities.  A path tracer makes no distinction between an object in a scene and a light source.  We do have a light source with traditional lambert lighting.  For one reason, we're not doing a high dynamic range image based lighting scheme.

We're more like global illumination by radiosity.

When in the world did I start talking this way?



Saturday, April 27, 2013

Skyball

Baby stepping through the details of the raytracer.  Working on the texture lookup for the skyball today.  Recently worked out the rotation of the camera so we could send a proper camera vector to the shader to get specular highlights.  Fog is now implemented.  Much more to do yet.



Thursday, April 25, 2013

Raytracing

I'm highly embroiled in marketing at the moment, so just having a little bit of time to work on the ray-tracer today.  Just got some basic anti-aliasing working.  You just got to take it one baby step at a time, sometimes.  Lots to do still...



Thursday, April 11, 2013

That's about all I'm going to do on the ray-tracer for today, but this test shot indicates that shadows could be working correctly.  The boxiness on the rock texture is due to the surface being bi-linear interpolated.  Cubic interpolation may clear it up, but it'd be a lot slower.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It's been a while since I've blogged, but today I'm playing with my first ever ray-tracer.
Don't expect all the bells and whistles, or even lighting, I'm gust getting a density function, camera projection, ray-caster, and etc, going today.  Seems to be a bit of a seam problem in the negative space.  Not doing modulus right, or something.