Wednesday, May 9, 2007

TVPaint, Bauhaus, Mirage: A serious concern for animation software users!


This is extremely important if you are looking at purchasing “Mirage” from Bauhaus for animation. There is a very serious problem with this software that will greatly reduce your ability to use this software in the future. I refer you specifically to http://www.tvpaint.com/ for details. The following messages are posted on that website:


TVPaint and Bauhaus entered into a license agreement that allowed Bauhaus to distribute TVPaint’s software in the United States on July 11, 2003. When Bauhaus failed to meet its agreed sales levels of TVPaint’s software, the parties settled their differences by modifying the license agreement on January 31, 2005. By October of 2005 it became apparent that Bauhaus was not going to comply with the required license payments to TVPaint. When Bauhaus defaulted under the license agreement, TVPaint offered to meet with Bauhaus in San Antonio to discuss Bauhaus’s failure to pay under the license agreement. The meeting was finally arranged for Canada in November.

In November of 2005, TVPaint traveled all the way from France to Canada to meet with Bauhaus. Instead of beginning negotiations to resolve the failure of Bauhaus to pay its agreed royalties, Mr. Paul Ford with Bauhaus started and ended the meeting by reading TVPaint a letter that must have been prepared by a lawyer threatening the filing of a $12,000,000.00 USD lawsuit against TVPaint if TVPaint terminated the license agreement because Bauhaus failed to paid the agreed royaties to TVPaint and if TVPaint began to sell and market TVPaint’s software in the USA. Bauhaus secretly filed a suit against TVPaint in December of 2005 but kept it secret until May of 2006 when the U.S. Judge was going to dismiss the suit for failure to give notice and serve TVPaint. The license agreement provided in not uncertain terms that if Bauhaus failed to pay the agreed royalties, the right of Bauhaus to distribute TVPaint’s software could be terminated. Pursuant to the agreement, TVPaint gave Bauhaus the required notice of default which gave Bauhaus a chance to pay the past due royalties owed to TVPaint. Bauhaus continued to refuse to pay the past due royalties and was notified on January 25, 2006 that the rights of Bauhaus under the license agreement were canceled. After cancellation of all of Bauhaus’s rights under the license agreement, only TVPaint could sell authorized copies of its copyrighted software in the US, and any continued sales by Bauhaus would be in violation of the agreement and the copyright laws.

Bauhaus ignored the cancellation and continued to sell unauthorized copies of TVPaint’s software. There are lawsuits pending in the French Court in Metz and the United States District Court in San Antonio. In the suits, TVPaint has asked for an injunction against Bauhaus from selling unauthorized copies of TVPaint’s copyrighted software. The license agreement clearly states that it can be terminated for failure to pay royalties and any claimed breaches by TVPaint cannot prevent the cancellation. Bauhaus’s untenable and outrageous $12,000,000.00 USD lawsuit lists what BHS calls "contractual failures" but the claims of Bauhaus are contradicted by the terms of the license agreement. Furthermore, even assuming that TVPaint breached the license agreement, which is vehemently denied, this would not avoid termination of Bauhaus’s rights under the license agreement for failure to pay royalties.

One preposterous claim of Bauhaus is that because it participated in adding an animator toolbar to the TVPaint software, this gives Bauhaus sole and exclusive ownership of TVPaint’s software and the right to ignore the royalty and cancellation provisions of the license agreement. Even assuming that Bauhaus is the “author” of the animator toolbar added to TVPaint’s software, which is denied, this would not give Bauhaus any ownership or distribution rights to TVPaint’s underlying software and copyright. It is fundamental copyright law that creating a derivative work does not give additional rights to the underlying work. When the license on the underlying TVPaint software and copyright is cancelled for non-payment of royalties, all rights to distributing the otherwise infringing derivative work terminate.

At this point the biggest fear of TVPaint is that faced with the inevitable loss of all of its rights in TVPaint’s software, Bauhaus Software will act to destroy all good will in TVPaint’s software. We'd like to make it crystal clear that Bauhaus Software does not now and never did have access to or own the source code for the TVPaint software it sold under the Mirage name before its license was cancelled in January of 2006. Consequently, Bauhaus Software, like any other user, is only able to make plugins such as the Animator's Toolbar, copied largely from (edit : not by of course) Dhomas Trenn's Toolbox, or Board-o-Matic thanks to the SDK which has its own limitations though. The SDK allows anyone to do very cool plugins to the TVPaint software. The TVPaint SDK was not intended to make a rotative canvas for example...

That means that the old versions of TVPaint software sold under the name Mirage cannot be updated or adapted by Bauhaus Software to recent and future platforms like the new Intel CPU based Macs and take advantage of their new abilities. That's why more and more users of TVPaint software formerly sold under the Mirage name are switching to TVPaint each day... the only current legal source of genuine TVPaint software is from TVPaint so beware of buying from unauthorized sources!

Let me emphasize a key point:


"That means that the old versions of TVPaint software sold under the name Mirage cannot be updated or adapted by Bauhaus Software to recent and future platforms like the new Intel CPU based Macs."

This is distressing news. If you are interested in software like Mirage, you should look at TVPaint’s website at http://www.tvpaint.com/

Obviously, I find the Toon Boom line of products to be more practical for my projects ( http://www.toonboom.com/ ).

Since I did a previous post about Mirage, I wanted it known that users need to be very careful about their purchases, since the software is fairly expensive. I have found TVPaint’s email responses to be very speedy if you have questions. It appears that anyone interested in this type of animation software, which uses bit mapping, should purchase the software from TVPaint in France.

What a mess!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Toon Boom's new software: Storyboard Pro


Toon Boom’s Storyboard Pro arrived last Monday and I’ve had some limited opportunity to use the software to create a real project. For the past several weeks, I’ve been stuck on a public service advertisement. I had already created a finished soundtrack, but was stuck on the mechanics of how to structure the scene.

The tools of Storyboard Pro are very easy to use. The video teaching files are particularly helpful and my learning curve was very easy. The program is stable and I encountered no strange behavior. Installation was easy. Tablet PC operation has been extremely smooth.

As a valuable tool, I was able to quickly structure out a rough test file that let me place out what I needed to accomplish and the result should speed the final work when I go back into Solo. The total time to create the result was so short that it made me almost regret spending so much for a program that I seem to be using only for small chunks of time. Without the tool, however, I was not coming up with a plan. The bottom line here is Storyboard Pro is a valuable tool that works quickly.

Most of the components of the ad, in terms of drawing files, had already been created in Toon Boom Solo. I was simply getting stuck on integrating them together. It was extremely easy to use the Solo libraries to integrate the components into Storyboard Pro with simple “click and drag.”

Now that I have the file, I am a bit stuck as to where I go from here. After messing around, I decided to use a QuickTime file with time code imprinted onto the screen as a reference.

We’ll see how this goes.