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                       Photogenics 2 IRC Conference

[On April 22, at 10 PM London time, Almathera held a conference on IRC to
promote and discuss Photogenics 2, the upcoming revision to their
paint-style image processing package.  Here is the edited transcript of the

Photogenics 2 IRC Conference, held by Almathera.
April 22, 10 PM London.

Jolyon:  Welcome everyone...  We'll begin in a few minutes.  In the
meantime feel lucky we can't play any abysmal 'hold' music at you...

Jolyon:  Ok..  Welcome everyone to the Photogenics 2 on-line Q&A
session.  We'll be launching Photogenics 2 in the beginning of next
month, and we're here tonight to take questions about it...

Jolyon:  Most importantly, you'll want to know what features we've
added:  Well, briefly...  ARexx support, Animation reading and
creation...  Virtual Images (work with huge images direct from Hard
disk - no MMU needed), full on-line documentation (in HTML format)
and much more!

Jolyon:  If you've got any questions, /msg THP and you'll get put on
the question list..

Jolyon:  Do I hear the first question?

THP:  [Finish any question with GA, same as all other AR-style

Grypas:  I want to know what position Photogenics will hold after
version 2 compared to other popular image proccessing software.  In
school I have to use Photoshop and I am familiar with Image FX which
I'm considering buying.

Jolyon:  We obviously intend it to be in a very good position indeed.
There are plenty of things Pgs can do that ImageFX and Photoshop
can't, or at least are a lot less easy to perform.

_Sinister:  We now have many features which have only been available
to IFX in the past, such as VMem, and ARexx.  This makes our position
a lot stronger.

Jolyon:  And Photoshop has neither (ok, it uses Vmem on the OS, but
that's *damn* slow)

Jolyon:  The Amiga is the home of the most innovative graphics
software available on any platform.  We're proud that Photogenics is
considered highly amongst such a strong pack...

THP: [current-queue: gi, tachyon, monty, jamesbartz]

Gi:  Will layers be implemented in V2.xx, and what about Colour
correction, and how about a Plug-in system for extra features

Jolyon:  Ok...  Layers no, (other than the paintlayer Photogenics has
had since V1)

Jolyon:  Colour correction - it depends on exactly what you're after.
If you're after CMYK support that's not something we're planning to
add in the short term

_Sinister:  Though we do now have real-time previews and proper

Jolyon:  The amiga has always been a video-centric rather than a
print-centric system, so RGB has always been more important than CMYK
for most Amiga users...

Jolyon:  (We will add it - give us time - but it's a *big* task).

Jolyon: As for plug-ins, YES.  Photogenics 2 has a brand-new plug-in system
for effects.  These effects, unlike the paintmodes, are effects that can be
applied to the whole image in one go (such as the histogram tool, the
perspective rotate effect and even our brand new fractal generator that
generates 32-bit fractals (with 8-bit transparency) onto your images...

Jolyon: These are similar to the GIOs used for file input/output and full
programming docs will be provided.

Tachyon: I wanted to know about the stability and future plans of the
company and product.  It's a tough market.  Also I've heard rumours of
programmer turnover, and other internal situations.  Also is full
CyberGraphX support available/in the works.

Tachyon:  Also pricing on V2.  That's about it, thanks.

Jolyon:  Ok..  First the company...

_Sinister:  Well I'm not going anywhere, and I've been here since 1.2...
(1.1a even)

Jolyon: The Amiga market has collapsed, for commercial software, and it's
been tough.  Much of our work is now for custom programming (things you're
never likely to see) and we've even dabbled in some PC programming too
(just to keep the money coming in).  But we're committed to developing for
the Amiga, and after meeting Bill Buck of Viscorp last week I am far more
confident than ever that the Amiga does have a secure future - which means
Almathera does too.  As for programmer turnover, we've not had a
particularly high rate of this.  We've had the same team here for over a
year now...

Jolyon:  Now.  for the program...

Jolyon: We've spent ages and ages going through the photogenics source
fixing all your favourite bugs.  We believe Photogenics 2 is the most
stable release ever...

Jolyon: Full CyberGraphX support?  We've had CyberGraphX support since V1.2
- was there anything in particular you meant by this?  (/msg me...)

Monty: A few questions..  1st - Who had the original idea for PGs?  2nd -
Are you likely to be getting a PPC dev board anytiume soon?  3rd - Do
youthink your contract problems with Paul Nolan will ever be resolved??

Jolyon: 1.  Paul Nolan came up with the original program (called SfxGen)
which Photogenics is based on.  For the last year or so all work has been
done in house.

Jolyon:  2.  No, I don't (but as soon as we do...)

Jolyon: 3.  Yes, I hope they will be.  I think it's a pity that Paul has
caused friction between us by taking private discussions out to a wider

JamesBart 1. What about image enhancement? 2. Who's Paul Nolan?????

_Sinister 1: That like, kind of what we do...

_Sinister 2: He wrote the original program we based some of Photogenics on.

[THP-infochannel: queue = frotz zool inertia pauln grypas simD lostman]

            [split and takeover-attempt occured at this point]

_Sinister: Ouch.

[THP-infochannel: Ow. Split.]

THP: [We seem to have lost a few folks, so I'll restack the queue...]

JolyonR:  Well..  It appears that someone is trying to screw up our
conference.  How mature...

_THP__: Apologies. Back to our schedule.... Frotz?

Frotz: Oh hi.  um, my main question is about the added animation support,
and also I'm concerned that your conflict with PaulN might lead to him
going to another publisher, which would leave my upgrade in an uncertain
situation, wouldnt it?

JolyonR:  Ok..  Animation support.

JolyonR: Animation support works in a similar way to ImageFX and Adpro -
you use ARexx scripts to read and write frames of animations.  These
scripts allow you to apply whatever sequences of operations you want across
a whole animation, for example.

JolyonR: As for PaulN and the safety of Photogenics - remember that
Photogenics is an Almathera product, if PaulN wanted to take the original
SFXgen program to another publisher which he's entirely entitled to do in
1.5 years time, then he'd have an *awful* lot of work putting in even half
the stuff we've added in the last two years.

JolyonR: I'm sure the minor differences between us will be sorted without
any problems.  We got annoyed with him recently because he went public over
a disagreement which really should have been kept internal.  Because of
this, he's found it's taken much longer to sort the problem out.

Zool 1) You said you talked to Bill Buck of VIScorp.  Who is he and what
did he say to you to make you more optimistic?

Zool 2) Will an updated Photogenics, let's say 2.0 SE, be in the Amiga
Magic Pack?

Zool 3) Jolyon, will you ever get into a group hug with Paul Nolan and
Wouter van Oortmerssen again?  =)

JolyonR 1) Bill Buck said a lot of things that cheered me up no end. 
Unfortunately, I've signed an NDA and can't speak about it.

JolyonR 2) The Amiga magic pack is unlikely to change in the short term (so
it will remain 1.2SE), as for future bundles, maybe...

JolyonR 3) I like Paul.  I know _Sinister doesn't get on with him well, but
that's a personality thing.  I expect that Paul Nolan will be much more
heavily involved in Version 3 of photogenics...

_Sinister:  Hoi!  Thats not entirely true...

JolyonR: As for Wouter...  We'll, let's just say we've agreed to disagree
over programming language issues :-)

Inertia: Okay, thanks.  Just a couple of quick ones.  Have you implemented
or considered a feature similar to Photoshop's Magic Wand?  Can you tell us
any more about new processing features?

JolyonR:  Ok..  First let me mention something important...

JolyonR: PaulN may have mentioned he has been working on 'Photogenics 2'
for a while now.  This is indeed true.  What has happened is that this work
has, for various reasons, taken much longer than originally anticipated.
This means that verison 2 has been written in-house in Almathera, and
Paul's code will be the core for Version 3.  Version 2 has to be called
version 2 for marketing reasons (not my decision...)

JolyonR:  Back to your question, Inertia...

JolyonR: Magic Wand - Well, Photogenics works a little differently from
programs like Photoshop, as you may have realised.

JolyonR: With Photoshop you select a region with a tool that selects
outlines of areas.  On Photogenics, the selected area is the 8-bit
paintlayer channel.  This is how with Photogenics you can select regions
simply by spraying on areas with the spray can.  This has even been
extended to the new effects system, so if you want you can do a histogram
equalisation *only* of the areas of an image you've sprayed over!

JolyonR: The 'fill can' tool in photogenics does have a tolerance and
smoothness tool that allows you to select regions in a 'magic wand'
style...  I've mentioned a few of the new effects, many of them have
real-time previews (such as hue&Saturation adjust).  These look wonderful
on a Cybergraphx screen :-)

[THP-infochannel: stacking on: pauln, grypas, simd, lostman, Gi, pixel]

JolyonR: Paul?

___THP Paul?

___THP Odd. Okay, moving on.... Grypas?

Grypas: Thank you again! (hold on)

Grypas: I was expecting more in the animation departement but I want to
know how impressive is the list of special effects.

Grypas:  How can users help you apart from buying the program?

Grypas:  And how fast is it on an AGA A4000@25?

JolyonR: Ok..  First, I apologise to _Sinister, my previous post made it
sound like he was the only one who had arguments with PaulNolan, which
certainly isn't the case, and when I mentioned it was a personality thing,
I didn't mean _Sinister...

JolyonR:  And your questions:

JolyonR: Special Effects list currently includes:

Balance (realtime colour balance control)

Blur (simple and gaussian, like the old menu items, but as
effects now so you can paint on *huge* gaussian blurs)

Edge (much better edge detect algorithm than the one in paintmodes)

Fractal (the mega 32-bit fractal generator)

Gradient (apply gradient fills to regions or the whole image)

Histogram (realtime histogram equalisation, selectable channels, etc)

Hue&Saturation (as previously described)

Invert (fast invert)

Linestrokes (difficult to decribe...)

Median (selectable size median filter)

MixColour (various colour mixing effects)

Noise (apply noise)

Paper (apply paper textures) - _Sinister - you've not seen this
yet, have you?  :-)

Perspective (3d roatation)

Plasma (the old loader, now an effect, so you can 'paint' plasma
onto an image...

_Sinister: (paper - no.  You've hacked up the old GIO I take it...)

JolyonR:Pyramid (make an image out of pyramids - like Photoshop  :-)

RadialBlur (very nice...)

Remove Isolated Pixels

SheetMetal (strange)

Tile (which also does 3d bevelled box type effects)

and Wave (which does 2d wave distortion type things...)

JolyonR: and the second part of your question was...  You can help by
continuing to support the AMiga!

JolyonR: And, on any AGA machine, it runs like toffee unless you use the
non-promoted screenmodes (eg Pal rather than DblPal).  That's AGA hardware
for you, nothing we can do about it, except suggest you get a gfx card..

___THP: I'd like to mention here [being the installer-coder, 'n all] that
Photogenics 2 will be initially released on CD, floppy versions later...

SimD: 1. Where do you see PG going after v2.0?

SimD:  2.  Are you considering releasing a CD version with a load of
gfx, etc on?

___THP: SimD: ;-]

SimD: 3. Why was PaulN kicked out of the conf immediately at first?

_Sinister:  [1] v2.1?  (as long as it continues to be successful,
it'll keep getting better).

_Sinister:  [2] PGS2 /will/ be a CD release, with GFX etc...  (cut
down floppy later)

_Sinister: [3] Due to comments he made before the conf.  started.  We let
him on after, but he was obviously stuck for anything to say...

Lostman: Thanx ___THP and thanks to our guest and all involved.  Sorry if
this has been asked, I came in a little late & I seem get net SPLITed alot.
I will TRY to be brief..  3 questions...

Lostman: 1) What is your opinion on adding "Layers" (or like tools) AKA

Lostman: 2) This may be out of scope of this conf., but the new Cybergfx 3
is supposed to have new "3D libs".  I have yet to find out what this is.
Is this something that you could and would use in you product?  and how?

Lostman: 3) Also what is the upgrade price, policy, and availiblity for
this new program -(as well as for Photogenics lite or SE people (mine came
with the cyber64))?

JolyonR: Ok...  [1] PaulN has been working on multiple layers for some time
now...  Expect that for V3 (but I guess that won't be till MUCH later this

JolyonR: [2] Yes, I've head about CyberGfx 3d libs too, but despite being
one of Phase5's 'partners' in PowerPC development, they tell us nothing...

JolyonR: [3] Upgrade from 1.2 is £34.95, from 1.2SE and CyberPhotogenics1.2
is £49.95 (rrp is £99.99)

Gi: will a DraCo version be done (using Dec Alpha) if you get your
development machine, also I've asked Sinister this, is a fractal
compression system available?, also have you thought of developing some
software for Cybergraphx that is seriously needed like an anim player
etc...  also will PGS2 need more memory?

JolyonR:  Ok..

_Sinister:  We'd love to do DraCo (jolz, I'm having it...)

JolyonR: MacroSystems promised us an Alpha back last July, but suprisingly
we never got it :-) If we get one, and an Alpha compiler then *OF COURSE*
we'll port it (or as much as is necessary, ie the speed-critical stuff)

JolyonR: Fractal compression - I'm investigating this and wavelett
compression at the moment.  I've been talking to iterated systems on and
off for 2 years now, and they're much closer to allowing us to do an Amiga
port now than at any previous time.

JolyonR: Anim player for CyberGfx?  Sounds a good idea...  I'll throw the
idea around here and see what people think.

JolyonR: Pgs2 now requires 4Mb.  This really should have been the minimum
for Pgs1.2..  The program is a bit bigger, and there are more libraries
floating around, but this is offset by the new virtual image system.  I
loaded an 18Mb image, cut a part out, painted on it, pasted it back into
the image, and saved it as a jpeg.  All taking less than 200Kb of ram....

Pixel: Hi, Does it have a distort "perspective" effect like Photoshop have?

___THP:  Sin?  ;-]

_Sinister:  Yes.

_Sinister:  :)

___THP: Okay, I'd like to put in a couple of questions we had mailed to us
[that may answer a few more public q's]

___THP: [1] GIF-Export.  Will it make it into the next release?  [Anthony
Ikeda, Australia]

JolyonR:  Yes.  It's a PD add-on, of course :-)

_Sinister:  Also, complete with inteleved and transparency support...

JolyonR: I'm just ironing out a couple of bugs in it now...  It does
interlace and transparency, as _Sin has just said...  The transparency
support is clever - you 'paint on' the transparency in Photogenics into the
paint layer, so you don't have to mess around choosing strange colours and
hoping the colour reduction doesn't screw up and use that colour for
dithering.  Bits you want transparent you paint on.  Simple.  You can use
the fill tool to make regions of similar colour all transparent if you

JolyonR: Oh, we've also added support for Progressive JPEG to the JPEG

___THP: [2] Improved speed in the 16bit Cybergraphics screen [on a
PPS040@35mhz], is the central engine full C yet, Swedish distributor? 
[from Jonas Elfstrom, Sweden]

JolyonR: Speed has been slightly improved in 16-bit cybergraphx.  But more
speed could be got if CyberGraphx was improved :-) Central engine is still
in Amiga E.  It won't change until a future version...

JolyonR: More stuff is out of the central engine now, the central engine is
mostly user-interface code.

[THP-infochannel: stacking on: GregE, Inertia]

JolyonR: Swedish distributor.  Yes, we have one, but I can't remember who..
If you mail me later I can find out the details and reply...

    [it's Vidamus Multimedia, with email on and w3 on - i couldn't find the info in time]

GregE: I hear that the Walker will only have 1 meg of chip ram.  Do you
agree that this is a very bad thing, and will Photogenics be in the Walker
pack?  Also will you support PNG?

JolyonR: I hear the Walker may not even happen now...  1Mb chip is a *very*
bad thing.  I've not heard anything about a Walker pack.

JolyonR: We support read and write of PNG files in Photogenics 1.2a upwards
(via a free GIO on AmiNet).  It's included now with Photogenics 2

Inertia: Thanks again.  The flyer I received mentioned something about
LightWave support.  Can you mention anything about this / memory required?

JolyonR: Yes..  Memory required = lots (but you'll need that for Lightwave
anyway :-)

JolyonR: Photogenics can load .LWOB objects (as wireframe views) so you can
load an object, paint a texture onto it, and save the texture...  We'll
provide arexx scripts to link them automatically to allow seamless control
of one package from the other...

[THP-infochannel:  stacking on:  LostMan, Gi, and nobody else

Lostman: Hhow about support for vector tranlations like EPS, PDF, and Corel
Draw files, also support for quicktime?

JolyonR: EPS input is something I've wanted to do for a long time.  It's on
the list of "Things to add if we suddenly run out of bugs to fix in the
next two weeks".  If not, I'll try and do an EPS importer (based on the
post.library, or equivelant) as a freebie on aminet.  PDF is dificult...
I'll have to check out the new ghostscript for that...  Corel Draw is
probably even tougher...  that's unlikely for a long time...

Gi:  Will an ARexx script for Pagestream3 be available?

JolyonR: We don't have Pagestream3.  I faxed SoftLogic a while ago asking
if they wanted to swap copies so we could add such support, but no
response...  Perhaps I'll try again...  and the last question I forgot to
answer...  about Quicktime - Not yet, but we've head that Amiga have
licenced Apple Quicktime code.  When we get that, we can support Quicktime

<<Topic>>___THP sets topic to "Photogenics 2 - Time to wind it up.".

___THP: Okay, the 'official log' should wind up now.  We'll go unmoderated
in a second.  Thanks to all of you for showing up and hanging thru the
splits and channel-chaos ;-]

<<Mode>>___THP changes channel modes to not moderated

___THP: Hopefully, we'll get a transcript into the next Amiga Report, and
get the last few questions in as well [060 optimisation and more]

___THP:  But for now, thanks and goodnight!

   [there were a couple of extra questions afterwards worth mentioning]

NorthWay:  Doing any 060 optmisations?

JolyonR: Not at the moment, our compiler doesn't support 060 optimisation
(or does it?)

_Sinister:  No, it doesn't...

_Sinister wishes we had an 060 in the office (or even at home)

MrDaniel: SAS/C?  Tray Storm C mayber...  Its supposed to support 060, but
afaik it doesnt optimize as good as SAS/C...

NorthWay: StormC is the only one thinking about it I think :)

JolyonR: I tried stormC on a piece of code we have here.  The output ran at
1/3 of the speed of the SAS version (no joke...)

NorthWay: you have no small time consuming loops that cries for hand
optimised code?  :)

MrDaniel: hmm...  I'm not that surprised...  Storm C is still not
completed...  I hope they get some really good optimizer in it.

JolyonR:  I hope so too.  The rest of the product is very good.

JolyonR:  We're not adding any more 680x0 code with PPC on the way!

NorthWay: Why not? 100 lines 68K wont cost you a leg and an arm.

MrDaniel: Two legs and an arm? :)

Pixel: What about colorizing, support for more than 3 colors

JolyonR: False Colour allows you to create your own palette for colourising
with up to 256 colours.  Did you mean something else?

MrDaniel: BTW... when will it be released?

_Sinister: May (15th?)