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RIP particleIllusion

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Elvis Deane
RIP particleIllusion
on Aug 1, 2016 at 7:47:42 pm

I apologize for the clickbait headline, but it feels like I'm writing an obituary for a friend I just found out died.

I almost can't even fathom who I'd be as a person now if it weren't for particleIllusion. That sounds silly to say about a piece of software, but it was the first software that was a natural fit for me and led to so many cool projects and memories. I got to be a Cow Leader and make tutorials, had a few articles in digital video magazines, got trips to Vegas, Boston, and LA to demo at the Wondertouch booth. Working with this software changed the course of my life for the better.

Once in a while, I still break out pI and use it for an effect. It's a little odd going to the Genarts website and seeing Sapphire 9's reel and realizing that most of those effects can be done in pI. That goes to show what a powerful tool it was and Alan's brilliance as a programmer and software designer. It's a shame that pI fell by the wayside at GenArts, because I think the concept still had a lot of potential. No one before or since has made particle effects so easy to work with. The 2D factor and other limitations didn't allow it to be a be-all, end-all kind of particle creation system, but it could get you 90% of the way there in a lot of situations.

Brian Fox, if you read this, I hope that GenArts will consider open-sourcing the software. If there isn't much of a user base left for it, what's the harm? At this point, the last update of any significance was 7 years ago by my guess. You say that most of the technology is outdated, then why not let someone else have a chance at trying something with an abandoned program? At worst, you don't sell a handful of licenses to a long abandoned program. At best, someone picks up Alan's work and turns it into something great. Good press for you, a little hope for the rest of us. Think about it.

Elvis Deane!

hyperbolic films

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Bob Moyer
Re: RIP particleIllusion
on Aug 2, 2016 at 1:08:04 pm

Thank you for your comments. They echo the sentiment of several users that still check into the forum. I have just about memorized your "Cooking" cd from years ago. Glad to see you still use pi on occasion.


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Francois Blawat
Re: RIP particleIllusion
on Aug 2, 2016 at 1:45:42 pm


Good to hear you on this forum and Yes it is very sad. Your Tutorials and webpage for us pi users is great and still used today. I really hope Brian Fox gets GenArts to consider this open-source or continue to update it. I remember reading updates from Alan (in the past) that talked about version 3.5 and 4.0 to fix issues and bring other features in.


- - - - -

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Brian Fox
Re: RIP particleIllusion
on Aug 2, 2016 at 5:02:39 pm

Hey Elvis!

I hear you my friend. I know most people like to look at situations as white/black, good/bad, but the reality is always usually more murky and grey. Changes Adobe made in 2015 to how AE renders caused major issues in the PI world and limitations in how the software was written from the start have wrecked havoc in the PI development. The introduction of Particular to the marketplace was a real shift....all these issues factor into where we are at in 2016 with PI.

OpenSourcing PI is something we've discussed internally, but nothing to report as of now in terms of plans for the future. Trust me, if we go that route, I will sing it from the rooftops because no one will be happier than I to see it developed further.

And by the way, Alan is a good friend and former colleague of mine who I speak to regularly. There is no easy answer that rests in his mind, otherwise I'm sure he would be yelling at us about it regularly!

Thanks for your patience and understanding

PS. What makes you think I DIDN'T use PI on the Sapphire 9 Sizzle? :-)

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Alan Lorence
Re: RIP particleIllusion
on Aug 2, 2016 at 7:32:18 pm

Just to add on top of what Brian has written...

(I don't visit the forums very much anymore as I'm in a completely different industry now, but I'll try to check in more regularly. Brian may also give me a heads up if there's something I can contribute...)

I know a lot of people really love pI3 (the standalone application) because of its speed, power, simplicity and depth. Being a standalone application though meant that the particle engine -- the fun stuff -- was just a third or less of the code. The rest was UI, file handling, memory management, etc. Remember how the movie handling in pI3 for Windows got slower when we released an update (version 3.10 maybe...)? That was when we had to switch movie handling code because Microsoft updated libraries. There were some UI features that changed or went away for the same reason -- the OS libraries changed and we had to adapt.

There have been so many changes like that over the last 10 years that somebody would probably have to work for a few weeks just to get the code building in modern development environments -- that's with no functional changes. In modern software development, that's quite a bit of effort (and therefore money). I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's not trivial. That's why we started to focus more on the plugin versions of pI (pIAE and pIOFX), even though those had their own challenges.

The fact that pI was 2D is another problem. Not having 3D capabilities was a limiting factor for many even when pI was new -- now though it is a deal breaker for most customers. Can it be converted to 3D? Probably. Sort of. Does it make sense to though? I don't know, and that's the problem. It's never been clear to me as lead programmer, then as project manager, now as uninvolved third party that it would ever be worth the effort.

All that being said, I wouldn't give up hope on seeing pI move forward, evolve, or something else. I'm not saying it will happen, I'm just saying not to give up hope.


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