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Honeycomb – The honeypot of AV production on BeOS

by @ 8:06 pm on 1/2/2002. Filed under Film / Movie

AlienSolder pointed me to this link over at SourceForge. And while it isn’t uncommon to see empty BeOS projects over there, it is uncommon to see one that was started on Dec 7 of 2001. Intrigued, I emailed Neil Johnson for more information about the plans of the Honeycomb team. “Read More” to see what he had to say about the plans for Honeycomb and his view on the future of BeOS – specifically OpenBeOS – in a sort of psuedo-interview.

I think it’s very good to see that some good, professional apps are still in the works [and might I mention, finally, for some of them 😉 ]. Seems there are plenty of developers that think that we’ll be around for some time to come, enough so to continue, and start, huge projects on a “dead” OS with no future. Hmmmm… maybe it’s not so dead quite yet, ya think?! 🙂

Thank you for your email and interest in the Honeycomb project.

Honeycomb is a project to develop a professional Film and Animation production suite. We have divided the project into several “components” that will be tightly integrated with one another. Those components are:

  • “Thorax” – 3D renderer
  • “Swarm” – Compositor (Similar to After Effects, etc.)
  • “Hive” – A scripting engine/API that will allow users and developers to extend Honeycomb. Developers of other beos software would be able to write code for their applications that will allow them to use their app in place of the standard Honeycomb app and have the same degree of integration.
  • “Honeybee” – A vector graphics editor. This will also be integrated with the timeline to provide “flash-like” animation.
  • “Bumblebee” – A raster graphics editor. The same will hold true for Bumblebee as Honeybee, timeline integration. Users will be able to use “light-table” features to animate raster graphics.
  • “Yellow Jacket” – An audio editor. This will allow for the creation of special effects, editing video audio, etc.
  • “Wasp” – A video editor.
  • “Hornet” – A 3D editor. Hornet will allow users to set up wireframe/shaded realtime animations as a video feed, that could be combined with video footage. This will allow users to tweak the animation to get what they want before rendering.

These are the components for Honeycomb. Honeycomb is a very large project, and at the moment we are focusing on Requirements Analysis. We are taking a look at what people use in the film and animation industry, what features those products provide, and documenting them. We want to have a solid base to work from when doing our design and not chasing undocumented ideas. As such, we hope to have the requirements done in January, and the design laid out by the spring. Again, we want to be very careful about what we develop, and provide the best tools available. We currently have only 5 members, so we will be building only 1 or 2 components at a time. As the team grows, we will try developing the other tools concurrently as well. When someone downloads Honeycomb, we want it to be easy to install, and easy to use. Documentation will be available on all released features, and would even include some examples/tutorials to help new users. We don’t want the software to get in the way of the film itself. Also, Honeycomb will be for film and animation production only. We’re not trying to create a tool that will allow you to create flash animations for the web, or 3D models for that next cool Beos game. This will also help us keep the software manageable. Of course, these would be wonderful tools, and if someone wanted to branch off a new development to create those tools using the code from one of ours, go for it!

Some may ask why we are creating new tools, such as audio editors, when there are plenty. Again, we want to keep the software as focused as possible on film/animation production. When the project first started, I talked to some folks who had developed similar software and asked if they wanted to come onboard. Any reuse would be great, but the author is the one who knows the tools the best. As time goes on, we may build just the software that is needed to hook into another tool, but we haven’t gotten that far yet. We want Honeycomb to be stable and extensible.

[On the subject of “why on BeOS now”]

Beos. Well, there is an awesome OS for you. I found out about Beos around 3 or so years ago. When I was building a new computer, I built it specifically to run Beos. I purchased 4.5 and installed the operating system. It was a dream. It was very responsive and the graphics performance blew me away. For example, in win****, I had 2 avi’s running and it took some time for the start menu to come up. In Beos, I had 6 running before it even thought of slowing down. WOW! I was hooked. After a while, I became a little frustrated with not being able to find certain tools that I wanted for Beos. I eventually went on an “OS quest” if you will. I tried QNX rtp (actually, it was an article link from benews that tipped me off to it), linux, and win2000. Over the past year, I started realizing that none of them could really match Beos when it came to media. But, of course, this is when things weren’t going so well for Beos. When word came out about the Palm sale, I was worried. Palm started showing no interest in Beos. I didn’t want to stick with win2000. So, I become like the rest of you. A beos refugee floating around on the life raft, watching the veritable ship sink. I looked around a saw the postings for BeUnited. This was great, but hinged on the response from Palm, and I didn’t put a lot of hope in Palm at this point. Then, I saw the OpenBeos project. This project actually gave me hope. I could really see this take off. There has been alot of talk about how difficult it would be to “re-create” Beos, but I think that these guys really had a great shot at pulling it off. I am also involved in a christian non-profit group, focused on media. Last year, I began writing a screenplay for a film we hoped to do. That’s when the light went on. Create a software package that film makers could use, that would show off how awesome Beos really is! I sent off some emails, got some resources at sourceforge together, and here we are!

Why start such a huge project at this time? I have full faith in Micheal and the rest of the OpenBeos team. Listen to me folks, they are going to pull this off! And when they do, I want to be able to give a good, clean, powerful software package to the Beos community. OpenBeos may take time before it will be useable, but so will Honeycomb for that matter. Certain components may come out and be useable on Beos before then. But, it also gives us some software to test in OpenBeos to find bugs. When we are sure it works in Beos, we will compile for OpenBeos, and convey whatever we find to them. As we develop Honeycomb, we also hope to keep in close touch with the OpenBeos team, provide suggestions/feedback, and learning from them about the internals of the OS. In this way, both teams benefit. As you can tell, I feel the the OpenBeos project has a great shot of giving us Beos for the future. I’m not banking anything on Palm right now. When they announced that they were creating a new 32-bit OS, I figured that they were going to dismantle whatever they needed from Beos and discard the rest.

This may seem like a strange time to build software for OpenBeos, but for us, this is a great time! Our new Beos is on the way, and it is only a matter of time until it gets here. When it does, we want to be there to enjoy it too! On a side note, I would say that if anyone out there has an interest in Beos, please contact Micheal Phipps of the OpenBeos project and join in! The work that they are doing is crucial to the Beos community and they deserve whatever help we can give them. Also, if anyone is interested in helping with the Honeycomb project, please contact Neil Johnson.

Neil Johnson
Project Manager
Honeycomb Project

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