Andreas Falkenhan, the author of Hollywood and Designer, answers to our questions after the 3rd major release of its software. Hollywood is hi-quality program to manage multimedia content and interactive display. Get these products at www.airsoftsoftwair.de/en/index.html and don't hesitate to support quality software on Amiga !
We all know you through Hollywood but what do you do in real life? I want to learn more !
I'm a student. Work on Hollywood is mostly done during the evenings and weekends. And of course, as a student I have quite large summer and winter breaks which I can use to work full time on Hollywood.
Why do you never appear in forums (except after the last Hollywood release)? Maybe you don't like them or you simply want to avoid wasting time ... what I would understand.
It's just the lack of time. I really don't have the time to read through all the forums out there. The only forum I sometimes read is the German amiga-news.de site but this only sporadically.
What were you previous projects? What did you learn from them?
Well, I did quite some stuff before but Hollywood surely is my most mature software and it is also programmed in a very clean way and uses quite optimized routines. Furthermore, it has been extensively tested. Hollywood 1.0 was actually still written in AmigaE but I then moved the code over to C during several hardcore coding nights in order to get it compiled for MorphOS.
What is the reason that has lead to Hollywood? How did you got the idea?
I always wanted to have my own programming language. :-) This has always been my dream of mine since I started programming but it took some time until I was able to actually code it. I really went through the whole tour de force starting coding with AmigaBASIC, then AMOS, then Blitz Basic 2, then 68k Assembler, then AmigaE, and finally C. And I think you can find a little bit of all these languages in Hollywood. :-)
This is the 3rd major version of Hollywood. Could you tell more about it? How long it was to make it, problems that happened,...
Hollywood 3 took actually 2 years to make. During the first half of 2006 I went through the whole Hollywood code and migrated all OS dependent code into separate modules. Thus the kernel of Hollywood became abstracted from AmigaOS compatible APIs. Then I wrote a Hollywood driver for TEKlib by Neoscientists (a group of former Amiga enthusiasts, www.teklib.org). So by mid-2006 Hollywood could already be used on Windows and Linux but it only ran on top of TEKlib. I didn't want to release it in this form because it would have required that TEKlib is installed on every user's system. So I released Hollywood 2.5 only for Amiga but it was already fully OS abstracted internally, but nobody did know it of course. :-) Then, after releasing Hollywood 2.5 and Designer 2.0, I started work on middleware independent drivers for MacOS and Windows. This took quite some time. I worked on it from May 2007 to the end of 2007. The hardest thing to code was the sound interface. This took a lot of time, especially under Mac OS.
How hard it was to generate Windows and MacOS X code? Which technologies did you choose? How does it work, technically?
Hollywood uses the OS APIs directly. Under Windows GDI is used for the graphics, DirectSound for sound. Under MacOS X, Hollywood can run either in QuickDraw or in Quartz mode. QuickDraw is currently faster so this is the default mode. Sound is implemented using Apple's CoreAudio interface.
What are the ideas for the future? Do you plan to write a viewer for Windows and MacOS X?
Yes, I'll probably do that.
What is the status of Hollywood Designer? Is there a new version with Hollywood 3? What are the new fatures?
A minor update with some new features is in the works and will be released pretty soon and it will be free for all users of Designer 2.0.
You wrote a plugin for importing and displaying Scala files. Once you talked about a plugin for PowerPoint files, did you have a look at it?
I don't have the time to work on a PowerPoint plugin myself but I really like PointRider and MeltingPoint. I think they're going into the right direction.
About PowerPoint support, we started to discuss a long time ago about a kind of partnership: you keeping the focus on the core of the product and me finding a way to load PPS files as Hollywood projects. You generously sent me Hollywood and offered support. My converter MeltingPoint is better now: Is it what you could expect? Are you satisfied? In your opinion, is it the proof of good things that can be made between developers working together in our Amiga world?
Yes, I think it's a good way to do it like that. We have to work together to achieve big goals. I'm really thankful that you did the work on PowerPoint because there are many people asking for it.
Which improvements are planned for the future versions of Hollywood? Have you other projects in mind?
Well, I have lots of ideas for Hollywood but I don't want to disclose them. :-)
Other projects are currently not planned. I just don't have the time for it.
The AROS community is happy to get a leading program like Hollywood. Was it hard to port it to AROS? Did you need help? Last, what about Designer on AROS?
It was not too hard to get Hollywood running on AROS. I did this port mainly out of my own curiosity. I wanted to see Hollywood running on x86. Remember, that AROS port had already been finished by May 2005. So it was kind of cool back then to see Hollywood running on x86. I hope to release Designer for AROS in the future, too. Currently, the MUI implementation in AROS is not good enough for Designer which is a huge MUI application.
Some time after the release of Hollywood, how many copies have been sold? Are you satisfied by the number of sales? By the feedbacks from users?
Well, sales are of course not very high. The Amiga market is small and new customers are a rarity. Hollywood's development is financed mainly through the sales of upgrades to existing users. That is why there are mostly no free upgrades with my products. I hardly get any new customers so development has to be financed by selling upgrades to existing users.
We read times to times that people think the prices of your products are rather high and maybe that stop them buying. Do you plan to reduce the price to bring even more users?
I think the prices are fair because you are getting real high quality and sophisticated products. It might be too expensive for customers in the USA because the Euro is very strong currently. At this time, you have to pay $1.50 US for 1 Euro which is pretty much. I hope that the rate will normalize again so Hollywood becomes affordable also in the States.
Now it is possible to compile MacOS X and Windows executables if sales and interest for these systems, do you think you could leave the Amiga market? Do you still have fun with Amiga systems?
Sure I do. Amiga systems are the best. I'm anxiously waiting for MorphOS 2.0. :-)
A developer had recently been hired by Amiga Inc. that announced to have serious plans for AmigaAnywhere and AmigaOS 5. Do you think you will support them? Have you been in contact with Amiga Inc.?
I don't have any plans in this direction and I'm also not in contact with Amiga Inc.
Last, do you have ideas for making things better with the Amiga situation? Like me, do you think that's not so bad and we have (almost) enough to have fun and do daily stuff? What is you opinion? What do you dream about for the future?
Well, I'm a little bit sad that we have MorphOS _AND_ AmigaOS 4 now. I would have liked joint forces much more. But now that we have two PPC operating systems I really hope they can be made to work on other PPC hardware like the Mac Mini and hopefully also on x86 sometime. I think the Amiga spirit can live on forever as long as there enthusiasts who keep it up.
Andreas, I wish you all the best and I thank you very much for your work and for this interview !
Thanks, you're welcome.