Is it just me, or is this software super finicky?

I’m using the trial version of Harmony 12.2 advanced.

It seems like the stars have to align to get things to work right in this program.

I have been using it for a week now and it is easily the most frustrating thing I have ever experienced.

I am working on a scene with two characters; one sitting on the other character’s lap. I’m trying to animate simple arm gestures, so I have the arms on separate layers from the bodies. I have bone deformers on the bodies that I can use to pull the two characters bodies away from each other and have them look at each other. I also have bone deformers on the arm layers, and the hands on their own layers as well so I can substitute drawings for different hand gestures. The heirarchy is simple… Body-arm-hand for each character. Anyway, I just spent hours setting all of this up and animating/timing the gestures for the first character. Looks good! But then when I animate gestures for the second character the first character no longer animates! To confuse me even more, when I render and play it looks just fine.

I think the worst thing about this program is that when I run into a problem like this, there is no logical way to figure out the cause. I have been scouring youtube and the (atrocious) tutorials trying to figure things out but this is very time consuming and rarely can I find a solution to my problem.

The best way for me to learn is by trial and error, and when I run into a problem I need to be able to figure out what caused it. This seems almost impossible with this software. I have run into multiple problems that seem very simple in nature, where I could not Identify the source of the problem.

My experience thus far is that Harmony seems to be a collection of amazing tools, thrown together recklessly with little consideration for the end user or for intuitive workflow in general.

Sorry needed to vent…lol.

check my thread here – might have a new, equal(?), FREE alternative in a few days :slight_smile: :

finicky? heck yeah! where do i begin with my gripes about Harmony? the fact that it remains the only piece of software i have that (still?!! really?!!) can’t remember it’s palette locations? the frequent crashing on top-tier hardware? the poor documentation of its vast feature set? the convoluted and hard to manage symbol/instance system? the pathetic failure of its Unity integration plugin?

i’ve asked plenty of technical questions over the years about odd behavior in Harmony, or stuff just not behaving logically, and rarely do i get a satisfactory resolution on these forums or from staff (if i get an answer at all). i usually just have to alter my approach or perform node-view wizardry to make it work. for rigging alone, there are now many, many ways to set it up. likely the OP simply needs to rethink their rigging philosophy.

despite my own swipe at Harmony, it remains the most advanced and powerful animation software around (that i’ve used). it is specialized studio-ware that has trickled down to us lowly indies. no, you won’t get too far with it in a week. yes, you should absolutely do an intensive training regimen via something like Digital Tutors or Adam Philips’ great book, and this training alone is probably going to take at least several weeks to properly absorb. i’ve been using Harmony and upgrading (via maintenance contract) for years and it is still a matter of trial and error sometimes when rigging stuff up or dealing with effects that don’t do what i expect them to. as others have mentioned, you MUST become comfortable with the node view – this is what really separates Harmony from competitors.

there’s a silver lining to arcane software like this being difficult to operate and master – more work for me if i’m one of the rare few that can pilot it competently! hey, there’s always Adobe Animate CC ( zombie Flash ).

OP: please post some images of your workspace and setup, otherwise we’re guessing. how about a youtube vid?

oops, yeah i noticed (as others already did – face palm) that you are using advanced, not premium.

so forget all that about the great and powerful node view – no node view for you! man, that should really be part of Harmony advanced.

My experience with Toon Boom has been mostly on a studio environment with different tasks of production phases assigned to different people or departments. I trained people for traditional and cutout animation workflows. Animators have normally a positive reaction to the software and start work with a few days training without having to face major issues. That happens because in a studio environment animators don’t need to understand rigging or compositing, there will be someone focusing on that and solving the issues for them. The thing when doing freelance work, starting with little or no knowledge of the software is that you have to deal with all the phases of a production using a software that was originally conceived for studio work.

I wonder if Advanced is not a more “troublesome” version for new users in a certain way. With Essentials, you’re very limited to what you can do, so the learning curve shouldn’t be terrible. With Advanced you get, well, advanced tools, without the “advanced” node system to work with them. Rigging hierarchies and effects using a timeline… I don’t know, just say no, if you can.

I think this sort of negative feedback is useful for Toon Boom to consider new releases and, eventually, new ways to market them to their intended audience. And as someone said around here, let’s see the effect of having a complete animation solution such as Toonz on the market, for free, to see how or if it will chance substantially the current way the Harmony family if organized and priced.

Luis Canau

I often refer to Harmony as being “finicky” when teaching people how to use it. I use Harmony on a daily basis, and yes, you need to have a work flow established. For example, “O” will locate a selected element in the timeline view…or it will resize your brush in the Camera view depending on which is the active window at that moment. I would absolutely call that finicky.

My advice is to give it some time. One week is not nearly enough time to learn ANY piece of specialized software. As someone posted in here, go watch some tutorials online (Toon Boom has many as well as myself ahem), and give it some time to sink in.

To answer your question: it can be any number of factors as to why your animation suddenly “stops working”. Did you clone the layers between the 2 characters? Did you forget to flip the Animate button on? good luck!

franksummers, link to your training?

Here’s a link to a playlist. I post new ones every Monday at 4PM. Any questions sound out in the comments!

That can be annoying, indeed. My problem was mostly with the D shortcut, I kept deactivating layers on the Node View when I wanted to pick a colour. I ended up selecting the preference ‘Focus on Mouse Enter’ so that there are no shortcut conflicts. That’s something that definitely could be improved.

Luis Canau

Yeah “Focus on Mouse Enter” is a must in my book. That was one of my hangs up when I first started learning. I did not grasp at first that certain operations or shortcuts would only work if a particular window was active at that time. harmony is VERY context sensitive.

This approach is completely unethical in the sense of learning. You are advising a customer, that it is their fault, that they don’t understand the application, instead of allowing the company to account for the learning curve itself. From the original posters description, it would appear he is dealing with actual application issues or “bugs”. Many people, animators included, come from no prior background. It’s completely senseless to address their learning capacity or how to go about it, when it’s obvious that the application vendor has not updated tutorials or documentation.

What you are suggesting, sounds as if it was spoken by one of Harmony’s developers, and not a community person interested in offering help. You spent more time displacing the blame on the end user, than offering a pool of resources to go by.

To follow your advice, you’d turn Harmony into a clique application, completely unusable by the layman and ultimately tank the company as a whole.
Just a heads up, there’s a LARGE group of people who have dived head into Harmony, and have already developed long standing youtube content. Yes, there’s a learning curve. As with any animation suite. But not everyone learns by digesting information first, all at once. And even if they did, the Harmony documentation is lackluster and completely void of explaining any caveats. This is mostly due to the fact that this is a new application.

I’d suggest patience, and try to recreate the issues you have in a new project. “Bugs” are not unheard of. Just look at the changelog :slight_smile: Also make sure you’ve updated to the newest version. I noticed they fixed a number of node issues between 12.1.1 and 12.2.1

Hi Livewireanimation. I once felt your pain, but I stuck with it. I agree finding the answers is not always easy. For some reason the TB community are usually very helpful, problem is there’s just not many of us active enough. All busy animating I guess :slight_smile: when you compare it to something like After Effects, where it’s just dead easy to find Tuts on just about any feature you can think of.

The thing that made life easier for me in Harmony was accepting that the Node view is your best friend, learn to love it and it won’t let you down!

I know you had a few things to get off your chest, so not sure what specifics you need help with, most of it, as you already stated, is learning from trial and error, Google,YouTube etc. There are a decent number of Tuts by TB as well as the community, but I agree there needs to be more going into more detail sometimes.

Cheers, Jason.

Thank you for your words of encouragement. I will try to familiarize myself with the node view, hopefully this will give me a better understanding of what is actually happening. I appreciate your response.

Edit Actually, apparently this version (Harmony 12 advanced) doesn’t have a node view?

Holy crap, i think you’re right! I didn’t realise it was just a Premium feature, i couldn’t live without it - well sorry about that then.

That aside the learning curve is steep but well worth it, stick with it you won’t regret it!

Cheers, Jason.

Harmony and Storyboard pro User.


I can’t imagine trying to solve rigging problems without the node system, but that’s because I never had to work without it, I guess. Harmony has a lot of information to deal with and while some things are quite intuitive - for instance, the traditional animation tools are very straightforward -, there’s a lot of complexity in terms of effects and rigging. While there was Animate and Studio, etc., Harmony has been the flagship software of Toon Boom, mostly used by studios, which will have some level of training when purchasing the software. It’s a steep learning curve if you’re a freelance artist and just picked up the software. That doesn’t mean necessarily it’s terribly non-intuitive. Or putting it in another way, while some things are not very intuitive, some are just quite complex and will mean a steep learning curve.

I think the training videos of some years ago, before Harmony 10 and made also to Animate and Animate Pro, are very good and very well-structured, but they’re outdated in many aspects. The videos made for the several Harmony versions that followed, with different approaches, made it more difficult to use them as a true instruction manual. You also have the online documentation and the pdf files for offline study ( I liked when there was a 1500-page single document though.

Luis Canau

I corrected this for you.

Your expectations are unrealistic.

The documentation is not ideal for training but did you read it cover to cover?

There is no way anyone could do much with any high-end software in only a week with the trial and scouring online resources. You need to take in things methodically and digest them. You cannot jump in and piece together your own project scrambling for the answers on the fly. That is ridiculous. At least try duplicating a simple project in a tutorial designed to be duplicated step by step. There are several step by step bouncing ball tutorials.
(Jon Taylor’s Animate tutorial - Animate became Harmony Advanced: )

This software relies on knowledge of traditional animation techniques and is not similar enough to any other graphics application that you could draw upon experience with.

Unless you can enroll in a comprehensive course that trains you according to a well-constructed plan you will need to read and watch everything you can locate. You will need to consider how things were/are done in sibling and earlier versions of the software because there is a large amount of valuable source material that predates the current software.

I watch and read everything even in languages I do not understand. There is even something to gain from observing beginners struggling in a video. It may only take a different choice of words used to describe the same thing for a light to go on in your mind.

(Part 1 …I guess there is a limit on characters per post)

(Part 2)

First make sure you have some understanding before trying to do anything with the software unless the source is using the same software and version and walking you through it step by step. Regardless of the source (except the professional tutorials) expect things to be unintentionally left out when the author is describing what they are doing. Maybe another tutorial will mention a detail overlooked.

Digital Turtors aka Pluralsight is a good source for a basic introduction. Join for a month or two and if you want take a break from the subscription for a while or forever.

There is a lot to gain from the material created by Toon Boom for earlier versions and variations of their animation software as long as you can remain aware and open to the differences and how the current version of your choice operates. Unfortunately there is not a go to source that clearly spells out the changes. You will have to figure it out. Yet even that process will be a valuable exercise for your mind as you work towards comprehending the process.

Eventually things will gel and make sense.

Actually, the software is super finicky. This finickiness can even be seen in some of the tutorials you’re suggesting. I love Jon Taylor’s animations, but even in them you’ll hear him say “I don’t know why this did that”, or “I don’t know why this didn’t work”, “I don’t know how to do x”, “y doesn’t always work”. It’s great that you’re loyal to the application, but you nothing about the user that posted the original post. You don;t know that they haven’t read anything or watched tutorials. You are making this assumption based on their posting, when it was obviously a posting of frustration. To state there’s no finickiness and it’s all because the OP doesn’t know anything is just plain rude. There’s plenty of finickiness in this application.

Secondly, this application, while having some great features, isn’t all that different from many other applications. With the exception of the node system, it’s actually pretty standard.

And finally, not everyone learns the same way. I have not read the manual cover to cover. I have not read any manual cover to cover for any application I have used or am currently using. I have a project in mind, I search out the key elements of what I need to know, and I do the rest trial & error. It’s how I learn best. No way is the correct way, it’s based on what is right and correct for each individual.

Dude, really? 2nd Joseph’s comments below. It seems like every time someone has something critical to say about Toon Boom you come in and harp away. Enough. We get it. This person’s criticisms and frustrations are not going to “Go viral”. Nobody cares. Chill out. You wrote two long posts with nothing helpful to say but point the person to a bunch of general tutorials. If you can’t help someone directly don’t bother ranting about how dare they speak against your beloved Toon Boom. People spent their own hard earned money on it and they deserve a direct answer to their question.

Monkeyface is a troll…and he obviously cares.