TB Harmony - Future interations???


Anyone care to speculate how TB might structure their Harmony branding? Will they continue with the numerical tag - Harmony 16, 17, and so forth? That seems rather silly, no? Most softwares have adopted the use of the year of release (like Maya 2018) or just drop it altogether (like Clip Studio Paint). How do you think they’ll move on from here?

Also, should they really try to introduce a new version on an annual basis?
Looking over the past year or so, it seems like they sorta fumbled the rollout of Harmony a bit and are just now starting to catch their stride in terms of providing instructional content (master controllers comes to mind). Is anyone really expecting a new version of Harmony in just another 4 months? What I fear is that they’ll just provide a few bug fixes and call it Harmony 16. You know, it would be great if the life cycle of each version was extended to at least two years so that hobbyists, independent animators and smaller studios wouldn’t have to worry about upgrading so often. I suppose the subscription model pricing addresses this but I, and I don’t think I’m alone here, hate the idea of renting software. Speaking of which, the monthly subscription for Premium is ridiculously high!

In a better world, Harmony would be more affordable with a longer life span between versions. Heck, I’d settle for just a longer life span between versions. That could at least justify the cost of Premium. Anyway, I’m just an on-the-fence buyer. Hopefully someone will share some views on the subject.

PS. This is, by far, the WORST forum software in the history of the internet.

It really doesn’t matter what they name the software unless a new name is used to beef up a mediocre upgrade.

I am skeptical of any activity short of delivering substance. I don’t care to get excited over TB asking questions or even offering a paid gig to participate in research for future upgrades. When I heard of that I immediately wondered why TB would spend money on this. People have been voicing their desires and complaints here for years.

Well, about the worst forum, I don’t know if in the history of the Internet, but I agree with you is pretty bad, I think a lot of the people from the community would agree too.

As far as I know, Harmony cycle is about 1.5 years, it would be ridiculous to release every year given the price (and they even lowered the price a couple of years ago, premium was 2000 USD). I also agree with you that the costs should be more independent and hobbysts friendly, I guess that’s what Essentials and Advanced are for, but still.

In my experience, when they release a new version it’s not always worth the upgrading, they add new features but, in my opinion, are not worth the price. I had Premium 12 and upgraded to 15 because of the new brush system, which is really great, I let pass 14 (they ignored 13 for some reason) which mostly included improvements for 3D pipelines (with Maya), so I was not that interested.

15 seems a more reasonable upgrade, again, in my opinion, it has not only the new brush system but also interesting improvements to rigging.

Good points, scardario. Thank you for sharing! This gives me a slightly more favorable view of them.

A short while after the launch of H15, Toon Boom, via their Facebook page, solicited for users who had experience with other animation software to partake in some sort of feedback program, a paid gig the ad read. Seemed like a serious attempt to gather info about what people like best about those other programs and integrate it into Harmony. The future looks bright.

Toon Boom will have to up their game: when a free and open source alternative is besting both the Essentials and the Advanced editions of Harmony… No wonder they’re suddenly interested in gathering more information related to other animation software.

Exactly, hvanderwegen.

A few questions on that front:

What features do you think OT needs to bring it on par with Premium? How confident are you that development will continue to make vast improvements rather than merely maintain it? Does it seem like development has maybe slowed down as of late?

Could you recommend a place to find up-to-date learning resources for OT? Many of the videos I sampled aren’t very informative and a lot were from 2 years ago. To Toon Boom’s credit, they do provide a fantastic service through the Learning Portal. Gotta say, its chock full of tutorials, walkthroughs, and guides.

Thank you for answers to any of these questions!

I really think OT and Harmony are somewhat different beasts. OT is stronger in paper-based and more traditional animation, and is favoured in some Japanese studios. This also means that development is quite steady and informed (in part) by requests of Japanese studios.

Harmony Premium and Advanced have much better IK rigging tools. 3d is completely missing in OT (aside from the z-axis 2.5d stuff). So it really depends on the type of animation work you do.

The drawing tools are stronger in overall in Toonboom, but when you add in ClipStudio EX (which supports direct export of animation levels to OpenToonz) this changes 180 degrees: the drawing tools in ClipStudio arguably leave the ones in Toonboom in the dust. That includes very nice referencing tools, painting tools, layering, and so on - just better than Toonboom Premium, in my opinion. OpenToonz and ClipStudio form a mighty combo for the animator.

OpenToonz excels in workflow and production, and the nodal compositing/effects are on par with Premium.

The lack of good IK rigging tools in OT can be mitigated by investing in a tool like Moho Pro, which arguably does that much better than even Premium. And that trio of applications is still way less expensive than an Advanced license. I am a pragmatic, and in my opinion that combo is A) more powerful combined than Premium, and B) much less expensive.
The perceived drawback may be that compared to Harmony Premium the animator will have to deal with multiple applications, but I regard this as an advantage, really. In the end the 3 apps together out-perform Premium in key areas.

As for OT’s continuous development: the past year has introduced a wide array of new big features and improvements - compared to Premium’s meager Newest additions it bodes well for the future.

Support is better organized with Toonboom, that is clear. For most studios Toonboom is still the standard. If you’re indie, you have other options nowadays.

PS keep an eye out on Blender’s 2d animation tools. They look quite amazing.


3d and 2d seamlessly combined? Wow.

Nice! I heard about that Grease Pencil years ago but this is the first video, that I can recall, showing the development process. Can’t wait to try this out on the next Blender release. It would be amazing if those MyPaint Brushes could be added. A 3D modeling/effects combined with full 2D painting capabilities. Is that even possible? If so, that would be the ultimate.

Thanks for the thorough OT and Harmony comparison! I much prefer using a single program but your write-up has challenged my views on that. Might be time to become program agnostic, as they say. As of now, I’m still enjoying playing around with my Harmony trial. Its pretty easy to just jump in and get a hang of things…for the traditional workflow. The rigging/cut-out is another story.

You can see here what are, in my opinion, the best tutorials in Harmony Rigging for cutout, not even the official tutorials and webinars are as extensive as these:


As you will see, there’s great info in other topics too.

If someone knows better tutorials or documentation, I’d like to know.

Fantastic! She sure does have a lot of content on her channel, even rigs for download. This is great. Good thing she keeps a brisk pace as I don’t have a lot of time :).

Thanks, scardario!

well myself, and plenty of others that are grandfathered in with a perpetual license, pay toon boom an ANNUAL, recurring maintenance fee, so when new (and significant!) versions do not come out annually it creates a very problematic justification/incentive to continue that maintenance at the same cost rate. this is the system that toon boom established, and it is the basic understanding that they conveyed to customers as part of the buy-in and renewal enticement. toon boom hardly ever releases mid-cycle improvement/advancement updates, certainly not that i am made aware of, so without a constant flow of smaller fixes/improvements/features, the promise of an annual big release is the only carrot they have to dangle.

i never, ever contact them for support (except when i have to reach out for my version upgrade or point release update that they fail to inform me about), so paying the maintenance fee is ONLY to keep toon boom holding up their end of the “handshake” agreement to keep the updates coming each year. otherwise, we should only be paying a maintenance fee every 1.5 years or whatever delay the release cycle slumps into – lest the locked-in, lose-your-license-if-you-don’t-renew “maintenance fee” spirals into a ponzi-scheme-ish, extortion-ish racket.

toon boom has been stepping up their game on training and webinars with h15, and i really appreciate this. the ones that they have recently been hosting (two more upcoming this week) have been great, some advanced concepts that haven’t really been covered by their training materials before, ever. this adds value to the license renewal. the latest harmony release is pretty good, it’s a solid update with cool, useful new features – still released embarrassingly late, though (especially irritating after the h14 “april fools” release), and i fear it has set a precedent for “we’ll release the next one when it’s ready, but you still smile and pay us like clockwork, or else”.

This is exactly what I suspected after reading through the older threads about the release of H14. Thanks for sharing your experience. The courteous thing to do would be to discount the support renewal price if you’ve been paying for 3 or more years consecutively. Hope the next update really delivers for you!

Lol, true!

That’s what I was thinking. Why would they need to pay people when most would volunteer this information? Just browsed the “Feature Requests” board and that seems like a good place to start, right? There is barely any engagement from actual TB staff on here, except when Lily was around.

Well, I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing TB. Just trying to make an informed decision before I plunk down 2K+!

To be fair, I guess they wanted to know the opinion and thoughts of people outside the TB community. As for the Staff presence, I completely agree with you. It’s interesting (and frustrating) to see how other software handles community forums. Esoteric Spine and Unreal Engine come to my mind, both of them do an amazing work there, specially Spine, being a software smaller and more focused than TB and their forums are very active and the staff is extremely helpful.

I assume that this is because TB wants to promote their silver and gold support packages, if that’s the case, it’s just sad, it’s an archaic way of making business.

That is just a guess.

Remember who owns this forum. As each user is speaking of their personal experience, TB should speak for itself.