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Academy Award Winner Rob Legato On Inspiration, Film & Tools

At this year’s Adobe MAX conference, Academy award-winning Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Legato excited the audience by sharing a glimpse behind the scenes of work he’s done on major blockbuster films such as Apollo 13, Titanic, Aviator and Hugo. He reveals his secrets behind visual effects, his inspirations, and creative process.

Known for creating visual effects so good the audience doesn’t realize that they are effects, Legato aims to transport the movie-goer into another time and place. His ideation process is surprisingly simple, as he looks to the past for inspiration. His talent, coupled with the use of creative tools for video professionals from Adobe, help Legato execute beautiful and memorable scenes in modern-day film.

For more, you can view his entire talk on Adobe TV or below:

We’ll be focusing on all-things video production for the remainder of this week. Be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter for more inspirational stories, creative work and product news and tutorials.

3:31 PM Permalink

Kuler updates: iPhone App & Website Redesign

Earlier this month we showed you a preview of Kuler for the iPhone, the new Kuler website and how you can access your Kuler themes in Illustrator CC. Today, we’re launching the new site and making Kuler available on the App Store.

For those of you who missed Kuler in the MAX keynote, Kuler allows you to create inspiring color themes and explore hundreds of thousands of color themes created by other users. The Kuler iPhone app lets you capture color themes anywhere, using the iPhone camera. All the themes you create with Kuler, on the web or with your iPhone, can be accessed with other Adobe applications such as Illustrator and Ideas.

The full benefits of Kuler are available to Creative Cloud members. The Sync Colors feature lets you use Kuler and Illustrator to quickly incorporate colors you see around you into your vector artwork. Sync your favorite themes with the Kuler website, and they’ll be accessible immediately inside Illustrator CC – only available in Creative Cloud.

If you are an active Kuler user, you may notice a few pages and features missing from the new Kuler website. I’m writing to explain what’s missing, why it’s missing, and what you can expect to see in the coming weeks and months. Here’s an overview of what you won’t find on the new site:

Create a theme from an image: We know many users really like the “Create from an Image” feature. Unfortunately, this feature was not ready for the new site launch. So, rather than launching a buggy or half-baked feature, we decided to take a bit more time to get it right.

We intend to add this feature to the site as soon as it’s ready. Until then, you can use the free iPhone app to create themes from images.

Color space “slider” controls: We talked to a lot of Kuler users about the slider controls. Some users like them and others don’t. The main complaint we heard was that the sliders add unnecessary complexity and take up too much space.

So, we opted to not add the sliders and err on the side of making the creation experience simple. Though, we decided to keep the “brightness” slider control since some colors spaces don’t have a brightness variable. We’d love to know what you think. You can voice your opinion on the Kuler forum.

Change the order of colors: In our research, we found most users did not know you could re-order colors on the old Kuler site. And, it’s actually quite a bit of work to build this feature. So, rather than re-building a feature many users don’t know about or use, we wanted to hear from you first. Please visit the Kuler forum and let us know what you think.

Avatar: Most of the users we talked with about Kuler avatars were indifferent. In fact, they asked us to focus on other features first. So, that’s what we’re doing–we’re focusing on some of the most requested features first.

Community spotlight and Pulse: The Community Spotlight and Pulse were beta features that never really gained any traction. So, we opted to not continue with these features.

API: We’re working to rebuild the Kuler API to offer more robust capabilities. Until then, we’re no longer issuing new API keys. If you already have a key and are using the API, your service will not be interrupted (your key will continue to work).
We’re always looking for feedback and would love to hear what you think about any of these topics—please join the discussion on the Kuler forum.

Kuler iPhone app

Kuler iPhone app

8:37 AM Permalink

#AdobeMAX Day Two – Community Inspires Creativity & Sneak Peeks

Inspiration is everywhere here at Adobe MAX! Here’s a quick recap of our events from yesterday.

Day Two Keynote: Community Inspires Creativity

David Wadhwahi, our SVP of Digital Media, opened up our day two keynote, then handed it off to creative luminaries to share their stories. We heard about breaking the brief from Paula Scher, were inspired by embracing limitations from Paul Hansen, and experienced the making-of-details from innovative creatives such as Erik Johansson and Rob Legato. Check out the playback available here for the next 24 hours.

Sneak Peeks

There were a number of special guests at the MAX sneaks. First up, Rainn Wilson, actor and co-creator of SoulPancake, who opened up the night to talk about creativity, what it meant to him and how it was the catalyst for how SoulPancake came to be.

Then we got an early look at amazing technologies that might become product features in the future. Host Ben Forta shared the stage with Rainn and celebrity guest, actress/comedian Mary Lynn Rajskub, as we walked through exciting developments from the our engineering teams. Everything from the future of drawing, as inspired by Project Mighty, to experimenting with light in photos and videos, to audio layers to remove unwanted background noise were all shown at MAX. Check out some of the sneak peeks below.

Sneak: Playing with Light

Sneak: Perspective Warp

Sneak: Audio Layers

Stay tuned for more as we wrap up our final day at Adobe MAX 2013!

1:48 PM Permalink

#AdobeMAX Day One – A Creative Evolution

And…we’re off! Adobe MAX is buzzing today as we kicked things off with our day one keynote session, “A Creative Evolution.” We announced a slew of news today, including all-new updates to our Creative Cloud apps – Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Edge Tools & Services, and more! If you missed the keynote, watch the playback available here until tomorrow morning’s day two keynote at 10 a.m. PT or catch the community-curated version captured in Storify by MAX attendee, @GayaneAdourian.

Even more exciting, we shared an early look at a number of new explorations:

  • Project Mighty – A Creative Cloud pen
  • Project Napolean – Complementary to Mighty, Napolean is a digital ruler designed to bring back some of the feeling of drawing with analog tools like the t-square and triangle
  • Project Context – Reimagines the editorial room for publishers

For more on MAX, join the conversation on #AdobeMAX on Twitter and Instagram and/or follow @AdobeMAX.

Watch the overview below and get all of the details from our experience design team in “Adobe XD explores the analog future.”

5:43 PM Permalink

Q&A with Adobe MAX Speaker Denise Jacobs

denise-jacobsAdobe MAX -The Creativity Conference, is less than a week away! While you’re planning your sessions at MAX, be sure to add Denise Jacobs to your schedule. She’s the ultimate modern creative web speaker, an expert on both CSS, web design and all things creative. With publications such as The CSS Detective Guide to her most recent work on creativity, we can’t wait to hear Denise speak on “The Importance of Storytelling in Web Design” and “Unfolding Your Brain: Catapult Your Creative Productivity” at Adobe MAX next week. So dive in and get to know Denise a little better in the below Q&A, she’s pretty amazing!

Adobe: You’ve recently announced that just delivered your last article on front-end development: no more CSS for Denise. Could you expand on this professional transition you’ve undertaken?

Denise Jacobs: This transition has been a long time in the making, but my efforts over the past 2 years have finally come to fruition. Right after I finished my book, The CSS Detective Guide, in later February of 2010, I had a major epiphany that what I truly wanted to focus my work on is around creativity. It was at that time that I came up with the title “Creativity Evangelist” (and promptly bought the domain). However, my plan was also to really get established as a speaker at web design conferences, and the topics in my book were a perfect vehicle for that. Once I started to become known as a speaker, then I started shifting my content more towards my true area of interest: Creativity. So, while it looks like somewhat of a dramatic change, for me, that has been the goal all along.

One of your talks focuses on the “The Importance of Storytelling in Web Design,” this is a ideal topic for Adobe MAX. We love your focus on reverse engineering a project to come up with the story that the website or app needs to tell. Do you find web designers often overlook the storytelling framework when approaching a project?

Absolutely. I think Storytelling is a lot like Accessibility still is and User Experience Design used to be: something that is tacked on to the end of the project in the mad rush to just get the thing built. But also like Accessibility and UX, if Storytelling is to be incorporated into a project, it really needs to be done from the start. I truly believe that it gives projects and finished products more depth and richness.

The Importance of Storytelling seems to dove-tail with Content-First framework often heard in Responsive Web Design discussions. How do think Story-telling and Narrative can specifically help web designers going down the Responsive Web Design route?

One of the things I will talk about in the presentation is how Storytelling in web design can be incorporated on the visual, content, and ux levels. From a responsive standpoint, Storytelling will inform the design visually, which means that how the site will change visually when it responds will be richer. I also fell that Storytelling can help you understand your audience better and their needs, which will then inform how you structure your responsiveness on a technical level as well.

Your other MAX session, “Unfolding Your Brain: Catapult Your Creative Productivity” delves into the fascinating neuroscience of creativity itself. What has surprised you the most as you delve into the literature?

One of the things that has surprised me most and that I am now the most fervent about is how at odds current work culture is with nurturing creativity. Working long hours and weekends, meetings, micromanagers, cubicles, multitasking, and working in isolation all are the enemies of creativity and innovation. And yet, they have become the standard of corporate work culture.

Fortunately, there are more and more forward-thinking companies are working to change this by structuring offices that encourage creativity and playfulness, innovation, and flexible work schedules and other methods. My goal is to be an additional force of driving this change forward   by working with more teams and companies with even more suggestions and practices for supporting and fomenting creativity and innovation.

To give people a taste of your talk, what two tips can you give the modern web professionals to unleash their creativity?

The first one is to single-task instead of multitask. I’ll reveal my secrets for that in the talk. The second is to find others to generate creative synergy instead of constantly trying to work by yourself and holding all of your ideas close to your chest instead of sharing them with others.

And what would you recommend to a starting-out web designer?

One thing is know that you can’t know everything. Things are coming out new all of the time and it can become overwhelming to try to be on top of all of it. My strongest encouragement is to keep following your deep interests, even if they don’t seem related — you never know where it will take you. Just look at Steve Jobs’ commencement speech to the Stanford graduating class. It’s a great testimony to what following your interests can do for a person.

Your talk seems focused on some very practical tips and insights. What’s surprised you as you’ve implemented these ideas into your own creative life?

What has surprised me is how many creative ideas I have. There was a point in time in my life where I wondered if I was a creative person and if my ideas were “any good.” These days, it seems that once I acknowledged my creativity and started initiating practices to encourage it, ideas flow constantly. It’s a good problem to have!

So, we have to ask: what would you say is the most pressing obstacle to creativity that needs to be dismantled?

Ah, you want me to reveal my secrets! Right now, I would say that the most pressing obstacle to creativity is fear. Fear inhibits the flow of creative impulses in the brain and keeps you stuck in place with no neurological juice to feed the creative flow.

Thanks so much for taking the time for answering these interview questions. Any final jokes or humor to share with your fellow creatives?

Thank *you* for the interview! Any jokes or humor? I can’t think of any that would be appropriate to share! However, I will share two of my favorite Flash mob dances: Liverpool Station, and Can’t Touch This, and a website that I created about the dangers of spontaneous dancing. Enjoy!

Thinking about attending Adobe MAX to hear Denise speak? Register now and don’t forget to use promo code MXSM13 during registration for $300 off!

10:19 AM Permalink

Adobe MAX Attendees: Are You The Biggest Fan of The Black Keys?

BlackKeysWe’re getting very excited for Adobe MAX! One of the many highlights of the week will be hearing multiple-Grammy winning band The Black Keys play live at our MAX Bash. To commemorate the occasion, artist Brian Yap has designed a special poster for the Bash. If you’re going to be at MAX, you can win a copy!

Here’s how:

Between April 22 (that’s today!) and April 28, send a Tweet with the hashtag #AdobeMAX and the reason why you’re the biggest fan of The Black Keys.

We’ll select winners at random from all those submitted, and you’ll be able to pick up your poster (signed by Brian Yap) at MAX. For full details, check out our MAX Tweetaway Sweepstakes Official Rules.

Let your inner fandom shine out and share The Black Keys love!

If you haven’t register for MAX yet, use promo code MXSM13 to save $300. We’ll see you at MAX!

10:42 AM Permalink

Adobe MAX Speaker Stephen Gates of Starwood Hotels Talks Adobe Edge Inspect

phones1Stephen Gates, Vice President and Creative Director for Global Brand Design at Starwood Hotels & Resorts will be joining us at Adobe MAX this year to share design and development secrets behind building Starwood’s mobile roadmap. Prior to MAX, he sat down with our Adobe Edge Inspect team to discuss how the tool has been helping his team come up with new ways to best show off their nine hotel brands. They’ve managed to accelerate their production and gain buy-in from a dispersed global team of designers, developers, strategists and stakeholders. Pretty impressive, right? Learn more about their success and get to know Stephen in our Adobe Edge Inspect Team Blog Q&A.

Want to hear more from Stephen Gates? Attend Adobe MAX and hear him talk about the “Secrets to Creating a Successful Mobile Roadmap, Apps, and Mobile Websites.” Don’t forget to enter promo code MXSM13 when you register to receive $300 off.

1:33 PM Permalink

Adobe MAX Speaker Aaron Draplin – Q&A Part II

“You can expect a spirited, ferocious delivery of our “Tall Tales” speaking fiasco! With, some surprises….” says Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. on what to expect at his Adobe MAX session this year in our Twitter Chat with him. During the Twitter Chat, many had their burning design questions answered by Aaron, while others were just excited to connect with the brilliant creative. We want to give a big thanks to those who participated – especially Aaron! Check out a quick sample of the Twitter conversation using the #AdobeMAX hashtag below.

 

Watch our video to learn more about Aaron Draplin’s love for junking and estate sales, and read Part II of our Q&A with him below.

Be sure to come see Aaron Draplin speak at MAX this year in his session, “Tall Tales from A Large Man”. Visit MAX.Adobe.com and don’t forget to use promo code MXSM13 when you register and save $300.

Here’s Part II from our Q&A with the “Large Man” himself:

Adobe: When you were first starting out, what’s the biggest mistake you can remember making? 

Aaron Draplin: Thinking I’d need some big degree to make it. Complete bullshit. As much as I loved going to art school and learning as much as I did, I’m pretty sure I could’ve made it on my own. I caved in to the pressure system. I thought I’d get called out for teaching myself or something. And sure, school was awesome, but man, I paid a lot for those couple of years.

How (and at what times) does a typical day start and end for you?

I’m usually out of bed by 9:00am, getting down to the shop and getting going by 10:00. And hell, I hate going to get lunch, cuz you lose an hour. I’ll work until 7:00 or 8:00pm (sometimes later), then I head home for supper, and will get the late shift going around 9:00pm—until 1:00am. I end my day by going to sleep, which is a pretty common theme.

Things you love? Or things you hate? Which influence your work more?

Things I love definitely influence the way I work, and the outcome. And I know it’s not cool to hate stuff, but hell, I’ve got some bad blood with some stuff and am not afraid to say it, and, let it fuel me to make better things. My buddy Ryno in Minneapolis made a list, and inspired by his vitriol, I did too. Here are some spirited links: Things I Love and Things I Hate.

about how to make things better, instead of selfishly tearing them down. I loved that part of school. Thank you Santiago and Kali.

If you could choose just one artist (use that term as loosely as you wish) to “surround” yourself with, who would it be? Why?

I would’ve loved to work for Saul Bass. He’s my favorite graphic designer.

Since most people will never have the opportunity to participate creatively with the Obama administration, can you tell us (in more words than “awesome”) how you felt when you learned you were getting THAT assignment?

When the Mode Project from Chicago first called me, I thought I was in trouble or something. I mean, a call like that is going to be really, really good or really, really scary. When they offered the chance to work on a logo to help the new Obama administration, I instantly accepted, cleaned off my plate and got down to it. When they call you up to the big leagues, you produce. For your country. Seriously, my heart was filled with patriotism. The chance to help out in the slightest way was a big deal to me. I freaked out a bit, then got down to work with Chris Glass from Cincinnati and we made some logos for America. Will forever be proud of that one.

And, now that you’ve completed that one… what’s your (next) “dream” project? 

I’m scheming up some kind of road trip for the fall, but have to keep my lips sealed about the details. But when I really think about it, I dream about getting enough loot in the bank to where I can slow down my pace, go explore the earth a bit more and mellow everything out some. I’ve been running pretty hot these last bunch of years, so I daydream about downshifting things in a creative way. No real specific plan comes to mind, hence why I continue to charge as hard as I do. Oh well. If I could pick something out of the air…I sure would love to design a record for the Flaming Lips. Break me off a little piece, George

12:45 PM Permalink

Q&A with Adobe MAX Speaker karlssonwilker

Fearless and wildly creative design duo Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker—also known as karlssonwilker—are an independent and internationally-recognized creative force. When we met them, we were so charmed that we immediately wanted to introduce them to you, so we asked them to speak at Adobe MAX this year! Karlsson and Wilker’s topic, “Creativity, Technology, and karlssonwilker” speaks to their commitment, passion and creativity, as well as the equal importance they place on technology and play in their work.

Attend MAX. Attend their session. You’ll leave inspired. In the meantime, enjoy this candid Q&A (and their reinterpretation of the MAX logo) from these imaginative designers.

karlssonwilker

Adobe: You and Hjalti founded karlssonwilker in 2000, after working for Stefan Sagmeister, what was his advice to you when you told him you were opening your own studio?

karlssonwilker: There was no particular parting advice, although we surely asked him for advise many times, and still do from time to time. Back then it felt like a very natural transition. Stefan went on his sabbatical and so the two of us started, or were forced to start, our own “thing.” I remember the two of us showing Stefan the office space we were thinking about renting, and him saying it’s a great deal and that we should definitely take it. (We still are in the same space today.) The biggest thing, for me personally, was that he showed us—and everyone else—that a studio small in size could make hugely influential and relevant work, something quite uncommon back then. 

As if opening a new studio during a recession wasn’t enough, you decided to write a book (tellmewhy: The First 24 Months of a New York Design Company) about those first two years in business. Why did you take that on at that time?

One part was frustration about our unpreparedness regarding the business side of our new enterprise. The other was the need we felt, at the time, for more honesty in the arena of shiny design monographs. The simple story of the humble beginnings of a studio should be told, not the idealized and romanticized look back on 20 years of a successful design career, where everyone seemed to be born a genius. That’s what we did and to this day we still get emails from around the world thanking us for doing this candid book and helping designers around the world not feel they are alone in being ill-prepared to properly run a studio right from the start. And of course Princeton Architectural Press deserves huge credit of course for working on it with us, as does Clare Jacobson for writing it so fantastically. 

Your book offers a not-always-glamorous view of owning a design studio; do you think it’s important for students and young designers to know that the path to success is not always rosy?

Yes, of course. Its important to make clear that failing is part of the “fun” and an important part of the learning. Somehow this book led by example: if Hjalti and I can do it, anyone can. And that seemed to be empowering to many. 

If tomorrow, you could no longer be a designer, what would you choose to do?

I would be a shoemaker.  Hjalti would run a little store, or be “in real estate.”

Has Adobe’s Creative Cloud changed/altered your work and your process?

Adobe products have always had a huge influence on us and there are many examples in our work. One of our design approaches is rooted in play and experimentation; very early on we used Illustrator’s tools and filters to explore dense vector drawings, by spending lots of time with it to see where it would lead us (projects like Hattler, Skirl and, later, Mini/BMW). Also, the MAX key art we created for this year’s conference comes from formal experimentation with three or four different programs. 

What do you most hope to be able to say about your work and your partnership 20 years from now?

Jan: That we constantly evolved, enjoyed life, and produced relevant work that inspired some to push harder. 

Hjalti: That I’m still very proud of the work we did, that Jan and I are still on speaking terms and, who knows, that the company is still going strong in 20 years, with the two of us working two days a week and an army of people doing all the work.

You and Hjalti have both been design judges… Do you feel that the work submitted to design competitions encapsulates what’s going on in the industry at the time?

For me, that’s a clear no. It might have been that way many years ago, but nowadays competitions are indicators of who wants to appeal to the commercial mainstream. The design world is more colorful now, and only a small fraction wants or needs to be represented in design annuals. We ourselves stopped sending things in about eight years ago. 

For your eleventh anniversary party you created a poster acknowledging all of the karlsssonwilker interns you’ve had over the years. How many were mentioned? And how many have been inspired, by working with you, to open their own studios?

We mentioned every single one of them—almost 40 interns have come through our little studio. About fifteen of them started their own studios more or less right after their time with us (I’m not sure that we inspired them to do that, I think they already came to us with that plan in mind).

Talent? Passion? Or education? Which is most important? Why?

Passion. For sure. A genuine interest in what you do is really all that matters. 

We just saw your version of the new MAX logo on the MAX website. Was executing a logo redesign easier or harder than beginning from scratch?

We didn’t see it as logo redesign, but as a demonstration of “creativity,” with the MAX logo incorporated into it. 

Be sure to come see karlssonwilker at Adobe MAX this year! Register at MAX.Adobe.com with promo code MXSM13 and save $300!

10:09 AM Permalink

Adobe MAX Speaker Aaron Draplin: Twitter Chat and Q&A Part I

Founder and mastermind behind the work and creative direction of Draplin Design Co., Aaron Draplin, will be speaking at Adobe MAX 2013 next month and we’re very excited to have him!

Prior to Adobe MAX, we wanted to give you an opportunity to ask him some questions, which is why we’re hosting a Twitter Chat with Aaron (@Draplin) on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 10AM PST (1PM EST). Follow our Adobe MAX Twitter channel (@AdobeMAX) for updates, and be sure to ask your questions then using the #AdobeMAX hashtag.

To get an inside look at Aaron, watch our video interview with him as he discusses his love for the creativity of signs on a #$%*! mini-tour of Portland, plus more in Part I of our Q&A with him.

Adobe: We’ve seen the memo book archive you’re building. Do you have a favorite? If not a (single) favorite, a favorite theme (or type)?

Aaron Draplin: There are just too many to pick from, but I do have a fondness for the ugly duckling stuff. Some are lavish, some are trying a little too hard and some, hell, just do the job and exist for their purpose. I love that sort of unpretentious singularity. Pure functionality is a beautiful thing. 

Field Notes. Why 48 pages?

Thirty-six seemed too few, and 60 seemed a little bit too big. We split the difference. Plus, the “thickness” came into play. Forty-eight pages is a lot of real estate, yet still feels good in your hands. We’ve got your best interests scientifically considered, people. Trust us.

Where/when did the relationship between you and Coudal Partners begin?

I was a fan and reached out with some email slathering Jim with niceties, and he slathered right back. The next time I whipped through Chicago I stopped for a handshake. That would’ve been in early 2004. Buddies ever since. Thank you for so much, Jim!

You’re speaking at MAX (frankly, we can’t wait). Does your speaking topic “Tall Tales from A Large Man,” provide a lot of latitude… That is, can you change course if you come up with an idea just before you step on stage?

It depends on the crowd. If I recognize some faces before the gig, I’ll mix stuff up a bit. Otherwise, I stick to my presentation, and tell my whole story the best way I can. If people are into it, I’ll offer up a lot of side stories, but if they are stone-faced, I’ll whip through the stuff. Rarely, are they stone-faced. Every now and again someone will be sitting there, as still as the dead. That shit freaks me out. I mean, are they human?

What about Adobe made you decide to say “yes” when we invited you to speak at MAX?

I’ve been speaking at a lot of Interactive conferences and, frankly, I often find myself not knowing a damn thing about the coding stuff they’re talking about. It’s a different language. The idea that a bunch of Adobe nerds would be in one place? My kind of party! I live off this stuff and am super interested in seeing what kind of people show up for it. I mean, I hope to learn knew ways to use my programs, you know? So, I’m going as a fan, and as someone tasked with telling his story to the crowd. And I promise to LAY WASTE to all in attendance. You’ve been warned.

What’s the one skill you learned in design school that you would encourage young designers to hone?

Learn how to talk about the work. Don’t indulge in “liking” things or “unliking” things. Hold stuff to the criteria of whether or not the solution is successful for the problem at hand. Liking stuff is a little too subjective. Did it solve the problem? Is it as good as it could be? Did you get it done on time? Design school taught me how to be diplomatic when discussing work, and how to be constructive about how to make things better, instead of selfishly tearing them down. I loved that part of school. Thank you Santiago and Kali.

Come see Aaron Draplin speak in his session at Adobe MAX this year, “Tall Tales from A Large Man”. Visit MAX.Adobe.com and be sure to use promo code MXSM13 when you register and save $300.

Also, join our Adobe MAX Twitter Sweepstakes from April 10–16, 2013. Use the hashtag #AdobeMAX for a chance to win some great prizes! Read the Adobe MAX Tweetaway Sweepstakes Official Rules for more details.

9:46 AM Permalink