December 31, 2006
Cloning & healing improvements in CS3
Over on PhotoshopNews.com, Martin Evening provides a nice overview of the Photoshop CS3 beta’s new Clone Source palette. In a nutshell, you can now clone and heal more precisely by using a translucent overlay of your source pixels–either temporarily (hold down Opt/Alt+Shift after setting your source) or persistently (via the "Show Overlay" option on the palette). Building on what Martin wrote, here are some useful keyboard shortcuts:
- Opt/Alt + Shift temporarily shows the clone overlay, plus it lets you drag it around and ‘tack’ it down at the desired location.
- Opt/Alt + Shift + the arrow keys nudges the overlay up, down and side to side.
- Opt/Alt + Shift + [ or ] rotate the source
- Opt/Alt + Shift + < or > scale the source
Also, to adjust rotation, position, or scale, you can also use "scrubby sliders": hover over the label on each field (H, W, etc.), then drag left or right. As with all scrubby sliders, holding Opt/Alt while dragging will make the values change 10X slower, and holding Shift will make them change 10X faster.
On a related note, retouchers will be happy to learn that it’s now possible to have cloning/healing ignore adjustment layers. Let’s say in CS2 you had an image on the background layer, then added a layer above it to do some cloning (so as not to affect the original pixels), and above that you put a Hue/Saturation layer. If you used the clone tool set to sample all layers & didn’t turn off the Hue/Sat layer, the results would be screwy, as Hue/Sat would be double-applied. Now via a couple of new options (screenshot), you can elect to make cloning/healing ignore adjustment layers, and/or ignore all layers above the current one. It’s a really tweaky little change, but it’s one that’s been requested for ages.
December 30, 2006
- Marc Pawliger passed along this gallery from PhotoAstronomique.net, containing some interesting time lapse stuff. Shots like this one make me remember how much I have yet to learn about my camera. As the text is in French, I can’t read much of it, but I think "Arc de brume" sounds great. [Update: Here’s the site in English.]
- Seeking atmosphere of a different kind, Nicole Bengiveno has captured some beautiful impressions around NYC. (The music may or may not be your cup of tea; I preferred to nuke it and focus just on the visuals.) [Via]
32-bit/HDR improvements in Photoshop CS3
Photoshop CS2 introduced the application’s first support for 32-bit high dynamic range (HDR) imaging. The support was pretty limited, consisting of the Merge to HDR command (for combining bracketed shots into a single image) and some basic imaging functions (cropping, cloning, conversing from 32 to 8 or 16 bits per channel). Even so, about a year ago examples started popping up of HDR experiments (not solely connected to Photoshop, of course, but helped along by CS2). In the time since then more good resources on the subject have emerged.
The Photoshop CS3 beta includes some improvements in the HDR realm. Some more functions (e.g. Levels) are enabled for 32-bit images, and the Merge to HDR command, although superficially similar to the one in CS2, contains a variety of improvements. It benefits from the new image alignment code; preserves a more complete set of source data; and uses improved algorithms for merging the data.
Trevor Morris has kindly supplied an HDR photo created with the CS3 beta, as well as the source frames. He says, "I could never get it to work in CS2, but it worked flawlessly in CS3, and I was quite pleased with the results." He writes,
This photo was shot inside the Christ Church Cathedral, located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.
For this particular shot, I used a tripod and remote to capture 12 exposures, from 1/125s to 20s, with a Nikon D70 @ f/16, ISO 200, FL 18mm. I combined the exposures using Merge to HDR, increased the local contrast, and gave the image a slight saturation boost.
Give it a whirl with your bracketed shots, and please let us know whether it works well for you.
December 28, 2006
Simplicity vs. Power in Photoshop
Yesterday’s discussion of Smart Filters made me think that it’s worth writing up some thoughts on Smart Objects & the future of compositing in Photoshop in general.
I have a hypothesis, at least as regards Photoshop: flexibility generally breeds indirectness. That is, when you step away from the familiar world of applying pixel tools directly to a plane of pixels, you introduce complexity. Whether or not that complexity is worth accepting depends on bang for the buck.
December 27, 2006
The Secret Life of Smart Filters
Smart Filters–i.e. those that can be adjusted or removed at any time, leaving the underlying pixels unaffected–address what is probably the single longest-standing feature request in Photoshop. Customers’ response to them has been quite good, but the details of how & why they work as they do may be a little subtle. For example,
- Why can’t you paint directly onto a surface that has a Smart Filter applied?
- Why are you limited to having one filter mask per layer (instead of having one per filter)?
- Why do Smart Filters add file size?
If you’re interested in the story of how and why Smart Filters came to be as they are, read on. I find the whole topic of how Photoshop is evolving from a simple "a pixel is a pixel" app into a dramatically more powerful editing pipeline fascinating, but I recognize it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. :-)
Mechanical insects & more
Interesting design/photography bits:
- Graham Owen creates insanely realistic flies for fishing. (I’ve spent a good part of the Christmas break cat-fishing; wonder what Graham could do in the way of a felt mouse.) He even offers a step-by-step tutorial on creating flies. [Via]
- And if that’s not realistic (or weird) enough for you, there’s Mike Libby’s Insect Lab,"an artist-operated studio that customizes real insects with antique watch parts and electronic components." [Via]
- Speaking of animals+electronics, the Woofer‘s name works on two levels. I wonder if he’s related to this pup.
- Artist Cai Guo-Qiang gets crazy with animals real (dead wolves a go-go; an unfortunate tiger going out like St. Sebasian) and imagined (explosive dragon skeleton) [Via]
- The NYT features some beautiful shots of northern Japan’s disappearing world of draft horse racing.
[See also previous bits]
December 26, 2006
What’s the story with Photoshop & multi-core?
Much has been written about the fact that the speed of individual CPU cores isn’t increasing at the rate it did from 1980 through 2004 or so. Instead, chip makers are now turning to multi-core designs to boost performance. (See this brief primer from Jason Snell at Macworld.) Thus a lot of people have been asking whether Photoshop takes advantage of these new systems. The short answer is yes, Photoshop has included optimizations for multi-processor machines (of which multi-core systems are a type) for many years.
What may not be obvious to a non-engineer like me, however, is that not all operations can or should be split among multiple cores, as doing so can actually make them slower. Because memory bandwidth hasn’t kept pace with CPU speed (see Scott Byer’s 64-bit article for more info), the cost of moving data to and from each CPU can be significant. To borrow a factory metaphor from Photoshop co-architect Russell Williams, "The workers run out of materials & end up standing around." The memory bottleneck means that multi-core can’t make everything faster, and we’ll need to think about doing new kinds of processing specifically geared towards heavy computing/low memory usage.
Because Russell has forgotten more than I will ever know about this stuff, I’ve asked him to share some info and insights in the extended entry. Read on for more.
Male-pattern baldness -> Great Photoshop feature
Sometimes it’s the smallest, weirdest things that drive feature development. In the case of the new Quick Selection Tool & Refine Edge command*, hair loss played a key role.
As of this past summer, Photoshop engineers Jeff Chien and Gregg Wilensky had been cranking away on these tools for a while & had them working well for hard-edge selections. As luck would have it, Jeff’s mane is a little thin on top, and Gregg is more folliclularly challenged. So, when Jeff returned from vacation to Taiwan, he was rather unhappy to find that Quick Selection was selecting only his head, missing the wispy bits of hair on top. As he proclaimed while making a quick whiteboard self portrait, "I need to keep all the hair I’ve got!"
The desire to do a better job with irregular edges like hair got the guys thinking about new solutions, resulting in new algorithms we’ve been calling TrueEdge. You can see the kind of refinement possible via the Radius & Contrast controls in this screenshot. Pretty cool, eh? Viva Mother Nature (sorry, guys!). ;-)
Mobile authoring in Photoshop CS3
Bill Perry, who manages global developer relations for mobile and devices at Adobe, has posted a quick walk-through of creating & previewing artwork using the Photoshop CS3 beta together with the new Adobe Device Central. ADC lets you browse among device profiles*, then preview your artwork on the devices while simulating screen glare, changes to backlighting, and more.
I have to say, I’m really glad to see mobile authoring get some love and attention at Adobe. It’s not that the company didn’t have ideas and tools prior to the Macromedia integration; in fact, GoLive included a variety of mobile emulators & authoring tools. It’s just that we could not, for the life of us, adequately get customers’ attention. I always envied Macromedia’s resolve to make its work known & would rant to fellow PMs: "Look at these guys: they’re giving away a plasma TV to whoever creates the best content with their tools. What do we offer–an ’82 Dodge Rampage and half a can of Schlitz?"
Now, however, we have a chance to bring the tools together to form an end-to-end solution. I’m very curious to see what people will create, and where we can take these tools going forward.
*A short list during the beta, but that’s temporary
Photos of the Year 2006
- The NYT has posted its Year in Pictures, featuring images of war, politics, sports, and more. It’s amazing how quickly events can fade from our (or at least my) consciousness, often just months after they occur.
- MSNBC has some terrific galleries from this past year. (Bet you’ve never seen a bull doing a headstand before.) See also Time’s collection.
- The Photography Blog features an interview with German photographer Gerd Ludwig, named Photographer of the Year at the Lucie Awards. His journeys through the former USSR produce images both grim & transcendent. (On going digital, "I turned my film fridge into a wine cooler," he says.) [Via]
- Chernobyl is the subject of an intense and difficult portfolio from Paul Fusco. I found it among Slate’s excellent collection of interactive essays from Magnum photographers. See also Martin Parr’s take on the "flotsam and jetsam of the Western world."
- Mexican crime photographer Enrique Metinides captures a rough world–supermarket shootouts, wounded actresses, and more. Additonal work is featured in the Anton Kern Gallery [Via]
- Slight non sequitur: I don’t know why I find the idea of a wooden digital camera so charming, but I do. [Via]
December 23, 2006
Flash runs inside Photoshop CS3!
Psst… Wanna watch "PhotoshopTV" clips inside Photoshop itself? How about making a script that can access the network, upload/download data*, and control Photoshop?
Sorry if I’m a bit worked up, but I love reporting that the Photoshop CS3 beta supports running Flash SWF files as script interfaces. Whereas in CS2 scripts can feature fairly simple UIs (e.g. the Image Processor), in CS3 they’ll be able to take advantage of all the richness of Flash and Flex. To see it in action, download this sample** (with MXML source), unzip it, and put the contents into "Adobe Photoshop CS3/Presets/Scripts." You’ll be able to use it to run other scripts and even watch streaming video. For immediate gratification, here are a couple of screenshots.
So, why do I think this is a big deal? For starters, we have to make developing for Photoshop radically easier and faster. If you want to make a new component for Yahoo Widgets (neé Konfabulator), you simply run a script in Photoshop; compare that to the task of building a Photoshop plug-in. Photoshop will grow inexorably larger and more powerful, and to keep it usable we need to make it trivial to tune the app to particular needs/tastes. That means easy extensibility & customization (up-level what you need, get rid of what you don’t). It’s here that Flash & Flex can play a great role, enabling fast, rich, lightweight, cross-platform development.
Supporting SWFs in scripts is just one step, but it’s a big one. Displaying a video stream might seem odd, but I’ve got some big designs on ways we can connect people through the apps, make learning immediate, and more. Embedding the Flash Player across the Adobe product line gives us a way to enable rich widgets that run across applications & platforms. Exciting times ahead.
* With your permission, of course.
** Note that there’s a bug with display of dynamic data on Intel Macs
Sculptures in light
This is the season of lights, so it seems fitting to illuminate some recent finds:
- United Visual Artists has created Volume, a super-cool interactive installation that "responds spectacularly to human movement, creating a series of audio-visual experiences." Tons of great photos are on their site (note the little slideshow controls under the main image), and you can see the movement in this video (also in high res from Motionographer). [Via]
- The Orb is a high-speed glowing sculpture, formed by 64 LEDs spinning at 1600 RPM. [Via]
- Architect Rand Elliott has been commissioned to create POPS, a 66-foot, LED-clad pop bottle that will sit alongside Route 66. Metropolis Magazine has the story, along with shots of Elliott’s work, including a wireframe of POPS and the 100-foot-high Beacon of Light at the Oklahoma Health Center. See also shots of POPS being erected. [Via Jack Liggett]
- Closer to earth but still fun, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is made of Christmas lights [Via]
December 22, 2006
Props for Auto-Align/Blend in CS3
Panorama photographer Hans Nyberg has posted an overview comparing the new Photoshop Auto-Align Layers/Auto-Blend Layers functionality to other tools. "This is a real ‘Christmas Gift’ to us panorama photographers," he writes. "Incredibly fast and with very intelligent blending which outperforms all the blenders we have used until now."
Regarding the Load Files Into Stack script I posted earlier this week, I forgot to point out that choosing File->Automate-> Photomerge does the same process in one shot. Engineer John Peterson writes,
Now, if you want to click ‘n drag ‘n re-arrange, the bottom left side of the Photomerge file section dialog has an "interactive" option for the familiar Photomerge interactive dialog. But really, the new alignment algorithm is generally good enough that you’ll rarely need it.
And about the "Advanced Blending" checkbox? If it’s on (the default) you’ll get the seamless blending and exposure matching Edit > Auto-blend does. If it’s off, you’ll get simple rectangular blend masks (that you can easily modify or remove) and pixels left as-is, ready to re-touch by hand if you so choose.
Also, engineer Jeff Chien would like to point out that after running Auto-Blend Layers you may observe some visible seams when zoomed way out, but that these are just a redraw artifact; i.e. at 100% magnification they disappear.
On related notes:
- LiveScience reports that Australian scientist Piers Barnes has calculated the number of photos that need to be taken to ensure at least one blink-free photo: "For groups of less than 20 people, divide the number of people in the group by 3 if the light is good or by 2 if the light is bad. Take that number of shots and you will have a better than 95 percent chance of getting at least one good one." Hmm–sounds like the new tools could help here. [Via]
- John P. points out the interesting photo project "Lignières: Then and Now,"
an effort to overlay current images of a small Swiss village with those from the 19th century. The current process is painstaking and manual, and it would be fun to see how Auto-Align might be able to help arrange & transform images to fit.
Photoshop CS3 mini-SDK released
It’s critical that Adobe help developers get up to speed in updating their plug-ins to run natively on Intel-based Macs, so we’ve posted a Photoshop CS3 mini-SDK that contains the needed info. The SDK, along with the CS and CS2 versions, is a free download once you fill out a simple form.
We’ve been working with many developers for several months, and some plug-ins (e.g. Noise Ninja) have aready been updated to run natively. Hopefully the wide exposure of the public beta will help the needed info reach the developers we haven’t already been able to contact.
On a related note, developers may want to update their plug-ins to be able run as non-destructive Smart Filters in CS3. The docs are a bit scarce on this point since we wanted to focus on the Mac/Intel issues, but the Dissolve example in the SDK includes the Smart Filter flag.
December 21, 2006
Lightroom Podcast #24: Thomas Knoll, Mark Hamburg, and Zalman Stern
The Lightroom podcast series continues to draw a great response, and in the latest installment, George Jardine sits down with raw processing heavy hitters Mark Hamburg, Zalman Stern, and Thomas Knoll. They talk about what’s new (and yet to come) in Lightroom and Camera Raw, analytical vs. visual techniques, Bridge vs. Lightroom, skin tone protection in Vibrance–oh, and their desire for groupies. George writes,
This podcast was recorded Wednesday, December 6th 2006,
at Adobe Systems Headquarters in San Jose, CA. Now that the raw
controls in Lightroom’s develop module have finally settled down into
a state that they will mostly likely ship in…. the Adobe Camera Raw
team sits down with George Jardine, and takes a look back at what led
us here, and forward to what might come next.
The podcast is available as an MP3 file via George’s iDisk (under "1206 Podcast – Mark Hamburg – Zalman Stern and Thomas Knoll"). It’s also be available via the Lightroom podcasts RSS feed, and by searching for "Lightroom" in iTunes.
Ten thousand bucks a gallon… for ink
"Give away the razor, make money on the razor blades…" I say, the razor guys need to convince you to ink your face/legs, ’cause the real money is in inkjet refills.
Popular Photography’s Michael McNamara has posted some interesting observations on the state of inkjet prices in the world market. Note: I don’t mention this to suggest that these products are overpriced. The rate of innovation in desktop printing has been terrific, and as Michael notes, these inks enable creation of prints that "technically blow away minilab and online quality, plus last five to ten times longer on display." It’s simply interesting to do the math on commodities that are, drop for drop, among the most expensive any of us will likely encounter. [Via Russell Williams]
December 20, 2006
Handy new script for Photoshop CS3
By now you’ve probably seen how the Photoshop CS3 beta’s Auto-Align Layers command can snap images together. If not, check out my 90-second overview, or this somewhat more in-depth version from Russell Brown.
The command relies on selecting multiple layers to align, so it’s handy to suck multiple images into Photoshop & stack them up as layers in a PSD file. To accomplish that easily, we created a Load Files Into Stack script, but time didn’t permit it to get into the beta. So, if you’re interested in pulling in multiple files as layers, you can grab the script here (zipped to avoid any server weirdness). Unzip the file and stick it into the "Adobe Photoshop CS3/Presets/Scripts" folder to make it appear under File->Scripts when you launch Photoshop, or just browse to it via File->Scripts->Browse.
To try it yourself, do the following:
- Grab this set of four images and unzip it.
- From within Photoshop, select File->Scripts->Load Files into Stack, then load up the four images.
- Leave the alignment & Smart Object options unchecked, then hit OK.
- Choose Select->All Layers, then choose Edit->Auto-Align Layers.
- Click the Cylindrical option, then hit OK. You should wind up with an image like this.
- So, okay, Photoshop has done a reasonable job aligning and warping the layers, but obvious color and alignment problems remain. To address these, now choose Edit->Auto-Blend Layers. You’ll wind up with an image like this–much more nicely stitched together.
- Notice that the Auto-Blend command still leaves your layers as layers, but they now have layer masks that you can further tweak by hand if you’d like.
The upshot is that the Load Files Into Stack script sets you up nicely for all kinds of alignment & blending tasks, or for any work that requires multiple files to be pulled into a single layered document.
On a marginally related note, a customer on the Labs forum was asking about getting a native version of Photoshop’s JPEG 2000 plug-in, which isn’t installed by default. So, here you go (Mac and Windows bundled into one ZIP, since they’re small).
Is Photoshop CS3 a 64-bit app?
First, ask yourself:
- What is a "64-bit application"?
- What advantages does such an application offer?
- What are the disadvantages?
In talking to lots of customers, I find that most are unable to answer these questions. (There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. As I’ve said, I myself am just a simple unfrozen caveman Web designer, and like most non-engineers I don’t presume to grok the intricacies of complex software design.) Yet despite the lack of widespread understanding, "64 bit" is one of those buzzwords (a la "Cocoa" and many others) that sounds cool, eliciting a lot of "arewethereyet, arewethereyet??" that may or may not be warranted.
Photoshop co-architect Scott Byer has posted a lucid, readable overview of 64-bit computing & where Photoshop stands relative to this transition. Given a great number of factors, we elected not to make the change in this cycle. That said, Photoshop does take advantage of some aspects of 64-bit chips, and as Scott notes, "It’s a when, not an if" we’ll make the move. His info should help cut through some of the hype & set reasonable expectations about the future.
Now showing: The rest of the CS3 icons
Some folks have expressed curiosity about the other icons planned for the CS3 generation of Adobe applications, especially given our goal of having them work well as a complete system. So, with the blessing of Michael Gough, Adobe’s VP of Product Experience*, here they are.
[ *Not to be confused with Alfred from Batman ]
[ Update: Some commentary: Jason Santa Maria hates ‘em; Veerle Pieters likes ‘em, and has more commentary from Adobe designer Ryan Hicks.
December 19, 2006
Soundbooth Beta 2 now available
Released on Adobe Labs in October, the Adobe Soundbooth beta seems to have drawn a pretty amazing response. (The announcement was the #3 post on the MXNA aggregator this year.) Now Soundbooth PM Hart Shafer reports that Beta 2 of Soundbooth is available for download from the Labs site. Hart lists a variety of fixes and improvements in this release, and as always, the door remains open for feedback prior to shipping.
What’s up with the new Photoshop icon & branding?
"Taken in isolation, the individual icons are in no way spectacular – that was never their role," writes Ryan Hicks, Sr. Experience Designer at Adobe. "Their elegance comes from how the entire desktop brand system works as a whole. The more Adobe apps you have, the better the system works. Adobe’s icons stand out instantly in the visually-dense world of user desktops because of their simplicity; complexity ≠ information."
The crisp, simple imagery of the Photoshop CS3 Beta icon and splash screen has drawn both rants and raves on the Labs forum, so I thought I’d invite the folks behind this effort to share their perspective here. Ryan’s thoughts follow. –J.
[Update: See also the other CS3 icons.]
Photoshop CS3 serial number update
[Update June 2, 2007: If you’re here because you’re trying to rip me off by somehow stealing Photoshop (via serial number, keygen, crack, etc.), you’re a thieving putz, and you’ll get no satisfaction here. May someone steal your hard work as you try to steal ours. Adios. –J.]
We continue to receive inquiries about Photoshop CS3 beta serial numbers. There are a number of issues here:
- On Friday we discovered that a small percentage of the more than 3,000 product combinations that include Photoshop weren’t in the authentication list. Unfortunately this bit quite a few people trying to obtain CS3 serials. We fixed that issue on Friday afternoon.
- Licensing customers have been in bit of a bind: even though they’re authorized to use a CS2 serial on multiple machines, the beta site is configured to issue serials that can be activated on only two machines. If you’re a licensing customer, please send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can follow up with you (see details below).
- Some people are typing in the 20-digit serial number that’s visible in the CS2 About box. That makes total sense, except that the serial number is actually 24 digits long! That is, you need to get your serial number from your product materials (tips here). Again, we’re working to make this clear on the serial number acquisition page.
- A lot of people aren’t reading the instructions on the Labs site. Many are typing their CS2 numbers into CS3, then complaining that it doesn’t work. We’re working to make the instructions harder to miss.
If you’re still having problems with serial numbers and CS3, please send mail to email@example.com. Important: in order to handle the process efficiently, your email needs to contain the following info (I suggest copy/paste):
- Email address in the subject line (a weird eRoom quirk, but without it we can’t reach you)
- First and last name:
- Issue statement:
- CS2 serial number (24-digits long):
- CS3 serial number (if applicable):
- Are you a CS2 single or volume license customer? (Y or N):
- If volume license, approximately how many CS2 licenses do you own?:
- Daytime phone number with area code:
- Daytime e-mail address:
Customer service says they’ll turn things around in 48-72 hours. (There’s no need to call them, as phone support is not available for the beta.)
I know that it’s frustrating to hit any delays, and we greatly appreciate your patience. We’re just four days into a huge, never-been-done-here effort, but we’re making good progress.
December 18, 2006
Photoshop CS3: 100,000 downloads & counting
[Cue the Dire Straits: "I waant… my… Cee… Ess… Three…"]
Wow… We figured people would be interested in the Photoshop CS3 beta, but the response has been overwhelming: well over 100,000 downloads in the first 72 hours. (And that’s just from Adobe Labs, not sites like Download.com that are hosting the bits.) Amazing! Thanks to everyone who’s been participating. As always, you can download the software here, get a beta serial number here [Update: fixed link], and discuss the beta here.
In honor of the occasion–and really, what else could one do?–I felt compelled to create & throw up an Adobe gang sign. Word. :-)
[Update: As of Thursday afternoon (roughly six days into the beta), the number was somewhere north of 180,000 downloads. And that’s unique Adobe IDs, which should map pretty closely to individual customers. Wild!]
Exploring the new Photoshop interface
The newly refined user interface in the Photoshop CS3 beta represents a bit of a departure from the past several versions of the application. I’ve created a quick, 45-second video overview, and you can see it in much more detail elsewhere (e.g. Deke McClelland’s video, which was viewed some 28,000 times in its first day on YouTube). To provide some more detail on the new UI and insight into the thinking behind it, I asked Ken Moore (Sr. Interaction Designer, Creative Suite) and Mike Talvensaari (Product Manager, Creative Suite User Experience), to provide a guest entry. Their Q&A follows in the extended entry. –J.
Terrific whiteboard stop-motion video
Created by Kristofer Strom of Ljudbilden & Piloten, the video for Swedish band Minilogue’s "Hitchhiker’s Choice" is the antithesis of high-tech, CGI-laden graphics we’re accustomed to seeing–and I love it. [Via]. The work reminds me of Mario Cavalli’s marvellous Compaq "Bird" ad from several years back. (Working on the Compaq site at the time, I always scratched my head that the company’s UK office could be so adventurous while the folks in Texas always sought to play it safe.) Kristofer has also created Pen on Paper, a free-flowing montage drawn on one long, continuous strip of paper (as seen in this video).
What does the new Auto Enhance option do?
Author Ben Long recently asked what, exactly, the Auto Enhance option does when enabled for Photoshop CS3’s new Quick Selection tool. Gregg Wilensky, one of the engineers behind the tool, kindly provided some details:
Auto Enhance enables Quick Selection to generate better quality edges. Without Auto Enhance, the resultant selections are somewhat rough. The focus is on getting a decent selection quickly. However, doing things quickly results in less-than-perfect edges. The edges can be slightly off the mark. Blocky artifacts can arise and are especially apparent where edges are weak. And the selection edges may be sharp even though the actual image edge is soft or vice versa.
With Auto Enhance, we start with the imperfect edges and do several things to improve them. First we flow the imperfect selection mask towards the image edges. It’s kind of like trying to snap to the edges in the image in order to get closer to their true locations. This can correct some of the blockiness.
We also smooth the edge, with a special smoothing which attempts to preserve edge contours. This is the same smoothing that is used in Refine Edge’s Smooth control.
Finally, we capture a more faithful, truer edge profile using the same technology that underlies the Radius slider in Refine Edge. The Radius determines the extent around the edges over which we extract more faithful opacity values for the selection mask based on the image colors and how they change locally near the edges.
The result of all these steps is to produce a much improved selection mask that provides a truer representation of what’s going on in the image. The resultant selection mask follows the image edges better and captures a bit of the color transitions near the edges as opacity variations in the selection mask.
Note that while scrubbing with the mouse, the rough selection is shown; but, when the mouse is let up, the improved results are shown. The difference between making a selection with or without Auto Enhance is usually apparent if you go into Refine Edge and magnify an edge using the Mask preview mode.
So, to paraphrase for my little Arts & Leisures primate brain: turn on Auto Enhance unless you find that it’s taking too long for your images (a function of resolution and complexity vs. processing grunt).
Gregg’s collaborator Jeff Chien says that you might want to work with the option off for high-res files, but that "Once the selection
is done or almost done, you can then enable the option to trigger the edge
smoothing at the mouse up of the next stroke. In case that you have done
with the selection, you can simply paint inside the selected area to trigger
the operation." The results won’t be quite as precise as if you left the option on the whole time, but it’s one way to trade off performance vs. accuracy.
December 17, 2006
In Memoriam: Bruce Fraser
I’m terribly sorry to relay the news that our dear friend Bruce Fraser passed away yesterday. His friend Stephen Johnson says that Bruce was resting in his own bed,
surrounded by people that loved him. It was a very peaceful passing. It remains awfully rough for those left behind.
I’m not sure what to say, and I know that others will write better, deeper remembrances than this one. Bruce’s work touched untold thousands of people, whether directly through his teaching and writing, or indirectly through his guidance of Adobe, Epson, and other companies towards better, smarter solutions. The outpouring of well wishes in response to news of Bruce’s illness only hints at the reserve of goodwill and gratitude that so many feel towards him. As one of those many beneficiaries, I can share a few thoughts.
Many of the merits of Camera Raw owe a debt to Bruce. The move from ACR 2.0 to 3.0 was a huge one, filled with twists, turns, and tradeoffs. Bruce was among a handful of folks to whom I could drop a line at nearly any hour, asking for guidance. Back would come a deep, thoughtful, often impassioned reply, making his arguments plain. We’d often disagree, but that’s part of what made the dialog fun and valuable. No matter how well Bruce got on personally with many folks at Adobe, I never had to worry that we’d get a free pass on anything. I will always, always be grateful for that.
This whole past product cycle, we’ve felt Bruce’s absence as he battled his illness. Any number of times I thought of him and wished we could duke it out about favorite topics–DNG, Camera Raw editing JPEGs, color management for the Web, and so much more. I write this through a shifting blur of emotions–anger and sorrow at the loss, sympathy for Bruce’s wife and loved ones, gratitude to have known him, relief that he is now at peace.
A tribute to Bruce’s life and work is planned for Macworld, to be held Macworld on Janurary 10th, 2007. PhotoshopNews will post more details as they become available.
77 Million Paintings by Brian Eno
“What I’m really doing when I work generatively is I’m making seeds," says musician and visual artist Brian Eno, in this profile on Apple.com. Then I’m planting them, in the case of ‘77 Million Paintings,’ in your computer. Then the seed grows into all the different kinds of flowers it can produce.” The result is his 77 Million Paintings project, visual and sound art created with the help of Adobe Director, Photoshop, and Illustrator, and designed to be experienced on one’s own computer or via a live, ever-changing installation. This three-minute video from the project site gives a taste of the work & the ideas behind it.
According to the Apple site, more than 300 Eno paintings — most of them scratched or inked onto slides — were digitized for 77 Million Paintings. Collaborator Nick Robertson painstakingly scanned and retouched every one using Photoshop and a Mac. Of the travelling installation they write, "Eno and his team have designed and constructed several configurations for the live shows, including a massive pyramid of monitors enveloped by mirrors. ‘The floor and sides of the room were mirrored and the pyramid was effectively turned into a diamond,’ says Robertson." A few additional photos of the live installation are here.
[For more on generative art, see this post on Josh Davis’s work with Illustrator scripting.]
Is it real, or is it ILM?
As you may know, Photoshop co-creator John Knoll has been a visual effects supervisor at Industrial Light and Magic for many years. (My friend Phil says, "It’s a little intimidating to use Photoshop in front of one of the guys who wrote it." I know your pain, man.) Now ILM has produced a beautiful Flash piece showcasing their work on the latest Pirates of the Caribbean, detailing some of the processes & techniques that bring scenes and creatures to life. [Via]
December 15, 2006
Mo’ betta Photoshop CS3 resources
To the list of excellent content posted Thursday night, I’m pleased to add the following:
- Author Deke McClelland has posted some 80 minutes of detailed videos (with exercise files) in Lynda.com’s Photoshop CS3 Beta One-on-One Preview.
- Photographic workflow expert Peter Krogh has updated his excellent RapidFixer extension for Bridge & offers a new 20-minute video on how to integrate it into production.
- CreativePro.com offers a detailed, 2,000-word intro from AGI‘s Christopher & Jennifer Smith.
- Ben Long is a busy man, posting a hands-on overview at Digit Online and a First Look for Macworld.
- Photographer Uwe Steinmuller posts his CS3 intro, paying particular attention to the new Camera Raw & taking Zoomify for a spin.
- Author/videoographer Richard Harrington says his CS3 podcast hit #1 in the iTunes software category today. He hopes to update it every day, and his RSS feed is here.
- Photographer Mark Galer has posted his first video podcast about CS3, with plans for more to come.
- Amadou Diallo is posting his own set of videos to his photography blog.
I apologize if I’ve missed anyone (nothing personal at all–just tough to juggle in all the excitement!). As always, feel free to list your own finds in the comments.
Photoshop CS3 Beta now live on Labs
Okay, folks–the Photoshop CS3 beta is now live on Adobe Labs, so have at it! Please note, however, that
we’re experiencing some problems [see below] with the online serial number tool. Our engineers are cranking away on it, but in the meantime some valid CS2 serials are not being accepted. (We believe that the bulk of numbers are working correctly, but some clearly are not).
Sorry about the glitch, and thanks for your patience. We hope to have it resolved soon, and in the meantime you can run the beta in tryout mode if you’d like. I’m now headed over to the new CS3 beta forum on Labs to try to answer questions.
[Update: We believe we’ve addressed the issue, so if you ran into a snag earlier today, please try again. If you continue to experience problems, please let us know via the forum. –Thanks, J.]
Is the CS3b download ready? Not just yet.
I awoke to discover that people have been poking around Adobe servers and are now complaining that the site isn’t accepting their CS2 serial numbers. There’s a reason for that: the site isn’t ready to go just yet, and we’ll post an announcement when it is. So, while the interest in downloading the new beta is encouraging, I hope people can chill for a little while.
For the record, yes, we do intend to accept education serial numbers. Pretty much any copy of Photoshop CS2 (whether stand-alone or in a Suite, full or upgrade, education or retail, English or non-English, volume licensing or otherwise) will qualify. We don’t want to leave anyone out.
December 14, 2006
Great Photoshop CS3 beta resources
All kinds of excellent resources are popping up with details, videos, and more coverage of the Photoshop CS3 beta. I plan to keep updating this list as I find good bits. I’ve also created a new "Photoshop CS3 Beta" category that should help you track related info.
- The crew at Photoshop User have really knocked themselves out with the PSCS3 Beta Preview Learning Center. The site includes Scott Kelby’s 10 Favorite Features; videos for the Bridge loupe tool & stacks; an interview with yours truly; and much more.
- Adobe’s resident mad scientist Russell Brown has taken the wraps off his first set of new videos.
- At PhotoshopNews.com I chat at some length with Jeff Schewe about all things CS3 (what’s new in Bridge, what’s new in the Photoshop UI, and etc.). Jeff has also posted the official FAQ in HTML form.
- Macworld.com provides excellent coverage: Jim Dalrymple’s got an intro, and in this video* I talk to Jason Snell about what’s new in CS3, after which Jason demonstrates Quick Selection, Smart Filters, Zoomify export, and more. Elsewhere on the site, Philip Michaels presents a podcast in which he talks to editors Ben Long, Kelly Turner, and Jackie Dove about performance on Intel-based Macs & much more. [Update: Ben’s first look is here.]
- Martin Evening has updated his popular Photoshop for Photographers with a 21-page PDF that covers the new release from a pro photographer’s point of view.
- The link may not yet be live, but Lynda.com plans to unleash a torrent of training videos shortly.
- At Ars Technica Dave Girard posts an intro in which he says, "Despite its beta status, it has heaping portions of snappy." (We’re bringin’ Snappyback, yeaah.)
- Photoshop co-architect Scott Byer shares his perspective. Regarding making PS a Universal Binary he says, "It really did take that much effort, and it really wasn’t ready until recently." [Via]
- Former Illustrator PM/full-time vector mensch Mordy Golding covers the release in a special edition of his PEN podcast.
- Adobe’s Technical Resources Manager Terry White provides a first look for Layers Magazine, demonstrating the new Vanishing Point, among other features.
- Colin Smith goes into all kinds of detail at PhotoshopCafe.
I’m sure I’m missing some good stuff (it’s flowing fast and furious!), so please feel free to pass along additional links via the comments. [Update: See also Round 2.]
*Sick of me yet?? I feel like I’m becoming the Rachel Ray of PMs: chatty and overexposed... ;-)
Announcing the Photoshop CS3 Beta
"Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid." – Goethe
I could not be more delighted to announce that Adobe is making the beta release of Photoshop CS3 available for download via Adobe Labs. (In fact, I’ve been bouncing off the walls since 4am, waiting to share the news.) This has been a major effort for a lot of folks at Adobe, but we felt passionately that it’s the right thing to do for our customers. By the time this is posted, details should be available in the Adobe press room, along with the official FAQ.
In a nutshell, the beta of Photoshop CS3 will be posted on Labs & made available for download in the next 24 hours. It’s for Mac and Windows, and it runs (er, screams) natively on the latest Intel hardware. I’ll be posting plenty of details & videos over the days and weeks ahead.
As luck would have it, I’m meeting with the press in LA today and won’t be online until this evening. In the meantime, I expect tons of good info to be available from PhotoshopUser.com, PhotoshopNews, CreativePro.com, Macworld, and many other outlets. (I’ll update links as they appear.)
Anyway, I hope you’re even half as excited as we are. This is a big day for Adobe & a big first in the way we handle our flagship applications, but extraordinary times called for extraordinary measures.
[Update: If you’re having serial number-related problems, please read this post.]
Photos of Adobe at night
Photoshop engineer Chris Bailey says he was killing time recently, installing Linux on a bunch of Adobe servers, and snapped some cool shots of the Adobe San Jose courtyard/basketball court/bocce ball enclave. (And as with all things Flickr, if you’re visiting through Safari, you owe it to yourself to download the free, cinematic PicLens viewer.) Chris also captured some time-lapse shots of the ever-present, always slightly unnerving low-flying planes overhead.
Bruce Fraser receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Photographer, Scotsman, color mangement guru, Pixel Genius, and friend to everyone in digital imaging (whether directly or through his work to improve the tools of our trade) Bruce Fraser has been honored with the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. As one who’s experienced Bruce’s amazingly generous outlays of time and effort in helping guide Adobe and other companies towards the solutions customers really need, I can think of no one more deserving of this accolade. Congrats, Bruce, from all your friends and admirers at Adobe.
December 12, 2006
Poetry in motion
- The Time Fountain uses strobing LEDs to let you interact with water in slow motion. Check out the amazing video. [Via]
- Furniture maker DB Fletcher has devised some insanely cool, radially expanding tables, presented in videos on their site. (There’s gotta be a pun here about leaving leaves in the dust, but I’m wisely avoiding it. Well, I was…) [Via]
- Watchismo features a beautiful "tourbillon" wristwatch from Richard Mille. [Via]
- The intro copy is a wee bit self important, but TAG Heuer’s belt-driven watch (!) is a piece of work–and far cooler than their blinged-up, €100,000 Diamond Fiction Watch.
- For more chornographic goodness, see also the Core77/Timex contest on The Future of Time.
December 10, 2006
3.8 Gigapixels of Half Dome; Great Flash panoramas
The folks at FlashPanoramas.com sell a utility for displaying spherical panoramas via the Flash Player. They’ve now updated their technology to take advantage of the new full-screen mode enabled in the latest rev of Player 9. Check out some very cool examples, or get the tool for €39.95 from their site. [Via]
Elsewhere, Greg Downing & co. at xRez.com are working on Extreme Resolution panoramic image creation. Check out this 3.8 gigapixel* spherical panorama of Half Dome, displayed via the Google Maps API.
Although the subject is nearly a mile from the camera position, you can zoom in and see a climber on the face of Half Dome, as well as someone standing on the visor & and hikers along the Merced river in the valley below.
Wicked! "By the way," Greg writes, "Photoshop large document format [PSB] was a lifesaver on this project!"
The xRez site shows off more examples and goes into plenty of technical geekery for those so inclined. Greg’s own site offers other interesting bits on HDR panoramas, and this QuickTime slideshow nicely demonstrates how various elements of a scene can be displayed at different exposures. (Aside: Is that thing a naval mine or an interrogation droid or…?) A test render of 3D objects lit with an HDR lighting map shows the power of sampling this data from a scene, then feeding it into a 3D rendering package.
*According to Wikipedia, a single gigapixel contains 250 times the data captured by a 4MP sensor. (Of course, at any given moment Wikipedia might claim that I personally have invented over 350 uses for the peanut–but I think it can be trusted in this case.)
More animals in the womb, plus a space shot
- A number of folks have commented on the amazing images of animals in the womb, so I’m following up with some more info I’ve found. In support of the special program airing tonight on its namesake channel (9PM PST), National Geographic has posted some great online resources, including a video preview, an interactive timeline, and more photos. The show is scheduled to air tomorrow night as well.
- This NYT story about last night’s launch of the shuttle Discovery includes a couple of really dramatic photos. NASA.gov has another, as well as an image of the shuttle’s rotating service structure at night. (Seeing that shot, I can almost smell the airplane glue & feel the Xacto cuts as I struggled to build a model version years ago. That effort did not end well…) And here’s a video of the launch.
December 08, 2006
A bright future for Fireworks
Nearly a year ago I posted a blog entry called "Photoshop + Fireworks: Where to from here?" Customer response was immediate and overwhelming, making it my most commented-upon entry (thanks for all that feedback, by the way). At the time people were a little freaked out that Adobe would bury Fireworks, but I’m pleased to say that just the opposite has happened.
The app is finding new life as a great environment for rapid prototyping & quick interface development. At MAX in October the team demonstrated Fireworks creating an MXML layout for use in Flex, and now the Adobe Edge news letter has posted "A sparkling future for Fireworks." I’ll let you check out the article for complete details, but based on the comments made here, I think folks will really dig the enhanced Photoshop and Illustrator integration, among many other things. [Via]
Adobe Color Management Module b2 now on Labs
Adobe has released a second beta version of the Adobe Color Management module, now available as a free download from Adobe Labs. (For background on the CMM project, check out this intro post.) Customer response has been extremely positive so far, and I’m pleased to report that because of this feedback, we’ve added support for device link profiles. (Hey, maybe there’s a future to this whole Labs/openness thing… ;-)) As always, if this technology is useful to you, we look forward to hearing your thoughts about it.
New digital photography guides from Adobe
Adobe has commissioned a number of digital photography guides from industry heavy hitters, covering everything from metadata to color management, digital workflow to black & white conversion. The complete list with links is in this post’s extended entry, so check ‘em out when you have a sec.
Tethered shooting in Lightroom; ACR versioning
- At photography shows I’m frequently asked by pro photographers for support of tethered shooting in Lightroom–that is, the ability to have a high-end camera tethered to one’s workstation, and to have the images flow in as they’re shot. The good news is that what’s requested is largely possible already. London-based fashion photographer/author Martin Evening has posted a great intro to shooting tethered in Lightroom. [See also Martin’s overviews of the Lightroom Library and Develop modules.]
- Photographer and author Ben Long has posted a Windows
version of his Adobe Camera Raw Version Control package. By duplicating and managing XMP settings files, this free set of
applications makes it simple to create and manage multiple versions
of the same raw document. This means you can
easily create multiple XMP files for the same image, and easily
switch from one to the other. Also check out the free (though donation-supported) Mac version.
December 06, 2006
Lightroom Podcast #23: Jay Maisel & Richard Benson
Adobe Pro Photography Evangelist George Jardine is kicking his podcasting game up a notch, now adding video content. On Monday Oct. 30th George visited Richard Benson’s home in Newport, Rhode Island, where he spoke with Richard and Jay Maisel about Richard’s latest work with inkjet printers. George writes,
This “video” podcast includes photos taken by Richard, as well as photos documenting the occasion taken by both myself and by Thomas Palmer. It can be viewed by downloading it directly into iTunes (if you are accessing it by subscribing via the Music Store), or by copying it into iTunes on either a Mac or a PC (if you’ve downloaded it from my iDisk). Once copied into iTunes, it can be transferred to a Video iPod, and viewed that way as well. When viewing it on an iPod, be sure to access the video from the Video menu (then “Movies” or “Video Podcasts”…. depending upon how you downloaded it), and NOT from the Music menu. If you access it from the Music menu, you will not see the photographs.
Dreamweaver will chop off your hand…
…if you’re on the DW team and break their build, that is! Engineering and QE would be nowhere without a little hazing, and it seems that each team has its own rituals for dealing with folks who make code changes that screw up the project (i.e., break the daily product build). Unfortunate Photoshop engineers are sometimes known to have a stuffed Space Monkey hanging, albatross-like, from their office doors. The Dreamweaver team is sharper edged, though, and in this video from team member Dominic Sagolla, we see what happens to codebreakers in their world (in this case, newly minted PM Kenneth Berger).
December 04, 2006
Excellent Worth1000 Photoshoppery
- As kid I loved Wacky Packages, the little 70’s-era goofs on popular brands of the times. Now the crew at Worth1000.com grabs that baton, mashing up classics with commerce in these Fine Art Ads. [Via]
- Along somewhat similar lines, Kasper Hauser’s Sky Maul is a pretty darn funny compendium of "Happy Crap You Can Buy from a Plane." [Via]
- I love this take on Escher as a child–hilarious and kind of heartbreaking all at once. ("Don’t let the bastards grind you down…")
- Elsewhere the site features good critter-hacking: Evolution Gone Wild, and some rather excellent Cybernetic Animals.
- It’s deeply, deeply nasty–to the point where I didn’t scroll too far–but the "That’s Not Turkey!" gallery may make you grateful for what you didn’t eat on Thanksgiving.
- Oh, and if that’s not quite disturbing enough, how about a meat chess board, or meat body suit? Rare is the new black, I’m told.
December 03, 2006
Photoshop & Macs: The new shuffleboard?
This week C|NET published findings from MetaFacts indicating that "nearly half of Mac owners are 55 and older–almost double the share for average home PC users." Apple disputes this claim, though I’d take it as a compliment that my tools can be used by a generation not raised by Grand Theft Auto.
As it happens, the registered base* of Photoshop customers has skewed older in recent years, due to the exploding popularity of digital photography. The same folks who in previous generations might’ve sprung for a home darkroom now tend to buy a really nice digital SLR, computer, and the best software to go with it. These trends prompted my colleague Ashley to quip, "Photoshop & Macs: The new shuffleboard?"
This demographic trend has some practical implications. Most obviously, we need to make a user interface that’s easy to navigate with older eyes. Given the 20- and 30-something demographics of many visual designers, this isn’t always easy to remember, but we’re working on it. The emergence of scalable, resolution-independent will be essential here, and in the meantime Photoshop CS2 added the ability to adjust the font size of the interface (a small thing, literally, but a step in the right direction).
December 01, 2006
Sweet Flash+After Effects example
The crew at WDDG has declared "Technological & Creative Warfare" on lame online portforlios, kicking out the retro jams with their new company site. Besides being a great Flash showcase, it represents a great integration of Flash & After Effects. Company founder James Baker says he was inspired by seeing Dr. Woohoo’s AE->Flash tools, which he then used to link the apps. He writes, "The jitter is motion-captured from some old footage and looped throughout the site. I threw a 2-pixel blur on it and a loop of crap over the top, and suddenly crappy JPEGs looked like newsreel footage." And of course the site makes heavy use of color-treated & modified film stock, exported as Flash video (FLV). Killer all around. [Update: Drew has interviewed James & shares more info about the project.]
(Oh, and don’t forget to take a look behind the scenes at their advanced design process.)