October 30, 2007
“Flare” data visualization tools for Flash
No, by “flare” I’m not talking about the shiny crap pinned to my old Olive Garden waiter’s getup. (I lasted 10 days or so before taking my butt to a dotcom. The horror…) The Flare visualization toolkit is a set of Flash ActionScript classes for building “a wide variety of interactive visualizations,” including basic charts, complex animations, network diagrams, treemaps, and more. Check out the cool demo, making sure to hit the Smoke & Distortion tabs at the bottom. [Via Mark Baltzegar]
Seeing these visualizations, I’m inspired to wonder (again) how we could leverage Adobe Bridge’s support for Flash-based UI to present data in more interesting ways. A SWF running inside Bridge can display any format for which Bridge can generate a preview (as Bridge creates a JPEG cache for each file). Flash-based apps like Retrievr, the Related Tag Browser, the 3D-ish TiltViewer, and many others demonstrate novel ways to connect a rich interface to a database of images. Hmm… if you have any thoughts, let ‘em rip. (It’s times like these I wish I could code my way out of a paper bag.)
For more inspiring visualizations, see VisualComplexity.com.
PS–As I was typing this entry, we got rocked with a nice California earthquake. Nothing like having all your worldly possessions (including yourself) getting bounced around to put things in a little perspective.
October 29, 2007
Lightroom + Leopard: compatibility notes
Just a brief note: Lightroom PM Tom Hogarty has posted some notes concerning the state of compatibility between the current Lightroom 1.2 & Mac OS X Leopard. Tom mentions that a Lightroom update is due in the next few weeks which should address the snags people are hitting.
Hipsters, gangstas, & unacceptable haircuts
Chart! And! Graphs!
- “As a resident of Manhattan and an owner of a complete set of bodily organs, [Jack Anderson] knows a thing or two about subway maps and anatomy. Now you do, too.” Check out his Illustrator-designed digestive-system-as-subway-map t-shirt. [Update: See also the Metropolitan Cardiac Authority.] [Via]
- Online comic xkcd offers a map of online communities. (It somehow makes me think of a Hobbit map that spent years stuck to my childhood bedroom ceiling.)
- This Virgin Atlantic map drives home the vast number of movies available for viewing in flight.
- I love the incredible intricacy of Christa Dichgans’s maps. [Via]
- Artist Andrew Kuo spent the summer hitting as many NY concerts as possible, and he “obsessively charted the entire experience, from reviewing the bands to counting the number of porta-potties.” Check out the results. See also the brief accompanying article. Many more infographics live on his blog.
- Protec’ ya neck: Chris Sims lets us peer into the rigorous science of gangsta rap. [Via]
- This Australian dating ad uses infographics to make its pitch. (Only 11% of suitors have “unacceptable haircuts”? They must not be counting the vast number of Aussie dudes with fauxhawks.)
October 28, 2007
Why do we photograph? A discussion.
"Welcome to what may be my very best conversation yet," says George Jardine of the latest Lightroom podcast. "Or at least the most fun and insightful."
George sat down with photographers Jay Maisel, Greg Gorman and Seth Resnick for "a long and rambling discussion about film archives, digital archives, various sorting and editing methods, and how they all intersect. Or not… I found Jay continually driving at a singular point about why he photographs, how he edits, and why he feels shooting to please yourself is the only important thing for a photographer." [Update: George has transcribed a couple of key bits & added some comments; I've now included these in this post's extended entry.]
The podcast is on George’s iDisk under "20071016 Podcast – Maisel Gorman Resnick." This podcast & others can be found on iTunes by searching under Podcasts for "Lightroom," or via the Lightroom podcasts RSS feed. [Via]
October 26, 2007
Adobe apps on Leopard: What you need to know
Just minutes ago, Apple’s Mac OS X 10.5–"Leopard" to its friends–went on sale. Congrats to everyone at Apple on what looks like a terrific release.
So, what does this mean in terms of running Adobe software? The good news is that most Adobe apps don’t require updates in order to run well. That is, the CS3 versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and other apps are good to go for Leopard right now. Rock out.
The CS3-generation applications that require patches are After Effects, Premiere Pro, Encore, and Soundbooth (due to go live in early December), and Acrobat 8/Reader 8 (due in January). Although Adobe is working on these updates, here’s a key line from the Adobe Leopard FAQ (PDF):
Does Adobe recommend running Production Premium or Master Collection before its
updates are available?
A. Yes, we are comfortable recommending this. Our testing revealed a few issues in specific
workflows when running the video professional applications on Mac OS X Leopard. Many
video professionals would not encounter these issues on a day-to-day basis, but we want to
provide updates in December 2007 to address these issues and meet our standards of quality. You can evaluate the issues by visiting www.adobe.com/go/support and searching the online
knowledgebase for more information.
What about older versions of Adobe software? The FAQ says,
While older Adobe applications may install and run on Mac OS X Leopard, they were
designed, tested, and released to the public several years before this new operating system
became available. You may, therefore, experience a variety of installation, stability, and
reliability issues for which there is no resolution. Older versions of our creative software will
not be updated to support Mac OS X.
I can’t speak for other app teams, but while we naturally concentrated our testing on Photoshop CS3 (and beyond), we also tested CS2 a fair bit. The only significant problem we discovered is that Photoshop CS2’s Web Photo Gallery module can crash while running under Leopard. We plan to post an updated version that fixes the crash, but that won’t go up until Monday. In case you’re impatient, I’ve attached the file here.
And that, in a nutshell, is it. Have fun.
[Update: Adobe evangelist Terry White is one of the most deeply knowledgeable people inthe world when it comes to the Creative Suite applications. He's been logging his Leopard upgrade experiences on his blog: see The Road To Leopard, parts 1, 2, and 3. On the whole, things seem to be going really well.
Per a note in Terry's third installment, I've gotta say, I'm deeply disappointed that Time Machine now apparently won't support backups across a wireless network. Good thing I rushed out and bought a new AirPort base station in February, along with a new USB hard drive (given that the base station doesn't support the Apple-designed FireWire standard)--all in anticipation of wireless household backups. Here's hoping the planned functionality will be enabled in an update.]
Friday typography: Leopards, Ketels, & more
- Veerle’s got a tutorial on replicating OS X Leopard’s "inset text" effect via Photoshop & Illustrator. [Via]
- Typographica talks about embedded Web fonts . "The fonts you’re allowed to embed legally aren’t worth using; the fonts that are worth using aren’t embeddable." [Via]
- Thorsten Wulff’s posted a video interview with Gary Hustwit, director of "Helvetica." Speaking of that famous face, check out the Helvetica Mug. See also Douglas Coupland’s thoughts on Helvetica.
- The Washington Post comments on those text-only Ketel One ads. "My dad started crying, I started crying, my brother started crying," says Carl Nolet Jr., who sounds on the phone like he’s not kidding. "It was exactly what we wanted to say. It was simple, it was black and white, it was genuine."
- Shotgun Magazine features a tutorial on creating a cool slow shutter text effect in Photoshop. [Via]
- On CreativePro.com, Ilene Strizver’s posted a variety of good tips for working with text in InDesign and Quark.
- Michael Perry loves hand-drawn type & has given his collection a salty name.
October 25, 2007
"Designed in California"
Sometimes I see an article that I wish I’d written, as it just nails something I’ve been thinking for a while. Joel Spolsky’s piece on the phrase "Designed by Apple in California" neatly captures my thoughts–especially on the idea of California as an idea (very resonant for someone growing up in rural Illinois). Thank you… thank you for giving a damn.
As for the Zune team apparently aping Apple’s phrase with their "Hello from Seattle," I feel like pulling the Conan O’Brien move that occurs roughly 2:20 into his brilliant visit to ILM, stamping the whole effort "SAD!" [Via]
PS–The "Hello" thing was charming in 1998, too.
Gigapixel panos through Flash
GigaPan.org is "sort of a Flickr for zoomable panoramas," notes Photoshop engineer (and Photomerge creator) John Peterson. The site makes it possible to upload & browse gigapixel-sized images, then navigate through them via a Flash interface. Here’s a shot of Adobe HQ, taken from nearby Caesar Chavez park* in downtown San José. (Bustling, isn’t it? ;-)) The site is labeled "beta," and the viewer currently leaves much to be desired (quit squirming around, dammit!), but it’s a very cool project nonetheless. [Via]
* I’m sure I walk by it all the time, but until seeing this image I never noticed the deeply gross sign in the park. Click the second of the two snapshots below the Adobe pano to read it. I’ll never think of the fountain in quite the same way.
October 24, 2007
Human flipbooks, Lego films, & more
Of stop motion & time lapses:
- 150 t-shirts + 150 iron-ons + one heck of a lot of precision ironing = the Human Flipbook, created for sandwich chain Erbert & Gerbert. [Via Dustin Black, "Chief Simian Liaison" @ Colle+McVoy]
- Ironic Sans tells the story of Art Binninger, a Star Trek fan who made stop-motion animated Star Trek parody films from 1974 until Paramount put the smack down in 1986. [Via]
- The boxes be flyin’ in "Platform," a stop-motion film. (The stack’s got kind of a Q*bert look to it.) [Via]
- Legos fly together Busby Berkeley-style to create the Millenium Falcon. [Via]
- CNET hosts a gallery of more Lego stop motion. Bohemian Rhapsody ain’t bad.
October 22, 2007
Using Illustrator to print money; more
Illustrator mensch Mordy Golding reports an interesting interaction at a recent show:
After my tutorial this week, one of the attendees approached me, telling me how much he enjoyed the session. Then he told me he’d like to present me with a gift — a quarter. No, he wasn’t trying to bribe me to lobby the Illustrator team for multiple pages. But it was a special quarter indeed, because he designed it.
Check out Mordy’s post for more info & images.
In other illustration news (no real thematic connection here, but that’s what I get for more airport blogging; the audio system has a real Harrison Bergeron effect):
- Move over, Bad Spock; it’s time for Jamar Nicholas’s Fat Wonder Woman Blog. [Via]
- Drawn.ca has uncovered a great 1981 interview with vocal legend Mel Blanc on David Letterman.
- Oh, the childhood memories: Punking the Land O’ Lakes box. [Via] It’s right up there with typing “55378008” into a calculator & looking at it upside down. (Go ahead, I’ll wait.)
- Cinematic bits:
- Something Awful pulps the hell out of flicks with the help of a little Photoshop love. [Via]
- If that’s your bag, it’s time for a healthy, Photoshop-powered Grindhouse breakfast.
- Photojojo’s got 11 Super Awesome Photoshop Movie Effects
- The Washington Post (of all places) hosts anamatics from Shoot ‘Em Up.
- Mutating Pictures uses artificial selection to create faces. “[It's] striving to generate human likenesses out of random blobs — 1000 random pictures have been uploaded to the site… The most human-like are used to spawn 1000 new offspring, mutated from their genome, and so on, until the perfect human face emerges.” [Via]
- Dig these little sign language matchbooks. [Via]
- Mary Robinette Kowal has modified her laptop to look like a typewriter. [Via]
- Adam O’Hern has found some ridiculously cute little gymnasts on a paddle.
October 21, 2007
“Jiggle it” (or, HAL possesses my Mac)
Heh–I’m not sure why I feel compelled to pass this along, other than that it’s a nice counterpoint to the rigor & logic that we associate with computing.
Last night on a plane, I plugged my headphones into my MacBook Pro, only to see a weird red light issuing from the headphone port. The sense that HAL 9000 was now peering out of my Mac was compounded by my just having watched Sunshine, a flick featuring a sometimes disobedient flight computer. The really odd thing was that with this light pouring out, I lost access to my internal speakers. Headphones in: no prob; headphones out: sounds of silence (something something, neon god they made…).
The solution, I learned from a Mac forum, boils down to “jiggle it.” And, what do you know, after jabbing HAL in the eye repeatedly, I once again have working internal speakers. I feel like the Fonz, smacking the jukebox into shape. Anyway, it’s kind of funny that sometimes all this technology gets resolved with a good old-fashioned jiggle.
DVD menus in AE, crystals in Fireworks, more
The Adobe Design Center yells pull and lets some new content-skeet fly*:
* New Galleries:
* New Think Tank:
* New Tutorials:
- Creating calligraphic brushes in Illustrator by David Karlins & Bruce K. Hopkins
- Create an animated DVD menu transition using Encore and After Effects by Bob Donlon
- Redacting text and images in a PDF file by Donna Baker
- Adding cool frame borders to your photos by Scott Kelby
- Creating crystals with Fireworks by Thierry Lorey
Adobe training playas (non-hatas) Luanne Seymour and Jen deHaan are blogging, so check out their sites for fresh material. And as always, check out some of the 1000+ Adobe links on del.icio.us. Info on how to contribute links is here. [Via]
*Look, these intros don’t write themselves; maybe I need to devise a new template…
October 19, 2007
Wicked-cool Wii+Flash-powered hologram-thing
The crew at BLITZ Agency created an amazing interactive video installation for Adobe MAX, using non-traditional input devices to let people paint collaboratively. As they describe it on their blog:
"Adobe Creativity Conducted" Interactive Wall Experience features a holographic-like projection system on which you can paint images and designs using a Nintendo Wii remote control. This full screen Flash application runs in HD resolution, and was premiered during the primary Adobe party of the MAX 07 Conference in Chicago. The experience ran uninterrupted for the duration of the party (4 hours), and received nonstop foot traffic resulting in 68 artistic creations submitted as images to a Flickr account.
I can’t tell you how much stuff like this trips my trigger. I love the way the project makes drawing and painting a full-body 3D experience, and I love the way the SWF interface synthesizes great-looking art playfully. One question, though: Why can’t I do anything like this in Photoshop or Illustrator? What if we could crack open these apps and let people leverage the power of the Flash? Hmm… Erik Natzke has an idea of what that might look like (totally fake, unfortunately, at least for now).
Trying, as ever, to cross the streams,
October 17, 2007
Logo Design = Bullet Magnet
Having just stumbled, sleepy & scruffy*, out of an NYC taxi, I’m amused (and more than a bit sympathetic) to see the drubbing being doled out to the city’s new taxi logo. Having absorbed, oh, ~850 flame-throwing drive-bys about the Photoshop family logo and the CS3 icons, I can empathize with the poor suckas who created this taxi thing, or who just had the, ahem, pleasure of playing the messenger. Sam Potts points out the typically blistering comments visited on the work (and on his & other designers’ takes on it):
Why not open it up to ACTUAL high schoolers? Seeing the work they do, I’m betting they can come up with a much more clever solution than these half-brained doozies some wanna-be designer came up with on his bathroom break.
— Posted by Real Designer
Yeesh. I’m reminded of a joke James Darnell passed along in conjunction with the Photoshop logo flare-up: "How many graphic designers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Any number really: one will do the work and the rest will stand around saying I could’ve done a better job." God help anyone with the guts to put their work up on LogoPond & the like.
I do get a kick out of Sam’s bullet-riddled taxi design. Travis Bickle would feel right at home. [Via Sam]
* Red-eye flights seem to be the universe’s way of punishing my chronic failure to learn that, boy oh boy, it sucks to spend one’s night wedged between ripe, sullen strangers. You’d think I’d get the hint by now.
October 16, 2007
Aperture vs. Lightroom: What do the pros use?
It’s been exactly two years since Apple threw its hat into the professional photography ring with the introduction of Aperture. Adobe responded shortly thereafter with the introduction of Lightroom. So, how does the pro photography market look now?
InfoTrends recently surveyed 1,026 professional photographers in North America to determine which software they used for raw file processing. Here’s what folks reported:
- 66.5% using the Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in
- 23.6% using Lightroom
- 5.5% using Aperture
To be fair to Aperture, it might be helpful to remove Windows users from the equation for a moment. Even after doing so, Lightroom’s usage among Mac-based pros is still nearly double that of Aperture (26.6% vs. 14.3%).
It’s also worth pointing out that photographers haven’t started to abandon Photoshop as a result of using tools such as Lightroom. (Photoshop usage overall remains in the 90% range.) The vast majority of photographers seem to understand pretty clearly the different nature & roles of the apps, and they continue to view Photoshop as a must-have part of any serious arsenal.
Lightroom is clearly off to a tremendous start, and everyone here is really pleased & grateful to the photography community for such a warm welcome.
October 15, 2007
Tuning Photoshop for peak performance
Fast performance, as I’ve said before, is the best possible feature: it just works, without requring you to learn anything or to change how you work. Not surprisingly, it’s always at the top of customers’ lists of requested features.
The Photoshop team works hard to tune the application to run as well as possible for the majority of users, but the ways in which each person uses the can differ pretty wildly. For example, do you tend to open files with small pixel dimensions and lots of layers, or do you tend to work more with large, nearly flat documents? The optimal application settings & hardware setups may differ based on your needs & style of working.
To help shed some light on these topics, Photoshop co-architect Scott Byer & performance lead tester Adam Jerugim presented a popular session at Photoshop World last month. They’ve posted some notes on Scott’s blog, and just this morning Scott uploaded a revised & expanded version of the presentation slide deck (PDF).
New Lightroom Podcasts: Chris Rainier, Steve McCurry
Adobe pro photography evangelist George Jardine has been back in the field, mic in hand, to chat with photography heavyweights. (Note to self: Bump off George, steal his much-cooler-than-mine job. ;-))
- "It [being able to 'see and pre-visualize' in black and white] allowed me to speak of things that were beyond the color spectrum, beyond a certain reality, and go into what I like to call magical realism," says Chris Rainier. George writes,
This podcast was recorded on Saturday October 6th, 2007 at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington D.C. Chris sits down with George to have a conversation about working with Ansel Adams, Chris’s love of the landscape, and his sense of how photography can influence the social issues of our times. He also tells the story of the genesis of the Society’s Cultures initiative, which he currently directs. [The podcast is on George's iDisk under "20071006 Podcast - Chris Rainier"]
- "Some of the great pictures, you just look at them and you marvel at them, for the subject matter and somehow they struck a chord in you," says Steve McCurry. "But it’s rarely about the technique. It’s not about the lens, or the film, or the light necessarily. It’s really just some story in that picture. Some emotional element which you connect with." From George’s description:
This podcast was recorded on Saturday September 29th, 2007 at Steve McCurry’s workshop in NYC. Steve sits down with George to have a conversation about photographing people, and the effort and dedication required to make great photographs. [The podcast is on George's iDisk under "20070929 Podcast - Steve McCurry."]
October 13, 2007
Multitouch, holograms, & other next-gen I/O
- A team at USC has built a holographic “360° Light Field Display” using a spinning mirror, and the resulting video is pretty amazing. Note: Do not attempt to make out with images depicted this way. (I do wonder if you can sing “Iron Man” into it, as you would an oscillating fan.)
- Italian design firm V12 Design+Engineering has come up with an interesting proposal: the Canova dual-display touch-screen notebook computer. Here are additional images, including a mockup of the device running Photoshop. [Via Rob Corell]
- The Ecko LCD bus shelter is designed to let passersby scribble graffiti via Bluetooth-enabled cell phones; here’s a slightly larger image. I’m having trouble finding more on the topic, making me wonder whether it ever got out of the concept phase.
- Helsinki’s CityWall collaborative social space “is a large mutli-touch display installed in a central location in Helsinki which acts as a collaborative and playful interface,” enabling navigation of specially tags media from Flickr & YouTube. [Via]
- The crew at Minimaforms has brought SMS-driven laser writing on smoke to Bristol’s OFFLOAD festival. [Via]
- CNET has posted additional images & details on the Microsoft Surface touch-sensitive screen.
- My old colleague Noah Mittman offers a useful clarification regarding “haptic interfaces”: “For an interface to be haptic, touch must be its output”–not just the input. He points out a crazy haptic glove shown this year at SIGGRAPH. See also this CAD interface that simulates sculpting.
- For more info on how these things have evolved & where they might be going, see Robert Cravotta’s history of gesture interfaces. [Via]
Adobe puts 3D insect eyes on your camera
“Why,” I wondered for a long time, “is a wild-haired Eastern European guy walking around our floor carrying a medium-format camera & a hot glue gun?” The answer, I discovered, is that Adobe research scientist Todor Georgiev* has been working on algorithms for use with a plenoptic camera & was motivated to build his own lenticular lens array.
So, what does any of that mean? The goal is to let cameras capture a moment in time from multiple slightly different perspectives. The resulting image (a series of smaller images, actually) might then enable the photographer to change the focal distance of the photo after the fact, or to use depth information to aid in selecting & editing objects.
News.com has more info & images, and I think the potential comes through best in Audioblog.fr’s video of Adobe VP Dave Story showing off the lens. Gizmodo writes, “It’s a way-cool demo, but it might be a while before you see such a fancy lens on everyday cameras. But a focus brush in Photoshop? Whoa. Sign us up.” [Via Cari Gushiken]
*Okay, his hair seems to be less wild these days, but Todor still kicks out “light reading” like this (PDF). I think I left my copy at the beach.
October 11, 2007
Undersea photography, ancient anatomy, & more
Lots of cool scientific & technical imaging has popped up recently:
- Photoshop’s Twirl filter is no longer a bastion for Internet creeps: The NY Times shares some (but not all) details of how Interpol was able to reverse the common image distortion. Now they’re seeking the public’s help in catching the guy. [Via Leon Brown] (Through some weird cosmic alignment of forces, Google Alerts happened to pop up a tutorial on digitally obscuring faces at just the same time.)
- Photoshop & fish tales: digital imaging & sport fishing don’t go hand in hand, according to BountyFishing.com. The NYT has more info on how these folks worked with Prof. Hany Farid (see previous) to detect misrepresentations. [Via Rob Corell]
- Edited by documentary filmmaker Claire Nouvian, The Deep "features more than 200 photos of the insanely strange and beautiful denizens of our oceans." Smithsonian.com features a small gallery of the images, plus an article covering the project.
- Nikon’s Small World competition has been honoring terrific microscopic photography for more than 30 years. Check out a gallery of this year’s winners. [Via]
- It’s fun to compare these modern depictions of the natural world against Arcana Entomologica and the Handbook of Animal Anatomy, both courtesy of BibliOdyssey.
- Elsewhere in the world of archaic technical materials, the National Institutes of Health have posted high-res scans of public domain anatomical atlases. I used to love incorporating stuff like this into my designs. (Thanks, dead artists of antiquity!) [Via]
- Science Magazine has announced their 2007 visualization challenge winners.
- NASA’s Cassini probe is sending back detailed pictures of Saturn’s moons.
- One other NASA note: the International Space Station site picked up a 2007 MAX Award from Adobe. The site features 360-degree views of the inside of several space station modules, and the first update is due to go live tomorrow.
October 10, 2007
Fixes for Photoshop printing due soon
[Update: Photoshop 10.0.1 for CS3 is now available. Here's more info.]
We know that many people have been unhappy with printing from Photoshop CS3 (overwhelmingly on Windows), and we’ve been working on changes that will make things work better. Unfortunately the process isn’t as quick as we’d like, given the sheer number of hardware, printer driver, and operating system combinations. We’ve made some changes & will be issuing an update to Photoshop CS3, but it’s not quite ready to be shared with the world at large.
If, however, you’re experiencing printing problems & would like to test the current code, please
drop me a note [update: get the update]. I’ll then ask our pre-release coordinator to send you an invitation, after which you can download the latest build and send us your feedback.
I’m sorry that things have been more painful than they should be, and I hope this process helps get fixes into the hands of those who need them.
After Effects is known for its crazy-powerful timeline, but lurking below the surface is a great deal of power that’s accessible via scripting. Manny Tan has taken a break from his usual Flash-based work in order to create a really lovely example of what can be done by driving animation programmatically. [Via Matthew Richmond]
If the prospect of driving AE via code is up your alley, check out AEnhancers.com, a community of people creating expressions, sharing tutorials and presets, and more. [Via Dennis Radeke, who points out a number of free AE plug-ins]
InDesign vs. Photoshop Smackdown
Pitting Adobe’s imaging & page-layout flagships against one another seems a little wonky (kind of a Celebrity Deathmatch, minus the clay & gore), but by doing so Peachpit’s Mike McHugh shows off some of the power hidden in InDesign. The battle, in six rounds, hits the following:
- Recoloring Grayscale Artwork
- Recoloring RGB Artwork
- Creating Reflections
- Applying Special Effects
- Creating Vignettes
- Generating Contact Sheets
I wouldn’t necessarily agree that ID beats PS on some of these points (cough), but the core imaging juice shared between the two enables ID to perform some neat tricks. And when it comes to generating contact sheets (with a hand-off from Bridge), InDesign just trounces Photoshop–as well it should. [Via]
[Update: Mordy Golding has posted an Illustrator vs. InDesign Smackdown on his blog.]
October 09, 2007
Create grids easily in Photoshop, Fireworks
Grid-based Web design has gained currency as a best practice, as articulated by various experts. For example:
- Mark Boulton talks about why to use a grid, and he offers Five Simple Steps to designing grid systems.
- NYTimes.com design director Khoi Vinh shares his approach.
- Mark & Khoi elaborate on their techniques in the SXSW presentation “Grids Are Good” (8MB PDF).
Now Andrew Ingram has stepped up with GridMaker for Photoshop, a script that enables easy creation of a grid comprised of Photoshop guides. He’s also created a version for Fireworks using a Flash-based panel. Many thanks for your efforts here, Andrew.
Elsewhere Matthew Pennell has created a Web-hosted approach to grid generation, complete with a nice set of draggable sliders. It would be cool to see someone combine these approaches, using a Flash UI inside Photoshop to drive the guide-creation script. [Via my old roommate Khoi Uong; doppel-Khoi powers, activate!]
October 08, 2007
TiltViewer: 3D Flash interface to Flickr
Felix Turner, creator of the all kinds of clean, lovely Flash photo displays (e.g. the Flickr Related Tag Browser, SimpleViewer, and PostcardViewer) returns with TiltViewer, an experimental interface that presents photos from Flickr’s "Interestingness" stream. Clicking the icon on any image makes it possible to flip it over, see notes, and jump to the corresponding Flickr page (which I did for this groovy shot). For details of the project, check out Felix’s blog. For another great way to peruse Flickr, check out PicLens.
Keywording improvements in Bridge 2.1
People managing large asset collections–especially photographers with lots of photos–have long requested finer-grained control over the way keywords are applied to & stored within their files. Now a new technote on Adobe.com documents the changes & improvements in Bridge 2.1:
The keywords panel is enhanced significantly in the Adobe Bridge CS3 2.1 release. The primary enhancement is the addition of support for nested keyword hierarchies. In previous versions of Bridge, only a single level of nesting was supported. Bridge also now allows the hierarchical information to be written with the keywords. There are also new ways to find keywords quickly in your keyword hierarchy and to add new keywords at any level in the hierarchy. Additionally, Bridge now provides a way to import and export the keywords defined in the keyword panel.
Check out the doc for more details, and please let us know if there are ways in which you’d like to see keywording further improved in Bridge and/or Lightroom.
Thug fonts, Queequeg, Elvish, & more
- Call him Quinnqueg: Justin Quinn’s typographic art (more here) is inspired by the doomed obsessiveness found in Moby-Dick: “By repeating a spiraling, swirling labyrinthian structure, Quinn places himself in the role of Ahab who continually redraws his charts which travel nowhere and only to go into themselves.” Oh, and he uses only the letter E. [Via]
- It’s a typographic neutron bomb: Nike France zaps the person, leaving only artifacts & letters.
- The clean, curvaceous strokes of Marian Bantjes swirl through a whole campaign for Saks. [Via Maria Brenny]
- Dig the striking type & art direction in The Economist’s latest campaign.
- In Dr. Copperplate & Mr. Gothic, Armin Vit ponders good uses of the often-abused Copperplate Gothic. [Via]
- LL Tipografia offers some tasty wares; love the little running man in LL SanSiro.
- To create Ballers Delight, Mr. Chank Diesel led 50 workshop participants through some old-fashioned arts & crafts: “Each individual letter was constructed out of beads and gems on small canvas boards measuring 5″x7″. Letters were then photographed and the resulting pics were used for making a thuggish new grunge font with a big hip-hop influence.”
- Speaking of grunge fonts, check out StereoType‘s “Bagpack.” [Via]
- If you’ve been needing Elvish fonts (it’s okay–you know who you are), DaFont’s got your back. [Via]
October 07, 2007
Let’s honor socially significant design
Through a design competition called cause/affect, the SF chapter of AIGA seeks to "celebrate the work of designers and organizations who set out to positively impact our society." If you’re using your design skills for the betterment of life, the universe, and everything, or if you know of someone who is doing so, consider submitting your work (see the FAQ for details). The deadline is November 9, and the awards ceremony will be held in SF on December 4. [Via]
viewAt.org: Flash-based panorama sharing
The folks at viewAt.org have carved out an interesting mission for themselves: letting photographers around the world share their panoramas as interactive Flash creations. Citing the ubiquity of Flash over QuickTime, the site creators have devised a system whereby photogs can upload their panoramas, make them interactive (see instructions), and plot them on the Earth via Google Maps. Site co-creator
Bernard Custard Gascó writes:
This project is totally free for anyone who wishes to upload their
panoramas and has the advantage of offering your uploads in Flash, thanks to a system developed by Denis Chumakov. Besides this, you can promote
your own website integrated on Google Earth.
Needless to say, you have complete control over your own work, and
obviously all rights are yours. By means of a simple code number, you can
insert the panoramas on your web page and authorize those which you allow
others to download.
Click around the map on the main page to view panos from all around the world. Very cool work, guys.
October 06, 2007
Full-screen Flash slideshows come to Photoshop
I’m pleased to report that designer/developer Todd Dominey has connected his excellent SlideShowPro Web gallery technology to Photoshop. SlideShowPro is a highly customizable Flash component that works with Flash MX 2004 and above, enabling Flash authors to create slick SWF galleries that support goodness like full-screen mode (click the button in the lower-right corner of the gallery on the home page) and streaming audio (example).
Now it’s possible to use Photoshop to batch-resize images & generate the XML file needed to power a gallery. Scripts for Photoshop CS2 & CS3 are downloadable from the site by anyone who purchases SlideShowPro ($29.95).
Adobe “Thermo”: Photoshop -> RIA
In my pre-Adobe job, I lost countless hours turning complex Photoshop PSD files into something ready to animate in Flash. In fact, the pain of that process is largely what drove me to work at Adobe, trying to devise something more efficient. Flash CS3 marks a giant step forward in its ability to suck in PSDs & turn them into layers and symbols. That’s great, but what if you’re a designer working with Adobe Flex to build rich Internet apps? The hand-off right now isn’t so seamless.
The need to turn designs into interactive apps quickly is what’s driving development of a new Adobe application code-named “Thermo” and sneak-peeked at Adobe MAX. To borrow Sean Corfield’s nice summary:
The much anticipated “Thermo” was next. As expected, this is a designer-focused application for creating Flex applications. Starting with a Photoshop PSD file, Thermo imported this and converted it to MXML. Design elements can then be selected and with a simple right-click they can be converted from artwork to Flex controls. The automatic inference of design-time data sets so you could test UI interactions with “real” data was very impressive. You really cannot appreciate the impact this had on the audience – it drew a huge amount of applause and loud cheers! [Via]
To see the tool in action, check out Aral Balkan’s videos & notes from the keynote.
Update: Here’s perspective from Adobe Chief Software Architect Kevin Lynch:
[Thermo is] for people who are using tools like Illustrator or Photoshop and have a background in interface design and want to create a great experience for someone. But they are primarily a designer… [T]he designer can not only draw what the application looks like, but they can also add the interactivity for how it works. The magic of what we’re showing with Thermo right now is that you can select elements that are just pictures on the drawing and you can say this actually represents a list box, or this represents a text edit field and we put the logic to convert the picture into a work component.
Use AE+Flash to create interactive video
News about After Effects always proves popular with the Flash crowd that stops by here, so I thought I’d pass along AE Product Manager Michael Coleman’s tips on Creating Interactive Video with After Effects and Flash. The 40-minute presentation talks about using AE’s motion tracker to generate cue points that tell the SWF what to do, among other things.
Writing this in 2007, I still can’t quite believe that AE’s chocolate is getting into Flash’s peanut butter, so to speak. Back in 1999, during my previous gig, I started browbeating people at Adobe & Macromedia to make these tools work together, and with CS3 it’s finally happening. I think this is just the beginning of what AE & Flash will be able to do in tandem.
For more tutorial content on AE, Premiere Pro, Flash, and other timeline-related things, check out Dennis Radeke’s Genesis Project.
October 03, 2007
Details of online Photoshop Express emerge
Last night at MAX, Adobe’s Geoff Baum got on stage during the sneak peek session to show off a bit more of Photoshop Express. Boy, things have come a long way in the few weeks since the sneak at Photoshop World, and last night’s demo showed Healing Brush- & Liquify-like tools running via the app’s Flash interface. CNET’s Martin LaMonica has details & screenshots. (Update: Here’s a video recording of the session:
[Via Stephen Shankland])
The company is still being somewhat coy (as is par for the course when previewing technology), but as info firms up, I’ll pass it along.
Gratuitous addendum: I like seeing that former LiveMotion/Vanishing Point developer Steve Troppoli continues the Boston office tradition of inserting one’s fly Volvo into demos. Somewhere, the Flavawagon (which lives forever, in tiny form, within Photoshop’s Web Photo Gallery) smiles.
Sweet Flash-Flickr-Illustrator mash-up
The effervescent Dr. Woohoo (known to some as Drew Trujillo) has created a nifty integration of Flickr & Illustrator, combined by way of a Flash panel (palette). You can now search Flickr from within Illustrator CS3, then turn photos into color swatches. The project can also search Drew’s In The Mod color analytics project, and it enables sorting swatches by hue, saturation, or brightness. He writes,
[The script] will launch a popup panel and loads the SWF file. Enter a tag to search and retrieve images from Flickr. Select the thumbnail image you would view the color palettes for by clicking on the thumbnail icon. The scroll pane will slide over to make room for the visualization view. If you like the colors and want to add them to your AI Swatches Panel, click on the AI icon in the lower right corner. That’s it!
Check out Drew’s blog post to see a video of the mash-up in action. It’s yet another cool, useful example of what can happen by leveraging the Flash Platform within desktop tools.
October 02, 2007
Adobe unveils Hydra imaging technology
Greetings from the show floor at Adobe MAX*. During the keynote yesterday, the Flash team revealed some really interesting news–what I think may be the sleeper announcement of the show: the Flash Player is being equipped to run Hydra, a new graphics programming language from Adobe. [Update: You can see the technology demoed in this video, starting around 5:30.]
Instead of running just the built-in drop shadows, blurs, etc. that were added in version 8, Flash (and by extension Adobe AIR) will now be able to run an essentially unlimited number of imaging effects. Hydra is tuned to run ridiculously fast on modern graphics cards (GPUs), and it’ll be tuned for multi-core CPUs as well. You can download a free beta of the Adobe Image Foundation (AIF) Toolkit from Labs and get started creating your own Hydra-based filters.
Here’s a key point, though: the same Hydra technology is being used to power the fast filters in After Effects CS3. Therefore an AE plug-in developer could effectively also develop runtime effects for Flash, while a Flash developer could leverage her work inside AE. And wouldn’t it be something if that same work could run in other Adobe apps that crunch pixels (I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…).
Here are some quick screenshots of Hydra running inside the AIF Toolkit, which allows you to write & preview code in one environment. Developers have already started to share their code, and AIF/Hydra engineering manager Kevin Goldsmith has posted a bit more info on his blog.
Kevin will talk through the engineering details in a 3pm session tomorrow at MAX (see below).
[Update 2: Kevin has just uploaded his slide deck from MAX, featuring example filters, code walkthroughs, and more.]
*The WiFi here is free, but you get what you pay for, and I haven’t gotten it to work all day. Therefore I’ve surreptitiously snagged an Ethernet cable out of the back of one of these “PDF Kiosks.” Guerilla blogging at its finest…