January 02, 2008

Non-destructive imaging: Easy as PIE

"Over the last couple of decades," writes photographer and author Peter Krogh, "the term non-destructive has been applied to many different
kinds of imaging technologies. While the term is useful as a broad classification, it covers so much ground that it can often add more confusion than clarity…"

With an eye towards helping identify which type of non-destructive imaging offers the best tools for given tasks, Peter has written an interesting and thorough overview (PDF) of what, exactly, entails "non-destructive imaging."  In it he proposes some terminology–e.g. Parametric Image Editing, or "PIE"–to help distinguish one kind of approach from another.  Thanks to Peter for all the hard work in parsing the issues & proposing clearer ways to talk about them.

The paper joins others in Adobe’s collection of Adobe digital photography white papers and primers.  The paper have been very well received, and you might find them worth browsing.

Posted by John Nack at 5:24 PM on January 02, 2008

Comments

  • rich — 6:42 PM on January 02, 2008

    You can do non-destructive editing with lots of great filters right in After Effects!

  • gd — 2:21 PM on January 03, 2008

    Great white paper, but it highlights an “issue” I have with Lightroom: its mechanism for resolving metadata conflicts between the catalog and the file is, at best, a blunt instrument.

  • Rich MacDonald — 6:20 PM on January 06, 2008

    This looks like a fantastic paper.
    For a few years I’ve been quite interested in how rendering metadata could extend the creative usefulness of Photoshop. Smart ojbects seemed very promising, but I run into a few problems with it in practice:

    Due to Adobe’s decision to embed smart object source data inside the parent file, things can start to get sluggish with multiple smart objects in the same file.
    Transformation options are more limited (i.e. no perspective)
    Re-rendering of all smart filters happens on some operations (e.g. Canvas resize) even if the layer visibility is off. Normally fast operations become extremely slow because of this.

    What I’d love to have is an alternative to smart objects where layers are just normal layers but have rendering metadata attached to them, so if you want to re-render from scratch for some reason (e.g. tweaking free transform of layer too much over time, wanting to change shadow/highlight setting done earlier) you can. More or less, this would be a special action or script that is associated with a specific layer, just as layer masks and vector masks are attached channels and paths, respectively. Or alternatively it could be thought of as a history list for operations done on a particular layer.
    I’ve been working on adding this functionality, with some success, using vector masks, layer names, and text layers to store various types of rendering metadata. With it I can re-render layers from scratch, loading external or internally stored originals and reapplying filter and free transform instructions to them. In my case, having a lazy re-rendering option in addition to smart-objects is extremely helpful. I’d love to see such functionality built into Photoshop at some point.

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