December 03, 2013

Flash Pro now exports HTML5 canvas

“Adobe isn’t in the Flash business, it’s in the helping people communicate business.”

So I wrote three+ years ago, and I meant it. Flash, Photoshop, and every other tool/technology is just a means to an end. Now that Web browser technology is maturing (with Adobe’s help), Flash Professional can export interactive animations as HTML5 content. Check it out:

The team writes,

The new HTML5 Canvas support lets you create interactive content leveraging well-established Flash Pro paradigms of timeline, frame-scripts and creation tools, all customized for the HTML5 Canvas platform. Add frame-script using native support for JavaScript including code-hinting, code-coloring, and more.

Check out more details here, or download the free trial.

[YouTube]

11:28 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

September 06, 2012

Atari uses Flash Pro to make… HTML5?

The job’s never been about Flash per se; it’s been about helping people express themselves & solve problems. Flash Professional (the authoring tool) is a great way for animators to create assets for multiple runtimes (HTML or Flash Player):

The project involved creating multitudes of animated assets to create touch-friendly games with rich content. Yes, you guessed it right, Flash Professional CS6 along with the Toolkit for CreateJS extension and some custom JSFL was used to carry out this mammoth task of preparing assets.

Here’s more info.

8:09 AM | Permalink | No Comments

July 30, 2012

See Flash get good at making HTML5

Live demo/Q&A, Friday at noon Pacific: 

Senior Product Manager Tom Barclay will show you powerful new capabilities in Adobe Flash Professional CS6, including the Toolkit for CreateJS extension that lets you easily convert Flash content to HTML5. Join us and learn what’s new, as well as interacting with the pros from our team.

7:51 AM | Permalink | No Comments

July 03, 2012

Adobe on HTML5: “We’re trying to go beyond what you can do with Flash.”

Cool, right? Flash is & was always just a means to an end (helping people express themselves, and making money selling tools to do so). Adobe continues to pour manpower into bringing Flash innovations (hardware-accelerated filters, better typography, etc.) to HTML. Check out CNET’s interview with engineering manager Arno Gourdol for more details for what we’re doing with blending modes, SVG, and more.

Oh, and if you want to help us move things along, see my next post.

10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments [10]

March 30, 2012

Creating HTML Canvas content with Flash Pro

Let’s get a lot more people making animated HTML5 content. To do that, we need to lower the barriers to entry. Letting the hundreds of thousands of people with Flash skills leverage those skills is a good solid step. Flash PM Tom Barclay shows how the Toolkit for CreateJS can help smooth the transition from ActionScript development to the JavaScript world.

And here Christian Cantrell goes into a bit more depth around things like sprite sheets:

8:03 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

March 09, 2012

You’ll never believe this was done in Flash

Or that it’s shown running on an iPad. It was & it is, though. Long live the new Stage 3D:

Get the app here. [Via Tomas Krcha]

9:13 AM | Permalink | Comments [10]

December 10, 2011

Adobe’s sticking with Flex, investigating HTML5, for CS extensibility

PM Gabriel Tavridis shares some thoughts on where things are headed. Key points:

  • The Creative Suite SDK and CS Extension Builder will continue to be developed and enhanced with new features and support for Creative Suite applications.
  • We will make CS Extension Builder available through the Adobe Store at a compelling price point. We want the tool to become broadly available, so that every Creative Suite developer can enjoy its benefits.
  • We will continue our investigation on new technologies (e.g. HTML5) for extension development and occasionally share our findings with the developer community. We want to be transparent with the community and keep you involved in our planning.

All these tools & runtimes are just means to an end–specifically, that Photoshop and other apps get really well tailored to your needs. Your feedback is always welcome.

3:26 AM | Permalink | Comments [7]

November 16, 2011

Google: “Flash developers: Export to HTML5 with new Swiffy extension”

Like the idea of turning Flash Professional projects into HTML5, but don’t want to wait for a new version of Flash to ship?  Try Google’s new Swiffy plug-in for Flash CS4 or higher. Developer Esteban de la Canal writes,

The extension enables you to convert your animation to HTML5 with one click (or keyboard shortcut). The extension is available for both Mac and Windows, and it uses Swiffy as a web service, so you’ll always get our latest and greatest conversion. Information about the conversion process is shown within Flash Professional.

By the way, a number of comments on my related post Monday highlighted current challenges and shortcomings with HTML5 work (portability, file size, etc.). It strikes me that the only way forward is to improve the standards and the browsers.  If you think something sucks, jump in and contribute ideas and code, like Adobe’s doing. [Via]

12:29 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

November 14, 2011

Check out Flash Pro generating HTML5

Let’s get a lot more people making animated HTML5 content. To do that, we need to lower the barriers to entry.  That means making content run reliably across browsers, and letting the hundreds of thousands of people with Flash skills apply those skills to a new output format.

Because HTML is so broadly useful (Web pages, mobile apps, magazines, etc.), there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. In this 10-minute demo, Adobe VP Paul Gubbay shows:

  • Animating in the new Adobe Edge app (download it from Labs)
  • Turning that output into an app using PhoneGap [jump]
  • Using Flash Professional to export animation as HTML [jump]
  • Running CSS Shaders in WebKit [jump]
  • Enabling “liquid layout” from InDesign [jump]

 

 

I find the Flash Pro HTML export demo especially exciting, because it helps you reach your audience across configurations (e.g. letting an ad run with or without Flash installed), and it helps migrate content from Flash into HTML.

I should emphasize that this technology remains a work in progress, but here’s some of what I’ve learned:

  • This path will be most useful for relatively simple pieces–think ads, microsites, & other animated branded experiences, not complex games.
  • Output will be editable in Edge where it can be choreographed with other Edge motion content and where you can add interactivity in JavaScript. Flash Pro can play to its strengths, such as frame-by-frame character animations, feeding these into Edge.
  • The Flash Pro team is experimenting with converting ActionScript to JavaScript, again with ads being a key use case.
  • Sprite sheet export (see separate demo) will be useful across a variety of tools & runtimes (CSS, Canvas, Starling, and more).

I find all this extremely exciting. What’s your take? Anything else Adobe should be doing here?

 

PS–This demo was excerpted from last week’s Adobe financial analysts meeting. You might find some of the complete recordings & slide decks interesting. (Paul spoke during the David Wadhwani segment.)

11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments [18]

November 10, 2011

Mike Chambers on Flash Professional & the Future

Veteran Flash developer & evangelist Mike Chambers has posted a note addressing the future of Adobe’s Flash Professional product:

The rumor is that the entire Flash Authoring team was laid off and that we are no longer developing Flash Professional.

Both of these rumors are false.

We are actively working on the next version of Flash Professional and have a long term commitment to its continued development.

Mike goes on to mention some of the features being built, including HTML5 export. (I hope to share more details on that one shortly.) Please see his post for details & to ask any questions.

5:56 PM | Permalink | Comments [16]

November 09, 2011

“Flash to Focus on PC/Mac Browsing & Mobile Apps; Adobe to More Aggressively Contribute to HTML5″

Adobe VP Danny Winokur has published an official piece on how Adobe is pushing hard on HTML5 for mobile Web browsing, discontinuing work on Flash Player for mobile. I’m not an official Adobe spokesperson, and I don’t work on Flash, so please direct any comments to Danny’s post.

8:32 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

September 12, 2011

Swiffy Flash-to-HTML5 converter updated

Speaking of HTML5 tooling, Google has updated Swiffy, the experimental (and open source) Flash-to-HTML5 converter:

Swiffy now supports shape tweening and drop shadow, blur and glow filters, all using SVG, CSS and JavaScript. Some of these filters can be seen in action in this Chrome ad (on a browser with SVG filter support).

[Via]

9:58 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

September 09, 2011

CNET: “Flash-derived iPad game tops App Store charts”

Congratulations to the developers of the beautifully illustrated Machinarium:

Gaming evangelist Tom Krcha has posted an interview with the designers & some behind-the-scenes photos.

It’s funny how things change: As CNET’s Stephen Shankland points out, “A year ago, the app wouldn’t have been allowed under Apple’s rules. But now Apple is getting $1.50 each time another person downloads Machinarium.” (I’m not trying to start some flame war here–at all. I do however like seeing Adobe technology help creative folks bring their work to more people.)

4:14 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

September 06, 2011

New 64-bit Flash Player accelerates 3D

A new prerelease version of Flash Player 11 is available for testing on Adobe Labs.  Key features include faster 3D gaming performance, as demonstrated by toolmakers Unity (whose gaming dev tools will target Flash Player).

10:57 PM | Permalink | No Comments

August 17, 2011

HTML5, Flash, 3D meetings in SF this week

Quick note to Web developers in San Francisco: Tonight there’s meeting of GamesJS (focusing on using HTML5 & JavaScript for game development), and tomorrow there’s a San Flashcisco meeting covering the Molehill 3D work in Flash Player 11. See Doug Winnie’s blog for details.

4:16 AM | Permalink | No Comments

August 01, 2011

Download Adobe’s new HTML5 animation tool

I joined Adobe specifically to build a Web-standards-based animation & interactivity app. Great thought, but we were a decade off base about when browsers would actually be ready to play ball.

That time has come, and the company is today releasing the first preview version of Adobe Edge, a fast, lightweight way to add life to your sites. Feature highlights in this release:

  • Create new compositions with Edge’s drawing and text tools.
  • Animate position, size, color, shape, rotation and more at the property level.
  • Bring motion to existing HTML files while preserving the integrity of CSS-based HTML layouts. (Edge stores all of its animation in a separate JavaScript file that cleanly distinguishes the original HTML from Edge’s animation code.)
  • Copy and paste transitions, invert them, and choose from over 25 built-in easing effects.

Check out Edge in action:

Additionally, Adobe has launched The Expressive Web, a site showing off some of the cool stuff you can make modern browsers do, especially by using Adobe tools like Edge and Dreamweaver CS 5.5. Here’s a demo:

Lastly, I don’t want to get into any tedious “Flash vs. HTML5″ blah-blah here, though I do see that angle still bubbling up on link-baiting sites.  For that reason it’s worth noting that both Dreamweaver & GoLive were pushing Web animation starting in the 90’s, that Adobe championed SVG early on, and that it has been a main contributor helping to improve jQuery and lots of other HTML/JS/CSS tech.  Point is, Adobe’s been driving both rich, animated HTML and Flash for 15 years, and the company will keep evolving both to address different customer needs.

Meanwhile, we hope you like what you see in Edge, and we’d be grateful for your feedback. (Oh, and if you create some cool stuff with it, please show off a link in the comments; thanks.)

Related resource: Devnet on HTML5

11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments [17]

July 28, 2011

News for Suite developers

You can control Photoshop using Flash, Flex, and AIR, much like the various Photoshop Touch apps do. Check out developer Daniel Koestler’s detailed write-up for more info.

On a related note, a CS Extension Builder Trial version will be available soon, and you can sign up for notification via the team blog.  Extension Builder is essentially a custom version of Flash Builder that makes it easy to extend Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and other apps.

 

9:26 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

July 21, 2011

Lion: Flash video acceleration works just fine

Flash PM Rob Christensen clarifies:

The final release of Mac OS X Lion (10.7) provides the same support for Flash hardware video acceleration as Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6).  The previous “Known Issue” described in a tech note suggesting that video hardware acceleration was disabled in Lion was incorrect and based on tests with a pre-release version of Mac OS X Lion that related to only one particular Mac GPU configuration.  We continue to work closely with Apple to provide Flash Player users with a high quality experience on Mac computers.

8:16 PM | Permalink | No Comments

July 13, 2011

64-bit Flash Player 11 accelerates 3D, more

You can download a beta version of the new Flash Player 11 from Adobe Labs. Highlights include:

  • Stage3D APIs — A new set of low-level, GPU-accelerated 3D APIs enable advanced 3D experiences and improved 2D performance across devices.
  • 64-bit support — Support for 64-bit operating systems and browsers on Linux, Mac OS, and Windows.
  • G.711 audio compression for telephony — Integrate voice/telephony into business apps using G.711 codec.
  • H.264/AVC SW Encoding — Encode higher quality video locally using H.264 video.
  • Socket Progress Events — Build advanced file sharing apps like FTP clients that send large amounts of data.
  • HD surround sound — Deliver full HD videos with 7.1 channel surround sound directly to AIR powered TVs.

 

More features are listed here, and you can check out Flash Player PM Thibault Imbert’s post for more background & detail on the features.

 

12:35 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

May 07, 2011

Animation: Tim Minchin’s “Storm” rant

This funny, profane beat poetry eats like a meal, and it was beautifully animated by Dan C. Turner using After Effects, Flash, Photoshop, and a Wacom Cintiq.

See the project site for more info. [Via David Simons]

9:09 AM | Permalink | Comments [8]

March 07, 2011

“Wallaby” Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool now available

Adobe’s job is to help you solve problems, not to get hung up on one technology vs. another.

Millions of people have honed their Web animation skills in Flash, and now their customers want content that can run anywhere, including on non-Flash-enabled devices. Accordingly Adobe’s releasing “Wallaby,” an experimental Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool. For now it’s aimed at WebKit-based browsers (notably Safari & Chrome):

The focus for this initial version of Wallaby is to do the best job possible of converting typical banner ads to HTML5. Wallaby does a good job of converting graphical content along with complex, timeline-based animation to HTML5 in a form that can be viewed with browsers using a WebKit rendering engine. Supported WebKit browsers include Chrome and Safari on OSX, Windows, and iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod).

Wallaby’s design goal was not to produce final-form HTML ready for deployment to web pages. Instead it focuses on converting the rich animated graphical content into a form that can easily be imported into other web pages in development with web page design tools like Dreamweaver.

The tool is new & presently limited (e.g. no ActionScript conversion), but the team welcomes your feedback on how it should evolve.

Having come here specifically to build standards-based Web animation software*, I’m delighted to see this release and a ton of other HTML5 initiatives from Adobe. As long as the company puts solving customer needs ahead of politics, I predict good things.

Update: Here’s the original demo from Wallaby’s sneak peek back in October:

* Back then, in 2000, we were assured that widespread SVG support was *riiiight* around the corner. Sometimes it takes a while for reality to catch up with on-paper standards; c’est la guerre.

10:56 PM | Permalink | Comments [18]

January 20, 2011

New GuideGuide panel sets columns & grids in Photoshop

Designer Cameron McEfee has created “GuideGuide, a columns, rows and midpoints panel for Photoshop CS4 & CS5.”

The tool sets margins, columns, and midpoints, and it even pays attention to active selections. I’ve only kicked the tires a bit, but the panel seems solid and useful. Do note that because it sets each guide separately, setting numerous guides may fill up your undo stack (meaning that you won’t be able to undo operations prior to creating the guides). I’ll look into whether that’s something that could be addressed in the script.

In any event, nice work & thanks, Cameron. [Via Joel Eby]

[PS: The panel was done in Flash. Just thought the haters would like to know.]

8:40 AM | Permalink | Comments [24]

January 16, 2011

Integrating Flash with iPhone, Kinect

The smart folks at BLITZ–the same ones who built the really cool Wiimote/Flash painting tool a couple of years back–have made it possible to use a Microsoft Kinect device to control a Flash SWF:

Meanwhile, the developers of flying game kijjaa! have figured out how to make a browser-based Flash game that’s controlled via an iPhone’s accelerometer:

8:21 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

December 15, 2010

Flash video gets dramatically more efficient

Flash Player didn’t start out trying to become the world’s most popular video player, but life takes some interesting turns.  Instead of just playing linear media files, Flash makes video part of a flexible rendering pipeline. Engineer Mike Melanson posted an excellent summary earlier this year:

In addition to decoding the data, [Flash] has to convert YUV data to the RGB colorspace and combine the image with other Flash elements. Then it has to cooperate with another application (web browser) to present the video to the user… It plays linear media files from start to finish while combining the video with a wide array of graphical and interactive elements (buttons, bitmaps, vector graphics, filters), as well as providing network, webcam, and microphone facilities, all programmable via a full-featured scripting language.

Good news, though: the new Flash Player 10.2 (download the beta) offers a new, video-playback-optimized mode called Stage Video.  Building on top of the GPU acceleration added earlier this year, Stage Video can

leverage complete hardware acceleration of the video rendering pipeline, from video decoding to scaling/blitting, enabling best-in-class playback performance. Stage Video can dramatically decrease processor usage and enables higher frame rates, reduced memory usage, and greater pixel fidelity and quality.

Here’s a demo* showing a 10X reduction (!) in CPU usage:

Stage Video requires Flash developers to update the code in video players, so simply updating to the new player won’t automatically improve CPU usage on all sites, but YouTube has already updates its player & others will follow. If you’re a Flash developer and want to start experimenting, check out this tutorial from Lee Brimelow.

* For some reason the audio/video sync in the footage is slightly screwed up. That’s a problem with the source video file, not with Flash Player.

8:16 AM | Permalink | Comments [54]

November 12, 2010

Flash Player’s adding hardware-accelerated 3D

“Flash will innovate or die,” I wrote earlier this year. “I’m betting on innovation,” and that’s paying off.

Flash Player is used to deliver something like 70% of all online games, and its 3D chops about to grow much more powerful. At MAX the team announced “Molehill,” a new set of low-level, GPU-accelerated 3D APIs that work across screens (desktops, phones, TVs, etc.). Here’s a sample demo:

Flash Player PM Thibault Imbert shares more info & demos here:

And for a deeper dive, check out this presentation from engineering manager Kevin Goldsmith.

6:54 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

October 29, 2010

Photoshop.com, Dreamweaver add HTML5 video playback

I’ve seen some requests for Adobe TV to add HTML5 video playback support.  That’s indeed in the works, though I don’t have a schedule to share.

In the meantime, Adobe’s photo- and video-sharing site, Photoshop.com, has added HTML5 video support.  Here’s a random video* you can check out on play on any device that supports Flash or H.264-encoded HTML5 video.

Elsewhere, the Dreamweaver team has released the HTML5 Video Player widget.  The widget leverages both browser support & Flash Player as needed to ensure playback:

Code generated from the widget plays video in the best possible player for the requested platform using a range of video codecs. Based on the Kaltura open source library, the HTML5 Video Player widget is fully cross-browser compatible with support for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera. [Update: technical details here.]

 

I have to say, all this absurd zero-sum “Flash vs. HTML5 video” stuff makes me laugh (which is better than making me angry, as it used to do). [Background: H.264 isn’t an alternative to Flash]  Flash is a big reason that H.264 is ascendant, because by serving H.264 video, publishers can reach 98% of desktop machines through Flash, and reach non-Flash-enabled devices via HTML5.  Do you think we’d see that uptake if the content were viewable by only the <15% that use Chrome or Safari?  “Flash remains the dominant player within desktop environments,” and now viewers & publishers have more choices about how to use video online.  That’s all good.  (Er, I mean, it’s all bad and Flash is doomed; sorry, I went off script there for a minute.)

At the end of the day, you want to watch what you want, on whatever device you want. Through its publishing tools, servers, and players, Adobe’s working to get you what you want.

 

*In case you’re curious, Photoshop.com PM Jordan Davis was decorating his baby son’s room & experimenting with time lapse creation.

 

 

1:31 PM | Permalink | Comments [7]

October 28, 2010

Adobe demos Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool

Where there’s pain, there’s opportunity.

Pre-Adobe, I made my living building rich, Flash-intensive sites for Gucci, Coca-Cola, Nike, and other big brands. Doing that job today, I’d be in a jam: How could I create rich experiences that run on desktops (where Flash is the obvious, consistent (cross-browser/-platform) choice) and on iOS devices where Flash isn’t allowed? I’d have to create two versions of a everything–one Flash, and one HTML5*. Good luck getting clients to double their budgets, though, and yet they don’t want richness cut in half.

So, the opportunity: Cut the cost of targeting multiple runtimes & we’ll deliver real wins: more richness for clients, and a competitive advantage for customers.

Check out what engineer Rik Cabanier showed (just a tech demo, no promises, etc.) during MAX sneak peeks Tuesday night:

 

[You can skip the last minute--unless you happen to want to glimpse William Shatner watching the demo.]

 
Are you surprised? Don’t be. As I’ve written many times, Adobe lives or dies by its ability to help customers solve real problems. That means putting pragmatism ahead of ideology.

Flash is great for a lot of things, and this week’s demos showed it’s only improving. It’s not the only game in town, however, and Adobe makes its money selling tools, not giving away players. Let’s help people target whatever media** they need, as efficiently as possible.

 
* Someone will probably start quibbling with the use of “HTML5″ as a stand-in for SVG, CSS3, Canvas, etc. I know, I know. I use the umbrella term in the loose, commonly understood sense: “Flash stuff without Flash.”

** Historical fun fact: Flash Professional used to export Java, as that was the relevant runtime of the day. Tools evolve to meet viewer demands.

Final footnote/disclaimer: I don’t work in the Flash group, so all this just represents my take on what’s possible. Your feedback is of course most welcome.

6:42 AM | Permalink | Comments [103]

September 18, 2010

Flash runs faster, more efficiently than HTML5 on mobile

Web developer Chris Black benchmarked an HTML5 animation made using the Canvas tag against the same animation running in Flash.  The results may surprise you:

  • HTML5 Canvas on iPhone 4: 22fps
  • HTML5 Canvas on Nexus One: 40fps
  • Flash Player 10.1 on Nexus One: 57fps

Oh, and Flash Player used half as much battery.

Now, does this mean that HTML5 sucks or shouldn’t be used?  Of course not! As Chris points out in the comments, it may be possible to tune this Canvas implementation to run better on mobile.  He also points out ways that Flash could run better on mobile.  All these implementations are new, and I expect they’ll all improve, especially as developers figure out what techniques work best for each.

Competition is great.  For things that HTML5 does best, use it; same goes for Flash.  Focus on your viewers’ needs, and Adobe will step up with great tools no matter which technolog(ies) you choose.

[Update: Per various reader comments, Chris has posted more details on optimizing Canvas/JavaScript-based animation.]

11:55 AM | Permalink | Comments [76]

September 15, 2010

Flash Player goes 64-bit on Mac, Linux, & Windows

Great news for all the people who’ve been requesting native 64-bit support in Flash: a preview version is available for download from Adobe Labs.  Among other enhancements, according to engineering manager Paul Betlem,

Flash Player ‘Square’ leverages the new GPU support available with Internet Explorer 9 Beta to deliver a faster and more responsive user experience. In our internal testing, we’ve seen significant improvements in Flash Player graphics performance – exceeding 35% in Internet Explorer 9 Beta compared to Flash Player running in previous versions of IE.

Check out the 64-bit FAQ (PDF) for details on the benefits & challenges of 64-bit development.  Expect to hear other interesting details soon.

10:51 PM | Permalink | Comments [15]

August 25, 2010

WSJ: Demand for Flash development increases

Interesting news from the Wall Street Journal:

Top full-time Flash engineers can now command more than $150,000 a year in salary, says Stuart Liroff, a headhunter at GreeneSearch recruiting firm. That compares with $50,000 to $80,000 a year three years ago, several entrepreneurs say.

With the advent of online social gaming start-ups such… demand for Flash engineers has suddenly surged.

I’m sure you’ll see this news on Mac fan sites, right about… now [commence breath-holding].

And yes yes, let me save people some typing: No doubt demand for HTML5 development is going up, too, and that’s good news for Adobe as we make great tools for HTML5 work & will make even more going forward.  I just get tired of one-sized, zero-sum, non-pragmatic, and–it turns out–inaccurate triumphalism. [Via Jens Loeffler]

10:57 PM | Permalink | Comments [24]

August 17, 2010

A nice quote about mobile Flash Player

“First, let me apologize to Adobe for all the harsh articles on how Flash is outdated, how it doesn’t work on mobile devices and how HTML5 is taking over. After using Adobe Flash with my HTC EVO and Android’s Froyo operating system, I am now a believer.”

– Daryl Deino in the LA Examiner. Nice.

8:37 PM | Permalink | Comments [5]

August 10, 2010

Flash video gets more efficient on Macs

I’m pleased to see that today’s update to Flash Player 10.1 (get it here) brings hardware-accelerated playback of H.264-encoded video to the Mac. Similar support has been available on Windows for some time, but it wasn’t until a recent OS update (10.6.3) that Apple enabled plug-in access to the necessary APIs. The Flash Player & Safari teams worked closely together to get things humming.

Long story short: If you’re running Snow Leopard on a supported Mac, you should get video playback with much lower CPU usage. If you’d like details see Flash Player engineer Tinic Uro’s post from April.

9:01 PM | Permalink | Comments [18]

July 02, 2010

SlideShowPro does HTML5, Flash

Todd Dominey & co., the makers of the excellent Flash-based SlideShowPro, have created a visually rich alternative version that uses HTML5 instead of Flash.

This is a good thing.

Why?  Because it’s putting customers ahead of technologies, and it’s using both Flash & HTML to maximize viewers’ ability to see rich content, including on i-devices.  As the site explains:

SlideShowPro Mobile is an entirely new media player built using HTML5 that doesn’t require the Flash Player plugin and can serve as a fallback for users accessing your web sites using these devices. But it’s not just any fallback — it’s specially designed for touch interfaces and smaller screen sizes. So it looks nothing like the SlideShowPro player and more like a native application that’s intuitive, easy to use, and just feels right. [Demo]

I’d love to see this support added to the Lightroom version of SlideShowPro, as I rely on it for all our family shots.  I want to generate two presentation layers (one Flash, one HTML) that both provide a rich, beautiful presentation of the same image files, and I want the gallery to auto-select the correct presentation layer based on viewers’ devices.  Make the whole tedious Flash-vs.-HTML thing a non-issue for customers.

2:05 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

June 29, 2010

YouTube talks Flash and HTML5

The folks at YouTube have put up an informative post about why, despite positive advances in what browsers support, “Adobe Flash provides the best platform for YouTube’s video distribution requirements.”

Of course, Flash is at death’s door, right?  I suppose you didn’t hear that ESPN just streamed the US-Algeria World Cup match via Flash to “the largest U.S. audience ever for a sports event on the web,” with 1.1 million unique viewers.  Through 14 days of World Cup coverage, 5 million viewers have watched the World Cup on ESPN3.com and consumed more than 9.2 million total hours.  Somehow the Mac sites fail to notice these things.  (Actually, that few people notice is a good thing: billions of times a month, Flash just works.)

I’m sure someone will point out that Hulu will be streaming video to iPads without using Flash as the presentation layer, so now Flash is screwed, haw haw.  In that case, let me repeat what I said a few months ago:

John Gruber wrote the other day that “Hulu isn’t a Flash site, it’s a video site. Developers go where the users are.” Well sure, of course they do. Flash is a means to an end for Adobe, too, not the end unto itself.

The folks at Hulu, like those at YouTube, are pragmatists.  They’ll use whatever delivery mechanisms, presentation layers, etc. they need to reach the most eyeballs.  On desktops Hulu prefers Flash, for the same reasons YouTube cites.  (Even if more than 13% of the audience could play back H.264-format video on their desktops without using a plug-in, the browsers are lacking in content protection & other vital areas.)  On mobile devices, Flash Player’s support for H.264 (and later VP8) makes it easy to use an alternate player to display the same video files.

I’m not saying all this to rile people up.  I just get tired of all the uninformed rah-rah triumphalism out there, so I thought I’d help share some real-world perspectives.

8:06 PM | Permalink | Comments [33]

June 22, 2010

Augmented reality meets Better Photoshop Techniques

Philip Andrews and the folks at Better Photoshop Techniques* have used Flash & 3D to create an augmented reality component for their latest issue:

Neat.
* Presumably not colloquially known as “BP Techniques” these days.

11:24 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

June 15, 2010

Snow Leopard update fixes CS3 problem

When Mac OS 10.6.3 was released, we identified a problem that could cause Adobe CS3 apps to fail to launch. A change in 10.6.3 meant that a small number of customers who’d had hardware replaced and whose system serial numbers didn’t get set correctly after the repair could no longer launch CS3 apps. We worked with Apple to identify the problem and get the fix, and it’s now available in the 10.6.4 update.
Speaking of 10.6.4, it includes an older version of the Adobe Flash Player. Adobe recommends users update to the latest, most secure version of Flash Player (10.1.53.64). After running the 10.6.4 update, you can verify the Flash Player version number by checking the About Flash Player page, or by right-clicking SWF and choosing “About Adobe Flash Player.”

8:09 PM | Permalink | Comments [39]

Flash + Android = Gas pedal

Heh–a little hacking fun from Grant Skinner:

Check out Grant’s blog for more details if interested.

9:36 AM | Permalink | No Comments

June 10, 2010

Flash Player goes Cocoa, makes a host of improvements

Flash Player 10.1 is here, ready for download, making tons of improvements in rendering efficiency and memory usage. Engineering manager Paul Betlem has provided extensive details on the team blog.

Being a Mac user, I was particularly happy to hear about Mac-specific improvements & the fruits of the team’s collaboration with Apple’s Safari team:

“First and foremost, Flash Player 10.1 is a full-fledged Cocoa app (though legacy Carbon support remains for some browsers that require it). We now leverage Cocoa events, use Cocoa UI for our dialogs, leverage Core Audio for sound, Core Graphics for printing support, and use Core Foundation for bundle-style text… The overall performance improvements of Flash Player for Mac users will result in faster video playback, more efficient CPU utilization, and greater battery life.”

Check out the full post for details on smoother video playback, DVR-style seeking, and much more.

As for mobile devices, FP 10.1 is available in beta form on the Android OS, with the finished version available shortly. Here’s a demo of a 3D flight simulator running in Flash on a Nexus One.

9:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [10]

May 20, 2010

Google brings Flash to TV

Groovy.

Here’s more info.

By the way, Hulu recently posted some info on why they prefer Flash Player to HTML5:

We continue to monitor developments on HTML5, but as of now it doesn’t yet meet all of our customers’ needs. Our player doesn’t just simply stream video, it must also secure the content, handle reporting for our advertisers, render the video using a high performance codec to ensure premium visual quality, communicate back with the server to determine how long to buffer and what bitrate to stream, and dozens of other things that aren’t necessarily visible to the end user.

10:28 AM | Permalink | Comments [15]

May 13, 2010

Absolute Power vs. the Pirate Flag

Today Adobe ran a full-page ad in various newspapers articulating key company beliefs, and company founders John Warnock & Chuck Geschke–whose PostScript innovations were instrumental in the adoption of the Macintosh & desktop publishing–posted their thoughts on open markets & open competition:

Adobe’s business philosophy is based on a premise that, in an open market, the best products will win in the end — and the best way to compete is to create the best technology and innovate faster than your competitors.

I’d like to add a few thoughts of my own.

First, all these conversations tend to get framed in terms of Adobe Flash. That’s a mistake. Apple’s decision to deny customers the choice of whether to use Flash on iPads/iPhones is just one part of a bigger, more interesting question: What maximizes innovation & ultimate benefit to customers?

Let me note that I’ve loved Apple computers since before I could ride a bike. The introduction of the Mac was a life-changing part of my childhood, and in college I got waaay too into identifying with the company (during its darkest days). The pirate flag, “Think Different,” “Here’s to the crazy ones…”–it all spoke to me, and deeply.

I love making great Mac software, and after eight years product managing Photoshop, I’ve been asked to help lead the development of new Adobe applications, written from scratch for tablet computers. In many ways, the iPad is the computer I’ve been waiting for my whole life. Discovering how to draw a car on cocktail napkins at the Algonquin Hotel at age 3 is among my earliest memories, and I can tell you exactly what I drew on my Etch-A-Sketch Animator in 1986. I can’t wait to create & share tablet experiences with my young sons.

Put more simply, I want to build the most amazing iPad imaging apps the world has ever seen.

But will I be allowed to do so? And who decides?

Several years ago we decided to fundamentally rethink our approach to digital photography workflows. Lightroom (a Mac-first Cocoa app, let’s note) was born. Apple introduced Aperture around the same time, and I said “Welcome, Apple” (Seriously)–noting that competition makes us all better. Since that time, each team has pushed the other to innovate, making each one better. (Lightroom, for example, led on 64-bit, beating Aperture and all Apple pro apps to 64-bit by nearly two years.)

Apple refuses to carry Lightroom in Apple retail stores. That’s okay; Lightroom is doing just fine against Aperture, thank you. But what if the Apple store were the only store? How would Apple customers get the benefits of competition?

These aren’t idle questions. When the iPad was introduced, I asked what apps you’d like to see Adobe build for it. Among the 300 or so replies were many, many requests for a mobile version of Lightroom. I think that such an app could be brilliant, and many photographers tell me that its existence would motivate them to buy iPads.

Would Apple let Lightroom for iPad ship? It’s almost impossible to know. Sometimes they approve apps, then spontaneously remove them for “duplicat[ing] features that come with the iPhone.” Other times they allow competitors (apps for Netflix, Kindle, etc.), or enable some apps (e.g. Playboy) while removing similar ones. Maybe they’d let Lightroom ship for a while, but if it started pulling too far ahead of Aperture–well, lights out.

And let’s forget competition for a minute & talk innovation. We have some really interesting ideas for multitouch user interfaces–things you’ve almost certainly never seen previously. Of course, “groundbreaking” almost inherently means “inconsistent with what’s come before,” and Apple can reject an app if, say, it uses two-finger inputs in a new way. They do this to preserve consistency–until, of course, it’s time for them to deviate innovate. (Think Different, as long as you’re Apple.)

The effect on product development & innovation can be chilling. Yes, it’s easy to point to 200,000 apps on the App Store; it’s harder to note all those that aren’t there–serious apps that will be created only if developers know they’ll get a truly fair shot to innovate & compete. Anything else strengthens alternative platforms while undermining the Apple platform.

You shouldn’t care about this stuff because you love or hate Adobe*. You should care because these issues affect your choices as a customer & a creative person.

Will my decision to speak publicly about these concerns harm our ability to deliver iPad apps? I don’t know; that’s up to Apple. But can you imagine a world where, say, constructively criticizing Microsoft could destroy your ability to ship a Windows application? It’s almost unthinkable, and yet that’s the position in which Apple’s App Store puts us.

To borrow from the Think Different campaign, “You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them.” That’s what I ask for Adobe technologies: let them succeed or fail based on their own merits, as determined by customers.

* None of this is specific to Adobe in the least. Just yesterday, the organizer of Mac indie developer conference C4, Jonathan Rentzsch, announced the cancellation of the conference, saying that “[iPhone SDK] Section 3.3.1 has broken my spirit.”

8:48 AM | Permalink | Comments [247]

April 09, 2010

Adobe CTO comments on Flash & the App Store

Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch has touched briefly on some new features in CS5 (hope you can attend the launch on Monday) and provides a short response to yesterday’s news from Apple:

So, what’s all the fuss about the Apple proposed revised SDK license?

Yesterday Apple released some proposed changes to their SDK license restricting the technologies that developers can use, including Adobe software and others such as Unity and Titanium.

First of all, the ability to package an application for the iPhone or iPad is one feature in one product in Creative Suite. CS5 consists of 15 industry-leading applications, which contain hundreds of new capabilities and a ton of innovation. We intend to still deliver this capability in CS5 and it is up to Apple whether they choose to allow or disallow applications as their rules shift over time.

Secondly, multiscreen is growing beyond Apple’s devices. This year we will see a wide range of excellent smartphones, tablets, smartbooks, televisions and more coming to market and we are continuing to work with partners across this whole range to enable your content and applications to be viewed, interacted with and purchased.

4:22 PM | Permalink | Comments [74]

April 07, 2010

Flash video, Daring Fireball, & Engadget

This is quite possibly my own personal, irrelevant hangup, but I keep getting annoyed by the lack of precision in how people talk about online video.

On Daring Fireball today, John Gruber writes, “Ironically, Engadget’s video demos are only available in Flash. Why would a website devoted to leading-edge gadgetry continue to embed video in a format that can’t be played on the best web-reading gadget?”

It’s not that they’ve chosen a format that won’t play on the iPad; it’s that they haven’t yet done the additional work (necessitated by Apple not allowing Flash on the iPad) to target a different player. That is, they need to set up a switch that’ll let them target Flash Player in Mac/Windows Web browsers (giving them 98% desktop viewership) and target the Video tag in Mobile Safari. They can use the same format (H.264) in both cases.

I’d fully expect them to do so: as I’ve written previously, content creators & publishers will use whatever combination of technologies let them reach customers most effectively. On the desktop that means Flash Player; on iPad/iPhone, it has to mean something else.

3:25 PM | Permalink | Comments [54]

March 30, 2010

Adobe & Google working to improve Flash/browser integration

Great news: Better performance, better security, and tighter integration are coming to Web plug-ins & browsers.

According to the Google team building the Chrome browser & Chrome OS, “[W]e are working with Adobe, Mozilla and the broader community to help define the next generation browser plug-in API.” As Flash Player engineering director Paul Betlem explains, the new API specification will offer some distinct benefits over the current technology available:

  • The API will be operating system and browser-neutral, minimizing the chance of inconsistent behavior across platforms.
  • The new API is being designed with the flexibility to allow plug-ins to more tightly integrate with host browsers.
  • The new plug-in API will provide performance benefits since the host browser will be able to directly share more information about its current state.
  • The tighter integration provided by the API can allow for a more secure browsing experience as it will be easier to unify security models and collaborate on security techniques, such as sandboxing.

Google engineering VP Linus Upson says, “Users will automatically receive updates related to Flash Player using Google Chrome’s auto-update mechanism. This eliminates the need to manually download separate updates and reduces the security risk of using outdated versions.” Developers can already download the Chrome developer channel version with Flash Player built in. Going forward, Google will be bundling Flash Player in Chrome so users will always have the most current release of Flash Player.

2:33 PM | Permalink | Comments [14]

H.264 isn’t an alternative to Flash

Did you think they were competing formats? If not, congrats: you’re better informed than most. Seems like a lot of people are confused, or at least are kind of careless with their phrasing.
In common usage, “H.264″ refers to a video format, and “Flash” refers to a video player. Flash Player displays H.264-encoded video, as do other players (QuickTime, and now the Safari and Chrome Web browsers reading HTML5 video tags–with Internet Explorer to follow).

This all gets muddied, however.

Daring Fireball noted the other day, “TED Goes H.264: Chris Anderson announces a non-Flash version of TED.com for iPhone OS.” Seeing a statement like that, you might think that the TED site has switched file formats, from Flash video to H.264.

I haven’t talked to the TED folks, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t using H.264 already, displaying it in browser via the Flash Player. The news here, such as it is, is that they’re using an alternate player on a device where Flash Player isn’t allowed to run.

That makes perfect sense, of course. If you’re creating content, you probably have no ideological allegiance to formats or players. You don’t care much whether video is, say, H.264 or VC-1 or PDQ-One-Niner, nor do you care whether the player is Flash or QuickTime or anything else. Rather, you care about results. Most particularly, can your audience see it? Once that’s taken care of, does the presentation meet your needs (e.g. interactivity, integration, content protection, stats measurement, etc.)? And from there, do you have effective tools for creating the content? And so on.

TED.com uses Flash Player to display videos because that lets them reach 98% of browsers. If they chose to display the same video via HTML5 markup, they’d reach ~10% of browsers (Safari + Chrome). On the iPhone/iPad, because they’re not able use Flash Player, they’re using an alternate player.

So:

  • You can debate one format vs. another (e.g. H.264 vs. Ogg Theora)
  • You can debate one player vs. another (e.g. Flash Player vs. a Web browser reading HTML5 tags)
  • You can’t really debate “Flash vs. H.264″

On systems where both Flash and other players can run, it’s perfectly legitimate to debate which one to use; each will have pros and cons. My goal mentioning all this is to add a little clarity to those debates.

2:10 PM | Permalink | Comments [21]

March 08, 2010

HP & Adobe demo Flash on an HP tablet

Looking good:

Wired hosts more details on tablet plans from HP & Dell.
This stuff all looks solid, but I remain most excited about creative possibilities for multitouch drawing, painting, and object manipulation. Fortunately Flash Player supports multitouch, so I expect we’ll see all kinds of interesting experiments.

7:52 PM | Permalink | Comments [14]

February 17, 2010

Wired demo running on AIR, Android, & GPU

A comment on my previous post said that Flash running on a mobile device would be a slow, battery-killing CPU hog. Here’s a little counter perspective from people who actually know what they’re talking about–namely, the guys at NVIDIA:

The demo itself starts roughly halfway through. Graphics are smooth, and the AIR application leverages the GPU for fast, efficient video playback.

10:10 AM | Permalink | Comments [24]

Adobe, Wired, tablets, & the future of magazines

Adobe and Wired have teamed up to demonstrate a richly interactive tablet-based prototype form of the magazine. It features embedded 360° object viewers, support for video and audio content, and the ability to rotate the page using the tablet’s accelerometer. Check out the demo:

So, what tablets will this support? In short, lots.
I believe the demo video was done via Adobe AIR running on a Windows 7 tablet. Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone conversion technology will allow publishing to the Apple iPad. And at the Mobile World Congress this week, Adobe announced AIR on Android & has shown the Wired prototype running on Android-based tablet devices powered by NVIDIA Tegra chips. In short, Adobe is working–as it always has–to help people publish across platforms.
What will be the real-world impact? Macworld editor Jason Snell has posted some skeptical tweets, comparing the demo to CD-ROM and VRML visions of yore. He makes good points about the cost of developing rich content, but I can tell you I’m excited about some of the tools Adobe has in the pipeline–stuff that’ll make interactive production easier & more efficient. Stay tuned.

6:01 AM | Permalink | Comments [14]

February 11, 2010

Flash & Core Animation on Mac OS X

Flash Player engineers have been working closely with Apple to improve Flash Player performance on OS X, to the point where Flash Player 10.1 (now available for testing) will run faster on Macs than on Windows.

Now Flash engineer Tinic Uro has provided some interesting info on Flash & Core Animation, highlighting some of the bottlenecks that the teams are now overcoming. It’s techie but readable, and it portends good things for the future.

2:43 PM | Permalink | Comments [23]

February 08, 2010

Notes on Flash Player stability & the future

  • Flash Player Product Mgr. Emmy Huang has shared some details in response to reports of a crashing bug in Flash Player. She apologizes for the bug having gotten past the team & talks about improvements going forward.
  • If you’d like to help improve the quality of Flash Player, please see these notes on betas & bug reporting from Ted Patrick.
  • Interesting reads from non-Adobe staff on the future of Flash come from Grant Skinner (a long-time & highly respected developer) and Jeremy Allaire (creator of ColdFusion & CEO of streaming video company Brightcove).
9:30 AM | Permalink | Comments [10]

February 03, 2010

Adobe CTO talks Flash performance on Macs, more

Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch posted some thoughts on Flash, HTML5, the iPhone/iPad, and more yesterday. I didn’t see anything really new relative to all the discussions that have taken place here, so I’ve been slow in blogging it.

Now, however, Kevin has posted an interesting follow-up via the comments. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but here are bits I found significant:

For those wondering, the main computer I use is a MacBook Pro, and I’ve been using the Mac (and developing software for it) since it came out in 1984. [...]

Regarding crashing, I can tell you that we don’t ship Flash with any known crash bugs, and if there was such a widespread problem historically Flash could not have achieved its wide use today. [...]

Before we release a new version of Flash Player we run more than 100,000 test cases and have built an automated system that has scanned over 1 million SWFs that we use for testing from across the web. Our QA lab has a very large variety of machines to represent the machines in real use on the web.

Addressing crash issues is a top priority in the engineering team, and currently there are open reports we are researching in Flash Player 10. From the comments across the web there may either be an upswing in incidents or there is a general piling on happening — we are looking into this actively and will work to resolve any real issues. If you are experiencing issues please report them directly to the Flash engineering team via the public bug database and the team will investigate and resolve each. [...]

Now regarding performance, given identical hardware, Flash Player on Windows has historically been faster than the Mac, and it is for the most part the same code running in Flash for each operating system. We have and continue to invest significant effort to make Mac OS optimizations to close this gap, and Apple has been helpful in working with us on this. Vector graphics rendering in Flash Player 10 now runs almost exactly the same in terms of CPU usage across Mac and Windows, which is due to this work. In Flash Player 10.1 we are moving to Core Animation, which will further reduce CPU usage and we believe will get us to the point where Mac will be faster than Windows for graphics rendering.

Video rendering is an area we are focusing more attention on — for example, today a 480p video on a 1.8 Ghz Mac Mini in Safari uses about 34% of CPU on Mac versus 16% on Windows (running in BootCamp on same hardware). With Flash Player 10.1, we are optimizing video rendering further on the Mac and expect to reduce CPU usage by half, bringing Mac and Windows closer to parity for video.

9:15 PM | Permalink | Comments [64]

February 01, 2010

Adobe isn’t in the Flash business

Seriously.

It isn’t in the Photoshop business, or the Acrobat business, or the [take-your-pick product name] business, either.

It’s in the helping people communicate business.

We’d all do well to remember that, because it means that the company’s fortunes are tied to building great tools for solving problems. If we do that well, we prosper; if we do it poorly, we fail. When we get too wrapped up in this technology or that, we lose touch with the problems that we (and more importantly our customers) are trying to solve.

John Gruber wrote the other day that “Hulu isn’t a Flash site, it’s a video site. Developers go where the users are.” Well sure, of course they do. Flash is a means to an end for Adobe, too, not the end unto itself.

The equation is simple. Adobe wants to make money selling tools, so it needs our customers’ clients to pay for work done with the tools. Clients won’t pay if their customers can’t see the work made with the tools. Therefore customers, clients, and by extension Adobe need a way to see the work, be that videos, interactive pieces, or anything else.

Flash has stepped in to fill some gaps heretofore left by other technologies. It is, however, just one possible means to an end–always has been. Adobe will of course continue to invest in making Flash better, and it’ll keep investing in other ways to help creative people reach customer eyeballs. It’s not a zero-sum game.

You’d think this stuff would be pretty obvious, but as I’ve already noted, the world likes either-or, winner-loser, good guy/bad guy, Jane-you’re-an-ignorant-slut narratives. They make for easy blogging, but mainly they’re a simpleminded distraction from solving real problems.

11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments [107]

January 26, 2010

Sympathy for the Devil

In the last couple of years, it has become trendy to bash the Adobe Flash Player. I need to say a few things on that subject.

First, let’s be very clear: I’m not on the Flash team. I don’t speak for them. (I don’t speak for anyone but myself.) This post is just my personal take on things. Caveat lector.

I came to Adobe ten years ago to build an open standards (SVG)-based Web animation tool. I like standards, and I have some experience here. Both authoring for & competing with the Flash Player gave me some good perspective. Here’s a quick summary of my long piece below:

  • Flash is flawed, but it has moved the world forward.
  • Open standards are great, but they can be achingly slow to arrive.
  • Talk of “what’s good for standards is bad for Adobe” is misinformed nonsense.
  • Flash will innovate or die. I’m betting on innovation.

Let’s be clear: It’s fine to say that Flash is flawed; it is. (You know who’d agree? The Flash team.) It’s fine to hope for alternatives to take root. (Competition makes everyone better.) But let’s also be honest and say that Flash is the reason we all have fast, reliable, ubiquitous online video today. It’s the reason that YouTube took off & video consumption exploded four years ago. It’s the reason we have Hulu, Vimeo, and all the rest–and the reason that people now watch billions of videos per day (and nearly 10 hours apiece per month) online. Without it, we’d all still be bumbling along.

Macromedia was the only company that delivered truly ubiquitous (99% penetration) video playback. Apple didn’t*. Microsoft didn’t. Real didn’t. (Remember how you used to see sites offering multiple streams, making the user pick a player, because the content creator couldn’t rely on everyone being able to view one format? Good riddance to that crappy customer experience.) Content creators, whose income is proportional to their ability to reach customer eyeballs easily and reliably, have voted with their feet, moving to Flash. As a result, more than three quarters of online video now streams in Flash formats (up from 25% three years ago).

All these years later, we still don’t have a standard, browser-native alternative, much less one that’s achieved widespread viewership. (WebKit-based browsers remain in the single digits on the desktop. Firefox, which uses a different video format, is at 25%. Microsoft is off doing its own thing.) That sucks.

I don’t doubt that some video standard will eventually emerge & make its way into most if not all browsers. In the meantime, Adobe spends millions of dollars a year building & giving away software–for which content viewers & even content creators don’t have to pay a dime–to compensate for the rest of the world’s failure to get the job done.

Maybe that sounds harsh, but I find the Flash-bashing tedious and hollow. Flash has all kinds of shortcomings; helping address them is why I joined Adobe, for God’s sake! But Flash, as Winston Churchill might say, is “the worst except for all the others ever tried.” It will improve, as will competing implementations. In the meantime, how about we give the devil (if that’s how you see it) his due, giving Flash credit for helping the world get this far?

– On Standards –

Stepping a bit beyond video, I’m personally delighted to see Web standards like HTML5 emerge. Adobe makes nearly all its money selling authoring tools that target great runtimes. (Conversely, as I’ve mentioned, Adobe loses money building runtimes (Flash Player, Adobe Reader) that it gives away in order to sell authoring tools.) More great runtimes to target means more opportunities to build content for them. Adobe will naturally follow the money, building authoring tools that produce what customers demand, and that includes HTML5-based work. Don’t believe me? Check out a demo of Illustrator, Flash, and Dreamweaver targeting the HTML Canvas tag.

Guess what, though? When I posted that story, almost no one paid attention. People want a certain “killer” narrative: Good guys vs. bad guys, open vs. proprietary, blah blah. That’s simpleminded and lame.

I keep seeing the video standards discussion phrased as “H.264 vs. Flash video**” (e.g. John Gruber writing about Apple “replacing” Flash video with H.264). Apparently people are unaware that Flash has been playing H.264 for years. It’s easily the most popular H.264 player in the world.

Adobe’s choice to embrace H.264 in Flash is what allows sites like Vimeo and YouTube to create HTML5/AVC (i.e., non-Flash) versions of their sites without gobbling up petabytes of storage and loads of CPU cycles creating and storing alternate versions of their videos. Instead of locking people into some proprietary solution it created, Adobe has spent millions of dollars to enable use of a more standard format.

The obvious problem with open standards, of course, is that they often take eons to implement, and developing for different implementations sucks up time and money. Does anyone else remember seeing really sexy “DHTML” demos that featured full-screen animation and more? I do. You know when that was? 1998. And today, more than 15 years after Netscape debuted, Flash remains the only way to, say, display a vector chart across browsers (i.e., such that you can count on every viewer seeing it). That’s sad–especially given that Adobe plowed a hell of a lot of time & money into trying to get the open SVG standardized & adopted.

SVG taught me some painful lessons: While we sat waiting on months (at least) of committee meetings, review periods, etc., Macromedia was free to innovate & iterate quickly with Flash. Their implementation was lean & ran circles around the Adobe player that dutifully tried to support a cumbersome spec. (Again, remember that all this is just my personal opinion.) Openness and standards and kumbayah don’t matter if someone is pantsing your big, ponderous committee.

And this gets to two key, interrelated questions: Why will Flash live on (i.e. what are its competitive advantages?), and Why isn’t Flash open-source/an open standard? Again, I do not speak for the Flash team, but my take is that Flash’s advantages are predictability & agility:

  • It doesn’t require you to target multiple runtimes (browsers, etc.) from multiple vendors. Instead, there’s effectively one Flash Player with a predictable set of capabilities. Fonts, pixels, etc. render consistently across OSes, browsers, and devices. You don’t need something like BrowserLab (a free Adobe service, by the way) for Flash.
  • If Adobe develops a new technology (e.g. the Text Layout Framework, leveraging InDesign tech and enabling beautiful Web typography), it can be deployed quickly & reliably to all systems. That is, we don’t have to say, “Yeah, we’d love to see better type on the Web, but first we have to convince these groups to add support, and then wait several years for updates to achieve broad adoption, and then hope it all works the same…” We can just do it, and support will hit critical mass quickly.

In a sense it’s a more Apple-like approach: Control things yourself, so design-by-committee doesn’t compromise your product. Open-sourcing Flash would lead to a fragmentation of the format & Flash runtimes, and that would destroy the predictability and agility that differentiate Flash from other standards.

If the Flash team continues to innovate–that is, if they deliver better features more quickly, more predictably, and with better authoring tools than other technologies–then Flash will endure. If they don’t, it won’t–nor should it. But I’m betting they will.

– On Mac vs. Windows performance –

Finally, let’s turn to a touchy subject.

If Flash runs faster on Windows than on Mac, that must be proof of Adobe’s incompetence and/or anti-Mac malice, right? Of course, if Flash ran faster on Mac than on Windows, that would be taken as proof of OS X’s modern awesomeness. Heads they win, tails we lose. (Come on, tell me I’m wrong.)

Despite the Flash Player team investing disproportionate resources in the Mac player (where the Mac has ~5% market share to 90+% for Windows), and despite them making big strides on the Mac, it’s true that Flash performance on OS X has lagged behind Flash on Windows. That needs to change.

My understanding is that there’s work that both Adobe & Apple could do to improve matters. Mac users*** complain about high CPU usage when playing video. The latest Flash Player uses many fewer CPU cycles for video, but the needed hardware decoding support isn’t available on the Mac right now. I don’t have any inside info here, but I’ve heard that the Safari team is a great group of folks, and I hope they’re able to work with the Flash Player team to added the desired support.

– In Conclusion –

I’m very optimistic about Flash, Web standards, and what Adobe can to help customers. In particular:

  • The Flash Player team has been very hard at work leveraging the GPU to deliver great performance on mobile devices. I expect those optimizations to make their way into the desktop Flash Player.
  • Developers are pushing standards like CSS 3D, WebGL, and Canvas to deliver interesting results. It’s about time Web browsers got good at this stuff, for everyone’s sake, and those enhancements roll right into Adobe AIR and the Creative Suite (both of which use WebKit).
  • Adobe sells tools that can adapt to fit customers’ needs. As new technologies open new possibilities, Adobe will deliver great authoring apps.

J.

* I just checked, and the download for QuickTime is more than ten times the size that of Flash Player. If you want ubiquity, size still matters.

** Incidentally, FLV (Flash Video) is a publicly documented format, as are RTMP and SWF.

*** I’ve been a fervent one since 1984.

3:59 PM | Permalink | Comments [193]

December 15, 2009

3D face + augmented reality business card

Nifty.

12:13 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

November 17, 2009

Multitouch comes to Flash

I’ve gotten quite a few inquiries over the years asking when Flash Player would support multitouch inputs. The answer: right now! Here’s a quick video demo:

For more info on multitouch, hardware decoding, etc., check out these interviews with the FP engineers. [Via]

4:29 PM | Permalink | Comments [9]

October 09, 2009

Sneak peek: Illustrator + Flash + Dreamweaver -> CANVAS

Check out this demo of Illustrator handing vector art to Dreamweaver, and DW binding the artwork to data so that it can be displayed via the HTML5 CANVAS tag:

Mordy Golding summarizes the demo as follows:

[The engineer] starts by taking art drawn in Illustrator and copies it to the clipboard. Then he goes into Dreamweaver, selects a DIV and chooses a function called Smart Paste. Dreamweaver then pastes an FXG conversion of the Illustrator art directly into the page. If you aren’t familiar with FXG, it’s basically a better SVG* (you can get more information on the open source FXG spec here). In other words, you draw in Illustrator, copy and paste into Dreamweaver (which converts it to code), and the art displays as vector art in a web browser. What’s more, the engineer proceeded to actually bind XML data to the chart.

After that, the presenter copies an animation in Flash Professional as XML, then pastes it in DW as a CANVAS animation.

It’s kind of funny to see this demo now, as Illustrator could export XML vector graphics (SVG) to the Web some 10 years ago. Later people made various efforts to display & manipulate SVG using Flash. This new demo uses different tools & a different display engine to do similar things.

I think this is a key point: Adobe makes money selling tools, not distributing viewing software. Those tools must address customer needs. If Flash Player is the right choice for some projects & HTML/CANVAS for others, no problem: we get paid to help you solve problems, not to force one implementation vs. another.

* I have no idea whether FXG is “better” than SVG overall & don’t want to get into a debate on that subject. FXG is based on SVG but maps more closely to the Flash drawing model.

12:03 AM | Permalink | Comments [14]

October 05, 2009

Flash CS5 demo + many more vids from MAX

I’m impressed that today’s sessions from Adobe MAX are already live & streaming on Adobe TV. Check out numerous entries in the Design, Develop, and the sort of vaguely named Envision categories.

Being an old-school Flash user, I like seeing this preview demonstration of the version in development:


For some odd reason the first 20 or so minutes are empty, so just click ahead to reach the demo content.

I don’t yet see a video for today’s session on How to Write a Plug-in for Photoshop, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

10:14 PM | Permalink | Comments [5]

Use Flash to build native iPhone apps

Today at Adobe MAX, the company announced that Flash tools will be able to build applications for iPhone that can be distributed through Apple’s App Store. A beta version of Flash Professional CS5 with this new capability is planned for release later this year. These aren’t Flash SWF files, they’re native iPhone apps.

My first question was, “Wait–so how native are these apps? Do they feel right, or do they seem like crappy ports?” The good news is that you can judge for yourself:

As of today, participants in the Adobe pre-release program have submitted 8 applications and all of them have been accepted into the App Store. The applications are: Digg Pics, South Park Avatar Creator, Chroma Circuit, Just Letters, Trading Stuff, Red Hood, Fickleblox, and That Roach Game.

Following the announcment at MAX, additional applications have been submitted including the Acrobat Connect application.

So, what about running Flash SWF files directly on the iPhone? The iPhone SDK License does not currently allow runtimes such as Flash Player or Adobe AIR. Hopefully Apple & Adobe will be able to work together on a solution in the future.

Before I get an earful about the Flash Player’s CPU & battery usage, note that on mobile devices, “engineers have increased Flash’s operating performance by 87 percent and reduced memory consumption by 55 percent” (more info). Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch said that Flash performance on mobile was “not very good,” and that video was “more like a slideshow than a video.” He then demonstrated excellent new hardware acceleration for Flash Player 10.1 on mobile, as well as solid multitouch support.

I’m not directly involved with these efforts, so your best sources of details are likely to be Adobe evangelists like Mark Doherty, Ted Patrick, and Mike Chambers. I’ll try to share other interesting details as I come across them.

[Update: Here's more info from Aditya Bansod and the FAQ on Adobe Labs.]

11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments [30]

July 29, 2009

“Flickroom”: Lightroom-style Flickr browsing

Oh, now that’s interesting: Flickroom is an AIR application that uses a Lightroom-style shell to display photos. According to the site, the app:

“provides the rich browsing experience Flickr users have long deserved. The dark theme ensures that your photographs look better than ever before! You can now receive instant notifications for any activity on your photostream, upload photos by just drag-and-drop, add comments, mark faves, add notes, tweet about your photos and also view all info associated with an image from within the app.”

I haven’t gotten to play with it extensively, but so far I’m finding it fun. (By the way, if you’d like to create something similar using Adobe Flex, check out Juan Sanchez’s LR-style Flex theme.) [Via]

1:25 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

July 19, 2009

Quick Illustrator tips: Create a ribbon; batch convert

A few Adobe technical folks bounced around some ideas last week, responding to a question about how one would create a pink ribbon-style illustration. Stéphane Baril made some great suggestions in this very brief, five-step tutorial (PDF). (Live Paint is your friend!)

Elsewhere, developer Richard Bates has created a free utility & notes on Batch SWF Conversion with AIR and Illustrator CS4. [Via David Macy]

7:26 AM | Permalink | No Comments

June 21, 2009

Flash for AE, and AE for Flash

For years and years I’ve wanted the After Effects team to promote AE as the next logical step for Flash animators wanting to go to the next level. (Once you’re freed from having to render everything on the fly on who-knows-what machine, the sky’s the limit.) That’s why I’ve been so excited by steps like XFL export from AE CS4.

Now authors Richard Harrington and Marcus Geduld have created Flash for After Effects and After Effects for Flash. You can check out a couple of chapters online for free:

Happy keyframing & expression-slinging & precomping and all that.

7:31 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

June 10, 2009

Roll your own After Effects plug-ins, sans coding

I’m always intrigued by visual tools that let non-coders assemble their own filter effects.

If this sort of thing is up your alley & if you use After Effects, check out Effect Builder AE. It’s “a development kit for building Adobe After Effects plug-ins from Quartz Compositions on Mac OS X. With Effect Builder AE and Quartz Composer, you can quickly create your own effects like generators, filters, and transitions without programming knowledge.” [Via]

Previously:

  • Filter Forge is a Photoshop plug-in used for creating your own filters.
10:15 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

June 07, 2009

New AspectFrame Flash panel: tester wanted

Photographer & developer Thomas Menath has whipped up AspectFrame, a Flash panel for Photoshop CS4, and he’d like to get help testing it. (The Flash UI can also run as a dialog inside Photoshop CS3.) According to Thomas,

This tool is just for drawing rectangular frames around images and optional adding additional space to get the standard ratios of 4:3 and 3:2 with an optional cutting line.

For more info & to download the panel and submit bugs/feedback, go to the product page.

3:16 PM | Permalink | No Comments

June 01, 2009

Flash Catalyst now on Labs; free training available

If you want to turn Photoshop & Illustrator designs into interactive compositions quickly, without coding, Adobe Flash Catalyst is designed for you. Catalyst imports PSD, AI, and Fireworks PNG files, then lets you assign behaviors including animations & 3D effects. A beta of the app is now available for download from Adobe Labs.

To get up to speed quickly, check out Mordy Golding’s free Flash Catalyst Beta Preview video training course. It’s an hour of solid material broken into task-oriented pieces, covering everything from designing in Photoshop to publishing your output. (Props to Mordy & the Lynda.com team for making this great resource available for free!)

Alongside Flash Catalyst, Adobe Labs is hosting public beta releases of Adobe Flash Builder 4 (formerly Flex Builder) and the Flex 4 Framework. Here’s the official blurb:

Flash Builder 4 is the next evolution of Flex Builder, and includes a long list of feature improvements, new data-centric development features, and a new design-develop workflow with Flash Catalyst. Flash Catalyst, also now available in public beta, is a new interaction design tool for rapidly building application user interfaces without coding. Both Flash Builder and Flash Catalyst are based on the updated Flex 4 framework, also available for beta download.

Check it all out on Labs.

9:32 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

May 15, 2009

Tilt-shifting in AIR; Slick, simple 3D

  • Developer Art & Mobile has created TiltShift Generator, a simple little Flash app that lets you selectively blur parts of an image, simulating very shallow depth of field. You can download the app for use outside your browser, too. [Via Rich Townsend]
  • Box Shot 3D is a very simple, very easy-to-use little app for mapping images onto common 3D objects (boxes, bottles, business cards, etc.), then rendering a nicely lit result; see screenshots. I downloaded a copy and got good results in a minute or two.
4:48 PM | Permalink | Comments [5]

May 09, 2009

Thoughts on FXG Design and Motivation

On Monday I mentioned the new FXG format being developed to offer and easier a way to exchange data between Photoshop & other applications. The mention attracted some questions in the post’s comments & elsewhere. Adobe Sr. Principal Scientist Mark Anders was instrumental in the design of FXG, and now he’s posted his Thoughts on FXG Design and Motivation. It’s a fairly geeky subject, but if you care about things like file formats and standards, you may find Mark’s post interesting.

For what it’s worth, I started petitioning Macromedia and Adobe ten years ago for something like FXG for motion graphics–an XML-based way to move layers, keyframes, etc. between Flash, After Effects, and other tools. Flash is at last moving away from the opaque FLA format to something called XFL, and FXG works hand in glove with XFL. Progress can take a while, but dammit, it does happen.

7:00 AM | Permalink | No Comments

March 07, 2009

Fun with Augmented Reality

Wikipedia describes “augmented reality” as “the combination of real-world and computer-generated data (virtual reality), where computer graphics objects are blended into real footage in real time.” Now it’s come to Flash, with some amazing results.
The GE Smart Grid site lets you print out a sheet of paper, hold it up to your Web cam, and interact with 3D graphics. I was all set to link to a quick demo of the technology, but it just went MIA from YouTube. No matter: here’s a demo of an interactive print piece for Mini:

Thanks to the open-source FLARtoolkit for Flash, augmented reality is popping up all over, as in this augmented Happy New Year’s card:

It’s even been combined with Twitter + t-shirt printing. For more info, check out David Pogue’s report from TED. [Via lots and lots of people]
Tangentially related: This funny example of “real-life multitouch” is, indeed, a sign of too much iPhone usage. (Seeing it reminds me of Photoshop QE Pete du’Fosse realizing that he was working too much when he found himself hovering a hand over his microwave’s keypad, getting frustrated when no tool tip appeared.)

3:25 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

January 22, 2009

Notes on a Flash CS4 update

In response to my mention of a pending update for Photoshop CS4, I got a few reports of problems that have turned up in Flash CS4.  I forwarded them to Richard Galvan, the Flash PM, and he’s now posted some info on his blog.  If you’re a Flash user and have questions or comments on this subject, you may want to read Richard’s notes.

9:27 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

January 06, 2009

Airtight Flash galleries come to PSCS4

Felix Turner’s excellent Flash galleries (SimpleViewer, PostcardViewer, AutoViewer, and TiltViewer) have been integrated with Photoshop for some time.  Now with a little assist from PS scripter Jeff Tranberry, the processing module is compatible with CS4.  You can download the CS4 versions (self-installing via Extension Manager) as well as the CS3 versions from Felix’s Airtight Interactive site.

7:13 PM | Permalink | Comments [11]

December 30, 2008

Extending Photoshop via SWF Panels: Tutorials

If you’ve got some JavaScript/Flash/Flex chops and are looking for a mental exercise over the little holiday, heads up: Our friend Dr. Woohoo has been busily creating a large series of tutorials on how to develop AIR applications and Flash panels that can communicate with and drive Photoshop and Illustrator CS4.  The first two tutorials are online now.  Drew (the doc) writes:

 

Enhanced Hello World
Follow along with this tutorial to create a Hello World Flash panel for Photoshop. In this exercise, you will create a Flash plug-in within a Flex Builder MXML project. When you run the Flash panel within Photoshop, it will send code to Photoshop that, when executed, will display an alert dialog box with a message.

Integrating your ExtendScripts
In order to communicate to the host application (Photoshop or Illustrator CS4) using the CSXSLibrary SWC, our code is sent as a string message via BridgeTalk, which will then be evaluated once it reaches the host application. Not a big deal if we’re only sending a few lines of code at max, but when our ExtendScript code is lengthy, we would either have to manually wrap each line of code up as a string or use the work-around process we will use in this tutorial to simplify our life.

 

On a related note, Drew recently appeared on Inside Digital Design Radio & TV, talking about how he uses programming to do things like design custom kimonos:

 

Drew Trujillo, Designer–better known as Dr. Woohoo!–joins hosts Scott Sheppard and Gene Gable this week to share his background and an inside look at his amazing design work. Fusing the best of art, technology, and design Dr. Woohoo’s technical and programming background help him to bring his visions to life.

2:56 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

December 17, 2008

CS4 color picker now does CMYK

Responding to reader feedback, developer Anastasiy Safari has added CMYK support and other tweaks (e.g. resizability) to the color picker panel I mentioned the other day.  Way to go, Anastasiy!

 

You can download the panel here, unzip the file, and then drag the contents of the file into your "Adobe Photoshop CS4/Plug-Ins/Panels" directory.  (Don’t forget to delete the old one if you installed it earlier.)  After you relaunch Photoshop CS4, the panel will appear under Window->Extensions.

 

Oh, and–indulging my inner 8-year-old for a second–to all those folks who were spraying bile at the idea of Flash panels not so long ago: "You like apples?  Well how do you like them apples?". ;-)

7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments [19]

December 16, 2008

Demo: Flash Catalyst (“Thermo”) makes PSDs interactive

Adobe’s upcoming Flash Catalyst (previously demoed as “Thermo”) is meant to let designers easily convert static Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks artwork into interactive content without coding.  It lets you turn imported layers into components quickly, specifying & tweaking animated transitions.

 

Evangelist Ryan Stewart and Product Designer Narciso Jaramillo have posted a clear, crisp little tour of the design process.  Besides turning a Photoshop design into an animated prototype, they demonstrate using Illustrator to tweak the placed artwork.

 

Catalyst & the future of Flex were a hot topic at Adobe MAX. I wasn’t able to squeeze into one of the standing-room only sessions, but now you can check one out via Adobe TV.  Ryan’s Catalyst demo (similar to the one above) itself starts around 17:30 and runs roughly 10 minutes.  You can also get a look at the next version of Flex Builder, codenamed "Gumbo."

12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

December 14, 2008

Recent Flash goodness

Here’s a handful of good, immersive swiffiness I’ve run across lately:

 

  • This Is Reality takes "clean coal" technology to task.  I love the aesthetics, though after about six episodes of running the poor canary into a wall, I had to bail.
  • I found Cadbury’s pastoral Glass And A Half Full Productions via the bizarre drumming gorrilla I mentioned the other day.
  • Red Bull’s The Red Bulletin starts with a 3D globe, then heads into racecar territory. [Via]
10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

December 06, 2008

Photoshop gets a new color picker panel

When painting in Photoshop, I’ve always found the little color ramp area on the Color panel (screenshot) pretty cramped.  At just 190×15 pixels, it occupies a princely 0.16% of the screen real estate on a 17″ monitor (or 0.07% on 30-incher!), and yet you’re supposed to use it to choose among 16.7 million colors.  The main Photoshop color picker is of course much larger and more powerful, but using it requires trips into a modal dialog box.

 

Though we’ve yet to offer the color picker dialog in panel form, developer Anastasiy has created a SWF panel form of the picker (screenshot) that you can download for free.  Very cool!

 

I’ve written to Anastasiy to suggest a few tweaks, and I hope this is the first of many alternate color pickers for Photoshop. (We’re also talking to Viktor Goltvyanitsa about bringing his ColorPalette panel–now part of Fireworks CS4–to PSCS4.)  Lastly, we’ll work to make sure these components can be dropped into Configurator panels.

 

PS–A note on installation: Drop the contents of the ZIP file into your "Adobe Photoshop CS4/Plug-Ins/Panels" directory, then look under Window->Extensions.  All SWF files you drop into Panels or its subfolders appear under the Extensions submenu.

9:55 AM | Permalink | Comments [26]

December 02, 2008

Use Flex Builder to extend the Suite

We’re working to make it easier & easier for Flash/Flex developers to extend the Creative Suite. The new PatchPanel technology allows developers to use ActionScript to access the scripting DOM of a CS host app.

 

Developer Dr. Woohoo has been working closely with the development team for many months & points out some of PatchPanel’s advantages:

 

  1. It’s easier to write code because the DOMs for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and ExtendScript are imported directly into Flex Builder.  That means all the benefits of developing SWFs and AIR applications in FlexBuilder can now be applied to the development process of SWF panels (e.g., code-hinting, code-completion, refactoring, etc.).
  2. Debugging is on par with developing within Flex Builder.  We can actually run the SWF within the Creative Suite host application and debug directly within Flex Builder.  That’s dramatically significant.
  3. We can develop for both platforms using the same code base.
  4. We can develop for PS/AI/ID using the same framework (not the same code, though, because of the sometimes dramatic differences between the DOMs).
  5. PatchPanel is free.

 

PatchPanel creator Bernd Paradies also cites the following:

 

  1. You can copy and paste your old ExtendScript scripts into your Flex project, build them, and run them.
  2. You can write PP code that targets other CS hosts (e.g., Photoshop.alert() in InDesign brings up Photoshop).
  3. PatchPanel comes with complete LiveDocs-style documentation for ID, PS, AI, Bridge, PatchPanel, and SwitchBoard.
  4. The PatchPanel CS4 examples come with MXI samples that make it really easy to create MXPs that you can install via Extension Manager 2.x.
  5. PatchPanel comes with a special version of SwitchBoard, which allows you to do asynchronous communication with other CS apps without having to go through the host.
  6. You can use PatchPanel in AIR applications for smaller scripts.

 

For a deeper dive, check out Bernd’s video demo & overview presentation.  Also look for Dr. W’s MAX presentations & some new tutorials to emerge soon.  In the meantime, developers can download PatchPanel from Labs and discuss it on the Labs forum.

10:11 AM | Permalink | No Comments

October 28, 2008

Get better color online through Flash Player 10

Let’s not mince words: Presenting your images through Flash is now the best way to preserve the fidelity of their color online.

 

Support for color management is in Web browsers is rare (only Safari supports it by default, and the IE team is apparently missing in action).  Color management thus can’t be counted on from browsers, and images display differently in different browsers. Flash Player, on the other hand, is ubiquitous, consistent, and reliable–and now in Flash Player 10 it offers basic color management support.  It’ll take a little while for the new FP10 to proliferate, but this is a huge step forward.  Color mgmt. in Flash will finally put an end to colors shifting when you move from PS to Flash.

 

I’ve asked Adobe color management expert Peter Constable to provide further details.  For those, read on.  For my take on why Web designers should give a damn about this stuff, see previous.

(more…)

10:27 PM | Permalink | Comments [30]

October 24, 2008

Tutorial: Creating Flash panels for Photoshop

Matthew Keefe has posted a brief tutorial on how to create your first Flash panel for Photoshop CS4. To load any SWF in Photoshop as a panel, just drop it into the Adobe Photoshop CS4/Plug-Ins/Panels directory, then launch PS and look under Window->Extensions. To make a SWF communicate with Photoshop via scripting, however, a bit more work is required, and that’s where Matthew’s tutorial comes in. If you create something cool, or if you see interesting SWF panels popping up, please let us know.

Related:

9:34 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

Pixel Bender + Your Photos

I’m a big fan of Todd Dominey’s SlideShowPro component for Lightroom (using it pretty much incessantly), so I’m extremely pleased to see Todd adding support for Adobe’s new Pixel Bender imaging technology. PB is a way of running fast filter code in Flash Player 10, After Effects CS4, and–very shortly–Photoshop CS4. In this example (which you’ll need FP10 to see properly), color images are being converted to B&W on the fly, and the gallery is running a blur effect as the transition.

On-the-fly filtering opens up all kinds of possibilities for altering images non-destructively, from adding custom vignettes to applying sharpening (example). At a more humble (but arguably even more important level), the same graphics architecture enables color management support in Flash for the first time. Look for a more detailed post on that subject soon.

Pixel Bender support isn’t yet in the Lightroom version of SlideShowPro, but I’m looking forward to it. As for Photoshop, we decided to give the PB plug-in for CS4 a couple more weeks to bake, so look for it on Adobe Labs in early November. (In the meantime, just to be annoying, let me mention that being able to cruise over to the Pixel Bender Exchange, download filters (e.g. a fast zoom blur with preview), drop them into PS, and have added super-fast filters without restarting the app doesn’t suck at all.)

9:10 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

October 15, 2008

PSCS4 extensibility: Flash, 64-bit

Now that Photoshop CS4 is shipping, let’s talk extensibility.

 

Plug-Ins:

 

  • By and large, your existing plug-ins should work just fine with CS4.  Photoshop PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes reports that when it comes to PS on the Mac and PS on Windows running in 32-bit mode, "Our in-house testing proved early on that with very rare exceptions, ‘if it worked in CS3, it works in CS4.’" Developers like onOne and Digital Anarchy have already issued statements of CS4 compatibility, and I expect more to follow.
  • If you’re running Photoshop in 64-bit mode on Windows (Vista 64 or XP64), you’ll need updated, 64-bit-native versions of your plug-ins.  (The 64-bit version of Photoshop can’t host 32-bit processes, and vice versa.)  We’ve been providing documentation to plug-in vendors for many months, and the 64-bit-savvy CS4 SDK is publicly available for download.  I expect vendors to be trying to gauge the level of interest in 64-bit versions of their tools, so if you’re in that camp, you might want to give them some friendly encouragement.
  • Photoshop on Windows consists of two binaries (one 32-bit, one 64-bit) which can be installed in parallel as completely separate applications.  This means you can use the 32-bit version to run older plug-ins while waiting for them to go 64-bit-native.

 

Flash Panels:

 

  • Support for running SWFs as panels represents a development renaissance for Photoshop & the Creative Suite.  It’s never been possible to create panels for Photoshop in the past*, and developing for other apps meant learning different APIs and writing different code for each.  Now you can create cross-platform, cross-application, non-modal, vector-based, network-aware extensions using Flash or Flex.  This is going to kick serious ass, and the Photoshop Developer Center now features the Photoshop Panel Developer’s Guide.  Look for more examples and documentation soon.

 

If you’re a developer and have questions, feel free to drop Bryan a line so that he can point you in the right direction.

*Unless you were a really clever developer like the guys at Nik Software–and they’re the first to say “Oh yeah, that was awful”; now it’s possible in an easy, reliable way.

10:13 PM | Permalink | Comments [12]

InDesign + Flash goodness

As noted recently, one of my longest-held wishes has been for Flash (the authoring tool) to play better with other apps, enabling much richer exchange of documents.  Now, thanks to the new XFL format introduced in CS4, we’re seeing that vision become more real.  In a new segment on Adobe TV, Flash evangelist Paul Burnett demonstrates how InDesign works with Flash. 

In a nutshell, you can choose to export your pages as either SWF (ready to go right into a Web page with animation, no tweaking required) or XFL (ready to go into the Flash authoring environment with content intact*).  The beauty is that InDesign can offer rich direct-to-Web publishing without trying to replicate every conceivable authoring option. (Oh, and members of the InDesign team helped build the rich new text support in Flash Player 10, enabling higher fidelity hand-off between the apps.) [Via]

 

Next up, look for demos of After Effects leveraging XFL export to bring projects to Flash.

 

* One subtle detail is that Flash Player 10 now supports basic color management–more than a little important when you’re working across media and want to keep your images looking good.  I plan to share more details about this support soon.

10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

August 05, 2008

Developers: Info on driving CS via AIR, Flash

If you’re interested in using Flash or AIR to extend and automate the apps of the Adobe Creative Suite, check out the Quarterly Creative Suite Developer Update Web conference, scheduled for Thursday, August 7th, at 9:00am Pacific time.

 

Amidst the other presentations, Adobe engineer Bernd Paradies will be talking for 15 minutes about a pair of technologies he’s developing:

 

  • "SwitchBoard" (see previous) lets AIR apps communicate with Photoshop and other CS3 apps via JavaScript
  • "PatchPanel" is a library that aims to standardize the scripting interface between Flash panels & the CS apps.  Instead of writing separate commands for each host, PatchPanel will make it possible to write common commands that are translated on the fly for each environment.

 

The session will be recorded and will be available for later viewing if you can’t make it in person.

8:36 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

July 02, 2008

New Flash Player beta speeds Mac performance

Adobe has posted Beta 2 of the upcoming Flash Player 10 to Adobe Labs.  Player engineer Tinic Uro shares some notes, pointing out that on Mac OS X this new build runs the GUIMark test suite some 3x faster than previous versions.  He posted more details in this comment.  Given that I heard a lot of criticism of the performance of Flash on Mac when I blogged about possibly using Flash inside the Photoshop UI, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing the good news.

4:43 PM | Permalink | Comments [10]

June 18, 2008

The Color & the Shape, in PS & AI

9:22 AM | Permalink | No Comments

June 16, 2008

Drive the Creative Suite through AIR

I’m pleased to announce that SwitchBoard, a technology for driving the Creative Suite family of products using applications running on Adobe AIR, is now available from Adobe Labs.  As Dr. Woohoo explains, "SwitchBoard is a Flex library that allows you to extend an AIR app by giving you access to the ExtendScript DOMs for the Creative Suite apps.  Your AIR app can now easily establish two-way communication with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Bridge."  According to the Labs page,

 

Adobe AIR developers can create applications that participate as first class citizens in creative workflows. Each SwitchBoard solution consists of an AIR application written for SwitchBoard, JavaScripts, and the SwitchBoard service that delivers the scripts to the Creative Suite applications. AIR developers only need to include a Flex library called SwitchBoard.swc in their projects in order to send and receive scripts to and from Creative Suite applications.

 

SwitchBoard brings together the power of the automation in the Creative Suite applications with the potential for third parties to extend the creative process with new applications produced using AIR. The result is an extensible, powerful, cross-platform environment that can quickly adapt to today’s rapidly changing creative workflows.

 

Thanks to resident brainiac Bernd Paradies for making it happen.  With the ability to create desktop-based Flash interfaces for the Suite, I’m looking forward to seeing what developers can devise, and I look forward to sharing some examples here soon.  (Oh, and Bernd has more good tricks up his sleeve, too.)

6:27 PM | Permalink | Comments [9]

June 11, 2008

DestroyFlickr! (in a nice way)

The curiously named DestroyFlickr has nothing to do with destruction & everything to do with browsing your images via a desktop application.  Specifically, it’s an Adobe AIR app (essentially a Flash SWF running on the desktop, outside the browser) that lets you navigate your photostream through an attractive, minimalist gray interface.  According to the developer,

 

With the support of both drag and drop uploading and downloading, posting and saving photos is done in one easy motion. Now you can download the highest resolution version of a photo without having to see it first—just drag a thumbnail to the download menu and the download begins. [Via]

 

Smoove.

11:43 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

May 19, 2008

Dr. Woohoo & the future of the Suite platform

We want to make Photoshop and the whole Creative Suite much more flexible, extensible, and connected. Therefore, we’re looking at letting upcoming versions of Photoshop and–as far as I know–all Creative Suite applications be extended via SWF panels (palettes) created in Adobe Flash or Flex.

 

Of course, this can’t come as a surprise.  I mean, how brain-dead would Adobe have to be not to do this?  The appeal of extending one’s app with lightweight, cross-platform, network-aware widgets is so obvious that we were busy building support in my first app some eight years ago–and we had to build our own Flash Player clone to do it!  The CS3 versions of Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Bridge, and Soundbooth can already be extended in this way, and Photoshop and other apps can run SWFs in a scripting dialog.

 

Our task now is to implement support in as consistent a way as possible across the Suite.  Today, developing for, say, the Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign trio would mean writing six chunks of platform-specific C code, delivering three different user experiences.  In the near future, by contrast, you should be able to write one chunk of code that extends each app with consistent, non-modal (panel-based) functionality.  Want to add peer-to-peer notes, Adobe kuler integration, video tutorials, and more to the Suite in one shot?  We aim to make it easy.

 

I believe the results will be transformative.  When I talk about the need to make Photoshop radically more configurable–letting it be "everything you need, nothing you don’t," person by person, moment by moment–I’m placing a lot of hope in easy panel configurability that can reshape workspaces and workflows.

 

We’ve hired a great developer named Drew Trujillo–better known as Dr. Woohoo–to help prime the pump.  In addition to After Effects<->Flash integration tools, he’s mashed up Illustrator with Flickr, and now he’s busily crafting fun new projects that we look forward to showing off a bit further down the line.  In the meantime Matthew Fabb briefly covers a sneak peek (showing Adobe AIR driving Photoshop) that Drew gave at the FITC show in Toronto.

 

If using Flash/Flex/AIR to extend & transform the Creative Suite is up your alley, drop me a line.  Seriously, we should talk.  I think you’ll like what’s cooking.

9:18 AM | Permalink | Comments [51]

March 21, 2008

Type In Motion

  • Motion graphics firm National Television lays on the delightful treatments in these two spots for British Airways. [Via]
  • Pixar artists put more love into the margins than most folks do into the main subject.  If you like their work, check out Thunder Chunky’s interview with Pixar title designer Susan Bradley. [Via]
  • Typeflash lets you whip up animated text, then share the results.
  • Retro fabulosity:
    • The video for Justice’s DVNO is loaded with old-skool action. [Via]
    • Design firm Laundry lays down some splashy type stylings around their site.  Click the Virgin Mobile (which is not, as I first read it, “Virginmobile”) link to see some diggable animations. [Via]
  • Always hilarious: Tenacious D’s Inward Singing (loaded with profanity, just so you know before clicking).
  • Designers Leroy & Clarkson put type in motion for Bio, the biography channel. [Via]
6:22 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

March 08, 2008

Designing Flex component skins with Photoshop

If you’re interested in modifying the look and feel of components in Adobe Flex 3, check out Narciso Jaramillo’s guidance on the subject.  You can also download a set of plug-ins to make the process smoother. [Via]

4:56 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

Flash moving to an XML-based authoring format

Well, I guess the cat is scratching its way out of the bag: as noted Flash author and developer Colin Moock reports on his blog, the Flash authoring tool is moving away from its binary FLA authoring format (undocumented & unreadable to the outside world) and towards an XML-based format.  Yeah!

Why the excitement?  I’ll admit, this seems like a pretty arcane subject, but the possible ramifications for workflow are great.  Colin writes,

Historically, interchanging source with the Flash authoring tool has been virtually impossible for third-party software because the specification for .fla has never been public… [Now, however,] in theory you might one day edit the images of an XFL file directly in Photoshop without disturbing the timeline information also contained in that file. Or you might be able to import a page from a word processing document into a Flash presentation.

I should add the obligatory caveat that plans are subject to change, none of this may happen, void where prohibited, professional driver on a closed course, etc.  Even so, I find the direction really exciting.

Back in 1999, long before I came to work here, I started lobbying my contacts at Macromedia and Adobe to create something I called the "Flash Interchange Format"–some XML representation of at least the basics of an animation (object name, position, scale, etc.) so that I could use Flash and After Effects together.  Unfortunately Flash remained locked to the inscrutable FLA format.  We did devise an XML interchange format that let LiveMotion and After Effects talk, and Dr. Woohoo has done terrific work enabling Flash and AE to exchange data, yet the tools continue to lack an out-of-the-box solution.

Now, however, I hear the sounds of a big door opening, and it’s a welcome sound indeed.

3:16 PM | Permalink | Comments [18]

March 07, 2008

Friday Photos: Slam dunks to Zeppelin


4:38 PM | Permalink | No Comments

March 04, 2008

Technology sneak: InDesign -> Flash

“Print is not dead,” says InDesign Product Manager Michael Ninness. “But design for print only is dying.”

At last week’s InDesign Conference*, Myke & Adobe evangelist Tim Cole showed a sneak preview of InDesign handing off a rich layout to the Flash authoring tool, then turning it into an interactive composition.  Terri Stone from CreativePro.com’s got the story and screenshots, while John Dowdell shares some perspective from a longtime observer of designer-developer interactions. [Update: Mordy Golding has posted videos of the demo.]

What’s particularly cool here, I think, is that InDesign isn’t just producing a SWF file.  That approach can be great when you want one-stop shopping, but we saw very clearly in the LiveMotion days that integration with Flash authoring is an essential option.  Without integration, content creators face an either/or choice of tools, meaning that each app ends up trying to do everything you could want. 

By emphasizing integration, Adobe can avoid re-inventing the wheel or stuffing half of Flash inside InDesign; instead, each tool can focus on doing what it does best. InDesign can nail layout, styling, content aggregation, and basic interactivity, while Flash can pick up for richer coding and animation. (As it happens, Myke is a veteran of Microsoft’s Expression/Silverlight effort, before which he was my boss on LiveMotion, so I’m really glad he’s helping shape these efforts.)

For more examples of InDesign-style content taken to the next level with Flash, check out the full-screen, video-enhanced Flash presentation of Reporte Indigo (“Inicia tu experiencia aquí!”) and the page curls of Lovely Magazine.  (The sneak showed page curls being specified right within InDesign, then running in the Flash Player.)  [Via Lynly Schambers]

Tangentially related: InDesign Magazine is offering a free trial issue as a downloadable PDF–no strings attached.

*InDesign now gets its own conference; back in the day, whouda thunk it? You’ve come a long way, baby. :-)

[PS--On the baby front (hey, how could I resist?), I have to say that it's kinda bizarre to get back to talking about technology & the usual ephemera I share here. I checked mail on Sunday and saw a CNET headline about the future of digital photography (sounds interesting, haven't read it yet). I found myself thinking, "Oh yeah... digital photography... people are still talking about that?" What a seismic shift in perspective this whole thing produces.]

9:28 PM | Permalink | Comments [8]

February 24, 2008

Naked saunas, 3D Flash globes, and other infographic goodness

  • My wife and I are nervously quizzing each other on these expert (and very funny) baby care instructions (boosted wholesale, it would seem, from David Sopp’s Safe Baby Handling Tips). [Via]
  • Wable is “a coffee table that displays a user’s web activity via physical bar graphing.”  Yes, I remember pining for such a thing not ever. (Are Venn-diagram kiddie pools next?)
  • Maps:
  • Signage:
  • Blogging software has made self-publishing seem simple, but beneath the covers, a whole lot’s going on.  Wired has a Flash-based diagram showing what all happens when one hits “Publish.” [Via]
10:53 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

February 03, 2008

Recent Flash goodness in 3D & beyond

  • When is a shopping site… something else?  When it’s this viral site for Dutch chain Hema*.  "It’s like an IKEA catalog was sliced up and fed to a Rube Goldberg machine," says Motionographer. "The magnifying glass bit is brilliant." [Via]
  • Who doesn’t like "secret interactive frivolity"?  Design firm Baker and Hill lavishes attention on the details of their fun-to-navigate company site.
  • 3D action:
    • Don’t let the ultra-retro intro fool you: Electric Oyster’s demo features the beginnings of a nifty Flash-based flight simulator. [Via]
    • National Geographic offers a 3D Atlas of Human History.  Developer g.wygonik from the always-interesting Terra Incognita provides background on the project.
    • This Adobe Japan page features 3D balls gone mad. [Via]
    • The Volvo XC70 site features a fully rotatable rendering of the car, festooned wih interactive touch points.  Stick around through the intro, then hit the arrows to continue.  (Yes, we have kid-haulers on the brain, and I’ll always have a thing for Volvo wagons.)
  • ASLuv busts out the fairy dust with this little particle sprayer.  (Don’t break the glowsticks ’til you feel the beats hit.) [Via]
  • In a sorta related vein, see Lee Brimelow’s YTMND-style Billy Mays tributePuzzling; I can dig it.
  • The Air Pocket Symphony (no relation to Adobe AIR, MacBook Air, wayward heiresses, etc.) features photorealistic objects and a nice, simple sliding animation.  [Via]
  • MyFlashFetish offers SWF bits (particularly music players, it seems) that can be embedded in your site. [Via]

* Tangential: It’s not Flash, but on the innovative shopping front, software maker Panic lets you drag and drop items into your shopping cart.  Slickness.

3:12 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

January 28, 2008

Putting video inside the Photoshop UI

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, there’s huge potential in extending Photoshop via embedded Flash–something we’ve already prototyped in CS3.  Among the Flash Player’s capabilities, of course, is the ability to display video, including high quality H.264.

The idea of putting video inside Photoshop, however, sometimes draws blanks stares.  "Dude, why would I want to watch Transformers in a Photoshop palette?"  You wouldn’t, of course.  For a more practical example, look to the new MacBook Air.

Apple has posted a set of little videos that show off the gestures enabled by the laptop’s–er, notebook’s–new trackpad.  (Click the little arrow by the pictures of fingers.)  Each clip is short n’ sweet, showing just what’s needed to communicate the idea.

The thing they don’t mention here, though, and that I learned by watching a demo at Macworld, is that the videos appear inside the Keyboard & Mouse section of system prefs.  If you forget how they work, just pop open the controls & get a quick demo.

That’s more what I have in mind for Adobe applications.  Now, as with all the times I mention future ideas, I have to manage expectations: if you like the idea, don’t be disappointed if you don’t see video clips popping out of every dialog box in Photoshop.  Having said that, we hope to do things in a very Adobe way–opening the platform to the community.  Something tells me that more than a few of the savvy educators out there will see an opportunity to enhance the Photoshop user experience.

1:06 PM | Permalink | Comments [30]

January 21, 2008

“Enter The Ghetto Matrix,” Flash Panos, & HDR

  • "How to Enter The Ghetto Matrix": Graffiti Research Labs built their own bullet-time camera rig, then used it to make a music video. [Via]
  • Flash-based panoramas:
    • The NYT features a pair of interactive panoramas shot at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.  The audio helps add to the sense of being there, though I’d recommend skipping the built-in animation & instead clicking and dragging to navigate for yourself.
    • Rob Corell passed along these 360° video panoramas, created with the help of Papervision 3D. Go Irish.
  • More high dynamic range action:


4:42 PM | Permalink | No Comments

January 12, 2008

kuler RIA comes to Dreamweaver

On the heels of integrations with Fireworks, Flash, Illustrator, Dashboard, and even Visio, Adobe’s kuler hosted app/color community is now integrated with Dreamweaver, courtesy of the good folks at WebAssist.  The panel is a free download from their site.

Seems like there just might be something to this desktop/Web hybrid thing.  Perhaps we’ll get it into Photoshop yet. :-)

Speaking (completely tangentially) of Color-Related Technologies with Funky K-Based Names™, the color bars of Pioneer’s Project Kuro remind me of kuler.

5:05 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

January 11, 2008

Flickr phlows, Photo Friday

5:04 PM | Permalink | Comments [5]

January 04, 2008

Recent Flash coolness

Some bits I’ve encountered in recent travels:

  • Mr. Doob is out of hand, creating all kinds of cool Flash experiments, 3D and otherwise.  From the fireworks on the home page to a blog full of examples, the guy is keeping busy.  I especially like this 3D cube and these spheres, both showing off depth-of-field effects enabled by Papervision 3D.  This little fluid simulation is fun, too (reload the page to reconfigure the pieces).
  • ClaraCollins.com presents the fashion designer’s work in a novel way. Mouse over the little arrows that sit above the pages of each portfolio, and you’ll see the images whip by in little time lapses. You can also rotate each portfolio 180 degrees. [Via]
  • Layer Tennis comes to Flash in a friendly clash between James Hutchinson & Trevor Van Meter. [Via]
  • Reminding me why I could afford only 120 sq. ft. in Manhattan (hello, Brooklyn!), 5th on the Park offers 1,800 sq. ft. in Harlem–for a cool $1.6 mil.  I mention it here because of the cool presentation of the building & its units.  You can roll over each face of the structure, clicking any unit to see its floor plan & other details. [Via]
  • Art Is A Gift uses a Flash UI to let you style a little "Baby Qee" critter.  Check out the gallery section, as well as the "About" link that shows kids painting the real thing as art therapy. [Via Jeff Tranberry]
  • Enfant Terrible sets off its shopping site with a cheerful, simple little animated illustration. [Via]
  • Adobe has created a 25th Anniversary Timeline of the company, on which you can see key developments in people, personnel, and the industry at a whole.  I’m undecided as to how successfully I think the sort of "mystery meat" rollover approach works.  There’s also a Flash-based 15-page overview document, complete with embedded video.  (Weirdly I don’t see a downloadable PDF version.)


2:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

November 03, 2007

Tasty new automotive 3D animation

  • Nissan has launched its Rogue crossover vehicle with the help of a really nicely executed drive through a swiftly tilting city.  [Via]  They play off the ad via their Web site, featuring more animation & a fistful of Flash games.
  • Carmaker Mini has launched their Mini Clubman model via some solid Flash video + interactivity. [Via]
  • Joseph Kosinski & Gmunk have teamed up to create the expertly rendered Hummer: Game OnOh yeah, dude–the environment gets so totally pwned!! (Sorry, had to say it.) [Via]
  • Tangentially related: Apparently Joseph will be remaking Tron (PDF).  For Honda’s excellent take on Tron, see previous.
6:10 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

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.

Hospitaliano!,

J. (retching)

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.

10:29 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

October 25, 2007

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]

For more in this vein, see previous: Colossal images through Photoshop & Flash; 13 gigapixels or bust; 3.8 Gigapixels of Half Dome.

* 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.

6:41 AM | Permalink | No Comments

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.

Chek out the video of the system in action, and see some of the creations on Flickr.

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,

J.

5:58 PM | Permalink | Comments [26]

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.

10:22 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

October 07, 2007

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.

4:15 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

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).

5:38 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

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.


1:08 PM | Permalink | Comments [12]

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.

8:52 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

October 03, 2007

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.

For Dr. Woohoo tools or moving keyframe data from Flash to After Effects & vice versa, see previous.  You might also like the way he’s mashed up Photoshop+MATLAB.

9:17 AM | Permalink | No Comments

September 28, 2007

Going to MAX? Let’s talk Photoshop, AE, Flash…

Greetings from O’Hare, where I find myself en route to this coming week’s Adobe MAX conference in Chicago.  If you plan to attend the show and are interested in talking about the future of Photoshop & how all this stuff fits together, please drop me a line.  In particular, Michael Coleman & the After Effects guys are looking for customers who use AE & Flash together (or who would like to do so).  Drop him a line if you’re interested in that, and hope to see you at the show.

[PS: There will be Birds of a Feather sessions featuring the Photoshop team Monday night. Photoshop is 7:30-8:30.
Suites teams (Design and Web) are 8:30-9:30.  I'm not yet sure about the location(s).]

1:32 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

September 06, 2007

“Photoshop Express” RIA sneak-peeked today

Today the crowd at Photoshop World got a quick preview of Photoshop Express, a new application currently in development at Adobe.  First hinted at by Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen some six months ago, Photoshop Express isn’t meant to duplicate/replace Photoshop CS3 or Photoshop Elements. Rather, it’s a new member of the Photoshop family that’s meant to make Adobe imaging technology immediately accessible to large numbers of people.

Earlier this year, Adobe introduced Premiere Express, a free, Flash-based online video editor for creating mash-ups and remixes. Anyone using Photobucket, MTV.com and YouTube’s TestTube site can take Premiere Express for a spin.  Photoshop Express, though not yet publicly available, aims to offer a similarly easy, approachable experience for image editing.

I can’t share a ton of additional detail at the moment, but here’s a screenshot of the app in action. Adobe Sr. VP John Loiacono showed that it was possible to adjust an image just by rolling over the different versions shown at the top, previewing the results & then clicking the desired degree of modification.   I’ll post more info as it becomes available.

[Update: You can see the quick onstage demo of Photoshop Express in Terry White's latest Creative Suite Podcast (direct link to video).  The demo starts around 16:10 mark.]

8:47 PM | Permalink | Comments [38]

September 04, 2007

Image-resizing coolness comes to Flash

The content-aware image resizing technology that I mentioned last week is starting to be put to the test on the Web.  Developer Patrick Swieskowski has created an interactive Flash-based demo that lets you scale an image horizontally or vertically. To prove that it’s not a canned/pre-processed implementation, the Flash UI lets you specify other images to process. (Here’s one I tried.)  John Dowdell links to more good resources, including experiments and info from Henry Yee, Lee Felarca (another SWF-based demo), and Joa Elbert (including source code).

Where will all this lead?  Hard to say, though it’s clearly touched nerves, good and bad. Some photogs are dispirited, though it makes me wonder where, and by whom, the line between acceptable & unacceptable manipulation is drawn ("Skies aren’t that black, Ansel").  Who gets to say that color gels & graduated ND filters are okay while digital resizing isn’t?  Me, I welcome tools that help tell great stories.

9:23 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

August 27, 2007

New Flash gallery power for Photoshop

Felix Turner, creator of the slick, elegant SimpleViewer Flash Web gallery (example), has provided a SimpleViewer script for Photoshop.  The script makes it possible to set parameters and punch out a gallery right from Photoshop, and it’s a free download from the Airtight Interactive site. 

If this is up your alley, check out the earlier PostcardViewer script for Photoshop (example), as well as the same templates for Lightroom.  Thanks to Felix, and to Jeff Tranberry in Photoshop QE for his help in making these happen.

In related news, the source code for the Flash gallery used by the Adobe Media Gallery extension for Bridge (see earlier announcement) as well as Lightroom has been updated (example).  Gallery developers Bluefire have posted details of the enhancements on their blog.

8:58 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

August 22, 2007

Flash video goes high-def

Great news from the Flash team: the latest version of the Flash Player (available now in beta form) will support the H.264 video codec, paving the way for hardware-accelerated, full-screen high-definition movies on the Web.  Adobe platform evangelist Ryan Stewart hits the highlights:

Does the addition of H.264 mean Flash Player will support HD?
Yes, Flash Player supports 480p, 720p and 1080p content encoded with either On2 or H.264. Performance will vary depending on the capabilities and configuration of your machine. In general a 2.0 GHz Mac or a 3GHz PC, with one or more processors, will deliver an optimum experience.

Will Flash Player 9 Update 3 support non-FLV files?
Yes, with this update, Flash Player will also support MPEG-4 standard container files [...]

So basically you can play full, hardware-accelerated 1080p Quicktime videos inside of the updated Flash Player. Welcome to the next generation of web video.

Indeed.  I knew these changes were in the works, but I really didn’t expect them to arrive so quickly. Flash Player engineer Tinic Uro has the details, while Aral Balkan has a full FAQ. All in all, this is a great step forward for Flash developers, Flash video-creating apps (including Photoshop Extended), and Flash video watchers (y’know–just about everyone ever ;-)).

8:30 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

August 17, 2007

New Web gallery goodness

Fresh new Web gallery technology:

PS–Due to a power system shutdown this weekend, I won’t be able to post new entries or approve comments until at least Sunday night.  My God, I might actually have to go outside; wish me luck…

5:04 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

July 07, 2007

Recent Flash goodness

  • Glacéau Vitamin Water features an interesting way to cruise through a set of products.  The visual simplicity belies nice attention to detail (e.g. blurring as objects recede in space).  I could live without the browbeating Brit, though. [Via]
  • Mötto Agency: Umlauts & yodeling, oh my. They even make "mystery meat" navigation work. [Via]
  • Not speaking French won’t keep you from appreciating The Birth of Cornelius. [Via]
  • On Little Deviant, you swat and swipe the gray "Sheeple" to power your Scion ride.  It’s a groovy blend of 3D, video, and interactive elements. [Via]
  • Adobe engineer Rob Corell points out this cool recursive blur technique.  I could swear I did something like this way back in the day using Director.  In any case, I really like seeing Flash continue to evolve beyond the traditional "Flash aesthetic."
2:35 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

July 06, 2007

Slimbox & more Flash galleries for Lightroom

Matthew Campagna, a kindergarten teacher in South Korea, has modified the slick, lightweight (7kb), JavaScript-powered Slimbox Web gallery for Lightroom, offering it as a free download from his site.  Here’s a sample gallery generated using the template.  The site features installation instructions (straightforward once you know the file path, but something I’d like to make one-click easy in the future), as well as details on hacking the template for more options. [Via Richard Earney of Inside-Lightroom.com]

Elsewhere, LightroomGalleries.com is devoted to just what you’d imagine.  I’m enjoying the LRG FlashFlex gallery.  It has some wonky qualities, and I’m not sure what purpose the draggability of images is supposed to serve, but fortunately it’s possible to tweak these parameters inside Lightroom (e.g. disabling dragging).  Use the installation instructions mentioned above to find the path to your templates folder. [Via]

If you know of other good Lightroom templates, please let me know.

5:17 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

3D cars, in Flash & otherwise


1:25 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

June 29, 2007

Great new Flash galleries for Lightroom

Here’s a little Friday afternoon treat: the Lightroom team has been working with Felix Turner, creator of the excellent Airtight Flash galleries, to integrate support for the galleries.  Lightroom engineer Andy Rahn has posted three gallery templates on the LR team blog, along with installation instructions.  Here are examples I generated using each one:

What’s really sweet is the way the Adobe Flash Player is directly integrated into Lightroom, so that as you adjust the specific parameters for each gallery (image size, colors, number of rows/columns, etc.), you see the results immediately. With other apps you’d need to set parameters, export, review the results in a browser, go back to the authoring tool, tweak, and so on.

I think this is a sign of more good things to come, and if you’re a Flash developer who’s like to integrate with Lightroom, drop me a line.  We’ll work on updating the galleries to run in the new Bridge-based Adobe Media Gallery (which uses the same engine) as well.  To use PostcardViewer directly from Photoshop, see previous.

3:10 PM | Permalink | Comments [8]

June 19, 2007

Slick search-driven Flash UI

Given that discovering the graphical UI (specifically, MacPaint) was a life-changing event for me, it’s a little funny that I find myself so interested in search as a UI tool.  But as we’ve said many times now, categorization goes only so far.  Once you get beyond a certain number of things (pictures, emails, menu items, etc.), you need some form of type-to-find.

Photoshop UI designer Andrew Lin points out the site for design firm S-W-H, which features a slick, easy-to-use search function (including auto-complete).  Coupled with the blazing fast transition animations*, it gives you a sense of flying through a large body of work.  Bonus: Typing “foo” (and lots of other things) treats you to the sounds of people excitedly going off in Dutch.

For a counterpoint, check out the frankly terrible interface for HBO’s John From Cincinnati site (too bad, as I’m digging the new show’s tripped-out profane-cowboy-meets-longboard lingo).  The site loads by promising a carousel of content, but it then immediately hides said content, making you guess about search terms (kind of hard if you’re new to the show, eh?).

Tangentially related bits:

  • Inquisitor beautifully integrates predictive searching into Safari.  Trust me, you want this (just like PicLens… and Saft).
  • Apropos of time lapses (see recent), Andrew made quite a number during his tenure with a certain fruit company.  Hypnotic, but burning cars & tail lights make me remember why I traded commutes on 280 for a 10-minute bike ride.

* With animation effects in general I’m reminded of a quote  from Alan Cooper: “No matter how beautiful, no matter how cool your interface, it would be better if there were less of it.” A little goes a very long way.

PS–If you know of other cool, powerful search UIs (Flash or otherwise), please share ‘em.

11:26 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

June 11, 2007

How should Photoshop play with Flash/Flex?

Now that we’ve gotten CS3 out the door & made a big leap getting Photoshop files into Flash, we can turn more fully to the future.  So, where do we go from here?

It’s not that we don’t have ideas, mind you; on the contrary, we have so many ideas that we need to stage a battle royale, then make ‘em fight it out.  I have some pretty aggressive ideas, but I don’t want to “lead the witness” by sharing them before asking for your thoughts.

In my mind our goals fall into two areas:

  • Speed up the visual design of Flash and Flex projects/components
  • Smooth out the hand-off from design to development

Or, to put it even more simply, “Design quickly, transfer smoothly.”

What do you think?  As you’re working with Photoshop and Flash and/or Flex, where do you run into snags, lose time?  In your ideal world, how would everything work?  I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Thanks,
J.

[Commenting was broken earlier due to a problem with the server, but it's now working again. Sorry for the delay.  --J.]

1:59 PM | Permalink | Comments [13]

June 09, 2007

Flash gets kuler: RIA in a panel

Ah, I love how all this is shaping up: After debuting on the web, and followed by appearances in Dashboard and Apollo, Adobe’s kuler rich internet app is now available as a panel inside Flash CS3.  Thanks to the efforts of the crew at Pixelfumes, you can now view & search feeds of color harmonies generated using the online tool, then use them inside Flash.  I made a quick little demo video to show the panel in action.  Great work, guys!

This is a great example of how opening a door to online community can enrich the desktop experience.  If you know of other cool, usefully connected desktop apps (via Flash panels or any other method), please share ‘em.  It’s very handy to have these on hand as we plan the future.

1:23 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

June 04, 2007

Share your SWFs, help Adobe, get a reward

Adobe now makes quite a few tools that create Flash content in one form or another.  One size certainly doesn’t fit all, and as you’d imagine the company is always trying to craft the right mix of tools.  To that end, the research team is gathering examples of SWF projects of all shapes and sizes.  By submitting examples, you can help Adobe teams get a better sense of what is (and isn’t) being built & therefore what tools are needed.  To say thanks, participants get entered into a drawing for Amazon.com gift cards.  If all this sounds interesting to you, please read on for details from Customer Research.  –J.


Adobe’s customer research team is collecting an assortment of SWF content. We are looking to get a wide range of content for a variety of purposes so that we can better understand the types of projects people are working on, and better support those projects that are not always posted on the web. We are especially interested in uses of SWF beyond web sites and advertising – such as (but not limited to) presentations, e-learning, character animation, prototypes, games, rich internet applications, etc. We’d also like to get representation of a variety of skill levels, so feel free to submit your project even if you are not an ActionScript user.
 
For every 50 submissions we receive, we will select one at random to receive an Amazon.com gift card for $50 (US dollars). You can submit as many projects as you like!
 
For each submission, please send the following to flashresearch@adobe.com by July 6, 2007:

  • Your SWF or a link to your project or a screenshot of the project
  • A brief description (3 to 4 sentences) describing the audience and purpose of the project
  • Descriptive tags to categorize the project’s content and purpose – Use as many or as few tags as you like, and feel free to make up your own. Some examples tags are included below.
  • Percent of all your projects that are SWFs
  • Percentage of time you spend writing ActionScript
  • Percentage of time you spend using the timeline
  • Your name
  • Your job title and company
  • Your phone number (so a member of the Adobe’s customer research team can contact you for a quick 15 minute phone call if they need more information)

Please feel free to forward this message to others who might be interested or post it on your blog.
 
We are looking forward to hearing from you!
 
Adobe Customer Research Team

11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

June 01, 2007

New Flash, HTML gallery engine for Bridge

Feeling overwhelmed by Adobe updates yet? <:-)

Okay, just one more for now, but I think it’ll be worth your while: the new Adobe Media Gallery engine adds Flash and HTML gallery creation capabilities to Adobe Bridge CS3.  By leveraging the Flash- and JavaScript-based extensibility of the Bridge platform, we’ve been able to build a powerful little engine for cranking out both Flash-based and HTML-based Web galleries (here’s a screenshot, as well as Jeff Tranberry’s 4-minute video demo).  Any file that Bridge can preview (which is just about everything in the Suite–JPEGs, PSDs, raw files, PDFs, Illustrator and InDesign docs, etc.) can be included in a gallery.  Finished galleries can be uploaded directly from Bridge via FTP.

To get cranking with AMG, make sure you first update to Bridge 2.1, then download the installer from Adobe Labs.  The site includes a quick start guide, list of known issues, and more.  Developers interested in building on Bridge can view and reuse the code that’s in AMG (e.g. FTP upload).

Thanks to the team at Quality Process for all their efforts in bringing AMG to the world, and to the crew at Blue Fire for making the SWF templates (which have now been open-sourced).  Great work, guys!

See also previous, related posts:

6:54 PM | Permalink | Comments [8]

May 23, 2007

Tips on Lightroom Flash galleries

If you’re interested in wringing the most out of Lightroom’s Flash-based Web galleries, check out the Bluefire Blog.  It’s written and maintained by the guys at Bluefire, the Web developers Adobe hired to build the galleries.  They get down to the nuts and bolts of how the galleries work, revealing hidden settings and more.  Note that you can find the open-source gallery code on opensource.adobe.com.

Flash galleries are a big interest of mine, and I hope to have some more good news to share on this front soon.  Stay tuned. [Related: Flash gallery hook-up for Photoshop.]

4:33 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

May 21, 2007

Tasty Flash bits: Milk, missives, and grins

I’ve encountered some savory Flash business around the Web recently:

  • Get the Glass features gorgeous illustration & great game play–all in the name of milk. [Via Veronique Brossier]
  • I’m not sure whether Blank Missives has a point, or whether having a point is the point, or… anyway, it sure does look nice.  Dig that typography, too. [Via]
  • The reflective "wet floor effect" comes to the excellent SlideShowPro.  More info is at developer Todd Dominey’s site. [Via]
  • Neave.com features what Bridge engineer Rob Corell calls a "grin-inducing Flash effect."  This kind of thing makes me really want to capture the life and imagination of Flash apps & infuse it into desktop tools.
  • Buzzword is a terrific name for what promises to be a cool product: Flash-based online word processing. Here’s more press on it.

And finally, on a note near and dear to my heart, ZDNet’s Ryan Stewart lists his Top Five Features in Flash CS3.  #1?  Photoshop integration!  [Via]

9:25 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

May 16, 2007

knowhow: Flash-powered help inside Illustrator

"You know more than we do."  That’s the simple, and powerful, thought behind "knowhow," a new Web-savvy part of Illustrator CS3.

Using a Flash SWF file running inside an Illustrator panel (palette), knowhow is designed to provide information about tools and topics right within Illustrator. The feature offers help information for over 100 Illustrator-related topics—including all tools and panels.  As you use various shortcut keys while using a tool, the appropriate hint term highlights in context, making it possible to find more info about it.

The really interesting part, though, is that instead of searching only Adobe-made Help, knowhow queries social bookmarking site del.icio.us.  Anyone can add content to the knowhow del.icio.us page, meaning the Illustrator community can enhance the info available inside Illustrator. That’s a key part of the vision we’re pursuing as we Flash-enable Photoshop and other Adobe desktop tools.

To see knowhow in action, check out the online demo on Adobe Labs, or bring up the panel inside Illustrator (download tryout); it’s under Window->Adobe Labs.   For the full details, check out the FAQ (PDF) and visit the knowhow forum.

6:55 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

May 09, 2007

Type as image, color workflows, & more in Design Center

The Adobe Design Center shakes the bottle & lets some new content spray:

New Dialog Box:

New Tutorials:

And as always, don’t forget to check out the Adobe links on del.icio.us. Info on how to contribute links is here.  [Via]


2:23 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

May 08, 2007

Read this blog, via Flash, right within Photoshop (?)

As I’ve mentioned previously, Photoshop CS3 introduces the ability to run Flash/Flex SWF files inside Photoshop dialogs.  Not only does this enable faster creation of rich user interfaces for Photoshop; it also opens the door to a whole new level of connectedness right within Photoshop.  It will enable–if you’ll let me get buzzwordy for a second–"crowdsourcing": letting users collaborate & solve their own problems, enhancing Photoshop in the process.  That’ll largely happen in the future, but right now we’re shipping a practical example that runs scripts, plays video, and displays RSS feeds.

Now, if you want to take this for a spin and have Photoshop CS3 installed (and if you don’t, by all means please grab the tryout), here’s what to do:

  • Navigate to the Adobe Photoshop CS3 application folder on your machine.
  • Within it, navigate to Scripting Guide/Sample Scripts/JavaScript.
  • There you’ll find FlashUISample.jsx, along with FlashUISample.swf and
    FlashUISample.mxml (the latter being the Flex source code). [For convenience I'm posting them here as well, though you may need to maintain the same relative location in order to run other scripts from this UI.]
  • Drag and drop FlashUISample.jsx onto the Photoshop app icon (Mac) or into the Photoshop process tab on the Windows task bar.  Alternately, from within Photoshop you can choose File->Scripts->Browse, then navigate to the folder/file.

If all goes well, you should see something like this (screenshots 1, 2) running inside Photoshop.  The example can play episodes of Photoshop TV; display RSS feeds; and run Photoshop scripts.

I’m looking forward to seeing what designers and developers can create with Flash in Adobe desktop apps. In addition to Flash, Dreamweaver, and Fireworks (which have supported SWF-based panels for some time), InDesign, Illustrator, Bridge, and Soundbooth support SWF UIs.  I believe this support is just a beginning, and that Flash technology will help transform the Creative Suite experience.

4:50 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

May 06, 2007

Lightroom, as rendered by Flex

Wow–now here’s something you don’t see every day: Adobe Flex used to simulate Adobe Lightroom. Juan Sanchez of ScaleNine was inspired to create a skin for Flex (Adobe’s framework for creating Flash applications), resulting in a Flash app that walks and quacks a lot like Lightroom (at least in basic functionality; image browsing, manipulation, etc. aren’t hooked up).  Source code is downloadable from the homepage.  A few thoughts spring to mind:

  • Last summer Photoshop engineer Pete Falco hooked up a Photoshop plug-in that displayed 3D in an OpenGL window that was surrounded by Flash UI that looked like Lightroom; trippy.
  • Lightroom has the Flash Player embedded, so I can imagine someone developing UI bits for Lightroom using Flash/Flex (maybe not the most direct way to go, but seemingly possible).
  • Now, what was that about a hosted Photoshop? :-)

[Via Tom Hogarty]

4:09 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

March 27, 2007

Adobe-Macromedia: Integration cornucopia!

I came to Adobe largely because integration between Flash and Photoshop just sucked–a situation that burned me every day as a designer. Back in 1999, when I learned that Adobe was planning a Web animation tool, I wrote to my contacts there and at Macromedia to suggest a "Flash Interchange Format" that would let everyone play nicely together.  I just wanted the tools to get the garbage tasks out of my way so that I could do my job.  Despite many assorted efforts, however, the stars just never aligned.

Fast forward to the present: we’re now starting to realize some of these long-sought benefits.  In just over a year of Adobe and Macromedia being a single company, here’s new integration we’ve been able to deliver (continued below/in the extended entry):

(more…)

7:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [12]

March 11, 2007

GPS in cameras, Flash, Lightroom

Now that most people can get all the megapixels they need or want, how can photography be made richer? One way is to enhance the metadata attached to each image, providing more info and context for each shot. Capturing GPS coordinates, once restricted to high-end cameras, is becoming more and more affordable, and the things you can do with that data are expanding.

  • Jobo AG has announced photoGPS, a $149 device that sits in the hot shoe (i.e. the mounting point for a flash) of a digital SLR. Post-processing software synchronizes data captured by the device with the corresponding images. [Via Gunar Penikis]
  • This reminds me of the little Sony GPS carabiner-doohickus announced last year, as well as a subtle Lightroom feature: if your image contains GPS coordinates, you can click the Lightroom Metadata panel to reveal the location via Google Maps. Here’s a screenshot (with old UI) to demonstrate.
  • Photoshop Elements is getting into the game with its Flash-powered "Map Your Memories" feature.  "If you’re GPS-enabled," says CNET, "Photoshop Elements can automatically use the GPS info to populate the map with photos." [Via John Lin]
  • The Adobe-sponsored Tour of California put in-camera GPS + Flash/Flex to good use, as you can see in this simulation.  Michael Gough writes, "We
    geo-located all the photos from the event using a device that attaches
    to high-end Nikon cameras."
11:06 AM | Permalink | Comments [13]

February 22, 2007

On the personality of apps

Apropos of the "Macromedia will take Adobe clubbing" thing & the Lightroom team’s musings about the personality of applications, I was reminded of a little anecdote from a few years back (before the companies got together) that you might enjoy:

A research team asked a group of young designers to describe their software tools as if each one were at a party.  Photoshop, they said, was kind of like a gray-bearded professor, maybe an older guy in his 40’s (I know, I know)–really smart, really respected, but not someone you felt you could just start chatting up.  Illustrator was a beautiful, glamorous woman standing on the periphery–amazing, mysterious, and not so easy to approach.  And Flash, meanwhile, was the cocky young guy at the party–talking to all the girls, maybe getting a bunch of drinks thrown in his face, but going home with a handful of phone numbers.

–J. (stroking his metaphorical, not-so-gray beard, sitting among the Flash UI designers in the former Macromedia office as he types this, thinking this is the strangest life he’s ever known)

5:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [5]

January 12, 2007

Funky Faces of Flash

  • Monoface lets you mash up a design team’s faces, changing noses, eyes, etc.  The image sources are nicely edited, making for smoothly blended results. [Via]
  • Pictaps is a fun little Flash app that lets you sketch out a character, then make the tiny dude (or rather, an army of them) dance around like mad in a 3D world.  Dig the use of Flash 8 effects like blurring to add a sense of depth. [Via]
  • Roxik features Pictaps creator Masayuki Kido’s mug floating in 3D space, thoroughly creeping out my wife.
8:10 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

January 03, 2007

Mobile Flash Art: cell phone as artistic platform

Tokyo’s always interesting PingMag has posted a story discussing the way Flash Lite (the mobile device version of the Flash Player)
is enabling new kinds of pocket-sized expressiveness.  Lightweight, interactive vector art = lots o’ creative possibilities.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and designing for a small screen, low bandwidth/processor, etc. can be a fun challenge.  Some of my own favorite Web development projects involved marathon efforts to squeeze the last half-KB out of a Web banner and still have it work well (here’s a humble, 9-year-old piece for British Airways, from the pre-ImageReady/Fireworks days of DeBabelizer & GIF Builder).  The Photoshop beta includes mobile authoring hooks, and I look forward to seeing what people create with it.

Interesting (albeit unsourced) factoid from the article: "The average high-school girl in Japan spends around 15 000 yen per month for mobile content (about 99 Euro or 127 Dollars)."  So, there’s real money to be made in this market, at least in Japan.  We’ve met with designers at Disney creating mobile content for the US market, and it’ll be interesting to see how things develop here & elsewhere.

2:08 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

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.)

6:32 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

November 23, 2006

Adobe open-sources Web gallery code

A few months back I mentioned that Adobe has been working on a system to enable rich Flash- and HTML-based Web galleries to be created from Adobe apps.  That engine is currently available in Photoshop Elements and Photoshop Lightroom, and I’m happy to report that the underlying ActionScript code is now available as an open-source project. The galleries (see examples) are rather deceptively simple, but the underlying code supports good stuff like dynamic resizing, user-configurable high/low bandwidth states, multi-resolution files, and more. [Via]

If you just want to start generating slick Flash galleries from Photoshop CS2, check out Felix Turner’s sweet PostcardViewer hook-up (see example output), as well as the ones that ship with Photoshop.

9:52 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

November 20, 2006

Do not taunt Happy Photoshop Icon…

Alan Becker, creator of the rather brilliant Animator vs. Animation (a Flash user vs. his creation) has returned with The Sequel, and it rocks harder than before.  Even the Photoshop icon gets involved, using its laser vision! [Via Maria Brenny]

Haven’t procrastinated enough yet?  Well then, here are some more video bits I’ve enjoyed recently:

  • Fail Harder.  They write, "Wieden + Kennedy 12, an experimental advertising school run by Portland ad agency W+K, is responsible for buying out all available clear push pins on the west coast of the US. Over 100,000 thumbtacks were used over 351 hours to create a wall mural that spells out Fail Harder, a message that underlines the importance of failure during the creative process."
  • Oliver Laric, creator of the "787 clip arts" vid, has re-emerged with "Aircondition," a crazy little video of… well, you tell me. (And just try forgetting that soundtrack.)
  • Pikapika is a "lightning doodle project" from Japan, using flashlights & stop motion to create groovy effects. Makes me think of Michel Gondry a bit, or of Picasso painting with light. [Via]

By the way, speaking of the Photoshop icon, I don’t know why you might need these, but earlier today someone requested copies of historical versions of the icon.  So, here you go.  (And for reference, here are the previous toolbars and splash screens.)

12:06 PM | Permalink | No Comments

November 16, 2006

Introducing Kuler, Adobe’s color harmony RIA

Today Adobe takes the wraps off kuler, a new hosted application for creating and sharing color harmonies.  The best way to experience kuler is to jump right in, but if you want a quick peek, here’s a screenshot.

Written in ActionScript 3, kuler (to quote the FAQ)

"allows users to quickly create harmonious color themes based on predefined color
formulas, or by mixing their own color themes using an interactive color wheel. Color themes can be
created in multiple colorspaces including RGB, CMYK and LAB. Themes can be tagged, shared and
commented on. Users can search the kuler online community for top rated colors, or search for schemes
by tag word or date created. Users of Adobe Creative Suite 2 applications can download any color theme
as an Adobe Swatch Exchange (.ASE) file that can be imported in their preferred creative application and
can be applied on their artwork." 

You can also get readouts of the color values & copy them to the clipboard.

I think that you may, as Ryan Stewart writes, find kuler "strangely engaging."  In any case, I think we’ll look back and see this launch as a milestone, a key moment when Adobe creative tools moved from their desktop-only heritage to a future in which they make connectedness & collaboration first-class parts of the experience.  Good, good stuff.  So, jump in, start creating, and let us know what you think!

[Update: Mordy Golding has posted some more info, and Photoshop News has tons of screenshots.]

8:03 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

November 07, 2006

Flash wins Emmy, enables "Invention of the Year"

I’m a little late in mentioning it, but I wanted to congratulate the Flash team on winning an Emmy Award for the contribution made by Flash Video!  Even though basic video capabilities first appeared in the Flash Player in 2002, it wasn’t until the past year that its popularity became massive, thanks to Flash-powered sites like YouTube and MySpace.  And speaking of YouTube, Time Magazine has dubbed the site the Best Invention of 2006. [Via]

In other Flash Player news, today the team dropped a bit of a bombshell: Adobe is open-sourcing the code behind the fast new virtual machine inside the player, and it’s contributing the code to the Mozilla foundation.  As Mike Potter writes, "From a developer point of view, this means that you can build applications for Flash Player 9 that will use the same code structure as applications for Mozilla 2. No longer will you need to learn two seperate languages."   Player engineer Tinic Uro discusses the highlights.

By the way, for any Hollywood types out there, note that a Flash Media Server 2.0 event is scheduled for Thursday in West Hollywood.  You can register here.

11:47 AM | Permalink | No Comments

November 06, 2006

Best practices for Flash, Flex, more in Design Center

The Adobe Design Center (which is now available in German, French, and Japanese) serves up new content for your delectation:

New Dialog Box:

New Hot Topic:

New Gallery:

New Tutorials:

[Via]

6:40 PM | Permalink | No Comments

October 29, 2006

AE+Flash for 3D, more in Design Center

The Adobe Design Center offers a whole pile of new content, as well as new product-specific pages (e.g. Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, After Effects) that make it easier to find training on particular topics.

New Dialog Box:

New ThinkTank:

New Gallery:

New Tutorials:

[Via]
 

7:48 AM | Permalink | No Comments

October 05, 2006

New vids: After Effects 7 + Flash 8 Integration

There’s huge interest in ways to integrate After Effects with Flash, and the the good folks at Lynda.com are happy to oblige with video training. Lee Brimelow tackles AE 7 + Flash 8 integration, touching on AE’s auto-trace vectorization, FLV export, Dr. Woohoo’s tools, and more. [Via]

12:02 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

September 12, 2006

Sleek Photoshop->Flash integration sneak at Flashforward

I’m getting back to my Web roots here in Austin, and at today’s Flashforward keynote speech, Flash PM Mike Downey gave a sneak peek of the integration with Photoshop that’s planned for Flash 9. Aral Balkan’s great coverage of the keynote sums up the demo nicely:

One of the new features is importing Photoshop PSD files. Import -> Import to stage. There is precise control over every layer. [Mike] chooses a PSD file and you can see all the layers, layer groups, layer comps and you can make choices about each layer separately. The options include “Make text editable” (so that text imported from PSD files is editable in Flash). He selects a Folder. And asks everything in that folder to be made into a MovieClip and he gives it an instance name and sets its registration point (the crowd loves it – claps!). They’re also supporting layer modes — drop shadows, blurs, etc. — and converting them to the Flash format. [Via]

Mike also noted that Flash plans to replace its vintage JPEG compression code with the library used by ImageReady/Save for Web. Good stuff is afoot at the Cirle A!
By the way, if you’re importing PSDs into Flash today, you might want to check out this video tip from Myke Ninness. He touches on how to convert Photoshop drop shadows into native Flash equivalents.

10:52 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

September 10, 2006

FlashFilterLab: Visual effects builder for Flash

As I’ve mentioned previously, I came to Adobe to hijack the brains of people smarter than me, getting them to make crazy technology accessible to regular creative folks. Along those lines, it’s great to see FlashFilterLab, a free project that lets you leverage the Flash Player’s new runtime filter effects by using a drag-and-drop visual system instead of writing code. The FFL gallery encourages sharing & community review. Nice! [Via Mark Baltzegar]
Related: Filter Forge brings a similar approach to creating Photoshop filters. Big ups to the brainiacs who are opening these technologies to broad experimentation.

4:21 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

August 10, 2006

New tool: Flash -> After Effects

Drew Trujillo, aka Dr. Woohoo, creator of utilities for moving After Effects animation keyframes and audio data into Flash, has returned with Flash 2 After Effects-Transform Properties. This new extension can convert not only traditional Flash keyframes but also ActionScript-based animation into AE’s native format. Nice!

2:57 PM | Permalink | No Comments

July 24, 2006

New vids: Illustrator CS2 + Flash 8 Integration

Having wrestled Illustrator & Flash into playing nice for the past, oh, 8 years (even going so far as to write a bunch of tutorials back in the day), I’m delighted to see that Illustrator dynamo Mordy Golding is tackling the subject head-on in a new set of training videos from Lynda.com. The videos (direct link here) cover everything from symbols in Illustrator (yes, Illustrator has symbols) to blends, styles, text on a path, and 3D effects. If you ever stub a toe when moving between these vector graphics heavyweights, Mordy’s tutorials should come in handy.

2:22 PM | Permalink | No Comments

July 21, 2006

Next-gen Web galleries: XSLT, Flash, & CSS for all

As you might have heard in Lightroom Podcast #9 (starting around the 25-minute mark), we’re working on a fresh, new Web Photo Gallery engine for Lightroom. For those wanting to dig under the hood and start creating or modifying galleries, Adobe engineer Andy Rahn has created an overview, which I’ve included in this post’s extended entry.

We think this new engine provides a great foundation for the future, and while we really can’t comment on upcoming products, we’d like to see the engine make its way to, ah, other applications (something something, rhymes with “Shmoatoshop”…). So, with any luck, the time you spend working with this new engine will end up being broadly applicable down the road (no promises, of course).

(more…)

11:29 AM | Permalink | Comments [9]

June 12, 2006

Adding Flash to PDF & more in Adobe Design Center

Jen deHaan has pointed out a number of new updates to the Adobe Design Center:

April 23, 2006

AE->Flash Part II: Audio Amplitude

Dr. Woohoo is back, introducing After Effects 2 Flash: Audio Amplitude. This new ExtendScript exports the audio analysis data from AE 7.0 as an XML file and uses a component to map it to the Rotation and Scale Matrix transformations in Flash 8. “In other words,” he writes, “it makes objects in Flash dance to the music.” The scripts complement the recently introduced Transform Properties work, and each is on sale for $40. It’s cool work, and seeing it takes me back to a weird & ridiculous example I did, using AE to map audio data to rotation, then exporting XML to LiveMotion be made interactive.

7:04 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

April 12, 2006

Slick After Effects->Flash integration

I’m delighted to see that Drew Trujillo (aka Dr. Woohoo) has released a pair of tools for moving After Effects keyframe data into Flash. Along with a free AE export script, Drew has created After Effects 2 Flash-Transform Properties, a Flash extension that smooths the importing of AE data. You can read more about the tools on his blog. (Note: My role in this is kindly overstated; in fact I just helped people smarter than myself get connected–which, for what it’s worth, is what a lot of product management boils down to.)
This kind of integration is, I think, the start of much great progress to come. Back in 1999, when I first heard that Adobe was thinking of making a Web animation tool, I started lobbying my contacts at Adobe & Macromedia for a “Flash Interchange Format” that would enable Flash, AE, and other applications to exchange data with layers, keyframes, object names, and other data intact. The timing wasn’t right, of course, but now that the companies have come together, the opportunities to collaborate are incredible. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, give these tools a shot.
(More on Drew’s work can be found here.)
[Update: I realized I'd inverted the title. It's now revised to indicate the direction of integration: AE into Flash.]

2:55 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

March 25, 2006

Illustrator, Flash, AE, and a bandsaw…

…equals kinetic sculpture. This is one of the coolest customer applications of Adobe tools I’ve seen in a while. Artist David C. Roy builds spring-driven wooden forms that, once given a few cranks by hand, provide hours of hypnotic movement.
Though the techniques page is out of date (is that Illustrator 6 and Extreme 3D??), David reports that he’s been evolving his technique in synch with the software and cutting tools. He writes:

I do all my drawing directly in Illustrator, and as an idea matures I “test” it in After Effects. The direct update link between the programs has been a great boon as I can modify the forms in Illustrator, often using symbols, and get almost immediate feedback on how the piece will look in motion from After Effects. The design of my “Variation” series and my new sculptures Illusion and Spectrum were greatly enhanced by the ability to see motion and quickly change the design.

I use After Effects expressions to simplify setting up the animations. They are nothing elaborate, but they make for far more realistic motions. In the case of the Variation series I use them to keep the orbiting forms counter rotating in time with carrying wheel. In the “bird form” pieces like Migration and Quest I use expressions to keep the bird “level” as the wheels that carry it move at varying speeds. This was very tedious prior to expressions. I’m currently working on a new design where a form that is carried by other counter rotating wheels will pick up a swinging motion but basically stay in a fixed orientation. I was able to add the swinging by simply including a sine function and controlling the amount of swing with a constant.

(this_comp.layer(“back wheel 6 spoke”).rotation+this_comp.layer(“back
carrier”).rotation)*-1 + (Math.sin(time)*60)

The animated simulations can then be exported directly from After Effects to SWF for use on the Web, though David reports he’ll often bring them into Flash or LiveMotion for tuning first. When it’s time to build the pieces in the real world, he converts his Illustrator documents to DXF files using a plug in from BPT-Pro. These files get emailed to a local father/son team who have a large computer-controlled router. These guys convert the DXF files directly to machine code, then send it to the cutter. “It is amazing to watch the machine work,” says David.
It’s likewise amazing to watch an artist and his work grow with the tools. Seeing the technology open doors makes the long hours of development worthwhile. [Thanks to Photoshop engineering director Marc Pawliger, who hangs Tri-Fusion in his home, for the lead.]
[Tangentially related: speaking of computer-assisted woodcutting, Turn Your Head will take a picture of your profile, then use a lathe to render your profile on a wooden dowel. [Via]]

12:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

March 10, 2006

New Flash gallery hook-up for Photoshop

I’m delighted to report that Felix Turner’s slick PostcardViewer (see example) is now compatible with Photoshop CS2. A simple Photoshop script pops an interface for setting gallery parameters, then cranks out the JPEGs and XML needed to display your photos through Flash. Sweet.

It was largely Felix’s work that inspired us to add Flash support to Photoshop’s built-in Web Photo Gallery (example). We’re now building upon that start with Project Lightroom (example), and we’d like to standardize on an XML flavor that will let gallery templates developed for one app be used by others.

[Update: D'oh--I inadvertently attributed PostcardViewer to Felix Nelson (a very talented Photoshop artist from the NAPP). Felix Turner is the author of PostcardViewer. Sorry, guys; I will keep my Felices straight from now on.]

11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments [22]

March 04, 2006

A nice send-off for LiveMotion

LiveMotion, the project that brought me to Adobe, has been dead & buried for more than two years. That said, it was nice this week, at the first Flashforward show since Adobe and Macromedia came together, to close out that chapter with the LM-authored Words at Play site winning the Typography category. Congrats to Steve, Bo, Roberto, Matteo, Whitney, and Alyson.
The whole LM thing was a tough row to hoe, and though we fell short, many of the issues we took on (tight integration with Photoshop/Illustrator/After Effects, rapid extensibility, etc.) remain priorities for designers & developers. It’s great that we now have the chance to work on them together, in the app people already know & love.

8:42 AM | Permalink | Comments [10]

Podcast from Flashforward

I’m still recovering (in a good way) from spending the week at Flashforward & hope to have some notes up soon. In the meantime, if you’re interested in hearing some of my (slightly breathless) thoughts from the show floor, check out this podcast from Scott Sheppard’s Inside Mac Radio. The segment runs about 15 minutes, and author/blogger Jan Kabili has done an amazing job of transcribing the talk on The Unofficial Photoshop Blog. (Thanks, Jan!) Notes to self: Supply less cornball press photo. And stop being so word-dependent on “really.” I mean, really…

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February 26, 2006

Mind-blowing design portfolio

Oh my God… Who is this Dave Werner guy and what kind of government lab built him? Simply put, this is the most effective portfolio site I have seen in years. Dave makes outstanding use of Flash video to tell the story behind each of his featured projects, ranging from print to Web to furniture design, filmmaking, writing, and game creation–sometimes all at once. As I browsed from the scrolling treasure map (see Illustrations) to “Ninja birds with Katana blades” (in “Cadence”), I felt my eyes re-open to the possibilities of technology & storytelling, much like they did when encountering From Alice To Ocean back in ’93. Damn. I just hope he doesn’t take a shine to product management… [Via Core77]

5:35 PM | Permalink | Comments [35]

February 25, 2006

Top 10 Flickr mashups

Webmonkey lists 10 great Flickr mashups, including Retrievr for Flash-enabled visual search and Tagnautica for visual tag browsing. You know people have been up to some good stuff when rad projects like Felix Turner’s Related Tag Browser and Mario Klingemann’s Flickeur don’t even get into the honoroable mentions! All this work keeps our juices flowing when thinking of ways to more effectively burrow through images via our desktop tools. [Link via Marc Pawliger]

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February 21, 2006

Errol Morris, AE7->FLV, more in Motion Design Center, Adobe Proxy

  • Volume II, Issue 1 of Proxy, Adobe’s quarterly interactive PDF magazine, has been posted. [Via] This issue discusses typography in book publishing, Live Trace & Live Paint in Illustrator, Vanishing Point in Photoshop, moving a document from InDesign to the Web, and more. Here’s the direct link.
  • The Motion Design Center has been updated with a raft of new content. Here’s what got posted yesterday:
        Gallery

      • WeWorkForThem

        Michael Cina and Michael Young “ferret out” a host of critters to showcase their unique outlook.

      • Domani Studios

        Always pushing the envelope, Domani Studios’ 2100 pounds of creative muscle displays its playful side.
        Dialog Box

      • Errol Morris: Revealing Unexpected Realities
        By Megan Cunningham
        From The Fog of War to Apple’s “Switch” campaign, Errol Morris describes the unique connections between his dual career as an award-winning filmmaker and advertising iconoclast.
        Think Tank

      • Buildings as Interfaces
        By Peter Hall
        Architects and designers collaborate to create digital skins that allow buildings to blink, wink, and breathe. Step inside.
    12:37 PM | Permalink | No Comments
  • Color between Photoshop and Flash: What’s the deal??

    Why is it that when you design an image in Photoshop, then move it to Flash (or Dreamweaver, or the Web in general), the appearance can totally change? If this issue has bitten you, spend ten minutes (9:19, actually) watching this new tutorial from our friend Michael Ninness. Myke explains the right color management switches to flip to change the out-of-the-box setup (geared towards a camera-to-print pipeline) to one that better suits Web output.
    On a related note, if you’re frequently working between Photoshop and Flash (as evidently lots of people are), check out Myke’s full set of tutorials on the subject, and/or his Photoshop + Flash session at next week’s Flashforward conference in Seattle.
    Of course, the fact that this stuff requires classes & tutorials gives us plenty of motivation to make it just work. More on that soon.

    7:29 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

    January 27, 2006

    Return of the DRÖMKÖK

    That brilliant Ikea “Dreamkitchens” site (mentioned last year) is back for a new spin in 2006. In addition to featuring new rooms of freeze-framed chaos, the site smoothly ties in a short Flash video intro. Wicked. [Via]

    8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    January 22, 2006

    Words at Play

    Typography + animation come together beautifully in Words At Play, the companion site to Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich & Matteo Bologna’s book of the same name. The project, a “many-splendored, multi-layered typographic tour d’amour,” showcases de Vicq’s typographic portraits of 21 renowned writers (plus Al Capone and Napoleon Bonaparte). After snagging a pair of Webby awards, the site is up for the People’s Choice award at next month’s Flashforward. It’s got my vote.
    Words at Play was built by animating type in After Effects, then exporting keyframes to Adobe LiveMotion as XML (.amx). As it happens, I’ve seen speculation recently about Adobe resurrecting LiveMotion. That strikes me as quite unlikely, but there were some cool concepts (e.g. data exchange via XML, animation applied via styles) that I’d love to see revisited.
    If you like Words At Play, check out Roberto’s earlier Bembo Zoo, an abecedary featuring animals drawn in letters [Via]. These guys also did a terrific portrait of Adobe co-founder John Warnock, using the Warnock Pro font created in his honor. (Random aside: I also found a portrait of Dr. Warnock rendered in PostScript, the language he invented.)
    Tangentially related:

    • I’m captivated by the typographic paintings of Paula Scher [Via]. She discusses her work in the video Adobe commissioned from Hillman Curtis.
    • TYPEDRAWiNG uses Flash to enable drawing with letters.
    10:00 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

    January 06, 2006

    Retrievr: Visual search of Flickr

    It’s been noted on other blogs throughout the week, but I wanted to mention Retrievr, Yet Another Clever Flickr Interface (YACFI?), as it relates to the problem of burrowing through large sets of images. A Flash interface lets you make simple sketches, the color palettes of which Retrievr then attempts to match with images from Flickr (details from the developer here). See also comments from ResearchBuzz (“[E]ven if it doesn’t work very well it makes an awesome toy and you should go play with it right now”).
    We’ve experimented with visual search for image retrieval, adding technology from Idée to the organizer component of Photoshop Elements. Elements lets you choose as many as four source photos in the browser window, then automatically find other photos similar in appearance. Elements 4 also introduces some new face-tagging features created by Adobe’s Advanced Technology Group.
    Incidentally, if you’re wondering why we sometimes introduce new technology in Elements before bringing it to Photoshop proper, think of it as similar to, say, the Foo Fighters dropping in to play an out-of-the-way club. It’s a chance to introduce promising, useful work without immediately subjecting it to the full glare of hardcore pro workflows.
    [Thanks for the Retrievr link to Mark Kawano, formerly the UI designer for Camera Raw, now at frog design until we can steal him back. ;-)]

    11:56 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    January 03, 2006

    AE + Flash “In the Mod”; Flickeur

    Drew Trujillo (aka Dr. Woohoo) has been experimenting with ways to use color, Flash, and After Effects together. His In the Mod color analytics app assesses artwork, then generates XML files for Flash and Processing as well as HSL arrays for AE. Use the “Choose a Palette” button in the upper-left to select a painter & work, then check out the results.
    Drew’s brushes.paints.stencils project uses AE & the Sound Keys plug-in to analyze audio data & generate keyframes which are then fed to Flash as XML. He then exports the audio from AE as a Flash FLV file, using that to synch up with animation based on the XML. It’s more fun to see than to read about, so check out examples like Radiohead & the kaleidoscopic collaboration with Mario Klingemann.
    On a related note, Mario (who’s also made some Photoshop plug-ins) shows how modern processors & the new blending modes in Flash Player 8 can create rich motion graphics on the fly. He’s created Flickeur, a project that “randomly retrieves images from Flickr.com and creates an infinite film with a style that can vary between stream-of-consciousness, documentary or video clip. All the blends, motions, zooms or timeleaps are completely random. Flickeur works like a looped magnetic tape where incoming images will merge with older materials and be influenced by the older recordings’ magnetic memory.” The app brings in images from Flickr over time, so be patient if it needs a minute or two before it gets interesting.
    J.

    (more…)

    12:25 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    December 21, 2005

    Math rock in Illustrator, Josh Davis-style

    Adobe.com features a new profile on Joshua Davis and his work that brings together Illustrator with scripting to create generative art. The work combines known building blocks (sketches scanned & vectorized in Illustrator) with algorithms that introduce chance and chaos. Josh presented a great lecture on this work at the Adobe Ideas Conference earlier this year–a bracing, whirling blur of charisma, tats, code, and f-bombs that lit up an otherwise sedate gathering.
    I’ve been thinking for quite a while about ways to make our tools freer, to tap into what my friend Matthew calls the “math rock kids”–the sort who make and use experimental apps like Auto-Illustrator (no relation). People can build beautiful, freeform interactive drawing pieces in Flash, so why can’t we use them in Photoshop or Illustrator? Why not make it easier to create offbeat interfaces that leverage these deep imaging engines in new ways? And could we combine that power with the linear animation chops of After Effects? Let’s be less predictable, more playful, more absurd.
    [Adobe.com link via Branden Hall]
    [More from Joshua here and here.
    He's also contributed a chapter to John Maeda's Creative Code: Aesthetics + Computation.]

    11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments [7]

    December 18, 2005

    Flash + AE video tutorial

    A few days ago on the Flashcoders list, some people were discussing ways that Flash and After Effects can be used together. Video support in Flash has opened some cool possibilities, but note that AE also exports Flash SWF files. The newly launched Motion Design Center features a video tutorial on using AE to animate text, then import it into Flash. [Update: In case they're useful, you can find my old tutorials on AE SWF->Flash (demoing parent-child relationships, text animation, etc.) here.]
    Now that the product teams can work together, we have opportunities to take integration to a new level. As we build the roadmap, we’d love to get your feedback on what’s most important.

    6:21 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

    December 06, 2005

    Visual Complexity

    In the same vein as earlier posts about burrowing through large data sets and visualizing flight data, check out VisualComplexity.com. The site describes itself as “a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks.” Examples range from voice network traffic to a 1940’s budget chart to the tendrils of political networks. Edward Tufte, your meal is served. [Via]

    12:14 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    December 03, 2005

    AE + Flash, Maya

    I think of After Effects as “Photoshop on wheels,” and like Photoshop, AE is used together with a wide variety of other applications. Two examples caught my eye recently:

    3:55 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    December 02, 2005

    You spin me right ’round, DRÖMKÖK, right ’round

    Ikea’s “Drömkök åt alla” (“Dreamkitchens for everyone”) site brings a fresh spin (sorry) to the Bullet Time photography aesthetic, letting you rotate through a series of rooms [link via Mike Downey]. sto.pp, the post-production company that did this work, features a behind-the-scenes article here.

    9:53 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

    November 09, 2005

    Best GIF Ever; New Gondry Vid; etc.

    Random interesting design bits I’ve encountered while shirking my actual job duties:

    • Best. Animated GIF. Ever. With a perfect soundtrack to boot. (I knew there was a reason we brought animated GIF creation into Photoshop CS2.) [via]

    • Director Michel Gondry and the White Stripes team up again to make your head hurt & make you like it. (This is timely if you were losing sleep wondering what a mash-up of Conan, Terry Gilliam, and those weird WEFAIL puppets would look like.) [via] (Previous Gondry/Stripes brilliance here and here.)
    • Coudal Partners, original proponents of Photoshop Tennis, have produced the clever short film Copy Goes Here. The mellow pace means you can’t jam in a screening while waiting for, say, your online banking to refresh, but it’s good for a laugh when you have 10 minutes or so. [via]
    • Here’s a zoom interface you don’t see every day: Justin Everett-Church has skinned the new Yahoo Maps in a pirate theme, complete with extending spyglass. (He’s also done a radar theme). [via]
    8:23 PM | Permalink | No Comments

    September 02, 2005

    Flash + After Effects

    I’ve been dying to see After Effects and Flash get together for a long time, having written a bunch of tutorials on the subject back in the day. Until now, however, the process has been powerful but a bit laborious.
    With the advent of support for alpha channels in Flash video, however, you can create some slick combos. See The Flash Blog’s examples of AE-made video composited with interactive Flash elements. Groovy.

    10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    August 18, 2005

    Better bitmaps in Flash

    Great news for anyone wanting to integrate Photoshop and other imagery into Flash (and judging from the crowds drawn by my old boss, Myke Ninness, when he lectures on this at conferences, that’s a lot of people): Macromedia engineer Tinic Uro reports that they’ve made some solid improvements in how bitmaps are drawn in the recently announced Flash 8. This should provide smoother, faster drawing of images, such as those displayed in Photoshop CS2’s new Flash Web Photo Gallery templates (example | download).
    This reminds me a bit of when we launched Photoshop 7. The eye-popping Healing Brush got the big wows, but the feature battling it for applause was the simplest thing in the world: when you’d rename a layer, you could now type right into the layers palette, rather than into a dialog box. Sure, it would save you just a couple of seconds, but multiply that by number of layers, across days, weeks, months… It’s a simple lesson but one that’s easy to forget: to really make the experience better, spare some cycles for the spit and polish. It’s cool to see the Flash team doing the little things that make a big difference.
    [Disclaimer: Adobe and Macromedia have announced their intention to join forces, but until that's a done deal, we're required to operate as separate entities. So, just to be clear, I'll point out that I'm simply relaying publicly available information.]

    5:34 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]
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