January 31, 2006
New podcasts: Photoshop Killer Tips, InDesign Secrets
In a bit of synchronicity, two Adobe-related podcasters just announced their new offerings:
- The NAPP‘s Matt Kloskowski has introduced Photoshop Killer Tips (Web/iTunes), described by its creator as “short and sweet–just a quick 60-90 second video tip each day (Monday through Friday).” It’s been running (‘casting?) for three weeks, so the site already features a number of tips.
- InDesign Secrets (Web/iTunes) is a new resource from authors David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, covering all aspects of page layout and production in Adobe InDesign.
These new programs join the growing ranks of design-oriented podcasts, alongside The Russell Brown Show (Web/iTunes), Photoshop TV (Web/iTunes), Attention Photoshoppers (Web/iTunes), and more. If you’ve found related podcasts useful, feel free to pass along their info via the comments.
January 29, 2006
Tip: Make raw files’ EXIF data searchable with DNG
My colleague Fergus Hammond made an interesting discovery while using Mac OS X’s Spotlight feature to hunt for EXIF data in his photos. It seems that Spotlight can’t find the EXIF in some raw formats, but dropping images onto the free DNG Converter makes their metadata readable by Spotlight (not to mention making the image data itself compatible with numerous DNG-aware applications).
I tried an experiment with a handful of Nikon NEF’s from a D2X, and sure enough, converting to DNG made their EXIF data visible to Spotlight; here’s a screenshot. Now, I should mention that I’m not an expert on Spotlight’s capabilities, but these results seem in line with a document on the Apple site that lists “GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, EXIF, DNG” as Spotlight’s supported image formats. On my system (OS 10.4.4) Spotlight can find EXIF data in some (but not all) CRW and CR2 files, so your mileage may vary.
In any case, converting the D2X NEFs to DNG cut the size of each from 19.3 to 11.1MB–a clear benefit in and of itself.
The Scanner Photography Project
Duct tape + a cardboard box + a cheap flatbed scanner = the surreal images of The Scanner Photography Project. Artist Michael Golembewski has combined a scanner with a large-format camera to produce a device that can mix still and moving elements into a single frame, producing some occasionally bizarre results. (Put that in your Lens Baby and smoke it.)
I especially like the molten vehicle shots, and the animation gallery shows how the camera makes a nice British bus ride resemble some kind of German Expressionist nightmare.
[Thanks to Adobe Edinburgh’s David Metzger for the link.]
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]
January 26, 2006
Beautiful photos from China
Image authenticity & Photoshop
The topic of verifying image authenticity, covered well in the NY Times article It May Look Authentic; Here’s How To Tell It Isn’t, continues to draw considerable attention. Photoshop of course gets pressed into duty on the falsification side, so Adobe staff have been fielding a number of press inquiries on this subject.
What may be less obvious is Adobe’s interest in the other side of the coin: image analysis & authentication. Last summer Dr. Hany Farid (mentioned in the Times article) spent his sabbatical from Dartmouth at Adobe, collaborating with the Advanced Technology Group on tools & techniques for detecting image manipulation. Photoshop is heavily used by a wide range of government & scientific bodies, aiding in everything from detecting forged checks (you’d be amazed what a few adjustment layers can reveal) to cleaning up satellite imagery to analyzing the Dead Sea Scrolls (more info on that soon). At the request of image retouchers who need to document their work, we added the Edit History Log, making it possible to store a textual log of edits done to an image (essential for reproducibility). Combined with the ability to embed raw files as Smart Objects, this feature makes it possible for a Photoshop document to contain essentially the negative, the print, and a printable record of edits performed.
For more on Dr. Farid’s research & tools, see his own site as well as this National Geographic article on detecting forged artwork. For more on Photoshop in scientific imaging, Adobe.com now details how scientific features have grown over the last few releases, alongside white papers on best practices.
January 25, 2006
Panoramas in motion
If you’re interested in panoramic photography (see previous entries), check out World in Motion VR. The site features a technique I hadn’t seen before: QuickTime VR panoramas where the camera is moving, recording the scene over time. Here’s one of many examples (make sure to let it load a bit, and remember that you can click and drag as the video plays). It’s a trippy effect–“Double hand touch for drama!” The site also features more traditional but no less cool still panoramas (like this one from a glacier). Lastly, DIY gearheads may be interested in how to make a video panorama system on the cheap. [Via]
New open source Adobe imaging library
There’s a new Generic Image Library available for download from Adobe Open Source page. The developers write, “It is a library that abstracts image representations from algorithms on images and allows one to write the algorithm once and have it work for image in any color space, channel depth, interleaved/planar pixel organization, etc., with performance similar to hand-coding for a specific image type.” If image science is your bag, this might be worth a look.
American Trainwreck Awards, starring my blog
[Low news value here, but I’ve got to say it] If you’re reading this via RSS, great; if not & you’ve stumbled across the main page of my blog, my apologies for the Indiana Jones-style eyeball-melting that ensued. Changes to the CSS shared among several Adobe blogs have made the site look, uh, not so good. The IS folks are investigating, and hopefully the proper appearance (if not a better one) will be restored soon. [Update: Thanks to Tobias Hoellrich for settings things right. Now, I need to find something the Dreamweaver team needs so that I can swap it for some CSS-wrangling help…]
January 24, 2006
RapidFixer for Bridge now available
Photographer Peter Krogh, author of The DAM Book and various scripts for Adobe Bridge, has released RapidFixer, a powerful Bridge add-on that lets you modify Camera Raw settings directly in Bridge, without stepping into the CR dialog box. According to Peter the script is particularly useful for large shoots of images shot in changing light, and you can see it in operation on DAMUseful.com.
January 23, 2006
Blink: Judging a site, judging an app
Oh boy–yet another reason to check out Malcolm Gladwell’s ubiquitous Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Canadian researchers report that Web site visitors draw conclusions about the quality of a site in the first twentieth of a second. Among other things, Gladwell posits that more information is not always better, that rapid assessments are sometimes more accurate than the fruits of months of study. Maybe our well-trained consumer subconscious can keep us out of trouble–away from a phishing site, say.
I found myself thinking about my customary reaction to the usability work of Jakob Nielsen–i.e., some amount of distrust & desire to pick it apart. Mr. Nielsen is of course a sharp and insightful guy, so why am I likely to approach articles on less familiar sites like UX Magazine, Airbag Industries, and WeBreakStuff with a more open mind? I think it’s that after all these years, I still can’t see Nielsen’s willfully undesigned UseIt.com, with its Windows 3.1 color scheme & unhelpfully wide paragraphs, without thinking, in that first blink of an eye, “This guy doesn’t care about aesthetics, about style.” And thus, “Not my people.”
There’s an Adobe angle here, I think, insofar as this kind of phenomenon applies to software. Typically, given a choice between putting resources into flashy UI vs. putting them towards a specific solution (a new tool, format supported, etc.), I and many others will favor the latter. In doing so, however, we risk playing all the notes but missing the music. Whether an app keeps pace with contemporary style gives immediate, sometimes unconscious cues about its quality, freshness, and relevance.
In CS2 the palettes have been subtly modernized (okay, very subtly), but that’s the tip of the iceberg. The newly announced Production Studio features a significantly smartened UI (here it is in action in After Effects), and Project Lightroom breaks new ground for Adobe, making use of animation and transparency.
So, suffice it to say that we’re moving in the right direction, prioritizing visual polish alongside refined interaction, and I’m looking forward to working more with the Experience Design (XD) team from the former Macromedia. Now, if we can just work on that new “junkyard wars” bundle packaging of ours… ;-)
[Study links via Style Gala and CF Journal]
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.)
January 19, 2006
Camera Raw 3.3 now available (yes, with D200 support)
Adobe Camera Raw & the DNG Converter have been updated to version 3.3 and can now be downloaded for Mac and Windows. New camera support includes the Nikon D200 (by very popular request to our inboxes ;-)). Here’s the full list of newly supported cameras (bringing ACR’s total to more than 100):
- EOS 5D
- EOS 1D Mark II N
- EOS 20Da
- FinePix E900
- FinePix S5200/5600
- FinePix S9000/9500
- EasyShare P850
- EasyShare P880
- *ist DL
- *ist DS2
As always, please take a second to ensure that you install the plug-in into the correct spot:
Mac: /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Plug-ins/CS2/File Formats/…
Win: \Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Plug-ins\CS2\File Formats\…
January 17, 2006
New Production Studio: After Effects 7, Premiere Pro 2, more
Today Adobe announced the new Production Studio, offering a raft of new capabilities in After Effects 7.0, Premiere Pro 2.0, Audition 2.0, and Encore DVD 2.0. You can see enhancements like the new palette system, increased OpenGL support, Flash video export, Bridge integration, and much more in videos: AE|Premiere|Audition|Encore. [Update: for more on palettes in AE7, see this video from Lynda.com’s new title.] The “Dynamic Link” integration is particularly cool, letting you place an AE composition into Premiere or Encore & have it play back on the fly–no rendering required. To see the tools in person, check out the upcoming seminar tour.
In other After Effects news, Eric Jordan from 2Advanced is soliciting feedback on how to improve AE, especially from a Flash user’s perspective. [Via] Also, AE Product Manager Steve Kilisky expects to join the ranks of Adobe bloggers shortly.
January 15, 2006
This is how we hypnotize you…
Names to memorize, names hypnotize, names to make your mouth ex-er-cise…
At last, the secret of Photoshop’s staying power can be revealed: it’s the hypnotic power of those interesting names on the splash screen as the app boots up. Seetharaman Narayanan, Seetharaman Narayanan… Just his name alone has inspired all kinds of madness. I remember on my first visit to Adobe walking past offices and thinking, “I’lam Mougy… Grace Ge… why do I know these names?,” not realizing the extent to which the splash screens had bored into my brain. One look & you’re hooked. [Of course, customers’ names can hypnotize right back: my wife is transfixed by “Martin Evening.”]
The practice of listing team members’ names on the splash screen goes way back, but in recent years it’s fallen on hard times. Officially, the names just don’t fit anymore, as modern apps rely on armies of engineers, QE’s, researchers, designers, translators, and (yes) us marketing schmoes, among many others. But it’s a bit deadening, I think, not to see the connection to real folks. Photoshop has defied the trend, adding randomization so that everyone’s name can be listed at least some of the time. And I smiled seeing that Lightroom proudly lists its crew at launch.
Without pulling the curtain too far back (Jeff Schewe’s penchant for posting photos of well-known engineers in Speedos notwithstanding), I’m all for helping connect names and faces to the tools they create. I hope this blog helps in that effort, as have Jeff’s stories about Photoshop, Bridge, and Lightroom development. Similarly, the Flash team’s making of Flash 8 video gives insight into their process, and the app itself even includes pictures of the team. Let’s keep this trend alive.
January 14, 2006
LiveSurface for Vanishing Point
At Macworld this week I met a developer named Joshua Distler, creator of LiveSurface, a cool set of templates designed for use with Photoshop CS2’s Vanishing Point tool. The image library includes Illustrator templates plus VP-savvy images. You can see it in action, or download a sample by joining the email update list.
January 13, 2006
Lightroom named “Best in Show”
Macworld has included Adobe Lightroom among their 2006 Best in Show winners. Customer interest on the show floor has been overwhelming, and the Beta 1 release has been downloaded tens of thousands of times in just the first few days of availability. (I’ll try to share more precise numbers soon.) Congrats, guys!
January 12, 2006
Lightroom, Photoshop demo at Adobe SJ on Tuesday
If you’re in the Bay Area next Tuesday evening, please join us at Adobe’s San Jose HQ (map) for the next meeting of the local Photoshop Users Group. Adobe’s Pro Photography evangelist George Jardine will be on hand to demonstrate Lightroom (he’s the voice on the intro video), and instructor Suzette Allen will demonstrate retouching techniques in Photoshop. Pizza and drinks will be on hand at 6:30, and the presentations will begin at 7pm; come to the East Tower lobby. If you plan to attend, please drop an RSVP (headcount->pizza) to group organizer Dan Clark.
January 10, 2006
Photoshop-savvy LED keyboard
I’d seen a variety of Photoshop-tuned keyboards, but Artemy Lebedev’s Optimus keyboard takes things to a new level. It uses OLED technology to change the display of keys on the fly (even allowing for animation, according to the witty FAQ). Check out keys tuned for Photoshop. Too cool. [Link via James Michaelsen]
PS–Elsewhere on the site I spotted an interesting bit about the printing origins of “cliché” and “stereotype”. Heh–I had no idea, and I do enjoy the occasional cliché (see “takes things to a new level,” above). (More from Wikipedia here and here.)
January 08, 2006
Introducing Project Lightroom
We’re extremely excited to introduce Beta 1 of Adobe® Lightroom™, our new pro photography workflow solution. If you haven’t yet done so, please swing by the Lightroom page on Adobe Labs to learn more & to grab the first preview version. In addition we’ve posted an introductory movie, also available as a podcast via iTunes.
This is anything but a traditional launch, or even a traditional dev cycle, for Adobe. It asks for new thinking not just from Adobe, but from customers as well.
First, the product isn’t finished, and that’s a good thing. Letting a preview version into the wild now lets us engage the broad photography community in a new way. It’s the nature of the beast that just about any 1.0 product will have some shortcomings and rough edges. The thing is, we’re not going to start charging for ours until you’ve had plenty of time to kick the tires & help shape the feature set.
Obviously Lightroom and Aperture aim to tackle a similar set of challenges, and one might say, “Well, you guys are just releasing this beta now because Aperture is in the market.” That’s not the case, actually, as we’ve been planning since early in the project to release a public preview. But even if we were spurred by the release of Aperture, so what? Isn’t it better to break new ground on openness?
Second, we’re not interested in a feature war, trying to pack in more knobs and switches than Photoshop, Aperture, or anyone else. The first public Lightroom release doesn’t contain all the features we’ve considered; in fact, it doesn’t even contain all the features we’ve built. Rather than going for the most features, we’re shooting for the right features
So, when sending us your feedback, you might pause for a moment and ask, “What do I really need? Is the benefit provided by Thing X greater than the complexity it would introduce?” We expect they’ll be things you dig & things you miss, and we want to hear about it. Most impactful, though, will be feedback that zeroes in on just what you find essential.
I frequently hear a few questions about Lightroom:
- Who’s it for?
- Does it replace Bridge?
- Will it be available on its own?
- Will it be available together with Photoshop?
- Will it be available for Windows or just for Mac?
- What will it cost?
- When can I get it?
Some answers, in order:
Q. Who’s it for?
A. We like to say that Lightroom is for people who want to spend more time behind the camera than in front of the computer. Many photographers are really technically sophisticated about their camera gear, but they don’t aspire to being computer experts. For the kind of tasks Lightroom tackles, they shouldn’t have to be. They need pro-level power in a fast, streamlined package.
Q. Does it replace Bridge?
A. In short, it depends on what you’re doing and how you like to work. Some shooters will want to use Lightroom together with Photoshop much as they use Bridge today. For them having an interface that’s 100% tuned to a photography workflow, plus Lightroom’s unique features, will mean they use it in place of Bridge. For others, however, the broad range of capabilities in Bridge (e.g. integration with the Suite, previewing PDF and InDesign docs, talking to workgroup management tools, etc.) will make it a better choice some or all of the time. That means we plan to keep enhancing Bridge’s photography workflow chops. You’ll be able to mix and match the tools to suit your needs.
Q. Will it be available on its own? Will it be available together with Photoshop?
A. Yes, Lightroom will be available on its own, and yes, we expect to make it available together with Photoshop. We greatly appreciate the investment pros have made in Photoshop, and we want to make it easy and affordable to keep moving forward.
Q. Will it be available for Windows or just for Mac?
A. Yes, we plan to ship Lightroom on both Windows and Mac. The Mac build happens to be ready to share now, so that’s what we’re putting out first.
Q. What will it cost?
A. We believe there’s a sweet spot between Photoshop Elements and Photoshop, and we expect Lightroom to come in between those tools.
Q. When can I get it?
A. Now! Head over to Adobe Labs and grab the first build. As to when we’ll offer a completed 1.0 version, that depends on your feedback, but we’re expecting to ship later in 2006.
As I say, we’re quite excited now that we can pull back the curtain & show you what we’ve been up to. For us to build the tool you want and need, your feedback is critical, so we hope you’ll visit the Project Lightroom page, click the Community tab, and let us know what you think. It’s going to be a great ride.
* To get the intro movie via iTunes, choose Advanced->Subscribe to Podcast, then paste in http://rss.adobe.com/www/special/light_room.rss
[Update: See also Jeff Schewe’s detailed intro to Lightroom on PhotoshopNews.com, as well as his perspective on how Lightroom was developed. The newest episode of Photoshop TV shows off Lightroom (starting around the 20 minute/halfway mark), including some slick GPS integration (0:35 mark). And photographers Peter Krogh, Michael Reichmann, Dan Sroka, and Ian Lyons share their perspectives.]
Bizarre cam o’ the day
Well, you don’t see this every day: satuGO (“See Aim Throw captUre & GO”) aims to create a bouncable digital camera for “combining your love for bouncing balls and your obsession for taking pictures.” (Hmm… “It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping!“) Sadly, the site doesn’t feature shots taken with the device, but I can’t help but be intrigued. As a kid I used to fool with my parents’ old 35mm, holding the shutter open while spinning a flashlight on a lazy susan. And with a fair number of people tossing cameras to produce interesting shots, maybe there’s a market for this after all. [Via]
January 06, 2006
Come say hey at Macworld
If you’ll be at the Macworld show in SF next week, please swing by the Adobe booth and say hi. Members of the new, improved, grand-unified Adobe will be staffing the pods as well as giving theater presentations on using Studio 8, Creative Suite 2, Flash with After Effects and Illustrator, and more. Some points of possible interest:
- Creative nutjob Russell Brown will be on hand to give out copies of his new & improved Russell Brown Show CDs. He’s due to present in the Adobe theater Tuesday-Thursday at 11:15 and Friday at 1:15, so get there early. And fellow evangelist Julieanne Kost will be showing something interesting at 3:45 each afternoon. [Update: Yes, that would be Lightroom]
- Come network with (other) InDesign experts on Wednesday evening, 6:30-9pm at the Adobe SF office (formerly Macromedia HQ), 601 Townsend St. Author Sandee Cohen will be there, along with (I’m told) “Amazing raffle prizes and free pizza.”
- The User Research team invites you to stop by their pod (located behind the information booth) to learn more about their work and, if you’d like, to sign up to participate in upcoming research. If you won’t be at the show, you can always sign up at www.adobe.com/usability.
- The Apple User Group Advisory Board is having a meeting on Monday at the Argent hotel where Adobe’s Terry White will be speaking.
- On Wednesday morning there’s an Adobe Professional Association & User Group Leader Breakfast, 7-10am in the Argent Hotel. Terry White, Dave Helmly & Kurt Zevas will be presenting.
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. ;-)]
January 03, 2006
New Year’s Panoramas
The Panoramas.dk site features a collection of great New Year’s Panoramas, captured just a couple of days ago. The sound that accompanies several is a nice, immersive touch. (Is it just me, or with the London crowd can you hear a British accent in the countdown? And what’s with the Lisbon pano apparently being captured by GI Joe nemesis Destro? (scroll around and down in the pano)) [Via]
Oh, and by the way, Happy New Year from Adobe!
[Update: Andrew Nemeth points out his gallery of panoramas that feature binaural stereo audio. And Marco Trezzini passed along VRWay.com for additional panoramic resources.]
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.
January 01, 2006
File Magazine; BLIR
- File Magazine bills itself as “A Collection of Unexpected Photography.” I like the high-speed photography gallery in particular, plus galleries from Holga & Lomo and Diana cameras.
- BLIR is “dedicated to promoting the work of emerging artists in the fields of painting, drawing, graphic design, illustration and photography.” The main page navigation design errs on the subtle side; the controls live under the little color bars by the logo.