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 22, 2006

Let’s talk integration at Flashforward

We’ve obviously got integration on the brain, so if you’re attending next week’s Flashforward conference in Seattle, we’d like to talk in person. There’s a session on Tuesday, 5:15-6:30, that Mike Downey (Flash PM), Phil Guindi (Illustrator), Steve Kilisky (After Effects), I, and other Adobe folks plan to attend. If you’ve got time and want to give us a piece of your mind on integration, please swing by.

4:24 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

Photoshop + Fireworks: Where to from here?

Now that Adobe and Macromedia have come together, we’re busily planning our next moves, and it would be great to get your input. Fireworks Product Manager Danielle Beaumont has posted a message saying that Fireworks is alive and well at Adobe, and we’re working to define the best course for each app.

It might help to define the players:

  • Fireworks offers a hybrid raster/vector editing environment for creating and editing designs for use on screen (typically the Web). Rather than going as deep into vector or bitmap editing as Illustrator or Photoshop, Fireworks opts to bring together a mix of tools for each function, plus symbols (edit once, update many), slicing and optimization, CSS menu generation, and more.
  • Photoshop is “the professional image-editing standard“–or, if you prefer, a ten-foot-tall, two-ton son of a gun who could eat a hammer and take a shotgun blast standing (or something like that*). Photoshop offers an unmatched range of capabilities for image manipulation, plus basic vector drawing tools, gallery and contact sheet creation, and a set of Web optimization functions.

So, some questions:

  • If we could do one thing to improve the process of making graphics for the Web, what would it be?
  • Are there tasks (e.g. rapid prototyping of Web and app interfaces) at which we should target Fireworks more than Photoshop? (Or, to take the other side, would you rather there be a single über-app with a customizable interface?)
  • Do we need to improve integration between Fireworks and Photoshop (e.g. better file format compatibility, Jump To), or does it work well enough?
  • What about compatibility with Dreamweaver? What tasks could/should we improve?
  • Are there interface elements or ideas from one app that we should emulate in the other?

By the way, we’re not, as I’ve seen suggested a couple of times, going to rip out the Web features we’ve developed in Photoshop. I’m not sure what motivates this idea, but I’m guessing it’s based on 1) a desire to make the positioning of the apps more distinct, and/or 2) a desire to avoid/reduce “bloat” in Photoshop. Re: 1, rather than crippling Photoshop for the many people who use it all or some of the time for Web design, let’s make Fireworks stand out by adding kick-ass, never-before-seen features. (Of course, it’s to identify these that we need your help.) Re: 2, I have more to say, but in the meantime consider this.

And with that, I’ll wrap up and open the floor to discussion. We’re really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the future of these two applications.


*This is, of course, why I will never be allowed to write our marketing copy.

1:51 PM | Permalink | Comments [168]

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:
      • 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.
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  • 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]

    February 19, 2006

    Photoshop and HDR imaging on Flickr

    Though by now I’m sure it’s so six days ago, it’s been exciting to see all the discussions this week around the growing mainstream use of high dynamic range photography. Photoshop CS2 marks the app’s first steps into 32-bit imaging, enabling the creation of HDR files by merging multiple exposures (typically 10-12 bit for most raw files) into single images. While HDR editing has been immediately embraced by film and special effects pros, it’s only recently that a good number of photographers are taking notice. Flickr now features an HDR pool containing some striking stuff. [Via]
    Chris Cox, the engineer who’s been implementing much of Photoshop’s HDR support, groans when seeing some of this early experimentation, concluding (rightly) that we need to improve the algorithms and interface to avoid weird halos when mapping from HDR to lower bit depths. I reply, however, that a good chunk of the appeal of HDR now is attached to the slightly bizarre results the techniques produce. I mean, look at the popularity of everything from Lomos to Lens Babies. Part of me thinks that when HDR is really mainstream (captured directly in a single frame, and easily manipulable), we’ll have lost some of the happy accidents occurring today.
    For more on HDR, see this intro from Jon Meyer and this tutorial from Michael Reichmann. The best is yet to come.

    12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    Photography: Playing with food; Retouching; more

    A lazy Sunday morning means a chance to catch up with photography around the Web:

    • French pastry chef/photographer team Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle play with food, creating miniature sculptures and tiny narratives. If you’re put off by their site’s dicey navigation, samples of their work can be found elsewhere. [Via]
    • Michael Wolf’s Honk Kong portfolio goes exactly the opposite direction, throwing any sense of scale out the window (many thousands of them). [Via] The sense of unreality reminds me of these airborne shots from Mexico City. [Via]
    • The NYT features Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin’s portraits of great performers of 2006.
    • The Times also offers some great shots from the Olympic opening ceremonies.
    • Retouchers at Fluid Effect present before & after samples of famous people. [Via] I’m always amazed that these folks permit their unretouched selves into the wild… See also the work of Glenn Feron, as well as Madonna before & after.
    • Fine art photographer David Maisel explores geometry & color from the air. [Via]
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    February 17, 2006

    Stamps in motion

    Now that you can upload images from Adobe Bridge and have them turned into stamps, what’s next? How about motion stamps? A Dutch company has started creating plastic stamps that use lenticular technology to capture animation (sorry, cornball music not included in actual stamps… but give ’em time). Can DIY animated stamp creation be far behind?
    [Related: HumanEyes software for capturing & printing images with depth.]

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    Mordy on Illustrator, FreeHand

    Mordy Golding, Illustrator expert and formerly Illustrator product manager (now living back in NY, never having been satisfied by CA bagels & lack of filthy-washcloth-style humidity), has posted an interesting interview with… himself. In it he muses on the future of Illustrator & FreeHand, among other things. I should be very clear in saying that I have no particular insights into any such plans (way too much going on in Photoshop-land for me to pester the vector guys right now), so I’m not endorsing or refuting any of Mordy’s points. I mention the article, however, as it may shed light on some of the questions & realities that are considered when planning a product roadmap.

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    February 15, 2006

    Julieanne Kost’s Window Seat

    Adobe’s own Julieanne Kost, globetrotting evangelist for Photoshop and Illustrator, has released her new book, Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking. PhotoshopNews features a nice overview; the O’Reilly site shows some before and after images; and in this sample chapter you can get a taste of how Julieanne uses her work to illustrate both the process of deciding what to do & the techniques for getting it done. Congrats, Julieanne!

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    February 13, 2006

    Lightroom Beta 2 now on Adobe Labs

    The second preview version of Adobe Lightroom has been posted on Adobe Labs. Highlights:

    • Now available as a Universal Binary for compatibility with Intel-based Apple hardware
    • Crop and Straighten tools included in the Develop module
    • Ability to add music to slideshows
    • Ability to create hierarchical keyword sets
    • XMP import and export capabilities. (Please consult Known Issues list for details)
    • Improved Edit in Photoshop capabilities
    • Improved metadata handling
    • White balance support for the Nikon D2X, D2Hs and D50 cameras

    The team continues to work on the Windows version of Lightroom, but it’s not ready to share yet. As for resources, Photography Evangelist George Jardine has posted a new video covering the Develop module, building on his earlier introductory video, and Jeff Schewe has posted info and screenshots on PhotoshopNews.com.

    5:15 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    February 12, 2006


    Fans of jazz, photography, or both should check out Jazzlife, a lavish coffee table book that collects the 1959-60 work of William Claxton in nearly 700 large-format pages. The Taschen site lists this 17lb. bad boy for $200, but Amazon’s got it for $126. WNYC’s site features a brief slideshow from the book, though the scale of the book brings out the real power of the images.

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    February 11, 2006


    [OT] Wikichet (as in ricochet): the process of bouncing from subject to subject in Wikipedia (as in, “Just this morning I somehow wikicheted from George Blanda to Attila the Hun to Tony Little“–which I did).

    12:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    February 10, 2006

    Optical illusions in space & on the street

    The work of two artists is opposite & complementary, creating flatness in space & depth in flatness:

    • Felice Varini creates 2D images in 3D space, producing the appearance of flat shapes when seen from a particular spot. Samples of his work are collected here and here, and an animation on his own site depicts how the illusions emerge & disintegrate based on one’s perspective.
    • Kurt Wenner rightly calls himself a “Master Street Painter,” producing amazing images that create the illusion of depth on asphalt, concrete, and stone. On his site he discusses the impermanence of his medium, comparing fragile chalk renderings to music & calling their creation a performance.

    [Obligatory, if completely tenuous, Photoshop-related tie-in: anyone remember the impossible object that formed the original icon for Photoshop plug-ins?] [Thanks to Marc Pawliger for the links.]

    2:26 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

    Two-hand touch

    While working as a designer, I found that the bigger my monitor, the more greasy-fingered art directors inevitably wanted to touch it, to show that they wanted something put *right there*. Soon, however, touching a monitor may be less a party foul & far more useful. Check out this video demonstrating research into two-handed touch screen interfaces. Pretty ridiculously cool, eh?

    It reminds me a bit of the Tactiva device shown last year. Plenty of hurdles (size, cost, hands blocking artwork, parallax interfering with small adjustments, greasy fingers, etc.) would need to be jumped to make these approaches mainstream, but it’s gotta happen, right? Just yesterday a 3D artist was talking to us about wanting to paint with one hand while using the other to dial exposure & intensity up and down in high-dynamic range images. It’s just too natural not to happen. And the sooner these devices move towards ubiquity, the sooner we can start taking advantage of them in Photoshop and other tools (requiring plenty of UI re-thinking & engineering, but potentially very worthwhile).
    [Thanks to Colin Smith for the link.]

    [Update: Similar approaches are being taken to fields as diverse as jazz and warfare. Thanks to Tom Attix for the links.]

    11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    February 08, 2006

    Upcoming Creative Suite Breeze presentations

    Just a quick note: Adobe has announced an upcoming set of online seminars that will cover Live Trace & Live Paint in Illustrator CS2, typography in InDesign CS2, workflow management with Bridge, and more. The Breeze-based presentations, scheduled for Feb. 21-23rd, will feature live Q&A with the hosts (and will, I’d imagine, be available online for later viewing). [Via]

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    Behind the scenes of United’s “Dragon” ad

    Man, have you seen that “Dragon” commercial (short film, really) that United Airlines ran during the Superbowl? The gorgeous visuals get all the more impressive when you learn that they were done using stop motion and real paper cutouts. United has posted a behind-the-scenes video showing how director Jamie Caliri and his team drew characters, painted them in Photoshop, animated the pieces by hand, and removed wires and braces in After Effects. It’s really inspiring to see an artistic vision supported, not defined, by the tools & the strengths and limitations of each medium. [Via Kaliber 10000] [Related: more stop-motion links are in this post.]
    [Update: Ko Maruyama has posted an in-depth interview with Jamie Caliri that goes into more detail on the tools & techniques that went into the ad.]

    8:54 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    February 06, 2006

    Digital infrared photography with Lightroom

    Think you’re serious about digital photography? Would you hand over $450 and your $1500 digital SLR for an irreversible, warranty-voiding conversion to shoot only digital infrared photos? By that measure I’m a total piker, but photographer Michael Reichmann has taken the plunge. In describing the challenge of converting these files to black & white, he writes, “There is a Santa Claus after all. Adobe’s new Lightroom can do just what’s needed. The program has a very sophisticated monochrome conversion capability, and an even more sophisticated ‘Auto’ function built into it that optimizes tonal distribution during grayscale conversion.” Maybe this is a hint of things to come, as camera companies look farther beyond the megapixel arms race & towards features that open new creative possibilities (and without voiding your warranty, either). [Via]

    4:28 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

    February 05, 2006

    Cut cut cut; Readymech

    Maybe it’s a monkeys-on-typewriters thing (i.e., read enough RSS feeds & you’re bound to hit on some overlaps), but I keep seeing patterns in projects. This time it’s paper cutouts:

    • Cut cut cut is a competition to download and print a template (PDF), assemble it into a paper van, then customize & share the results. Some of the entries are pretty cool. (Having this creative outlet might’ve saved me a lot of time & a heck of a lot of paint on my old car.) We’ve gotta try this download-and-improve approach on the next batch of Adobe packaging. [Via]
    • Readymech is a series of “free, flatpack toys designed to fit on an 8.5”x11” and to be printed on any printer.” The PAL9000 wants a hug. From Fwis.

    Of course, if paper gets passé, you can always print out magnets, or maybe some nice living human tissue.

    10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

    February 04, 2006

    Get your widget on

    Like Konfabulator (now rechristened Yahoo! Widgets)? You can now bang out your own components using the Widget Creation Script for Photoshop. I gave it a quick whirl and, sure enough, it works like a charm. Here’s to Adobe Bridge team alum Ed Voas & co. keeping up the good work.
    [Thanks to Thomas DeMeo for the link.]
    [Update: Gah–I had a typo in the original link. Thanks to Joe Lencioni for the heads-up.]

    5:51 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    Scientific illustration in Photoshop

    Keeping the science theme going, I’ve gathered some examples of Photoshop’s use in scientific illustration:

    • Olduvai George is home to the natual history illustrations and paintings of Carl Buell. Check out how he builds a mammoth layer by layer. [Via]
    • Greg Martin’s site features outstanding space renderings & photography in a slick Flash gallery.
    • The space art of 17-year-old Alyn Hunter is featured on deviantART, along with that of other space artists.
    • Gary Tonge collects his photo-realistic sci-fi renderings in Visions Afar. [via]
    • Joana Garrido uses 3D software plus Photoshop to render ancient creatures.
    • Science blog Easternblot.net includes a wealth of additional links, including ones to online marketplace Science-Art.com and illustration degree programs like the one at UC Santa Cruz. And for yet more scientific illustration links, see my previous entry.

    By the way, on the subject of scientific illustration, I recently discovered Albertus Seba’s Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, an amazing collection of 18th-century illustrations of animals, plants and insects. And if that’s up your alley, see also Dream Anatomy, a collection of antique anatomical renderings drawn from the National Library of Medicine. [Via] Or for a more modern spin, see the adorable (?) squirting stomachs of I Heart Guts [Via].
    [PS–6 minutes after I posted this, a copy of Cabinet of Natural Curiosities showed up at my door. Score!]

    12:12 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    Photoshop & Rocket Scientists

    News of astronauts firing an empty space suit into orbit (seems like such a dude thing to do, doesn’t it? “Heh heh–when it hits the atmosphere it’ll blow up real good, heh heh”) got me thinking about Photoshop’s role in space imaging.
    Data captured by the Hubble Space Telescope & other high-powered telescopes are stored in the FITS format, as packets that need to be re-assembled for use on computers. To make the public-domain data widely available (beyond the 900 or so pro astronomers in the world), a team from the European Southern Observatory, ESA, and NASA created the FITS Liberator plug-in for Photoshop. NASA’s Hubble Source features an article on creating your own color Hubble images using the tools together. As of version 1.6.05 FITS Liberator had some 50,000 users, and version 2.0 (released in August) takes advantage of new 32-bit HDR imaging support in Photoshop CS2.
    Check out the image gallery, and drop us a line if you try out FITS Liberator with Photoshop. We’d love to hear your story & see your images.
    [More SuitSat links here and here]

    10:29 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    February 02, 2006

    Six Degrees of Samuel L. Jackson; Photoshop Crosswords

    9:44 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    The Snow Show

    Today’s NYT features photos and narration covering “The Snow Show,” a collaboration between artists and architects to build an all-snow installation in Sestriere, Italy, ahead of the Olympic Games. The accompanying article details some of the difficulties involved in the work (making me glad to stick with pixels). The project’s official site features some cool (d’oh) photos of the current work & previous installations, including a snow penal colony (who knew?).

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    February 01, 2006

    Adobe on Mactel: an FAQ

    We’ve posted an FAQ concerning Adobe’s plans to ship Intel-native (Universal) Mac applications. Highlights:

    • Yes, we are working on Universal versions of our tools. The FAQ includes a list of those being converted.
    • No, we don’t plan to update CS2/Studio 8 to be Universal. That means native support will come in a future version, which is some time off. (The FAQ cites an 18-24 month historical cycle for product updates. CS2 shipped in April 2005, Studio 8 in September.)
    • Yes, most of today’s applications will run in Rosetta (the emulation layer for PowerPC code running on Intel), though that’s not a configuration Adobe has tested extensively. The Version Cue server component won’t run on Rosetta.
    • The Lightroom beta, made available first on Mac, will be available in Universal form very soon.

    It’s important to make a few things clear: We’re working really hard, together with Apple, to make this conversion. Apple staff are on site at Adobe every day and have been for quite some time, helping our teams make the required move to the Xcode development environment & taking our feedback on how to make Xcode support large projects like Photoshop.
    Everyone–Mac users, Adobe, and Apple–wants to get Adobe apps running natively on Mactel as soon as possible, but doing so while maintaining their quality will take time. If we knew how to do this more quickly, we would do it.
    I’d like to make one other point: in the first 18 months that Mac OS X was in the market (starting with the shipment of 10.0.0), Adobe released (by my recollection) 13 OS X-native applications. That averages out to better than one release every six weeks for a year and a half. Name another company that showed up for the game on that scale. Please bear that history in mind the next time someone on a user forum starts raising doubts about Adobe’s commitment to the Mac.

    10:39 AM | Permalink | Comments [16]
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