Monthly Archives: January 2008

Panoramas, HDR, and the future of Lightroom

On Wednesday CNET’s Stephen Shankland sat down to talk with my boss Kevin Connor to talk about what’s on the roadmap for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  (I was there as well, but Stephen–correctly discerning that Kevin is the guy with the actual clue/plan/power–wisely focused his questions in that direction. ;-))  They conduced a fairly wide-ranging talk that hits on such topics as high dynamic range (HDR) imaging, panorama creation, and the future of Lightroom extensibility.

[Update: I see that Scott Kelby has posted extensive notes on what he’d like to see in Lightroom 2.0.]

Casio spitfire cranks out 1,200fps, does DNG

If the minigun-wielding Jesse the Body character from Predator bought a digital camera, he might well choose the Casio EX-F1. According to Macworld, "Casio will put on sale in March a digital still camera capable of shooting up to 60 full-resolution images in one second, and video at more than 1,000 per second to realize a super slow-motion effect." Engadget’s got some more details and video captured by the cam.  Lightroom/Camera Raw PM Tom Hogarty notes that the EX-F1 uses the open DNG format to store its raw captures.

Speaking of DNG, author/photographer Ben Long has released his Convert Raw to DNG Automator Action, enabling easy conversion to DNG via AppleScript.  Solid.

For more memory-crushing camera goodness, see previous.

GridIron Flow: Ridiculously cool workflow management

Unless you buy After Effects plug-ins, you’ve probably never heard of GridIron Software.  That’ll change.  This small Ottawa-based developer has unveiled one of the slickest, most potentially transformative applications I’ve seen in years.  My enthusiasm comes from what it could mean to Photoshop & Creative Suite customers.

Called GridIron Flow, the new software is designed to give you “Mind of God” knowledge of where your files are, how they’re related, how long you’ve been working on them, etc.  It consists of two things: a system process that runs in the background, tracking events while consuming minimal resources; and a front-end application (see this pair of screenshots) that displays files & data about them.

Let’s say you copy some vectors from Illustrator and paste them into Photoshop.  Flow, running invisibly in the background, notices the event and sees that there’s a relationship between the AI and PSD files.  When you pop open the Flow browser, you can see a connection between the files–even though Photoshop & Illustrator themselves don’t store or track a link.

If you then place the PSD into, say, After Effects, create an AEP file, and then render an FLV, Flow will create a workflow map–a chain of connections from one file/project to the next.  Right-click any of these files in your Finder/Explorer & Flow will show how they’re related.  If you try to move or delete a file, Flow will pop a message to mention that the file is related to others, offering to show the relationship.  Upshot: fewer broken links due to accidentally misplacing assets.

Okay, that’s cool, but it gets more interesting.  Now let’s say you edit your PSD a little, save, edit, save, etc.  Flow (not unlike Apple’s Time Machine) can be automatically versioning your files.  Although only the current version shows up in your Finder/Explorer, in the Flow UI you can see previous versions.  You can use a movie-style scrubber to move your project back in time.

Here’s why this is a big deal: All the data collection and versioning is automatic and invisible, which is the only way designers will benefit from it.  Creative people want to create, not type in metadata, fill out timesheets, etc.  If you force them to do data entry; to work in highly regimented projects; or to use wonky, restrictive tools for check-in/check-out, they’ll generally kick like mules.  (I know: I did just the same thing.)  The beauty of Flow is that it’s like an airbag–unobtrusive unless and until you need it.

I think that if you’ve ever used multiple design tools together, when you see Flow in action you’ll get the value in a hurry.  (I’m told GridIron will post a demo video soon, as that’ll make things much clearer.)  I’m waxing their cars pretty hard, so let me say for the record that I don’t have any formal relationship with these guys.  I was really excited by the concept when I saw an early version last summer, and we’ve been talking with GridIron about how to make Adobe tools play really nicely with Flow.

If this sounds like it’s up your alley, check out the additional feature notes on their site, and maybe sign up for the beta program that’s starting this spring.

PS–The GridIron guys have created a cute little video that sets up the problem they’re trying to solve.  I like that “goatee” has become universal shorthand for “designer.” 😉

Wicked cool: Building a 3D model from video

Here’s something pretty well guaranteed to put a smile on your face, I think: the Australian Centre for Visual Technologies has developed VideoTrace, "a system for interactively generating realistic 3D models of objects from video."  A user sketches a few surfaces, after which the system works to generate 3D data.  The short video demonstration is a little ho-hum until near the middle, which is where the uncontested smiling begins. 😉 [Via]

This demo makes me think of Strata’s Foto 3D, a tool for generating 3D models from within Photoshop, using just a series of photographs.  By placing an object onto a specially printed piece of paper, then shooting it from a variety of angles, you give the software enough info to generate a 3D model that can then live as a 3D layer in Photoshop CS3 Extended.

It also reminds me of Extended’s ability to set 3D planes on a photograph using its Vanishing Point plug-in, then export the results as 3D data for use in After Effects and other tools.  With it you can export an image like this as 3D data, then set camera movement in AE and create an animation like this.

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.

Urban typography & more

  • Years ago, the design group at AGENCY.COM (of which I was part) was treated to a fun and informative talk from typographer Jonathan Hoefler.  He showed & discussed snapshots of type found just in our area around NYU, and in 2000 his partner Tobias Frere-Jones undertook a study of building lettering in New York (see samples).  Now their company (Hoefler & Frere-Jones) offers Gotham, a typeface inspired by the city’s visual vernacular.  The site offers a cool way to test drive typefaces, Gotham included.
  • Post Typography makes all kinds of visual goodness, typographic & otherwise.  Dig their Daydream Nation in particular, plus the subtlety of Home.  And though it’s not type per se, I like the look on this little dude’s face.
  • OCD yeah you know me: Non-profit Broadcloth fills in letters like there’s no tomorrow. [Via]
  • Mark Simonson’s Mostra offers Art Deco tastiness. [Via]
  • Oded Ezer’s Typosperma project, designed “to create some sort of new transgenic creatures,” is… well, it’s real different.
  • The Atlantic features a video interview with Michael Bierut about typography and design. [Via]
  • Want to bump up the grade on your term paper?  Use a serif font like Georgia & leave the sans serif strugglaz in the dust.  (Hmm–I wonder how this applies to what people think of the blog.) [Via]

Flickr phlows, Photo Friday

It's not the size of your brush…

Cue “It’s In The Way That You Use It” (and good luck getting that out of your head):  Illustrator Bob Stakke uses Photoshop 3.0 (no, not CS3–the one from ’94) to create some great-looking characters.  In a tech-saturated, next-next-next-oriented world, it’s nice to be reminded that creativity comes from people, not from machines and other tools.

Shakespeare could have rocked out in WordStar, and heck, you can draw Scarlett Johansson using MS Paint if you’d like.  That’s not to say that new tools don’t enable tons of new things, of course, and hopefully let creativity flow more freely.  It’s just a reminder that a car is nothing without its driver.  [Via Doug Nelson]

Speaking of Photoshop demos, “You Suck At Photoshop” returns with volume 2 of its depresso-funny PS stylings.  No “shaggin’ wagon” this time, but there is some territory-marking. [Via Clare McLean]

Adobe announces Universal Binary PS Elements 6

I’m on the road this week and hence a little slow on the draw, but I’m delighted to see that Adobe has announced Photoshop Elements 6.0 for Mac, due to ship in the second quarter of the year.  More details are on the new features page, as well as in the press release.

One key detail that’s not clearly mentioned is that yes, Photoshop Elements 6 runs natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs (i.e. it’s a Universal Binary); same goes for the version of Adobe Bridge that ships with Elements.  I’ll see whether we can clarify the product pages.

[Update: Macworld has posted a First Look at the new application.  Lesa Snider King writes, "All in all, it looks like Adobe has hit the mark of making photo editing easier than ever. Elements 6.0 seems to be the perfect ‘next step’ choice for anyone wanting to do more with their photos, while giving them plenty of room to grow. [Via Meredith Mills]]