Monthly Archives: November 2009

Video: Rapid creation of 3D using a video camera

Check out this bit of cleverness:

It reminds me of a more automated version of the Video Trace technology (see demo) that popped up around two years ago. It also brings to mind Strata’s Foto 3D, a tool for generating 3D models from within Photoshop using just a series of photographs.
I know Photoshop’s entry into 3D can sometimes be a little confusing (e.g. wasn’t the app big/complex enough already?), but we see 3D becoming more and more accessible & ubiquitous. It’s not a question of “if” but “when.” For more info you may want to see “Photoshop 3D is not about 3D.” Mobile for iPhone now available worldwide

The Mobile team is excited to announce their latest news:

The iPhone app is now available in every country with an app store. Now our international users can upload, edit & share photos from their iPhone, too.

After spending three weeks as the “Top Free” app in the iTunes Store following its release in the US & Canada, we are glad to be able to offer Mobile to our global community, and we thank everyone for their patience as we worked to make this app available worldwide.

SJ Suite User Group meets on Tuesday

If you’re in the Bay Area on Tuesday, you might want to check out this gathering at Adobe HQ:

We will have a short but info-packed ColdFusion demo by Sid Maestre, manager of the Bay Area ColdFusion User Group. Then our panel experts will each show you some cool tricks for each of the Creative Suite Design Premium apps. We will take your questions and comments after the presentation.
So many of you have responded “yes” to attending, so we have moved to a larger meeting room – “Park”. Remember: parking is free in the Adobe garage. Jot down Sarah Fiedor’s name, as she is our Adobe contact. Let the Security Guard know you are there for the CS user group meeting.

More info is on the group meeting page.

Adobe sneak peek: Major GPU acceleration for video

Adobe video specialist Dennis Radeke shares quite a few details about how Adobe is leveraging graphics processors (GPUs) to greatly accelerate common operations in Adobe video apps. Taking this together with After Effects & Premiere Pro going 64-bit, I think a lot of Adobe video customers will be very happy. Check out his post for more info.
Inevitably this news will raise questions about what’ll happen with Photoshop. I can’t get into a lot of details, but here are a few points offhand:

  • We’re working together with other Adobe teams, including the video & Flash teams, on core GPU & multicore acceleration technology. That’s how we’ve started delivering GPU-based features, including Pixel Bender in Photoshop.
  • It’s a long and tricky road, as folks who ran into driver incompatibilities, etc. in CS4 can attest.
  • To that point, we think technologies like OpenCL are exciting, but they’re young. Dennis notes that some new features are NVIDIA-only right now and points out, “Given a choice between doing it with CUDA or not doing it for a while [while waiting for] OpenCL, we chose the former.”
  • Obviously we want Adobe apps to run as well as possible regardless of your configuration. Just as they used to optimize for both PowerPC and Intel/AMD chips, Adobe engineers continue to work closely with multiple manufacturers (Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, and others) to wring the most out of their hardware. Again, this is where standardization will help, but it does take time.

Photoshop, you're a tough old bird

How do you change wings on a plane while it’s still flying?

We sometimes feel that way working on Photoshop. It’s essential to keep improving the app, yet with such a rich feature set and so many things baked into customers’ muscle memory, we have to be very wary of breaking workflows. It can be tougher than you’d think.

Last week we were talking about adding a command to Photoshop’s Fill dialog (savvy readers might be able to guess why), and we wanted to assign a unique keyboard shortcut to it. Having ghost-written a version of the Photoshop Power Shortcuts book, I like to think I’m pretty darn knowledgeable on the subject. Yet even I wasn’t aware of all the little nuances & thoughtfulness that went into this old command.

Upon investigating, and just for your reference, here are the Mac shortcuts in play (Windows users swap in Ctrl/Alt as appropriate):

  • Delete (alone) = Clear: Fill with transparency for normal layers, or with background color for background layer
  • Cmd + Delete = Fill with background color
  • Option + Delete = Fill with foreground color
  • Option + Cmd + Delete = Fill with history
  • Option + Cmd + Delete + Shift = Fill with history and preserve transparency
  • Option + Delete + Shift = Fill with foreground and preserve transparency
  • Shift + Delete = Open fill dialog with last-used settings

There’s a whole little language at work here:

  • Opt means foreground
  • Cmd means background
  • Adding Shift means preserve transparency
  • Opt + Cmd means history
  • Therefore all four together = Fill with history and preserve transparency

[Update: Gah–I reversed the roles of Opt & Cmd above; now fixed. Just seeing whether you’re paying attention (yeah, that’s it).]

Why on earth am I rambling about all this? Tryptophan poisoning? No, just a couple of reasons:

  1. If nothing else, I thought this list of shortcuts might be handy.
  2. It’s this kind of fastidious attention to detail that made me delight in Photoshop & After Effects. I remember sitting in an AE class & figuring out the meaning of a couple of modifier keys, then combining them and seeing that, yep, they did just want I expected. My people!, I thought.
  3. This sort of “intellectual density,” as my friend on AE once called it, is exactly why evolving Photoshop is often hard & necessarily slow:
    • First things first, “Do no harm”–or as Stephen Colbert might subtitle it, “Doooon’t [Screw] This Up, America.”
    • The rules and connections are often subtle.
    • If you come up with a new, elegant solution to something, will you have time to retrofit your innovation to the rest of Photoshop? What about to the rest of the Creative Suite? And all at once, without stomping other well-established conventions? Yeah, good luck with that. So now you must choose: Innovation or Consistency?

We’re not curing cancer here. We’re not sending anyone to the moon, or writing software to keep heart-lung machines pumping. But we do care, an awful lot, about making the most beautiful, complete, cohesive tools possible. And if it weren’t challenging, it probably wouldn’t be fun.

Lightroom tip: Quick batch resizing for print output

Why do I work at Adobe? Mainly so I can walk down the hall to browbeat people for tech support in person. 😉

90-plus percent of the photos I share go only online, so when cropping I tend not to worry about standard print sizes. Just now, though, I wanted to upload a bunch of 4×6 shots for printing at my parents’ Walmart. This, I figured, meant going through all the images one by one in Lightroom, checking to see if a crop had been applied, then applying a new 4×6 crop as needed. Not the end of the world (especially with virtual copies), but not good fun.

Fortunately Lightroom PM Tom Hogarty sits down the hall from me, and he offered a better suggestion:

  • Use Lightroom’s print module to set up a 4×6 page preset, zeroing out the margins
  • Turn on the “Zoom to Fill” and “Rotate to Fit” options
  • Position each image as desired (sliding it within the crop frame)
  • Print to JPEG

I hit a bit of a snag at first, not realizing I needed to use Page Setup to create a 4×6 page preset with zero margins. Once that was done, however, things worked great.

Here’s a preset I created based on the settings I used. I haven’t tried it on other machines, so if you try it and hit snags, please let me know.

Adobe TV: Triptychs, fashion design, & more

You might find these recent video tutorials interesting:

  • The Russell Brown Show – Painting Patterns

    In this Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended tutorial, Russell Brown shows you how to create a tiled pattern and apply it to an image so that you can paint with patterns.

  • The Complete Picture with Julieanne Kost – Creating a Triptych

    In this Adobe Photoshop CS4 tutorial, Julieanne Kost shows you how to open 3 images at once in Photoshop and then easily arrange them into a Triptych.

  • Creating Time – Photoshop’s Content-Aware Scaling Helps You Save Time

    Learn how to use the revolutionary Content-Aware Scaling feature to automatically recompose an image as you resize it, smartly preserving vital areas as the image adapts to the new dimensions.

  • Learn Photoshop Elements 8 – Share Albums Online

    Learn how to use a wizard-guided workflow and templates to create a personalized album. Then, learn how to share your album online at

  • Photoshop CAFE TV – Converting Video to Smart Object Layers

    Jeff Foster shows you how to convert video layers to Smart Objects and when to use them. If you want to apply a filter or effect to video in Photoshop CS4 Extended, this is a skill you need.

  • Designing Minds – Jose Duran

    In this episode we feature up and coming avant-garde fashion designer Jose Duran. He reveals the inspiration behind his wearable art.

  • Would you miss "copy" being added to layers in PS?

    We’ve heard a number of requests (e.g. here, here) for the ability to make Photoshop stop adding the word “copy” to layer names when duplicating layers. Out of curiosity, does anyone actually like this behavior? If not, it should be easy enough simply to stop adding “copy.” If some people really like the existing behavior, however, we’d do well to add a preference.
    Therefore please speak up if you like the existing behavior. If you’d be happy with “copy” going away, great, but no need to speak up.
    J. Mobile for Android now available worldwide

    Nice to see this bit of news:

    Adobe Mobile for Android, recently released on Nov. 6, 2009, is now available globally in all counties with Android Market. [It offers users] quick access to their photos with easy editing and sharing. The application features basic editing tools like crop and rotate, color adjustments and a Photo Browser. In addition, users have the ability to view their entire online collections of photos from and share photos from their phones via email. The application is initially available in English only.

    Now, what about making the very popular iPhone version available everywhere? No news yet, but we know people are eager for it, so stay tuned.

    Photoshop "vs." Fireworks: Quick clarifications

    Thanks for all the feedback in response to the survey I posted earlier today. I feel I should clarify a few things.

    • I’m touchy about hearing things like “As soon as Adobe bought Fireworks, the PS guys would be trying to kill it. Good job, mission accomplished.” To set the record straight, Adobe bought and revived Fireworks. To the best of my knowledge the app hadn’t gotten much love, to say the least, in its last couple of years with Macromedia. (Did they add anything in Studio 8?) And when Adobe was in the process of acquiring Macromedia, I spoke up strongly in support of Fireworks. Just thought you should know.
    • The list I posted isn’t a promise or a hint that the Photoshop team will undertake any–much less all–of this work. As I say, it’s just my aggregation of some of the suggestions I’ve heard a number of times. I thought it would be handy to collect them for your input.
    • Likewise, it isn’t a hint about the future of Fireworks or anything else. Sometimes a survey is just a survey.
    • Believe me, we’re sensitive to the subject of “bloat,” and I’m actively pitching ideas (here’s one) for how the apps can better integrate without just duplicating one another. Having said that, we can’t err too far in the other direction, saying that if one app does something, no others can do it (or do it well). It’s possible for apps to have different core missions and yet have tools & capabilities in common. (To that end, people flamed us for not moving animated GIF import from ImageReady to Photoshop, feeling it was a conspiracy to force them to buy Fireworks. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.)
    • People have always complained that Photoshop does too many things. I guarantee that whoever added text for the first time got an earful about it not being a “photographic” feature, and probably caught static from other Adobe teams. So it goes. Of course, people always say, “Stop adding anything new… except this handful of things for me, personally.” And they always push us to “simplify” and “just reduce” the application, yet they flip out if you take away their cherished anachronism. I always think of the Onion article, “98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others.”
    • We have serious ideas about how to break this logjam, but there are no silver bullets, and it’s not going to happen overnight. But it is happening.
    • Finally, a couple of practical tips: Here’s a Lorem Ipsum generator for PS, and here’s the GridMaker panel.

    Feedback, please: Graphic & Web design enhancements in Photoshop

    I am, at heart, a Web designer, and I came to Adobe to improve the ways software could help design and build Web content. Therefore I’m keenly interested in advancing Photoshop’s graphic & Web design chops.

    Below you’ll find some of the ideas that have bubbled up in discussions on this blog and elsewhere. The list isn’t exhaustive (I tried to keep the length reasonable), and it’s not a promise or a hint about what might be in development. Think of it as just a quick straw poll to gauge temperature.


    • Better vector drawing tools
    • Better control over strokes and fills, including dashed lines
    • Better Illustrator integration (e.g. make using Illustrator inside Photoshop as easy as double-clicking to edit a symbol in Flash or Illustrator)


    • Buttons with states (editable Up, Down, Over, etc.)
    • Intelligent widgets (e.g. buttons that resize smartly (a la 9-Slice); button bars that automatically scale/add buttons when resized; arrows with variable heads that orient themselves to path direction; etc.)
    • Ability to edit widget skins & to switch among skins (e.g. flip a button from Mac to Windows, or iPhone to Android)
    • Intelligent, skinnable charts (including ones with live data feeds)


    • Linked files (edit one document & have the change reflected in several documents that link to it)
    • Symbols (reusable objects that can be dragged in from a Library panel)
    • Type styles (edit a style definition in order to update multiple type layers at once)


    • High fidelity Web output (e.g. dashed lines that convert to CSS definitions)
    • Pixel-accurate Web rendering (i.e. text and objects that appear exactly as they would in a browser)
    • Better integration with Flash and Web authoring tools (e.g. components that translate with code & behaviors intact)

    To help measure your interest, I’ve put these ideas into a quick survey. Please take a minute to let us know which ones are most interesting, and feel free to add comments via this post.

    Thanks, and looking forward to hearing your thoughts,


    [Update: I’ve posted some clarifications in response to comments below.]

    Interesting multitouch ideas: 10/GUI & BumpTop

    Speaking of multitouch, the folks at 10/GUI have some interesting ideas on how to make multitouch practical on the desktop. If nothing else the ergonomic observations are spot on.

    Then there’s BumpTop, which has been around for a few years & which is now available for download. It’s cool, but as I’ve written previously, I have a hard time imagining it’ll get widely adopted. Here’s the demo:


    Camera Raw 5.6, Lightroom 2.6 available on Adobe Labs

    Adobe Camera Raw 5.6 and Lightroom 2.6 are now available for download from Adobe Labs. These releases add new camera support for the following models:

    • Canon EOS 7D
    • Canon PowerShot G11
    • Canon PowerShot S90
    • Leaf Aptus II 5
    • Mamiya DM22, DM28, DM33, DM56, M18, M22, M31
    • Nikon D3s
    • Olympus E-P2
    • Pentax K-x
    • Panasonic FZ38
    • Sigma DP1s
    • Sony A500
    • Sony A550
    • Sony A850

    According to Camera Raw/Lightroom PM Tom Hogarty, “The Lightroom 3 beta has not been updated with this new camera support. If you’re working with one of these newer cameras and the Lightroom 3 beta, please use the DNG Converter 5.6 Release Candidate to convert proprietary formats to DNG files that can be used in the Lightroom 3 beta.”

    Because this is a release candidate, we’d be glad to get your feedback via the Camera Raw User to User forum.

    Documentation for the Lightroom 3 Beta is live

    I’m pleased to see that documentation for the Lightroom 3 Beta is live, accessible via the Web or by choosing Help > Lightroom Help (F1) in Lightroom 3.

    Lightroom 3 Beta help topics include:

    What’s new in Lightroom 3 Beta

    Importing photos into a catalog

    Exporting using Publish Services

    Create a copyright watermark

    Simulate film grain

    Update the process version

    Apply a postcrop vignette

    Export a video slide show

    Custom print packages


    "dpBestflow" aims to drive best practices

    There are a million ways you can process, manage, and archive your images–but how should you? What techniques best capture and preserve your creative output?

    To address these questions, the Library of Congress, working with ASMP, has just announced “dpBestflow” (Digital Photography Best Practices and Workflow). Two years’ worth of research have produced “real-world solutions for preserving the quality and integrity of digital images; proven best practices that have been shown to produce superior results; and guidelines for streamlined production workflows.”

    The site is loaded with resources, ranging from a quick reference sheet* to a detailed glossary. I haven’t gotten to read the materials in detail, but the effort seems like a great response to persistent real-world issues. [Via project contributor Peter Krogh.]

    * Nice to see this guidance: “Use DNG to archive raw file data… A DNG archive can be validated with a much higher level of certainty than any other image file format.”

    Creepy image science: Your face as a puppet

    Girls will be boys and boys will be girls through this funky facial mapping/animation software. NPR’s Science Friday writes:

    “Like a digital video puppet, the facial expressions of one person can be cloned in real time and mapped onto the digital face of another person. Barry-John Theobald, computer scientist at the University of East Anglia, explains the technique and Steven Boker, of the University of Virginia, explains what facial cloning can reveal about human nature.”

    Check it out:

    [Update: The embedding code seems to be spazzing out at the moment, so I suggest watching the video on the SciFri site.]

    (rt) Illustration: Retro posters, profane pterodactyls, & more

    SF PUG Thursday: Optimizing Photoshop performance

    Tomorrow evening (Thursday), all-around smart/interesting guy Adam Jerugim from the Photoshop team will be speaking at the San Francisco Photoshop User Group meeting:

    The talk will focus on Photoshop performance best practices to help enable users to get the most out of Photoshop with their current hardware setup. In addition, there will be guidance provided for users that plan on buying new hardware or upgrading their existing Photoshop & Lightroom systems. Information will also be provided about tools you can use to optimize your specific workflow, GPUs, and running 64-bit applications.

    Our speaker, Adam Jerugim, has been part of the Photoshop engineering team for the last 10 years and is mainly responsible for performance and hardware compatibility testing. In addition to being an avid photographer, he is also working to complete his MFA in Digital Arts and New Media at UC Santa Cruz.

    See the event page for more info. For a slide deck from Adam & co. on the subject of optimizing Photoshop performance, see previous.

    Snow Leopard 10.6.2 fixes problems with Photoshop

    Good news: Apple has released a Snow Leopard update that fixes a number of problems customers have reported. The Photoshop team has been helping Apple test these fixes and can confirm the following improvements:

    Affecting multiple versions of Photoshop:

    • 50654: When opening and saving, applications–including Adobe applications–may sporadically crash
    • 51230: Images don’t open when dragged onto the Adobe program icon in the Dock
    • 51220: Crash or program error occurs when using Menlo font in Photoshop and Premiere CS3 and CS4


    • 51764: Only one image opens when many are dragged onto Photoshop’s icon
    • 51278: Cursors don’t display correctly in Photoshop CS4
    • 51339: Editing in Photoshop CS4 fails from 64-bit Lightroom in Mac OS X 10.6
    • Cannot drag from Safari onto Photoshop icon (and other application icons) in Dock to open file

    If you experience any problems, please let us know.

    Feedback, please: Adobe raw processing vs. others

    Competition is a great thing, and over the last few years photographers have benefitted as numerous companies sought to make their raw image processing tools. Various apps have leapfrogged one another, making it possible to extract better image quality even from existing cameras.

    Comparing quality can be tricky. To some extent it’s subjective (“I prefer skin tone A to skin tone B”), and it’s influenced by default values (i.e. the starting point each app chooses) and user familiarity (“I personally am able to get better results in X than in Y”). Add to that a possible lack of awareness of the power enabled by the DNG Profile Editor.

    Over the years I’ve heard fans of Capture One tout the image conversion quality possible in that app. Unfortunately, I’ve always found it difficult to get any actual, concrete demonstrations of what they’re talking about. Lately a number of people (all using fake email addresses, oddly enough) have commented here about how C1 produces “better quality,” yet none of them have been able to back up their claims.

    So, I ask–not to pick fights, not to start any holy wars, but out of constructive curiosity: Are you getting better results with a raw image processor besides Camera Raw or Lightroom*, and if so, are you willing to share your images (raw & processed) so that we can see exactly what you like/dislike? This sort of concrete data is precisely what we need in order to keep making progress. If you’re interested in participating, please add a comment or drop me a line.



    * The Lightroom 3 beta includes an improved demosaicing algorithm, so it’s the best basis for comparison.

    Illustrator + Map Data = Interactive Flash

    Illustrator PM David Macy points out a couple examples of converting static graphics into dynamic and interactive experiences bound with data and published through Flash. He writes, “These were created using an Illustrator plugin called MAPublisher that can import GIS data and export interactive SWF. Mobile comes to Android

    Building on its great momentum on the iPhone, the Mobile app is now available for Android phones. The free application offers the same great features as the iPhone version. In addition, says the press release: Mobile for Android offers features only available on Android phones. Users can automatically upload pictures to albums in the background, even when the Mobile application is not running. accounts provide 2GB of free online photo storage, which equates to over 1,500 photos. Made possible by the Android API, the new tab-based user interface enables users to view local and online content. Also, the Android Photo Browser makes maneuvering through photos fast and convenient, bringing users’ complete photo collections right to their pockets.

    At present the app is, like the iPhone version, available only in the US and Canada. I know that’s frustrating, and the team is working hard to make the app available more broadly. Stay tuned. In the meantime, you can connect with the team via Facebook and Twitter.

    Adobe TV: Monster creation, Web optimization, & more

    You might find these recent video tutorials interesting:

  • The Russell Brown Show – Halloween Monster Make-Up Kit

    In this special “Halloween” edition of the Russell Brown Show, you’ll learn how to turn people into monsters. Russell even gives you the files you’ll need to do it!

  • MAX 2009 Design – Photoshop CS4: Essential Techniques and Killer Tips with Terry White

    Learn the must-have skills for working with Photoshop and digital images, including color correction, masking, image restoration, and retouching. Terry White will answer the most frequently asked questions on working with digital images and more.

  • Visual Design – Photoshop CS4: The Essentials of Image Enhancement for Web and Flash Designers

    Learn essential skills for using Photoshop CS4 to produce images that look great and load fast for the web and for use with Flash Professional. We’ll reveal hidden optimization tools and quick techniques for making images look their best, and more.

  • Visual Design – Edit Quicker and Faster in Illustrator CS4

    Join Design Evangelist Rufus Deuchler as he shows how you can save time when applying and editing fills, strokes, effects and more with the new Appearance panel in Illustrator CS4.

  • San José Photoshop User Group next Tuesday evening

    The San José Photoshop User Group is meeting next Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Adobe SJ office (map). Pizza and drinks kick off at 6:30pm, with talks beginning at 7. The meeting will feature two speakers. As group organizer Dan Clark writes,

    Jim Tierney is from plug-in maker Digital Anarchy. He will demo a range of their products, such as Primatte Chromakey, Knoll Light Factory, Backdrop Designer, Texture Anarchy, 3D Invigorator and more.

    Jim McCrary was Chief Photographer at the A&M Records photo studio for many years. He shot over 300 album covers along with related publicity and advertising work. Among his many classic album covers are Carole King’s “Tapestry”, Lee Michaels’ “5th” and Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” and many others. From 1974 through 1990 he operated his own studio on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood, specializing in technically difficult photographic still-life problems, as well as difficult personality portraits.

    The meeting will start at 7:00, in the Park Conference Room of Adobe Systems’ East Tower, 321 Park Avenue, San Jose. To park underneath the Adobe building, use the Almaden Avenue entrance, under the East Tower. If the security guard at the parking entrance asks for an Adobe contact, use Bryan O’Neil Hughes’s name. Please RSVP to Dan Clark. See you there.