Monthly Archives: March 2011

Introducing the Photoshop Family Feedback Site

I’m delighted to see the launch of the Photoshop Family Feedback Site (, a resource for learning about the app & influencing the team with ideas and requests.  PM Jeff Tranberry has written an intro & FAQ:

Do you have an idea for a feature that would help your workflow? Is there a small change that could be made to make your life a little easier? Let us know!

We will read every post and use the information and rankings you provide to help inform the future of our products.

This feedback site in not an official support channel. We welcome you to use this site to post questions in search of answers – and hopefully – more often than not, your questions will be answered by either someone from the user community or someone from one of the product teams.

Jeff notes that the feedback site won’t replace the user-to-user forums, but over time it may replace feature request and bug reporting form.  “The advantage,” he writes, “is that customers will have better insight on what requests have been made and will have the opportunity to help rate and rank those requests for future consideration.”

And with that, please let us know what you think.

Video: Ten Things I Have Learned About The Sea

Even if you watch just for a minute, I think you’ll find Lorenzo Fonda’s ode oddly captivating:

Seeing these giant containers, it’s funny to think: all this stuff around you–the screen on which you’re reading this, maybe the car you drive, the shirt on your back–it’s all been there, creeping over untold expanses of water.
At one point I planned to join the US Navy. I spent three years in NROTC and generally loved it. Seeing dolphins race ahead of the bow quickens my pulse & takes me down a deep memory hole. The endlessness of the water, the blankness of the horizon, the ceaseless beating paired with beauty (think bioluminescent algae twinkling down the bridge windows after every 13-foot wall of green water)–strange to think of it all again. And strange where life takes us. [Via]

DNG Converter PowerPC support ending

Over on the Lightroom Journal, PM Tom Hogarty reports that the recently posted DNG Converter 6.4 will be the last to support PowerPC Macs.

As Tom explains, although Photoshop CS5 & Lightroom 3, following Apple’s lead with Snow Leopard, no longer support PPC, the team has maintained support in the DNG Converter.  That way customers who couldn’t upgrade to CS5/LR3 could convert their files to be backward compatible.

Supporting aging systems comes at the expense of enhancing the apps for the future, and the overlap between people using the very latest, high-res SLRs together with 5+ year-old Macs has gotten small. Thus 6.4 will be the last PPC-compatible release of the converter.

Just to be clear, DNG files themselves are unaffected, so in the future you could use an Intel-based Mac (or a PC) to convert proprietary formats for use with PPC-based Macs.

A beautiful Aurora Borealis time lapse

“Norwegian landscape photographer Terje Sorgjerd,” writes David Pescovitz, “spent one week around Kirkenes and the Norway-Russia border, in -25 Celsius temperature, to make this magnificent time-lapse video of the Aurora Borealis.”

On a related note, “Terje Sorgjerd” is one pretty solid name. He needs to join the Photoshop team & take up residence next to Seetharaman Narayanan, Iouri Tchernoousko, & other greats. [Via]

Mac 10.6.7 fixes Photoshop CS5 conflicts

The Mac OS 10.6.5 release introduced a few incompatibilities with Photoshop CS5. According to a tech note, these include:

  • The warning, “Delete the Adobe Photoshop Settings file?” appears when you open Photoshop.
  • The startup screen reads White Rabbit, instead of Photoshop CS5, and looks different.
  • Tools behave as if the Shift or Option keys are pressed.
  • Your cursor remains the plug sign (+).

Adobe & Apple folks worked together on the diagnosis & testing, and updating to the newly released 10.6.7 should fix the problems. [Via]

A tour of Photosmith for iPad

Photosmith, the “travel-sized companion” for Lightroom, sounds quite interesting, and now the developers (who are independent of Adobe) have posted a detailed preview featuring numerous screenshots.  Regarding Lightroom integration, they say:

Tag, rate, star, keyword, organize, etc, your pictures in the field. When you’re back at your main computer with Lightroom, simply start the Photosmith Plugin for Lightroom. (See this page for download and install instructions. The plugin will remain free after the app launches.)

The plugin will search for Photosmith running on your iPad, contact it for the latest statistics, and then let you choose whether you want to sync everything, or just a particular collection. Everything includes… well, everything. Even your collections and keywords are sent over to the iPad so you don’t have to recreate them if you’re out in the field.

I look forward to checking out the app when it goes on sale (hopefully quite soon).

"Ask the Web Experts" panel discussion April 5

Whether or not you’ll be in San Jose in a couple of weeks, this may be of interest:

“Ask the Web Experts” Free Adobe User Group Meeting
April 5, 2011 – 6 pm
Adobe San Jose – broadcast live via Adobe Connect

Our Experts Panel:
  • Sid Maestre, Developer Evangelist, Paypal, Manager, “Bay Area Mobile” User Group
  • Doug Winnie, Principal Product Manager, Interactive Design and Workflow Lab at Adobe Systems, Inc.
  • Richard Galvan, Product Manager, Adobe Flash Professional CS5
  • David Hogue, Vice President, Interaction Design, Fluid, Inc., Co-Manager, “Fire on the Bay” Fireworks User Group

6:00-6:15 – Introduction, Raffle ticket sales
6:15-8:00 – Discussion of trends in web, mobile, interactive design – examples of good/bad design
8:00-8:15 – Break
8:15-9:00 – Questions from the Audience, Raffle Drawing


15 new video tutorials on Camera Raw

George Jardine (formerly Adobe’s photography/Lightroom evangelist) is now offering the Adobe Photoshop ACR Video Workshop, 15 new tutorials covering Photoshop’s Camera Raw plug-in. He writes,

In over 6 hours of the very best video instruction available, George takes you through the Adobe Camera Raw controls from top to bottom. These videos will give you the confidence to approach any photograph, and quickly and easily bring out the very best image possible.

He notes that his earlier Lightroom series has been very well received, adding:

Please note that if you have already purchased the Lightroom Develop series, just e-mail me, and I’ll let you in on the special pricing for this new series… The [new] videos are all more detailed and accurate, and in many cases, I have completely re-written the existing examples and included more examples, to make everything more clear.

Check out the site for a free sample & other details.

A photographic (non-CGI) fly-by of Saturn

The IMAX film “Outside In” is produced from “hundreds of thousands of still photos” taken by the Cassini orbiter. I have a hard time believing that the footage is real, but I’m hardly an expert. Check it out:

The filmmaking is a non-profit effort being supported by individuals & a few companies. [Via]
Update: See comments for some technical details from the filmmaker & others.

Photoshop Express 2.0: Powerful noise reduction on iOS

After more than 20 million downloads, the free Photoshop Express app has added its first paid features. As PM Jordan Davis explains, Adobe Camera Pack in Photoshop Express 2.0 for iOS* adds three new features:

  • Reduce Noise: Even the best phone cameras can introduce small amounts of grain and speckling—called noise—into images. The Reduce Noise feature quickly smooths out those flaws to improve your photos. (See screenshot with aggressive settings applied.)
  • Self Timer: Set a camera timer to 3- or 10-second intervals before the photo is snapped. Now you can be in the picture too!
  • Auto Review: Use the Auto Review mode to make sure you get a good shot and delete it if you don’t. Auto Review gives you a quick look at your picture before the action passes you by.

The app remains free, and the Camera Pack is a $3.99 in-app purchase.

The noise reduction code is based on the outstanding technology introduced in Lightroom 3/Photoshop CS5.  Squeezing very computationally intensive algorithms to run well on handheld processors was no easy feat, and I think you’ll be pleased with the speed & quality of the results.  We look forward to hearing your feedback.

* Photoshop Express for Android has not yet been updated

Adobe's hiring in mobile digital imaging

Adobe folks are working on a number of interesting mobile applications (most unannounced to date) and is staffing up.  Here are six current job listings I’ve seen:

Adobe proposes CSS enhancements for richer layout

When the InDesign-made Wired app for iPad first shipped, I saw a bunch of snide tut-tutting from Apple-oriented sites saying that of course Adobe should’ve “simply” leveraged HTML5, because that’s the ideal solution to everything.

Unfortunately HTML has never been known for its typographical richness* or control, and that’s why Adobe built a richer type engine for tablets derived from InDesign. Apple disallowed use of that engine via the Section 3.3.1 changes, and for visual fidelity the Wired project relied on generating bitmap images for each page.

The good news is that Adobe’s working to improve HTML to meet the demands of publishers, enabling HTML’s lightness & reflow chops to support more magazine-style layouts.  CSS Regions (proposal PDF) would enable things like text reflow around irregular shapes (screenshot). And it’s not just brave talk & wishful thinking: Adobe’s contributing layout code to WebKit (see previous article for demo & details), aiming to get adoption first on tablets.

It’s easy for armchair experts to tell the world how everything should be done; it’s harder to turn promises into reality.  I’m glad to see the latter happening.

[Via CNET’s “Adobe proposes standard for magazine-like Web” See also “So, what has Adobe actually done for HTML5 lately?“]

* TypeKit & similar efforts are helping, and they’ve got Adobe’s support as well.

The challenge of "How" vs. "What"

“If you told me ‘I’m gonna smear mayo & green stuff all over your fish,'” said Craig Kilborn in an old bit, “I’d probably say ‘No thanks’… but tartar sauce, you make it work.”

Similarly, if you’d asked me last fall, “Hey, do you want an underpowered camera app (one in which you lose features like zoom), a handful of non-adjustable filters, oh, and Yet Another Social Network where you need to locate friends?,” I’d have dutifully asked to see your crack pipe.

And yet I found myself in Germany, sans cell coverage, really missing Instagram. What?

The app has hooked me with its simplicity & the thoughtfulness of its social media integration. It ties creation together with social rewards (“Russell liked my photo! I exist!“), and canned filters share an appeal with Flip cameras: they save me from the temptation of futzing around.

All this comes through while using the app, but it’s hard to convey on paper.

It’s hard, at a glance, to pick up on the novelty/appeal of “how” (doing the same thing differently) as opposed to “what” (doing something different). Put another way, it’s often easier to say, “This app does New Thing X that you’ve never done before” than to say, “Do what you’ve already been doing (and maybe switch away from your current tools), but in a better way.”

Before it was announced, Lightroom suffered from this problem for years*. Potential customers & Adobe staff alike said, “I already have Photoshop, which includes Bridge & Camera Raw, and you’re saying you want me to pay more money to get the same features, minus a bunch?”  The power of “how” came through only in use.

I was driven crazy back then when asking pro photographers whether Camera Raw should be integrated directly in Bridge, as it is in Lightroom (which they hadn’t used), instead of living as a big dialog box.  I surveyed the most thoughtful, forward-thinking alpha testers we knew.  Oh no, they said, it was far more important to do things X, Y, and Z; they direct-vs.-dialog thing was unimportant.  Yet as soon as they’d gotten into Lightroom, they came back and said, “Oh, when will ACR be built right into Bridge? That’s really important!”  Ugh; you don’t say…

Why do I mention all this?  Well, I’ve spent the better part of a year describing interesting concepts for tablet-based creative apps to customers, and it’s been tough to get pre-approval for many (well, besides photo management & client review).  That is, we’ll simply have to take some leaps of faith before people can tell us more–and so we shall.  And just maybe, like tartar sauce & Instagram, the proof will be in the eating**.

* The story of Lightroom’s gestation is an interesting one.
** Proof, incidentally, is not “
in the pudding.”

A Blade Runner tribute made from a giant image

François Vautier built one enormous PSB* file to create this short film:

Created by extracting 167,819 frames from ‘Blade Runner’s final cut version, then assembling all these images to obtain one gigantic image of colossal dimensions : a square of approximately 60,000 pixels on one side alone, 3.5 gigapixels. A virtual camera was then placed above this big picture which creates an illusion, because contrary to appearances, there is only one image. It is in fact the relative movement of the virtual camera flying over this massive image that creates the animated film, a kind of “zootrope effect”, like a film in front of a projector.
The whole concept echoes one of the signature scenes from the film where “Deckard” (Harrison Ford) analyzes a photograph via voice recognition software.

* Like PSD, but scaling beyond 2GB and meaning “Photoshop Big.” Yes, really.

Lightroom & Camera Raw updates now available

Lightroom 3.4 and Camera Raw 6.4 are now available as Release Candidates on Adobe Labs, adding support for the following cameras:

  • Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T3i / Kiss X5)
  • Canon EOS 1100D (Rebel T3 / Kiss X50)
  • Hasselblad H4D-40
  • Olympus E-PL1s
  • Olympus E-PL2
  • Olympus XZ-1
  • Samsung NX11

As Lightroom/ACR PM Tom Hogarty explains on the Lightroom Journal,

The ‘release candidate’ label indicates that this update is well tested but would benefit from additional community testing before it is distributed automatically to all of our customers.  The final releases of Lightroom 3.4 and Camera Raw 6.4 may have additional corrections or camera support.

See the rest of Tom’s post for more info on lens profile updates & bug fixes.

Media Lab's clever algorithmically produced logo

MIT Media Lab’s new visual identity, writes Creativity Online,

is based on an algorithm that produces a unique logo for each person, including faculty, staff and students. Each person can claim and own an individual shape, based on the three geometric shapes in the design used, and can use it on their business card and personal website. They can also create animations for any video content the Lab produces, using custom software.


"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.

A candid look at Photoshop CS5 development

From planning to chaos (“We’re screwed”) to literal tears of joy, Photoshop team members talk about the single toughest cycle in the app’s long history. Just watching it is an emotional roller coaster for me, bringing back first heartburn & then the great pride and gratitude I have to have been associated with this team. I think you’ll find it time well spent.

My own minor footnotes:

  • Having our names on the splash screen is a big deal to the team, going way back. After my name first appeared there, my mom carried a printout for years until it finally disintegrated in the depths of her purse.
  • Many of the engineers in the video have long associations with Apple, some having worked there. Russell Williams, who talks about Carbon vs. Cocoa, was a Mac OS system architect before joining Adobe.
  • At one point during conversion, the splash screen was literally drawing upside down. You can’t make these things up.
  • Designer Neven Mrgan got after Photoshop for its disparate range of UI sliders. That’s one of the things we intended to rectify via the too-ambitious “AHOD” process described in the video. Such controls include a great deal of subtle, custom behavior upon which customers depend, and it just wasn’t feasible to swap them all out in one release.
  • In case you’re wondering, AHOD wasn’t a rewrite effort that would make Photoshop magically twice as fast, etc. Rather, it was aimed at architectural changes that would make the codebase more efficient to develop. Such work remains underway, just not in a do-or-die, one-cycle shot.

Handsome HTML5 from BLITZ

I’ve long admired the work of BLITZ Agency, from the Flash/Wiimote collaborative drawing tool they made several years ago to the lovely CS5 launch materials.  Check out their new site (“powered by #tigerblood,” they note) for a great pairing of graphic design with HTML savvy.

Speaking of HTML5 (or “HTML,” as the cool kids now apparently say), there just may be some interesting news coming out this week. Stay tuned.

Illustration: Retro styles, infographics made real, & more

LetterMPress: Virtual letterpress for iPad

I dig the old-school-lovin’ idea of LetterMpress “a virtual letterpress environment—released first on the iPad—that will allow anyone to create authentic-looking letterpress designs and prints.” According to the project site,

The design process is the same as the letterpress process—you place and arrange type and cuts on a press bed, lock the type, ink the type, and print. You will be able to create unlimited designs, with multiple colors, using authentic vintage wood type and art cuts. And you can print your design directly from LetterMpress or save it as an image for import it into other applications.


Photoshop Express: 20 Million Downloads & Counting

Wow–quite a milestone. PM Jordan Davis reports:

Photoshop Express for iOS and Android devices hit 20 million customer installations today. We want to thank all our customers who have downloaded and used the app to shoot, edit, apply fun effects, and share photos from their smartphones and tablets. If you haven’t yet tried it, Photoshop Express is available for free on the Apple iTunes Store and Android Marketplace.

Thanks for your support, and your feedback is always welcome.

Video: 3D video projection remaps a room

Craft Dutch projector wizards Mr. Beam have “created a unique physical 3D video mapping experience by turning a white living room into a spacious 360° projection area. This technique allowed us to take control of all colors, patterns and textures of the furniture, wallpapers and carpet. All done with 2 projectors.” Check it out:

[Via] Update: Adobe researcher Dan Goldman points out similar projects done 30 years ago (see “Displacements”).