Pixel Bender discontinued in PS, AE CS6

In CS6 the Photoshop & After Effects teams have decided to move away from enabling the Pixel Bender language for writing imaging filters.  The popular Oil Paint effect has been brought into Photoshop CS6, but the Pixel Bender Gallery plug-in will no longer be offered on Adobe Labs.

Pixel Bender is very cool technology, but it just didn’t get widespread adoption from developers, and it’s important to focus dev efforts. This step frees up Adobe’s graphics whizzes to help bring GPU-accelerated filters to everyone via CSS shaders, like this:

and this:

22 thoughts on “Pixel Bender discontinued in PS, AE CS6

  1. Disappointing, but a good business move. It’s one of those things that lots of us told ourselves we’d learn how to do, but never got around to it. I think this is the same problem with Configurator – unless you can make it obvious and simple to build in a way that’s familiar to current PS users, it probably won’t stick around long.
    Scripting and automation could really use a 3rd party UI developer to come along and make the Dreamweaver equivalent for Photoshop.

  2. The worse decision you had with CS6.
    Instead of fixing the problems with Pixel Bender, such as:
    1. No real configurable User Interface.
    2. Crippled performance due to support of obsolete GPU’s.
    3. Ability to hide the code.
    Fixing those problems would have created a wide adoption.
    You had the best platform to write Plug In’s easily for PS and you ruined it.

    1. Exactly.
      It needed some adjustment to unleash all the power.
      I downloaded the AE CS6 trial. But opened it once to set the preferences but never did again as I need my home made pixelbender. I’m using them everyday. Have few of them ready to release. The others are fine-tuned here and there – mainly cause I’m not a pro developper, just an AE user that need more power.
      I’ll have to eventually abandon their use, but right now I don’t see how I could replace them.
      As CS6 is now full OpenGL. Why you don’t create a similar plugins using GLSL instead ? It is about the same but more mature.

  3. I recently wrote a very small image generation plugin for After Effects using Pixel Bender and it was really great! Sad to hear it’s being discontinued while After Effects is becoming more and more Professional. I hope these CSS shaders will replace Pixel Bender and also be available in After Effects.

  4. I assume that while it didn’t have widespread adoption in terms of publicly released filters, many people probably used it like I did: To find quick solutions for Photoshop problems that would otherwise take much longer to solve. I also have a wide range of prototype scripts I used to experiment with things, and I also have several scripts that I used to do stuff Photoshop didn’t do well (I have filters for getting rid of color casts, doing certain things to mask edges, Contrast and Gamma controls for a layer’s Alpha channel since Photoshop still doesn’t offer an Alpha version in the regular Curves, traditionally resulting in the “duplicating a semi-transparent layer a bunch of times and then merging the copies” workaround and things like that), but none quite polished enough to be really useful for other users (though I released one or two in various places I think). I’m sure you of all people know how much work it is to get software to a state where it is suitable for end users and a public release.
    What’s more, while the AE plugin was fine, the Photoshop version suffered from many severe shortcomings that made it completely unsuitable for deploying filters to end users. There were no popup controls for instance, no color selectors and so on. You simply can’t expect a user to type in color values via three floating point sliders without a preview swatch and without the ability to sample a color. You couldn’t integrate filters into the menu system. The language didn’t offer means to retrieve the overall image dimensions, requiring the user to type it in manually where needed in an effect. There were no predefined functions for things that would come up a lot in image processing, like random number generators or perlin noise functions. The plugin was useless for images that were larger than the resolution the graphics card could handle, not even CPU mode was available. The AIF/PixelBender Toolkit was buggy and an interface design nightmare (didn’t even have an MRU list in the menu). The entire platform was officially labelled Beta, so everyone was waiting for that next version to come out and address all the shortcomings before really putting it into practice. Updates were sporadic and minor, and the plugin didn’t ship directly with Photoshop but was released significantly later, making everybody wonder what happened to it and requiring end users to install the plugin separately if they wanted to use an AIF shader downloaded online.
    For me, the discontinuation means that all my Pixel Bender shaders are no longer usable and that I have to go through either GLUAS/GIMP, Python/PIL or wrestle with PiPl resources if I want to solve a simple problem in code rather than through lots of manual work in Photoshop, or if I just simply feel like trying out an idea.
    In short, while I do understand why the decision was made to discontinue public releases of the platform, I think a lot could have been done to make it more attractive to both developers and end users. At least an earlier roadmap announcement about the discontinuation would have been nice so we wouldn’t have invested so much time in creating PB scripts before the CS6 release, thinking we’d be able to take advantage of them further down the road (removing features without a suitable replacement or upgrade path has traditionally been rare in Photoshop’s history).

  5. I am a developer who also happened to serve positions like creative director, I have passion for designs as well. I love the portfolio of products like Flash Builder, AIR, and technology like LifeCycle, BlazeDS, etc. But the poor developer-oriented PR from Adobe just failed to gain the traction as the good technology should be.
    Somehow, the good old Macromedia was able to generate better interest.
    While Adobe’s PR has done a great job within community, shouldn’t Adobe consider a different track when it comes to marketing for developers?

  6. As some already pointed out, the problem was mostly in the very incomplete implementation done by Adobe, which of course prevented many potential users from trying it.
    Very sad to see such a useful feature go.

  7. well this is the same nonsense as some adobe managers who say there is no “demand” for 32 bit filters in photoshop (see PS adobe user forum).
    in my honest opinion you guys at adobe have not much of a clue what people want.

  8. Wouldn’t it be great if Pixel Bender is released as Open Source then?
    Even though it isn’t perfect it offered a flexible workflow in After Effects that no other solution implemented before. Since Adobe is pushing AE constantly into the more professional market this isn’t a wise decision on the long run.
    Also in terms of all the little great tools on aescripts.com that are now defunct I wonder how many developers would have been necessary in the eyes of the marketing department…
    Not sure how CSS shaders perform on the algorithmic level, but something like a GLSL implementation would be great as well.
    I hope Adobe finds a solution soon, as said a Open Source release would be a dream 🙂

  9. This is another reason I hate Adobe and all they stand for. A .5 release is chargeable.
    Steve Jobs had good reason to hate this company too.
    Fire the CEO, it’s in their best interest.

  10. I don’t think that shifting “Adobe’s graphics whizzes” focus over to creating GPU accelerated CSS crinkle effects is a particularly good use of resources. That’s exactly the type of flashy, but ultimately unnecessary (and bound to be abused), thing that will show up in a “what were we thinking” retrospective of web design in 2012-2013… Much like the animated gifs with the flames I had on my angelfire site when I was 12…
    Whereas the ability to create custom filters for PS and AE, enabled us to truly create anything we could imagine with the requisite effort and knowledge.
    Thumbs down, Adobe.

  11. I teach people how to use Photoshop/Illustrator and InDesign … what am I going to tell them …
    Don’t upgrade – use an older version of all three programs … well, that seems to be the only solution, if they wan’t to use this filter …

  12. I still have PS3, but I have tried and tried to install pixel bender into it and it will not work. We all use Macs.
    Our entire class is waiting for me to come up with some sort of answer, and I am hoping that you have a solution of how to get PB into PS3!
    Thank you,

  13. I tried all day yesterday to install PixelBender into PS5 on both my Macs, it will not work. I really want to have Oil Paint, and see a scaled down version is in PS6. Any comments on the comparison?
    But my REAL question is that I still have PS3, and have tried to install PB into it, to no avail. Is this possible to do? And if so, how would one go about installing it?
    My classmates are on the edge of their chairs awaiting my answer about this. Hoping you have some updated info, as Adobe still has their instructions up, which dont work.

  14. Guess that wont work now, so I went ahead and upgraded to PS6, and the Oil Paint filter is in there. Its very nice,

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