Monthly Archives: January 2013

Dorks On A Plane

What happens when you strap a couple of GoPros onto the bottom of the B-24 you’ve talked your way aboard? There’s only one way to find out!

Last Memorial Day my friend Bruce Bullis (Adobe video engineering) and I managed to ride a vintage bomber out of Moffett Field. Bruce charmed the GoPro folks into lending us a couple of cameras that we could mount on the outside of the plane, and we carried a Canon 5D Mk II and our iPhones aboard the plane.
Lessons learned, in brief:

  • Wind is a bitch. The tail-mounted GoPro got blown upwards almost immediately. I’ll spare you 15 minutes of extremely close-up footage of an airplane’s tail.
  • SLR video is hard. I’m not used to the Mk II (my “vintage” 5D doesn’t shoot video), and I found it really hard to compose & focus shots via the LCD panel. That’s especially true in tight quarters, like the rear plexiglass gun turret where I kept bonking with my lens. (This was all while trying not to fall out the open windows, or through the bomb bay doors, etc.) At least I’m happy with the stills we captured.
  • Video stabilization can work wonders but isn’t a silver bullet. The video embedded above was greatly improved by the Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro CS6, but some movements still produce that “jelly cam” effect.

DARPA tech: Cool with a side of creepy

Generating 600 GB of data per second (eat your heart out, RED cam), the 1.8-gigapixel ARGUS camera will hitch a ride on drones, spotting targets as small as six inches from an altitude of 20,000 feet. TechCrunch reports,

The camera uses 368 five-megapixel camera sensors aimed through a telescopic array to pick out birds in flight and humans on the move on the Earth’s surface. ARGUS stands for Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System.

Elsewhere, acronym-lovin’ DARPA wants you to design an amphibious Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground Vehicle (FANG). Somehow I’m kinda weirded out by their appropriating a breezy whiteboard aesthetic more often seen in TED talks:

Tonight at Adobe SJ: The Art of Photography in the Photoshop Era

(Sorry for the late notice; I just found out about the event.)

The San Jose Photoshop User Group is hosting Harold Davis tonight at 7 PM in the Park conference room at Adobe HQ. Pizza will be served at 6:30 PM.

Harold Davis is an award-winning professional photographer and the author of many bestselling books on photography and image processing including Creating HDR Photos: The Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Photography (Amphoto), Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis (Focal Press) andCreative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley Publishing). His images are widely published, collected and commissioned, and his popular photo workshops are often sold out. Harold is a Moab Paper Printmaking Master. Learn more about Harold and his photography at Harold lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Phyllis, and their four children.

Friday Demo/Q&A: Rich, Responsive Web Design and Animation

Learn what Edge Animate and the Creative Cloud can do for you, this Friday at noon Pacific:

It’s amazing what you can create with HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. Using Adobe’s tools – Edge Animate and the Creative Cloud web tooling, you don’t have to stare at code all day. Join Worldwide Web Evangelist Paul Trani on a tour for how-to create rich animation and interactivity with content that can be responsive and change based on your screen size.

Explore AE's history with its creators, this Thursday

Did you know that the first version of AE didn’t even have a timeline? Check out this screenshot from Dan Wilk (click to enlarge):
As part of AE’s 20th Anniversary celebration, you can:

Join After Effects creators Dave Simons and Dan Wilk as they take you on a trip down memory lane to see how After Effects started—from concept to initial user interface. See how much After Effects has changed throughout the years and why things are simply the way they are.

The event is set for this Thursday at 10am Pacific time. Here’s more info.

Happy Birthday, After Effects!

“I can’t believe I’m talking to these guys,” I thought. “They’re spending their time talking to me–and they’re so down-to-earth!”
That was in 2000, when I first met the brains behind After Effects. (I’d just joined Adobe, aspiring to build “AE for the Web.”) 13 years later, I still feel just the same. In any industry full of half-hit wonders acting like they’ve just cured cancer, I find Dave, Dan, and all the AE guys as relentlessly humble & passionate as can be.
So “Happy 20th anniversary to After Effects, the video package you keep promising yourself you’ll learn someday,” as I saw Matt May quip the other day. Here some pros salute this game-changing app:

A TED talk on the power of image

At some point I lost track of (and most interest in) all the hand-wringing articles about Photoshop & body image. Even so, I found this talk by model Cameron Russell interesting. She’s unusually sharp (her mom founded ZipCar, it turns out) and compares images of her with the real person.

Her points about models’ insecurities remind me of life in Silicon Valley: the more fortunate one is, the more one feels compelled to do & achieve even more (and the worse for not doing it). When I’m touring a potential kindergarten I think, “What kickass disruptive badassery am I missing out on?” I never think “I was 26 and living in Palo Alto and working on Photoshop”; it’s all “Facebook was taking shape down the street; what kind of loser misses out on that?” Talk about kindergarten… [Via]

Mixel for iPhone builds Instagram-friendly collages

I’ve been a fan of Mixel for a long time, and now it’s become much more useful to me as it creates square collages that can be sent directly to Instagram.

I find this highly useful after shooting a burst of shots of my kids (as one never knows which one will best capture fast-moving action): I select an arbitrary number of shots, feed them to Mixel, let it auto-create a collage, and then shuffle or manually adjust the results as desired. It’s often a faster, visually richer alternative to apps like Diptic (which I also like). It’s not something I use constantly, but when I do want it, I find the $1.99 well worth the investment.

In semi-related news, Mixel has been acquired by Etsy. Congrats to Khoi & the team.

Designing one new superhero every day for a year

I love the 365 Supers project from Pixar animator Everett Downing. According to a well illustrated interview in Wired,

“I got into a rut, I wasn’t drawing enough and a friend told me I was over-thinking things,” says Downing. “I just needed to do something I was really into that wouldn’t require too much thinking. I started thinking about designing superheroes and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it. I threw the gauntlet down and decided to draw a super every day.”

Everett does more than draw, too, dreaming up backstories for the characters. I’m partial to the teams like married couple “Ball & Chain.”

Another unlikely favorite is “Dober-Man and Pincer,” a silly looking duo with a hilarious history “Altruistic exotic veterinarian Voss Brown was bitten by a genetically altered rabid doberman and given its approximate powers. He can run as fast as a pinscher and wields a dog-like fury! Together with his pet, Pincher (the now toothless dog that gave him his abilities) they pursue crime with a dogged determination!”

[Via NPR]

A film scanner for your smart phone

Yes, really. Check out this Kickstarter project from Lomography:

The Smartphone Film Scanner was conceived as a way to offer photographers and enthusiasts a quick, easy and portable way to scan 35mm films. It offers unrivaled speed and convenience when compared to other film scanners. In addition, the scanner will work with a free integrated Lomoscanner App, which allows you to easily edit and share your scans.


The Photoshop "Faking It" Contest: Show Off Your Image Manipulation Skills

To celebrate the Met’s exhibit Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop, the Photoshop team has created a contest:

We’d like to invite the Photoshop community to share their photo manipulations with us for a chance to win some special prizes. Every week, from now through February 7th, we will post an image from the Faking It exhibit that will serve as inspiration for that week’s submissions. Photoshop fans can submit their own altered photograph showing their interpretation of the theme, and at the end of each week, a random winner will be chosen to receive a print copy of the 296-page exhibition companion Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop by Mia Fineman.

In addition to the weekly winners, participants who submit a video screencast of their entry, showing how their image was created, will be eligible to win the grand prize; a trip for two to see the Faking It exhibit in person at either the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. or the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.

Photoshop customer profile: Illustrator Brian Haberlin profiles comics illustrator & storyteller Brian Haberlin, talking about his mix of digital & traditional media:

It’s really Faustian, meaning I will do anything it takes to get me to the final image. For example, I use both analog and digital techniques and go back and forth. I may print out my work, spray it with water, throw paint on it, scan it back in, or collage it with the original digital painting. I use anything from painting on a wet printout to using coffee as a paint source – whatever it takes to get there at the end of the day.

Brian shows his work & talks about key Photoshop features (Puppet Tool, Warp), favorite CS6 features (Background Save, Oil Paint), and more. (Note that a good chunk of the interview is inexplicably buried under a “More” link.)

[Via Daniel Presedo]

Why Adobe publishes research

Adobe publishes some of its best work (e.g. tech behind Content-Aware Fill) in the academic community, rather than keeping it a trade secret, as some other big software companies do. Dan Goldman, one of the brains behind CAF, writes,

First, by encouraging publication, we make it attractive for the best minds in the business to come work in our labs – we count several former and current University professors among our ranks. Second, our researchers draw on the wealth of knowledge in the academic community as well – a great deal of our research is done in collaboration with graduate students like Connelly. And third, the rigorous demands of peer review keep us motivated to try truly new things – rather than being content to simply do all the old things better.

Check out the rest of Dan’s post for more insights into how the groundbreaking Content-Aware Fill came to be.

An incredibly rare Lego holiday gift

Mission accomplished, Invisible Creature: now I totally want to be your client, if it would get me a bitchin’ bespoke Lego creation.

We love our clients. We love Lego. So why not combine the two? For our annual Client Holiday gift this year, we decided to design a custom Eye Creature Lego kit. Edition of 6 sets. 444 pieces. 4 instruction booklets. 8 different mouth combinations – and a hinged top that allows the owner to store all kinds of fun items (as shown below). We even found 2 extremely cute kids from 1972 in my house that wanted to participate in the box design. Disclaimer: This product is NOT affiliated with Lego, folks – this was a gift. Oh, enough already. Check out how we made it below:

The fun little storage compartment reminds me of the Lego “peanut” car I fashioned while courting Margot. It continues to hold some quietly disintegrating Peanut M&M’s. [Via]

Demo: Future Adobe video tech, with a side of Grumpy Cat

Showing off Adobe Anywhere & Premiere Pro, PMs Al Mooney & Michael Coleman showcase their witty banterousness & the future of collaborative editing:

And that shirt of Al’s. Man, that shirt… Wow. Can’t unsee. It has occasioned *way* too much internal discussion, with promises/threats to buy him the Mountain Men’s 10 Kittens Tee. (Review: “When I wear clothes with kittens, I require a much higher kitten-per-inch-of-shirt count than you’ve offered here. Can not recommend.”)

Lee Press-On… Styluses?


Sri Vellanki of Tech Tips has developed ‘Nano Nails’, a stylus-like tip design that’s placed on the nail or on the nail’s tip.
With Nano Nails, wearers can user their fingernails as fine, precise smartphone or tablet styluses.

Hmm—lovely, but I’ll pass on getting Margot some in favor of Corn Chip Nail Tips (“sodium-enhanced and fortified with fun!“). Those go great with a side of South Korean meat stylus.

Photoshop 13.0.4/13.1.2 updates fix "trial" problem

PM Jeff Tranberry writes,

Today we released Photoshop update version 13.0.4 (for Mac perpetual customers) and version 13.1.2 (for Creative Cloud members, Mac and Windows), resolving this licensing issue:

  • Trial screen displays when you open Photoshop CS6 – When you open a copy of Photoshop CS6 that you purchased, a notice displays that you can try this product for 30 days.

How to get the Update

  1. In Photoshop, choose Help > Updates.
  2. The Adobe Application Manager will launch. Select Adobe Photoshop CS6 and choose Update.

How to confirm that the Update worked

  1. In Photoshop, choose Help > About Photoshop (Win), or Photoshop > About Photoshop (Mac)
  2. For Mac perpetual customers, the version at the top should be Version: 13.0.4
  3. For Win/Mac Creative Cloud members, the version at the top should be Version: 13.1.2.

Photography: Julieanne Kost's "Moments Alone"

Every day, Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost shares a set of beautiful captures via Instagram. As she did last year, she’s compiled her favorites into a short video:

I’m sure that the images will mean more to me than they do to you, but I would encourage you to create a collection of your own images and look at them as a complete body of work for the year to see what you can discover about yourself.

Demo: Conditional actions in Photoshop CS6

Years ago, Jeff Schewe promised to buy me dinner if I could get support for conditional actions (i.e. simple automation that can feature if/then-type support) into Photoshop. We snuck it into ImageReady, but it took until now (the recent CS6 update for Creative Cloud members) for Photoshop to get this welcome feature. Here’s a quick demo:

What's up with Adobe "giving away" CS2?

Here’s an explanation from the corporate blog:

Effective December 13, Adobe disabled the activation server for CS2 products and Acrobat 7 because of a technical glitch. These products were released over 7 years ago and do not run on many modern operating systems. But to ensure that any customers activating those old versions can continue to use their software, we issued a serial number directly to those customers.  While this might be interpreted as Adobe giving away software for free, we did it to help our customers.

"Further Up Yonder": Views of Earth from the ISS

Giacomo Sardelli used Photoshop & Premiere Pro to edit eye-popping visuals taken aboard the International Space Station, then combine them with clips of the crew addressing all of us down here:

Some making-of nerdery courtesy of PetaPixel:

Pictures were downloaded from the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center and edited with Photoshop CS6. Even if they were Hi-res images shot with Nikon D3S cameras, a lot of noise removal and color correction was needed, especially for those shots at ISO 3200, which was the highest ISO speed limit I’ve allowed myself to use, exception made for the last sequence of the spinning world, which comes from a sequenze of shots taken at ISO 12800. […]
Editing was made with Adobe Premiere CS6, with a 2K workflow, which allowed me to scale, rotate and pan image sequences whose native resolution is 4K.

Tangentially related bonus: NASA’s Captain Sunita Williams gives a 25-minute tour of the International Space Station—what Kottke calls “the nerdiest episode of MTV Cribs.”

Tips: Workflow & asset management in Lightroom

Our old friend George Jardine (formerly Adobe’s pro photography evangelist) has recently posted a variety of interesting pieces:

  • In A Workflow Story, he’s posted 12 new video tutorials on the Lightroom location workflow & catalog management. “Watch these videos,” he writes, “and you will gain a complete understanding of effective Lightroom Catalog Management.” The series costs $29.95, and the video on updating folder locations is a free sample.
  • In Does Library Folder Organization Matter?, he challenges conventional wisdom about how best to manage one’s photo library over the short & long hauls.
  • Elsewhere he writes about how to use GPS tracklogs with Lightroom’s Time Zone Offset feature, demonstrating his techniques in a free video.

More on Lightroom/WordPress integration

In response to yesterday’s post, a few people commented that they’d like to see more direct integration between Lightroom & WordPress sites. Dan Gerber of the Lightroom team notes that Adobe’s Terry White has posted some tips in which he recommends the LR/Blog plug-in, available for £8 ($12.86). I haven’t tried it, having settled on using LR’s built-in Flickr uploader. (I like that Flickr serves up a rich display dynamically using Flash or HTML depending on my viewers’ playback capabilities.)

Notre Dame & Adobe team up

In an attempt to blow my mind, my alma mater & my employer have partnered to create the free Notre Dame Gameday app for iPad, created with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite:

This multimedia-packed app takes fans inside the locker room and onto the gridiron with the undefeated Fighting Irish during their 125th season of football, replaying the highlights of their climb to No. 1 and previewing their upcoming BCS Championship Game against Alabama. Enjoy articles, slideshows, infographics, interactive rosters, archival images and footage, and even a virtual tailgate party, exclusively on the iPad for fans of the Fighting Irish.

(As I may have neglected to mention, as of a recent update, Creative Cloud members can publish an unlimited number of DPS apps to the Apple App Store.)

Go Irish!

Demo: "The Difference Between Duplicating a Smart Object and Creating New Smart Object via Copy"

When devising what became Smart Objects in Photoshop, we had several goals:

  • Enable non-destructive transformation & filtering
  • Tighten integration with Illustrator & other apps
  • Facilitate “edit one, update many” parent-child links among layers (a la “symbols” in Illustrator, Flash, etc.).

The last of these is far & away the most obscure and, frankly, confusing. Photoshop doesn’t present any indication about which layers are linked to which others, and it doesn’t offer a Library panel for managing SO’s. (There’s so, so much potential yet to be unlocked here.)
In any case, Julieanne Kost uses a real-world example to demonstrate how to link Smart Objects together (simply duplicate them on the Layers panel) and how to duplicate & unlink them.

Photography: "Chasing Ice"

Photoshop engineer John Peterson (who’s been behind Photomerge, various vector improvements, and more) highly recommends the new documentary Chasing Ice:

It follows photographer James Balog as he travels the Arctic documenting the massive meltdown of the glaciers.  Among other things, he and his crew set up over two dozen time-lapse cameras to capture the melting ice over a period of years.  The footage they capture of the glaciers – in some cases melting completely out of frame – is amazing. Another team, camped out on a freezing ledge for over two weeks, were rewarded with footage of an ice shelf the size of lower Manhattan collapsing into the sea.

It’s some of the most stunning, dramatic landscape photography I’ve seen on a movie screen.