Monthly Archives: March 2015

Adobe introduces Comp, a new ideation app for iPad

Draw simple shapes to automatically create layouts that you can use in Adobe desktop apps. Check it out:

Designer Khoi Vinh writes,

It’s not a desktop tool that has been ported to the iPad or a replica of real world art materials, but a wholly different approach to turbo-charging creativity that builds on what the iPad is uniquely suited for […].

He notes the rich type support & gesture library:

Comp CC is the first implementation of the full Typekit catalog, completely optimized for touch and fully embedded for easy access. That alone exponentializes the value of the iPad as a creative tool, if you ask me. […]

Not only can you draw primitive shapes and text objects, but you can also draw rounded image objects, rectangles with chamfered corners, polygons, paragraphs of text, lines of text and headlines.

I’m hoping the app finds a great niche. What do you think?

[YouTube] [Vimeo]

Google+ Photos can now appear in your Google Drive

You’ve long been able to make images you store in Google Drive show up in Google+ Photos, but what about the other way around? Why can’t you automatically back up photos from your phone, then have them synced down to your Mac or PC via Drive? Well, now you can:

To get started, just look for the new Photos menu in Drive for Android, iOS and the web. From there you’ll be able to manage your photos and videos alongside other types of files. For example, you can now add pictures of wedding venues and cakes to the same Drive folder as your guest list and budget.

Google+ Photos will of course keep helping you store, edit and share your pics. But if you want to organize all your files, all in one place, Drive is here to help. You’ll start seeing your photos in Drive today—immediately if they’re new, and a few weeks for your entire library—so give it a try, and let us know what you think.

Check out details if you’re interested.


Periscope is a fascinating, game-changing app

I remember exactly where I was & what I was doing when I first saw NCSA Mosaic, Photoshop, Flash, Google, and YouTube. Periscope—the live-streaming video app from Twitter—just joined that rarefied list.

After failing for weeks to “get” the similar Meerkat, I tried Periscope this weekend & was spellbound. In ~30 minutes of total usage, I…

  • learned that Scott Kelby was doing a street shoot in Amsterdam, sent him comments, and heard him reply
  • learned that Scott’s colleague RC Concepcion was doing a shoot in Florida & interacted with him
  • saw a former YouTuber broadcast from her balcony, said hi, and heard her reply
  • learned that a comedian I follow on Twitter is near me, walking to Wrestlemania at Levi’s Stadium
  • watched a friend’s kids play on the beach & said hi

I’m fascinated by the storytelling potential here & in tools like Snapchat Stories—which are evidently mindblowingly popular.

Like a fool, perhaps, I poured myself into trying to help normal people craft better stories (better-chosen shots, better-looking/sounding content). But people don’t do that: they want something “easier than iMovie,” and instead of trying to make things “better,” you can instead make people not care. That is, you replace technical quality (lighting, sound, edits) with immediacy. If your creation is here today, gone today, no one will judge you on aesthetic merits.

Getting all this right will take time, but it feels thrillingly fresh in ways I didn’t—and don’t yet—foresee.

“Smile for the computer!” Crowdsourcing better portraits

Interesting exploration from researchers at Adobe (including Aseem Agarwala, who just joined Google) and Berkeley:

[T]rain a model that can automatically predict attractiveness of different expressions of a given person. We also train a cross-subject model that evaluates portrait attractiveness of novel subjects and show how it can be used to automatically mine attractive photos from personal photo collections. Furthermore, we show how, with a little bit ($5-worth) of extra crowdsourcing, we can substantially improve the cross-subject model by “fine-tuning” it to a new individual using active learning. Finally, we demonstrate a training app that helps people learn how to mimic their best expressions.


Illustration: “The world’s first pancake printer!”

File under brilliant/insane/possibly “Why They Hate Us”: PancakeBot.

Our included user-friendly software allows you to design your own pancake by tracing any image right on your computer.  From your favorite piece of art or character, a child’s drawing, a product image or your company or team logo, the software creates the file and the PancakeBot does the rest. As the artist, you control what lines are drawn first, which in turn lets you determine the shading of the pancake. 

These guys need to partner with Adobe Shape.

Priime app: filter recommendations + marketplace

PetaPixel reports on the new photography app Priime:

The app goes beyond apps like Instagram, however, with features such as filter suggestions and a filter marketplace.

For each photo being edited with the app, Priime will analyze its properties — things like color palette and dynamic range — and then suggest a certain style to apply as a photo filter. Pre-made filters offered by the app are highly curated looks that were designed in collaboration with well known photographers from around the world [example].

What do you think? I find the idea of content intelligence & revenue sharing with photographers interesting, though boy is it hard to carve out time & mental space for yet another app.

A 10K Timelapse Demo

Photographer Joe Capra loves high resolution. He writes,

“10328×7760 – A 10K Timelapse Demo” is a video I put together showcasing the extreme resolution of the PhaseOne IQ180 camera of which it was shot… Each shot is comprised of hundreds individual still images, each weighing in at a whopping 80 megapixels. Each individual raw frame measures 10328×7760 pixels. […]

You can literally get about 8-10 solid 1920×1080 shots out of a single shot. You can also get about 5-6 solid 4K shots out of a single shot.

[Vimeo] [Via Rufus Deuchler]

Illustration: Pop-culture mash-ups in Pixar & Marvel styles



Hiding messages within Instagram pics

Check out this cleverness:

[F]ashion retailer Ted Baker is making insanely innovative use of Instagram filters to deliver hidden messages people can use to win prizes. This is all to promote its new SS15 collection.

Over the next two weeks, working with Poke London, Ted Baker will upload specially-processed images to its Instagram account. The brand is asking people to re-gram or screenshot and re-post the images to their own Instagram accounts. And then by applying filters, various clues, hidden messages and challenges appear in portions of the image.

Steganography for the rest of us!

See also The Triumphant Rise of the Shitpic.

Photography: Drip, honey, drip

Time & money for girls covered in honey, as the B-Boys would say.

FastCo writes,

The subjects in [Blake Little’s] “Preservation” range from a 1-year-old baby to an 85-year-old woman, and everything in between, including pets.

So how much honey does it take to coat a person? Clearly, far more than what’s in that squeezable bottle in your kitchen: Little estimates he used 900 five-pound jugs of honey for the series.



Exciting news: Aseem Agarwala joins Google

Have you ever auto-aligned & blended layers in Photoshop (e.g. making a panorama)? Applied a wide-angle lens correction or perspective warp? Warp-stabilized video in After Effects? Quickly segmented an image in Photoshop Touch? Dreamed about voice-driven image editing?

All of these projects & more had key contributions from researcher Aseem Agarwala, so I’m incredibly excited that today is his first day at Google. In just his first few weeks at Adobe we were able to get his alignment & blending tech into CS3, and Aseem was always one of my favorite research collaborators (energetic, thoughtful, and aesthetically savvy). Let’s see what we can do with the resources of Google!

Photoshop experts try to use Photoshop 1.0

“I swear, drop shadows used to be *cool*!” I used to tell people. “That was back when only barrel-chested, meat-eating heroes could wade through all the steps—before Photoshop made them easy & really cheapened the coin.”

I think of that watching this charming little clip from CreativeLive. As PetaPixel writes,

They asked 8 well-known Photoshop experts — Dave Cross, Jared Platt, Ben Willmore, Chris Orwig, Julieanne Kost, Aaron Nace, Tim Grey, Matt Kloskowski, and Jason Hoppe — to try their hand at version 1.0.

Oh, and the single-undo thing? That persisted for the first eight-plus years of Photoshop’s existence!


Photography: Gorgeous solar dynamics

Eat your heart out, Danny Boyle.

February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole sun 24 hours a day. […] In honor of SDO’s fifth anniversary, NASA has released a video showcasing highlights from the last five years of sun watching. Watch the movie to see giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the sun’s surface.

Read on, or just enjoy the show.

[YouTube] [Via]

Realtime rendering gets more & more amazing

This video is, incredibly, said to be rendered in realtime (30fps), though I don’t know on what hardware. (My DreamWorks Animation vet friend says it’s likely running on a workstation-class computer w/ one of the new Nvidia Titan X graphics cards; total system cost around $25k.)

The kite cinematic created in Unreal Engine 4 features a diverse and beautifully realized 100 square mile landscape. Everything you see was generated in real-time by Unreal Engine 4 at 30fps and includes fully dynamic lighting, cinematic post effects and procedurally placed trees and foliage. 

[YouTube] [Via]

“Magic meets honesty”

What the hell am I doing at Google, anyway? Why am I here, specifically?

I like what Neven Mrgan had to say about an ambitious screenshot/OCR app (emphasis mine). The last paragraph resonates with what we’re trying to do here (composing movies, stories, and more that you can edit):

Now here’s where magic meets honesty: OneShot shares its uncertainty with you. If it’s not totally sure about which article you want to highlight, it has you choose it.

Easy enough for you take it from here, right? OneShot tried, and shaved off some work from this task, and that’s helpful enough. If it got it wrong, oh well, no harm done. My instinct says Apple wouldn’t ship a feature like this—they’d want it to work 100% of the time, or not at all.

I’d like to see more software try to do a good job of a fuzzy task, let you help it with the last mile, and give you a fallback option. That kind of magic can be more delightful than behind-the-scenes, guess-and-stick-with-it magic we’re often promised.

Lightroom Iron Chef

Filmmaker & color ninja Stu Maschwitz recently visited the Bay Area Lightroom User Group for an interesting event. LR add-on maker Jeffrey Friedl writes,

Stu Maschwitz sits down to a blacked-out Lightroom catalog loaded with a couple dozen photos submitted by strangers, and one by one he unveils and processes them as the whim strikes him, providing a running commentary about his artistic reasons for doing things, or technical comments about how to achieve in Lightroom whatever look he’s going for.

The running commentary on the hows and whys provide ample little seeds that may germinate ideas when processing your own photos.

It’s not a “how-to” video, and it’s not a demonstration of the “right way” to process photos… It’s just Stu looking at a stranger’s photo and instantly deciding what that photo’s “story” is to him, and then proceeding to crop and adjust the photo so that as far as he’s concerned, it better tells that story.

[YouTube] [Via]

Photoshop seeks artists: 25 under 25

As part of their 25th anniversary celebrations, the Photoshop team is looking for great young artists to showcase:

In the coming months, we’ll be scouring the globe, turning over every rock, to find artists that represent the future of Photoshop. But we need your help. We’re looking for the most innovative, forward-looking work out there that will show the world what the next generation of Photoshop artists is made of.

These 25 game changers will be from all parts of the world, and their art will represent their diverse cultures, life experiences, points of view and dreams…all brought to life with the help of Photoshop. In honor of our 25th year, each artist will be creating an original piece of art to celebrate the milestone. Over the course of the next year, each of the 25 will stage a two week takeover of our brand new Photoshop Instagram channel sharing their story and their art with the world.

Check out the blog post for details. [Via]


Terrific motion graphics from the Oscars

Slate interviews designer Henry Hobson, whose team has created some great moving visuals for the past few years’ Oscars telecasts. “I even managed to get away with a Wolf of Wall Street poster made out of cocaine,” he notes. “Maybe I shouldn’t emphasize that just in case the bosses didn’t notice.”

From last year:

The end of the interview contains this gem:

But my favorite thing that happened last night was getting tweeted by Donald Trump. He said, these are the worst Oscars graphics ever. When Donald Trump is saying how bad your work is, this guy who can’t even curate his own haircut—that’s when you know you’ve made it.

[Vimeo 1 & 2]