Monthly Archives: October 2015

Animation: “The Wisdom of Pessimism”

I’m not sure I buy the message, but I love the illustrations:

From the Motionographer interview:

For his directorial debut, Claudio Salas took on an ambitious challenge: a 2-minute visual essay for the philosopher Alain de Botton’s School of Life project.

What began as a simple Twitter exchange snowballed into a massive collaborative effort involving over 30 people. Their disparate styles and techniques combined for a whimsical “variety show” aesthetic that’s full of surprises while still feeling coherent.


Google Photos improves face search, GIF sharing, & more on Android

Good stuff has arrived in the latest version (1.8). According to the team post,

  • Hide a person from appearing under People. This also prevents events with that person from appearing in “Rediscover this day” cards in the Assistant.
  • Face search is available in more countries: Face grouping will be available in Latin America, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia, and New Zealand. It will also be available in parts of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
  • When viewing search results, pinch to zoom in and out.
  • Spooky fast performance improvements and bug fixes.

You can also save animated GIFs as videos (as you already could on iOS) to enable sharing them via Instagram, WhatsApp, and more.

German & Arabic speakers: Help Google help refugees

Your translation skills can make a real difference:

From the team blog:

Just this year, we saw a 5X growth in Arabic translations in Germany, which got us thinking about what we could do to make our products work better for Arabic speakers in these places. We’ve since added Arabic as our 28th language for instant visual translation, enabling immediate, offline translation of signs and other printed text from English or German to Arabic. We’re also asking anyone who knows the languages spoken by refugees or the countries they’re traveling through to help us improve translations through Google Translate Community.


Snapseed goes raw! DNG support arrives on Android.

I’m delighted to say that DNG files, shot directly on Android phones or converted from other formats, can now be edited in Google Snapseed for Android. When you open these images in the new Snapseed 2.1 (rolling out now, so please check back in the Play Store if it’s not yet available where you are), a new Develop filter module gives you great control over highlights, shadows, and white balance—just as you’d expect when working with raw.

Some phones can shoot DNG photos in the phone’s built-in camera app, including LG G4, HTC One M9, OnePlus One, Oppo N1, Oppo N3, and Oppo Find 7. Others require a third-party camera app to shoot DNGs, including the Samsung S6, Samsung S6 Edge, Nexus 5, and Nexus 6. Devices need at least 1.5GB of RAM & good OpenGL support.

Happy shooting, and please let us know what you think!

Raw vs jpeg

A 97-year-old woman discovers Google Photos

“This might be my all-time favorite press briefing I’ve done,” says David Lieb, who leads the PM team for Photos. Google granted the wish of 97-year-old Olive Horrell, who dreamed of being an engineer but was discouraged from pursuing that career. She recently visited campus, had her “mind blown” by Photos, tried her hand at drawing a Google Doodle, and road around in a self-driving car. Man, I’m kinda jealous, and I work here! 🙂 Makes me wonder what kind of campus tour I (or more likely my disembodied essence) might get in 50-odd years.


NY Times partners with Google on virtual reality storytelling

Wow—I’m really eager to see how this project develops:

The New York Times announced on Tuesday a virtual reality project in collaboration with Google, which will include the distribution of more than a million cardboard VR viewers to subscribers.

The New York Times Magazine will release a new virtual reality film, called “The Displaced,” about children uprooted by war. It can be watched with the cardboard viewers, which are used with a smartphone and will be sent to home delivery subscribers on the weekend of Nov. 7. Some digital subscribers will receive codes by email to redeem for a free viewer.

Using Google Photos in a time of grief

Like an unfortunate number of friends’ families recently, we recently lost a loved one. I thought I’d briefly share a couple of things that worked well for us.

  • In Google Photos search, you can tap on a person’s face to see all your pictures of him or her, then select a number of them and tap the share icon to create a sharable gallery.
  • Friends & family viewing the gallery can download these images, or if they’re logged in with a Google account, add the images to their own Photos library with one click. This makes it really easy to gather together content (e.g. to make a memorial book or video). Before this feature was available, I guided a friend through a patchwork process of trying to get things via email, Drive, etc. The new approach is far simpler, and in the near future, collaborative albums will make it simpler still.
  • Discovering animations that feature your loved one can be a surprisingly moving experience.
  • A friend asked how to make a memorial video for her dad. You can do so directly in Photos (select images/videos, tap the “+” icon on iOS or Android, and tap “Movie”), or you can download content to your Mac or PC, browse it via Picasa, and make a face movie or regular movie using whatever music you’d like. (Select images, then choose Create->Movie.)

The circumstances mean that these tasks aren’t exactly fun, but I’ve found that the results can be very meaningful.

Magic Leap VR teaser looks amazing

Google has invested nearly half a billion dollars in these guys, and though details remain scant, I love what we’ve seen so far.

“We can’t on video actually give you the experience you’ll have when you use our system,” Abovitz said of the teaser. […] “Effectively, you experience Gimbal [the robot] as a complete neurologic reality in the world with you—flying around, going behind things, [sitting] on top of tables,” Abovitz explained. “So he’s really there.”

[YouTube] [Via]

Enormous photo composites of cathedrals

Photographer Markus Brunetti has spent years relentlessly honing the craft of capturing, compositing, and printing giant (up to 10’) representations of Europe’s cathedrals. Khoi Vinh writes,

Brunetti creates stunning photographs of European cathedrals from countless source images that he takes and painstakingly composites into photographic equivalents of elevation drawings. The results are intricately unreal; perspective is dramatically flattened, light is almost impossibly even, and all signs of human activity are removed—in effect, Brunetti reconstructs the original architectural ideal that motivated each structure.



UI: The beautiful interfaces of The Martian

Territory Studio nailed a tricky middle ground (futuristic but not fanciful) in crafting some great-looking interfaces for The Martian. Take a look:

Working closely with NASA, Territory developed a series of deft and elegant concepts that combine factual integrity and filmic narrative, yet are forward looking and pushing NASA’s current UI conventions as much as possible.

Territory’s plot-based graphics includes identities and visual languages for each set, and include images, text, code, engineering schematics, 3D visualisations based on authentic satellite images showing Martian terrain, weather, and mission equipment served across consoles, navigation and communication systems, laptops, mobiles, tablets, and arm screens throughout.

In all Territory delivered around 400 screens for on-set playback, most of them featuring interactive elements. With 85 screens on the NASA Mission Control set alone, a number of which were 6mx18m wall screens, there are many moments in which the graphics become a dynamic bridge between Earth and Mars, narrative and action, audience and characters.

[Vimeo] [Via]

100+ million people adopt Google Photos in five months!

To echo my teammates, thanks for the amazingly warm reception!

PM data whiz Chris Perry has posted 11 interesting insights into what & where people shoot most often, what they search for (babies! dogs! duh :-)), and more. My favorite detail: “We’ve freed up 3,720 terabytes of storage. That’s like filling up a 16GB phone with photos every day for 637 years.”

This scale of user community is such a change for me. My work on Photoshop would reach a couple of million people, and I loved knowing that many of them would use a given enhancement dozens or even hundreds of times per day. At Google the work can reach orders of magnitude more people, but naturally the average person’s use will be far more casual. Both kinds of impact can be very satisfying—just very different.

More great stuff is on its way, and comments & questions are always welcome. Onward!


Demo: Take over your friend’s face in real time

Ka-reepy! But I kinda love it.

Some Stanford brainiacs have taken expression-transfer technology to a new level, enabling one person to puppet the face of another, all in real time; see project site & blurb below.

We present a method for the real-time transfer of facial expressions from an actor in a source video to an actor in a target video, thus enabling the ad-hoc control of the facial expressions of the target actor. The novelty of our approach lies in the transfer and photo-realistic re-rendering of facial deformations and detail into the target video in a way that the newly-synthesized expressions are virtually indistinguishable from a real video.

[YouTube] [Via]

So, wirelessly shooting down drones is now a thing

Be advised, photogs.

The DroneDefender may be our first look at the perfect anti-drone technology. The device, which looks like a modern rifle with an antenna mechanism attached to the front — because that’s basically what it is — uses targeted radio waves to force drones out of the sky. The nondestructive tech “utilizes a non-kinetic solution to defend airspace up to 400m against UAS, such as quadcopters and hexacopters, without compromising safety or risking collateral damage.”

[YouTube] [Via]

Photoshop to get a customizable toolbar

Configurator is dead; long live Configurator.

So, it seems that Photoshop will soon enable what Illustrator offers now*—the ability to remix the app’s toolbar:

Cool, though no one will care—at least not yet.

Very few people will invest time in setting these up (as very few create & switch among workspaces or custom menu configurations), but maybe someday—just maybe—you’ll be able to sync not only your own app settings, but those of other users. That was always the vision for Configurator: One in a hundred (or a thousand) alpha nerds would create amazingly useful workspaces (e.g. the Khoi Vinh design configuration) that everyone else could grab simply by typing in a name like “@khoi” right into the app. That way an incredibly broad, general toolset could get crisply tailored for each community and task.

Power to the people. It’s a nice, and for now perpetual, dream.


*You don’t use it there, either.

“The Martian”: An interview with its editor

Margot & I liked the bejesus out of The Martian this past weekend, so I really enjoyed peeking behind the scenes with its editor, longtime Ridley Scott collaborator Pietro Scalia. I especially enjoyed hearing about his pre-digital work on JFK, characterized by its mashing-up of numerous footage types (“16mm, 1.85, Cinemascope, black and white, color, different forms of video, Super 8mm”). “Editing is writing with visuals,” he says. Check out ProVideo Coaltion for the full interview.

The Apollo archives brought to life

“I was so inspired by the recent release of the Apollo Archives,” Tom Kucy tells PetaPixel, “that I decided these would be interesting to be seen in motion as if straight out of a science fiction movie. I used Adobe After Effects and Photoshop to bring some of the best photos (1960’s) to life.” I love the meditative effect:

In a totally different vein, but using the same assets, is this rather hyperkinetic stop motion piece:

 [Vimeo 1 & 2]

Get your creative portfolio reviewed in person

With 1000 events in 120 countries under their collective belt, Adobe’s Behance is organizing another Portfolio Review Week Oct. 26-Nov. 2:

Attend your local Portfolio Review to present and get feedback on your work, hear from a remarkable range of guest speakers, and socialize with members of your local creative community.

Portfolio Review Week was born of a simple wish: to bring our thriving online community into offline spaces, where creatives can sit side by side, sharing their work and developing their craft. These events provide invaluable exposure for creatives, as well as the chance to learn new tricks of the trade from their peers and our experienced guest speakers.

Huge new photo archives, from the Depression to Apollo

  • “Kipp Teague of the Project Apollo Archives has been working since 1999,” reports FastCo, “to digitize the film (his is a private endeavor, not a NASA-sponsored initiative) and has recently released over 8,000 high-resolution, unprocessed photographs to a Flickr album.”
  • Meanwhile Yale has made 170,000 Library of Congress photos(shot 1935 to 1945) available via their Photogrammar site. According to the project site, “The Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) produced some of the most iconic images of the Great Depression and World War II and included photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein who shaped the visual culture of the era both in its moment and in American memory. Unit photographers were sent across the country. The negatives were sent to Washington, DC. The growing collection came to be known as ‘The File.’ With the United State’s entry into WWII, the unit moved into the Office of War Information and the collection became known as the FSA-OWI File.” [Via]

Light L16, a 52-megapixel computational camera for your pocket

This new beast looks really interesting, although I remain skeptical about photographers’ real desire to refocus shots after capture & to pay $1699 for the capability:

Using a new approach to folded optics design, the Light L16 Camera packs DSLR quality into a slim and streamlined camera body. It’s like having a camera body, zoom, and 3 fast prime lenses right in your pocket. With 16 individual cameras, 10 of them firing simultaneously, the L16 captures the detail of your shot at multiple fixed focal lengths. Then the images are computationally fused to create an incredible high-quality final image with up to 52 megapixel resolution.

You won’t be surprised to learn that it’s generating lots of conversation (e.g. in the PetaPixel comments). [Update: Here’s a ton of detail about the device.]

[Vimeo] [Via]

Throwback Thursday: “Monument Mode”

Hey, what if you took a Photoshop feature from 2005 (later mass-automated by Google in 2013) and put it onto a mobile device in 2015, but this time you required that the capture device apparently be locked down on a tripod? You’d get “Monument Mode”:

Sorry for the snark. It’s just that I’ve seen (and shipped!) this one before, as have many others. Maybe I’m missing some new wrinkle, but in my experience it’s just fun demo-ware. We shall see!


Disney Research lets kids 3D texture-paint in real time

Whaaaaat is going on here? This augmented reality coloring book pulls some pretty neat tricks:

The team writes,

We present a texturing process that applies the captured texture from a 2-D colored drawing to both the visible and occluded regions of a 3-D character in real time… We present a content creation pipeline to efficiently create the 2-D and 3-D content.

Previously, from 2013: “The coloring book of the future.” And see also Crayola’s Color Alive.

Cool as this stuff is, I’m skeptical: for our family coloring time is an alternative to (and respite from) screen time, not an adjunct to it.


Adobe debuts the ambitious new “Project Comet”

Old friends breaking new ground—hell yeah!

I’m so happy to see the Big Red A respond in force to the big changes in tooling & workflows that have emerged over the last couple of years, from Sketch to numerous rapid prototyping tools, with what looks like a really ambitious, unified new start.

Web Designer Depot seems pretty hyped:

Only a few of Project Comet’s abilities have been demoed so far, but those that we have seen are jaw-dropping. The Repeat Grids features looks as if it could be one of the most significant advancements in designers’ workflow in years.

Written from scratch over the past year, and without 25 years of source code to burden it, Project Comet’s workflow appears to be intuitive and its performance is staggering. […]

Project Comet won’t be available as a public preview release until early 2016, but from what we’ve seen so far, it will be one of the most hotly anticipated releases in years.

I can’t wait to see how this all develops.


A new 8-bit delight from McLaren-Honda

Everything old (from turbo power to old-skool graphics) is new again in the latest great ad from Honda. (Suddenly I’m transported back to playing Spy Hunter off the Indiana toll road…)

Autoblog notes,

Part Street Fighter and part Aryton Senna’s Super Monaco Grand Prix, Turbo Heroes is a game-style video short – the start to a series from the looks of things. It portrays an epic battle in which basic animated versions of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso (coached by a grumpy Ron Dennis, no less) chase the evil Exhaustus in a race to recover the fabled (and equally fictitious) Jade Dragon of Suzuka to its rightful home in Japan.