Monthly Archives: April 2016

Snapseed 2.4 introduces negative structure, more

Available today on Android and iOS, the new release introduces several enhancements

  • Negative Structure in Details (great for smoothing out noise; see before/after below)
  • Style selectors that automatically scroll to next item
  • Better histogram
  • Bug fixes

Additionally on Android, Snapseed now offers optimized on-screen controls for TalkBack accessibility mode. On iOS, Snapseed now supports RTL (right to left) screen layouts.


Google Photos gets revised search + your own music in movies

Available now on Android & coming soon to iOS, the latest release features a redesigned search experience, customizable movies, and more:

Find your photos faster with a new search bar. Start searching in one tap, or scroll down after tapping on the search bar to see faces, places, and photo types from your library.

I’m especially pleased about this long-requested enhancement:

In addition, Google Photos now offers the ability to customize automatically created movies with your own music, photos, and videos, so it’s easier than ever to make the perfect video after a holiday or trip. It’s also perfect for Mother’s Day – which you knew was coming up on May 8, right?

Finally, it’s now possible to rename or delete device folders you’ve created and manage your photos on SD cards by adding a new folder, copying, and moving photos.

These changes make Google Photos faster and easier to use than ever, and will be coming soon to iOS.



“Seductive death machines”: The beautiful titles of “The Night Manager”

“I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin…”

I stumbled across these sumptuous, fetishistic visuals from Patrick Clair & co. & was immediately captivated:

The Art of the Title Sequence’s interview is well worth a read:

Think about when these flares might be fired in real life, in the final moments before the impact of an incoming anti-aircraft missile, in the moment just before the near-certain death of all aboard. That’s quite a swan song, and quite a breathtaking moment of spectacular pyrotechnic beauty and lethal human tragedy.


Lovely, disconcerting aerial perspectives on NYC

The Brooklyn Aerials crew took Hitchcock’s dizzying “Vertigo effect” aloft in this new short film:

PetaPixel explains,

The rolling, tilting, and panning motions helped set their video apart, but it’s the vertigo effect where Balance really stands out. For each of those shots they used a Canon CN-E 15.5-47mm zoom lens, starting at 47mm and zooming out to its widest angle while simultaneously moving the drone towards the subject, keeping the subject the same size.

Here’s a peek behind the scenes:

[Vimeo 1 2]

A super fun robot book for kids

First, know this: Everything Adam Rubin & Dan Salmieri create together is rad. You should get as many of their books as you can.

Now they’ve upped their game with Robo-Sauce, a book that actually transforms along with its characters.

I only wish the book had contained a camera so that you could see the Micronaxx delighted reactions. Finn re-channeled his old robo-spirit:

If you and/or kids are into this stuff, don’t miss Toca Boca’s Robot Lab:

[YouTube 1, 2, & 3]

Nepal from above: Drone footage and more

My new friend “Big Alex”* Osterloh from Google Munich brought his drone & GoPro to Nepal to help document the local folks we sought to help. In the short video below he mixes that footage with some photos that I & others took:

And here’s a longer version featuring more photos & vids from Alex:

*The trip also featured “Regular Alex” (from Bulgaria) and “Girl Alix” (a volunteer coordinator from All Hands). We didn’t want to call Regular Alex “Little Alex,” so some members of the trip were deeply confused upon hearing references to “Girl Alix” (not knowing that we’d taken on a third person by that name).

[YouTube & 2]

Come see Pixar founder Ed Catmull speak at Adobe SF today

I just found out about this event & wish I could attend (darn “actual job” getting in the way again), but if you’re free at 4pm in San Francisco, you should definitely cruise over to 601 Townsend St. to see one of the true OG’s of computer imaging speak. Ed Catmull is president of Pixar & Disney Animation Studios, and if you do anything with graphics today, you’ll likely use techniques he invented. The talk won’t be broadcast, so get there a bit early so that you can check in with security & meet other interesting peeps.


Tip: How to migrate Google Photos images between accounts

TL;DR: Use shared albums to migrate without downloading/uploading.

There’s no one-click way to move images from one account to another. In the past I’d suggest the following:

  1. Browse to in Account 1.
  2. Select the first photo.
  3. Scroll scroll scroll to the end.
  4. Shift-click last photo.
  5. Click “Download.”
  6. Browse to in Account 2.
  7. Drag all the downloaded images into Account 2 to upload them.

That works, but here’s a better way:

  1. Browse to in Account 1.
  2. Create a new album.
  3. Add up to 2000 photos.
  4. Invite Account 2 to the album.
  5. Browse to in Account 2.
  6. Select all photos.
  7. Choose to add to account.

 The big advantage is that you don’t have to download, then re-upload everything. Slightly nerdy details:

  • Make sure that Account 1 isn’t set to remove geo info when sharing.
  • Make sure that upload quality for Account 2 is set to “Original.”
  • Any edits you make in Account 1 (cropping, etc.) are baked into pixels when adding images to Account 2.

Google Photos-like search in your app: Now more powerful

Cool progress:

Cloud Vision API graduates to General Availability

The goal of Cloud Vision API is to provide vision capability to your applications in the same way that Google Photos does. It is a powerful tool for media and entertainment companies enabling you to classify images and analyze emotional facial attributes. To further improve our customer experience, Cloud Vision API is going into general availability today with new features:

  • Logo Detection expanded to cover millions of logos
  • Updated OCR for understanding more granular text like receipts

Earth & its Auroras in 4K, as seen from the ISS

RED Epic Dragon + a room with a view? Yes please.

Engadget writes,

This isn’t the first ultra-high definition video sent from the ISS: NASA sent the RED camera up back in January 2015 and started uploading 4K video to YouTube last June. Most of the videos in NASA’s UHD archive are of experiments done inside the space station. It’s cool to watch bubbles wiggle in zero-G, but it pales compared to a carefully-framed shot of the globe spinning underneath the camera.

Bonus: Auroras!

[YouTube 1 & 2]

A VR school bus… to Mars?

Who needs Ms. Frizzle when you’ve got the military-industrial complex in your corner? Check out what Lockheed Martin’s been up to:

Passengers aboard the Mars Experience bus are treated to an immersive virtual reality adventure. As the bus moves, it makes the students feel like they’re driving across the red planet by showing 200 square miles of its surface on the boarded-up windows… Lockheed Martin’s high-tech vehicle will tour the US to give students from different regions a chance to try it out.

Lockheed Martin has launched Generation Beyond, a first of its kind, national educational program to bring the science of space into thousands of homes and classrooms across America. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program is designed to inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers, inventors and pioneers to pursue STEM careers.


Watch artists paint with Google’s VR Tilt Brush

I recently went inside this thing & was blown away—a huge step beyond seeing just 2D representations.

BetaNews writes,

“With Tilt Brush, you can paint in three-dimensional space. Just select your colors and brushes and get going with a wave of your hand. Your room is a blank slate. You can step around, in and through your drawings as you go. And, because it’s in virtual reality, you can even choose to use otherwise-impossible materials like fire, stars or snowflakes”, says Andrey Doronichev, Group Product Manager, Google VR.

Doronichev further says, “one of the best parts about any new medium is just seeing what’s possible. So, we brought Tilt Brush to The Lab at Google Cultural Institute — a space in Paris created to bring tech and creative communities together to discover new ways to experience art. Since then, artists from around the world and from every discipline have come to explore their style in VR for the very first time”.

[YouTube] [Via]

CNET: Google Drive improvement “unlocks the potential of Google Photos”

Stephen Shankland is delighted that he can now selectively sync directories in Google Drive:

[F]or me, it’s a profound transformation. Not only does it improve the cloud storage service, it also unlocks the potential of Google Photos. […]

I’m particularly happy about this because now I can let Google’s artificial intelligence smarts sink their teeth into my photo archive. Sorting photos by person, identifying landmarks and locations, picking favorites and culling the duds — Google Photos has a lot of interesting features, and I expect they’ll get better.

I too constantly run out of SSD space, but I prefer to use the Google Photos desktop uploader (which just uploads instead of syncing). Diff’rent strokes…


“We have ways of making you talk”: Realtime facial puppeting

I don’t know karate, but I know ka-reepy… 

Looks super cool, though the idea of modifying lip syncing makes me envision a car cresting a hill into a desert in which a giant billboard reads “WELCOME TO THE UNCANNY VALLEY.”

Quartz notes,

The project is a collaboration between computer scientists at Stanford University, the Max Planck Institute, and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. The same team produced a similar study last year, but that iteration required data from special 3D cameras. Their new system works with any camera and any recorded video.

I’m also tempted to run the lip sync enhancer in reverse, causing a disconnect between actors & the words they spoke. I’d then dub-aware fill the resulting gaps with awkward coughing & grunting, a la classic chopsocky.

In a related vein, see previous: Apple now owns this facial animation technology.

[YouTube] [Via Kevin McMahon]

Adobe’s interesting “Design Suggestion Wheel”

Hmm—check out this little widget in the latest version of Post, Adobe’s mobile typesetting app:

I haven’t yet used it enough to know how well it works for me. I’m all for enabling rapid exploration & happy accidents, though I’m wary of the paradox of choice.

If this kind of thing is up your alley, you might also enjoy the animated type app Legend (recently bought by GoPro—part of the Stupeflix/Replay deal) and Wordswag. They too emphasize presets + variations.


Google Photos gets selective backup

As I learned in Nepal, sometimes even WiFi can be so crappy that automatically backing up all your images is no fun. In those cases, you may want to leave auto backup switched off but then back up just selected images on demand. Now that’s possible in the latest release Google Photos on Android. (It already was available on iOS.) Just select photos, tap the three-dot menu, then choose “Back up now.”



Cool new uses of image recognition

The content analysis tech in Google Photos is pretty rad, but it’s not limited to Photos (you can use it, too!) or to Google. Lately I keep seeing interesting work from across the industry:

Surfing at 1,000 frames per second

Watching this in fullscreen, I kept waiting to feel the spray on my cheeks. The Hans Zimmer score that eventually appears is lovely, but I’m struck by how powerfully the opening shots can stand on their own.

Filmmaker Chris Bryan notes, “All images where shot using The Phantom Flex, Phantom Miro M-320S and the new Phantom 4K Flex with Arri Ultra prime lenses and Chris Bryan Films custom underwater housing.”


What culture do you bring to your products?

“Collectively, Nik’s intellectual sophistication is that of a chess grand master,” wrote Om Malik (whom I finally met last night) recently wrote in the New Yorker. Ah, but we live in a world of McDonald’s, as Steve Jobs points out in the clip below—one of my all-time favorites. He so clearly believed in raising the world’s collective taste level, of educating our palettes & helping appreciate better work. May we all reflect and ask, What culture am I bringing to my work?


Scott Kelby publishes free Nik Collection training


Join Scott Kelby as he shows you all of his tips and secrets for using the FREE Nik Collection from Google! This plug-in suite has long been many photographers’ secret weapon, and now it’s free to everyone! In this brand new class, Scott will walk you through each of the eight plug-ins in the suite and show you how to best utilize them to your advantage. From making killer black and white images with Silver Efex Pro, to adding a special look to your images with Color Efex Pro, using Viveza to control specific colors, creating amazing HDR images with HDR Efex Pro, refining the details with Dfine and Sharpener Pro, or making your digital images look like film with Analog Efex Pro, Scott has you covered!

Thanks, Scott!

[Related/previous: Tim Grey releases free Nik training.]


Interesting photographic juxtapositions

Take a look at me now…

Phil Collins Reshot All His Original Album Covers for the 2016 Reissues

Famed musician Phil Collins began reissuing some of his most loved albums in November of 2015 as part of a collection called “Take a look at me now…” 


…and after a drink or three:

Tipsy Portrait Project Captures People After 1, 2, and 3 Glasses of Wine

Brazilian photographer Marcos Alberti‘s ‘Wine Project’ portrait series is dead simple: give your subjects some booze and photograph them between drinks. But the resulting portraits are taking the Web by storm.


Google Photos Web gets new shortcuts, more

Ever want to rotate an image instantly, without even opening the Web editor? [Whoops, the rotation shortcut works only in the editor right now. Stay tuned.] Open the image on Google Photos Web, then press Shift-R. Want to Auto Enhance a photo in the editor? Just press A. Per the team page:

New keyboard shortcuts
Use keyboard shortcuts to quickly edit, enhance, delete, download, search, and more. Press Shift + ? to see them all.

Upload to albums
Save time by uploading photos from your computer directly into an album. Yes, even in shared albums.

The latter has been a godsend for me & my Nepal team. I just drag images directly from my desktop into our shared album & goodness ensues.


Google creates a virtual tour of Abbey Road Studios

With just your computer, or even better through a Cardboard headset, you can step inside Abbey Road, stepping right into 360º orchestral performances and more.

IAR for Cardboard Mirror Drum Room

As the team writes,

[Enjoy] a nine-part guided tour narrated by Giles Martin, the son of the late Beatles producer, George Martin, who shares the history of the studios from the 1930’s to present day.

After the tour, you can quite literally move around the studios at your leisure to see hidden treasures like Studio 3’s Mirrored Drum Room, where the mirrors help to create a close, bright and loud sound quality. Uncover one of Abbey Road’s Mastering Suites, where a record gets its finishing touches before a release. In Studio 1, experience what it’s like to be in a recording session with the London Symphony Orchestra with surround sound.

IAR for Cardboard Studio2

Nik Collection training now free as well

Great news:

Tim Grey, the author of over a dozen books and dozens of video training courses for photographers, has announced that he will now give away all his video courses related to the Nik Collection for free as well!

The course bundle he’s giving away includes 4 courses: Basics of Using the Nik Collection, Learning Viveza 2, Learning Analog Efex Pro, and Learning Silver Efex Pro. So if you downloaded the newly-free Nik Collection last week but haven’t cracked it open yet, this is a great free way to get familiar with Nik and learn your way around the plugin suite.

Thanks, Tim!