I’m more than a little snowed under right now with preparations for next week’s announcement, but I wanted to share a few interesting finds:
Or rather, it’s not just about 3D. But let me back up a second.
Remember the Newton? My first week at Adobe, I attended an outside "how to be a product manager" seminar at which the Newton was held up as a cautionary tale. The speaker pointed out that the product’s one critical feature–the thing on which everything else depended–was a handwriting recognition system that sucked at recognizing handwriting. Among many other things, the Newton also featured a thermometer. Customers, according to the speaker, had a conniption: what the hell were the product designers thinking, getting distracted with stuff like a thermometer when they couldn’t get the foundation right?
The moral, obviously, is that if you’re going to branch into new territory, you’d better have made your core offering rock solid. And even if it is solid, some customers may perceive any new work as coming at their expense.
I worry a bit about Photoshop users seeing the app branch into 3D and thinking we’ve taken our eye off the ball. Earlier this week reader Jon Padilla commented, "Some of my disgruntled co-workers grumbled ‘oh great! a bunch of cool features we’ll never learn to use…’" No matter what Photoshop adds specifically for your needs, the presence of other features can make it easy to say, "That looks like a great product… for someone else."
Obviously we care about improving the way Photoshop gets used in 3D workflows, especially around compositing and texture painting. If that’s all we had in mind, however, I think we would be overdoing our investment in 3D features relative to others. As it happens, our roadmap is broad and ambitious, so let me try to give some perspective:
- At root, Photoshop’s 3D engine is a mechanism that runs programs on a layer, non-destructively and in the context of the Photoshop layer stack. At the moment it’s geared towards manipulating geometry, shading surfaces, etc., but shader code can perform a wide range of imaging operations.
- Features that work on 3D data–being able to create & adjust lights, adjust textures and reflectivity, paint on transformed surfaces, etc.–work on 2D data as well. (Wouldn’t it be nice to have Lighting Effects written in this century?)
- As photographers finally tire of chasing Yet More Megapixels, cameras will differentiate themselves in new ways, such as by adding depth-sensing technology that records 3D data about a scene. The same infrastructure needed for working with synthetic 3D objects (e.g. adjustable lighting, raytracing) can help composite together photographic data.
- The field of photogrammetry–measuring objects using multiple 2D photos–is taking off, fueled by the ease with which we can now capture and analyze multiple images of a scene. The more Photoshop can learn about the three-dimensional structure of a scene, the more effectively it can manipulate image data.
I know I’m not providing a lot of specifics, but the upshot is that we expect Photoshop’s 3D plumbing to be used for a whole lot more than spinning Coke cans and painting onto dinosaurs. Rather than being a thermometer on a Newton, it’s a core investment that should open a lot of new doors over many years ahead, and for a very wide range of customers.
The folks at NewTek are now shipping Lightwave Rendition, their 3D lighting and rendering add-on for Photoshop Extended. According to the press release:
The resulting output delivers a high-quality, photo-realistic image, all from within the Photoshop Extended environment.
LightWave Rendition ships with sample projects and a library of 3D model art. The product also includes support for 3D models from a variety of applications, including LightWave 3D, Google™ SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse or many readily available 3D formats. It includes:
- Slider Controls for Render and Anti-Alias Quality, allowing for quick preview renders up to photo-quality images.
- Material Presets for the option to apply a preset material or any selected Photoshop materials to the surface of your 3D object for complete flexibility in design.
- Light Environments open the use of the default Photoshop Extended lighting environment or users can add to the power of LightWave Rendition for Adobe Photoshop by using any 2D layer as a light map for complete control of the final light environment.
The product is $149 for Mac and Windows & is available for purchase and download from the NewTek site.
I’m pleased to see that NewTek, the folks behind the LightWave 3D modeling, animation, and rendering package, have announced a new product, LightWave Rendition for Photoshop. This plug-in technology builds on the 3D file format support in Photoshop CS3 Extended, adding on high-quality rendering and lighting manipulation. In this screenshot they show an image as displayed by Photoshop’s built-in renderer, then hit with the LightWave renderer & touched up in Photoshop. Here’s a second example.
According to their marketing docs, LightWave Rendition for Photoshop includes:
- Slider Controls for Render and Anti-Alias Quality: Allows for quick preview renders up to photo-quality images.
- Material Preset: You have the option to apply preset or selected Photoshop materials to the surface of your 3D object for complete flexibility in design.
- Light Environment: Use the default Photoshop Extended lighting environment or add the power of LightWave Rendition for Adobe Photoshop by using any 2D layer as a light map for complete control of the final light environment.
Because the product is in beta form, you can buy it now for $99, discounted from the normal price of $149. The discount ends when the beta does.
For more cool 3D add-ons to Photoshop, see previous announcements from Strata & Daz3D.
Side note: I keep trying to tell developers that I think there’s an opportunity to knock together a very simple 3D extrusion/adjustment environment as a Photoshop plug-in, leveraging PS CS3 Extended’s ability to manipulate 3D layers. No one has yet seized the opportunity, but I’ll keep trying.
Heh–in the vein of sites like AwfulPlasticSurgery.com, now we’ve got the Photoshop Disasters blog–chock full of image manipulation mishaps. It’s good to indulge in a little schadenfreude now and then, and with phrases like “the culturally-ravaged, post-wardrobe-malfunction neo-fundamentalist, sexual dystopia we live in,” it has to be good. (Wasn’t that the Smucker’s slogan?) [Via Lori Grunin]
Speaking of sucking, You Suck at Photoshop #8 has been posted, getting Fergilicious with 3D layers.
- When is a shopping site… something else? When it’s this viral site for Dutch chain Hema*. "It’s like an IKEA catalog was sliced up and fed to a Rube Goldberg machine," says Motionographer. "The magnifying glass bit is brilliant." [Via]
- Who doesn’t like "secret interactive frivolity"? Design firm Baker and Hill lavishes attention on the details of their fun-to-navigate company site.
- 3D action:
- ASLuv busts out the fairy dust with this little particle sprayer. (Don’t break the glowsticks ’til you feel the beats hit.) [Via]
- In a sorta related vein, see Lee Brimelow’s YTMND-style Billy Mays tribute. Puzzling; I can dig it.
- The Air Pocket Symphony (no relation to Adobe AIR, MacBook Air, wayward heiresses, etc.) features photorealistic objects and a nice, simple sliding animation. [Via]
- MyFlashFetish offers SWF bits (particularly music players, it seems) that can be embedded in your site. [Via]
* Tangential: It’s not Flash, but on the innovative shopping front, software maker Panic lets you drag and drop items into your shopping cart. Slickness.
Great news: Developers are building on top of the 3D features in Photoshop CS3 Extended to deliver some great solutions. In just the last week we’ve seen a flurry of announcments:
According to the DAZ launch announcement, their tool lets you:
- View 3D scenes as Photoshop layers
- Change objects and figures simultaneously
- Render directly into Photoshop
- Import, export and modify image maps and textures onto 3D models in Photoshop
- Composite 2D and 3D content seamlessly
- Access DAZ’s full library of quality 3D content [DAZ gives away the editing application & sells adjustable content]
As for the Strata news, "In a nutshell, the technology from Strata’s 3D[in] plug-ins for Photoshop CS 3 Extended is now integrated into the Suite," says the crew on 3Dlayer.com. With it you can:
- Send a 3D model to PS as a 3D layer
- Send a finished rendering to PS as separate layers (shadow layer, reflection layer, color layer, etc)
- Send a PS image to a 3D background for tracing or placement
- Send a 3D model direct from PS to PDF or HTML and it embeds the 3D object (you read that correctly)
- Link PS files as 3D textures – changes made are automatically updated in the 3D texture
Good stuff all around. We think that 3D in CS3 Extended is a big step forward, and of course we’re not planning to rest on those laurels. I love seeing great developers like Strata and DAZ jump on the opportunity to help enrich the story.
By the way, did you know that you can browse the Google 3D Warehouse right from within Photoshop CS3 Extended? Here’s more info. Also, Adobe’s Steve Whatley mentions that Adobe is on tour with Maxon, showing off 3D integration between the tools.
Several times now I’ve expressed my appreciation for PicLens, a beautiful (and free) little browser plug-in that enables full-screen, hardware-accelerated slideshows from Google Images, Flickr, MySpace, deviantART, and other sites. It’s changed my whole online photo viewing experience.
Now Alec from PicLens writes to say that there’s a new version available for Firefox (Safari & IE updates to follow):
It features the all-new “3D Wall,” a magical virtual interface that can exhibit 100s, if not 1000s of images. There, you can drag, scroll, zoom, and, of course, jump into full-screen mode. You’ll have to try it out to really experience it. It brings the user one step closer to a fully immersive multimedia experience on the Web.
Once you download the 1MB plug-in (Mac or Win), go into a slideshow and try holding down and arrow key to cruise through the images. I’d take a screenshot, but it doesn’t seem to get along with Snapz Pro. [Update: Here’s one, though it doesn’t capture the motion.] Really nicely done, guys!
[Update: Matthew from The Turning Gate has updated his free TTG Slimbox Gallery for Lightroom to offer PicLens compatibility. I’ve confirmed that it does indeed work, provided you upload the exported gallery to a Web server.]