Tutorial: Video memes with Viggle

Sure, all this stuff—including what’s now my career’s work—will likely make it semi-impossible to reason together about any shared conception of reality, thereby calling into question the viability of democracy… but on the upside, moar dank memes!

Here’s how to create a dancing character using just an image + an existing video clip:

The new Concept.art plugin brings ControlNet & DALL•E 3 to Photoshop

Check out the latest work (downloadable for free here) from longtime Adobe veteran (and former VP of product at Stability AI) Christian Cantrell:

The new version of the Concept Art #photoshop plugin is here! Create your own AI-powered workflows by combining hundreds of different imaging models from @replicate — as well as DALL•E 2 and 3 — without leaving @Photoshop. This is a complete rewrite with tons of new features coming (including local inference).

Google enables AI-powered generative fill

Not content to let Adobe & ChatGPT have all the fun, Google is now making its Imagen available to developers for image synthesis, including inserting items & expanding images:

Imagen, Google’s text-to-image mode, can now create live images from text, in preview. Just imagine generating animated images such as GIFs from a simple text prompt… Imagen also gets advanced photo editing features, including inpainting and outpainting, and a digital watermarking feature powered by Google DeepMind’s SynthID

I’m eager to learn more about the last bit re: content provenance. Adobe has talked a bunch about image watermarking, but has not (as far as I know) shipped any support.

Meanwhile Google is also challenging Runway, Pika, & others in the creation of short video clips:

Filmmaker Paul Trillo talks AI on “Hard Fork”

For 10 years or so I’ve been posting admiringly about the work of Paul Trillo (16 times so far; 17 now, good Lord), so I was excited to hear his conversation with the NYT Hard Fork crew—especially as he’s recently been pushing the limits with OpenAI’s Sora model. I think you’ll really enjoy this thoughtful, candid, and in-depth discussion about the possibilities & pitfalls of our new AI-infused creative world:

Krea adds multi-image prompt guidance

Some companies spend three months just on wringing their hands about whether to let you load a style reference image; others spend three people and go way beyond that, in realtime ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ :

ChatGPT adds image editing

When DALL•E first dropped, it wasn’t full-image creation that captured my attention so much as inpainting, i.e. creating/removing objects in designated regions. Over the years (all two of ’em ;-)) I’ve lost track of whether DALL•E’s Web interface has remained available (’cause who’s needed it after Generative Fill?), but I’m very happy to see this sort of selective synthesis emerge in the ChatGPT-DALL•E environment:

It’s also nice to see more visual suggestions appearing there:

Lego + GenFill = Yosemite Magic

Or… something like that. Whatever the case, I had fun popping our little Lego family photo (captured this weekend at Yosemite Valley’s iconic Tunnel View viewpoint) into Photoshop, selecting part of the excessively large rock wall, and letting Generative Fill give me some more nature. Click or tap (if needed) to see the before/after animation:

Infographic magic via Firefly?

Hey, I know what you know (or quite possibly less :-)), but this demo (which for some reason includes Shaq) looks pretty cool:

From the description:

Elevate your data storytelling with #ProjectInfographIt, a game-changing solution leveraging Adobe Firefly generative AI. Simplify the infographic creation process by instantly generating design elements tailored to your key messages and data. With intuitive features for color palettes, chart types, graphics, and animations, effortlessly transform complex insights into visually stunning infographics.

Fun uses of Firefly’s Structure Reference

Man, I can’t tell you how long I wanted folks to get this tech into their hands, and I’m excited that you can finally take it for a spin. Here are some great examples (from a thread by Min Choi, which contains more) showing how people are putting it into action:

Reinterpreted kids’ drawings:

More demanding sketch-to-image:

Stylized Bitmoji:

Google Research promises better image compositing

Speaking of folks with whom I’ve somehow had the honor of working, some of my old teammates from Google have unveiled ObjectDrop. Check out this video & thread:

A bit more detail, from the project site:

Diffusion models have revolutionized image editing but often generate images that violate physical laws, particularly the effects of objects on the scene, e.g., occlusions, shadows, and reflections. By analyzing the limitations of self-supervised approaches, we propose a practical solution centered on a counterfactual dataset.

Our method involves capturing a scene before and after removing a single object, while minimizing other changes. By fine-tuning a diffusion model on this dataset, we are able to not only remove objects but also their effects on the scene. However, we find that applying this approach for photorealistic object insertion requires an impractically large dataset. To tackle this challenge, we propose bootstrap supervision; leveraging our object removal model trained on a small counterfactual dataset, we synthetically expand this dataset considerably.

Our approach significantly outperforms prior methods in photorealistic object removal and insertion, particularly at modeling the effects of objects on the scene.

DesignEdit: AI-powered image editing from Microsoft Research

“Why would you go work at Microsoft? What do they know or care about creative imaging…?” 🙂

I’m delighted to say that my new teammates have been busy working on some promising techniques for performing a range of image edits, from erasing to swapping, zooming, and more:

Firefly adds Structure Reference

I’m delighted to see that the longstanding #1 user request for Firefly—namely the ability to upload an image to guide the structure of a generated image—has now arrived:

This nicely complements the extremely popular style-matching capability we enabled back in October. You can check out details of how it works, as well a look at the UI (below)—plus my first creation made using the new tech ;-).

Magnific style transfer is amazing

It’s amazing to see what two people (?!) are able to do. Check out this video & the linked thread, as well as the tool itself.

I’m gonna have a ball going down this rabbit hole, especially for type:

A lovely Guinness ad from… Jason Momoa?

It’s somehow true!

I think the spirit of maximally inclusive “Irishness” has special resonance for millions of people around the world, like me, who can trace a portion (but not all) of their ancestry to the Emerald Isle. (For me it’s 75%, surname notwithstanding.) I’m reminded of Notre Dame’s “What Would You Fight For?” campaign, which features scientists, engineers, and humanitarians from around the world who conclude with “We are the Fighting Irish.” I dunno—it’s hard to explain, but it really warms my heart—as did the Irish & Chinese Railroad Workers float we saw in SF’s St. Paddy’s parade on Saturday.

Anyway, I found this bit starring & directed by Jason Momoa to be pretty charming. Enjoy:

Irish blessings

Hey gang—I hope you’ve had a safe & festive St. Patrick’s Day. To mark the occasion, I figured I’d reshare a couple of the videos I captured in the old country with my dad back in August.

Here’s Co. Clare’s wild burren (“rocky district,” hence the choice of Chieftains/Stones banger)…

…my dad’s grandparents’ medieval town in Galway…

…and my mom’s mother’s farm in Mayo:

Amazing: Realtime AI rendering of Photoshop

I cannot tell you how deeply I hope that the Photoshop team is paying attention to developments like this…

Celebrating “Subpar Parks”

During our recent road trip to Death Valley, my 15yo son rolled his eyes at nature’s majesty:

This made me chuckle & remember “Subpar Parks,” a visual celebration of the most dismissive reviews of our natural treasures. My wife & I have long decorated our workspaces with these unintentional gems, and I think you’ll dig the Insta feed & book (now complemented by “Subpar Planet“).

Creating the creepy infrared world of Dune

I really enjoyed Dolby’s recent podcast on Greig Fraser and the Cinematography of Dune: Part Two, as well as this deep dive with Denis Villeneuve on how they modified an ARRI Alexa LF IMAX camera to create the Harkonnens’ alienating home world.

I love this idea and I tried, for Giedi Prime, the home world of Harkonnen, there’s less information in the book and it’s a world that is disconnected from nature. It’s a plastic world. So, I thought that it could be interesting if the light, the sunlight could give us some insight on their psyche. What if instead of revealing colors, the sunlight was killing them and creating a very eerie black and white world, that will give us information about how these people perceive reality, about their political system, about how that primitive brutalist culture and it was in the screenplay.

Fun little AI->3D->AR experiments with Vision Pro

I love watching people connect the emerging creative dots, right in front of our eyes:

AI Mortal Kombat

Heh—these are obviously silly but well done, and they speak to the creative importance of being specific—i.e. representing particular famous faces. I sometimes note that a joke about a singer & a football player is one thing, whereas a joke about Taylor Swift & Travis Kelce is a whole other thing, all due to it being specific. Thus, for an AI toolmaker, knowing exactly where to draw the line (e.g. disallowing celebrity likenesses) isn’t always so clear.

So… what am I actually doing at Microsoft?

It’s a great question, and I think it’s really thoughtful that the day before I joined, the company was generous enough to run a Superb Owl—er, Super Bowl—commercial, just to help me explain the mission to my parents. 😀

But seriously, this ad provides a brief peek into the world of how Copilot can already generate beautiful, interesting things based on your needs—and that’s a core part of the mission I’ve come here to tackle.

A few salient screenshots:

Ideogram promises state-of-the-art text generation

Founded by ex-Google Imagen engineers, Ideogram has just launched version 1.0 widely. It’s said to offer new levels of fidelity in the traditionally challenging domain of type rendering:

Historically, AI-generated text within images has been inaccurate. Ideogram 1.0 addresses this with reliable text rendering capabilities, making it possible to effortlessly create personalized messages, memes, posters, T-shirt designs, birthday cards, logos and more. Our systematic evaluation shows that Ideogram 1.0 is the state-of-the-art in the accuracy of rendered text, reducing error rates by almost 2x compared to existing models.

Holy cow, I work at Microsoft!

Most folks’ first thought: Wait, whaaaaat?!

Second thought: Actually… that makes sense!

So, it’s true: After nearly three great years back at Adobe, I’ve moved to just the third place I’ve worked since the Clinton Administration: Microsoft!

I’ve signed on with a great group of folks to bring generative imaging magic to as many people as possible, leveraging the power of DALL•E, ChatGPT, Copilot, and other emerging tech to help make fun, beautiful, meaningful things. And yes, they have a very good sense of humor about Clippy, so go ahead and get those jokes out now. :->


It really is a small world: The beautiful new campus (see below) is just two blocks from my old Google office (where I reported to the same VP who’s now in charge of my new group), which itself is just down the road from the original Adobe HQ; see map. (Maybe I should get out more!)


And it’s a small world in a much more meaningful sense: I remain in a very rare & fortunate spot, getting to help guide brilliant engineers’ efforts in service of human creativity, all during what feels like one of the most significant inflection points in decades. I’m filled with gratitude, curiosity, and a strong sense of responsibility to make the most of this moment.

Thank you to my amazing Adobe colleagues for your hard & inspiring work, and especially for chance to build Firefly over the last year. It’s just getting started, and there’s so much we can do together.

Thank you to my new team for opening this door for us. And thank you to the friends & colleagues reading these words. I’ll continue to rely on your thoughtful, passionate perspectives as we navigate these opportunities together.

Let’s do this!

Fun papercraft-styled video

My friend Nathan Shipley has been deeply exploring AnimateDiff for the last several months, and he’s just collaborated with the always entertaining Karen X. Cheng to make this little papercraft-styled video:

Happy birthday to Photoshop, Lightroom, and Camera Raw!

I’m a day late saying it here, but happy birthday to three technologies that changed my life (all our lives, maybe), and to which I’ll be forever grateful to have gotten to contribute. As Jeff Schewe noted:

Happy Birthday Digital Imaging…aka Photoshop, Camera Raw & Lightroom. Photoshop shipped February 19th, 1990. Camera Raw shipped February 19th, 2003 and Lightroom shipped February 19th, 2007. Coincidence? Hum, I wonder…but ya never know when Thomas Knoll is involved…

Check out Jeff’s excellent overview, written for Photoshop’s 30th, as well as his demo of PS 1.0 (which “cost a paltry $895 and could run on home computers like the Macintosh IIfx for under $10,000″—i.e. ~$2,000 & $24,000 today!).

“Neither Artificial nor Intelligent: Artists Working with Algorithms”

Just in case you’ll be around San Jose this Friday, check out this panel discussion featuring our old Photoshop designer Julie Meridian & other artists discussing their relationship with AI:

Panel discussion: Friday, February 23rd 7pm–9pm. Free admission

Featuring Artists: Julie Meridian, James Morgan, and Steve Cooley
Moderator: Cherri Lakey

KALEID Gallery is proud to host this panel with three talented artists who are using various AI tools in their artistic practice while navigating all the ethical and creative dilemmas that arise with it. With all the controversy around AI collaborative / generated art, we’re looking forward to hearing from these avant-garde artists that are exploring the possibilities of a positive outcome for artists and creatives in this as-of-yet undefined new territory.

“Boximator” enables guided image->video

Check out this research from ByteDance, the makers of TikTok (where it could well be deployed), which competes with tools like Runway’s Motion Brush:

Check out Sora, OpenAI’s eye-popping video model

Hot on the heels of Lumiere from Google…

…here comes Sora from OpenAI:

My only question: How did they not call it SORR•E? :-p

But seriously, as always…

OpenAI, Meta, & Microsoft promote AI transparency

Good progress across the board:

  • OpenAI is adding new watermarks to DALL-E 3
    • “The company says watermarks from C2PA will appear in images generated on the ChatGPT website and the API for the DALL-E 3 model. Mobile users will get the watermarks by February 12th. They’ll include both an invisible metadata component and a visible CR symbol, which will appear in the top left corner of each image.”
  • Meta Will Label AI Images Across Facebook, Instagram, & Threads
    • “Meta will employ various techniques to differentiate AI-generated images from other images. These include visible markers, invisible watermarks, and metadata embedded in the image files… Additionally, Meta is implementing new policies requiring users to disclose when media is generated by artificial intelligence, with consequences for failing to comply.”
  • Building trust with content credentials in Microsoft Designer
    • “When you create a design in Designer you can also decide if you’d like to include basic, trustworthy facts about the origin of the design or the digital content you’ve used in the design with the file.”

Firefly image creation & Lightroom come to Apple Vision Pro

Not having a spare $3500 burning a hole in my pocket, I’ve yet to take this for a spin myself, but I’m happy to see it. Per the Verge:

The interface of the Firefly visionOS app should be familiar to anyone who’s already used the web-based version of the tool — users just need to enter a text description within the prompt box at the bottom and hit “generate.” This will then spit out four different images that can be dragged out of the main app window and placed around the home like virtual posters or prints. […]

Meanwhile, we also now have a better look at the native Adobe Lightroom photo editing app that was mentioned back when the Apple Vision Pro was announced last June. The visionOS Lightroom experience is similar to that of the iPad version, with a cleaner, simplified interface that should be easier to navigate with hand gestures than the more feature-laden desktop software.

Shhh, No One Cares

Heh—this fun little animation makes me think back to how I considered changing my three-word Google bio from “Teaching Google Photoshop” (i.e. getting robots to see & create like humans, making beautiful things based on your life & interests) to “Wow! Nobody Cares.” :-p Here’s to less of that in 2024.

Check out my chat with Wharton

I had a chance to sit down for an interesting & wide-ranging chat with folks from the Wharton Tech Club:

Tune into the latest episode of the Wharton Tech Toks podcast! Leon Zhang and Stephanie Kim chat with John Nack, Principal Product Manager at Adobe with 20+ years of PM experience across Adobe and Google, about GenAI for creators, AI ethics, and more. He also reflects on his career journey. This episode is great if you’re recruiting for tech, PM, or Adobe.

Listen now on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

As always I’d love to know what you think.

Making today’s AI interfaces “look completely absurd”

Time is a flat circle…

Daring Fireball’s Mac 40th anniversary post contained a couple of quotes that made me think about the current state of interaction with AI tools, particularly around imaging. First, there’s this line from Steven Levy’s review of the original Mac:

[W]hat you might expect to see is some sort of opaque code, called a “prompt,” consisting of phosphorescent green or white letters on a murky background.

Think about how revolutionarily different & better (DOS-head haters’ gripes notwithstanding) this was.

What you see with Macintosh is the Finder. On a pleasant, light background, little pictures called “icons” appear, representing choices available to you.

And then there’s this kicker:

“When you show Mac to an absolute novice,” says Chris Espinosa, the twenty-two-year-old head of publications for the Mac team, “he assumes that’s the way all computers work. That’s our highest achievement. We’ve made almost every computer that’s ever been made look completely absurd.

I don’t know quite what will make today’s prompt-heavy approach to generation feel equivalently quaint, but think how far we’ve come in less than two years since DALL•E’s public debut—from swapping long, arcane codes to having more conversational, iterative creation flows (esp. via ChatGPT) and creating through direct, realtime UIs like those offered via Krea & Leonardo. Throw in a dash of spatial computing, perhaps via “glasses that look like glasses,” and who knows where we’ll be!

But it sure as heck won’t mainly be knowing “some sort of opaque code, called a ‘prompt.'”

The first great Vision Pro demo I’ve seen

F1 racing lover John LePore (whose VFX work you’ve seen in Iron Man 2 and myriad other productions over the years) has created the first demo for Apple Vision Pro that makes me say, “Okay, dang, that looks truly useful & compelling.” Check out his quick demo & behind-the-scenes narration:

My panel discussion at the AI User Conference

Thanks to Jackson Beaman & crew for putting together a great event yesterday in SF. I joined him, KD Deshpande (founder of Simplified), and Sofiia Shvets (founder of Let’s Enhance & Claid.ai) for a 20-minute panel discussion (which starts at 3:32:03 or so, in case the embedded version doesn’t jump you to the proper spot) about creating production-ready imagery using AI. Enjoy, and please let me know if you have any comments or questions!