Monthly Archives: October 2005

UPDIG: Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines

UPDIG describes itself as “A working group of digital imaging professionals and allied trade groups and manufacturers, dedicated to promoting worldwide standards in the commercial application of digital imaging.” The group has released its set of 15 guidelines on shooting and working digitally. If that describes your trade, the site is well worth a look.
The guidelines emphasize the need for conversion settings and metadata that can easily be transferred between individual computers and between computing platforms. Adobe Camera Raw never touches your original data, of course, so it writes its information into lightweight XML (XMP) sidecar files next to images. The DNG format was designed to store this data internally, and it’s great to see UPDIG suggesting the use of DNG in their Best Practices documentation.

More DNG Momentum

As I’ve mentioned in past entries, Adobe has been using its leadership in digital imaging to drive development of the Digital Negative specification. DNG addresses the need for a common, openly documented raw format–a solution much requested by customers. So, I wanted to pull together some recent good news on this front:

PS–I’ve always preferred the nice, simple “raw” as the term for this sort of format. Saying “RAW” seems a little aggro (“RAW is WAR!!”), like you need to make the little devil-horns with your hand while saying it. The term is neither an acronym (RAW) nor a proper name (Raw), but rather a generic descriptor for a whole class of formats. Therefore Adobe just says “raw.”

After sneak

At the MAX show last week, Steve Kilisky from the After Effects team demonstrated some new features of an upcoming version of After Effects & how AE video can integrate with content in the new Flash 8 Player. Check out this video to see “a cure for ‘palletosis'” and more. Steve is fourth from the left in the Day Two nav bar [link via Pixelfumes]. For more examples of Flash and After Effects working together, see my earlier post.

Welcome, Apple.

What a week it’s been. Sunday through Tuesday I was experiencing the energy and excitement of the Macromedia developer community at MAX, soon (we hope) to be part of the Adobe world (come on, EU commissioners! :-)). Then on Tuesday I got the call that Apple wanted to give us a demo of their new photo-centric application. We’d been hearing about this thing for three and a half years, so I headed to NY a day early.
And, well…?
Aperture is a cool product, no question. Apple’s designers have a great aesthetic, and their marketing is second-to-none. (This is the company, after all, that can sell the iPod Shuffle’s lack of screen as a lifestyle choice.) Aperture zips around on quad G5’s with four GPUs, and I’m looking forward to getting it onto my PowerBook 17″ to see how it might run in the field.
As Apple is the first to say, Aperture is not designed to be a Photoshop competitor. It has a number of very slick features (I dig the Web gallery creator in particular), but if you’re looking to do something as simple as make a selection and sharpen someone’s eyes, you’re out of luck. That’s not a knock–just a reflection of what Aperture is and is not. Fortunately Apple has a one-click method of sending a PSD to Photoshop for further editing.
I’m obviously downplaying competition between these apps because, as I’ve written previously, inventing deathmatches where none exist does us all a disservice. Having said that, however, I’d be blowing smoke not to acknowledge that Aperture does compete with Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw. The capabilities of Photoshop (of which Bridge and ACR are a part) are vast, so there’s bound to be some overlap, and Aperture joins a long list of products (Capture One, RawShooter Essentials, Nikon Capture, Canon Digital Photo Pro, etc.) that also offer raw browsing and editing. Bridge and ACR aim to provide the best possible workflow in conjunction with Photoshop, but you’re free to mix and match.
And you know, to the degree that Aperture stirs things up, I’m excited. CS2 wouldn’t be all it is today without the apps I mentioned keeping us on our toes, and the more tools offer solutions for photographers, the better off customers will be. So in the spirit of the Apple of yore, I say Welcome Apple. Seriously.

Excitement at MAX

The first day of the Macromedia MAX show is nearly in the bag, and man, it’s pretty exciting. Just sitting amidst 3,000 enthusiastic, animated designers and developers in the keynote presentation opens your eyes to the passion of this user community. As Macromedia folks and partners from SAP and elsewhere unveiled a range of new solutions and concepts (tons of coverage tracked here), the people around me were audibly buzzing with ideas. I’m eagerly looking forward to the deal being finalized so that we can start working together more closely.

Pimp My Bridge

As you probably know, Photoshop CS2 and the other Creative Suite apps ship with Adobe Bridge, the browsing and workflow management hub of the Suite. What you may not know is that Bridge has been designed with extensibility in mind. The app’s JavaScript extensibility layer enables everything from tiny widgets to services like Adobe Stock Photos. So, I thought it would be useful to link to some resources and examples:

  • The
    Bridge scripting guide
    documents the app’s JavaScript extensibility layer. You can write and debug these scripts using the ExtendScript toolkit that ships with all the CS2 apps, and you can discuss script development with others on the Bridge scripting forum.

  • Adobe Studio Exchange features a set of Bridge scripts, including Import from Camera. You can of course upload your own scripts to share with community.
  • The Adobe Solutions Network (ASN) offers a variety of Bridge extensions. For various accounting reasons, we can’t just give these away (believe me, we’ve looked into it), but paying ASN developers can incorporate this code into their own scripts, then redistribute them.
  • Peter Krogh’s (from which I stole the title of this entry) features the Pimp My Bridge page, as well as Peter’s Rank and File script for facilitating interoperability with iView Media Pro and other apps.
  • BarredRock Software offers a variety of scripts, including one that offers much-requested extraction of metadata to a spreadsheet.
  • offers a favorite to display PhotoshopNews in Bridge using the on-board Opera browser engine. Other developers have used this capability to tie Bridge into asset management systems.
  • Jakub Kozniewski offers the Flash-based CS UI builder, a visual way to assemble JavaScript interfaces for Bridge and the other CS2 apps. [via Jeff Tranberry]

I plan to update the list as more examples and resources become available. In the meantime, if you have others to share, please send ’em our way.

Photoshop brushes are cool and all…

…but how about this thing*? Rogue genius-types at MIT Media Lab have developed the I/O Brush, “a new drawing tool to explore colors, textures, and movements found in everyday materials by ‘picking up’ and drawing with them.” The ability to sample and apply a short video sequence is particularly brilliant. [link via]
If you like that, check out the Pixel Roller, a “paint roller that paints pixels, designed… to print digital information such as imagery or text onto a great range of surfaces.”
On a personal note, it was the chance to work with alpha geeks like this that drew me to Adobe. When I first encountered the LiveMotion team, I heard that engineer Chris Prosser had built himself a car MP3 player (this was a couple of years before the iPod). Evidently he’d disassembled an old Pentium 90, stuck it in his trunk, connected it to the glovebox with some Ethernet cable, added a little LCD track readout, and written a Java Telnet app for synching the machine with his laptop. Okay, I thought, I don’t want to do that, but I’d like to hijack the brains of someone who could. Chris has now moved on to After Effects, and I get to pester the likes of Thomas Knoll, Chris Cox, Arno Gourdol, and the rest of the team, trying to get some pet idea or other implemented.
* Caution: Features the most grating soundtrack since that Canon 20D video.

Behind the scenes on "24"

A few weeks ago we got to spend time with the team behind the scenes at Fox’s 24, as well as the folks at CSI, Without a Trace, Scrubs, and other shows. Art departments have to be endlessly resourceful, and we got a kick out of hearing about some of the creative ways they put Photoshop to use. I don’t want to risk giving anything away, but I did get clearance to mention something from a past episode of 24.
A scene called for the crew to put a burned-out car down in a ravine, but they couldn’t get the necessary permits from the city. So, production designer Joseph Hodges took a picture of the car, brought it into Photoshop, gave it a good beating (burning the paint, removing a door), and then printed it on a large piece of cardboard. The next day he stuck it down in the ravine where the actual car was to go. When the rest of the crew arrived they started to flip out, saying, “Hey, they told us not to put the car down there!” The illusion was clearly good enough to fool people standing on the site, and it worked perfectly for the scene.
Thanks to Rodney Charters, Director of Photography, Joseph Hodges, and the rest of the crew who let us be flies on the wall as they rehearsed, shot, and designed components of the upcoming season.

Burrowing through large sets of images

The Mini USA site features a clever, immersive Roof Studio that enables you to browse various roof designs and upload your own [link via Kaliber10000]. The zooming interface and ability to see items with matching metadata remind me of Airtight Interactive’s related tag browser for Flickr. Working on Adobe Bridge, I find these interfaces motivating. As image collections grow larger, we need to find more powerful ways to cruise through them (ways to form queries & visualize the results). As always, we’d like to hear your thoughts.

Monitor, or Ultra-Monitor?

Continuing my recent megapixel fixation, check out this insane, 19200 x 2400 monitor [link via Airtight Interactive]. Aside from the obvious expense and physical demands of this kind of configuration, such a wide layout would impose some new UI challenges (e.g. look at the control elements spread all the way to the right and left). Of course, with higher DPI displays coming and resolution-independent UI support coming from Microsoft and Apple, there’s plenty of work ahead (if nothing else, so that your Photoshop toolbar doesn’t end up being 8mm wide on screen).