Monthly Archives: March 2006
MoOM & more
Illustrator, Flash, AE, and a bandsaw…
…equals kinetic sculpture. This is one of the coolest customer applications of Adobe tools I’ve seen in a while. Artist David C. Roy builds spring-driven wooden forms that, once given a few cranks by hand, provide hours of hypnotic movement.
Though the techniques page is out of date (is that Illustrator 6 and Extreme 3D??), David reports that he’s been evolving his technique in synch with the software and cutting tools. He writes:
I do all my drawing directly in Illustrator, and as an idea matures I “test” it in After Effects. The direct update link between the programs has been a great boon as I can modify the forms in Illustrator, often using symbols, and get almost immediate feedback on how the piece will look in motion from After Effects. The design of my “Variation” series and my new sculptures Illusion and Spectrum were greatly enhanced by the ability to see motion and quickly change the design.
I use After Effects expressions to simplify setting up the animations. They are nothing elaborate, but they make for far more realistic motions. In the case of the Variation series I use them to keep the orbiting forms counter rotating in time with carrying wheel. In the “bird form” pieces like Migration and Quest I use expressions to keep the bird “level” as the wheels that carry it move at varying speeds. This was very tedious prior to expressions. I’m currently working on a new design where a form that is carried by other counter rotating wheels will pick up a swinging motion but basically stay in a fixed orientation. I was able to add the swinging by simply including a sine function and controlling the amount of swing with a constant.
(this_comp.layer(“back wheel 6 spoke”).rotation+this_comp.layer(“back
carrier”).rotation)*-1 + (Math.sin(time)*60)
The animated simulations can then be exported directly from After Effects to SWF for use on the Web, though David reports he’ll often bring them into Flash or LiveMotion for tuning first. When it’s time to build the pieces in the real world, he converts his Illustrator documents to DXF files using a plug in from BPT-Pro. These files get emailed to a local father/son team who have a large computer-controlled router. These guys convert the DXF files directly to machine code, then send it to the cutter. “It is amazing to watch the machine work,” says David.
It’s likewise amazing to watch an artist and his work grow with the tools. Seeing the technology open doors makes the long hours of development worthwhile. [Thanks to Photoshop engineering director Marc Pawliger, who hangs Tri-Fusion in his home, for the lead.]
[Tangentially related: speaking of computer-assisted woodcutting, Turn Your Head will take a picture of your profile, then use a lathe to render your profile on a wooden dowel. [Via]]
Logo thievery o' the day
It’s a bit off topic, but consider it a little payback to all the comment-spammers out there. This morning I received a comment linking to a “Vasu Infotech,” who must be big hockey fans, having boosted the logo of the Colorado Avalanche. I’m actually kind of charmed by the total nakedness of the theft (as blatant as when someone did a “Save As” in IE years ago & copied the NEC site my team had built). So here ya go, spammers: you officially get one past the goalie, and it’s so that I can call out your cheesy, design-biting ways.
[Update: Since their site seems to have punked out (hah!), here’s a screenshot.]
720 hours in Illustrator; Painting with light
Why do I have to pay for the Photoshop SDK?
A. You don’t! Technically, you never did, but a few years back a policy change meant that in order to request the SDK, you needed a paid membership in the Adobe Solutions Network. There are lots of good reasons to join the ASN (co-marketing, tech support, product discounts, etc.), but you shouldn’t have to sign up just to get the SDK. So, some time back (at least a year ago) we changed the policy so that you can simply make the request via the SDK via a Web form.
We’ve also split the SDK between two different versions, Basic and Advanced. The Basic SDK includes everything you’ll need except the File Format and File Import/Export information. For that, you’ll need to make a request through the link provided above so that we can do the additional paperwork to get you the Advanced SDK (still no charge).
We haven’t done a good job of communicating this change (in fact, some of the old info still exists & needs to be updated), so I thought I’d blog it here. [Update: There’s also a user-to-user forum for discussion of SDK-related issues.]
The Best Distress in the West
If the shiny, happy, fresh-scrubbed “Web 2.0 look” is starting to look a little clichéd to you, check out The Academics of Worn from Airbag Industries’ Greg Storey. Greg talks about ways to leverage the shapes, typefaces, and colors of the past, and he links to Cameron Moll’s popular series of tutorials, That Wicked Worn Look. Besides sharing tips & PSD source files, Cameron also links to additional discussions and a a wealth of examples.
For more, see also these:
- Keith Bowman offers a great set of distressing Photoshop brushes & retro color palettes. I used the brushes quite a bit in redesigning this blog.
- The Mr. Retro series of filters makes it easy to weather your images.
- FontShop features a tutorial on giving your type the beaten-up stamp look. (Going the other direction, they also feature info on those bloopy Web 2.0 fonts.)
- [Update: CreativePro.com has added a nice, fast tutorial on aging an image, courtesy of Layers Magazine.
PS–Hey, no matter what, design these days looks better than ye olde Web 1.0 logos, right?
Faking tilt-shift with Photoshop
Heh–a little trend seems to have grown up around giving aerial photos the appearance of miniature models, first by using tilt-shift lenses & now via Photoshop.
Photographer Olivo Barbieri’s work drew some attention a few months back, inspiring folks without tilt-shift lenses (or helicopters, for that matter) to find other ways to produce similar effects. Writer Christopher Phin whipped up a simple Photoshop tutorial, and now there’s a Flickr photo group devoted to tilt-shift fakery (here’s a good set) [Via]. A similar technique has been applied to a movie, and Boing Boing provides more good examples here.
Photographer/developer Joe Lencioni‘s interesting little project Greased Lightbox lets Firefox display clicked images in an attractive floating overlay. Once this script is installed, clicking on an image link (e.g. from Flickr or Google Images) displays the image like this. Greased Lightbox is based on Lightbox JS, and using it required first installing Greasemonkey for Firefox (or this thing for Safari, which I couldn’t make work).
New Lightroom podcasts now available
Adobe photography evangelist George Jardine has posted a pair of new podcasts covering Adobe Lightroom. In the first, Lightroom engineers Mark Hamburg & Kevin Tieskoetter discuss printing, color management, and more with George and Jeff Schewe. In the second, Jeff along with fellow imaging experts Bruce Fraser and Tom Fors answer questions that beta testers called in to the Lightroom Hotline. To listen in, fire up iTunes, search the music store for “Lightroom,” and hit subscribe. Alternately you can try this URL (worked well for me in Safari but not in Firefox).
Photoshop Automator Actions 2.0 released
Hardworking author/scripter Ben Long has returned with version 2.0 of his popular Photoshop Automator Actions. In addition to introducing 22 new actions, Ben writes, “The biggest improvement is a new architecture that makes it much speedier, and that eliminates the problem of Photoshop having to open all of the documents in a batch at one time.” I’ve heard plenty of good feedback from folks using the scripts in production, and they’re a great example of nice Photoshop/Mac OS integration.
By the way, if you’re interested in automating Photoshop and plan to attend next week’s Photoshop World in Miami, check out Matt Kloskowski’s Photoshop for Geeks session. I was amazed that the previous installment of Matt’s talk drew more than 100 people to an 8:30pm session (!). It was a great vote of confidence in our efforts to make Photoshop more extensible, and as before my pal Jeff Tranberry from PS development will be on hand to answer questions & gather feedback.
New Flash gallery hook-up for Photoshop
I’m delighted to report that Felix Turner’s slick PostcardViewer (see example) is now compatible with Photoshop CS2. A simple Photoshop script pops an interface for setting gallery parameters, then cranks out the JPEGs and XML needed to display your photos through Flash. Sweet.
It was largely Felix’s work that inspired us to add Flash support to Photoshop’s built-in Web Photo Gallery (example). We’re now building upon that start with Project Lightroom (example), and we’d like to standardize on an XML flavor that will let gallery templates developed for one app be used by others.
[Update: D’oh–I inadvertently attributed PostcardViewer to Felix Nelson (a very talented Photoshop artist from the NAPP). Felix Turner is the author of PostcardViewer. Sorry, guys; I will keep my Felices straight from now on.]
Goodbye to Gordon Parks
Novelist, self-taught pianist, semi-pro basketball player, composer, director of Shaft–and somehow he still found time to be a groundbreaking photojournalist at Life for more than 20 years. I didn’t know the name Gordon Parks before he passed away yesterday at age 93, but since then I’ve learned a bit about his amazing and far-reaching life. The NYT offers an overview and slideshow; NPR features an audio report from Parks’ 90th birthday; and PDN hosts a gallery of his work with accompanying text. His life spoke to the transformative power of photography, and to the idea of “Not allowing anyone to set boundaries, cutting loose the imagination and then making the new horizons.”
I couldn’t attend PMA with the rest of the crew this year, but amidst the big camera announcements, they spied some funky accessories:
- The MonsterPod doesn’t suck–literally or figuratively. Rather, its “Viscoelastic Morphing Polymer Super Grip Base” (three times fast, please) sticks onto just about any surface. I wonder if you can stick it to The Man…
- The Joby Gorrilapod takes a different approach, wrapping its prehensile legs around all kinds of things (including the human head). [Via]
I recently went a slightly simpler route myself, opting for a tiny, lightweight Manfrotto, the better to irritate dinner companions when going for those natural light shots.
A nice send-off for LiveMotion
LiveMotion, the project that brought me to Adobe, has been dead & buried for more than two years. That said, it was nice this week, at the first Flashforward show since Adobe and Macromedia came together, to close out that chapter with the LM-authored Words at Play site winning the Typography category. Congrats to Steve, Bo, Roberto, Matteo, Whitney, and Alyson.
The whole LM thing was a tough row to hoe, and though we fell short, many of the issues we took on (tight integration with Photoshop/Illustrator/After Effects, rapid extensibility, etc.) remain priorities for designers & developers. It’s great that we now have the chance to work on them together, in the app people already know & love.
Podcast from Flashforward
I’m still recovering (in a good way) from spending the week at Flashforward & hope to have some notes up soon. In the meantime, if you’re interested in hearing some of my (slightly breathless) thoughts from the show floor, check out this podcast from Scott Sheppard’s Inside Mac Radio. The segment runs about 15 minutes, and author/blogger Jan Kabili has done an amazing job of transcribing the talk on The Unofficial Photoshop Blog. (Thanks, Jan!) Notes to self: Supply less cornball press photo. And stop being so word-dependent on “really.” I mean, really…