Monthly Archives: March 2010

Photoshop 3D Effects & More, tomorrow night with Corey Barker

If you’ll be around San Francisco tomorrow night, come check out the Adobe SF user group meeting:

Corey Barker is a content developer for Kelby Media Group and Executive Producer of the popular tutorial site Planet Photoshop. He is also co-host of the the hit podcast Layers TV and makes occasional appearances on Photoshop User TV.

Corey will highlight numerous and unusual ways you can use the 3D features in Photoshop Extended to create stunning effects for any designer – both traditional 2D as well as those interested in learning more about 3D capabilities.

Things get underway at 6:30pm, and pizza will be served.

Adobe & Google working to improve Flash/browser integration

Great news: Better performance, better security, and tighter integration are coming to Web plug-ins & browsers.

According to the Google team building the Chrome browser & Chrome OS, “[W]e are working with Adobe, Mozilla and the broader community to help define the next generation browser plug-in API.” As Flash Player engineering director Paul Betlem explains, the new API specification will offer some distinct benefits over the current technology available:

  • The API will be operating system and browser-neutral, minimizing the chance of inconsistent behavior across platforms.
  • The new API is being designed with the flexibility to allow plug-ins to more tightly integrate with host browsers.
  • The new plug-in API will provide performance benefits since the host browser will be able to directly share more information about its current state.
  • The tighter integration provided by the API can allow for a more secure browsing experience as it will be easier to unify security models and collaborate on security techniques, such as sandboxing.

Google engineering VP Linus Upson says, “Users will automatically receive updates related to Flash Player using Google Chrome’s auto-update mechanism. This eliminates the need to manually download separate updates and reduces the security risk of using outdated versions.” Developers can already download the Chrome developer channel version with Flash Player built in. Going forward, Google will be bundling Flash Player in Chrome so users will always have the most current release of Flash Player.

H.264 isn’t an alternative to Flash

Did you think they were competing formats? If not, congrats: you’re better informed than most. Seems like a lot of people are confused, or at least are kind of careless with their phrasing.
In common usage, “H.264” refers to a video format, and “Flash” refers to a video player. Flash Player displays H.264-encoded video, as do other players (QuickTime, and now the Safari and Chrome Web browsers reading HTML5 video tags–with Internet Explorer to follow).
This all gets muddied, however.
Daring Fireball noted the other day, “TED Goes H.264: Chris Anderson announces a non-Flash version of for iPhone OS.” Seeing a statement like that, you might think that the TED site has switched file formats, from Flash video to H.264.
I haven’t talked to the TED folks, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t using H.264 already, displaying it in browser via the Flash Player. The news here, such as it is, is that they’re using an alternate player on a device where Flash Player isn’t allowed to run.
That makes perfect sense, of course. If you’re creating content, you probably have no ideological allegiance to formats or players. You don’t care much whether video is, say, H.264 or VC-1 or PDQ-One-Niner, nor do you care whether the player is Flash or QuickTime or anything else. Rather, you care about results. Most particularly, can your audience see it? Once that’s taken care of, does the presentation meet your needs (e.g. interactivity, integration, content protection, stats measurement, etc.)? And from there, do you have effective tools for creating the content? And so on. uses Flash Player to display videos because that lets them reach 98% of browsers. If they chose to display the same video via HTML5 markup, they’d reach ~10% of browsers (Safari + Chrome). On the iPhone/iPad, because they’re not able use Flash Player, they’re using an alternate player.

  • You can debate one format vs. another (e.g. H.264 vs. Ogg Theora)
  • You can debate one player vs. another (e.g. Flash Player vs. a Web browser reading HTML5 tags)
  • You can’t really debate “Flash vs. H.264”

On systems where both Flash and other players can run, it’s perfectly legitimate to debate which one to use; each will have pros and cons. My goal mentioning all this is to add a little clarity to those debates.

More Photoshop CS5 sneaks: Bathing suit removal & more

It’s one thing to hear company reps promote a product, but I’m always more impressed when someone with a solid, independent reputation speaks up. In this case it was Katrin Eismann, highly respected retoucher & educator, showing off how she uses Content-Aware Fill, new lens correction capabilities, and more.

YouTube nerd tip: Here’s how you can tell an embedded video to jump right to a specific point. It’s a little less convenient than using a URL, but it’s still straightforward. Thanks to Rafael Fischmann of MacMagazine Brazil for the tip.

CS5 to be announced April 12

Oh, it’s on (shortly). Lots and lots of good stuff to show. I’ve already got a couple of dozen blog posts in the works. Stay tuned.
Note that CS5 isn’t shipping on April 12; rather, it’s being announced on that date. I know, the whole “announcing an announcement” thing is kind of funky/meta, so I thought it was worth trying to clarify.
Also, before someone says, “You just shipped CS4 a year ago,” I’ll point out that CS4 shipped on October 15, 2008. Creative Suite releases have been on an 18-month cycle for several years, with CS3 shipping on April 15, 2007. Just thought I’d save somebody some typing.

(rt) Illustration: Destroyed money, cassette tape illustrations, & more

Lightroom tip: Save disk space by trashing backups

Psst, buddy, wanna save a few gigs of storage? Try deleting some of your old backup Lightroom catalogs.

If you’re like me, you often let LR back up its catalog data when it prompts you to do so (and if you don’t, you should–it’s a pretty painless insurance policy). Unfortunately LR doesn’t automatically delete old copies of the backup data, and I noticed recently that I had several gigabytes of “.lrcat” files hanging around my hard drive. These live in a “Backups” directory adjacent to your Lightroom catalog file (in my case, in Pictures/Lightroom/Backups). I deleted all but the last two or three backups, figuring I couldn’t use that many backup copies (and that the older ones were probably pretty out of sync with the current state of my image collection).

Nice JDI-style bonus: Instead of interrupting you when you just want to get to work, Lightroom 3 now prompts you to back up on quit, not on launch. I was pleased to see that Scott Kelby noticed & digs this change.

Video: Sneak peek of Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop

Bryan O’Neil Hughes shows off some rather eye-popping (if we may say so) technology for synthesizing texture inside a future version of Photoshop:

The demo starts with some small pieces, so if you’re short on time, jump to about the 2:50 mark (halfway point) for the more impressive stuff. I’ve been getting great results filling in missing areas around a panorama, as Bryan shows at the 4-minute mark. Full-screen viewing makes it easier to see the details.

Lightroom 3.0 beta 2 arrives

Outstanding new noise reduction technology & much more are now available in beta 2 of Lightroom 3.0, a free download from Adobe Labs. Highlights of this release include:

  • Improved performance throughout the application for faster importing and loading of images
  • Native tethered shooting support for select Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras
  • Luminance noise reduction has been added to the previous color noise reduction improvements available in the first public beta for outstanding overall high ISO quality
  • Support for importing and managing video files from DSLR cameras for better overall photographic workflow control
  • Improvements to the import experience in the first beta to reflect public feedback
  • Improved watermarking functionality from the first beta to reflect public feedback
  • Additional Preliminary Camera Support
    • Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i / Kiss X4 Digital)
    • Olympus E-PL1
    • Panasonic G2
    • Panasonic G10
    • Sony Alpha 450 (A450)

Check out the Lightroom Journal for detailed info about the new release.

A tablet demo too far

I find this concept demo both beautiful & technically impressive:

I have a very hard time thinking, however, that this represents the future of magazine publishing–any more than that such rich short films would take over the magazine world via CD-ROMs.
Sure, hardware’s better and the delivery pipe is fatter, but the cost of producing something visually beautiful & creative remains (and will remain) much higher than shoving text into a template. When moving content online, publishers often trade dollars for pennies, and even high profile sites grind out content for a pittance (e.g. I’ve read that Gawker pays its writers $12 per post).
Then there’s the question of audience demand–especially in terms of increased willingness to pay. If people want this kind of richness, why isn’t it all over the Web right now? I worked on rich, interactive narratives on Urban Desires, a side venture at my old Web agency, more than 10 years ago. All that graphical cleverness came and went, replaced by simple content management systems that enable quick sharing of text & images.
Thinking that tablets will change everything makes me remember an article in The Onion’s Our Dumb Century, ostensibly written in the late 40’s. It breathlessly trumpeted how the new marvel of television would revolutionize society for the better (“Every man a professor!”)–not like that tawdry, shallow radio and those filthy newspapers and books. No, this time everything would be different… It was a great satire of dotcom hype in ’99 and remains a good corrective to tablet hype in ’10.
Believe me, I’m very excited about tablets (counting the days), and I think you’ll really dig how forthcoming Adobe tools will make it much easier (and thus more cost-effective, and thus more plausible) to add richness to content. I just think we’d do well to keep our expectations realistic.

If you're still on CS1 and want to upgrade, now's a good time

If you own a product from the first generation of the Creative Suite (e.g. Photoshop CS, released in 2003) and want to be able to upgrade it to a more recent version, now’s a good time to pull the trigger.
I’m not hinting about the possible timing of future releases. I am noting, however, that Adobe introduced a “three versions back” policy a couple of years ago. That means that you can upgrade from CS, CS2, or CS3 to the current version (CS4). When the current version goes up by one, so will the cutoff for upgrades. Therefore if you’re holding onto a copy of CS and may want to upgrade it at some point, well, you shouldn’t wait too long.

Lasers, Russell Brown, & you (this summer)

Adobe’s own Russell Brown is planning a 1.5-day, hands-on course teaching advanced painting tips and techniques using the newest version of Adobe Photoshop. The course runs June 5-6 in conjunction with the HOW Design Conference in Denver, CO:

This inspirational event is designed for graphic designers, art directors, and creative directors looking for creative new ways to use Adobe Photoshop in their projects. Photographers might enjoy this event as well and should definitely consider taking this class. Take note, this is not a good class for a beginning user of Photoshop.

This class will be focused on advanced painting techniques found in the latest version of Photoshop. There will also be some basic use of Adobe Illustrator in class for those who are interested in avatar mask experimentation. If learning how to use all the new creative brushes, textures and presets in Adobe Photoshop sounds interesting, then this is the class for you!

I’m planning to be there, so I hope to see you in person.

Happy 10th birthday to InDesign

Hard as it is to believe, Adobe InDesign is celebrating a decade of shaking up the world of design & publishing. Hats off to the team for having the skills, guts, and fortitude to build such a powerful, game-changing application–and on their behalf, thanks to all the customers who’ve made ID a success. Check out the 10th anniversary site to see in interactive timeline, favorite tips from designers, and more.

Oh, and now photographer/designer Ricky Trickartt crafted this great little birthday cake:

Excellent stuff, Ricky; thanks. [Via his Flickr stream]

Update: See also this superfly cake from the Twin Cities InDesign User Group.

Colosseo: A letterpress rendering of the Roman Coliseum

You don’t need to be a type nerd to enjoy Cameron Moll’s new Colosseo letterpress project, a year-long labor of love:

The video starts a bit slowly, so if you’re pressed for time you can jump to the 4-minute mark where Cameron starts describing the project. Around the 6-minute mark you can see a time lapse of Illustrator being used to create some of the intricate textures on the building’s facade. Amazing stuff.

Adobe TV: Samurais, photo library management, & more

Adobe TV is hosting some new Lightroom- and Photoshop-related content:

  • The Russell Brown Show – Samurai Poster (Part 1)

    In part 1 of this 2-part episode, Russell Brown shows us his personal tips and techniques on how to extract an image from a green screen background using Adobe Photoshop CS4

  • Lightroom for Digital Photographers – Synchronizing Folders

    In this episode we’ll show you how to import and organize your images from multiple sources into one logical place.

  • The Complete Picture with Julieanne Kost – Selective Focus

    In this episode of The Complete Picture, Julieanne Kost shows us how to get great results with the Lens Blur Filter in Adobe Photoshop CS4.

  • Photoshop With Matt – Color Balancing Multiple Parts of a Photo

    Color balancing one part of a photo often makes another part look worse. It can be difficult to perfect all parts of a photo. Luckily the Adjustment Brush, a new tool in Photoshop CS4 Camera Raw, lets us achieve good color in multiple parts of a photo.

  • Short and Suite – Building Animated Lower Thirds in Photoshop

    In this episode of Short and Suite, Jason Levine teaches us how to animate Lower Thirds in Adobe Photoshop and then use that PSD in Premiere Pro and After Effects CS4.

  • What motivates you (besides sandwiches)?

    A few weeks ago I visited the nearby Googleplex to hear a talk from Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. His talk is well worth a listen, maybe as background during lunch:

    Oddly enough, I make a cameo around the 2:30 mark. I was already a touch nervous about whether it was entirely legit for me to attend, despite being invited by friend & Google employee Marc Pawliger. I’d also heard Daniel on NPR talking about experiments in which subjects had to solve problems on the fly (e.g. how do you stick a box of candles to the wall?)–and of course Google is known for testing people.
    Getting immediately called before the audience, therefore, was nerve wracking: Oh my God, these people are going to figure out I’m an impostor, I’m going to eat it on some stupid puzzle, and I’m going to make Adobe look bad by extension. Fortunately, however, the worst that awaited me was some Cheetos (at the expense of a free meal in the vaunted Google cafeteria).
    As I say, the talk is worthwhile, and I’ll comment more soon on Autonomy, Mastery, and Progress, especially as I’ve faced my own struggles recently. [Thanks to Marc for hosting me, Google for posting the video, and of course Daniel for the sandwich.] iPhone app offers mobile PS training

    You can put training for Photoshop, Lightroom, and other Adobe apps in your pocket via the new iPhone app. According to the site,

    Courses are often divided by chapters, and within chapters, there are individual tutorial movies. These are all listed in order on the course page. Start watching a course by tapping the first tutorial movie title, and the movie will start to play. Once it is over, move on to the next movie.

    For links to other Photoshop-training-on-iPhone resources, please see my previous post.

    New JDI video + podcast

    Continuing a popular series, Photoshop PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes shows off another handful of the small but hopefully welcome changes we’ve been making in Photoshop:

    Bryan and I sat down with Deke McClelland & Colleen Wheeler to chat about these changes and more in a new episode of Martini Hour.
    For previously posted info, see the JDI category I just set up on the blog. The embedded video above is kind of small, so you may want to view it in fullscreen mode or via its Facebook page. app now embeddable on Android

    The latest version of the free Mobile app for Android adds new Contrast and Brightness editing tools, as well as a number of photo effects (Pop, Vignette Blur, Warm Vintage, and several more).
    Here’s what I find really interesting, though: The app can be freely embedded into other Android apps. In other words, a company like Adobe can write an editing module that other apps can leverage instead of re-inventing the wheel. As a customer that strikes me as very cool, and very much in line with the old promise of OpenDoc and other component architectures.
    Before I get an earful of “Wait, you’ve introduced a new feature on a non-Apple OS first; I knew it–you hate the Mac, you lazy scum!!,” please note that this kind of embedding is not currently possible on the iPhone. If and when that changes, I’d love to see the iPhone version of the editor made embeddable.

    Print and ePublishing Conference coming to Seattle in May

    Longtime layout and publishing expert David Blatner brought the upcoming Print and ePublishing Conference he’s organizing to my attention, and I’m passing along the news in case it’s up your alley:

    Join the world’s top InDesign experts and the Adobe InDesign team, May 12-14 in Seattle for the InDesign event of the year! Find answers and valuable insight on the topics publishing for eBooks, print, interactive documents, and more! Be inspired by fresh ideas and new products. Includes 1-day pre-conference tutorials, then 2-day multi-track conference.

    • InDesign CS “X”*: What to Expect
    • Boosting efficiency with InDesign’s automation features
    • Best practices for a cross-media workflow
    • Creating and managing ePub and Kindle documents
    • Working with Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Flash
    • XML, XSL, and You

    I’ve really had just a glimpse myself, but I can at least tell you that the InDesign team has been working hard on some very slick stuff.

    Hijacking Brains: The Why-I-Work-At-Adobe Story

    Back in 1999, before I came to Adobe and a couple of years before the iPod was introduced, I heard about how Adobe engineer Chris Prosser had, with a friend, built his own MP3 player for his car. As I recall, they’d put an old stripped-down Pentium box into his trunk, fed Ethernet cable up to the glove compartment, attached a simple LCD text display, and written a Java Telnet app to synchronize songs between his laptop & the car system. I thought to myself, “I don’t want to do any of that–but I want to hijack that guy’s brain. If I can make my (and customers’) problems his problems, those problems will get solved.”

    I thought of this story when I saw ZhengPing Wang’s “Robot Toy with Flash Player,” a homebrew mobile contraption that lets him keep an eye on his young family. ZhengPing is the lead engineer on Adobe Configurator, and he’s always up for trying something new.

    I’m told there’s a Japanese proverb, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” If I could code worth a damn, you’d never see me again as I’d never leave my basement. That is, I already have the ideas for what to do, but I need to collaborate with people who can actually turn those ideas into reality. I’m lucky to work somewhere that lets me go beyond daydreaming, at least sometimes.