Monthly Archives: December 2010

Not a creature is stirring…

With Adobe taking a break for the rest of the year, I’m going to lay low for a few days, squire around a couple of rowdy tots, and generally enjoy Christmas with the family.  Thanks as always for reading the blog and for giving me the chance to work on interesting projects here.  I wish you and yours all the best for a peaceful, blessed holiday season.  I’ll soon return to pepper your consciousness with silly, bullet-listed ephemera. 🙂  Until then…


A tiny tip on Illustrator anti-aliasing

A reader today wrote, “Can anyone tell me if it’s possible to drag a one-pixel-width diagonal line in Illustrator without it forcing anti-aliasing?”

My suggestion: Try choosing Effect->Rasterize, then choosing 72PPI and no anti-aliasing.  If you often need this technique, you can create a graphical style & then easily apply the look to multiple paths.  You can also get some funky lo-fi pixel-art looks by cranking the PPI setting way down.

Fortunately it’s largely unnecessary to think about this stuff now that Illustrator CS5 has excellent pixel chops (at last).

Learn to make iPad magazines, tomorrow at noon

If using InDesign to publish to tablets is up your alley, check out this live demo/Q&A session:

Upcoming Ask a CS Pro: Friday, Dec 17th,  12pm PST: Producing publications with Digital Publishing Suite! Learn how to use the tools and viewer technology of Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to produce publications for the iPad and other tablet devices.  Join Chris Converse from Codify Design to learn how to use the designer-friendly Digital Publishing Suite tools now available on Adobe Labs to create compelling content that combine the richness of print design with the interactivity of digital.

Dave Dickson and other members of the Digital Publishing team will be fielding questions alongside Chris. [Update: the recording is now online.]

Flash video gets dramatically more efficient

Flash Player didn’t start out trying to become the world’s most popular video player, but life takes some interesting turns.  Instead of just playing linear media files, Flash makes video part of a flexible rendering pipeline. Engineer Mike Melanson posted an excellent summary earlier this year:

In addition to decoding the data, [Flash] has to convert YUV data to the RGB colorspace and combine the image with other Flash elements. Then it has to cooperate with another application (web browser) to present the video to the user… It plays linear media files from start to finish while combining the video with a wide array of graphical and interactive elements (buttons, bitmaps, vector graphics, filters), as well as providing network, webcam, and microphone facilities, all programmable via a full-featured scripting language.

Good news, though: the new Flash Player 10.2 (download the beta) offers a new, video-playback-optimized mode called Stage Video.  Building on top of the GPU acceleration added earlier this year, Stage Video can

leverage complete hardware acceleration of the video rendering pipeline, from video decoding to scaling/blitting, enabling best-in-class playback performance. Stage Video can dramatically decrease processor usage and enables higher frame rates, reduced memory usage, and greater pixel fidelity and quality.

Here’s a demo* showing a 10X reduction (!) in CPU usage:

Stage Video requires Flash developers to update the code in video players, so simply updating to the new player won’t automatically improve CPU usage on all sites, but YouTube has already updates its player & others will follow. If you’re a Flash developer and want to start experimenting, check out this tutorial from Lee Brimelow.

* For some reason the audio/video sync in the footage is slightly screwed up. That’s a problem with the source video file, not with Flash Player.

Urban Dictionary: PHOBAR


PHOBAR: -adjective, Acronym for ‘PHOtoshopped* Beyond All Recognition.’ A play on the the more popular acronym FUBAR: ‘F’d Up Beyond All Recognition,’ PHOBAR** refers to an image, usually a photo of a person, that has been retouched and airbrushed with digital image manipulation software on a computer so significantly, that the person in the photo is barely recognizable.

[Via Greg Geisler]

*Sorry as always, Adobe Legal.
**Not to be confused with a Vietnamese eatery, or CATOBAR, about which I was reading this morning

Problems found in the Photoshop 12.0.2 update

The Photoshop team has discovered a couple of issues that affect Windows users who installed the 12.0.2 update for CS5 that was released on December 6th, 2010.

  • Tooltips no longer display on Windows XP.
  • Photoshop reports that a .dll file is missing on start up or when accessing TWAIN/scanner device on Windows operating systems.

We’re aware of the issues and are working to address the issues in the very near future.  I’m sorry these got past us, and we appreciate your patience.

Design students: Win a trip to Taipei

The Adobe Design Achievement Awards

celebrate student and faculty achievement. The competition showcases individual and group projects & honors the most talented and promising student graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, animators, digital filmmakers, developers and computer artists.

Prizes include a trip to Taipei, cash, copies of CS5 Master Collection, and more.  Check out the site to see details (FAQ) and to submit your entry.  (You actually have a while–’til June 24, 2011–but if you’ve got good stuff now, why wait?)

Video: Shop Vac

My first thought: Eh, more of the tired “kinetic typography” thing.
Subsequent thought: I like the subtle wit in the type, illustrations, & lyrics.

Creator Jarrett Heather writes, “This was created using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere and Toon Boom Animate. I worked on this sporadically, so it’s difficult to estimate how much time went into it. Somewhere between 500-1000 hours, but it was a labor of love.”

Photoshop CS5 update (12.0.2) now available

The Adobe Photoshop 12.0.2 update (Mac|Win) speeds up painting performance and fixes a number of problems discovered after Photoshop CS5 was released.  The most significant fixes in the update include the following:

  • A number of potential security vulnerabilities have been addressed
  • Crashing bugs related to typography & fonts have been addressed
  • Performance of various features has been improved
  • Crashes related to opening 3D layers, sharpening, color management, and scanning via TWAIN devices have been fixed
  • Problems with brush cursors, the histogram progress bar, the display of selection boundaries (“marching ants”), scrolling while using the shift key, and the use of action droplets have been addressed
  • Intermittent file format problems have been addressed
  • Metadata-related bugs related to focus distance and Orphea Studio JPEGs have been fixed


In addition you can download a TWAIN plug-in update that includes fixes for multiple document scanning, and a that fixes a crash that could occur when attempting a second scan.

Lightroom 3.3, Camera Raw 6.3 now available

Lightroom 3.3 (Mac|Win) and Camera Raw 6.3 (Mac|Win) for CS5 are now available as final releases on and through the update mechanisms available in Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3.  These updates include bug fixes, new camera support and new lens profiles. Cameras added:

  • Canon         PowerShot G12
  • Canon         PowerShot S95
  • Nikon          D7000
  • Nikon          Coolpix P7000
  • Nikon          D3100
  • Olympus     E-5
  • Panasonic  DMC-GF2
  • Panasonic  DMC-GH2
  • Pentax        K-5
  • Pentax        K-r
  • Ricoh          GXR, GR LENS A12 28mm F2.5
  • Samsung    NX100
  • Samsung    TL350 (WB2000)
  • Sony           A560
  • Sony           A580

For a complete list of lens profiles added & bugs fixed, please see Tom Hogarty’s post on the Lightroom Journal.

Remember that if you’re using an older version (Lightroom 2.x, Photoshop CS4, etc.), you can use the free DNG Converter (Mac|Win) to save disk space (losslessly compressing your proprietary camera files) while making images compatible with your app.

I Am Fake Hillary

These days I’m reminded of a Saturday Night Live bit from the ’08 campaign, featuring an exchange between Sarah Palin & Hillary Clinton:

Palin: It’s truly amazing, and I think women everywhere can agree, that no matter your politics, it’s time for a woman to make it to the White House!

Clinton: No-o-o-o!! Mine!! It’s supposed to be mine!! I’m sorry, I need to say something. I didn’t want a woman to be President! I wanted to be President, and I just happen to be a woman!

I used to joke that I was largely unemployable, that my skills and ambitions are so specific that I could work at only a handful of companies, on a handful of projects*.  Sometimes there’s not much joke to it.

I didn’t come to Adobe because I wanted to “develop software,” or “work in high tech,” or “do product management.”  I came here to make Web design software suck less.  Everything else–the working in marketing, the moving coast-to-coast three times in two years, the blogging, the whole up-at-dawn pride-swallowing siege–is just a means to that end.

Why do I mention this now? It’s a note to myself as much as anything.  I’m not working on mobile software now because I want to work on mobile software per se, or to be trendy or whatever.  I’m working on it to solve real, specific problems, and to enable myself & people I care about to express themselves in particular ways.

Would it be better to be broad rather than deep, to be an MBA who’s interested in expanding markets, vertical integration, and “the art of the deal,” instead of an unfrozen caveman Web designer with an obsessive interest in graphics software?  I don’t know; maybe I never will.

“To thine own self be true.” I’m working on it.

* The night before a big demo few years ago, I had an anxiety dream in which I was being really obnoxious to my boss. Terribly disappointed in me, she said, “Wow, you were doing so well, and now… I could make one call, and you’d be product managing FrameMaker!” It was an illuminating moment: the deep threat isn’t losing my job, it’s working on something for which I lack passion.

A “Pointless, action-free and totally mesmerising” video

Graeme Taylor pointed his inexpensive, high-speed Casio Exilim FH20 out a train window, then slowed down the results:

He writes,

The ‘trick’ is the camera collects images at a rate of 210 per second – but the film is played back at 30 frames per second. So, every seven seconds of footage that you watch corresponds to 1 real second. At least at the start, one real second is plenty of time for someone to move into, then out of, the camera’s field of view, but isn’t enough time for them to really do much: hence, the frozen effect. It breaks down towards the end not because I’m doing something clever with the frame rates (captured or replayed), but simply because the train was stopping!


A "No Color Management" print utility for Photoshop

For many years Photoshop supported a “No Color Management” printing mode.  Unfortunately the option caused user confusion, and it was difficult for Adobe & Apple to continue supporting.  In the course of modernizing Photoshop’s foundations (moving to Cocoa, 64-bit, Quartz, etc.) in CS5, we dropped this feature.

There are, however, people who need to print without color management. They print color targets which are then used to generate printer profiles for new printer/paper/ink combinations. These users range from printer manufactures to third-party ink suppliers to power users like Andrew Rodney who supply their own high quality profiles.

Therefore we’ve created the Adobe Color Print Utility, a simple app designed solely to enable printing without color management.  This way we’ve been able to simplify the Photoshop printing pipeline (both in terms of user experience & code maintenance) while offering power users a needed tool.  Please see the tech note for more application details.

What if Dropbox offered time tracking, versioning, & more?

Answer: You’d have something like the just-released GridIron Flow 2.0.  It can save your butt, for free. Why would you not start using it immediately?

The company has radically redefined what was already a unique & very powerful piece of software, enabling file sync & collaboration on top of automatic versioning.  Oh, and instead of costing a couple of hundred bucks per seat, it’s now free (!), with paid upgrades if you need more capabilities.  Read on for details.

I praised Flow 1.0 as being like an airbag, staying out of your way until it saves your bacon–by automatically versioning your files (think realtime Time Machine, with beautiful Adobe integration).  Trouble is, because the app is so unique, it’s sometimes hard for people to wrap their heads around & pay for up front.

The barrier to entry, however, is now zero.

The free product, Flow Essentials, tracks all files in a creative project and displays them in a visual map. You can now define projects and identify teams of people that will be part of the workflow. Flow 2 Essentials enables realtime collaboration, enabling users to add notes to nodes on the map, and to send emails (linking recipient to the node on that map) to the team or a subset of the group. The map allows you to see who worked on each asset, the size of the asset, and any attached notes.

This is all provided, along with 4GB of online Overflow storage (the Dropbox-style part), for free.  Unlike Dropbox (of which I’m a fan, by the way), Flow doesn’t require moving assets into specific folders; you can move and rename them while staying synced.

They also offer three premium services, each for $10/month per user, or $20/mo./user for all three (no contract required):

  1. Time Manager allows you to review the time you have invested on each asset, and provides a control feature to allow amortizing total time across multiple projects. It also displays percentage of time spent in each creative application and offers a manual entry mechanism that allows you to include time that is not file based (e.g. design & client meetings, phone calls, etc.).
  2. Versioning enables automatic file versioning & allows you to lock, delete, branch or drill down on any specific version. Versions are saved locally by default.
  3. Overflow shares not only the asset but versions of that asset as well. The premium service adds 50GB to the 4GB of storage provided for in Essentials.

Why am I promoting this app?  Do I or Adobe get some kind of kickback for sales? Nope. It’s just that having been a Web designer in a big agency, I know the pain of lost/overwritten files & the drag of filling out timesheet.  What’s it worth to help fix those problems?  More than the cost of a few coffees a month, I’m guessing.

If you take Flow for a spin, please share your impressions via the comments.

Sweet animation software, c. 1990

One, I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to do computer animation in my youth.  An Apple IIgs ad featuring a rocket blasting off nearly made my head blast off.  Two, it’s hard to imagine that the app below predated Flash by just five years (FutureSplash by less).


On a related note, I was struck by David Pogue noting today, “Think of all the commonplace tech that didn’t even exist 10 years ago: HDTV, Blu-ray, GPS, Wi-Fi, Gmail, YouTube, iPod, iPhone, Kindle, Xbox, Wii, Facebook, Twitter, Android, online music stores, streaming movies and on and on.”

Previously: Old-school imaging: Warhol on the Amiga.