Monthly Archives: October 2014

Photoshop’s murder mystery: “A Crime With Many Layers”

Here’s a neat Halloween idea from my Photoshop pals:

Professor Photoheim’s been murdered at his Halloween party. There are three suspects. To solve the crime you must say who did it, how he or she did it, and post a screen grab of your evidence to our Facebook page.

Here’s your first—and largest—source of evidence: the PSD of the scene of the crime. Download the PSD from Creative Cloud or directly here. Wednesday at 10AM PST we’ll release more clues needed to solve the #PsMystery.

More fun stuff is on its way, so stay tuned via Facebook and Twitter.



Photography: “Angel City”

The urgent, unsettled score gives this look at LA a fresh flavor. Gavin Heffernan writes,

Since we’re only 452 days away from the 20th anniversary of one my favorite movies HEAT, I set it to one of the soundtrack songs, an incredible piece of music by Elliot Goldenthal. The cityscapes of HEAT inspired me to make movies long ago, so it was a special treat looking down on LA from some similar angles to the classic Michael Mann film.

[Vimeo] [Via]

“The Google+ feature you’ve never used is actually one of its most innovative”

Nice coverage of the Stories feature we launched a few months back: 

“In an ideal world, you could have a little personal historian following you around and just keeping track of everything you did,” said Smarr, leaning forward eagerly in his chair. “Maybe in certain circles there are the rich families that just have the family photographer who takes notes and makes beautiful albums of trips and stuff, but most people don’t. We thought, ‘Maybe someday everyone can have his or her own personal historian.’”

New Photoshop shortcuts for layer visibility, locking

Having an excessive interest in keyboard shortcuts (I once wrote an edition of a book dedicate to this subject), I’m delighted to see some welcome tweaks arriving in Photoshop CC. According to Julieanne Kost’s blog:

  • Cmd-comma hides/shows the currently selected layer(s)
  • Cmd-opt-comma shows all layers
  • Cmd-slash locks/unlocks the currently selected layer(s)
  • Cmd-opt-slash unlocks all layers

(On Windows substitute Ctrl-Alt for Cmd-Opt) [Via Jeff Tranberry]

A semi-forgotten gem in Picasa: Face movies

Google’s Picasa (one of the apps for which I’m now responsible) offers a rather magical time-lapse feature called Face Movies. Select a range of photos (e.g. by clicking the automatic face cluster for a person appearing in your library), then choose Create->Movie->From Faces in Selection. You’ll instantly get something like this:

I whipped one up featuring my son Henry, immediately getting my wife’s delight & requests for more.

A rather slick demo of Adobe Shape + Illustrator Draw

I’d missed the news that Adobe’s mobile vector OG (available since the launch of the iPad), Ideas, has been renamed Illustrator Draw. Much more interestingly, it now features French curves plus integration with the new Creative Cloud library panel. Here Scott Belsky & Geoff Dowd show how you can use Adobe Shape to capture & vectorize artwork, use it in Draw, and then take everything into Illustrator:


A charming drone failsafe fail

Heh—here’s a fun bit of storytelling through… well, you’ll see. PetaPixel provides the set up:

One of the most useful features built into the DJI drones is something called ‘Return to Home.’ If the drone gets out of range of your controller, instead of dropping out of the sky, it automatically uses GPS data to zoom back to the launch point.

Cool right? Only one problem… what if there’s a massive cliff face in the way?


Bonus drone goodness courtesy of PP, this time involving Nerds of the French Forest:

[YouTube 1 & 2]

Aperture->Lightroom migration tool now available

Adobe has posted an Aperture importer. PetaPixel writes,

Once you’re up and running in Lightroom, just click on File -> Plug-In Extras -> Import from Aperture Library (or iPhoto Library), select the location of your Aperture Library, select a folder you’d like to import into, and click Import. Both originals and altered versions of the photos in your library will be imported automatically.

You can click on Options to customize the import, but basic info that will be carried over includes: Flags, Star Ratings, Keywords, GPS Data, Rejects, Hidden Files, Color Labels, Stacks, and Face Tags. Those last three will be imported as keywords.

Photography: Layer Lapse

 Julian Tryba has a unique take on the time lapse—one that gets more interesting as the movie below plays out:

Traditional time-lapses are constrained by the idea that there is a single universal clock. In the spirit of Einstein’s relativity theory, layer-lapses assign distinct clocks to any number of objects or regions in a scene. Each of these clocks may start at any point in time, and tick at any rate. The result is a visual time dilation effect known as layer-lapse.

He provides quite a few making-of details, including info on the software used:

Lightroom – “I use Lightroom to perform 90% of my color grading on photos, similar to many other time-lapse photographers.”
Premiere Pro – “The video editing program I use for compiling all the clips.”
LRTimelapse- “LRTimelapse is used for exporting holy grail sequences, and removing flicker.”
Photoshop – “I barely used any Photoshop but it can be more effective/faster for masking out objects and then importing the masks into After Effects. I also use some still frames in the layer-lapses so I might Photoshop a picture to get all the cars and people out so that I have a clean image of a scene.”

[Vimeo] [Via]

If a robber were coming to your house…

…and you had no choice but to part with one technology item, which would you miss the least?

  • Smartphone
  • Computer
  • TV
  • DVR
  • Tablet

I’m guessing that for most people, the tablet gets shoved into the bad dude’s mitts first. They’re nice-to-have tweener devices, but if pressed you could do almost everything elsewhere. That’s likely why tablet sales growth has cooled off: most people don’t really need a tablet, and if you use one for basic consumption tasks (watching videos, browsing the Web), there are few reasons to upgrade.

Anyhow, let’s see what Apple has up its sleeve for Thursday, and what other vendors might have cooking.

Mix, an ideas/template exchange for Paper

Give these guys credit: they can take the most banal, beat-out concept (an ink pen, a template exchange) and fetishistically polish it the point that it feels fresh. Check out Mix, a way to browse templates & post your own remixes of them:

You can post something (e.g. this bunny), then see how others riff on it. The Verge has a good write-up:

“One of the biggest criticism of Paper is that you’re just giving me a blank sheet,” admits Petschnigg. “The first step of learning is imitation, that’s how we all begin.” Like on Github or Dribbble, FiftyThree expects that some of the platform’s best work will be riffs on the work of another.

Similar thinking informed the project that became Adobe Premiere Clip: Tablet & phone users could sketch out storyboards in a shared project, starting from scratch or with a project made by others. Those sketches would then evolve into the real project (e.g. I’ll go shoot cards 1-3, you take 4-6, and the clips will fall into place). Imagine being able to peel back the surface of your favorite well made short film (e.g. a really sharp Kickstarter pitch), see the structure, notes, and effects that brought it to life, and leverage those for your own work. You can see some of this in Clip by starting a new project from a template. I have no idea what the team may now be planning, but I remain intrigued by the possibilities.


Photoshop CC can now render flames

Who knew? Julieanne Kost did:

This new feature is designed to render realistic flames on user-defined paths. You need to create your path first (using the pen tool or any of the shape tools), then choose  Filter > Render > Flames. (Note: you need to have a pixel layer targeted in the Layers panel as a landing place for the flame to be created, not a Shape, Type, or Smart Object layer. You can however convert type to paths or use the Type Mask tool to render paths for letter forms).

Check out the rest of her post for more tips & examples.




TeleStory: Make TV shows interactively with your kids

I’ve long admired the work of the guys behind Toontastic (an amazing mix of wit, visual polish, and technical chops), and now they’re back with their second app. TeleStory (clever) lets you “film and broadcast your own TV shows – spy adventures, space battles, music videos… check out our video”:

As their blog explains,

  1. Pick a scene to act out – maybe a lightsaber battle or a car chase?
  2. Write your script and pick a costume to wear in your scene. What role will you play? A rockstar? A ninja?
  3. Record LIVE with onscreen special effects and dozens of characters & settings!

I’ve just bought a copy & look forward to test-driving it with the Micronaxx tonight.


Google Dune View? Putting 360º cameras on a camel

Here’s a unique perspective on the UAE’s Liwa Oasis—the largest oasis in the Arabian peninsula.”

Google’s Najeeb Jarrar explains,

To bring this stunning desert to Street View, we fashioned the Trekker to rest on a camel, which gathered imagery as it walked. Using camels for the collection allowed us to collect authentic imagery and minimize our disruption of this fragile environment.

We hope this collection gives you a glimpse of what it may be like to travel the desert as caravan merchants have for the past 3000 years. Should you make the journey here in person, who knows—you may meet some new friends. To see more, visit our Street View gallery.


Check out Adobe Premiere Clip

Big congrats to all my former teammates for shipping Premiere Clip! It’s a new iPhone/iPad app for telling stories through video. Unlike more traditional tools like iMovie, Clip provides structure (in the form of prefab storycards) & examples. You can apply slow-mo effects, color grades based on Adobe SpeedGrade (once a $50,000/seat app), and more. All the content is synced across devices via Creative Cloud, and you can edit projects directly in Premiere Pro. If you take it for a spin, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Sweet sassy molassey, Photoshop finally has a Library panel!

And so does Illustrator!

My God, I thought this day might never come, but I’m thrilled: You can now drag objects into a library, then use them across projects, apps, and even machines (as it’s all cloud-synced). Check it out (along with smarter smart guides & more) in this demo from Paul Trani:

What a long & winding road it was to get here. This sort of workflow was what we always had in mind when developing Smart Objects & Bridge 10 (!!) years ago. It’s why Bridge originally offered a micro mode that could float over other apps, and it’s a big part of why I pushed the development of Mini Bridge & consistent panel extensibility across the Adobe suite. It was frustrating to never quite get to this point, so hats off to everyone who’s now made it happen!


digiSTORY 2014: A discount for my readers

Last year I visited longtime Hallmark technologist Ron Green & the University of Missouri to learn about the great work they’re doing to teach next-generation storytelling techniques. Now they’ve assembled digiSTORY 2014, a conference happening on Oct. 22nd in Kansas City.

Knowing how to tell stories using digital technology is no longer an option if you want to communicate in the emerging world.

At digiSTORY2014, leaders in social media, technology trends, entertainment and media production will talk about their own experiences and equip you as a digital storyteller. We’ve lined up four industry pacesetters as conference keynoters.

Check out the site for details, and when you register you can save $100 by entering code “partner100.”


Lightroom & Storehouse now integrate

I’m pleased to see some old friends getting together. Mark Kawano, founder of storytelling tool Storehouse (and previously my design partner on Photoshop, Bridge, and Camera Raw), writes,

I was shooting with my SLR but wanted to build the story with the Storehouse iPhone app. It worked seamlessly. I imported the RAW files and made my color adjustments in Lightroom, synced the Collection to my Creative Cloud, opened the Storehouse app on my iPhone, and the color corrected files were ready and sized properly right there in the import tool.

Sounds like a smooth pairing of elegant tools. What’s your take—is it a combo you’ll use?

Talk to your 20-years-older self right now

A rather bizarre site called Future Self captures a picture of you via Webcam. Then, per PetaPixel,

The site then analyzes that picture using facial recognition and puts it through an aging simulator to spit out a version of yourself that is 20 years older… and in my case British… so that was weird. I know he was British because, not only does this spit out a picture of your future self, it lets you talk to the guy or gal via webcam using Google speech recognition.

Impressive stuff, though as to why all of this is a good idea, I’m a bit stumped.


Will Apple enable iPhone-Camera Connection Kit interop?

We’ve come a long way, baby:

  • 2004: Epson P-2000: $500, 1360 grams., 3.8” screen, and 40GB HD.
  • 2014: Apple iPhone 6 Plus: $500*, 172 grams, 5.5” screen, and 128GB HD.

So wouldn’t this be a brilliant tool for importing, triaging, and editing one’s images on the go? Sadly, as John Gruber & Rene Ritchie noted & others confirm, you evidently can’t plug Apple’s Camera Connection Kit into the iPhone. What a drag. Let’s see whether this changes.

Side note: I remain in sad amazement that 4.5 years after the iPad made tablets mainstream, no one—not Apple, not Adobe, not Google—has, to the best of my knowledge, implemented a way to let photographers to do what they beat me over the head for years requesting:

  • Let me leave my computer at home & carry just my tablet** & camera
  • Let me import my raw files (ideally converted to vastly smaller DNGs), swipe through them to mark good/bad/meh, and non-destructively edit them, singly or in batches, with full raw quality.
  • When I get home, automatically sync all images + edits to/via the cloud and let me keep editing there or on my Mac/PC.

This remains a bizarre failure of our industry.

*Subsidized, but it’s a super fast little computer supporting myriad editing apps & high-speed connectivity, for God’s sake!
** Or now Big-Ass Phone 

Stock photo app Snapwire lets you tap into Lightroom’s engine

It’s the shape of things to come, especially given Adobe’s acquisition last week of imaging infrastructure provider Aviary. PetaPixel writes,

Users of the app will now be able to apply powerful Lightroom presents, adjust all of the major parameters of their photos — Temperature, Tint, Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Clarity, Vibrance, Sharpen, Reduce Noise — using Adobe’s algorithms, and pull their more professional, fully-edited photos directly off of Adobe’s Creative Cloud and into the Snapwire portfolio/marketplace.

They’ll also be able to use Lightroom’s Upright feature to automatically correct perspective and rotation on photos.

[Via Meikel Steiding]

Pixel-mashing bots get into a Twitter fight

The Verge reports,

In the red corner, there was @pixelsorter, designed to create relaxed, fuzzy remixes of photos, like the one above. In the blue corner, @badpng was running every image through a broken PNG encoding algorithm, resulting in harsh compression and jarring color shifts. Pixelsorter’s creator, Way Spurr-Chen, sent the same photo to both bots, locking them in a potentially endless back-and-forth, chewing on the same image over and over until it disintegrated into a mess of pixels.

Click through to see the full weird progression/disintegration.


[Via Steven Johnson]