Monthly Archives: December 2015

Apple now owns this facial animation technology

“Faceshift studio is a facial motion capture software solution which revolutionizes facial animation, making it possible at every desk,” says the company, recently acquired by Apple. I have no idea what they’ll put the people or technology towards, but given that Apple also owns PrimeSense, the folks who created the brains behind the Kinect motion-sensing system, it’s fun to speculate.


A rather charming father-son ad from Canon

Okay, yes, my inner cynic says that for-profit art schools churn out more “professional photographers” in a year than such jobs exist in the whole country, and that million-view videos online generally pay their creators just a couple of grand at best. Still, there’s more value in a visual education than just getting a job, and I like the spirit of this narrative (as would Max Fischer):

[YouTube] [Via Justin Oliver]

Bill Murray + Wu-Tang Clan vs. Martin Shkreli, animated

I… I have no words for this. Having had their one-of-a-kind album purchased for $2M by the hated (and quite possibly felonious) Pharma Bro, Wu-Tang clan may be plotting a “heist or caper” to reclaim it:

Perhaps the zaniest detail to be revealed was an alleged clause in the contract that allows members of Wu-Tang Clan and/or Bill Murray to steal the album back from its owner.

“Take dead aim on the rich boys…”

Wow. [YouTube]

Let’s drop acid & animate Star Wars

Having loved everything from Tauntauns to the ED-209, I’ve long known Phil Tippett’s name, but until seeing this frank documentary, I knew little about the man himself. It’s an enlightening tour through both film history (from the cantina scene in Star Wars to the CGI revolution & beyond) and the story of a passionate, often suffering artist. Enjoy.

Bonus: Adam Savage visited with Phil about using photogrammetry & 3D printing in order to recreate the Millennium Falcon’s holochess board:

And—what the heck, it’s Christmas!—here’s Dennis Muren talking about how they created the Rancor monster. I remember Stu Maschwitz telling me about how the scene didn’t really work until the animators added a big chunk of spittle to the creature’s mouth. Its swinging really sold the animal’s scale.


Google will turn your phone into a lightsaber

For real! Check out to pair your phone with your computer, then use it as a controller:

Here’s a dude playing it.

The 3D graphics you see were built with WebGL and the 3D renders pretty damn fast on your computer. The real-time communication between your phone and computer are thanks to WebRTC and WebSockets, and there’s no lag or latency that I could notice. No plug-ins needed. Yes, Google is showing off its web chops with this experience.

If you’re super into how Google did this, head over to its developer case study.


Creepy tech o’ the day: Using one celebrity face to animate others

Uhh… how’s this for putting words in someone’s mouth?

The researchers who created it explain,

Here textured 3D models are reconstructed for famous people using only 2D photos from the internet and are driven by a video of George W. Bush. This is a result from our paper “What Makes Tom Hanks Look Like Tom Hanks” submitted to International Conference on Computer Vision 2015.

[YouTube] [Via]

A pair of amazing books

This Book Is A Camera—really!

PetaPixel explains,

“I wanted to make a working camera within an educational pop-up book—one that connects the dots between design and science/structure and function,” Anderson writes. This book does just that — it both explains and demonstrates how a camera uses light to produce a photograph. […]

Anderson is self-publishing “This Book is a Camera,” and it’s currently available for $29 on her website. If you like do-it-yourself projects, Anderson has also generously made her camera’s design available for free as a PDF under a Creative Commons license. 

Elsewhere, The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home claims to be “the most technologically advanced picture book ever created”:

[YouTube] [Via Margot]

Seminars this week: Doing real design work on iPad

I suppose it would be poor form for me to cut class at Google this week to go see this seminar 🙂 , but I wish I could: My old friend & fellow Photoshop PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes is giving a series of demos this week. Khoi Vinh writes,

He’s hosting three events at Apple Stores in San Francisco (on Tuesday), Chicago (on Thursday), and here in New York City (on Friday). He’ll be showing not just the apps that you can download for free in the App Store, but also the frankly impressive workflow infrastructure that Adobe has built to make shifting work between apps on iPhone, iPad and Macs incredibly seamless.

Should be really interesting. [Via]

AdobeMobileApps SF Facebook

Art: Opening a Portal to Afghanistan

Shipping container as cross-cultural wormhole? That’s the goal of this Kickstarter project:

Portals are a global public art initiative created by Shared_Studios.  They are shipping containers that are painted gold and set up with immersive human-scaled video-chat in cities all over the globe. People enter these Portals to collaborate or just have a conversation with someone across the world as if in the same room.

Photoshop: You can now drag layers from panel to tab

Ah, the wheels of justice grind slow, but they grind fine… 🙂

After five+ years of customer requests (during which time, I swear to God, the team really did want to make this tweak), you can now select one or more layers and/or groups in the Photoshop layers panel, then drag them to the tab of another doc, have it pop to the foreground, and then drop them in. Just make sure you’ve run the latest update to Photoshop CC. Thanks to Tai Luxon, Jeff Tranberry, and everyone else who made this happen.

Latest Google Photos for iOS improves backup, frees up space, more

In addition to shared albums, this week’s release makes backup more reliable & up to 4x faster. Also:

There’s also a new way to free up space on your device – without losing a photo. Just navigate to Settings and tap “Free up space.” Photos that are safely backed up will be removed from your device’s storage, but will still be available in Google Photos.

Yes, you can finally stop worrying about running out of space on your phone.

Also in this update:

  • Chromecast support: Cast your photos and videos to your TV, even if they haven’t been backed up yet. And don’t worry – when you’re casting, people will only see the photos you tap on.
  • When selecting photos, you can now pinch to zoom in and out.
  • Performance improvements.

Shared Albums arrive in Google Photos!

I think you’re gonna dig this. Quick demo:

For details check out Drew Olanoff’s TechCrunch chat with David Lieb. Dave leads the Photos PM team, and at Bump (where he was CEO) the team learned some important lessons building the collaborative photography app Flock. Dave says from experience,

It’s gotta be really simple to use this product. Lots of startups have tried to solve this problem, but failed. The friction is too high.

To that end, to collaborate with Google Photos:

People don’t need a Google account or any app to view the photos you share with them. To add their own, they just need a Google account.

 Drew mentions some of the creative potential that can be driven from pooled assets:

One of the more popular set of features in Google Photos is everything that happens within the “Assistant” tab. Right now, the photos that everyone shares in an album don’t get any special treatment, but hopefully that’ll change. Imagine sharing a few photos, your friends and family do the same and then boom…you have a killer collage or animation from many different perspectives. It most certainly is doable, and when you think about the possibilities for video, Google’s latest acquisition FlyLabs could become very handy for all of this.

Feedback is, as always, most welcome!


Apple enables SD-to-iPhone import

Last year I waxed a little nostalgic & appreciative:

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.

At the time one couldn’t plug Apple’s Camera Connection Kit into the phone. Things have changed, however: According to PetaPixel, iOS 9.2 Lets You Import Photos to an iPhone Directly From a Camera or via the Lightning-to-SD-card reader. On the new iPad Pro, that means transfer speeds that can theoretically be 10x faster (see previous).

My ideal world, as of late 2015:

  • 128GB phone with USB 3.0 speed
  • On-the-fly import of raw files as DNG proxies (massively smaller, but 99% as flexible as raw originals)
  • Preservation of raw originals on the card (as I don’t need or want all the original bits clogging up my phone)
  • Backup of originals later (via desktop upload) + syncing of edits performed to DNG proxies

For this I’d more than happily stick a short, $29 cable into my pocket every time I took my SLR for a spin.

A motion graphics demo reel from 1978

I suddenly feel like my head is being slowly compressed inside a giant Trapper Keeper—but I can kinda dig it.

Jeff Doud from the Sullivan & Marks team writes,

All this work was shot on motion control backlit cameras. Much of the production was done on an Oxberry at R&B Efx. Later we were shooting primarily on custom moco setups with Gehring Aviation. These setups worked by configuring stepping motors that were C-clamped together to control a flying lightbox. Multiple passes were required for each color or effect. Many times bi-pack mattes would be created in advance of shooting the final animation and bi-packed into the camera with the original negative. All effects were wedge tested for exposure, and the final animation would typically require 4-12 hours to complete.

Bonus from a couple of years back: Wang!

 [Vimeo] [YouTube] [Via Benedict Evans]

Photo sphere support comes to Google Photos Web

I hereby apologize in advance to my wife & kids: I’ll now be capturing even more spherical panoramas via the Street View app, meaning I’ll be stopping and lagging behind for a couple of minutes per capture. Sorry, guys: I’ve you’ve gotta suffer for my art. 🙂

If you’ve captured any spheres, you can find them on Google Photos online by searching for searching for #photosphere, then click each & interactively navigate around. Here are a few of mine.

To make them embeddable (like the one below), share them on Google Maps via the Street View app.

Capture VR panoramas with Google’s new Cardboard Camera

The new app captures sound & depth that you can see and hear in virtual reality.Launchpromo flow02 lrg

TechCrunch writes,

Cardboard Camera pulls off a bit of trickery to simulate depth within your photos (making near things look near, and far things look far), and then sends slightly different photos to each eye — thereby simulating the appearance of a 3D environment.

It’s not actually 3D, of course — you won’t be able to move around within it. But it’s quite a bit cooler than a flat, static image. Add in Cardboard Camera’s ability to attach sound from the environment to each VR Photo, and it actually starts to feel pretty darn immersive.

Google Cultural Institute adds 360º tours of famous performing arts venues

Days of miracle & wonder, man. 


You can browse performances and everything that goes on on- and off-stage at more than 60 institutions—including the world famous Carnegie Hall, to the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Berliner Philharmoniker. Moving east, I’ve selected some highlights from our partners in Asia-Pacific—the Queensland Performing Arts Center in Australia, the Dilli Gharana and Natural Streets For Performing Arts Foundation in India, Aomori Nebuta Matsuri in Japan, and the National Theatre of Korea, National Gugak Center and Kukkiwon in Korea.

[YouTube] [Via]

Werewolves, man, werewolves: Character Animator gets fun new features

My pal Dave demos what he & the After Effects founders have been up to lately:

  • Sticks let you add rigid parts to characters by drawing a line over them.
  • Take Blending allows multiple performance capture recordings to blend together seamlessly.
  • “Split Lip Sync Into Visemes” gives you a way to edit individual mouth shapes for more precise lip sync tweaking.
  • With multi-touch support, you can control a character’s draggable parts with your fingers on touch-enabled screens.
  • Slow Recording options let you record performances at a slower speed for quicker, more nuanced motions at normal playback speed.
  • Latched Key Triggers provide a way for keyboard inputs to do new actions, like make a smoke puff appear and turn a character into a werewolf.
  • Head Turner Camera Control allows you to control a character’s 5 different head positions with your head in a webcam.


Photoshop looks different today

Wow, props for boldness: This week’s Photoshop CC update introduces a giant new Start workspace, larger tabs (easier to touch), a flatter UI, and more. Check out this quick tour from Julieanne Kost:

I still maintain that few people will actually use toolbar customization until it becomes easily synced/shared (e.g. let me type in the name of a leading designer and apply her panel layout, toolbar, and presets to my copy of PS). It also seems odd that you apparently can’t create multiple visible toolbars as Illustrator has supported for many years. I know, though, that it can take a long time for a full product vision to reach fruition, so it’s possible that more changes are coming. I’m sure the team would welcome your feedback on what’s important.