Monthly Archives: April 2020

Open-source AR face doodling, right in your browser

Back when I was pitching myself for the job I somehow got in Google AI’s Perception group, I talked a lot about democratizing access to perceptive tech to enable permissionless innovation. Not that I can take any credit for it, but I love seeing more of the vision become reality through tech the team has built:

Yes, you can buy a Lego Joe Exotic

“Not the hero you want, need, or deserve. But here we are.⁠” 🐯😌

Are you a gun-wielding former presidential candidate tiger dealership owner willing to stop at nothing to smite your enemies? No? Good. We are full-up on those at the moment.

Get the perfect avatar for the hot mess that is 2020 – the Tiger Enthusiast! Not the hero we want, need, or deserve. But here we are.

Features a (surprisingly affordable) baby tiger cub and hand-injection molded mullet!

A lovely “Social Distance”

I imagine you’re as fatigued by all this stuff as I am—but honestly this piece is really touching & beautifully composed.

Spanning more than 30 countries, the film includes a breadth of perspectives, from a 93-year old Malayan grandmother to a 19-year old Slovenian man, and includes an original score that was remotely performed by musicians from around the world.


An amazing feat, told with the help of Google Earth

Honestly I never knew my old friend Wes Plate, a former Adobe video PM, to be terribly athletic—but man was I mistaken. Turns out he’s been killing it (thankfully not literally) in ultramarathons. I love the way he used Google Earth Studio to generate cinematic interstitials that help tell the story of him taking on last year’s Moab 240:

Here’s the full-length story if you’re interested:

A super creative Zoom call as music video

I’m reminded of really clever OKGO vids of yore. Colossal writes,

Nguyen recently told The Verge that the band rehearsed for five hours before taking a day to film the entire piece. Equipped with strong wifi connections, the group utilized a metronome before beginning to ensure they were all on the same beat. “Certain dance moves had to be adjusted to look good in Zoom’s gallery view and didn’t translate if they were too chaotic. We found that the moves had to be really clean and clear and simple. I had to be the focal point and if too much was happening you wouldn’t know exactly where to look,” she said.

BBC brings Sir David Attenborough & 200 other teachers home to kids

I love to see people & orgs continuing to step up like this:

The BBC has set up a segment, Bitesize Daily, for children to continue learning during the coronavirus lockdown. It will include over 200 teachers, including celebrities, who will provide educational content to kids in the UK. The BBC teamed up with teachers and education specialists to come up with this 14-week program.

Sir David Attenborough will step in as a virtual teacher, covering the world map, oceans and animals in the wildlife in his lessons.

Netflix puts dozens of educational programs on YouTube for free

“Y’know… for kids!” Kottke writes,

With schools not in sessions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Netflix has decided to put some of their educational programming on YouTube for free (full playlist here). For instance, they’ve put all 8 episodes of David Attenborough’s nature series Our Planet online in their entirety. Here’s the first episode:

In addition,

Eight full episodes of the first season of Abstract: The Art of Design are also available on YouTube (discussion guide). Here’s the episode featuring illustrator Christoph Niemann:

New public betas available for Adobe video apps

I somehow overlooked last month’s announcement of a public beta program for Adobe DVA apps:

Today a small group of users will become the first Adobe Creative Cloud members to find Beta versions of the Adobe video and audio apps available in the Creative Cloud Desktop app. This marks the start of a public Beta program which will roll out incrementally over the coming months, until it is available to all Creative Cloud members.

Now O.G.’s David Simons & Jason Levine have given a live overview and Q&A covering the project:

The new public Beta program started rolling out to Creative Cloud members earlier this year. On Friday, join this discussion and live Q&A with Jason Levine and David Simons, Adobe Fellow, who has been leading the initiative. If the name rings a bell: Dave is one of the inventors of After Effects, for which he won a technical Academy Award, and Adobe Character Animator, which won him a technical Emmy.

Premiere Pro introduces productions

Not to be confused with cloud-hosted Team Projects, this new feature is geared towards editors working together on premises:

Productions connects Premiere Pro project files, making them into components of the larger workflow.

Media referencing across projects means you can reuse assets within your Production without creating duplicate files. Using shared local storage, multiple editors can work on different projects in the same production. Project Locking ensures that no one overwrites your work.

You control your content: Productions use shared local storage and can be used without an internet connection.

Adobe teams up with Shepard Fairey, invites you to honor healthcare workers

Here’s how it works:

  • “Choose a person you’d like to honor.
  • Use Photoshop or your favorite creative app to create a portrait.
  • Share on Instagram or Twitter with #HonorHeroes and tag @Adobe.”

The campaign will see creatives from around the world coming together to express gratitude through original works. The first piece comes from founder of street fashion giant OBEY, Shepard Fairey, who created a personal tribute via an illustration called Guts not Glory

In the coming weeks, you can expect to see other personal works from artists such as Aaron DraplinDonna Adi Jessica Walsh and Ignasi Monreal.


Adobe makes Team Projects free to editors & animators into August

My wife & her team have been working hard to support freelancers & other video professionals collaborating remotely. Here’s some great news:

[W]e are pleased to extend the availability of Adobe’s Team Projects video collaboration capabilities to Premiere Pro and After Effects users with a Creative Cloud for individual license… until August 17, 2020, at no additional cost. […]

Team Projects is a cloud-hosted collaboration service that allows editors and motion graphics artists to work within Premiere Pro and After Effects. With Team Projects, colleagues can collaborate on video projects from anywhere by syncing changes through the cloud. All you need to do is connect to the Team Projects service and create a team project in Adobe Premiere Pro or After Effects.

Project files are stored and saved in Creative Cloud, so you can revert and sync project files across multiple workstations.

Check out the rest of the post for an FAQ and other details.

Google Classroom integrates Meet video conferencing, free to schools

As a parent of kids who rely on Google Classroom via a pair of cheap-n-cheerful Chromebooks we scored last month, I’m happy to see that Google is making premium features free to students through the end of September:

In order to support ongoing institutional needs, we’ve extended access to premium Meet features at no cost for all G Suite for Education and G Suite Enterprise for Education users until September 30, 2020. This means you can have meetings for up to 250 participants per call, live streams for up to 100,000 viewers within your domain, and record meetings and save them to Google Drive. 

Check out the Keyword blog for lots of details on password-controlled access & more.

Build an AI twin to attend video calls in your absence

Hah–this is rather brilliant:

Reed has shared a longer explainer of how his Zoombot works over on redpepper’s website, but it started with a handful of selfie screenshots he snapped in Quicktime of himself sitting at his desk, with various head poses and states of speech, while staring at his computer’s webcam. These were then used as source material for a custom webapp Reed created that relies on an open-source tool called Artyom.js that can trigger automated synthesized responses using voice recognition.

[Via Rajat Paharia]

Google Doodle “Back to the Moon” jumps to AR

Et voila:

VR Scout writes,

The fully immersive AR experience brings to life a magical world crafted by Georges Méliès, a French illusionist and film director from the early 1900’s… Back to the Moon transports you into Méliès magical world inspired by some of his most well-known films. The experience honors Méliès unique style of filmmaking, highlighting several of his groundbreaking techniques… [It] features an original score by composer Mathieu Alvado performed by the legendary London Symphony Orchestra.

Download Back to the Moon in AR through the free Google Spotlights Stories app on Android or iOS.


Happy 10th birthday to Content-Aware Phil

Somehow (somehow!) it’s been exactly 10 years since Photoshop CS5 was released, bringing Content-Aware Fill, 64-bit performance on Mac & Windows, and more.

It’s a bittersweet milestone for me, as CS5 proved to be the last release of PS on which I worked full time before transitioning to mobile experimentation (PS Touch, more) and video. Seems like just yesterday I was sitting in this gazebo ahead of launch, furiously testing Content-Aware Fill on pics taken here of the then-infant kids of fellow PMs Tom Hogarty & Bryan O’Neil Hughes. So much different, so much unchanged. Let’s see what the next 10 years bring.

Just for old times’ sake, here’s the original CAF sneak peek vid:


Charmingly low-fi AR: Skiing in the living room


As PetaPixel notes,

“Just before the current health situation locked us in, I was about to go Freeriding with my family. It was supposed to be the big adventure of the year, the one I had been eagerly awaiting for a year,” explains Herrero. “Therefore, the lockdown had me thinking about skiing the whole time, so I started to think how I could ski without leaving my living room.”


“Prairie Wind,” lovely high-res storm photography

Sure, you might say: spending hundreds of dollars on a 4K monitor only to touch it to your expensive work Mac & have the latter apparently fry its circuit board, leaving you to gimp along for an indeterminate amount of time, sounds like a crappy idea–but hey, this footage sure looks good on it (plugged into loaner Chromebook), amirite?

From the description on Vimeo:

Directed and photographed by veteran storm chaser Martin Lisius, “Prairie Wind” represents the world’s first film produced on 16K video. His goal was to photograph the storms of America’s Great Plains on the largest canvas possible. “These amazing storms offer us a glimpse of what our world once was, and inspires us to protect and preserve what remains,” Lisius said. “The sky over the prairie is huge. I wanted to create a medium large enough to capture and properly present it on.”

Lisius shot the production utilizing two side by side 50MP Canon DSLRS. Shooting required the use of a custom-made mount to keep the two cameras perfectly aligned, 8,000 miles of travel through six states, and dozens of carefully prepared weather forecasts.

During post-production, 12,000 images were stitched together to create one 15,985 x 5792 pixel image using a Mac Pro workstation. Each shot required a minimum of 5 days to prepare with the computer working around the clock. To keep the processors from melting, the Mac was cooled by two powerful external fans.

Directed and photographed by Martin Lisius.

Google Cloud releases COVID-19 data sets to foster coronavirus-fighting AI models


To aid researchers, data scientists, and analysts in the effort to combat COVID-19, we are making a hosted repository of public datasets, like Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (JHU CSSE), the Global Health Data from the World Bank, and OpenStreetMap data, free to access and query through our COVID-19 Public Dataset Program. Researchers can also use BigQuery ML to train advanced machine learning models with this data right inside BigQuery at no additional cost.