All posts by anarchyjim

Fake or Not Fake?

A picture can not lie. We all know the untruth of that these days. But what do you do when a picture isn’t lying, yet looks ‘obviously’ fake?

The below photo illustrates this to some degree:

photography sometimes captures real life in an unrealistic way
photography sometimes captures real life in an unrealistic way

This is a photo of a friend’s whale watching boat (Ultimate Whale Watch in Maui). Obviously, I shot this from a different boat while a whale swam up to and under the boat. I’m using a 70-200mm f2.8 lens, so I’ve got really narrow depth of field. As a consequence, the boat is razor sharp and everything else is pretty blurred.

If you saw the above image in a marketing brochure would you believe it?

Continue reading Fake or Not Fake?

My favorite photography ‘gear’ site

There are a lot of review sites out there. http://www.dpreview.com is a good one… however, my favorite is http://www.slrgear.com.

In truth, they really only do lenses, but it’s an incredible site. The most in depth reviews of lenses you can imagine, including an interactive 3D graph showing you the focus profiles at any given aperture/focal length. It’s hugely entertaining to play around with the 3D graph and see where the sweet spot is for the lens and where it starts to really break down… as far as sharpness and vignetting goes.

For example, I’ve got the Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. You can see looking at the SLRgear graph that at 1.4, the lens really isn’t that great. But once you get to 2.0 and especially 2.8, it’s a great lens. It’s a good thing to check if you want to get the most out of your lenses.

Here’s a screenshot:

Screenshot of slrgear.com's 3D Blur index for camera lenses (Tamron 70-200mm in this case)
Screenshot of slrgear.com's 3D Blur index for camera lenses (Tamron 70-200mm in this case)

Camera sensors

So an article discussing 2K vs. 4K images popped up on my radar today. It’s named ‘The Truth About 2K and 4K’ and is an interview with John Galt of panavision. It’s partially a marketing piece for Panavision, so take a grain of salt to some of the ‘truth’. On one hand he disparages the RED camera (panavision competitor) for not having a true 4K sensor (this is apprently true) and then later in the article he disparages IMAX (panavision competitor) for being 4K but that it doesn’t really matter because our eyes can normally only see 2K worth of detail.  Uh… so that means RED actually got it right?

The jist of it is that RED, like Canon/Nikon DSLRs, uses a sensor with a Bayer mosaic pattern. Each spot (viewsite) on the sensor only receives one color (R, G, or B). 4 (Green gets counted twice) of those are added up to produce one pixel in your camera. Because of this, technically the image RED produces (and Canon and Nikon and…) is interpolated. The alternative is to have each spot on the sensor record all three colors at once. There is a GREAT comparison of the Canon 5D with the Sigma SD14 (which does use a sensor that captures all three colors on the same spot) and explains the difference between sensors very well:

http://www.ddisoftware.com/sd14-5d/

Between both articles it brings up some interesting questions for RED users and for digital photographers.

Continue reading Camera sensors

Getting a telephoto lens into a sporting event

So in honor of the SuperBowl…

There are those of you who might own a relatively large telephoto and like sports. Usually, if you have a big lens attached to the camera, you’re not going to be allowed in, especially for big events. However, here’s a trick I’ve used to get my Canon 100-400mm lens into the BCS Title game, NFL Playoffs, and the NCAA tournament (among other things)…

Put a normal lens on the camera and put the telephoto lens in it’s case. Let someone else carry the camera in and you carry the lens in. If anyone asks about it… say it’s a binocular. The guys at the gate have no idea what a lens is unless it’s actually attached to the camera.

I’ve never been denied getting in.

Once in, it’s a little different story. You have to be somewhat stealthy about using it… especially if you have good seats. Where security along the sidelines can see you. I have been threatened with being kicked out if I didn’t stop using it. Dumbest move: had sideline seats at the 2006 BCS title game and got busted taking shots of warmups. They’ll give you a warning… but it made using it during the game a bit riskier because they’ve already seen you. So… don’t take shots of warmups or pregame crap. Nevertheless… got some good shots.

cheers,

Jim Tierney

http://www.digitalanarchy.com

https://digitalanarchy.com/blog

Reggie Bush running

Greenscreen Obama

Greenscreens are cropping up all over the place.

I was in DC for the inauguration and in my hotel you could get a picture with President Obama pretty much any time. The trick to this was that they had a green screen set up and they’d composite you into a picture with the Prez. (or Joe Biden… but c’mon… how many people are going to go for Joe?). It was pretty entertaining to see people lined up to do this. It’s pretty cool to see how prevalent greenscreens are becoming.

Here’s some shots of the setup….

the greenscreen

Continue reading Greenscreen Obama

Making 3D look real

So I just got a calendar from Maxon (makers of Cinema 4D). Some really nice examples of 3D art using their software. As I looked at the images, I was struck by how some were really difficult to tell from photographs and some were obviously 3D. The difference, I think, is depth of field.

Depth of field was really noticable. On too many 3D images the DOF is infinite. Meaning that buildings 300 yards away are in razor sharp focus and you can see every detail on the bricks that make up the building. While the artist may want you to appreciate all the hard work he put in adding fine details… I don’t want to see them. I want them blurred out.

Continue reading Making 3D look real

The Demise of Digital Railroad

It was very quick, and Digital Railroad is very dead.

It’s brings up one of the main concerns with ‘cloud’ computing… mainly, what happens when the cloud goes dark.

Cloud computing is sort of the generic term used for using someone else’s storage/processing power over the internet. Hotmail, Google Docs are a couple examples. All your information is stored on their server.

Now it’s a fairly safe bet that Google or Hotmail (microsoft) aren’t going out of business. However, it’s a much different story with smaller companies. Digital Railroad went dark and basically gave their users all of 10 hours notice to download their files. That’s not a whole lot of time. If you didn’t have the originals of the photos you were storing at DR, you were in trouble. They later added a couple days to the deadline, but still… not much time to download critical files (assuming you heard about it, weren’t out of the country, could even connect to their servers, etc., etc.).

Personally I think this is abominable way to treat customers. The guys running it should’ve sent notices out to customers months in advance that this was a possibility. To not do so is almost criminal. It was an entirely preventable situation and Charles Mauzy and co. completely failed the trust of the customers that supported them. It gives a bad name to the entire industry, but provides a look at how some companies are going to be run (going down to the last dollar and then just turning off the lights) and provides an example of worst practices.

Granted, you should never put all your eggs (or photos) in one basket, and always keep the originals tucked away somewhere. But some customers are always going to believe the hype (after all, companies spend a lot of money promoting the hype) and buy into the thought that the ‘cloud’ is a safe, infallible way of storing files. So the industry needs to be much better about notifying customers when, for whatever reason, their data is at risk and remind them in no uncertain terms that they should have copies of their data in multiple places.

For photographers, this means always making sure you have originals. If the hard drive dies that had those originals, it’s your responsibility to download from the backup site and create a new set of originals. Sites that offer these services, like Photo Shelter, can facilitate this by making it easy to download images with tags, catagories, and whatever else you might have done to the photos in the online environment.

This applies to other data as well. You should always personally have copies of such things as your web site, emails you wish to keep, and any other data that is stored online. Even large companies like Google can experience catastrophic problems that would result in you losing data or you could have a malicious employee/co-worker that has access to your online storage.

Cloud computing does offer a great many benefits and the behavior of one company shouldn’t (and won’t) mean that we toss the whole idea. It does make many things easier… backups, remote access, collaboration, and much more. But it’s important to understand the risks involved with any new technology and not just believe the hype.

cheers, Jim

The Demise of Adobe

… has been rather exaggerated. Ok, way over-exaggerated.

Layoffs happen at big companies. When things are great you tend to hire based on great expectations. It’s better to have too much capacity and grow into it than to be overwhelmed. The flip side is when things slow you need to trim down and unfortunately, that means layoffs. An 8% reduction in workforce really isn’t something that should be seen as that concerning. At least, from an end users perspective… for the folks getting laid off… yeah, it sucks. Although Adobe has been known to give nice severance packages.

Adobe laid off 150 people in 2001, and Macromedia laid off 170, which was 10% of the staff at the time (which was partially because of a merger, but if things had been booming I don’t think it would have been nearly as high). So layoffs are hardly unprecedented. If Adobe and Macromedia survived the dot.com implosion, I’m sure they’ll do ok this time around.

The other factor in all this is that it’s incredibly difficult to get loans or other financing right now. You would think (and this is WHOLE other rant) that with the banks getting all this taxpayer money they’d be back in business making loans. But no. Things are tighter now than they were 6 months ago.

So… companies like Adobe really need to conserve the cash they have on hand. They don’t have as much flexibility in ‘waiting and see’.

This was, at least from Adobe’s perspective, a smart and necessary thing to do. Digital Anarchy is dependent on Adobe products, and I’m not reading anything into this other than just the normal reaction to the reduced expectations that happen in a recession (We’ve been in one for about 9-12 months at this point).

For Digital Anarchy, we’re proceeding much like Adobe (minus the layoffs… we don’t have enough people as it is :-), cutting the costs we can and continuing to release products. We’ve got four products on schedule to be released over the next 3-4 months. With any recession you can’t stop investing in new products, but you do need to watch your costs very carefully. That’s all Adobe is doing.

cheers, Jim

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Jim Tierney
www.digitalanarchy.com
Digital Anarchy
Filters for Photography & Photoshop
f/x tools for revolutionaries
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Digital Photography and Childrens Books

An interesting story from Diane Berkenfeld over at Studio Photography magazine about the use of digital photos as illustrations in the childrens’ book “Babar USA.”

Not exactly revolutionary technology but it does make one think about how digital photography (from DSLRs to cell phones) is really become ingrained in the culture. Not only in the US, but the entire planet, particularly in third world countries where the cell phone is being used more as an all purpose computer since computers are too expensive.

cheers, Jim

Adobe CS4 Launch Event

Went to the filming of the Adobe launch event on Monday which was interesting. I’m not exactly sure who it was aimed at or what the purpose of it was, but I can’t say I was overly impressed by it. The products are cool enough with some great new features, but the event was trying too hard to be Oprah or something and just didn’t work. It would’ve been better if they’d filmed the hipster designers talking about some cool project they’d used CS4 on and showed the clips instead of having said hipster designers come on stage and fumble through a product demo. Ben Grossman from the Syndicate did a good job, but he didn’t talk about his stuff, just the standard Adobe demo material. I would’ve been much more impressed by a 3-5 minute clip of him showing where CS4 was used in the Radiohead video.

Then again, I’m just a jaded and cranky plugin developer. Maybe it worked for everyone else. ;-)

Continue reading Adobe CS4 Launch Event

Digital Anarchy Sells Video Plugins (a letter from Jim)

As some of you know we have sold off our film/video plugins to Red Giant Software to focus on the Photoshop side of our business. For the details you can read the press release here.

We’re pretty excited about this as we’ve got some great ideas for Photoshop and think Red Giant will do a great job of taking care of those of you who’ve been our customers on the video side of things. We feel passionately about all our products and it was a difficult decision to make changes. However, we felt we were stretched too thin trying to handle both film/video and Photoshop. I’ve been talking to Andrew over at Red Giant for some time about doing ’something’ together, so when the decision was made to focus on one side of the company or the other, they were naturally first people to talk to. I’ve known Andrew and Sean over there for quite awhile and they’ve got a great team put together. So I’m confident they’ll be able to support and upgrade the products moving forward. They have some big ideas for many of the products, so I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by many of the changes and updates they’ll be making over the next few months.

Continue reading Digital Anarchy Sells Video Plugins (a letter from Jim)

Visualizing Data

There’s a great thread on the AE List (www.media-motion.tv) about designing data graphics. Some really great links came up (thanks in particular to Rich Young). In truth, I love graphics derived from data. I think it can be truly beautiful to see how some data sets emerge visually. Our Data Animator 1.0 is just a baby step towards a more full featured set of plugins for really playing with data. Hope to do more with it soon. Some links…

There is the master of infographics, Edward Tufte:

http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/

If you do anything related to designing information graphics, his three books are must reads. They contain some beautiful examples of charts and graphs. If you didn’t think infographics could be beautiful you have not seen these books. One of my regrets with Data Animator 1.0 was that we couldn’t incorporate more of his ideas.

Continue reading Visualizing Data

fxPHD

The folks at fxPHD.com have started a new term. If you’re looking for visual effects training, they have some of the best out there, especially for the higher end stuff.

They are an excellent example of the new type of training available that I think either enhances traditional education or completely replaces it. For computer based artists, I really don’t know that the $25,000/yr schools give you your money’s worth.

cheers, Jim

Software As A Service

There was some talk at NAB of software as a service… moving all the apps online. While this is an interesting notion for word processors and spreadsheets, I really don’t think it works so well for design applications. Particularly video apps. The issue is that the amount of data we’re dealing with is increasing a lot faster than the bandwidth we have available to upload the stuff. How are you going to edit HD online? Or 4K? (or 5K! jeez…) Same applies to photos… sure, basic iPhoto type stuff _may_ be ripe for online… but even then I’m not sure. Most of the consumer cameras out there are 7-8 megapixels, and while one photo isn’t that big, it’s still pretty easy to generate a GB of shots. If you’re shooting 16mp, RAW files it’s pretty easy to generate 4gb of photos.

Not that it’s impossible to get all this uploaded, but it’s unwieldy. I think moving to online apps is an interesting idea, but for graphics I just don’t see it as being practical. At least, not until bandwidth is increasing as fast as the file sizes.

cheers, Jim

Are We Over NAB Yet?

Is anyone else completely over schelping out to the desert for a week every April?

I mean, the networking is great and useful, but with everyone having broadband I’m really beginning to doubt that I need to give one on one demos to every attendees for four days. There really has to be a better way of interacting with customers and showing off new products.

I’d love to see some comments on why we should keep going to NAB as an exhibitor. It just seems like there should be ways of reaching more of our customers, and doing it more efficiently than with tradeshows.

cheers, Jim

The Yahoo Of Evil

So the latest news re: Yahoo is that they’re looking for News Corp to save them from the evil clutches of Microsoft.

Yes, News Corp. The most excellent company that brings you the tabloid New York Post and the other bastion of high minded journalism – Fox news.

So somewhere in their muddled minds, Bill Gates is more evil than Rupert Murdoch. Are you kidding me?

I mean, sure, Bill and Microsoft are evil but they are evil in sort of a benign geeky way. Even Steve Jobs is more evil (evil marketing geniuses trump evil geeks… trust me on it… you don’t want to live in a world where Steve Jobs has 90% market share)

Continue reading The Yahoo Of Evil

Can Girls Do Math And Science?

As it turns out, yes, they can. But it makes it easier if you don’t say idiotic things like ‘girls can’t do math’.

There’s a great site I just ran into: www.girlsgotech.org

It’s run by the girl scouts and, obviously, is a tech site aimed at girls. Which personally I think is pretty awesome.

One of the interesting things about being in the software industry is the almost complete lack of woman, outside of the design/PR/sales parts of the industry. A female programmer is as rare as a non-caffeinated programmer. They exist, but you need to look pretty hard for them.

Continue reading Can Girls Do Math And Science?

Today’s Blog Brought To You By The letter “A”

Random thought of the day as we get ready to release our first product for Avid

I find it odd that the four major companies in our industry all start with an ‘A’. Adobe, Apple, AutoDesk, and Avid. It makes me miss the Discreet name even more. I still think it was an idiotic move to kill the Discreet brand… one of the best brands the industry has ever had and they punt it. Dumb. “Autodesk Entertainment and Media” just rolls off the tongue like a dead moose and invokes the image of legions of corporate AutoCad drones creating PowerPoint presentations that get turned into YouTube videos. mmm…. exciting.

Anyways… moving along before I get kicked out of AutoDesk’s developer program…

Actually that’s enough random thoughts for one day.

cheers, Jim

Overpriced Schools For Design, Visual Effects, Photography, Whatever

So let’s start off with the two basic points of this:

1) School is worth going to, but not necessarily the high priced ones. There is, usually, a lot to be gained from an education that can be difficult (although definitely not impossible as we’ll see) to pick up other ways. The truism “You get out, what you put in” applies to school as much or more than any other endeavor. However, ’school’ can have many meanings.

2) Starting off your career $50,000, $75,000, or more in debt is not a good way to kick things off. It’s difficult to say any education is worth that because there are so many good options for education that AREN’T that expensive.

It’s been an interesting phenomenon at Siggraph of late that the booths for the schools (Gnomon, Academy of Art, Brooks, etc) are bigger than the booths for most of the software companies or studios. This has always struck me as a little odd, until one of the folks I work with told me what the current tuition is at the school he graduated from. It’s pretty astronomical… which I guess explains the booth sizes.

Continue reading Overpriced Schools For Design, Visual Effects, Photography, Whatever

Cool Video Toys

This gadget came to my attention and I had to buy one. It’s the Jakks EyeClops Bionic Eye.

For $40 (from Amazon) you get an SD resolution macro video camera. If you’re fascinated by things that can only be seem with a high level of magnification this is great. The quality isn’t fantastic, but it’s good, especially considering it’s $40. It outputs via a standard (RCA) SD cable, so you should be able to capture the results.

A worthwhile toy for the video geek on your list…

cheers, Jim

On The Subject of NAB (and Avid)

Now that Avid has pulled out from NAB and won’t be exhibiting in 2008, here have been a lot of users and other folks wondering what it means and what the industry thinks of it. the immediate reaction of the entire industry was to exclaim, “No shit?” and 2.3 seconds later, after the full import of what that meant hit them, was to call their NAB sales rep and promise all manner of favors if they could move their booth to front and center of the show floor.

Since I’m hardly above such things (”I was young and poor and needed the booth space”), I joined in, attempting to move our Plugin Pavilion into the now vacant space of the Avid Developer Community booth. I even had the person from Avid that managed the ADC to call NAB on our behalf. All that got me was a terse email from our NAB rep saying we would definitely NOT be getting it. It’s the new sport in HD, groveling for Avid’s booth space. Look for it on the LVCC cafeteria monitors (instead of the usual strip club ads).

Continue reading On The Subject of NAB (and Avid)