Category Archives: Industry Stuff

EL Capitan, Plugins and the Anarchist

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First off, the important bit: All the current versions of our plugins are updated for El Capitan and should be working, regardless of host application (After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Davinci Resolve, etc). So you can go to our demo page:

http://digitalanarchy.com/demos/main.html

And download the most recent version of your plugins.

If you haven’t upgraded to El Capitan, I’ll add to the chorus of people saying… Don’t. Overall we’re disappointed by Apple as continues its march towards making the Mac work like the iPhone. Making professional uses more and more obsolete. They’re trying way too hard to make the machines idiot proof and in the process dumbing down what can be done with it.

One of the latest examples is, of all things, Disk Utility. You can no longer make a RAID using it and have to use a terminal command. They’ve removed other functionality as well, but for many professional users RAIDs are essential as is Disk Utility. However, it’s now been crippled.

Of course, then there’s Final Cut Pro (which has gotten better but still doesn’t feel like a professional app to many people), Photos which replaced Apple’s pro app Aperture, and the Mac Pro trashcan. (kind of sad that when we need a ‘new’ Mac, usually we buy a 2010-12 12-core Mac Pro, they outperform our D500 trashcan)

Apple isn’t alone in this ‘dumbing down’ trend. Just look at latest releases of Acrobat (which I’ve heard referred to as the Fischer Price version) and Lightroom.

Note to Application Developers- Just because we’re doing a lot of things with our phones does not mean we want to do everything on them or have our desktop apps work like phone apps. There’s a difference between simplicity, making the user experience clear and intuitive but retaining features that make the apps powerful, and stupidity, i.e. making the apps idiot proof.

Anyways, end of rant… I spend a fair amount of time thinking about software usability, since we have to strike that balance between ease of use and power with our own video plugins, and using the host applications and OS professionally. So this ‘dumbing down’ concerns me both for my personal uses and having to help DA customers navigate new ‘features’ that affect our photo and video plugins.

Cheers,

Jim Tierney
Chief Executive Anarchist
Digital Anarchy

Customers That Piss Me Off

Let’s say you did some work for a client 3 or 4 years ago. A promotional video featuring upper management or something. They come back now and want you to redo the video with current management but everything else can stay the same. Just re-shoot a few people and drop them into the old video. Of course, because this is clearly so easy and they paid you once before, they want you to do it for free. What would you tell them?

We have people do this to us all the time. People who buy a new Mac, upgrade to FCP X, and get all pissy when we tell them they’ll have to buy an upgrade from us. Then they threaten to run off to BitTorrent because, you know, they paid us once four years ago.

It requires a TON of work to keep software working with all the changes Apple, Adobe, Nvidia and everyone else keeps making. Most of this work we do for free because they’re small incremental changes. Every time you see Beauty Box v3.0.1 or 3.0.2 or 3.0.7 (the current one)… you can assume a lot of work went into that and you don’t have to pay anything. However, eventually the changes add up or Apple (most of the time it’s Apple) does some crazy thing that means we need to rewrite large portions of the plug-in. As happened when FCP went from 7 to X. It’s too much work to do for free. We still need to eat and pay rent.

We want to support our customers. The reason we develop this stuff is because it’s awesome to see the cool things you all do with what we throw out there. However, shelling out $199 does not mean we can support you indefinitely. How much money has that software made you or how much time has it saved you in the three or four years since you bought it? We want to support you, but if we go out of business, that’s probably not going to benefit either of us.

We realize most of our customers understand what it takes to keep our software up to date. We are very grateful to you. We also realize forced upgrades suck and understand the frustration that goes with them. (we buy a lot of software too) Just understand that as a third party/plug-in developer we’re highly dependent on other companies. When one of those companies makes a big change, it usually takes a lot of work to keep things running.

Sorry for the rant, just something that needed to be said (and probably won’t be read by the people that need to read it). Just a little blog therapy that breaks most of the rules of Marketing 101. ;-)

It’s a 4K World! … or not.

A survey released lately seem to indicate that, despite all the marketing, there’s little consumer interest in 4K… or UltraHD as it’s now called. It’s estimated that it’s going to take until 2017, at least, for 4K televisions to make up more than 5% of the market.

Having just got back from CES and seeing all the latest and great 4K stuff, it’s fairly obvious as to why. It’s not that much better. Manufacturers are touting all sorts of crazy things to justify 4K… you can have the picture spread across two screens! You can look at more of your surveillance cameras on one screen! All sorts of great ideas that try to get around the fact that the one thing you don’t want to do is buy a 4K TV just to WATCH it. The picture is a little better than standard HD, but on a screen of less than 90″, it’s just not that noticable. I can see the eyes of the quarterback just fine in HD. I don’t need to see his nose hairs.

Of course, showing all that skin detail is great for stuff like Beauty Box, so we’re looking forward to the 4K revolution. However, if you’re worried about producing 4K content, you can probably relax. It’s going to be a long while before anyone can watch it.

Creative Cloud from a Software Design Perspective

The Creative Cloud has gotten mixed reviews from users. Many users don’t like the idea of ‘renting’ software and feel Adobe is forcing them to pay more or gouging them. While this may or may not be true, there are other reasons for Adobe wanting to make this switch.

Software is traditionally done in big releases. You work for a year or more and deliver the final product with much fanfare. This is a feast or famine type of thing… users get all or nothing and the company bets the farm that the release is all that and a bag of potato chips. This really isn’t great for either users or the company.

Continue reading Creative Cloud from a Software Design Perspective

Patent Trolls

The other day I had a friend call and ask me if I could help him out with some info about visual effects. He’s not in the industry, so I wondered about this, but I gave him a call back ready to help him out if I could. As it turns out he was looking for information about Match Moving. It’s not something I know a ton about, but I know some people that I could refer him to. I asked him why he was looking for the info. He mentioned he was working for a company doing some research for a patent they own. I asked him if this company had a product related to match moving? No. Were they thinking about building a product? No. So basically they’re a patent troll? At which point he admitted he was working for a patent troll. It’s good money apparently.

IMHO, patent trolls are the terrorists of the tech industry. (note: I’m not saying they are terrorists, they aren’t killing people)

Continue reading Patent Trolls

What Does the Creative Cloud Mean to You?

Last month we asked folks to do a survey about the Creative Cloud and how they felt about it. I thought I’d share the results as some of you may also be curious what you’re fellow users are thinking about the Creative Cloud.

Creative Cloud

Keep in mind that the survey was done before Adobe announced the price drop on Photoshop & Lightroom to $10/mo. So the data is already somewhat out of date, but maybe sheds some light on why they dropped the price.

Continue reading What Does the Creative Cloud Mean to You?

Sorry Leap Motion, Like 3DTV, Nobody Wants You

Let’s get one thing straight… consumers don’t like 3D. Well, ok, they like 3D for about 5 seconds then ADD kicks in and they get over it. (Gamers are an exception of course) Tech geeks, and especially graphics geeks, LOVE 3D.

For everyone else it’s mostly… Meh.

Nobody wants 3D on the web (except for gamers), nobody wants 3DTVs, and nobody is going to want a controller that works in 3D space (except gamers). It’s cool technology, but it is definitely a solution desperately searching for a problem. The problem is, there is no problem.

But some people don’t get it. Just as Microsoft failed to grasp that desktop computers are not tablets, Leap Motion is failing to grasp that desktop computers are not game machines. They are occasionally used as game machines, but when you’re not playing a game, you don’t want your computer to act like a Wii. I don’t think they even understand games, as gaming on the desktop is not usually a group activity like the Wii.  This failure of understanding is leading to some things like this unintentionally funny video showing how to use Final Cut Pro X to edit video with a wave of your hand. I’ve always wanted to be Tom Cruise, but… er, well, actually I don’t want to be Tom Cruise. Nevermind. So much for the one redeeming thing about that.

I can see some very niche uses for the Leap Motion device. Where there are groups of people around a screen (like Minority Report) it has the potential to be useful. For everyday computing or things like video editing? It’s ridiculous. Yes, some early adopter folks will buy it. However, it will eventually end up in the box in the back of their closet marked: ‘Things I will put in the tech museum I’ll open in my garage in 25 years’

Speeding Up Beauty Box Video

We’ve come along way from Beauty Box Video 1.0, which was pretty slow. It’s now as fast as any other solution out there, and BB still offers the easiest and highest quality way of doing retouching for HD, 4K, and film. That said, it still requires a render and there are various things that can slow it down. It can really slow FCP X down if FCP isn’t configured correctly.

What should you expect speed-wise from Beauty Box?

A minute of HD video should take from 3-10 minutes to render out on a reasonably fast machine. So let’s discuss how to get those faster speeds. If you have a fast video card (say, the Nvidia 680 in an iMac) and are seeing really slow speeds, make sure you read to the end were we discuss the configuration file BB uses.

After Effects: Beauty Box will render faster in AE than any other host app. This is primarily because of how AE handles multiprocessing. It’s far better than any of the video editing apps. It requires a fair amount of RAM to really take advantage of, but it can run very fast. If it’s possible, we recommend doing the Beauty Box pass in AE, and then bring the intermediary file into your editing app to cut.

Final Cut Pro 7 & X: If you’re using FCP X, turn off background rendering. Background rendering works great with basic filters, but when you have something that’s render intensive like Beauty Box background rendering will bring FCP X to it’s knees. Also, turn off scrubbing. FCP will start caching frames and, again, start rendering multiple frames in the background which will really make FCP sluggish. Generally, we recommend either applying BB first, and then turning it off as you’re editing, OR applying it last. Applying it last is the preferred way. You can take your edit, create a compound clip, and then apply Beauty Box to the compound clip. In FCP 7, a compound clip is called ‘Nest’.

Premiere Pro: Similar in some respects to what happens in Final Cut Pro. It’s not a real-time effects, so it’ll prevent the Mercury engine from rendering in real-time. So, again, you want to apply Beauty Box either before you start editing (and turn it off while you edit) or apply it as the last step after editing and color correction (recommended).

Video Cards: Beauty Box is accelerated using OpenCL. This means it’ll get a massive speed boost from newer Nvidia and AMD video cards. In practice, this speed boost can vary quite a bit. We’ve run into more problems with AMD cards than Nvidia, so we recommend Nvidia cards if possible. Although, usually AMD cards are fine, so it’s not a huge deal. It does tend to be a bit more of a problem on the Mac where Apple creates the drivers. The AMD drivers tend to be more problematic than Nvidia’s. Regardless of which video card you have, we recommend getting the most recent Mac OS (and staying current with updates). Apple rolls driver fixes into the latest OS, so if you’re using an older OS, it’s potentially a problem. If you’re on Windows, you can just download the latest drivers, so it’s less of an issue.

What video card to get?

We still like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 as being the best price/performance option out there. For video applications, the Quadro cards don’t offer a lot of benefits. They tend to be slower and you’re paying for features that are more applicable to engineering/3D apps. If you do a lot of 3D work, the Quadro might be a better choice (I don’t do much 3D, so I can’t comment on that). The newer GeForce cards like the GTX 680 and GTX Titan are great, but don’t necessarily offer the speed boost to justify the extra cost. They are faster, so if you’re looking for the absolute fastest card then the Titan or GTX 690 is a great choice. Both cards require a ton of power, so make sure you’ve got a small nuclear power plant as your power supply.

OpenCL Configuration File

Beauty Box creates a special configuration file for the video cards in your system. This makes a file that you can send us that helps us troubleshoot any problems and it also keeps track of whether a given video card is crashing when used with BB. If the video card is always crashing this is a good thing. However, sometimes you’ll have a random one-off crash and BB will disable OpenCL. This will cause a dramatic slowdown in rendering. The solution is to delete the configuration file. BB will then recreate a default file next time it starts and rendering speeds will be back to normal. But you need to know where it is to delete it, so here are the locations:

Windows: Documents\Digital Anarchy\DA_OpenCL_Devices.txt

Mac: Users\Shared\Digital Anarchy\DA_OpenCL_Devices.txt

Happy rendering… :-)

The Unreal World of Retouching

I always find it interesting why creative directors feel it necessary to retouch certain images. A great collection of photos showing before/after retouching are below. Some obviously need it, like 50-something Madonna trying to look like a twenty-something. However, shots like the Jennifer Lawrence example are something of a mystery. Beautiful woman with a great body made to look rail thin, for no real good reason… other than the anorexic look is what everyone aspires to. Sad. Here’s a link to all the images (the two mentioned are below, but there are a couple dozen on the Imgur page http://imgur.com/a/zRmEM):

Greenscreen Tips for Shooting Video

There was a question the other day on the After Effects List about tips for successfully shooting greenscreen. A couple good links were suggested (see below), but one that stood out was rotating the video camera vertically. If you’re shooting a person standing, and they’re going to be keyed anyways so you don’t need the extra space horizontally, use the wide part of the camera to capture more vertical resolution. It was also a reminder that shooting greenscreen is difficult even for pros.

Great tips from Jonas Hummelstrand:

http://generalspecialist.com/greenscreen-and-bluescreen-checklist/

and from the After Effects Help section!

http://adobe.ly/RNe3pz

More vertical resolution, anyone?

Vertical resolution is good for greenscreen video

NAB Trends

What’s Trending at NAB

Around this time of the year, you start seeing a lot of talk about what’s going to be released at NAB. It’s always interesting to look at some of the larger trends that are out there. Of course, what’s trending for Digital Anarchy is Beauty Box 3.0. The photo version just got released (see below) and the video version is not far behind. But beyond that…

NAB Plugins Software After Effects Final Cut Pro

There are some of the obvious ones:

Continue reading NAB Trends

The MacPro and Does Anyone Really Need It?

Apple has confirmed several times that a new MacPro is coming, so I believe them. There have been some good blog posts recently about this, notably Larry Jordan’s. The spat Apple has with the EU that has resulted in them not selling MacPros in Europe is mostly irrevelent. (Not completely, as you’ll see in a moment…)

So I’ll jump into the fray. Yes, I’m playing armchair psychologist here. I have no inside info and am making all this up based simply on having watched Apple intently (and been subjected to their whims) for 25 years as a customer and developer. Take it for what it’s worth.

So why the about face when it looked like the MacPro was done for just a year or so ago? I think the main fact is that Steve Jobs is no longer with the company.

Continue reading The MacPro and Does Anyone Really Need It?

Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 in a Macintosh

All the speed tests we’ve done with Beauty Box on Windows show the Nvidia GeForce video cards to outpace their much more expensive cousins, the Quadros, significantly. A GTX 570 (~$270) is about 25-30% faster than a Quadro 4000 ($800).

Since Beauty Box can involve some render time, we’ve wished that Apple would authorize one of the newer GeForce cards for the Mac. No such luck. So we’re tired of waiting. We took a stock PNY GeForce 570 and put it into our MacPro. And lo! It works!

So… what’d we do and what are the caveats? This was not a 570 with ‘flashed’ ROM. This was just a straight up 570 which we use in one of our PC machines. Nothing fancy. We did need to download a few things:

– Latest Nvidia driver for the Mac, which can be found here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/macosx-304.00.05f02-driver.html

– Latest CUDA drivers for the Mac, which can be found here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/mac-driver-archive.html (as of this writing, v5.0.37 was the latest)

– If you’re using Premiere you need to update the cuda_supported_cards.txt file to add the name of the video card. In this case it would be: ‘GeForce GTX 570’  To do this, you need to go to the Premiere.app file, right+click on it and select ‘Show Package Contents’. Once you do that, this is what you’ll see:

CUDA nvidia opencl adobe premiere macintoshOnce that’s done, you are good to go!

Now that caveats…

Continue reading Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 in a Macintosh

Why Don’t TV Manufacturers Get It? Stop Making TVs!

It’s been a couple years since I wrote about no one wanting 3D and people wanting Internet enabled TVs. TV manufacturers still don’t seem to get what people want. We either want TVs to be the same passive viewing experience they’ve always been or we want them to be internet devices (or probably both at the same time).

If Apple comes out with a TV, I don’t think it’s hard to guess what it’ll be. It will not be a TV. It will be built from the ground up as an internet device with a big ass screen whose primary use is displaying content.

There was a survey recently released that said less than 15% of Smart TV owners are using the smart features. This isn’t particularly surprising because most ‘smart’ TVs aren’t very smart, don’t have well thought out apps that take advantage of it, and still want you to use a remote. Why? Because TV manufacturers still think they’re selling TVs.

Let’s go back to what Apple would release… and if they do, all the other manufacturers will go ‘ooohh… that’s how you do it. (And I’ll point out that I’m not an Apple fanboi… but they do have a habit of releasing game changing devices, so I’m using them as an example.)

Anyways…  features of an Apple branded big screen internet device:

Continue reading Why Don’t TV Manufacturers Get It? Stop Making TVs!

48fps Sucks

Maybe the title of the post is overly blunt, but it’s true. I saw the Hobbit in 48fps, in 3D. Please don’t make the same mistake.

48fps, hobbit, peter jackson48fps. Looks great!

I have no idea if the Hobbit is a good film. The ‘soap opera’ look of 48fps combined with 3D was distracting and outright ruined many scenes by making them look like a low budget Saturday morning cartoon. The climatic scene actually works out pretty well, but for the first 2+ hours it’s an awful movie experience. Peter Jackson has gone on record as saying that 48fps makes 3D more enjoyable. Whatever he is smoking, please send some of it to San Francisco. 3D tends to brighten the image up to begin with and you add 48fps to that mix and the result is so bad it’s comical.

I was hoping the initial reports of the look of 48fps were exaggerated and due to viewing unfinished shots. I think it’s clear that in both cases it’s not. It looks like 3D humans suffering from the ‘uncanny valley’ effects. It doesn’t look like film, but it doesn’t look real either. It just looks like bad TV. With Hobbits. Maybe they can resurrect the Ewok Christmas special and shoot that in 48fps, 3D.

I realize there’s a lot of new technology out there and you have to test it out on something. But to test it out on a major motion picture? Honestly, I wish folks would just try to make better movies instead of screwing around with all this stuff (48fps, 3d) which doesn’t make the films look better and rarely adds anything to the story. In the case of the Hobbit, it really affected the story poorly.

I do think there’s some technology which will change movies for the better. The super high resolution cameras produce great looking imagery. Internet connected TVs will change the way we watch movies and how they get distributed. But 48fps is just crap. So thank you to Peter Jackson for proving that.

Using Plugins on Multiple Computers

Plug-ins with multiple=So you’ve got two (or 20) computers and you want to use Beauty Box (or whatever) on all of them.

This is always a tricky thing for software developers. On one hand we realize many folks have multiple machines and since they’re only one person, they can only use one machine at a time. We would like to allow them the flexibility of having it on a couple machines. On the other hand, if you’re a studio with multiple machines and multiple people we think that if our software is good enough to be installed and used on all those machines we should be paid for it. Making sure that happens sometimes gets in the way of how a single user is using our plugins.

Companies

When you buy a license of our software, you’re buying it for one user. If you’re a company with multiple machines and multiple artists/editors using those machines, then there’s not much gray area and you need a license for each computer being used. We offer pretty good volume discounts and site licenses for this type of situation, you can contact sales@nulldigitalanarchy.com for pricing.

There is one big exception to this… if you’re using After Effects’ network rendering. You do not need extra licenses for After Effects render nodes. You can install Beauty Box on as many render nodes as you want for free.

People (and, no, companies are not people. I don’t care what the Dread Pirate Roberts says)

If you’re just one person with multiple machines then there’s some gray areas. The software can be installed on a couple machines, but we use the internet to determine if the plugin is being used on multiple computers at the same time. So if you have a desktop and a laptop and you’re using one or the other depending on whether you’re at home or at the office, no problem. You’re good to go.

However, if you’re in your studio/office and trying to use both machines for rendering/editing at the same time, you may run into problems. If so, here’s what you can do:

1)      You can purchase a second license. We do offer discounts for second licenses. Contact sales@nulldigitalanarchy.com.

2)      Use the second machine as an After Effects render node. As mentioned above, you can use Beauty Box on as many render nodes as you want for free. So if the machine is just being used to process frames sent to it from another machine you shouldn’t have any problems.

3)      Our licensing is set up so that you can install on two machines, they just can’t be in use simultaneously.  The way we check this is via the internet. So if you disable the internet connection on one machine, then we can’t check it. This is a hack and technically violates the license. However, since the spirit of the license is for one user, as long as it’s the same person using the machines we’re ok with it.

4)      Render out the Beauty Box clip on one machine while working on another part of your project on the second machine. BB just gets watermarked on the second machine, so it’s still usable.

Like most of you, we’re running a small company. We try to be as flexible as possible, but if you’re making money using our software we would like you to buy the correct number of licenses. Please support the companies that make the tools you use and that help you be successful.

When Cats Go To NAB

We’ve been exhibiting at NAB since 2001 and one of the traditions is that any extra exhibitor badges we have get put in the name of our hard working mascots… Fierce Peanut and Molotov Cupcake (our two cats). They have not made it out to Vegas yet, but we don’t want them to feel left out so they get their own badge.

This has led to them receiving emails, including some amusing ones such as the one below inviting them to speak at a conference. While I’m sure Ms Peanut would be more than happy to speak, her expertise tends to be limited to mobile device viewing, particularly games and media for… well, cats.

Why, yes, we’d be delighted to speak at your conference. Will there be tuna hors d’oeuvres?

Don’t be a Grumpy, Old Photographer

I recently was chatting with a photographer who pretty much blamed all the ills of the industry on Moms in hot pants. Yep, that’s why he no longer goes to WPPI and why the photo business isn’t what it used to be. Moms in hot pants with their toy DSLRs undercutting real photographers. What IS the world coming to?

(ok, so this is from the Sony advert that’s very funny. See post from last week.)

I think mostly what he’s upset about is a new generation of photographers. I suspect when he got out of school there were a bunch of old photographers bitching about all these kids with their Canon AE-1s running around in bell bottoms pretending to be photographers and working for peanuts.

But change happens. A new generation comes along, new ways of marketing appear, and new cameras are released. Just because you think Twitter is the dumbest thing since the Pet Rock, doesn’t mean you don’t have to use it. (At least Twitter doesn’t limit who’s sees your posts like Facebook does now) Marketing has always been critical in photography and it’s even more so now. It’s just the way of doing it has changed somewhat. It requires a little more consistent engagement… like this blog. Which you’ll note I’m not writing on Facebook. I’ll post the link on FB, but because FB limits who sees it, it much more effective to do the writing here and link to it from the various interwebs.

If a few Moms with Canon Rebels are on the verge of sending you out of business, I don’t think the issue is the Moms. Hell, hire one of them. If you can get in with the Mom Mafia you’re golden!

And besides, given the amount of tradeshows I go to that are nothing but geeky guys, I’m having a hard time seeing what the complaint is about a little gender diversity (hot pants or no). But it’s no secret why you’re seeing a lot of women in photography… they tend to communicate better than men, have more emotional intelligence, and are excellent shooters. I mean, who do you think a bride is going to want to shoot her wedding? The energetic gal in hot pants or the grumpy, old guy? It’s all about being a good communicator these days, whether it’s on social media or during a shoot. Don’t be the grumpy, old guy.

I Feel the Need for Rendering Speed (or Why I Love My GPU)

We’re about to release a free update to Beauty Box Video (2.0.4… look for it next week) and figured it was time to talk about GPUs again. We’re seeing 500-800% speed increase using the GPU on newer graphics cards, especially Nvidia boards which seem to be more stable than AMD or Intel.

(You can get more info on Beauty Box and a free trial version HERE)

GPU accelerated plugin for after effects, Premiere, and Final Cut Pro

So where are we getting these numbers and how do YOU get them?

Continue reading I Feel the Need for Rendering Speed (or Why I Love My GPU)

Color Calibration

After some time off, I’m creating prints of my photos. At first, I thought this was a good opportunity to try Costco, which has been showing up at some of the photography tradeshows touting their services to pro photographers. Using Costco as a print lab seems like a strange idea, but I figured if they’re promoting themselves to pros… but, no, the quality is what you would expect. Pretty awful prints. Nevermind.

So let’s try Bay Photo. Good reputation as a lab… so I ordered a matted print from them. Good print, but this is what the corners of the mat looked like:

Bay photo matting

Seriously? Why even offer matting if you have zero quality control?

Looks like I’m doing this myself. Which meant calibrating the monitor and printer. I’ve got the ColorMunki for this purpose, but hadn’t used it for awhile. I’d sort of forgotten how easy it is use and set up. I have to say I love this thing. The Cinema Display and my Epson R2000 Printer are amazingly in sync. It’s not perfect… you sometimes have to calibrate the monitor a few times to get it right and I’ve heard it doesn’t work well with older monitors, but for me it works great.

One thing I discovered is that you should calibrate the printer with full ink tanks. Changing the ink can require recalibration. The Cyan was low when I did the initial calibration. I got 3 prints out of it before it ran out. Replacing it resulted in a color shift and recalibration.

Printing yourself is still a bit of a pain in the ass, it’s not the cheapest option, especially when you factor in your time. So I may end up printing with a lab anyways. But I’m always impressed when technology works the way it’s supposed to. The folks over at X-rite have done a nice job with the Munki hardware and software.

<shameless plug> If you’d like to see some of the prints, it’s Open Studios in San Francisco this month! I’ll have a few prints at SMAart Gallery on Sutter St. exhibited with Lily Yao’s ceramics. SMAart is open the first two weekends of Open Studios: Oct. 13/14 and Oct. 20/21, so if you’re in the Bay Area come on over. More info can be found here:

http://smaartgallery.com/

YouTube Opens Production Facility in London, LA

YouTube/Google is opening a full fledged Do-It-Yourself production facility called Creator Space in London and, if rumors are true, Los Angeles.

What does this mean?

The most immediate result is that we will probably see better produced sneezing cat and laughing dog videos. This alone is exciting. Think of the cat videos we can get with a full cyc greenscreen! The possibilities stagger the mind.

Seriously though, there’s not a lot of info about it, but the promo video doesn’t give me reason to believe any post houses or production facilities should be sweating it too hard.

Continue reading YouTube Opens Production Facility in London, LA

Cloud Services – The Ugly

So I don’t get it when people freak out about cloud services going down. It’s the internet. Outages happen. Actually, they happen to any electronics.

Should they happen frequently? No, of course not. But Google Talk going down for half a day, Twitter, Salesforce, and Amazon all having recent outages have made it clear that you can’t trust the cloud 100%. Which is only to say that you should have backup plans in the event the cloud service you’re using or your internet connection go down temporarily (hello? Comcast? Anyone home?).

Furthermore, you should make sure all the data on your cloud service is backed up locally in the event the cloud service you’re using goes down permanently. This is a real risk if you’re using any cloud service that isn’t Amazon or Google. And even then, I’ve heard of Google deleting accounts by mistake in such a way they were unrecoverable. I back up all my Google docs once a week and download a copy of important documents as soon as I finish them.

While I have photos stored online, the originals are safely on a RAID 1 hard drive. I’ve written about the failure of Digital Railroad before, which was a photo storage site that went bellyup and gave users about 12 hours to download their photos before shutting off the servers. When startups go down, they go down hard since they usually try to hold on until the last dollar runs out. When the money runs out, you can’t pay for bandwidth fees, and then darkness comes (and the ice weasels. Beware the ice weasels).

So don’t get me wrong, I think the cloud is great. But as with anything, it’s good to know the limitations and be able to work around them.

Joy of Photography

One of the great things about running DA is that it gives me an excuse to buy fancy camera equipment and play with it. The latest subject I’m infatuated with is stars. No, I haven’t joined the paparazzi. I’m talking about the stars you can see when you’re 10,000 feet up on a rock in the middle of the Pacific ( the Haleakala volcano in Maui).

(c) 2012 Jim Tierney

Photography is absolutely amazing. It really forces you to be present in the place you’re at and the moment you’re there.

Continue reading Joy of Photography

E3: Game Look vs. Film Look

I was hanging around E3 on Tuesday, indulging my gamer geek side (games are a sister industry to the film industry so I get in on an industry pass, but I have no real legit business reason to go. It’s just fun.).

One of the things I’ve noticed about games is that the ‘look’ is still very much the same as it ever was. Yes, the polygon counts are higher and everything is in HD, but the look is the same. No depth of field and harsh lighting (usually either on or off). I was looking at a couple up and coming games and they just reminded me of Half-Life and every other game I’ve played. They look better, but they don’t look like film.

This is interesting, because films are starting to look like games and I don’t think it’s a good direction. I want games to start looking like films, not the other way around.

Where is this ‘Game Look’ for films coming from? I think it starts with 3D.

One of the smaller booths (You should’ve seen the xbox, ps3, wii booths) at E3 this year.

Continue reading E3: Game Look vs. Film Look

The Distortions of Retouching

Did you see the before and after shots that Britney Spears released? Can’t say I’m a huge fan and I would never have imagined I’d be mentioning her in the Digital Anarchy blog, but, yet, I just did. She released retouched AND unretouched photos of herself, and put them out there for comparison. The article breaks down the shots and what was changed. While I think it was a very worthwhile thing for her to do, I really wish she’d given a more intelligent quote and actually address the issue instead of saying ‘it was fun being shot in front of a wall of cotton candy’. sigh. Click here for the article.

It reminds me of the Dove ad that takes a model from walking into the studio, through the shoot, through photoshop, and out on a billboard. Amazing commercial bringing attention to the same issues.

This might seem like an odd conversation for a company that makes software to do retouching, like Beauty Box, to be promoting.

Continue reading The Distortions of Retouching

You’re creative? You’re a scoundrel!

Why would a dishonest person honestly report their dishonest behavior in an anonymous survey? Would a creative person label himself as a chronic paper clip thief to mess with such a survey? “Why, yes, I am the person that steals everyones pens!” Such are the questions that come up in a new report that links creativity to unethical behavior.

It requires some creativity to come up with the question of are creative people more dishonest, so are not the psychologists that did the study proved to be dishonest by their own study and not to be believed?

My problem with this study is the way it’s focused on those that are obviously creative (people working at an ad agency). The real problem, perhaps, is people that test high for creativity but have jobs that don’t on the surface require creativity, like accountants and bankers. Unfortunately when you say ‘people that are creative’ most of us think of artists, photographers, designers, etc. But the truth is that genius goes hand in hand with creativity regardless of what your field is… psychologists, scientists, cooking, banking, whatever. The ability to look at a problem in a novel way is important for the advancement of almost anything and requires creativity. Some of the most creative people I know are computer programmers… not a profession usually associated with creativity.

The study does a disservice to creativity, by not looking at other traits such as confidence to see if there are traits that have a higher correlation with dishonesty. It may be true that to be a mastermind of evil it helps to be creative. But to announce to the world that creative people are dishonest because of an anonymous survey and co-eds counting dots seems to me to be a ‘creative’ hypothesis.

How To Not Be A Starving Artist

In the previous post I mention an article from NPR: Silicon Valley vs. Hollywood. In that article they quote filmmaker Tim Chey as saying: “We do it for the art, we do it because we want to tell our stories, express our stories. I, as a filmmaker, am not in it for the money.”

Awesome! Then why are you complaining about piracy? You want people to hear your stories. You’re not in it for the money. Pirates are just enabling more people to see your movie that otherwise would play at two arthouse theaters on each coast and then be forgotten. What exactly is the problem?

However, somehow I feel he’s not being completely honest about not being in it for the money.

The biggest problem that most artists run into is that if they want to be even remotely successful, they need to look at themselves as a business. This kind of sucks. Most artists became artists because they didn’t want to think about marketing, business plans, how to accept credit cards, who they have to pay off to get in a gallery, etc. Sadly, that’s the hard, cold reality of it. Either you learn how to market yourself, you give up a good chunk of your earnings to someone that will market for you (like a gallery), or you starve. (or I suppose you can subsist in a coffee shop making pretty patterns in the latte foam of hipsters who go ‘Wow, that’s cool. You should be an artist!’)

Continue reading How To Not Be A Starving Artist

Carpal Tunnel Injuries

What is referred to as Carpal Tunnel injuries is usually a collection of different injuries that are better known as repetitive stress injuries (RSI). They are serious problems that I’ve struggled with to vary degrees for the last 10 years or so. One of the other anarchists has had it longer and had to work through a severe version of it.

And I am pretty much the poster child for what happens if you ignore the possibility of RSI. Back when I first started working in software, I worked with a programmer who had to have someone hired to do his typing. The company had people come in and speak about ergonomics and how to avoid RSI. I ignored all of it. Clearly these people were just weak, and I, being invincible, would never suffer such things . Not so much.  Age and too many 16 hour days hunched over a keyboard/mouse tend to take their toll. The whole growing older thing is really a pain in the neck (literally).

People usually associate RSI with wrists, but in fact it can affect your arms, shoulders, neck, and back. If you’re on a computer a lot (and if you’re reading this most likely you make your living using a computer) it’s critically important that you pay attention to it. It’ll seriously affect your ability to use a computer and, if you’re a photographer, your ability to hold a camera for long periods.

Continue reading Carpal Tunnel Injuries

Argh, Matey! Pirates!

Once every year or two something happens to make me get a bug up my shorts about piracy. Generally I don’t care much about it… most piracy is done by college students, software ‘collectors’ (people that just download it to have it but don’t use it), and other people that wouldn’t buy the software anyways.

We recently had the technical guy at a photography studio give us a call. Their primary business is doing greenscreen photography for clients and they use Primatte for it. He called to complain that they had recently upgraded to Primatte 5.0 and that he gets an error message when he tries to run it on all his machines.

All of Digital Anarchy’s software looks for other instances of the plugin running on a network and shuts down if it sees a copy with the same serial number. This studio, which makes their living doing greenscreen, had one serial number. In his words “We have Primatte 3 installed on all our machines and never had a problem, but now it looks like we’ll have to buy more licenses. Why?”.

Continue reading Argh, Matey! Pirates!

Beauty Box Video and Final Cut Pro X

As most of you know FCP X came out yesterday. This was the first time we’ve seen it. In Apple‘s infinitely looped wisdom, most plugin developers were not given a chance to see anything before yesterday nor were we told anything. Apparently there were a couple ‘special’ developers that did get a heads up, but for the rest of us, no such luck. So if you’re wondering why there’s a dearth of FCP X plugin announcements, that’s why.

But along with FCP X, we got some info about FxPlug 2.0. Luckily for us, Beauty Box Video is a relatively new product written from the ground up to be 64-bit. So we’re in pretty good shape to port this over to FCP X/Motion 5. It is very possible that we’ll have a new version done by August or sooner. It may be free or there may be a small charge for the upgrade. Just depends on how much work it takes to port. But we’re optimistic that we can get something going in the very near future.

One thing to note… it looks like if you want to use third party plugins you’ll need Motion. FxPlug 2.0 works with Motion and then Final Cut links to Motion. This is my understanding at the moment, but that info may change. Look for updates here and on our Facebook page.

Using Adobe’s DNG Raw File Format

Just saw Tom Hogarty speak at the San Francisco Photoshop User Group. Mostly he was talking about Lightroom (he is the LR product manager), but he also discussed the benefits of converting your RAW files to Adobe’s DNG File Format. He made a pretty compelling argument. If not a somewhat boring one. File formats are just not sexy and exciting no matter how you spin it. :-)

The main benefit of DNG is that it’s an open format in the sense that the specification is publicly available. So even if Adobe were to fail, it’d still be possible for other software developers to read the format. With so many RAW file formats out there (every camera has a slightly different file format), the possibility that the RAW files won’t be accessible sometime in the future is very possible. Still, such a problem is a ways off. So what are the immediate benefits?

The big immediate benefit is that the thumbnail and metadata is built into the format. No more sidecar files that are easy to lose or not copy over when moving your photos around. This benefit alone was enough to convert me to DNG. While I don’t care about the thumbnail files, I’ve definitely had to redo my RAW settings due to not copying over an .xmp file. Stupid mistake, sure, but something that should be avoidable in the first place by a well thought out file format.

The DNG files are also smaller by about 25-33%. So that makes them easier to backup and transport around. The reason for this, as explained by Tom, is that when you’re shooting the camera is just concerned about getting the images on your card. So the compression is fast, but not as robust as it could be. When you’re creating the DNG file on your regular computer, time isn’t such an issue so a better but slightly slower compression algorithm can be used. All the data is the same.

So I’m a fan and I recommend you take a look at it. It really does seem to solve some very real problems.

Wedding Photography and Money

For all the talk about cheap cameras and everyone becoming a photographer, there certainly seems to be a fair amount of money still being spent on Weddings. Although judging from the success of WPPI and similar tradeshows there are probably more photographers out there than the market can support. However, if you can successfully carve out a niche the money seems to be there. (As with most business, you’re sales and marketing prowess needs to be as good as your photography prowess)

Why do I think that?

Continue reading Wedding Photography and Money

Clouds

I’ve ranted about clouds before… but this is actually in defense of them. There’s been a lot of todo about Amazon’s Elastic Cloud service going down for a couple days. The truth is, no solution is perfect.

If you’re going to use the cloud, it doesn’t matter if you’re FourSquare or just an editor storing some old video… you need to have a backup plan. Technology just isn’t perfect and never will be. For all those people dismissing the cloud because of the Amazon failure, I’ll remind you of the RackSpace failure a couple years ago. Click here for more info on that… but hosting companies, even high-end, We-promise-you-10000%-uptime-and-you’re-going-to-pay-for-it, hosting companies like RackSpace suffer data center wide outages. So the cloud isn’t perfect. Neither is anything else. Sometimes it’s good to remember that as we decide what to do with our critical data.

Sometimes Commercials Are Good

Seen a lot of commercials over the last two weeks watching the NCAA tournament. Here are the outstanding ones (yep, just two… the rest were crap):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qf8OGLqE1s

Brilliant spot for Subura. So simple, but shows the power of a great script and good acting. Completely gets the message across and pulls the emotional strings as well.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWUrM0IZaDQ

Beautifully done CG world of paint chips. I actually saw a slightly different one (couldn’t find it online), but they are all really well done.

Hopefully the first clip inspires you to make sure you have a great story. And the other clips offer some technical inspiration.

Rules for Interns

This is a repost from the Final Cut Pro List. While I can’t take credit for it, it definitely has similar sentiments to some of the things I’ve posted about education. I think internships are a huge part of anyone’s education, regardless of whether you’re going to a $1500/year community college or spending $25,000/yr on a fancy art school. But obviously you need to make the most of those internships. Here are some rules for making that happen.

Originally posted by Mark Raudonis.  Mark  is a former intern now working in Hollywood.

1. You are here for a short time… make every minute count.
2. If you find yourself stuck doing Xeroxing, it’s your own fault. Be proactive about
your time, your schedule, and what you want to learn.
3. Nobody is going to “hand you” an experience, you create it yourself.
4. You’re onstage here. You may be watching us, but we’re watching you. Make a good impression.
5. Watching someone edit is like watching paint dry. It’s boring! Ask questions. Engage in the creative process. “Outthink” the editor to the next shot.
6. You’re future career DEPENDS on your colleagues. Get to know them. They will be your best source of information for your next job.
7. There are plenty of editors here. Learn something different for each of them.
8. We’re in the communication business. Start by learning to communicate with the team.
Know, understand, and practice communication… and I don’t mean texting!
9. Technology is NOT your enemy. Learn enough about what we use to become confident in using the tools of our trade.
10. Organization is the key to creativity. If you can’t find something, you can’t even begin to be creative. Learn how we organize our projects, our SAN, our servers.

Finally, have fun! I was an intern once. It was one of the best experiences of my career.

Can you trust the cloud with your photos?

The answer, in a nutshell, is no.

I’ve written about this before… when Digital Railroad failed a couple years ago and gave photographers 24 hours to download their photos, it should have been a big wake up call for photographers that these services can’t be trusted as archives (at least, not without offline backups as well). Now, maybe they can’t even be trusted as temporary storage. With tech companies it’s all good… until it’s not. Then the CEO announces everyone is laid off and the servers are shut down. I’ve been part of startups where this has happened. As Jason Perlow points out in an excellent blog post ‘Flickr: Too big to fail?’, Flickr is not too big to fail.

AND even if it doesn’t fail, that doesn’t mean your account won’t be accidentally deleted and since Flickr doesn’t have backups of your data, there goes all your photos. Which means all the links on your blog or web site that point to Flickr (or Vimeo or…) get broken requiring a lot of time and aggravation fixing your site. Assuming you have all those photos backup in a single place and you don’t have to go rooting around for the particular photos/videos you uploaded… which would involve even more time.

I’ll point out that I think these sites are great usually. I use them, particularly vimeo. However, it’s important to know what will happen if things go wrong and to know what you’re in for.

Anyways, give Jason’s blog a read… it brings up some good questions and concerns.

DSLRs vs. Consumer HD Camcorders

I recently finished up shooting a side project DVD on Humpback Whale Photography… watching them and photographing them (facebook: Exploring Maui). A little different from my usual gig of wrangling Photoshop plugins! ;-) For the most part it was shot with a Canon 5D Mark II. The 5D is great when it’s locked down on a tripod and you’re shooting interviews or talking about a topic.

The DVD has a lot of amazing photos of the Humpbacks, but very little actual video. This is due to the fact that the 5D doesn’t work well for wildlife videography. Now, some of you might have expected that, knowing about rolling shutter, aliasing, and some of the other issues that DSLRs have. However, when I started the project, I was blissfully unaware of most of those issues. Even though we shot with the 5D on a Stedicam Merlin most of the footage was unusable. Between the motion of the boat, the rolling shutter, and fast moving wildlife the 5D proved not to be the camera we hoped it was. (it was everything we expected for the tripod shots, so that came out well. But when we were actually on the boat… not so much.) There are some Final Cut Pro plugins to help out with these problems, but when dealing with a boat and wildlife it was just too much for the camera.

So the DVD was made with a little video footage of the whales and a lot of great photos. It came out fine, but looking to the future we want to shoot videos of the whales. What to do?

Continue reading DSLRs vs. Consumer HD Camcorders

Beauty Box Video Wins Videomaker’s Plugin of the Year

I got some fantastic news last Thursday… Videomaker magazine named Beauty Box Video the Video Plugin of the Year! The full write up is in the latest issue with ‘Best Products of the Year’ on the cover.

We’ve been developing plugins for After Effects and Final Cut Pro for a long time and we’ve never received the response to a plugin that we have with Beauty Box Video. The Videomaker award goes next to our award from TV Technology magazine for one of the top 10 products at NAB 2010.

It’s really nice to get some recognition for putting out good After Effects and FCP plugins that really solve problems that people are having. It was definitely an early Anarchismas present! ;-) We’ve got some big plans for Beauty Box in 2011, so there’ll be no resting on our laurels. Expect to see some really cool stuff in the first quarter of next year.

Design schools. Meh.

I’ve ranted about design schools before, but it’s come up again. I was chatting with a friend of a friend who’s going to one of the big design schools in LA. Kind of typical situation for many students… not sure what she wants to do, thinks it has something to do with design or art or photography or something. Ok, cool, most of us have been there (I certainly was).

What’s not cool is paying ridiculous amounts of money to a design school while you figure it out. If her parents were paying for it, then sweet. Party on. But she’s paying for it, or more correctly, going massively into debt for it and struggling to make ends meet… because she can’t work due to the 18 units/semester she has to take to get everything done in 3 yrs. Being potentially burnt out and in debt is not a good way to figure out what you want to do for a career.

Most of these schools (for profit design schools) will make all sorts of promises about what happens after you graduate. But they know that a good portion of students will drop out (without a degree and in debt usually). Yes, they do have better career counseling than state schools, but in truth, that requires you to make it all the way through, be good, and be motivated. If you’re good and motivated you’ll get a job. Which is why state schools always seem like a bargin to me. Design is design. If you’re motivated, you’re usually going to get just as good of an education at state school (or even a community college) as you will at a dedicated design school. Which you’ll discover, because you’ll be making the same entry level wages as the guy working next to you that graduated from SFSU.

Which is not to say their aren’t some advantages to design schools. They may have wider range of art type classes and better equipment you can experiment around with. However, these are slight advantages and not worth going massively in debt for.  In the end, it’s your portfolio that matters. Not the school you went to.

The LA Kings Use Beauty Box Video

We were excited to receive an email from Aaron Brenner, of the LA Kings hockey team, letting us know that they had used Beauty Box Video on a high profile piece they were doing.

An interesting aspect to Beauty Box Video is that it’s difficult to get people to admit they are using it. A LOT of production companies have bought and loved the software but they’re a little shy about singing its praises publicly. Their actor and actress clients aren’t too keen about wanting fans to know they used software to make them (more) beautiful.

This wasn’t a problem for the subjects of Aaron’s production for the Kings. It’s a behind the scenes video of the photo shoot of the LA King’s Ice Girls calendar! Some very beautiful girls who you wouldn’t think would need much retouching.

(Click on the image above to be taken to the King’s site and see the video.)

However, no situation is perfect.

Continue reading The LA Kings Use Beauty Box Video

TV and the Interweb

I went to the NewTeeVee conference on Wednesday. There was much ado about how the internet will work on the largest screen. With so much video on the web now (YouTube gets 50,000 hours of content uploaded every DAY)  folks are looking for ways to get it on their 52″ screens. Will it be Google TV, Apple TV, or just plugging an Ethernet cable into your flat screen? Will people want to use their TV as just another computer screen? Will they use apps or use it as a social networking device? Big things in store for that big screen.

I read a report earlier this year that pointed out that TV is still a very social screen.

Continue reading TV and the Interweb

Piracy

I recently ran into a friend who mentioned she’d just bought a $1000 lens for her relatively new DSLR. She then proceeded to ask me if I could get her a copy of Photoshop CS5. I said, no, but that upgrading from CS2 wasn’t that expensive. She replied “Oh, I don’t want to pay for it.”. Maybe she was unclear on the concept that I develop software. For photographers.

Now, I realize that going into a camera store and stealing a $1000 lens is difficult and stealing a $500 software program is relatively easy. But just because it’s easy to steal software doesn’t make it any less wrong. If you can afford to buy a $1000 lens, you can afford to help support the people that make the software you use to organize, enhance, manipulate, and print your photos. We’re all real folks trying to make a living and, even though piracy is given with software, sometimes it hurts when it’s thrown in your face as my friend did (unintentionally, sure, but here’s someone that’s relatively well paid just casually throwing out she wants to steal Photoshop.).

I usually don’t lose much sleep over piracy. Much of it is done by people that would never buy the program. They  download the software, use it once or twice, and then don’t use it again. But for artists that use something like Photoshop every day, it does dismay me a little about how common piracy is. Some photographers and artists that would be up in arms if their work was copied and used for an ad without being paid, think nothing of copying software from a friend. Yet, it’s the same principle.

I don’t care if you download a pirated copy of our plugins to try out. But if you find it useful, please… support those of us that work our asses off to bring you cool, useful software.

Yes, there are real people behind all this software… Jim, Garrick, Debbie, and Maggie (see above). And we all greatly appreciate all of you who do find our software useful and help us continue to do something we love… allowing us to create cool software that hopefully makes your jobs easier!

Good Design. Bad Design.

Still in design mode as we revamp our Digital Anarchy website, here is a comparison of good and bad design techniques. Two designers give their opinions and share easy to fix mistakes that can turn bad website design around.

In the first article, The 10 Most Common Mistakes Web Designers Make, the Author talks about, “with a little diligence, poor design can be easily avoided.” My favorite one, which is #1, talks about busy, crowded pages. There’s nothing worse then going to a website and not being able to find what you are looking for.

Continue reading Good Design. Bad Design.

Evil Geeks vs. Evil Marketers

I’ve always said that I’d prefer to have an Evil Geek (Bill Gates) rule the world instead of an Evil Marketing Guy (Steve Jobs). Sort of like the difference between having the nerds or the cool kids run your high school. And sure enough, now that Steve has a dominent platform, he’s running it like the cool kids would.

I mean seriously. Geek evil is sort of like ‘pinky and the brain’ evil. Yeah, they might take over the world, but that’s what they plan every night. And even if they succeed, all they’ll end up doing is having chair jumping contests and all night Star Trek marathons (how else do you explain much of Microsoft’s software?)

Marketers, like Steve, are different.

Continue reading Evil Geeks vs. Evil Marketers

Privacy Law Does Not Protect You Online

There has been a great deal of commotion over a web site called Spokeo. Spokeo aggregates personal info about people. So all the info that’s in public records is combined with all the info you’ve put on the web about yourself, which is then viewable by other people.

Many people I know are freaked out about this. One person was shocked that her photos and blog posts were found. Seriously. There’s a lot of folks out there who are unclear on how all these cookies, logging, networking, and whatever else works.

Privacy Law Needs To Be Updated. Support dotrights.org

Notwithstanding obvious things like blogs, that we put up so other people can see, our privacy is being eroded fast.

Continue reading Privacy Law Does Not Protect You Online

Spicing up corporate photos.

Good article on Ragen.com about the ‘4 techniques for spicing up corporate photos‘. This website typically reports and comments on Public Relations news, so it’s interesting to find this article. But since 1,000 words equal one photograph, or so the saying goes, it makes sense.

Summary of the four tips to take compelling corporate photos, which is almost an oxymoron:

“1. Change the angle. The easiest way to add interest to a potentially boring photo is to move your camera off-center. Try shooting from the sides, above, below, or behind—a different perspective can go a long way… [For instance] Salvo says she’s had some success taking award photos from behind the stage rather than in front.”

Ok, this isn’t a corporate photo. But it’s an interesting angle of my dog and his little friend.

Continue reading Spicing up corporate photos.

Avatar technology… & philosophy?

If you pay attention to news sites covering digital graphics, there have been interesting articles surfacing about the the Avatar movie. There is quite a bit of talk about the philosophy and technology behind the movie, perhaps a tad on the over-analyzing side of things, but personally, I still find this topic more interesting than a rant about the new iPad.

In Post magazine — consistently a terrific source of film related news — there are two articles about how director James Cameron took motion capture into a new level of technology. The article ‘‘Avatar’ Introduces a New Era in Filmmaking‘ talks about his vision of a system that provides performance capture rather than motion capture. The article ‘Director’s Chair: James Cameron – Avator‘ goes into more detail about this new system, called the Simulcamera.

Continue reading Avatar technology… & philosophy?

Are DSLRs The New Point-And-Shoots?

It’s no secret that digital cameras have been big business this, er… last decade.

However the Financial Times reports a new wrinkle. DSLR sales have slowed significantly less than point-and-shoot sales, meaning the DSLRs are making up a larger share of the digital camera market. Over 8 million DSLRs will be sold in 2009.

What does this mean? How does it affect photographers?

Continue reading Are DSLRs The New Point-And-Shoots?

Why 3D TV Is A Gimmick

Potential 3D content?

I sat next to the manager of the CBS station on a recent flight. Among other things we chatted about 3D TV and it’s purpose (if any) and whether it was just a fad. Particularly since everyone has just upgraded to HD.

HD is the type of technology that lots of people can understand and get behind. It’s ‘un-intrusive’, meaning it just makes everything look better. You don’t notice the technology after viewing it a few times (or until you see an SD show). People watching just see a better picture, so they’re happy, and producers don’t have to dramatically change how they shoot and tell stories, so they’re happy (except for the make-up artists who now really need to cover up those unsightly blemishes and removed tattoos… or they can use Beauty Box :-). Everyone has to buy some new equipment, but otherwise the changes are minimal.

3D is very intrusive. And does anyone really want it? Continue reading Why 3D TV Is A Gimmick

Do you share?

No… not your wife/husband, sheesh… the dirty minds of you people.

Your info. Your techniques. Tips and tricks. I had an interesting tech support call yesterday with one of our users. He’s a photographer that’s been using Primatte for some time. He related an encounter he had with a fellow photographer in his area. She asked him what he was using to create his greenscreen shots, and he told her to go buy one of our competitor’s products! His logic was that he wasn’t going to share info with someone in the same market. He was quite pleased that she was unable to get the same results and was frustrated by the whole thing.

So my question to you is… do you share?

Continue reading Do you share?

iPhone Gets Flash, Sort Of

According to Adobe, developers can now use Flash to build iPhone apps. Click here for the whole story.

This does not mean the Flash player is available on the iPhone. Only that the Flash development environment can now build iPhone apps.

Apple of course does not want the Flash player on the iPhone. Why? If you can build iPhone apps that are usable through a browser, who’s going to buy them through the Apple App Store? We’ll see how badly Apple cripples support of HTML 5 in Safari since HTML 5, in some cases, will allow you to build rich internet apps and theoretically get around the App store as well.

adobe-iphone1

The Real Masters of Light

The Nobel Prize for physics went, in part, to William Boyle and George Smith who invented the Charged Coupled Device. The CCD is what allows all of your digital cameras to capture photos. So as your running around with your cameraphone, DSLR, HD video camera, or whatever give a nod to the physicists who allow you to capture light.

Click here for the full story

A tech side note… I saw this photo in a newspaper and started searching around online for it. Google Images completely failed. Microsoft’s Bing found it on the second try. At least for image searching, it would appear Google has some competition.

Future of Photo, part II

In part 1 I discussed some of the habits that may or may not develop. Now I’m going to talk technology. While at the Digital Imaging conference a few technology things kept coming up… Cameraphones, the cloud, and social networks. Not exactly unexpected.

The interesting thing about cameraphones is 1) how they will evolve and affect point and shoot cameras and 2) how are users storing and managing their photos.

This little piece of work from Samsung not only has a 5mp camera, but shoots decent HD video as well.

Continue reading Future of Photo, part II

Future of Photography Part I

Just got back from the InfoTrends Digital Imaging conference. There seems to be alot of speculation around the future of photography, including the 6Sight conference which is dedicated to the question. So, let’s talk about prints, clouds, camera phones, and some of the other stuff that came up at the conference.

One of the interesting observations at the conference was the way our picture taking habits are changing. We (as a society) are taking a LOT more pictures. However, these pictures tend to have a lower value on average, with a shorter shelf life so to speak. In the past, pictures were somewhat difficult to take and get printed so there was some value to them, even the crappy ones. Now we snap pictures everywhere, immediately send them around to our network of friends. We can immediately see our friends pictures who are doing the same thing. But a lot of these photos are ‘of the moment’. Pictures from very recent events that are not great photos, but are interesting because of their immediacy. Most are not pictures you’ll be looking at five years from now. There are a few things that can change the value of a picture immediately, for example, if someone passes away any pictures you have of them become more valuable.

Another interesting point was that the value of some pictures have a ‘V’ shaped curve over time. They are very valuable when first taken, but that value diminishes over time. However at some point along the timeline, because of the age of the photo, a death, or something else, the value of the photo starts to increase.

Value of a Photo

Ok, but why does this matter?

Continue reading Future of Photography Part I

Photowalkin’ (and camera lenses)

Yesterday, I joined Photoshop product manager Bryan O’neil-Hughes for his Photowalk. This was part of the effort by NAPP to get folks out and taking pictures. There were photowalks all over the nation because of this.

It’s a pretty cool idea and was great fun. Adobe rockstar Julieanne Kost joined us along with a few other Adobe folks. The walk itself was fairly short in length and mostly went a few blocks around the Adobe campus in San Jose. You’d be surprised at how long it takes for 50 photographers to go a few blocks. In any event, this led to many photos of the Adobe building (there also seemed to be a good deal of photographers taking pictures of photographers).

Adobe through the leaves

When you go on walks like this, it’s interesting what your choice of lens does to your photos.

Continue reading Photowalkin’ (and camera lenses)

PC vs. Mac, and PC wins a round

So according to a story in todays Wall Street Journal, Apple is feeling stung by the recent Microsoft ads that show regular folks shopping for laptops and trying to buy one under $1000. Here’s one of the Laptop Hunter ads:

Clever commercials, not quite as clever as the Mac vs. PC ads, but obviously effective. Apple apparently had lawyers call Microsoft and request they stop running the ads.

Only Apple would have the balls to call a competitor and ask them to stop running ads that make them look bad. “Those ads are true! How dare you run them!” Poor Apple.  It’s kind of hilarious.

Here’s a link to the Journal article if you want to read it for yourself.

btw… It is true that the same laptop will usually be cheaper on the Windows side, especially if you time your purchase with a Dell 30% off sale, which are frequent these days. The fact that Apple’s machines never go on sale makes them more pricey than similar Windows machines which are constantly on sale. The laptops in the Laptop Hunter ads are usually a bit less powerful than the higher priced Apple, but the reality of computers is that many people don’t need the extra power.

fwiw… I’m platform agnostic. I use both Macs and PCs and have a love/hate relationship with both. If I get to a point where I’m thinking about the operating system, it means that said computer has done something that makes me want to drop kick it through a window. I haven’t found either platform to be more or less problematic. Yes, Vista 1.0 sucked… but then, OS X 10.2 was fraught with problems as well. It happens.

Commercials, lions, and manipulation

Interesting video of what goes into a high profile commercial photo shoot. In this case for Bebe, posted on Giulianobekor.com.

Very cool to see what the actual shots were and what the printed ad ended up being with all the compositing, color correction, and other assorted image processing. Oh, yeah, and the lions. Ya gotta have lions. Continue reading Commercials, lions, and manipulation

First Studio Photography… now Studio Monthly.

In late April, one of my favorite publications ceased to exist. Only a week earlier, Studio Photography magazine had announced their partial rebranding as a source of news for location and studio as well as photography software, equipment and technique. I saw that info come in through their Facebook profile, in the form of a letter from their wonderful Editor, Diane Berkenfeld.

The former brand, Studio Photography.

From Diane’s letter: “As of this issue, Studio Photography’s name is changing to Studio & Location Photography, which better signifies the type of shooting you — our readers — do. We’ll still be featuring articles on the different niches of professional photography: wedding, portrait, event, commercial, photojournalism, schools and seniors, sports and more. However, since 67% of your shooting is done on location or outdoors, not in a studio, we wanted the magazine’s name to reflect that. We’ve also changed the magazine’s tagline from “The business behind the image” to “Inspiration • Technique • Business” which also more closely represents the magazine’s editorial.”

The new brand, Studio & Location Photography.

 

Great idea! More cool stuff. (Less about software, but that’s okay…) Continue reading First Studio Photography… now Studio Monthly.

Silverlight & other streams.

Another thought about NAB, on the subject of streaming video across the web and other platforms. Companies were talking a lot about tying in with Microsoft Silverlight. This is a web browser plugin that plays video and other media content through the web browsers without requiring other plugins. Does that make sense? Basically, Silverlight is supposed to get around browser and file format related issues to make it easier for all of us to view content.

At least, I think that’s what Silverlight does. Have to laugh because when I went to Microsoft.com’s Silverlight section, the website couldn’t show me its content because I didn’t have Silverlight installed. Wouldn’t it be better if Microsoft showed me why I should WANT to install Silverlight before they require me to install Silverlight in order to read about it?

050209_silverlightc

Continue reading Silverlight & other streams.

The mecca of NAB.

Our software company, Digital Anarchy, makes an annual mecca to NAB, which is the National Association of Broadcasters convention. The show is held in Las Vegas in late April, when it’s wonderful to stand outside at 2pm in the beating sun, then run back into the over-air conditioned show to dry off the small beads of sweat.

This was the first year since 2001 that Digital Anarchy was not a vendor at NAB. We sold our video/animation product line in August 2008 and are a Photoshop-only developer now. But we love the event and people, and it’s always cool to see new technology, so there we were. Drinking a little more than working, for once, often with colleagues from other plugin companies.

Representing below: Folks from ReVision FX, Digi Effects, Automatic Duck, Grid Iron, and Digital Anarchy.

050209-nabcrew1

Continue reading The mecca of NAB.

iLike iStock, mostly.

Digital Anarchy has long been a fan of Artbeats.com stock footage. We have used their footage for demoing our products many times over our seven years of business. Recently I have also used the website iStockphoto.com. Mainly this is because Artbeats focuses on video footage, which our company used to use a lot of when we had video products. Now we are a Photoshop-centric company and need still images, and lots of ’em, to show what our products can do.

Continue reading iLike iStock, mostly.

Just pay the pro already…sheesh.

One of my roles at Digital Anarchy is creating the web and print graphics. Whenever I tell someone that I do design collateral for a software company, if that person is not in technology, s/he almost immediately asks me to design a ‘small and easy’ site for free. (ps: no such animal) Either that or I am asked to help with his/her internet connection or email issues. Huh? This cartoon that I am reposting from the terrific Monstermunch.com says it all.

This topic of trying to get something for nothing — or asking the wrong person for help with a technology initiative — makes me think of a great article that I read yesterday called ‘What Price Pro for Hire?’ It came in through the e-newsletter from the magazine Videomaker.

Continue reading Just pay the pro already…sheesh.

Gamma & other tough, chewy terms

Every time I write a manual for our company, I inevitably stumble upon the need to explain some basic terms. ‘Basic’ isn’t really the correct descriptor because it often implies that something is easy to understand.

For instance, this past week I was writing about a parameter in our ToonIt! Photo plugin. The control is called Lighter Type and the way to describe its Lighter1 option is to say that Lighter1 alters the ‘gamma’ of the source image. Well, I know that ‘gamma’ refers to colors but whew, I get completely lost after that.

A different kind of gamma.

Continue reading Gamma & other tough, chewy terms

Inspiration

In Photo Techniques magazine there was this quote attributed to Chuck Close:

“Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.”

This sort of misses the point of inspiration. Obviously, you can’t stare at clouds all day, but that doesn’t mean you have to have your nose to the grindstone continuously either. I think a lot of inspiration is simply keeping your mind open and aware of what’s going on as you move through life. Inspiration doesn’t need to be lightning bolts and explotions. It can be simple things like ice cubes. Here’s a recent example of some macro shots I did:

macro_ice Continue reading Inspiration

Obama’s poster uses stolen photo

One of the recurring topics that I’ve seen in recent years is that of copyright and what internet technologies mean to photographers. The challenges that photographers face are neatly illustrated in an article the Wall Street Journal published today.

Essentially the Obama Hope poster that was widely used, was created based on a photograph by Mannie Garcia that Sheppard Fairey found on the internet, used without permission, didn’t give credit to the photographer, and even refused to acknowledge the photograph when asked about it.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

obama_3up Continue reading Obama’s poster uses stolen photo

PMA is dead.

Just spent two days hanging out at the PMA tradeshow.  There were plenty of exhibitors (so the tradeshow may not be dead and gone yet), but there certainly weren’t any attendees. Occasionally I’d look around for tumbleweeds.

I guess I should have suspected this would be the case when I received no less than 6 emails from PMA over the last two weeks and one phone call begging me to sign up for a free exhibits badge. I can’t recall a tradeshow more earnestly trying to get someone, anyone to show up at their show.

I was just at WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers) which had great attendance. So what’s wrong with PMA? Would love to hear from you all as to why you did or did not go. It’s definitely looking like a show we will no longer do. Judging from the exhibitors we talked to, it may be the last year for many of them as well.

But… was there anything interesting?

Continue reading PMA is dead.

Good standards for good design.

I have recently read articles about how two well-known software companies conduct their design and development processes. A mixed bag of ideas — just like product design itself — but the overall message is that the companies are innovative and open-minded in their approach to development, while still keeping a tight control over quality and standards. We’re talking about Apple and Google. Continue reading Good standards for good design.

Overpriced Schools part II

This is sort of a followup to my Overpriced Schools For Design, Visual Effects, Photography, Whatever post about schools and going into debt getting an education.

There’s a good book out on the topic of student loans called the Student Loan Scam. Every student should read this before they go into debt for an education. As you can guess, it paints a somewhat unfavorable view of student loans… but there’s lots of good information in the book on how to get a loan and what to look for.

Obviously, there have been many people that have used student loans to great success. The problem starts to occur when you get private and technical colleges marketing themselves heavily and making impossible promises to impressionable 18-22 y.o. Continue reading Overpriced Schools part II

Cartoons! But not ours.

Our company, Digital Anarchy, creates a terrific ‘toon’ product called Toonit! Photo. This Adobe Photoshop cartooning plugin lets you turn photographs into a cartoon look very easily and quickly, and generally without changing the default settings.

021709_toonit-logo

But suppose you want to make a cartoon the old fashioned way? By hand! Or rather, by hand in the computer. Well, there are a few websites that I’ve been hanging around for inspiration. They are Drawn!, Deviant Art and MyToons. Continue reading Cartoons! But not ours.

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?

Photoshop free alternatives

As a developer for Photoshop (and now Aperture) I rarely spend time in other host graphics apps. There are other purchasable ones, like the Corel Painter Suite, but they generally don’t publish a good API that plugin developers like Digital Anarchy (that’s us) can hook into.

There are also a bunch of free image editing apps. For our customer model, they simply fall short of what Photoshop can do and none are widespread enough for us to support. Which makes sense since these free apps are not trying to be Photoshop, just act as an alternative for folks who aren’t doing graphics for a living and don’t want to invest money into graphic manipulation.

Having said that, I occasionally run into a summary list of free Photoshop alternatives. Thought it would be interesting to post a list that I found on Downloadsquad.com through a friend’s blog, pirandello.wordpress.com. Continue reading Photoshop free alternatives

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

Macworld 2009 (I watched from home, just like you)

I’ve been IM’ing today with industry friends about the Macworld keynote, or lack thereof. Most folks have been complaining that the announcements were lackluster. Which is true… but really, that’s like complaining the bus is late because of those darn passengers. ;) I don’t think that Apple CAN always wow us with new offerings. That development pace simply isn’t possible.

Frankly, as a small software company that’s been trying to keep up with their hardware and OS changes since OS X was birthed, whew, I’m glad Apple isn’t bringing out anything startlingly new right now. It’s nice that they have stopped ‘innovating’ for awhile and allowed us developers to create new products, instead of spending time recoding our older ones to work with the newest processor and platform changes.

heh, anyway….

Continue reading Macworld 2009 (I watched from home, just like you)

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

Photoshop & fingerprints & forensics, oh my.

I was clicking around online yesterday, procrastin…er, doing some market research, when I came upon this interesting website, forensicphotoshop.blogspot.com.

I’ve read frequently on Adobe’s website that the medical slash science industry is a huge demographic of their Photoshop and Acrobat sales. (From the Adobe site, here’s an interesting white paper on the subject of Adobe and Foresnics.) At trade shows and socially, I have run into people who use Photoshop for cool stuff like the Genome project. But I’d never noticed a website devoted to a segment of the graphics industry that isn’t considered a creative market.

Until now. The author, Jim Hoerricks, rounds up a lot of Photoshop topics that are interesting in their own right, and moreso because they are referencing, to me, an emerging boutique part of the industry.

Continue reading Photoshop & fingerprints & forensics, oh my.

Polaroid is no longer instant.

I read today on the Studio Photography blog that Polaroid will stop producing its instant film. The article rounds up some interesting vignettes about Polaroid aficionados and why they love the medium, but here’s the meat of the news:

“Sixty years after Polaroid introduced its first instant camera, the company’s iconic film is disappearing from stores. Although Polaroid says the film should be available into 2009, this is the final month of its last production year. Eclipsed by digital photography, Polaroid’s white-bordered prints — and the anticipation they created as their ghostly images gradually came into view — will soon be things of the past.”

This discontinuation feels quite sad. Although I don’t use Polaroid anymore, I remember years back when my friends and I would take Polaroids of each other at parties and tape the photos to a window or sliding glass door. By the end of the evening, we’d have a timeline of the party and all of the silly and sweet things that had occurred.

hmm, and perhaps my statement multiplied by 1 or 3 million is why the instant film is being discontinued. Memories don’t always translate into dollars. Also, while Polariod is nostalgic to me and perhaps the generation above me, it’s not to someone in their teens or 20’s.

Seems to me that if Polaroid did some marketing and made that medium feel relevant, then it could still sell okay. But I guess they’re a big company and it’s just not worthwhile to their bottom line.

regards -Debbie

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

—————————-
Jim Tierney
www.digitalanarchy.com
Digital Anarchy
Filters for Photography & Photoshop
f/x tools for revolutionaries
—————————-

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

Photoshoplab’s List of Auto Features

While hunting online for an answer to a Photoshop problem (even anarchistic developers get stuck sometimes), I came across an interesting article on a blog called Photoshoplab.com. The title of the post is ‘7 Things Photoshop Does Automatically’.

It’s a great roundup and I think many of these automated features speak to folks who buy our Digital Anarchy products. Many of our Photoshop customers are professional photographers with relatively little time to devote to image editing. All of these auto-functions are easy and fast to use. Auto Levels, Auto-Blend Layers and Rotate> Arbitrary (numbers 12, 5 and 7 below) seem to especially speak to folks who need quick, clean adjustments to their photos.

The author’s subtitle is ‘7 Things Photoshop Does Automatically That Aren’t in the Automate Menu’, and that makes sense, because the features he has listed are pretty hidden if you aren’t looking for them. In fact, I was only aware of three of the functions.

Continue reading Photoshoplab’s List of Auto Features

Macro vs Micro at Microsoft Pro Photo Summit.

Digital Anarchy — that’s me and Jim Tierney — attended the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit this week. It’s a pro-level gathering that we have attended for three years, since the summit’s inception. I’m usually in contact with photographers about limited topics, like how to choose a chromakey screen or problems installing our software, so it’s refreshing to get a macro view of hot topics in the professional world of photography.

Speaking of ‘macro’, the two main topics of the Summit this year dealt with orphaned works and its related topic of internet image piracy, and competing with low-cost ‘micro’ stock sites (mainly www.istock.com). The topic of stock photography was especially succulent since not 24 hrs earlier, Getty Images and Flickr announced a deal of limited reciprocation.

Continue reading Macro vs Micro at Microsoft Pro Photo Summit.

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