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):
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:
and from the After Effects Help section!
More vertical resolution, anyone?
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…
There are some of the obvious ones:
Yesterday, our new iOS app, Beauty Box Photo, climbed all the way up to #6 in the Top Free Photo Apps! That’s 3 spots behind Instagram! Pretty impressive for an app that’s only been out for a month. (ok, in the screenshot it’s at #7, but it was at #6… you can trust us! ;-)
Given that there are over 19,000 photo apps in the App Store, getting into the top 10 is a pretty impressive feat. It requires a LOT of downloads, so we are really thrilled by it.
Even more exciting is that version 1.1 is coming out in a couple weeks, adding all sorts of cool stuff. 1.0 has gotten mostly 5 stars reviews and if folks liked that, 1.1 should be really well received. Stayed tuned for all the details once it’s available in the App Store.
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.
Good article here about how the photo that would have won the National Geographic photo of the year, got disqualified because the photographer used Photoshop to get rid of a trash bag instead of cropping it.
If you’re going to enter contests it’s a good thing to read the rules, but it’s almost a certainty that if you bust out the clone tool or use Content-aware Fill you are going to be disqualified. Obviously if it’s a photo manipulation contest that’s different, but most photography contests want you to do everything in camera, limiting adjustments to minor tweaks like cropping and contrast, things that were relatively easy to do in the darkroom days.
While you might argue what’s the difference between cloning a trash bag out of the photo and cropping it, it’s a very slippery slope. It rapidly becomes more about your Photoshop skills and less about your photography skills. If it’s a photography contest, then it should be about your photography skills.
Here’s the disqualified image, click on it to read the full article and see the original.
You wake up from a dream of dancing pink elephants being chased on a rollercoaster by planet sized mosquitoes… and discover that waking is even weirder. Welcome to CES.
Ok, maybe not quite weirder, but my god, does the world need 1001 makers of iPhone cases and headphones? That’s innovation? I know those kids in those iPod commercials looked cool and all, but really? 1001 companies? And why did the Postal Service have a booth with Elvis and Marilyn Monroe impersonators? Not to mention the man sized Qbert looking things standing around a table sized Surface device playing a kids game. And then there was the keynote. Fear and Loathing in Vegas indeed. No acid needed.
When they say ‘consumer electronics’, they mean it. It’s not just TVs, it’s every last little doodad that can be plugged into a wall. And in fact, there were many innovative items floating around, but my main interest was video related stuff, so I’ll chat about that. Although, the Audi booth was a photographers dream. Basically you were inside a giant softbox with a bunch of great cars. Very cool if you wanted to work on your car photography.
I still don’t think the TV manufacturers get it. Panasonic and Samsung sort of did. LG and Sharp not so much, and Toshiba didn’t even have someone that spoke english. The Panasonic and Samsung second screen and internet TV offerings were pretty well thought out as a way to control the TV and content. However, you get the feeling that Apple is going to roll into this space and change the way we think about what a TV will do, in the same way they changed what we thought a phone could do. The current offerings just seem lackluster, with the internet tacked on. Not actually rethinking what you can do with a big internet connected screen.
3D was mostly dead. Only LG had a 3D showing… a giant 30 ft wide/12 ft high screen showing headache inducing 3D graphics. Like 3D TV overall, it was a Fail. Good riddance.
UltraHD (4K) is officially here. From the content I saw I have a hard time believing it will get the response HD did. SD compared to HD was night and day. UltraHD is better, but not so much better that it’s a nobrain upgrade. I guess we’ll see. The manufacturers have given up on 3D, so UltraHD is the new 3D.
A few camera vendors announced cameras that could use apps. Samsung will use Android and Sony, of course, will use their own operating system. Sony _could_ do what Amazon does and tweak their own version of Android and create their own store. But, no, they’re going to roll their own and have 6 people develop apps for it. And yes, they’ll be releasing training videos for this new Sony OS on Betamax. Didn’t Sony lose like a trillion dollars last year? No idea why.
And really, the keynote was f’ing bizarre.
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:
Now that caveats…
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:
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.
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.
CES/PMA is having a mini-conference called the Future Imaging Summit. I’m on the panel on software, so I’ve been pondering what software is going to look like in five years, at least as it pertains to photography.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on where you think it’s going to be and what you expect.
Do you want a Canon 5D markV running Android and apps?
Do you want it easier to add metadata like keywords?
Editing in the cloud?
3D photos? (god forbid ;-)
It will be interesting to see what kind of changes happen to photography over the next five years. One trend that will definitely Continue reading The Future of Photography
As noted in our most recent newsletter:
Due to popular demand, we are porting Beauty Box far and wide. Even farther than you might imagine, but you’ll hear more about that over the next few weeks.
For now, we have builds of Beauty Box for Avid and Nuke that we think are working well. We need some folks who actually use these host apps on a regular basis to verify that for us. So if you (or someone you know) might be interested in beta testing, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let me know what platform/program you’re on, if you’ve beta tested before, if you’ve used Beauty Box with other host apps, and if you like fruitcake. We’re pretty flexible about who we allow to beta test, but I draw the line at fruitcake. With eggnog we have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Champagne and snickerdoodles are fine by us though.
We’re very excited about both these apps, so we’re looking forward to getting Beauty Box out there.
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.
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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?
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?
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.
We’ve wanted to do a training video for awhile that touched on all aspects of Greenscreen photography. From the photo shoot to the file management and, of course, the keying. We recently had the opportunity to work with with Mike Price of Fairfield Photography to do just that. Mike has been shooting youth sports for years and uses greenscreens and Primatte.
In this 30 minute video, Mike touches on all aspects of Greenscreen photography: Shooting and light setup, managing photos, setting up actions, and doing the keying. If you’re new to chromakey photography, regardless of whether you’re using greenscreen or bluescreen, this is a great video. Even if you’re an old hand, it’s always great to see how other folks are doing it. So check it out!
Sony has come out with a pretty funny video about DSLR users who really shouldn’t be using a DSLR. The campaign is called: DSLR Gear, No Idea.
One has to ask… What is Sony going for here? This is only funny if you know something about DSLRs. The camera they’re advertising is a point and shoot with some fancy features, but they’re pretty much insulting the people they want to buy their camera. Seems like an odd teaser campaign… but it is funny!
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)
So where are we getting these numbers and how do YOU get them?
In case you missed it, last week on Halloween we released a free filter called Ugly Box! The blog post is a little late for Halloween (although they are celebrating it in New Jersey today), but if you’re tired of all the election nonesense, there’s still plenty of time to use it to make Glenn Beck more interesting.
You can download it here:
I think one of the biggest surprises we had when we released Beauty Box 1.0 was that people kept asking us if it could make people look worse. Considering how much detail you can see on HD and how bad some people looked on HD, I didn’t really think there’d be a need for a filter to do that. But… we give our customers what they want though…
With Beauty Box 2.0, you could set Skin Detail Smoothing to a negative number resulting in, yep, Ugliness! It takes the skin texture, amplifies it and sharpens it making your talent either look a bit older or flat out hideous depending on their skin and the settings. Ugly Box, the fitler we’re releasing for free, let’s you use that aspect of Beauty Box. It’s a bit of a one trick pony, you don’t have all the control you do with Beauty Box, but it can definitely make the folks in your videos look a lot worse.
Anyways, all the details are below, so download it for free and have fun with it! I figured it’d be a great Halloween treat for all you visual effects artists and editors doing last minute scary videos (or election videos…). ;-)
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:
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:
There’s a myth going around that DSLRs shoot great video footage. They don’t. They are not video cameras and as such, usually result in sub-par video. If you want to shoot video, go buy a video camera. Stop listening to the cool kids telling you to shoot video on your non-video camera DSLR.
It is true that if you hook up a really nice lens to your DSLR and learn all the things that a video camera does that a DSLR doesn’t do (and that you now have to do manually)… you might get really beautifully looking footage. If you are an experienced videographer and/or filmmaker, you can get brilliant footage out of a DSLR. If you’re not an experienced videographer, the footage is just as likely going to be shaky, out of focus, and have bad audio. (Of course, some might say that if you’re not an experienced videographer your footage is going to look like that no matter what camera you use. ;-)
For the types of stuff most people are shooting on DSLRs, a sub-$2000 video camera, like the Canon XA10, will probably serve them much better. Actually, $800 handhelds are often more than most people need. I’ve got a Panasonic that shoots absolutely beautiful HD. I know, I know… it’s not as cool, but for most things, even stuff that Pro Video guys shoot, you need to jump through hoops to get a DSLR to do what you want. For example, it’s doubtful I’d let someone with a DSLR rig shoot my wedding. IMHO it’s not the appropriate camera for the job. Most people using a DSLR to shoot a wedding are probably trying waaaay too hard to be a ‘filmmaker’ and probably not as focused on just shooting my wedding. Besides, I really don’t want someone wearing a rig that looks like an orthodontic headset for Frankenstein wandering around my wedding.
(Of course, if you’re into creating a monster, the RedRock DSLR rig shown is a good one)
All that said… it is possible to get great footage out of a DSLR and you get to use all those super awesome lenses. The gist of this post is to get you thinking about the hype that surrounds DSLRs and video. The cameras have a LOT of shortcomings that most people are going to find difficult to workaround, even video pros that are used to higher end camcorders. Before you go running off trying to use a DSLR for video, consider what you’re shooting and what you want to achieve. Examine the features that DSLRs are lacking, how that will affect what you’re shooting, and what you will have to buy to compensate for the missing video features. Use that as a guide to determine whether you should spend the time and money on outfitting your DSLR to shoot video or just buying a video camera that’s designed for video from the ground up.
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.
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.
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).
Photography is absolutely amazing. It really forces you to be present in the place you’re at and the moment you’re there.
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.
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.
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.
Psunami, our old product for creating realistic water, was originally developed for Titanic. Rob was the visual effects supervisor on that film and played a key role in Psunami coming into being. Arete Associates was the developer of the wave technology originally and did the development for the film in conjunction with Digital Domain and Rob. He also was effects supervisor on The Aviator. After that film came out, he did a talk where he discussed the fact that the technology they needed a team of people to create in 1997 was available to anyone for $199 10 years later. A little trivia for all you visual effects artists out there. Psunami is now sold by Red Giant.
So congrats to Rob for his continued excellence in visual effects, this time for Hugo.
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!’)
NPR recently had a story about Silicon Valley vs. Hollywood. Hollywood suffers from a lot of piracy and the Valley enables some of it. Sort of. I get the feeling that Hollywood would rather the internet go away and then they wouldn’t have to deal with the change they’re apparently so scared of. They are certainly trying to legislate the internet into oblivion.
In the NPR article producer Gavin Polone says, regarding the fact that YouTube and the like are now producing their own shows: “And they will also start to look at this very expensive property as property, and they’re not going to want to have it stolen from them”.
Guess what? They’re well aware of much it costs to make content and they are definitely in it to make money. Could it be possible there are other ways to profit from content than the standard model that Hollywood has used for the last 50-80 years?
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.
So… what country do you think releases the most films? US? India?… Nope, Nigeria! This was one of the interesting tidbits that came out of the presentation Jon Peddie did at Siggraph Asia. Now, they’re not necessarily good films, but given the number of different languages (510!) Nigeria has, apparently they crank out a LOT of films (and, of course, it’s known as Nollywood).
No Nigerian Scam Here. They’re Making Movies!
This info was put out there to drive home the point that a lot of the growth we’re probably going to see in digital tools is going to come from emerging markets. This means opportunities for both software developers and artists. Granted, I don’t know how much software anyone is actually buying in Nigeria (or what they’re paying artists). However, I do know that some emerging markets, like India, are buying software and, at the higher end, apparently there are some well paid opportunities. I know several folks that are working in China, Singapore, and India.
Photojournalism has always been a huge part of photography. It has been capturing pain and suffering of conflicts for most of the last 100 years or so. What’s somewhat new is the prevalence of cameras in the hands of amatuers, be it mobile devices or DSLRs. Much has been written about this elsewhere, so I’m not going to retread old news. However, recent events across the bay in Oakland have brought this issue a little closer to home. (Digital Anarchy is based in San Francisco)
It’s been interesting and disheartening to see the stream of photos and videos coming out of the Occupy Oakland economic protest that basically got attacked by police a couple weeks ago. No longer is it just people in far away places like Egypt, Syria, or China using this technology and social media to show peaceful protesters being fired upon and, but now it’s 10 miles away from where I live.
The true power of photography is it’s ability to capture dramatic moments, be they on the other side of the world or across a bridge. This is what makes it exciting to work within the photography community. Even if much of what passes for photojounalism these days is not taken by professionals. I find the thought of having a thousand cameras in a thousand places to be an incredible way of seeing what’s happening in the world.
btw… yes, I support the Occupy movement. However, I think it’s time they moved beyond the campouts and offered some solutions. This article is a good start…
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?”.
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.
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.
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?
It’s interesting to see how other companies offer tech support and relating that to our philosophy on it. Not only other software developers, but places we buy from (like Amazon) and hardware that we buy.
Basically, our deal is if you bought it from us, we’ll make sure you’re supported on it. There’s no time limit, support contracts, or whatever. There’s some caveats with this… if new hardware comes along that isn’t supported by an older version, you might have to upgrade to get a working version. It can require a lot of work to support new versions of host apps and new OSes, so we need to charge for upgrades sometimes. But if you bought something and it’s supposed to work on a given system, we’ll support you on it. (this includes stuff that we sold to Red Giant if they’re not supporting it for some reason)
I’m on a technology rant today, just the way it goes some days…
There’s been a number of interesting privacy things happening lately. The most interesting is the FTC’s smack down of Google. Here’s a good article on it… but basically Google got forced into 20 (yes, 20!) years of privacy audits and a requirement that users have to Opt-In to future social marketing endeavors. This is a pretty big blow to them and it bolster’s the FTC’s case that they should be able to regulate what companies are doing with the information we give to them. This has to be making Facebook, who happily whores out your data to all comers and constantly tries to ‘innovate’ new ways of doing so, a little nervous. FTC regulation might put a damper on Zuckerburg’s notion that ‘Privacy is dead’ and in the process, affect their IPO which is probably coming soon.
There really needs to be better legislation protecting the data we give to companies. I highly encourage you to support movements like Dotrights.org.
We’re giving a lot of data to companies and when companies like RapLeaf are attaching all that data to your name and then selling it, there needs to be some protections.
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.
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):
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.
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.
BDDP Unlimited has created a beautiful spot for Solidarités International about the dangers of dirty water. While not a CG piece, it looks like real water and ink were used, it’s still inspiring both graphically and in the message. Check it out:
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.
If you’re going to hang over the side of a boat to do underwater photography, it helps to have a leash/lanyard attached to the housing/camera. One might ask, with good reason, why you would hang over the side of the boat in the first place. If you’re trying to photograph Humpback whales in Hawaii, you’re not allowed to get in the water with them. Hawaii is a national sanctuary for the whales and as they’re endangered species there can be some pretty hefty fines for getting in the water with them. So you go out on Zodiac/raft boats, let the whales swim up to the boat, and put the camera in the water. Hopefully, you are holding onto the camera while you are doing this. (If you are, you can get some nice shots like the one below)
However, if you are like me and get excited when you see a Humpback whale 10 feet away from the boat, you might let your camera slip out of your hand. At which point you will watch your Canon T2i and Ikelite housing start slowly sinking. It’s like watching a big bag of money go down to Davey Jones locker. Not good. For a split second I considered the fact that we were in a whale sanctuary and I might be fined if I dove in after the camera and underwater housing. After the .25 of a second was up, I dove in and grabbed the camera. Luckily, I don’t think anyone other than Mr. Humpback Whale (and 18 other passengers) saw anything and their were no repercussions. I immediately got back on the boat anyways, so it’s not like I was hanging out having a photo session with the whale.
The moral of the story: Sometimes a $10 lanyard can save you a lot of camera equipment! (Feel free to post your own stupid photographer tricks in the comment section)
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.
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?
From time to time, our customers are gracious enough to send us their amazing work in which they have been using our plugins. Pete Saunders is one of those customers.
Earlier this week Peter offered up his work for us to use in our 3D Invigorator gallery section. He is the Company Director for After Hours Creative, a small design studio in England that specializes in high impact graphics.
(Above) “Created for an individual looking for a totally unique card design. We decided to create a romantic feel to the word “Love” with just colours, textures and a small selection of well placed images. The combination of 3D text created in 3D Invigorator, textures in Texture Anarchy and images of small roses achieved the look and feel perfectly.” -Saunders
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.
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.
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.
However, no situation is perfect.
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.
The CUDA/OpenGL speed update for Beauty Box Video is now available. This dramatically speeds up Beauty Box Video and improves the workflow in Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro. You should see between a 3-6x speed up depending on your video card.
We’re really excited to have this available. It definitely took longer than expected to get this working with all the different video cards out there. But the performance increase makes it all worth it!
This is a free update for current owners of Beauty Box Video (for After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro). Click here to download the demo. Install the demo version and it should automatically recognize your serial number.
If you don’t own it, now is a great time to purchase it as it’s on sale for $149 ($50 off). Go to the Digital Anarchy store to purchase it.
Many of you may be familiar with Photoshop’s Photomerge, but this artist is in a panorama class of his own. Jook Leung has been recognized worldwide as a master of panoramic photography.
Some if his most captivating work comes from a project titled, “Times Square New Year’s Eve at Midnight.” For the past decade, Jook Leung has been capturing the ‘famous’ moment in 360VR. View his most recent 2010 image here.
Jook on his work, “I’m quite passionate about crafting the kind of panoramic images that reveal a unique perspective while conveying a strong sense of intimacy with the subject. Here the viewer becomes fully immersed in the same moment in time the photogapher is trying to capture. This is what masterful photography is all about. New technologies like Apple Computer’s QuickTime VR and Helmut Dersch’s Panorama Tools have made it possible to construct, publish and view full 360° x 180° spherical images. For me, this is the ultimate panorama and is what I specialize in doing well.”
Recently, one image of mine was selected to be a part of Photomedia Center’s 2010 Open Juried Exhibition. As an emerging photographer, I am very thrilled and honored to be included in such a fine body of work. Organization like this gives us, emerging photographers, a chance to fulfill one of the most exciting aspects of being an artist… Having your work displayed and seen by others.
“Cabo in the Summer” by Maggie Percell, www.maggiemaephoto.com
I recently came across an article about a photography vest that’s cut for the female figure. The vest is by Foto Fashionista and “offers female photographers a more fashionable choice for carrying necessities while shooting”. The article is on a great industry blog, Picture Soup, and written by Diane Berkenfeld, the blog hostess and writer/photographer extraordinaire. Read the article.
Catering to female fashion is ages old but seems to be a new trend in photography. I did a little googling and didn’t any resources for female-specific clothing though there’s lots of material about how to dress your female models (hint: in very little).
I was recently running a test in ToonIt and rendered out about half of the 70 presets that ship with ToonIt. For something that’s _just_ supposed to produce cartoon’d images, you can get a surprising number of different illustrated and painterly looks. Anyways, judge for yourself… here are 35 or so of the presets (not all of them are exactly flattering on this photo, but they can produce interesting results on other images):
In late July, we released Primatte Chromakey 3.5, a terrific update for using our greenscreen masking tool in Adobe Photoshop CS5 and 64-bit native operation. Also in July, a terrific article appeared in Post magazine about how to set up for greenscreen. The article is ‘The Keys to Shooting Greenscreen’ and it’s written by one of my favorite industry writers, Randi Altman, who is also Post’s editor.
Randi’s topic is really about greenscreening for video and film (with specs like HDCAM and 35mm/24fps) since Post is a broadcast media publication. However, her sage advice is completely applicable to working with photographs and other still images.
In fact, the subtitle of the article is exactly the mantra that we tell our Primatte Photoshop customers: “Give yourself enough time, light it right and plan ahead.” Continue reading Post magazine on greenscreen.
Excellent blog post on Fast Company’s web site called Death of Creativity = Death of Innovation.
It brings up some excellent points about creativity and how the teaching of it is getting pushed out of schools, in favor of standardized test.
When you start talking about creativity most people think painting or photography or some other ‘artsy’ thing. But it’s not so. Many of the computer programmers I’ve met are some of the most mind blowingly creative people you could imagine. Same goes for any field where innovation is key. Einstein’s genius was not in his mathematical skill, but his ability to creatively look at a problem and have the vision to see things no one else thought possible.
However, I do think that teaching art can help teach creativity, no matter what you study or do for work. It helps you look at things differently and in ways where there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.
Many people don’t think they can be creative. But they can. I think the system just beats the creative impulses out of them. Relegating creativity to the arts and discouraging answers that don’t exactly match what’s in some text book or test.
Anyways… read the original article. It’s quite good.
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!
Truly the best part of working at Digital Anarchy is you, our customer. While doing technical support can sometimes be difficult, it is incredibly rewarding to work through an issue and get praise from the person we have helped. It’s even better when that praise is sprinkled with funny accolades, like this recent email from Jeff Dean (condensed to show the good stuff).
My household gets a delivery of The Economist magazine. Sometime I only skim a few pages but I always think of this publication as a resource for straightforward, accurate, apolitical news reporting.
Same with Reuters, a news outlet known for running its photographs unedited. No use of Photoshop is allowed to alter the image or change its intended meaning.
A story today in Media Decoder questions a Reuters photograph used by The Economist in its June 19 issue. The photo shows President Obama standing alone in front of the Gulf of Mexico, head down as if in contemplation. It’s a striking image on that mid-June cover, and one that inspired me to flip more closely the magazine a few weeks ago.
Beauty Box Photo has been out for only a few weeks now but we’re really excited by the response from people and the press about it. Angie Taylor gave a great review on her blog, Creative Pro Therapy, as well as Diane Berkenfeld on her blog, Picture-Soup.com.
The example above shows one before/after image with only a little skin correction needed. The example below shows a more extreme example of skin smoothing. The plugin is great for both kinds of situations because it always gives a natural look. Continue reading Beauty Box Photo is a Smash!
We are so happy and excited to announce the releasing of Toonit! Photo 2.6 which is compatible with 64bit and CS5! The best part about it; it’s FREE if you already own the product. Go to this Update Page to get the instructions on how to do a fresh install. If you haven’t purchased Toonit! you can now get it for $89 until July 18!
(After Toonit! Photo has been applied)
(Original image before Toonit! Photo has been applied)
This is just the first in many more 64bit and CS5 updates to come. Here’s are run down of when you can expect these updates for our other products:
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.
Here at Digital Anarchy we are the middle of redesigning our website — stay tuned for a new look very soon! — and in our search for interesting ideas, we came upon these summaries of gorgeous and FREE icon sets; 40+ Extremely Beautiful Icon Sets Hand-picked from deviantART and 40+ Beautiful Icon Sets Hand-picked from deviantART – Part 2.
Here are my favorite two:
…And the rest of our contenders are a few steps behind. We are working hard to update and release our products for the Adobe CS5 suite. Keeping up with changes from Apple, Microsoft and Adobe does kinda feel like being in a boxing ring sometimes.
Our first release has been our Beauty Box Video skin retouching plugin for After Effects CS5. We’re very excited about this product being ready for After Effects 64-bit use in a timely fashion. (Boxers are often not good with time management; that’s why they have managers.)
Photo by Maggie Mae Percell, www.maggiemaephoto.com, our favorite anarchist-in-training. “He coulda been a contender!”
I recently spoke with William Branson III surrounding our exciting new product release of Beauty Box Photo and were reminded of how much I love his artwork. He is an amazing Portrait Artist and his images really push the limits of photograph vs painting. Check out his work here: http://www.wbranson.com/
(Both images © William Branson III)
Are you ever in a situation with a model or subject and can’t get the perfect position out of them? If yes, then this is your luck day. I came across a great article that gives 10 top portrait tips to help you capture the uniqueness of your subject.
One that I found interesting is #9.“DO make sure to separate the arms from the waist. Arms flat against the side of your subject create the illusion of a very wide waist.” Or you can always adjust for that in Photoshop ;)
I came across this great photo series on Flickr, entitled Pencil vs Camera by artist Ben Heine. It is always interesting to see how different mediums can be combined, especially when it comes from reality (photos) and imagination (drawings). Ben used a traditional method to do his sketches. All the graphic elements shown come from his own stock/production. He drew the sketches, took the photos, and edited them.
Here at Digital Anarchy we have always been a big supporter of how illustrations can play a role within photography. Our plugin ToonIt! Photo lets you create cartoon effects, like shading and lines, from your own photographic images. Learn more about ToonIt! Photo here.
I had a few extra moments to play with the Pencil vs Camera concept using my own images and ToonIt! Photo. I shot these photos in Santa Cruz, CA on a very overcast day about two years ago. I would have liked to have a more pleasing sky but you can’t always get what you want, right? Here are the results:
Every so often I get an email that makes me smile. I like good marketing and catchy marketing language. This email from Layers magazine fits that category.
My Layers subscription is running out and the reminder email is titled: “It’s all fun and games till someone expires”. Funny! A great reminder as well that you can get someone to sit up and notice if you do it in the right way. Learn about Layers magazine at www.layersmagazine.com.
I personally love Layers because they give terrific tips about all of the Adobe CS5 software, and they also write some pretty sweet stuff about our Digital Anarchy products. So does their sister magazine Photoshop User and the related internet channel Layers TV. Check out some recent reviews of our 3D Invigorator plugin on this Press page.
Yesterday Digital Anarchy did a photoshoot for our Beauty Box product for video skin retouching. Well actually for our Beauty Box PRODUCTS, since we have related product coming out really soon. (Stay tuned for that exciting news!)
We had two terrific models participating in the shoot, which took place at Jim’s apartment. Towards the end of the day, his fluffy cat got curious and investigated the scene. I don’t think that cats need skin retouching but maybe we will come out with a fur smoothing product.
Molotov Cupcake got a little indignant when we booted her from the ‘set’. The model got a little mock indignant when Jim proclaimed that the cutest shot all day was of the cat!
While I find captchas as annoying as, well, everyone else does, I also enjoy the beauty of their randomness. Our company Digital Anarchy builds some of its products around that idea, like our Texture Anarchy pattern generator for Photoshop textures. Texture Anarchy harnesses fractal noise, algorithms and other techy chaos into really pretty textures.
A few days ago, I posted an ad in the Talent section of Craigslist. The captcha that I had to fill out, ‘discontented bacon’, was geekiness to its max. More on what this talent ad was for in a few days… we’re excited.
Since one week is a decade in internet time, I’m seeing this February post about green screening an eternity too late. But I still think it’s interesting, as is most of the stuff that I find through BoingBoing.net. The movie shown below is the 2009 Virtual Backlot Reel from Stargate Studios.
It’s fascinating — and maybe a bit disturbing — to realize that mundane scenes in TV shows are now regularly treated as visual effects events. Digital Anarchy first developed Primatte Chromakey, our Adobe Photoshop plugin for green screen masking, in mid-2005. At the time, we had to spend a lot of time simply explaining to photographers what ‘green screen’ meant. Five years later, green screen is a recognized entity with information accessible on non-pro sites like ehow.com. The convergence continues!
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.
Joe Farace lights up the room in two ways. He is a talented photographer, writer and teacher whose emails end with catchy signatures like ‘It’s 2010 and the Big Bang never ended’ or ‘Saving the world, one pixel at a time’. He is also an expert on lighting and imaging techniques for photographers.
Recently, Joe showed me a photo composite that he created while writing one of his upcoming books. The image was masked with Primatte Chromakey, our blue / green screen Adobe Photoshop plugin.
I love play on words. Moreso, I love gorgeous images that inspire me to write. This artwork by Carl Campbell has accomplished all of the above. Carl used ToonIt Photo, our Adobe Photoshop cartoon plugin, to transform a BMW car into something even more special.
Yesterday I stumbled upon NotAlwaysRight.com. The website covers customer service bloopers and my favorite entry by far is Beyond Even The Power Of Pixel Dust. This entry details a customer asking a copy shop employee to remove one of three people in a photo.
“Customer: “Hi, I’d like a copy of this photo, but I need one the people cropped out. “
(The customer hands me a photo of three men, arms around each other’s shoulders in front of a brick wall.)
Me: “Which one needs to be cropped out?”
Customer: “The guy in the middle.”
Me: “Well, we really can’t do that. That is more for a photo-refinishing artist.”
Customer: “Can’t you just erase the guy in the middle?”
Me: “We could, but then there would be a blank space were he once was. It would be pretty obvious.”
Customer: “Oh, you won’t just see the wall behind him if he is removed?”
Me: “No, the camera doesn’t take a picture of what is behind the person, just what you see.”
Customer: “What if it was a digital camera?”
Since Digital Anarchy specializes in Adobe Photoshop plugins, I talk to a variety of folks each day with a different level of understanding about how digital imaging works. I wonder how many of you have experienced this kind of question from your clients or customers. The blooper comes from my hometown of Philly, PA, which is cherry filling as well as that much more embarrassing.
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.
Ever since they started shooting motion pictures one of the biggest questions have been… How do you keep the damn camera steady? And what do you do about it if it’s not? If you’re a photographer just getting into shooting video with your DSLR, you’re likely to have the same questions. I’ll give you some answers to the first question and a few tips on dealing with the second.
While a shaky camera can be used, on rare occasion, to good effect… it’s usually something to be avoided. More often than not, it just means your watching a B horror flick and the owner of said shaky camera is about to be bitten in half. Hopefully we can get you shooting stable video so as to insure you are not similarly attacked by creatures that are aggravated by shaky video.
So… how do you avoid such a fate?
NAB is a huge three letters in the film and television world. However, most photographers will never have heard of it.
It stands for National Association of Broadcasters, which is the film/tv industry lobbying organization and they throw the annual NAB tradeshow which gets about 100,000 people. Yeah, 100,000. It’s massive. Everything you could think of needing for shooting a film/video production is there. From hdmi cables to helicopters.
So what’s this got to do with photographers?
Every so often, I get an email from a customer (or potential customer) that makes me smile, laugh, or do both aloud. This morning was a great example. The first email was titled ‘HELP’ and said:
I had a chuckle over this letter but before I could write back, I noticed a second email sent 20 minutes later by Tom. The title was ‘After careful review and strong black coffee’.
Thanks Tom! You get one of our cool Anarchist tshirts as ‘thank you’ schwagg for making me smile before MY coffee kicked in.
By the way, turns out that Tom hadn’t unwrapped the 3D Invigorator plugin from its ZIP file, which is kinda like a tupperware container. You can read about how to install for Windows on this page and Mac installation on this page. Try out our 3D Inivgorator plugin, which is a Photoshop 3D plugin for making 3D logos, by going to the Demos page.
I recently came across a blog post by Fuzzy Duenkel, a photographer over in Wisconsin. He makes a pretty passionate case against using scene swapping (e.g. the type of stuff you do with Primatte and green screen) for traditional, ‘classic’ portraits. By and large I agree with him. I don’t think it’s a great use of the technology to put someone in a place they’ve never been so they can say they were there. For novelty photos and the like, it’s great, but for a ‘classic’ portrait, maybe not so much. But there’s more to portraits than just the classic look.
Image by Deverie FX, www.deveriefx.com
Having worked with Digital Anarchy for many years, I am often asked how decisions are made. We are pretty small staff and everyone is always running around trying to make their own tasks happen. How do we take the time to focus on monthly goals, development priorities and the like?
It’s simple: We order Chinese food for lunch.
3D tends to be a new thing for most people, so we get a lot of questions about it. Here are the most frequently asked ones, the basic answers, and links to our video tutorials that explain the answers in depth.
1: My Illustrator files won’t import, why?
Save Illustrator Files as Invigorator 10 files. Invigorator can’t read vector files saved out in newer Illustrator formats. So save your files as Illustrator 10 files to ensure they’ll come into 3D Invigorator. See the tutorial on Illustrator files:
2: My complex Illustrator file isn’t coming in correctly. Why?
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.
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.
When we first launched Primatte, we tested a variety of ‘greenscreen’ backgrounds to determine what to recommend. Paper backgrounds turned out to be worst and we had the best luck with a velcro/foam material.
Well… apparently not all paper backgrounds are made equal!
I don’t remember who made the paper background we initially tested. But it was awful. Very reflective and prone to hot spots. We figured all paper would have the same problems. After listening to a talk by another company that does greenscreen software, I decided to revisit this and give Savage Paper’s ‘tech green #46’ a try.
So how’d it fare vs. the foam materail we’ve been recommending since day 1?
Around the holidays, we received a great compliment about Beauty Box from customer Ross Webb. Beauty Box is our new skin retouching software for video footage in After Effects and Final Cut Pro.
I asked Ross about his work. He said, “My history is around AE but I’m using FCP for this. The footage is owned by me, shot on a canon 7D. It’s glamour and the model had really bad scarring on her face.”
Thanks Ross. We wish great success to your project. And continued success to our skin smoothing product, for which you can see examples here.
Digital Anarchy exhibited at the Senior Portrait Artists (SPA) Event earlier this week. It was yet another trade show, but this time we were on the island of Coronado, just off the sunny coastline of San Diego, CA.
We stayed and worked in the grand Hotel de Coronado, which is a grand hotel dating to 1888 and considered a National Historical Landmark. (Interesting history is here.) It was wonderful to be in a hotel that was next to the beach and lined with palm trees, especially during the winter, but the lush surroundings did present a small problem. Continue reading Trade show amid the palm trees.
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?
On the heels of a wonderful customer email from 2009, I’d like to show you my favorite email from 2010. Never mind that the year is only two days old. This email will quickly become a classic around our office.
Michael Maller emailed us regarding his recent purchase of Beauty Box. This is our new skin retouching software for video footage in After Effects and Final Cut Pro. Michael had some great things to say about the subtle effect that Beauty Box provides when smoothing away wrinkles, blemishes and other skin issues.
I had a very nice email exchange with customer John Gunmann a few months ago. Meant to blog immediately about the talk but other conversations kept piling on top. Figure this topic will be a wonderful final post of 2009. Especially since John was so pleased that he told me to buy a top shelf drink on the Digital Anarchy tab, which perhaps I will do tonight for New Years Eve.
Nice mention of two Digital Anarchy plugins in the Flashcriminals roundup of ‘super charged’ Photoshop plugin. This list summarizes “30 Plugins to Supercharge Photoshop” and says, “I have compiled a list of free and commercial plug-ins to supercharge Photoshop. Each of these will speed up your work, reduce the number of steps needed and help you create amazing effects. Some of them will help you even develop effects otherwise not possible in Photoshop.”
The blog roundup lists 3D Invigorator, our 3D logo creator for Photoshop.This plugin gives instant 3D gratification by turning text and shapes and even Illustrator imports into extruded 3D graphics. Try out the demo here.
The list also includes Backdrop Designer (a personal favorite of mine) which digitally simulates muslin material backgrounds. It’s especially fun to use if you are posing a pretty girl in front of the digital drapery. Try out the demo here.
Beauty Box has been a very fun product to develop. The best part of releasing our new Beauty Box product, I think, was working with the models who lent their beauty and time. After the photoshoot, we treated their skin with our Final Cut Pro plugin in post-production. This smoothed out their blemishes, laugh lines and other issues with their skin quality.
Before the models arrived, Digital Anarchy spent the morning preparing the shoot area. We decided to convert the living room of our Chief Executive Anarchist, Jim Tierney, rather than renting a space. His purple velvet couch made a terrific rich backdrop and we hung black striped curtains to frame the shots. Some of the footage was shot outside; luckily the weather held. San Francisco in December can be very cold or very warm, often within the same three hour period.
Sitting in for the models before they arrive:
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
And we’re back. Digital Anarchy is once again making plugins for After Effects and Final Cut Pro. Our first new product is Beauty Box 1.0, which was released yesterday. In a nutshell, this plugin automatically does skin retouching, which reduces wrinkles and removes blemishes.
If you weren’t able to hire a makeup artists for your shoot, or you just have regular people who look, well… regular, then Beauty Box allows you to do skin retouching without having to go frame by frame. It’s a powerful new plugin that uses face detection and an advanced smoothing algorithms to smooth out the skin while keeping all the other details sharp and in focus.
Of course, we have the privilege of working with beautiful models. But Beauty Box will make everyone look beautiful! Ok, well, maybe not everyone. But if it’s possible, Beauty Box makes it easier to get them there.
My biggest frustration with the 5D is the lack of AutoFocus.
You get very use to AF on traditional camcorders and not having really affects how you shoot. You definitely can’t move around as much as you would with a normal camcorder. It is possible to hit the AF-ON button and get it to re-focus, but this is quite a bit different than dynamic, I-don’t-have-to-think-about-it Autofocus.
So it has it’s shortcomings, but this is partially made up for by the absolutely beautiful video. So my top 10 observations about it…
Ok, well I only hate one common use of it. That surreal, oversaturated look that seems to be the first thing everyone does when they try the technique. You don’t even need to use HDR, there’s a photoshop plugin for it and you can use Camera Raw to pull it off. Here’s an example of the style:
HDR Gone Bad
It’s a novelty look and I’m over it. It was cool for a very short time, then everyone decided they wanted to have surreal images. It’s not that hard of a look to achieve, so it’s not that impressive. Get over it. :-) I much prefer to use HDR for what it was meant for… which is giving a slightly wider dynamic range to create a shot that has similar contrast and color range to what your eye actually sees. No one has seen colors like the photo above has. Alright, well, yeah I’ve taken mushrooms too, so maybe then… but not normally.
The better use for HDR…
Our Digital Anarchy Flickr site is pretty new. The president’s Flickr stream has been around since April. What does this say about a government institution having better web 2.0 outreach than a young software company? I hope it’s just a commentary on the Obama admin being better staffed rather than more precocious than us.
On the White House Flickr stream, the photos that I am digging are decidedly non-presidential. They show Obama as a eprson, not a politician, which I would guess is the point of having a stream. Hopefully, you can enjoy seeing a photo of the US president playing hoops, and playing pretty well, no matter what your politics are.
On the Digital Anarchy Flickr stream, I am digging being able to add in photos that don’t have a proper home on our DigitalAnarchy.com website. There is more flexibility in posting a string of fun, related photos on Flickr then adding similar (= repetative) images to the website.
Wired magazine did an interesting piece on the president’s Flickr stream a few months ago. It covers a bit of the history of photo documenting the less rigid side of presidency. Wired hasn’t covered Digital Anarchy’s stream yet but there’s still time…