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’dlet 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.
Using a DSLR to shoot video is sometimes an endeavor worthy of Dr. Frankenstein.
(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.
YouTube/Google is opening a full fledged Do-It-Yourself production facility called Creator Space in London and, if rumors are true, Los Angeles.
What does this mean?
The most immediate result is that we will probably see better produced sneezing cat and laughing dog videos. This alone is exciting. Think of the cat videos we can get with a full cyc greenscreen! The possibilities stagger the mind.
Seriously though, there’s not a lot of info about it, but the promo video doesn’t give me reason to believe any post houses or production facilities should be sweating it too hard.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
(Click on the image above to be taken to the King’s site and see the video.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
…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.)
Go here to try the Beauty Box Video demo for Adobe After Effects CS5. Click here to read our line-up of CS5 contenders.
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/
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.
More photos from our model shoot for Beauty Box, our video skin retouching plugin. Debbie had a little downtime while the set was being shifted around and became very interested in her feet. Then Maggie’s feet and finally the whole room of feet.
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 StargateStudios.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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…
No… not your wife/husband, sheesh… the dirty minds of you people.
Your info. Your techniques. Tips and tricks. I had an interesting tech support call yesterday with one of our users. He’s a photographer that’s been using Primatte for some time. He related an encounter he had with a fellow photographer in his area. She asked him what he was using to create his greenscreen shots, and he told her to go buy one of our competitor’s products! His logic was that he wasn’t going to share info with someone in the same market. He was quite pleased that she was unable to get the same results and was frustrated by the whole thing.
This does not mean the Flash player is available on the iPhone. Only that the Flash development environment can now build iPhone apps.
Apple of course does not want the Flash player on the iPhone. Why? If you can build iPhone apps that are usable through a browser, who’s going to buy them through the Apple App Store? We’ll see how badly Apple cripples support of HTML 5 in Safari since HTML 5, in some cases, will allow you to build rich internet apps and theoretically get around the App store as well.
3D Invigorator, our Photoshop plugin for creating 3D logos and objects, just got 5 stars and a Hot Pick from Photoshop User. Dave Huss loved the plugin, but took exception with the name, which he thought sounded like a back massager. We’re not entirely clear what kind of back massagers he’s used to using, but, then again, there’s many things we wonder about those NAPP authors.
Anyways, pick up the latest issue of Photoshop User to read the full review. In honor of the review, we’ve recreated their Hot Pick logo in 3D.
The Nobel Prize for physics went, in part, to William Boyle and George Smith who invented the Charged Coupled Device. The CCD is what allows all of your digital cameras to capture photos. So as your running around with your cameraphone, DSLR, HD video camera, or whatever give a nod to the physicists who allow you to capture light.
A tech side note… I saw this photo in a newspaper and started searching around online for it. Google Images completely failed. Microsoft’s Bing found it on the second try. At least for image searching, it would appear Google has some competition.
In part 1 I discussed some of the habits that may or may not develop. Now I’m going to talk technology. While at the Digital Imaging conference a few technology things kept coming up… Cameraphones, the cloud, and social networks. Not exactly unexpected.
The interesting thing about cameraphones is 1) how they will evolve and affect point and shoot cameras and 2) how are users storing and managing their photos.
Just got back from the InfoTrendsDigital Imaging conference. There seems to be alot of speculation around the future of photography, including the 6Sight conference which is dedicated to the question. So, let’s talk about prints, clouds, camera phones, and some of the other stuff that came up at the conference.
One of the interesting observations at the conference was the way our picture taking habits are changing. We (as a society) are taking a LOT more pictures. However, these pictures tend to have a lower value on average, with a shorter shelf life so to speak. In the past, pictures were somewhat difficult to take and get printed so there was some value to them, even the crappy ones. Now we snap pictures everywhere, immediately send them around to our network of friends. We can immediately see our friends pictures who are doing the same thing. But a lot of these photos are ‘of the moment’. Pictures from very recent events that are not great photos, but are interesting because of their immediacy. Most are not pictures you’ll be looking at five years from now. There are a few things that can change the value of a picture immediately, for example, if someone passes away any pictures you have of them become more valuable.
Another interesting point was that the value of some pictures have a ‘V’ shaped curve over time. They are very valuable when first taken, but that value diminishes over time. However at some point along the timeline, because of the age of the photo, a death, or something else, the value of the photo starts to increase.
Sometimes my workday, like yours, starts before my coffee kicks in.
Here at Digital Anarchy, we are always available to find your old serial number or resend you an installer. Our records are quite good and typically we can go back seven years, to the company’s beginnings, to find your information. This customer service is especially important since we don’t ship our products on disk but instead provide digital download.
This week, I received an email from a customer who had purchased our Backdrop Designer product — a cool Adobe Photoshop plugin that makes muslin-esque textures for digital backgrounds — in 2005 and needed to reinstall. I located the customer in our Backdrop Designer database, updated his serial number through our new system, and sent off the info. I was extremely delighted to get this positive email back from Ron. Continue reading Helping the Top Dog.→
Here’s a great article on staying positive at work, despite the recession and whatnot. The article includes a number of tips on accomplishing a positive mind, most of which are applicable to life in general, not just work.
Should photographers be shooting video? In most cases, I think the answer is no.
It’s not that most photographers aren’t capable of it, it’s just that videography is an entirely different medium that takes just as long as photography to learn properly.
If you’re willing to take the time to really understand video, then sure have at it. But while your capturing video, your not capturing photos. Will doing both compromise both, and make you a mediocre videographer AND a mediocre photographer?
The Palm Pre Phone has a starring role in a TV mini-series. Or did, since this series happened in early August. Coincidentally, Palm is also the sponsor of ‘Bollywood Hero’.
I know that cars — like the VW Bug, Mini Cooper and most famously Bullitt’s Mustang — have been used as a centerpiece in movies. Don’t think a piece of hardware has been a starring role previously unless you count Carrie’s Mac laptop in Sex & The City.
With so much technology around, can you use it to enhance photographs to tell more complete and compelling stories?
One beautiful example comes from Todd Sanchioni. Todd is a San Francisco based photographer who recently had an exhibit that featured Laos street musicians. The photographs were compelling in their own right, but he added an mp3 player to each piece which played the music of the musician in the photo.
While Todd is certainly not the first photographer to do such things, I thought it was a particularly good reminder that as we’re out shooting, it’s easy to capture other media. Our cameras can capture video. Our cell phones can record audio. It’s never been easier to add extra dimensions to photography.
The photo should always be able to stand by itself, but if you can add more context and meaning by including audio or video, there’s a great deal to be said for that. Of course, some common sense should be applied to this type of mixed media. Mp3s along with photos of musicians and their instruments adds depth to the piece. Putting mp3s of war sounds next to war photographs would, in most cases, take away from the photos.
I think for mixed media to really work, the artist/photographer needs to really understand all the media types they are working with. If that’s the case, the overall effect can be quite stunning.
Ron Kalstein, M.Ed. is a long-time customer of Digital Anarchy, and quite the accomplished digital professional. His degree acronym certainly conveys this and his job title is the impressive ‘Media Services Director of the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network’ in Philadelphia, PA.
Equally impressive is the artwork that Ron creates for Albert Einstein Network. In response to a general call-out for artwork created with our 3D Photoshop plugin, 3D Invigorator, Ron emailed this wonderful piece.
Working for a software company can be very fun, especially when I am able to use the software for good (aka personal) purposes. In this case, I saw a friend post a photo of herself and her boyfriend in her Facebook profile. She titled it ‘Pamela & Graah as a cartoon’ and I thought, “harumph”.
Not by ToonIt!:
The image shown above was converted to a crappy cartoon by the Photo DJ function in my friend’s camera. It’s just a glorified postorization. I immediately IM’ed my friend and asked her to email me the original photo. She did. I ran the photo through ToonIt’s default settings and 35 seconds later, Pamela and Graah were properly tooned.
Digital Anarchy recently added a great photographer to our Primatte Chromakey gallery. His name is Shawn Wright and he runs Wright Studios out of Indiana, USA with his wife Betsy.
Shawn is a photographer of all talents and trades. Not only does he specialize in many subjects — high school seniors, industrial product shots and sports teams, to name a few — but he also runs photography seminars. More info on his company site, www.wrightstudio.us.
LENNON the Photographer has given us terrific celebrity images that he creates, in part, with our Adobe Photoshop greenscreen plugin, Primatte Chromakey. A year after we first talked to LENNON about his work, he contacted us with more high-profile photography. There is a **gorgeous** shot of Gilles Marini from Dancing with the Stars, as shown below.
Something that I really enjoy about LENNON is that his personality seems as colorful as the celebrities that he photographs. That’s why his first name is always written in CAPS; very Hollywood, yes?
Last week, we received an order for our Backdrop Designer plugin. On that same day, we received a request to resend a previous purchase of the Backdrop Designer plugin. Since I am Digital Anarchy’s customer service person and our order fulfillment department — as well as blogger extraordinaire — I recognized the name in both emails. The customer already owned Backdrop Designer but was purchasing it again.
This is one of the reasons we hand fill orders. It’s not uncommon for someone to forget he already owns a product. It’s also not uncommon for someone to think she bought the product when really she only downloaded the demo. This was the basis of two different support calls last week.
(By the way, I feel this theory should extend to cheesecake. I should be able taste its sweetness just thinking about eating cake, and therefore save myself the calories.)
Royalty-free cheesecake served up from www.freefoto.com. Cool stuff on that site.
Digital Anarchy recently added an interesting artist to our ToonIt! Photo gallery. Her name is Chrissie Campbell and she is truly a woman of many mediums and skills. I love the main image on her website’s About page. It seems to pull in all of her talents: painting, photography and digital manipulation. Very contemporary and strong but with a delicate stylization.
It’s fun becoming friendly with someone online, then discovering details like where she lives. Chrissie’s business name is ‘Kakadu Design’ and it didn’t occur to me what that indicated until I visited her website and looked at the promo images. Kakadu National Park is located in the Northern Territory of Australia. Continue reading Outback art with Chrissie Campbell.→
Yesterday, I joined Photoshop product manager Bryan O’neil-Hughes for his Photowalk. This was part of the effort by NAPP to get folks out and taking pictures. There were photowalks all over the nation because of this.
It’s a pretty cool idea and was great fun. Adobe rockstar Julieanne Kost joined us along with a few other Adobe folks. The walk itself was fairly short in length and mostly went a few blocks around the Adobe campus in San Jose. You’d be surprised at how long it takes for 50 photographers to go a few blocks. In any event, this led to many photos of the Adobe building (there also seemed to be a good deal of photographers taking pictures of photographers).
When you go on walks like this, it’s interesting what your choice of lens does to your photos.
So according to a story in todays Wall Street Journal, Apple is feeling stung by the recent Microsoft ads that show regular folks shopping for laptops and trying to buy one under $1000. Here’s one of the Laptop Hunter ads:
Clever commercials, not quite as clever as the Mac vs. PC ads, but obviously effective. Apple apparently had lawyers call Microsoft and request they stop running the ads.
Only Apple would have the balls to call a competitor and ask them to stop running ads that make them look bad. “Those ads are true! How dare you run them!” Poor Apple. It’s kind of hilarious.
btw… It is true that the same laptop will usually be cheaper on the Windows side, especially if you time your purchase with a Dell 30% off sale, which are frequent these days. The fact that Apple’s machines never go on sale makes them more pricey than similar Windows machines which are constantly on sale. The laptops in the Laptop Hunter ads are usually a bit less powerful than the higher priced Apple, but the reality of computers is that many people don’t need the extra power.
fwiw… I’m platform agnostic. I use both Macs and PCs and have a love/hate relationship with both. If I get to a point where I’m thinking about the operating system, it means that said computer has done something that makes me want to drop kick it through a window. I haven’t found either platform to be more or less problematic. Yes, Vista 1.0 sucked… but then, OS X 10.2 was fraught with problems as well. It happens.
Wherein Jim Tierney rants and opines about After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and other nonsense