Comment @ your comments.

Sadly, the one major casualty of moving our blog over to WordPress — and the server maelstrom that followed — has been losing all of the wonderful comments that people made. In particular, I remember seeing someone post a photo of himself wearing a Digital Anarchy t-shirt shortly before the blog went down, and I am very sad to have lost that photograph.

We still do want to hear your thoughts and see you in our Digital Anarchy tshirts. Enjoy our blog’s new look and let me know what you think.

regards -Debbie

Ok, so NOW we have the new blog.

It was a challenging week at Digital Anarchy before the Thanksgiving holiday. Sometimes you take one step forward only to get bapped back about five steps.

A month ago we set out to change this AnarchyJim blog. It was hosted by our website host using their proprietary software. While the blog was functional, it really wasn’t more than that.

We had our web host move our website to a new server so we could support the implementation of a new cool WordPress blog. That migration broke our website and our store — whoops — and the vendor was able to fix the website but couldn’t manage to fix the store — whoops again.

We have wanted to make some changes to our Create store for a long time now. There have been some difficulties with processing non-USA addresses, and sometimes our store would ‘forget’ to notify us of a purchase. Our web vendor started off as a wonderful company but five years later, they seem pretty apathetic about fixing things and worse, they won’t give their customers any real information. But business affiliations are often like relationships: Sometimes you need to hit a really bad spot to realize that it’s time for a change and a clean break.

So we made our escape from a relationship gone bad. It took many long hours and a couple of frantic business days, but we have a new site/store vendor. So far, their support service has been excellent though I am, of course, comparing that to our old host. And here you and I are, reading this post on our new WordPress blog.

This experience makes me think about how service has changed since technology lost its borders and how maybe it should change again in view of this faltering global economy. If our previous host had been more honest with us or willing to work hard to fix their mistakes, then we would most likely have stayed with them. Old habits die hard in relationships. But their service was poor and we left.

This is exactly why here at Digital Anarchy, we strive for excellent and quick support service. We don’t always succeed at first, but we admit our mistakes and fix the problem.

regards -Debbie

Space Clearing the Anarchy Blog

Well, we must be starting to take our random, anarchistic thoughts seriously here at Digital Anarchy because we have migrated to a new blog system.

Excuse me, to a REAL blog system. Until now, we’ve been stumbling along with the blog capabilities provided by the hosting company for our website. The UI was obviously designed by a programmer and overall it was just impossible to customize. So here I am, typing into a pretty interface and id’ing all of old posts. It’s fun and exciting and inspires me to write more, like spending more time in your family room once it’s been space cleared. Please enjoy!

regards -Debbie

Digital Photography and Childrens Books

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

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

cheers, Jim

Adobe CS4 Launch Event

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

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

Continue reading Adobe CS4 Launch Event

Where Has Your DA T-shirt Traveled To?

We created what I think is a stellar company t-shirt some time ago. The shirt speaks a little more to our former After Effects video line than our current Adobe Photoshop plugins. But we’re almost out of them so the next line will be photo-centeric.

Sometimes our ‘anarchist’ t-shirts take matters into their own hands, er, arm holes and wind up in the most interesting locations.

Just recently in August 2008, at the Burning Man arts event in Reno, Nevada, USA.

Continue reading Where Has Your DA T-shirt Traveled To?

Photoshoplab’s List of Auto Features

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

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

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

Continue reading Photoshoplab’s List of Auto Features

Party on @ Adobe Creative CS4 launch

Yesterday I went with Jim Tierney, our company president, to the Adobe CS4 Launch event. It was at Adobe’s headquarters in San Francisco, which is where our Digital Anarchy is based also, and perhaps 150 folks were there. Market leaders like authors and studio heads and — ahem — software folks like us. The slogan of Adobe Creative Suite CS4 is ‘Shortcut to Brilliant’ and the theme of this CS4 event was the three categories of improvements that CS4 brings: time-savers, integration and innovation.

The presentations were done really well. All of the presenters were polished and practiced but they seemed to ad-lib just enough to make their words feel real. After two well-chosen talking heads, ‘real’ users like designers and editors came onstage to show off what they’ve done in a week with their new CS4 tools. As the application and media changed, so did the lighting, so for the Photoshop presentation, the lights were blue. For Illustrator and web/interactive design, everything was red. I liked the mood that was set and the enthusiasm was high but not artificially so.

An interesting tidbit from the keynote speaker was that there are over a billion consumers worldwide who will never use a computer to connect to the internet. Their online connection is a mobile device. Makes sense when you count emerging but still rural markets like Africa and India but really, I hadn’t thought about how digital practices differ through the world. The speaker’s point was that this is why the flexibility of the end graphical product is so important now.

On to the Adobe software…

For the Photoshop CS4 presentation, which is what Digital Anarchy now focuses on, the discussion was mainly tool driven. There is a 3D panoramic stitcher that looked pretty cool though I must admit that I haven’t yet explored CS3’s stitching features. Adobe has added content-aware scaling, which decides upon and eliminates unimportant details for smarter scaling.

I was more impressed by the overall integration (yep, one of the three featured topics of the event) within the CS4 suite. Really it seemed to me that many of the strong features of certain apps have been propagated over to other apps, and often that cross-ventilation seems to be with formerly Macromedia functions.

For instance, Illustrator now has a Blob brush that lets you draw and editvector chunks in exactly the same way that Flash always has. Illustrator also FINALLY has the multi-page capabilities that Freehand did over a decade ago. And Flash’s new timeline and inverse schematic animation reminds me a lot of After Effects functionality.

Fireworks was also pretty impressive. I remember hating that app years ago when I taught web design because it felt very isolated from any true workflow. Now Fireworks can baton twirl in utter sophistication with Photoshop and it even saves out interactive PDF’s.

Well, that’s my round-up for now. I can’t wait to sink my fingers into Photoshop CS4 this week. The event presenters were lauding Adobe.tv as the place to go for free training and I intend to check out that site.

regards -Debbie

Digital Anarchy Sells Video Plugins (a letter from Jim)

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

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

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

Macro vs Micro at Microsoft Pro Photo Summit.

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

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

Continue reading Macro vs Micro at Microsoft Pro Photo Summit.

Primatte Is Flexible & Stylish

My favorite job at Digital Anarchy is finding interesting customers to showcase their use of our products. It’s part detective work, part intuition, part fantastic reveal. I always come out of the experience having enjoyed the unique personality and creativity of the person I’ve worked with over the course of a few weeks

And with that statement… Here are our newest Primatte Chromakey gallery additions: Chris Ruhaak of Heartland Photos & Design (HP&D) and LENNON the Photographer of Los Angeles, CA. Both are very talented, established photographers. Their core businesses have a completely different focus and yet each man has been able to create a studio niche using greenscreen work and Primatte 3.0.

Chris Ruhaak specializes in many traditional kinds of portraiture, from seniors to children to weddings. As seen in the before/after images below, his HP&D studio uses Primatte to spice up the design for real estate business cards.


Continue reading Primatte Is Flexible & Stylish

Two New(ish) F/X Websites

I’ve recently received links to two new ‘gathering places’. The popular Kenstone.net site has posted a new version of their Final Cut Pro forum at www.kenstone.net/discussions/list.php?3. Our company is a big fan of Kenstone.net because they always provide solid and thorough reviews of products (including ours) and they have a terrific archive of helpful articles covering color correction, compression, editing, audio, hardware management, etc. A lot of prominent reviewers have contributed to Kenstone.net over the years.

The other site, www.vfxconnection.com, seems to be sparkly brand new. Looks like a networking site and job connection board for folks in the broadcast and special effects industry. I’ve already noticed a few friendly faces from trade shows as registered users.

regards -Debbie

Visualizing Data

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

There is the master of infographics, Edward Tufte:

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

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

Continue reading Visualizing Data

Designing Our Support Banner

Well, the earth shook a little and in celebration of Memorial Day, we have posted a new version of our www.digitalanarchy.com website. It’s only been two years in planning; the challenges of a small company. Here is a fun design exercise that I would like to share.

I had the opportunity to design all of the banner graphics for our website. For the non-product sections, I wanted to have a little fun, so I conceptualized the Support Section banner by starting with two images. One is a banner graphic that I’ve always liked for the website www.inhouseticketing.com, which is a company that services tickets for many fun events in the Bay Area. The other is a photo a friend wearing her kool kid Digital Anarchy t-shirts after a bike ride.

Continue reading Designing Our Support Banner

It’s Good To “Choose a Topic”

Over the past few months, Digital Anarchy has migrated to using formal Support Forms for each product. (Well, as formal as ‘anarchists’ are going to get, anyways.) There are a few reasons for this.

One, often folks forget to give us important details, like their last name or the name of the DA product they need help with. To date, we support 16 products. If I have to do a search in our database to tie in someone’s first name with an email address, then counter-search that with the product(s) he may own… Well, I’m more likely to tackle the questions that are easier to answer first.

Two, we get a LOT of email every day. When people don’t fill out a proper title for their emailed request, that email will often go to a Spam folder. We check our Spam folders a few times a day, but they are chock full o’love. If your email is simply titled ‘Help!’ or ‘Purchase’ or worse yet, if it doesn’t have a title, that email is going to get lost in the shuffle of 250 other emails marked as **SPAM** Continue reading It’s Good To “Choose a Topic”

Patterns in Anarchy

Something that is interesting about doing our customer support is seeing the purchasing patterns. Each week seems to have a different theme in terms of products that are bought and requests that are sent

For instance, two weeks ago, the big sellers were 3D Assistants and Psunami Water. It was water, water, water all week long and everyone needed it yesterday, as if they were gasping for liquid. I have a feeling that the two factors working here were a writeup in Layers magazine about 3D Assistants, and a tutorial on the fabulous Digital Media Net by Kevin P McAuliffe.

Kevin has been a friend of Digital Anarchy for awhile and we always enjoy his articles, even when they’re not about us. :-) You can read the Psunami tutorials here on Audioproducer.com I’m trying to locate the Layers magazine article by Rod Harlan. That’s one of our favorite publications and I know it’s _somewhere_ around the office.

Continue reading Patterns in Anarchy

fxPHD

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

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

cheers, Jim

Software As A Service

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

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

cheers, Jim

Are We Over NAB Yet?

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

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

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

cheers, Jim

The Yahoo Of Evil

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

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

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

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

Continue reading The Yahoo Of Evil

Can Girls Do Math And Science?

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

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

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

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

Continue reading Can Girls Do Math And Science?

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

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

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

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

Actually that’s enough random thoughts for one day.

cheers, Jim

Overpriced Schools For Design, Visual Effects, Photography, Whatever

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

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

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

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

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

Cool Video Toys

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

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

A worthwhile toy for the video geek on your list…

cheers, Jim

On The Subject of NAB (and Avid)

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

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

Continue reading On The Subject of NAB (and Avid)

Wherein Jim Tierney rants and opines about After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and other nonsense