Adobe’s #CreateNow cloud events are targeting creatives in London with tempting new business models that can share prototype ideas between companies and people and with fresh new tools for creative producers of photos, films, websites and pretty much any online content you might want to create. Some of the forward-thinking creatives are getting this straight away, others like me are feeling a bit left behind with all this flash wizardry and should really start looking at what’s possible if you know what’s out there –and that’s what events like this do – show you how far the tools can take you.
So last week Adobe held 3 events in one day to show us what they have got, the on-staff photographers started at 5am that day and were to go on to midnight – it was a long day for them; The rest of us, the visitors, got off lightly with two super compressed 70 minute multi presenter sessions separated by food and networking sessions.
A selection of the keener attendees were queuing early up before the doors opened to canapes and drinks. The hall inside soon filled to capacity with the fashionably late and the uber keen who wanted to hear what Adobe had to say. Please read on as some of the following areas are amazing…
The first thing to realise is that Adobe really does employ some enigmatic speakers and straight into this mould stepped Jason Levine and Michael Chaize with an overview of some of the areas we’d cover in blistering speed.
Michael Chaize and Jason Levine showing the suite of tools spread across the usage areas.
Adobe says that this latest 2014 Cloud release is the biggest software release since CS6 in the spring of 2012 and is mostly rewritten to be performant on both the 64bit machines we now almost all have and still also fast on tablets and iphones – with the cloud fabric connecting your desktop and mobile devices edits are synced between all devices and the hard work bits can be sent back to your desktop for processing while you edit on the tablet. Apparently 2.3 million people are on the Creative Cloud. There are ‘cost efficient’ photo plans for photographers though no one in this evening audience held there hand up to say they were currently on that package. About a third of the room were on some form of the Creative Cloud, a third on CS6, and yep, a third on CS5 – remember it’s not just photographers that use these tools. This 2014 release is just that, a new release, and not the gradual improvements you might expect from cloud software, but you can still sign-up for £8.78 per month for the photo package and that’s whether you have any previous PS versions or not – personally that's a double edged sword for me; On the one side no benefit for the years of upgrades you may have paid for, but also no barrier to entry as there used to be when you spent ages deciding if you could afford to try full blown Photoshop. If you are an iphone user then some of the apps are free however so it’s not all bad.
As well as software Adobe has Pen, Slide and Ink hardware tools for making drawing easier. We did not dwell on these but with pressure sensitivity on the pens I wonder if a tablet is still needed? Anyway back to the apps, Illustrator has been significantly rewritten to stop using flash and be faster with videos. It uses new imaging and video formats to achieve this speed and to provide lightweight 1% file size versions of files to ipads that still allow editing and synching. You can use apps on the tablet like Photoshop mix to cutout and combine images then sync back to the desktop remotely to apply a filter and return the result to the tablet. This same sharing of tablet and desktop processing power is shown with tools like content aware fill. Photoshop Mix is free on the iPad! As you’ll see the whole package solution starts to get quite compelling, and I’m saying that as a dyed in the wool Microsoft user – gulp.
So after blasting us away with facts, figures and features we are back to the real world of the actual images produced, or in this case the surreal world of Madame Peripetie and her amazing images of imagination.
Now what's special to me about this lady is not that that she holds a degree in political science, but that she is a self-confessed nerd and Star Wars fan who likes fictional characters with swords. Also, she decided to stop her career as a linguist so she could follow her dream of sharing her imagination through art and this from a girl who also says she can’t draw either. As is true with many who achieve fame through hard-work she started by doing everything herself and is driven by “defining who you are, and finding your Niche.” In the early days this meant she was hard to place within existing genres and was often looked over by tutors trying to recreate students in the form of existing famous artists. She broke through that cloning to be different.
Another sound bite from Madam Peripetie (not her real name but a name that allowed her to express freely whom she wanted to be and representing a turning point in her life into art), “hybrids fuel innovation”. The imagination and determination required to combine two items into one causes you to deliver unexpected results and develop new skills. Once she had created her style and found the quality needed it started to be accepted by others who then needed to define a name for the genre - Body Architecture or Living sculpture in her case. Then to continue and develop she says we need to think of our creativity as a muscle and develop it by repetition and strengthening exercises.
For many of us this is where inspiration leaves us and for others where “projects” are needed; For Madam Peripetie she based one of her projects on a dream sequence in Hitchcock’s spellbound with scenes from Salvatore Dali, using Neon light to capture a 2D image with a 3D feel.
You have to seek inspiration from the things around you and hip-hop videos have some super body shapes for her body architecture genre, the key to success she says is flexibility and playfulness with ideas and learning how colours work. E.g red captures more viewers than green, and blue and red work well together.
In her work she found that she needed a forum with trusted artistic feedback, and being an Adobe event it’s good to mention Adobe’s BeHance.net as a great place to post work and get reliable feedback from her peers and a following that is more meaningful than just Facebook likes. Of course, I had to smile to myself as ePHOTOzine readers have already had this support for years! Anyway, back to the point, Ms Peripetie found she needed the collaboration strengths of others in order to scale her art – the term she uses here is Scenius (the intelligence of a whole… operation or group of people). In this she stresses that all the early day collaborators involved need to act as Professional Amateurs each delivering a high level contribution in a timely manner. In this way you can inspire and be inspired, she also recommended a few books to read – have a look if you wish, if not maybe have a look at hers.
Adobe Design Tools
Next up was Rufus Deuchler presenting on design with Adobe Muse which is a 64bit built from the ground up layout program for web pages much like ‘indesign’. Muse creates realtime code for web pages with scroll animation features to move pages left and right as well as up and down. Muse also has a marketplace library from which you can download free or paid-for content and even upload your own content for sharing or selling. It's full of useful widgets to reuse and supports 30 day free work in progress sharing with others. With in-browser edits by your customers of the content you can quickly convey and fine tune pages and sites.
He then went on to discuss and demonstrate Indesign 2014 in more detail with its ability to move whole rows or columns easily – apparently this was very hard before but as I’ve never used this product before I was just surprised that you could not have previously done this. Anyway, a few in the crowd applauded so it must be cool. You could also publish lightweight versions of files in an ipad format including content with live videos and then view it on eBook readers – again this seemed cool, even to me this time.
Rufus was on a mission and then jumped on to Adobe illustrator which is used for vector drawing; The neat new tool here was the smooth line feature of the pencil tool where you could control the smoothness of the line with sliders for accuracy and smoothness – this worked very well and allowed freehand lines to look professional, even if drawn with a finger on a touch pad. There are also new path tools and multi-object select and edit features in illustrator that also looked very cool to both the uninitiated and to the part of the audience that seemed to be in the know. All of this could also be exported with cascading style sheets for all the items selected in the design file. Now what really really, yes really, impressed me what that the webpage produced was SVG based to you could zoom into items on the page. So imagine a complex diagram where you were only interested in the detail of a part of it – just zoom in to see the detail! Now imagine your web pages don’t need endless links to new pages of detail as it’s all just potentially on the one page - neat.
Face Recognition – Good Or Evil
In this fast paced Adobe presentation the next act was Matthew Maxwell the creative director at Imagination with a presentation on the aspects involved in face recognition.
Image of various face patterns used in some matching software algorithms.
Software can recognise you and greet you as a friend or track you as a potential criminal; the software already exists so either campaign against the negative sides or embrace the idea as a way of making our lives better in recognising and helping us. As humans we do this all the time, your local shop may well recognise and greet you and point out that something you wanted is now in stock. Now imagine walking into any shop and being directed quickly to the things you were most likely to be looking for anyway. Fact: Facebook has the largest collection of photos in the world, apparently 97.4% of us are now recognisable from this.
If this software reacted to your expressions of happiness or sadness would we then be in an ‘emotionally intelligent space’, would we start forming friendships with empathetic responses from a system? Mathew left us with a few questions to think about, but then wrapped up with an optimistic image that a glass on the table half full of water has the other half filled also, but with air – is the glass full?
Refreshments were served and I got to survey a few random people as to why they were there – A few were avid Adobe fans, but many just wanted to know more of what Adobe was up to at the moment. There were students, fashion photographers, and I even got to meet Scott Kelby’s UK right-hand man. Another person of interest was Paul D of Paul-D.TV He is a multi-award-winning filmmaker who has worked with the BBC, ITV and others. He directs and produces music videos, documentaries and films. What’s great about Paul and those like him is that he looks like just a regular guy, OK a regular guy with dreadlocks, but he has a passion and commitment for his work and this is what sets some above others. Just talking to people like him encourages you to try that bit harder in your own life.
Adobe Premier Pro
Premier Pro and video is a new area to me, and new to premier Pro is Live text templates to allow edits to the text added into a video sequence. We can now think of the text on a video as not flattened into it but as a layer on top of the video layer so it can now be changed as needed – perhaps for different audiences or markets for a pop video.
Also new in Premier Pro are the video masks you can add around a person for colour correction and blurring etc, but what really impressed the audience here was the fact that a laptop was running 4k footage with all these adjustments with no lag or need for buffering – it's damn fast now it’s been rewritten. They also had a new tool called a rigid mask tracker where on one frame you would draw around an area such as the logo on a baseball cap that you needed to obscure for marketing reasons. Then blurring that area and play the clip the masked blur would jump around with the head of the person wearing the cap – before this you needed frame by frame techniques.
There was also a new speedgrade app for colour correction, integrated in premier pro; I learnt that colour grading in video means the same as colour correcting on photos. One of the things that makes premier pro so fast is the fact that all the disparate camera’s and frame rates you might shoot with are flattened into one base type before the processing is done, but it remembers each master clip, so if you cut your sequence up into lots of sub clips then edit one of the sub clips you can push this edit back to all the other sub clips in that maser clip if you want wish.
In contrast to previous presenters Laurent-Paul Robert was very quiet, perhaps letting his work speak for him. In this case the editing that saw Jason Bourne in the Bourne Ultimatum jumping through an open window, that then became a shuttered window with glass after editing.
Many further gasps followed for other scenes in this film and also for Bridget Jones where whole landscapes became snow covered churchyards in August with added rolling hills. Or in Harry potter where actors running in green screens became fabulous shelves of potions in bottles. His work gets quite abstract and went beyond my understanding.
Other areas of astonishment were the 2 and 3d techniques used to map actors faces onto those of stuntmen or even a younger version of an actor back onto himself for a flash back. Imagine if we could all just take off 10 years when on camera.
Michael Chaize came back for a few more cool points about Photoshop and the editing process. First up was fonts and how they are now searchable and have an auto preview function as you hover over them to update the on page text selected. Also, the font ships with the image so that you never lose a font and need to replace it. The use of linked smart objects within documents meant that you could have a team of designers all working on different areas, but each update would stay linked with the main file – great for team work. Objects created can be kept within a folder within in the PSD file and “layer comps” allows layer states to be saved and swapped. Layout is another area of improvement such that pixel measures are possible between objects and auto snapping for repetitive object placement is provided to take the guess work out of layouts.
A new tool here I liked was “select focus area” masking, selecting only the pixels in focus so that you might make adjustments to that area only, super for a variety of uses including portraits. Also new was “content aware move with colour adaption” which gives users a quick way of cutting out a subject and moving them to a new location in the image, but with the software modifying the tones of the colours around the cut-out to blend it back into the new area of the image.
Another new tool was the blur gallery with the path blur feature, you would draw a path with the pen tool then apply a blur to simulate movement and create a more dynamic image. Similar to this and great for motorsport photography is the new spin blur effect where an ellipse can be drawn over a wheel and then circular motion blur applied to add motion or even strobe effect motion.
Dreamweaver also had some updates with Liveview synchronising code and layout continually and allowing shared folders to facilitate more team design – you get the impression they think we should all work together.
A Web Design Example
Josh Payton, VP of user experience at Huge, is pushing some new webpage ideas in the Sports news space – and has launched some of them on the French version of their Eurosport customers site. These ideas included continual page scrolling so you are not pogo-ing back and forth through news story navigation paths but are led on from one to the next. On some of the pages it did scroll to a pseudo end, but then offered you 3 related footer banners to choose your route forwards without the pogo-ing back to the page menu. All of this with fixed RHS link bars that don’t scroll off up the page. I was thinking it’s like dungeons and dragons where you chose you own path through the articles.
One neat feature was continually resizable pages that fit the device you are viewing on, dragging the browsers corner down to shrink, it showed the content restructure its column structure down to ipad then iphone size.
For the sports photos they all were quite different so they had tint coloured the disparate images to create a common theme – on their FB version they tinted all the images purple for the group image views so that the purple hue helped hold the images together as consistent.
So that was a very full evening with Adobe, it’s started to bring their wide range of offerings together a little bit more for me.
Words and images by Stuart Fawcett (JackAllTog).