All posts by anarchyjim

Graphics in Asia

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.

Continue reading Graphics in Asia

Photography Capturing Changes in the World

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…

Argh, Matey! Pirates!

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

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

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

Continue reading Argh, Matey! Pirates!

Beauty Box Video and Final Cut Pro X

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

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

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

Using Adobe’s DNG Raw File Format

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

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

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

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

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

Wedding Photography and Money

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

Why do I think that?

Continue reading Wedding Photography and Money

Tech Support in an Anarchist World

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)

Continue reading Tech Support in an Anarchist World

Privacy in a Social World

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.

Clouds

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

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

Sometimes Commercials Are Good

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

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

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


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

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

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

Rules for Interns

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

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

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

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

Stupid Photographer Tricks

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)

Can you trust the cloud with your photos?

The answer, in a nutshell, is no.

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

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

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

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

DSLRs vs. Consumer HD Camcorders

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

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

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

Continue reading DSLRs vs. Consumer HD Camcorders

Beauty Box Video Wins Videomaker’s Plugin of the Year

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

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

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

Design schools. Meh.

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

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

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

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

The LA Kings Use Beauty Box Video

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

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

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

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

However, no situation is perfect.

Continue reading The LA Kings Use Beauty Box Video

TV and the Interweb

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

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

Continue reading TV and the Interweb

Beauty Box Video 1.2 Released

The CUDA/OpenGL speed update for Beauty Box Video is  now available. This dramatically speeds up Beauty Box Video and improves the workflow in Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro. You should see between a 3-6x speed up depending on your video card.

We’re really excited to have this available. It definitely took longer than expected to get this working with all the different video cards out there. But the performance increase makes it all worth it!

This is a free update for current owners of Beauty Box Video (for After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro). Click here to download the demo. Install the demo version and it should automatically recognize your serial number.

If you don’t own it, now is a great time to purchase it as it’s on sale for $149 ($50 off). Go to the Digital Anarchy store to purchase it.

The Many Faces of ToonIt! Photo

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):

Continue reading The Many Faces of ToonIt! Photo

Teaching Creativity

Excellent blog post on Fast Company’s web site called Death of Creativity = Death of Innovation.

It brings up some excellent points about creativity and how the teaching of it is getting pushed out of schools, in favor of standardized test.

When you start talking about creativity most people think painting or photography or some other ‘artsy’ thing. But it’s not so. Many of the computer programmers I’ve met are some of the most mind blowingly creative people you could imagine. Same goes for any field where innovation is key. Einstein’s genius was not in his mathematical skill, but his ability to creatively look at a problem and have the vision to see things no one else thought possible.

However, I do think that teaching art can help teach creativity, no matter what you study or do for work. It helps you look at things differently and in ways where there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.

Many people don’t think they can be creative. But they can. I think the system just beats the creative impulses out of them. Relegating creativity to the arts and discouraging answers that don’t exactly match what’s in some text book or test.

Anyways… read the original article.  It’s quite good.

Piracy

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

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

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

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

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

Evil Geeks vs. Evil Marketers

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

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

Marketers, like Steve, are different.

Continue reading Evil Geeks vs. Evil Marketers

Privacy Law Does Not Protect You Online

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

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

Privacy Law Needs To Be Updated. Support dotrights.org

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

Continue reading Privacy Law Does Not Protect You Online

Keeping A DSLR Steady For A Video Shoot?

Ever since they started shooting motion pictures one of the biggest questions have been… How do you keep the damn camera steady? And what do you do about it if it’s not? If you’re a photographer just getting into shooting video with your DSLR, you’re likely to have the same questions. I’ll give you some answers to the first question and a few tips on dealing with the second.

While a shaky camera can be used, on rare occasion, to good effect… it’s usually something to be avoided. More often than not, it just means your watching a B horror flick and the owner of said shaky camera is about to be bitten in half. Hopefully we can get you shooting stable video so as to insure you are not similarly attacked by creatures that are aggravated by shaky video.

So… how do you avoid such a fate?

Continue reading Keeping A DSLR Steady For A Video Shoot?

Are You A Photographer Shooting Video? Go to NAB.

NAB is a huge three letters in the film and television world. However, most photographers will never have heard of it.

It stands for National Association of Broadcasters, which is the film/tv industry lobbying organization and they throw the annual NAB tradeshow which gets about 100,000 people. Yeah, 100,000. It’s massive. Everything you could think of needing for shooting a film/video production is there. From hdmi cables to helicopters.

So what’s this got to do with photographers?

Continue reading Are You A Photographer Shooting Video? Go to NAB.

Portrait Illusions – Green Screen and Other Tricks

I recently came across a blog post by Fuzzy Duenkel, a photographer over in Wisconsin. He makes a pretty passionate case against using scene swapping (e.g. the type of stuff you do with Primatte and green screen) for traditional, ‘classic’ portraits. By and large I agree with him. I don’t think it’s a great use of the technology to put someone in a place they’ve never been so they can say they were there. For novelty photos and the like, it’s great, but for a ‘classic’ portrait, maybe not so much. But there’s more to portraits than just the classic look.

Image by Deverie FX, www.deveriefx.com

Continue reading Portrait Illusions – Green Screen and Other Tricks

What Material To Use For Greenscreen?

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?

Continue reading What Material To Use For Greenscreen?

Are DSLRs The New Point-And-Shoots?

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

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

What does this mean? How does it affect photographers?

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

Why 3D TV Is A Gimmick

pigs_in_space

Potential 3D content?

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

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

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

Shooting video with the 5D Mark II

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.

5D

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…

Continue reading Shooting video with the 5D Mark II

I hate HDR

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

HDR Gone Bad

It’s a novelty look and I’m over it. It was cool for a very short time, then everyone decided they wanted to have surreal images. It’s not that hard of a look to achieve, so it’s not that impressive. Get over it.  :-) I much prefer to use HDR for what it was meant for… which is giving a slightly wider dynamic range to create a shot that has similar contrast and color range to what your eye actually sees. No one has seen colors like the photo above has. Alright, well, yeah I’ve taken mushrooms too, so maybe then… but not normally.

The better use for HDR…

Continue reading I hate HDR

Do you share?

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

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

So my question to you is… do you share?

Continue reading Do you share?

iPhone Gets Flash, Sort Of

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

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

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

adobe-iphone1

5 Stars and a Hot Pick From Photoshop User

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.

hotpick

The Real Masters of Light

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

Click here for the full story

George E. Smith Nobel Physics

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

Future of Photo, part II

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

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

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

Continue reading Future of Photo, part II

Future of Photography Part I

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

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

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

Value of a Photo

Ok, but why does this matter?

Continue reading Future of Photography Part I

Photo (con)Fusion?

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?

Bruce Dorn Photo Fusion

What is Photo Fusion?

Continue reading Photo (con)Fusion?

Mixed Media Photography

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.

Laos MusicianWhile 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.

Photowalkin’ (and camera lenses)

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

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

Adobe through the leaves

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

Continue reading Photowalkin’ (and camera lenses)

PC vs. Mac, and PC wins a round

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commercials, lions, and manipulation

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

062609-jim-bebe1

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

Content vs. Ads In Photography Newslettersine marketing

So I’ve got to hand it to the folks at Professional Photography. They actually put together a newsletter that has content!

http://www.ppmag.com/web-exclusives/

I received three email newsletters today from photography magazines and/or web sites. Only the PP mag one had any actual content.

Continue reading Content vs. Ads In Photography Newslettersine marketing

congress and credit cards

Usually I’m not a big fan of posting unrelated political stuff on blogs, but this is a bit of an exception. There is some EXCELLENT legislation in front of the Senate that prevents credit card companies from doing some of the more obnoxious practices they’ve developed over the years.

Please call your Senator and support this bill. If you have a credit card with a balance on it, this bill helps you.

Here’s a couple links to more infomation:

Washington Post

Consumer Union/Consumer Reports

A real story (and an example of what this bill is designed to prevent)…

Continue reading congress and credit cards

Inspiration

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

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

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

macro_ice Continue reading Inspiration

Obama’s poster uses stolen photo

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

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

Here’s what we’re talking about:

obama_3up Continue reading Obama’s poster uses stolen photo

PMA is dead.

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

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

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

But… was there anything interesting?

Continue reading PMA is dead.

Overpriced Schools part II

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

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

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

Fake or Not Fake?

A picture can not lie. We all know the untruth of that these days. But what do you do when a picture isn’t lying, yet looks ‘obviously’ fake?

The below photo illustrates this to some degree:

photography sometimes captures real life in an unrealistic way
photography sometimes captures real life in an unrealistic way

This is a photo of a friend’s whale watching boat (Ultimate Whale Watch in Maui). Obviously, I shot this from a different boat while a whale swam up to and under the boat. I’m using a 70-200mm f2.8 lens, so I’ve got really narrow depth of field. As a consequence, the boat is razor sharp and everything else is pretty blurred.

If you saw the above image in a marketing brochure would you believe it?

Continue reading Fake or Not Fake?

My favorite photography ‘gear’ site

There are a lot of review sites out there. http://www.dpreview.com is a good one… however, my favorite is http://www.slrgear.com.

In truth, they really only do lenses, but it’s an incredible site. The most in depth reviews of lenses you can imagine, including an interactive 3D graph showing you the focus profiles at any given aperture/focal length. It’s hugely entertaining to play around with the 3D graph and see where the sweet spot is for the lens and where it starts to really break down… as far as sharpness and vignetting goes.

For example, I’ve got the Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. You can see looking at the SLRgear graph that at 1.4, the lens really isn’t that great. But once you get to 2.0 and especially 2.8, it’s a great lens. It’s a good thing to check if you want to get the most out of your lenses.

Here’s a screenshot:

Screenshot of slrgear.com's 3D Blur index for camera lenses (Tamron 70-200mm in this case)
Screenshot of slrgear.com's 3D Blur index for camera lenses (Tamron 70-200mm in this case)

Camera sensors

So an article discussing 2K vs. 4K images popped up on my radar today. It’s named ‘The Truth About 2K and 4K’ and is an interview with John Galt of panavision. It’s partially a marketing piece for Panavision, so take a grain of salt to some of the ‘truth’. On one hand he disparages the RED camera (panavision competitor) for not having a true 4K sensor (this is apprently true) and then later in the article he disparages IMAX (panavision competitor) for being 4K but that it doesn’t really matter because our eyes can normally only see 2K worth of detail.  Uh… so that means RED actually got it right?

The jist of it is that RED, like Canon/Nikon DSLRs, uses a sensor with a Bayer mosaic pattern. Each spot (viewsite) on the sensor only receives one color (R, G, or B). 4 (Green gets counted twice) of those are added up to produce one pixel in your camera. Because of this, technically the image RED produces (and Canon and Nikon and…) is interpolated. The alternative is to have each spot on the sensor record all three colors at once. There is a GREAT comparison of the Canon 5D with the Sigma SD14 (which does use a sensor that captures all three colors on the same spot) and explains the difference between sensors very well:

http://www.ddisoftware.com/sd14-5d/

Between both articles it brings up some interesting questions for RED users and for digital photographers.

Continue reading Camera sensors

Getting a telephoto lens into a sporting event

So in honor of the SuperBowl…

There are those of you who might own a relatively large telephoto and like sports. Usually, if you have a big lens attached to the camera, you’re not going to be allowed in, especially for big events. However, here’s a trick I’ve used to get my Canon 100-400mm lens into the BCS Title game, NFL Playoffs, and the NCAA tournament (among other things)…

Put a normal lens on the camera and put the telephoto lens in it’s case. Let someone else carry the camera in and you carry the lens in. If anyone asks about it… say it’s a binocular. The guys at the gate have no idea what a lens is unless it’s actually attached to the camera.

I’ve never been denied getting in.

Once in, it’s a little different story. You have to be somewhat stealthy about using it… especially if you have good seats. Where security along the sidelines can see you. I have been threatened with being kicked out if I didn’t stop using it. Dumbest move: had sideline seats at the 2006 BCS title game and got busted taking shots of warmups. They’ll give you a warning… but it made using it during the game a bit riskier because they’ve already seen you. So… don’t take shots of warmups or pregame crap. Nevertheless… got some good shots.

cheers,

Jim Tierney

http://www.digitalanarchy.com

https://digitalanarchy.com/blog

Reggie Bush running

Greenscreen Obama

Greenscreens are cropping up all over the place.

I was in DC for the inauguration and in my hotel you could get a picture with President Obama pretty much any time. The trick to this was that they had a green screen set up and they’d composite you into a picture with the Prez. (or Joe Biden… but c’mon… how many people are going to go for Joe?). It was pretty entertaining to see people lined up to do this. It’s pretty cool to see how prevalent greenscreens are becoming.

Here’s some shots of the setup….

the greenscreen

Continue reading Greenscreen Obama

Making 3D look real

So I just got a calendar from Maxon (makers of Cinema 4D). Some really nice examples of 3D art using their software. As I looked at the images, I was struck by how some were really difficult to tell from photographs and some were obviously 3D. The difference, I think, is depth of field.

Depth of field was really noticable. On too many 3D images the DOF is infinite. Meaning that buildings 300 yards away are in razor sharp focus and you can see every detail on the bricks that make up the building. While the artist may want you to appreciate all the hard work he put in adding fine details… I don’t want to see them. I want them blurred out.

Continue reading Making 3D look real

The Demise of Digital Railroad

It was very quick, and Digital Railroad is very dead.

It’s brings up one of the main concerns with ‘cloud’ computing… mainly, what happens when the cloud goes dark.

Cloud computing is sort of the generic term used for using someone else’s storage/processing power over the internet. Hotmail, Google Docs are a couple examples. All your information is stored on their server.

Now it’s a fairly safe bet that Google or Hotmail (microsoft) aren’t going out of business. However, it’s a much different story with smaller companies. Digital Railroad went dark and basically gave their users all of 10 hours notice to download their files. That’s not a whole lot of time. If you didn’t have the originals of the photos you were storing at DR, you were in trouble. They later added a couple days to the deadline, but still… not much time to download critical files (assuming you heard about it, weren’t out of the country, could even connect to their servers, etc., etc.).

Personally I think this is abominable way to treat customers. The guys running it should’ve sent notices out to customers months in advance that this was a possibility. To not do so is almost criminal. It was an entirely preventable situation and Charles Mauzy and co. completely failed the trust of the customers that supported them. It gives a bad name to the entire industry, but provides a look at how some companies are going to be run (going down to the last dollar and then just turning off the lights) and provides an example of worst practices.

Granted, you should never put all your eggs (or photos) in one basket, and always keep the originals tucked away somewhere. But some customers are always going to believe the hype (after all, companies spend a lot of money promoting the hype) and buy into the thought that the ‘cloud’ is a safe, infallible way of storing files. So the industry needs to be much better about notifying customers when, for whatever reason, their data is at risk and remind them in no uncertain terms that they should have copies of their data in multiple places.

For photographers, this means always making sure you have originals. If the hard drive dies that had those originals, it’s your responsibility to download from the backup site and create a new set of originals. Sites that offer these services, like Photo Shelter, can facilitate this by making it easy to download images with tags, catagories, and whatever else you might have done to the photos in the online environment.

This applies to other data as well. You should always personally have copies of such things as your web site, emails you wish to keep, and any other data that is stored online. Even large companies like Google can experience catastrophic problems that would result in you losing data or you could have a malicious employee/co-worker that has access to your online storage.

Cloud computing does offer a great many benefits and the behavior of one company shouldn’t (and won’t) mean that we toss the whole idea. It does make many things easier… backups, remote access, collaboration, and much more. But it’s important to understand the risks involved with any new technology and not just believe the hype.

cheers, Jim

The Demise of Adobe

… has been rather exaggerated. Ok, way over-exaggerated.

Layoffs happen at big companies. When things are great you tend to hire based on great expectations. It’s better to have too much capacity and grow into it than to be overwhelmed. The flip side is when things slow you need to trim down and unfortunately, that means layoffs. An 8% reduction in workforce really isn’t something that should be seen as that concerning. At least, from an end users perspective… for the folks getting laid off… yeah, it sucks. Although Adobe has been known to give nice severance packages.

Adobe laid off 150 people in 2001, and Macromedia laid off 170, which was 10% of the staff at the time (which was partially because of a merger, but if things had been booming I don’t think it would have been nearly as high). So layoffs are hardly unprecedented. If Adobe and Macromedia survived the dot.com implosion, I’m sure they’ll do ok this time around.

The other factor in all this is that it’s incredibly difficult to get loans or other financing right now. You would think (and this is WHOLE other rant) that with the banks getting all this taxpayer money they’d be back in business making loans. But no. Things are tighter now than they were 6 months ago.

So… companies like Adobe really need to conserve the cash they have on hand. They don’t have as much flexibility in ‘waiting and see’.

This was, at least from Adobe’s perspective, a smart and necessary thing to do. Digital Anarchy is dependent on Adobe products, and I’m not reading anything into this other than just the normal reaction to the reduced expectations that happen in a recession (We’ve been in one for about 9-12 months at this point).

For Digital Anarchy, we’re proceeding much like Adobe (minus the layoffs… we don’t have enough people as it is :-), cutting the costs we can and continuing to release products. We’ve got four products on schedule to be released over the next 3-4 months. With any recession you can’t stop investing in new products, but you do need to watch your costs very carefully. That’s all Adobe is doing.

cheers, Jim

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

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)

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

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.

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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).

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