Category Archives: Adobe Photoshop plugins

Live Video Streaming on the Cheap

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I’ve been live streaming various events for small organizations for a while. Most recently for the Against the Stream Meditation Center in SF (if you’re into mindfulness meditation and dharma talks check it out on Monday’s at 7:30pm PST).

Meditation centers don’t usually have a ton of money so we needed to figure out how to do things relatively cheaply. In the past I’ve used Ustream for other organizations, but they’re expensive. Especially for a non-profit.

Note: This assumes you want to do a relatively professional looking stream. If you’re just looking to stream you playing a video game or something there are even cheaper ways to do it. This article doesn’t cover that though. (although YouTube is still a great choice for that)

Looking around for alternatives I discovered that YouTube now does live streaming. For free. I’m usually skeptical of free offerings but they have been fantastic. Quality, analytics, control have all been on par with what I’m used to with Ustream, if not better. If you want to put up paid content then Ustream has some advantages but it’s very expensive. If you’re just trying to live stream your user group, meditation, or whatever meeting then I highly recommend taking a look at YouTube. (in YouTube go to Video Manager and then select Live Streaming. See image below)

So that takes care of one big component, the delivery network. YouTube: FREE  (YouTube records everything and then posts it after you’re done. If you’re doing test streams, make sure you turn that function off. Had an mildly embarrassing test video get posted accidentally)

Digital Anarchy's YouTube Live Stream Dashboard

Let’s talk about software.

Currently I use Wirecast Studio. This is great software for streaming productions. You can have overlays, animated lower thirds, multiple cameras, multiple audio streams, etc. It’s really a great live production environment and works with virtually every CDN (content delivery network). It’s also $500. If you’re doing a serious production it’s worth it though.

HOWEVER, with YouTube you can get Wirecast Play for free. Yep, once again FREE. This is a bit more limited, you can only have one camera (which is just fine for most small events), there’s no preview (whatever you select immediately goes live) and it only works with YouTube. However, if you’re only streaming on YouTube… not really a problem. It’s FREE and does have many of the features of it’s big, $500 brother. It also only works with Black Magic capture cards, so that’s another potential big limitation of Play. (see further down for the hardware I recommend)

So, software: FREE  (you can buy Wirecast Play Studio for $279. This is the $500 app restricted to YouTube. If you can afford it, I highly recommend this. The ability to Preview is kind of a big deal. But play with the free version and see how that works for you.) A screenshot of Wirecast Studio is below. As you can see below it looks much like a normal video editing app, so it’s very intuitive. (and yes, if they ever allow plugins we’d love to port Beauty Box Video to it :-)

Wirecast interface for video live streaming

And now we get to Hardware. Hardware is not usually free unfortunately. So this is where the expenses come in. However you’ll see it won’t be too bad, other than maybe the computer.

You’ll need a computer. I sort of recommend MacBook Pros. Macs still handle audio/video stuff with less problems than their PC counterparts. Apple unfortunately isn’t very generous with the hardware though, so small disks and limited RAM can create bottlenecks. If you don’t need the machine to be portable and can use a desktop machine, you’re better off. If you’re pretty tech savvy, then a PC is fine. Just realize they can be more finicky when it comes to getting video in. (although Windows is getting better)

I’ll go over various problems with the software and hardware in part 2 of this. There are lots of quirks to getting video into a computer and getting it to spit it out to the interwebs, so it needs it’s own blog post. The MacBook Pro has less quirks, so that’s the machine of choice for me.

Internet Connection: You have to have pretty fast internet (bare minimum is 1megabit Upload speed) and expect to use a wired connection. Do NOT use Wifi. Wifi is relatively unstable, slower and you’re much more likely to have problems. Run a cable directly into your modem or router. It will definitely help if other people are not using the connection. Having someone start watching Netflix while you’re trying to stream will not go well.

Having your connection constantly dropping really sucks and makes for a lot of stress. Get a fast connection, wire straight from your modem to the computer and kick everyone else off the line. Much more likely to have a good stream for your viewers and less stress for you.

Internet Connection: $50/mo (give or take)

Computer: MacBook Pro for $1600 (If you can use a desktop Mac/PC or laptop PC then the cost will be much less. I recommend buying the other bits first and trying everything out with an existing computer. If you can use your existing computer so much the better.)

Video Capture Card: Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle: This is what I use. It works well with the Mac but requires Thunderbolt. It took a bit of time to get it set up and find the right setting to get it to work with the Panasonic camcorder I use.  From my experience and most accounts, it’s very finicky. Expect to spend some time setting it up and possibly calling Black Magic (who were very helpful and got me up and running but other folks have reported having less positive experiences).

Frankly there aren’t a lot of other good, inexpensive solutions. So even though it’s not perfect, once you get it set up, it does work and will only set you back about $230. There’s also a USB 3.0 version which I have not tried.

Video Capture Card: $230 Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt

Video Camera: I’ve been using Panasonic camcorders but any camcorder with a HDMI port will work. I know the correct settings on the Black Magic Intensity (1080i59.94) that goes with the Panasonics (video quality: 1080HG) so that’s what I stick with. But with a little experimentation I’m sure you can figure out the settings for any HD camcorder with HDMI out.

Video Camera: $150 Panasonic HC-V160 Camcorder

I’ve been using the Panasonic 4K camcorder but that’s just cuz I’m a geek. It’s a great camera and certainly works well, but total overkill if all you’re doing is streaming. Just get a basic HD camcorder.

Microphone: If you’re doing this on the cheap, just use the camcorder microphone. Easy and usually sounds ok. I’ll probably do another blog post on audio. There are lots of options and not easily covered in a couple paragraphs. Using the Camcorder Mic will be Free and easy. It won’t sound _amazing_ but should work. One advantage of the on camera mic is that it’s great for picking up the audience. Even if I have the speaker mic’d up, I’ll switch to the camcorder mic if someone in the audience is speaking (if there’s no audience mic). (This is one instance where Wirecast Studio is preferable to Wirecast Play)

Cables: You’ll need an ethernet cable and hdmi cable or two. Buy them from Amazon, they’re cheap and work great. Cost: $20-30 or so. Make sure you figure out what length you need. You may not be next to the modem so a long ethernet cable may be necessary. The longest HDMI cable I’ve been able to use is 12 feet. Seems cameras don’t have as strong of a HDMI signal as TVs and can’t use very long cables. Make sure you test everything well in advance of your event.

Actually, let me say that again: Make sure you test everything well in advance of your event. Streaming is quirky and you need to have confidence all you components and cables will play nicely together.

So the bottom line is. assuming you have the computer and a decent internet connection:

Hardware: $410 : $230 for the Intensity Shuttle, $150 for the camera and $30 for cables.

Service: FREE : YouTube live streaming

Streaming Software: FREE (or $279) : Wirecast Play or Wirecast Play Studio

 

Beauty Box Video or Photo Crashing Problems – How to Fix It

Beauty Box makes extensive use of your video card’s GPU (graphic processing unit) to speed the plugin up. Usually this works great and results in the plugin working quickly.

However, it can cause problems. The GPU has a lot less memory than your computer does, so it’s prone to run out of memory. This is especially true when other applications are trying to use it. After Effects, Premiere, Final Cut, and most of the other apps we plug into also use the GPU. So do many other plug-ins. All this software trying to make use of a limited resource can be problematic.

Older video cards are also a problem. Beauty Box is doing some heavy duty processing and the older video cards may not be up to the task. Particularly if you’re using very high resolution video or photos.

So what to do about it? Here’s some fixes:

Continue reading Beauty Box Video or Photo Crashing Problems – How to Fix It

Creative Cloud from a Software Design Perspective

The Creative Cloud has gotten mixed reviews from users. Many users don’t like the idea of ‘renting’ software and feel Adobe is forcing them to pay more or gouging them. While this may or may not be true, there are other reasons for Adobe wanting to make this switch.

Software is traditionally done in big releases. You work for a year or more and deliver the final product with much fanfare. This is a feast or famine type of thing… users get all or nothing and the company bets the farm that the release is all that and a bag of potato chips. This really isn’t great for either users or the company.

Continue reading Creative Cloud from a Software Design Perspective

All Installers are Updated for Creative Cloud

We’ve finally got all of our installers updated to recognize Adobe’s Creative Cloud. All of our plugins worked in CC, but you needed to point the installer to the right directory. We weren’t finding it automatically. Now we are! :-)

Actually this only affects the Photoshop Mac installers. The Windows installers look for the last version of the app you installed. If that was CC, then that’s what it would find. The Mac installers look for every installation of the app, so we have to specifically tell it to look for each new version. Probably more info than you wanted, but for those of you, uh, enjoying Creative Cloud… all of our products will install easily.

Beauty Box Video 3.0 Released!

The new version of Beauty Box Video for After Effects, Premiere, and Final Cut Pro 7/X is available for purchase or you can download the trial version. We’ve added a number of great new features, first and foremost is greatly improved automatic masking. This allows us to more accurately identify the skin tones and track them throughout the video clip. This means the retouching that Beauty Box does looks better than ever. Here’s an example:

Comparing the automatic mask from Beauty BoxNo automatic mask is perfect, we’re still picking up a bit of the background, but it’s much improved from 1.0

The other big new feature is the addition of preset Styles. It ships with 35 different styles to give your video a wide variety of different looks from a warm glow to a ‘day to night’ look. These are modifiable, so you can adjust the amount of smoothing up or down.

We’ve also improved the shine removal, improved the OpenCL support, so it should be faster on most cards, and made a bunch of other small improvements and bug fixes.

It’s a great upgrade and until June 30th it’s only $59 for Beauty Box 2.0 users ($99 for 1.0 users). New licenses are also on sale for only $149 (save $50!).

To purchase head over to the Digital Anarchy store. If you want to download the free trial and get more info, click here.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what happened to OpenFX support… we’re adding NUKE support and the OpenFX version will be released in a couple weeks. At the same time, we’ll also be releasing a brand new version for Avid systems! You can download the beta of both the OpenFX and Avid builds here.

Greenscreen Tips for Shooting Video

There was a question the other day on the After Effects List about tips for successfully shooting greenscreen. A couple good links were suggested (see below), but one that stood out was rotating the video camera vertically. If you’re shooting a person standing, and they’re going to be keyed anyways so you don’t need the extra space horizontally, use the wide part of the camera to capture more vertical resolution. It was also a reminder that shooting greenscreen is difficult even for pros.

Great tips from Jonas Hummelstrand:

http://generalspecialist.com/greenscreen-and-bluescreen-checklist/

and from the After Effects Help section!

http://adobe.ly/RNe3pz

More vertical resolution, anyone?

Vertical resolution is good for greenscreen video

Using Plugins on Multiple Computers

Plug-ins with multiple=So you’ve got two (or 20) computers and you want to use Beauty Box (or whatever) on all of them.

This is always a tricky thing for software developers. On one hand we realize many folks have multiple machines and since they’re only one person, they can only use one machine at a time. We would like to allow them the flexibility of having it on a couple machines. On the other hand, if you’re a studio with multiple machines and multiple people we think that if our software is good enough to be installed and used on all those machines we should be paid for it. Making sure that happens sometimes gets in the way of how a single user is using our plugins.

Companies

When you buy a license of our software, you’re buying it for one user. If you’re a company with multiple machines and multiple artists/editors using those machines, then there’s not much gray area and you need a license for each computer being used. We offer pretty good volume discounts and site licenses for this type of situation, you can contact sales@nulldigitalanarchy.com for pricing.

There is one big exception to this… if you’re using After Effects’ network rendering. You do not need extra licenses for After Effects render nodes. You can install Beauty Box on as many render nodes as you want for free.

People (and, no, companies are not people. I don’t care what the Dread Pirate Roberts says)

If you’re just one person with multiple machines then there’s some gray areas. The software can be installed on a couple machines, but we use the internet to determine if the plugin is being used on multiple computers at the same time. So if you have a desktop and a laptop and you’re using one or the other depending on whether you’re at home or at the office, no problem. You’re good to go.

However, if you’re in your studio/office and trying to use both machines for rendering/editing at the same time, you may run into problems. If so, here’s what you can do:

1)      You can purchase a second license. We do offer discounts for second licenses. Contact sales@nulldigitalanarchy.com.

2)      Use the second machine as an After Effects render node. As mentioned above, you can use Beauty Box on as many render nodes as you want for free. So if the machine is just being used to process frames sent to it from another machine you shouldn’t have any problems.

3)      Our licensing is set up so that you can install on two machines, they just can’t be in use simultaneously.  The way we check this is via the internet. So if you disable the internet connection on one machine, then we can’t check it. This is a hack and technically violates the license. However, since the spirit of the license is for one user, as long as it’s the same person using the machines we’re ok with it.

4)      Render out the Beauty Box clip on one machine while working on another part of your project on the second machine. BB just gets watermarked on the second machine, so it’s still usable.

Like most of you, we’re running a small company. We try to be as flexible as possible, but if you’re making money using our software we would like you to buy the correct number of licenses. Please support the companies that make the tools you use and that help you be successful.

Don’t be a Grumpy, Old Photographer

I recently was chatting with a photographer who pretty much blamed all the ills of the industry on Moms in hot pants. Yep, that’s why he no longer goes to WPPI and why the photo business isn’t what it used to be. Moms in hot pants with their toy DSLRs undercutting real photographers. What IS the world coming to?

(ok, so this is from the Sony advert that’s very funny. See post from last week.)

I think mostly what he’s upset about is a new generation of photographers. I suspect when he got out of school there were a bunch of old photographers bitching about all these kids with their Canon AE-1s running around in bell bottoms pretending to be photographers and working for peanuts.

But change happens. A new generation comes along, new ways of marketing appear, and new cameras are released. Just because you think Twitter is the dumbest thing since the Pet Rock, doesn’t mean you don’t have to use it. (At least Twitter doesn’t limit who’s sees your posts like Facebook does now) Marketing has always been critical in photography and it’s even more so now. It’s just the way of doing it has changed somewhat. It requires a little more consistent engagement… like this blog. Which you’ll note I’m not writing on Facebook. I’ll post the link on FB, but because FB limits who sees it, it much more effective to do the writing here and link to it from the various interwebs.

If a few Moms with Canon Rebels are on the verge of sending you out of business, I don’t think the issue is the Moms. Hell, hire one of them. If you can get in with the Mom Mafia you’re golden!

And besides, given the amount of tradeshows I go to that are nothing but geeky guys, I’m having a hard time seeing what the complaint is about a little gender diversity (hot pants or no). But it’s no secret why you’re seeing a lot of women in photography… they tend to communicate better than men, have more emotional intelligence, and are excellent shooters. I mean, who do you think a bride is going to want to shoot her wedding? The energetic gal in hot pants or the grumpy, old guy? It’s all about being a good communicator these days, whether it’s on social media or during a shoot. Don’t be the grumpy, old guy.

Great New Tutorial on Shooting Greenscreen/Chromakey Photos

We’ve wanted to do a training video for awhile that touched on all aspects of Greenscreen photography. From the photo shoot to the file management and, of course, the keying. We recently had the opportunity to work with with Mike Price of Fairfield Photography to do just that. Mike has been shooting youth sports for years and uses greenscreens and Primatte.

Shooting Chromakey photograph on a greenscreen and keying greenscreen photos in Photoshop

In this 30 minute video, Mike touches on all aspects of Greenscreen photography: Shooting and light setup, managing photos, setting up actions, and doing the keying. If you’re new to chromakey photography, regardless of whether you’re using greenscreen or bluescreen, this is a great video. Even if you’re an old hand, it’s always great to see how other folks are doing it. So check it out!

http://vimeo.com/53470129

Sony Makes a Funny Video Making Fun of DSLR Users

Sony has come out with a pretty funny video about DSLR users who really shouldn’t be using a DSLR. The campaign is called: DSLR Gear, No Idea.

One has to ask… What is Sony going for here? This is only funny if you know something about DSLRs. The camera they’re advertising is a point and shoot with some fancy features, but they’re pretty much insulting the people they want to buy their camera. Seems like an odd teaser campaign… but it is funny!

Why You Shouldn’t Shoot Video with a DSLR

There’s a myth going around that DSLRs shoot great video footage. They don’t. They are not video cameras and as such, usually result in sub-par video. If you want to shoot video, go buy a video camera. Stop listening to the cool kids telling you to shoot video on your non-video camera DSLR.

It is true that if you hook up a really nice lens to your DSLR and learn all the things that a video camera does that a DSLR doesn’t do (and that you now have to do manually)… you might get really beautifully looking footage. If you are an experienced videographer and/or filmmaker, you can get brilliant footage out of a DSLR. If you’re not an experienced videographer, the footage is just as likely going to be shaky, out of focus, and have bad audio. (Of course, some might say that if you’re not an experienced videographer your footage is going to look like that no matter what camera you use. ;-)

For the types of stuff most people are shooting on DSLRs, a sub-$2000 video camera, like the Canon XA10, will probably serve them much better. Actually, $800 handhelds are often more than most people need. I’ve got a Panasonic that shoots absolutely beautiful HD. I know, I know… it’s not as cool, but for most things, even stuff that Pro Video guys shoot, you need to jump through hoops to get a DSLR to do what you want. For example, it’s doubtful I’d let someone with a DSLR rig shoot my wedding. IMHO it’s not the appropriate camera for the job. Most people using a DSLR to shoot a wedding are probably trying waaaay too hard to be a ‘filmmaker’ and probably not as focused on just shooting my wedding. Besides, I really don’t want someone wearing a rig that looks like an orthodontic headset for Frankenstein wandering around my wedding.

DSLR rig for shooting videoUsing a DSLR to shoot video is sometimes an endeavor worthy of Dr. Frankenstein.

(Of course, if you’re into creating a monster, the RedRock DSLR rig shown is a good one)

All that said… it is possible to get great footage out of a DSLR and you get to use all those super awesome lenses. The gist of this post is to get you thinking about the hype that surrounds DSLRs and video. The cameras have a LOT of shortcomings that most people are going to find difficult to workaround, even video pros that are used to higher end camcorders. Before you go running off trying to use a DSLR for video, consider what you’re shooting and what you want to achieve. Examine the features that DSLRs are lacking, how that will affect what you’re shooting, and what you will have to buy to compensate for the missing video features. Use that as a guide to determine whether you should spend the time and money on outfitting your DSLR to shoot video or just buying a video camera that’s designed for video from the ground up.

Joy of Photography

One of the great things about running DA is that it gives me an excuse to buy fancy camera equipment and play with it. The latest subject I’m infatuated with is stars. No, I haven’t joined the paparazzi. I’m talking about the stars you can see when you’re 10,000 feet up on a rock in the middle of the Pacific ( the Haleakala volcano in Maui).

(c) 2012 Jim Tierney

Photography is absolutely amazing. It really forces you to be present in the place you’re at and the moment you’re there.

Continue reading Joy of Photography

The Distortions of Retouching

Did you see the before and after shots that Britney Spears released? Can’t say I’m a huge fan and I would never have imagined I’d be mentioning her in the Digital Anarchy blog, but, yet, I just did. She released retouched AND unretouched photos of herself, and put them out there for comparison. The article breaks down the shots and what was changed. While I think it was a very worthwhile thing for her to do, I really wish she’d given a more intelligent quote and actually address the issue instead of saying ‘it was fun being shot in front of a wall of cotton candy’. sigh. Click here for the article.

It reminds me of the Dove ad that takes a model from walking into the studio, through the shoot, through photoshop, and out on a billboard. Amazing commercial bringing attention to the same issues.

This might seem like an odd conversation for a company that makes software to do retouching, like Beauty Box, to be promoting.

Continue reading The Distortions of Retouching

Congrats to Rob Legato for Winning Best Visual F/X

Psunami, our old product for creating realistic water, was originally developed for Titanic. Rob was the visual effects supervisor on that film and played a key role in Psunami coming into being. Arete Associates was the developer of the wave technology originally and did the development for the film in conjunction with Digital Domain and Rob. He also was effects supervisor on The Aviator. After that film came out, he did a talk where he discussed the fact that the technology they needed a team of people to create in 1997 was available to anyone for $199 10 years later. A little trivia for all you visual effects artists out there. Psunami is now sold by Red Giant.

So congrats to Rob for his continued excellence in visual effects, this time for Hugo.

Why doesn’t Hollywood get it?

NPR recently had a story about Silicon Valley vs. Hollywood. Hollywood suffers from a lot of piracy and the Valley enables some of it. Sort of. I get the feeling that Hollywood would rather the internet go away and then they wouldn’t have to deal with the change they’re apparently so scared of. They are certainly trying to legislate the internet into oblivion.

In the NPR article producer Gavin Polone says, regarding the fact that YouTube and the like are now producing their own shows: “And they will also start to look at this very expensive property as property, and they’re not going to want to have it stolen from them”.

Guess what? They’re well aware of much it costs to make content and they are definitely in it to make money. Could it be possible there are other ways to profit from content than the standard model that Hollywood has used for the last 50-80 years?

Continue reading Why doesn’t Hollywood get it?

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!

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.

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.

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 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

Post magazine on greenscreen.

In late July, we released Primatte Chromakey 3.5, a terrific update for using our greenscreen masking tool in Adobe Photoshop CS5 and 64-bit native operation. Also in July, a terrific article appeared in Post magazine about how to set up for greenscreen. The article is ‘The Keys to Shooting Greenscreen’ and it’s written by one of my favorite industry writers, Randi Altman, who is also Post’s editor.

Randi’s topic is really about greenscreening for video and film (with specs like HDCAM and 35mm/24fps) since Post is a broadcast media publication. However, her sage advice is completely applicable to working with photographs and other still images.

In fact, the subtitle of the article is exactly the mantra that we tell our Primatte Photoshop customers: “Give yourself enough time, light it right and plan ahead.” Continue reading Post magazine on greenscreen.

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!

Beauty Box Photo is a Smash!

Beauty Box Photo has been out for only a few weeks now but we’re really excited by the response from people and the press about it. Angie Taylor gave a great review on her blog, Creative Pro Therapy, as well as Diane Berkenfeld on her blog, Picture-Soup.com.

The example above shows one before/after image with only a little skin correction needed. The example below shows a more extreme example of skin smoothing. The plugin is great for both kinds of situations because it always gives a natural look. Continue reading Beauty Box Photo is a Smash!

Toonit! Photo 2.6 – 64bit/CS5 Update Released!

We are so happy and excited to announce the releasing of Toonit! Photo 2.6 which is compatible with 64bit and CS5! The best part about it; it’s FREE if you already own the product. Go to this Update Page to get the instructions on how to do a fresh install. If you haven’t purchased Toonit! you can now get it for $89 until July 18!

After Toonit! Photo has been applied.

(After Toonit! Photo has been applied)

Original image before Toonit! Photo is applied.

(Original image before Toonit! Photo has been applied)

This is just the first in many more 64bit and CS5 updates to come. Here’s are run down of when you can expect these updates for our other products:

Continue reading Toonit! Photo 2.6 – 64bit/CS5 Update Released!

Good Design. Bad Design.

Still in design mode as we revamp our Digital Anarchy website, here is a comparison of good and bad design techniques. Two designers give their opinions and share easy to fix mistakes that can turn bad website design around.

In the first article, The 10 Most Common Mistakes Web Designers Make, the Author talks about, “with a little diligence, poor design can be easily avoided.” My favorite one, which is #1, talks about busy, crowded pages. There’s nothing worse then going to a website and not being able to find what you are looking for.

Continue reading Good Design. Bad Design.

Styled Icons

Here at Digital Anarchy we are the middle of redesigning our website — stay tuned for a new look very soon! — and in our search for interesting ideas, we came upon these summaries of gorgeous and FREE icon sets; 40+ Extremely Beautiful Icon Sets Hand-picked from deviantART and 40+ Beautiful Icon Sets Hand-picked from deviantART – Part 2.

Here are my favorite two:

Antique Icons

Continue reading Styled Icons

Pencil vs Camera and ToonIt!

I came across this great photo series on Flickr, entitled Pencil vs Camera by artist Ben Heine. It is always interesting to see how different mediums can be combined, especially when it comes from reality (photos) and imagination (drawings). Ben used a traditional method to do his sketches. All the graphic elements shown come from his own stock/production. He drew the sketches, took the photos, and edited them.

©Ben Heine

©Ben Heine

Here at Digital Anarchy we have always been a big supporter of how illustrations can play a role within photography. Our plugin ToonIt! Photo lets you create cartoon effects, like shading and lines, from your own photographic images. Learn more about ToonIt! Photo here.

I had a few extra moments to play with the Pencil vs Camera concept using my own images and ToonIt! Photo. I shot these photos in Santa Cruz, CA on a very overcast day about two years ago. I would have liked to have a more pleasing sky but you can’t always get what you want, right? Here are the results:

Continue reading Pencil vs Camera and ToonIt!

Green screen is everywhere.

Since one week is a decade in internet time, I’m seeing this February post about green screening an eternity too late. But I still think it’s interesting, as is most of the stuff that I find through BoingBoing.net. The movie shown below is the 2009 Virtual Backlot Reel from Stargate Studios.

It’s fascinating — and maybe a bit disturbing — to realize that mundane scenes in TV shows are now regularly treated as visual effects events. Digital Anarchy first developed Primatte Chromakey, our Adobe Photoshop plugin for green screen masking, in mid-2005. At the time, we had to spend a lot of time simply explaining to photographers what ‘green screen’ meant. Five years later, green screen is a recognized entity with information accessible on non-pro sites like ehow.com. The convergence continues!

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

Beauty Box: Make everyone look beautiful.

And we’re back. Digital Anarchy is once again making plugins for After Effects and Final Cut Pro. Our first new product is Beauty Box 1.0, which was released yesterday. In a nutshell, this plugin automatically does skin retouching, which reduces wrinkles and removes blemishes.

If you weren’t able to hire a makeup artists for your shoot, or you just have regular people who look, well… regular, then Beauty Box allows you to do skin retouching without having to go frame by frame. It’s a powerful new plugin that uses face detection and an advanced smoothing algorithms to smooth out the skin while keeping all the other details sharp and in focus.

Of course, we have the privilege of working with beautiful models. But Beauty Box will make everyone look beautiful! Ok, well, maybe not everyone. But if it’s possible, Beauty Box makes it easier to get them there.

120909-karacouch-5501

Continue reading Beauty Box: Make everyone look beautiful.

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?

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

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

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.

Celebrities of LENNON the Photographer, Part II.

LENNON the Photographer has given us terrific celebrity images that he creates, in part, with our Adobe Photoshop greenscreen plugin, Primatte Chromakey. A year after we first talked to LENNON about his work, he contacted us with more high-profile photography. There is a **gorgeous** shot of Gilles Marini from Dancing with the Stars, as shown below.

072709_lennon_gillesmarini

Something that I really enjoy about LENNON is that his personality seems as colorful as the celebrities that he photographs. That’s why his first name is always written in CAPS; very Hollywood, yes?

Continue reading Celebrities of LENNON the Photographer, Part II.

Professional geeks love ToonIt!

A few days ago, I received a great email from a new customer named Mark Edwards. He wrote us a nice note about his purchase of ToonIt! Photo, which is our Adobe Photoshop cartooning plugin, and attached some images to his email.

Mark said, “Thanks for the cool tool. After only a few minutes of playing around with it, I decided to buy it (original and toonit versions of one picture attached). Love it!”

Mark’s ToonIt image:

070809_markedwards-toonsm

Continue reading Professional geeks love ToonIt!

Nick Cattermole: Music, monkeys & monks.

While performing as a musician for the Fashion Week in Delhi, artist Nick Cattermole took a lot of photographs around the McLeod Ganj area of India. Nick’s two primary subjects in this photo series are monkeys and monks. These are subjects whose relationship to each other — in my eyes — is bound only by their English spelling and co-existence in a geographic region. But Nick has put together an interesting body of work that combines the inhabitants of both temples and forests in McLeod Ganj.

I love that Nick uses our ToonIt! Photo plugin to transform his photographs into delicate illustrations. Many people use ToonIt! for more ‘aggressive’ images, which is what cartoons typically look like, all thick black lines and bold heavy color fields. Nick’s illustrations are instead turned into soft, thin lines over a jeweled, geometric pattern of color.

Monk walking in the village, post-ToonIt! treatment:

070709_nickcatt_monk1

Continue reading Nick Cattermole: Music, monkeys & monks.

Technology gets smaller.

While writing a post about how my little iThing takes great digital photos, I did some news surfing about the shrinking size of technology. The two articles listed below caught my eye. Their topics are different but the underlying theme is similar.

First, on Computerworld.com, an article called ‘Future shock: The PC of 2019‘ talks how personal computers will look in a decade: Small.

070809_thylacine-500

Just yesterday, I took this photo of a charming chalk stamp on the pavement. Seems to fit the topic of this post because ‘Thylacine’ is a generally extinct, but still sighted and possibly mythological creature. Just like technology can be. See this Bizzare & Extinct site for images.

Continue reading Technology gets smaller.

Tiny Toons & more Panos from Perry.

For the July 4th weekend, I went to a friend’s cabin in the Russian River, California area. The town of Guerneville has tons of scenic photo opps and upon arriving, I was dismayed that I had forgotten to pack both my SLR camera and my little point and shoot. Luckily I had my iPhone with me. I couldn’t zoom in or add a perspective blur, but I was still able to get some really nice shots. Certainly any camera-enabled phone would do an equally good job.

When I returned to my Inbox this morning, my favorite roving panographer (if, in fact, there is such a term) had emailed to me his own stunning, low pixel image from a recent nature walk. Here is what Stanton Perry said about his photo, which was also taken with an iPhone, and its subsequent cartoon that uses our ToonIt! Photo plugin.

070609_stanton-toon500

Continue reading Tiny Toons & more Panos from Perry.

ToonIt Gallery & ‘Panorama’ Perry.

Digital Anarchy recently posted a spankin’ brand new online ToonIt! Gallery. This web page is a great way to see what folks are doing with our Adobe Photoshop cartooning software.

ToonIt! is fun and easy to use and gives you amazing results when transmogrifying your photographs into cartoons. (Technical term per Calvin and Hobbs, a favorite real cartoon.) This is especially true when ‘tooning’ the human face and form, which most cartoon tools fail at. Ours doesn’t.

Most people send us exactly that, children and women turned into cartoons. A refreshing change comes from Stanton Perry of Rendertek.com. When I first saw Stanton’s work, which are all gorgeous panoramas and thus the nickname in this entry’s title, I was blown away by how well ToonIt! works with architectural and landscape settings.

Panorama #1, traditional toon.

061709_stanton-toon1-600

Continue reading ToonIt Gallery & ‘Panorama’ Perry.

Invigorate yourself.

The 3D Invigorator is our newest Adobe Photoshop plugin for creating 3D logos and other fun 3D graphics. We’ve recently posted some great video tutorials that explain this powerful plugin. Watch new movies that explain the Material Editor, your one-stop shop for prettying up that 3D model, and its interesting texturing options for Textures and Bump Maps.

061309_invigpslogo

We have also added a movie that talks between working in 3D Invigorator’s environment vs. making use of Photoshop’s new 3D capabilities? The difference is pretty vast and we explain it all in this video tutorial.

Continue reading Invigorate yourself.

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

Creating the ToonIt! logo.

I always enjoy reading a breakdown of how the design process happens or where inspiration comes from. Some interesting sources are the Creative section of Communication Arts’ website; the Creativity blog on How magazine’s website; ideas from Moo.com‘s business card customers; and the illustration blogsite Drawn.ca.

Recently I designed a logo for our new CarToonIt! Bundle, which gives a discount on the purchase of ToonIt! Photo. This product bundle is our Adobe Photoshop cartooning software that now also works in Apple’s Aperture.

050509_v0-cartoonit

The CarToonIt! logo was pretty easy to make because I based it off our existing ToonIt! logo. But that short design process made me think about my design revisions for the ToonIt! logo, which happened over a few weeks’ time, and I thought it would be fun to post some of the iterations here. Enjoy!

My original concept sketch:

050509_v1-toonlogo

Continue reading Creating the ToonIt! logo.

The mecca of NAB.

Our software company, Digital Anarchy, makes an annual mecca to NAB, which is the National Association of Broadcasters convention. The show is held in Las Vegas in late April, when it’s wonderful to stand outside at 2pm in the beating sun, then run back into the over-air conditioned show to dry off the small beads of sweat.

This was the first year since 2001 that Digital Anarchy was not a vendor at NAB. We sold our video/animation product line in August 2008 and are a Photoshop-only developer now. But we love the event and people, and it’s always cool to see new technology, so there we were. Drinking a little more than working, for once, often with colleagues from other plugin companies.

Representing below: Folks from ReVision FX, Digi Effects, Automatic Duck, Grid Iron, and Digital Anarchy.

050209-nabcrew1

Continue reading The mecca of NAB.

Find your inner freak.

Just read an article on one of my favorite industry news sites, www.studiodaily.com, which is related to Studio Monthly magazine. It’s about a new SciFi film that uses relatively low budget techniques to tell a story about the futurism of Mexico. The film is Sleep Dealer and the director is Alex Rivera.

I always enjoy reading about people’s hardware and software choices and moreso about their creative decisions. But what I really enjoyed about this article was the final interview question asked of Rivera.

042609_innerfreak

Note: This movie still has been reposted from Studiodaily.com. Continue reading Find your inner freak.

At long last, Steven Parke.

Steven Parke is an amazing photographer and artist who Digital Anarchy became friendly with about two years ago. It’s taken almost that long for us to show his amazing work in our online gallery. Busy lives.

Steven is using Flickr as his gallery medium these days, though he used to show a wider expanse of his work in a gorgeous website called Imagecarnival.com. Seems like he has his creative fingers in lots of stuff including commercial portraits, musician photos, CD covers. If you click around his People set, you will see a lot of interesting and even recognizable people. Steven is quite humble about his accomplishments. One of my favorite photos in this set is the lead singer for a band called MILKSHAKE!.

041709-parke-milkshake Continue reading At long last, Steven Parke.

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

Toon the cat! (if she’ll stand still)

I’m doing some product development for our ToonIt! Photo plugin, and wound up playing with some personal photos as source material. Looking at my cat is typically more interesting than iStock and this is a great photo to cartoon. The subjects’ faces are aimed at the viewer and their facial details are very clear. I also like that the background is blurred out in the original. We were photographed in my kitchen and those kinds of environments often don’t look all that interesting, even as a cartoon.

Here’s the result with the ToonIt! defaults rendered out of Photoshop:

030909_debcat-toon-500

Continue reading Toon the cat! (if she’ll stand still)

Digital Anarchy does Aperture!

Yesterday was an exciting one as Digital Anarchy branched out into a new host application: the wild world of Aperture. Our Photoshop plugins ToonIt! Photo and Knoll Light Factory are now available for use in Aperture.

Our president, Jim Tierney, had the disadvantage of working on this product release remotely… from Hawaii. Here are some of his hard-earned Maui test shots for Knoll Light Factory.

His original shot:

The Knoll-infused version:


Continue reading Digital Anarchy does Aperture!

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

http://anarchyjim.digitalanarchy.com

Reggie Bush running

Photos above & below water

I love digital artwork — and it’s what pays the bills! — but it’s always wonderful to seek out non-digital artwork. Through Digital Anarchy, I look at a lot of artist websites and portfolios. They trickle in as email addresses attached to sales receipts or support requests, and I often click through to look at the URL.

This week I stumbled upon photos of some very unique and beautiful artwork. I don’t quite recall what series of clicks brought me here, but the artist is Jason de Caires Taylor and the site is www.underwatersculpture.com.

Images from the site:

Continue reading Photos above & below water

A belated but fun holiday offering.

Digital Anarchy launched our newest product, ToonIt! Photo, just before Christmas. It’s a fun new Adobe Photoshop plugin that’s cartooning software for photos and other graphics.

Unfortunately, the ToonIt! manual took a week longer than the product release. It’s always the little stuff, like forgetting to plug in in the toaster, that trips me up. You can get the ToonIt! Photo manual from here. I apologize for the wait. Writing manuals is _almost_ as difficult as reading them.

The cartoon results for Molotov Cupcake.

Continue reading A belated but fun holiday offering.

Rediscovered treasures: John Riley & Museo Nacional de Costa Rica

Last month, Digital Anarchy had some difficulty with our server, store and site… shudder… and had to change vendors unexpectedly. I’ve been combing through our media ever since, trying to find content that didn’t properly survive the transition.

Which caused me to stumble upon one of my favorite artists in our Primatte Chromakey gallery. John Riley, Ph.D., is a physicist and associate professor who initially contacted Digital Anarchy about some graphics work for which he was using Primatte, an Adobe Photoshop plugin for blue/greenscreen masking.

Continue reading Rediscovered treasures: John Riley & Museo Nacional de Costa Rica

Cartoodling.

Yesterday we released our first new product in awhile. It’s an Adobe Photoshop plugin called ToonIt! Photo and the software creates absolutely gorgeous cartoons from photographs and other still images.

As I was working on the material for our launch, to keep myself amused late into the night, friends emailed me close-up photos of themselves. I would run a quick toon on the photo and sent the new image back. That was fun to do and a new word was born: ‘cartoodling’. It’s when you (ok, me) play around with a cartoon filter and just whittle and doodle the time away…

Below, my two late night helpers.

And remote support ;)

regards -Debbie

Gearing up for a product release.

We’re all pretty excited around here at Digital Anarchy about our upcoming product release. Usually we don’t talk about products until they are released, but we pre-announced this product earlier in the year — err, a few times earlier in the year — and it’s finally hitting the market this week.

The product is ToonIt! Photo and you can see images, well, right here. You can also check out footage showing off last year’s release of ToonIt for video apps. The medium is different but the underlying software is the same.

Toonit Photo cartooning software from Digital Anarchy

'After' image for Toonit Photo cartooning software

Even though I am working through the weekend, I’m having a blast writing our manual and web pages and tutorial scripts. After all, how can it NOT be fun to turn yourself (and mom) into a cartoon?

regards -Debbie

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

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)

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