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

Offbeat art & new era marketing.

I love when good art is enveloped by good promotional methods. (Note: All images shown here are borrowed from the respective websites.)

Awhile ago, YouTube linked me to the artist website www.philinthecircle.com. The artist is Phil Hansen aka Phil in the Circle. He’s a fascinating guy who paints/draws with unusual media, like a large scale portrait of Jimmy Hendrix made of colored matches or a Britney Spears portrait made from chewed up Starbucks pastries. He seems to make money in part on posters of the pieces. He burned much of the work in his themed series called Goodbye Art.

052109_hansen_hendrixsm

Continue reading Offbeat art & new era 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.

Swine flu technology.

On Monday morning, I received a newsletter email from 3DScience.com. This is a stock graphics website that services the medical community. Sometimes I’ll start the day off at 9:00am with a fresh cup of coffee and a fresh digital image of heart surgery. Yum! This time, the company is serving up Swine Flu graphics, including a giveaway of 3D models of the virus.

050409_flu-stock

Continue reading Swine flu technology.

Silverlight & other streams.

Another thought about NAB, on the subject of streaming video across the web and other platforms. Companies were talking a lot about tying in with Microsoft Silverlight. This is a web browser plugin that plays video and other media content through the web browsers without requiring other plugins. Does that make sense? Basically, Silverlight is supposed to get around browser and file format related issues to make it easier for all of us to view content.

At least, I think that’s what Silverlight does. Have to laugh because when I went to Microsoft.com’s Silverlight section, the website couldn’t show me its content because I didn’t have Silverlight installed. Wouldn’t it be better if Microsoft showed me why I should WANT to install Silverlight before they require me to install Silverlight in order to read about it?

050209_silverlightc

Continue reading Silverlight & other streams.

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.

iLike iStock, mostly.

Digital Anarchy has long been a fan of Artbeats.com stock footage. We have used their footage for demoing our products many times over our seven years of business. Recently I have also used the website iStockphoto.com. Mainly this is because Artbeats focuses on video footage, which our company used to use a lot of when we had video products. Now we are a Photoshop-centric company and need still images, and lots of ’em, to show what our products can do.
042509_istock22

Continue reading iLike iStock, mostly.

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

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.

Just pay the pro already…sheesh.

One of my roles at Digital Anarchy is creating the web and print graphics. Whenever I tell someone that I do design collateral for a software company, if that person is not in technology, s/he almost immediately asks me to design a ‘small and easy’ site for free. (ps: no such animal) Either that or I am asked to help with his/her internet connection or email issues. Huh? This cartoon that I am reposting from the terrific Monstermunch.com says it all.

This topic of trying to get something for nothing — or asking the wrong person for help with a technology initiative — makes me think of a great article that I read yesterday called ‘What Price Pro for Hire?’ It came in through the e-newsletter from the magazine Videomaker.

041609_sowhatdoyoudo Continue reading Just pay the pro already…sheesh.

Gamma & other tough, chewy terms

Every time I write a manual for our company, I inevitably stumble upon the need to explain some basic terms. ‘Basic’ isn’t really the correct descriptor because it often implies that something is easy to understand.

For instance, this past week I was writing about a parameter in our ToonIt! Photo plugin. The control is called Lighter Type and the way to describe its Lighter1 option is to say that Lighter1 alters the ‘gamma’ of the source image. Well, I know that ‘gamma’ refers to colors but whew, I get completely lost after that.

A different kind of gamma.

Continue reading Gamma & other tough, chewy terms

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

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)

4-Hour Workweek via Wired.com

Typically I try to blog about stuff related to photography, Photoshop, and all things graphical. But photography and graphics are all about workflow, and workflow is all about saving time and effort, so this article on Wired.com has peaked my interest. It’s called ‘Diary of a Self-Help Dropout: Flirting With the 4-Hour Workweek‘.

030609_wired

(above, image from the article) Written in a very humorous style, this article is about a freelance writer who has difficulty and some mild schizophrenia about managing all of his jobs and tasks. Sounds like…all of us.

Continue reading 4-Hour Workweek via Wired.com

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.

Good standards for good design.

I have recently read articles about how two well-known software companies conduct their design and development processes. A mixed bag of ideas — just like product design itself — but the overall message is that the companies are innovative and open-minded in their approach to development, while still keeping a tight control over quality and standards. We’re talking about Apple and Google. Continue reading Good standards for good design.

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

More about cartoons: xkcd.com

On the heels of my previous post,whenever I talk about cartoons online, I always have to mention my favorite online comic, xkcd, www.xkcd.com.

This web comic is self-described as ‘a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language’. It is also hysterically time-sucking so be careful if you click my link. XKCD also a great way to learn new geek words. So basically, this blog post of mine has absolutely nothing to do with Photoshop plugins, but it may help you to gain street cred with your IT or engineering department (or your 13 year old nephew who knows more than you).

For instance, look at the panel that was drawn for Valentine’s Day, titled ‘Sierpinski Valentine’:

021509-sierpinski_valsm
Continue reading More about cartoons: xkcd.com

Cartoons! But not ours.

Our company, Digital Anarchy, creates a terrific ‘toon’ product called Toonit! Photo. This Adobe Photoshop cartooning plugin lets you turn photographs into a cartoon look very easily and quickly, and generally without changing the default settings.

021709_toonit-logo

But suppose you want to make a cartoon the old fashioned way? By hand! Or rather, by hand in the computer. Well, there are a few websites that I’ve been hanging around for inspiration. They are Drawn!, Deviant Art and MyToons. Continue reading Cartoons! But not ours.

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?

Photoshop free alternatives

As a developer for Photoshop (and now Aperture) I rarely spend time in other host graphics apps. There are other purchasable ones, like the Corel Painter Suite, but they generally don’t publish a good API that plugin developers like Digital Anarchy (that’s us) can hook into.

There are also a bunch of free image editing apps. For our customer model, they simply fall short of what Photoshop can do and none are widespread enough for us to support. Which makes sense since these free apps are not trying to be Photoshop, just act as an alternative for folks who aren’t doing graphics for a living and don’t want to invest money into graphic manipulation.

Having said that, I occasionally run into a summary list of free Photoshop alternatives. Thought it would be interesting to post a list that I found on Downloadsquad.com through a friend’s blog, pirandello.wordpress.com. Continue reading Photoshop free alternatives

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

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

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

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

Macworld 2009 (I watched from home, just like you)

I’ve been IM’ing today with industry friends about the Macworld keynote, or lack thereof. Most folks have been complaining that the announcements were lackluster. Which is true… but really, that’s like complaining the bus is late because of those darn passengers. ;) I don’t think that Apple CAN always wow us with new offerings. That development pace simply isn’t possible.

Frankly, as a small software company that’s been trying to keep up with their hardware and OS changes since OS X was birthed, whew, I’m glad Apple isn’t bringing out anything startlingly new right now. It’s nice that they have stopped ‘innovating’ for awhile and allowed us developers to create new products, instead of spending time recoding our older ones to work with the newest processor and platform changes.

heh, anyway….

Continue reading Macworld 2009 (I watched from home, just like you)

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

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

Photoshop & fingerprints & forensics, oh my.

I was clicking around online yesterday, procrastin…er, doing some market research, when I came upon this interesting website, forensicphotoshop.blogspot.com.

I’ve read frequently on Adobe’s website that the medical slash science industry is a huge demographic of their Photoshop and Acrobat sales. (From the Adobe site, here’s an interesting white paper on the subject of Adobe and Foresnics.) At trade shows and socially, I have run into people who use Photoshop for cool stuff like the Genome project. But I’d never noticed a website devoted to a segment of the graphics industry that isn’t considered a creative market.

Until now. The author, Jim Hoerricks, rounds up a lot of Photoshop topics that are interesting in their own right, and moreso because they are referencing, to me, an emerging boutique part of the industry.

Continue reading Photoshop & fingerprints & forensics, oh my.

Polaroid is no longer instant.

I read today on the Studio Photography blog that Polaroid will stop producing its instant film. The article rounds up some interesting vignettes about Polaroid aficionados and why they love the medium, but here’s the meat of the news:

“Sixty years after Polaroid introduced its first instant camera, the company’s iconic film is disappearing from stores. Although Polaroid says the film should be available into 2009, this is the final month of its last production year. Eclipsed by digital photography, Polaroid’s white-bordered prints — and the anticipation they created as their ghostly images gradually came into view — will soon be things of the past.”

This discontinuation feels quite sad. Although I don’t use Polaroid anymore, I remember years back when my friends and I would take Polaroids of each other at parties and tape the photos to a window or sliding glass door. By the end of the evening, we’d have a timeline of the party and all of the silly and sweet things that had occurred.

hmm, and perhaps my statement multiplied by 1 or 3 million is why the instant film is being discontinued. Memories don’t always translate into dollars. Also, while Polariod is nostalgic to me and perhaps the generation above me, it’s not to someone in their teens or 20’s.

Seems to me that if Polaroid did some marketing and made that medium feel relevant, then it could still sell okay. But I guess they’re a big company and it’s just not worthwhile to their bottom line.

regards -Debbie

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

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
—————————-

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

Comment @ your comments.

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

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

regards -Debbie

Ok, so NOW we have the new blog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

regards -Debbie

Space Clearing the Anarchy Blog

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

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

regards -Debbie

Digital Photography and Childrens Books

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

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

cheers, Jim

Adobe CS4 Launch Event

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

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

Continue reading Adobe CS4 Launch Event

Where Has Your DA T-shirt Traveled To?

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

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

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

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

Photoshoplab’s List of Auto Features

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

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

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

Continue reading Photoshoplab’s List of Auto Features

Party on @ Adobe Creative CS4 launch

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

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

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

On to the Adobe software…

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

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

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

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

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

regards -Debbie

Digital Anarchy Sells Video Plugins (a letter from Jim)

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

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

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

Macro vs Micro at Microsoft Pro Photo Summit.

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

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

Continue reading Macro vs Micro at Microsoft Pro Photo Summit.

Primatte Is Flexible & Stylish

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

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

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


Continue reading Primatte Is Flexible & Stylish

Two New(ish) F/X Websites

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

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

regards -Debbie

Visualizing Data

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

There is the master of infographics, Edward Tufte:

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

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

Continue reading Visualizing Data

Designing Our Support Banner

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

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

Continue reading Designing Our Support Banner

It’s Good To “Choose a Topic”

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

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

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

Patterns in Anarchy

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

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

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

Continue reading Patterns in Anarchy

fxPHD

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

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

cheers, Jim

Software As A Service

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

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

cheers, Jim

Are We Over NAB Yet?

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

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

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

cheers, Jim

The Yahoo Of Evil

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

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

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

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

Continue reading The Yahoo Of Evil

Can Girls Do Math And Science?

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

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

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

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

Continue reading Can Girls Do Math And Science?

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

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

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

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

Actually that’s enough random thoughts for one day.

cheers, Jim

Overpriced Schools For Design, Visual Effects, Photography, Whatever

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

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

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

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

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

Cool Video Toys

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

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

A worthwhile toy for the video geek on your list…

cheers, Jim

On The Subject of NAB (and Avid)

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

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

Continue reading On The Subject of NAB (and Avid)

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