Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wacom Bamboo Stylus and Adobe Eazel for iPad = Optimized Mark-making Experience

I've been recently experimenting with two soon-to-be-released iPad-related items: Adobe Eazel and the Wacom Bamboo Stylus for iPad. Used together, these tools offer tablet-based artists a superior mark-making experience.

One of my early concerns while participating in the pre-release cycle for Eazel was the requirement to use a five-finger gesture to call up the user interface (color selection, brush size, opacity, options). I prefer to use a stylus with the iPad and reliance on the five-finger gesture impeded my workflow. Thankfully, the engineers incorporated a single tap in the image corner to call up a persistent UI that appears for adjustments until a another single tap on the image dismisses it. With this optional mechanism in place, it is now effortless to incorporate a stylus into the workflow.

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The Bamboo stylus has a very nice feel in the hand. It has some weight to it (20 grams) and is nicely balanced, making this stylus very comfortable to use over extended periods. Another big plus is the stylus tip: At 6mm in width, Wacom claims that this stylus is 25% narrower than others on the market. This slim tip profile provides an excellent sense of precise placement.

On another note, last week my 3-year-old MacBook Pro bit the dust (logic board failure). I ordered a new Quad-core Intel Core i7 MacBook Pro, which should offer quite a performance enhancement over my now-dead machine. As soon as I'm back up and running at full power, I will be producing an over-the-shoulder look at these new tools. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

SF to Paris in Two Minutes

SF to Paris in Two Minutes from Beep Show on Vimeo.

Artist Nate Bolt shot a very cool time-lapse video on a recent flight from San Francisco to Paris. Using a Canon 5D Mk2, a tripod, and an available vacant row on the 747 flight, Nate received permission from a friendly flight crew to record the flight through the window. The result is a mesmerizing video that includes some dramatic Aurora Borealis moments.

You can see more of Nate and his partner's work at their website.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Adobe Extends Photoshop CS5 Functionality to Tablet Devices

Adobe today made several announcements that include three new Photoshop companion tablet apps, Creative Suite 5.5, and a new software subscription model.

The three initial Photoshop CS5 companion apps are for the Apple iPad: Adobe Color Lava for Photoshop, Adobe Eazel for Photoshop and Adobe Nav for Photoshop. The apps are designed to enable users to create custom color swatches, paint and drive popular Photoshop tools from tablet devices. These apps are examples of what is possible using the new Photoshop Touch SDK

Eazel lets digital artists create rich realistic paintings with their fingertips and introduces a new kind of interaction between “wet” and “dry” paints. These paintings can then be sent directly to Photoshop CS5 for compositing or for taking the artwork further. Eazel artwork is initially created at the tablet's native resolution of 1024 X 768, then re-rendered at 4X resolution (2024 X 1536) in Photoshop. The resulting artwork can then be further enhanced or saved. Eazel will be available for $5 at the iTunes Store.

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Below are some early tests I did during the pre-release cycle:

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Color Lava utilizes the iPad as a natural-media style mixing palette for Photoshop. Users mix colors with their fingertips creating custom color swatches and themes to wirelessly transfer back into Photoshop. Eazel will be available for $3 at the iTunes Store.

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Nav increases workflow efficiency by letting users select and control Photoshop tools using the iPad as a control surface, customize the toolbar, browse and zoom in on up to 200 open Photoshop files or easily create new files. Eazel will be available for $2 at the iTunes Store.

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I've been involved with the development of these apps as a member of the pre-release team and I have to say I really like the extension of Photoshop via a tablet device. These initial three apps provide a window on the future and it will be very interesting to see what other developers come up with utilizing the new Photoshop Touch SDK.

Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 products are scheduled to ship within 30 days, with availability through Adobe Authorized Resellers, the Adobe Store at in North America and Adobe Direct Sales. Estimated street price for the suites is expected to be US$2599 for CS5.5 Master Collection, US$1899 for CS5.5 Design Premium, US$1799 for CS5.5 Web Premium, US$1699 for CS5.5 Production Premium and US$1299 for CS5.5 Design Standard. Upgrade pricing and volume licensing are available.

Further information regarding the new software subscription model can be found here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rounding out Oakland, Iowa into a Stereographic Projection

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I was cruising around western Iowa earlier this week scouting photographic opportunities when I encountered the small town of Oakland. This farming community has a very nice main street district with several great examples of late-19th-century commercial architecture. Being on a stereographic panorama kick, I took my panoramic shot of Oakland's business district and promptly circularized it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

iPhone 4 Bends Panoramas into Circular Projections

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I've been using my iPhone 4 to shoot panoramas using Cloudburst Research's AutoStitch iPhone. AutoStitch is very good at correlating and stitching a set of input images even without sequentially entering them. This makes taking large scenes with overlapping imagery easy to fashion into a panorama.

Another great tool is Infoding's free Tiny Planets app. I can take a panorama assembled in AutoStitch, input it into Tiny Planets, and end up with an interesting stereographic circular projection.

The above images were shot at Kenefick Park here in Omaha where two historic Union Pacific locomotives are now on permanent display. How these two massive locomotives were relocated is another story in itself. Tiny Planets can flip a stereographic projection in two opposing orientations, as seen above.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Predator: Amazingly Accurate Object Tracking

Zdenek Kalal, a Czech student at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, is working on an advanced learn-on-the-fly object tracking algorithm that looks to be very accurate. This is the sort of voodoo that shows up in SF films like Minority Report. But in this case, it's real.

Zdenek also has a series of 12 videos that illustrate various potential applications of this vision system