Adobe Sneaks is the software company's behind-the-scenes sneak peek into ongoing projects that could eventually — if we're lucky — find their way into one or more products. This year at MAX, Adobe previewed a number of tools that should excite virtual-reality editors, desktop designers, and audio editors working on long-form speech formats.
Project StyLit is, of all of Adobe's Sneaks this year, one of the most interesting for photographers who aren't necessarily as skilled in drawing as artists working in other mediums or as those in other disciplines such as design and architecture. So while everyone including your third-grader niece might also love Stylit, it's something that a lot of photographers will undoubtedly enjoy.
This one (as they all are) is most easily understood by watching the video below. But for the sake of those in their offices without headphones or with a boss over their shoulder: Stylit allows a style of drawing, painting, or simply creating of a two-dimensional, real-world image to be applied to a virtual, three-dimensional model. Essentially, you can take a crayon drawing from your fridge with a certain stroke width, various colors, and varying density for different areas of the image, and Stylit will pick up the "style" of the image with a camera and proceed to apply it to a three-dimensional object in its software.
Interestingly, at its end-of-the-conference MAX BASH party, Adobe had an artist painstakingly recreating Edvard Munch's "The Scream" with thousands of colored Jelly Bellies, which Stylit could alternatively (albeit, virtually) do with an 8.5" x 11" Jelly Belly project your kid finished in class. It's unclear, however, if this live work was specifically in honor of Stylit's presentation, as the placement of three-dimensional objects to create a representation of a normally two-dimensional space is somewhat of a flip of Stylit's function.
Of the first three projects that were previewed for us in a press demo, the one that got the most applause, and laughs, was Project VoCo which can modify speech in audio with the same tools of a basic text editor. Project VoCo took a sentence from an earlier interview of "Key and Peele's" Keegan-Michael Key answering a question about his nomination for an award that read, "...I kissed my dogs and wife," used speech recognition to convert this to text, allowed an edit to that text, and extremely convincingly edited Key's voice to instead speak, "...I kissed Jordan three times," referring to Jordan Peele, who was on stage as the Adobe's co-host for its Sneaks presentation.
In the process of getting to this final sentence, there were some very slight, audible signs where the software had a bit of trouble with specific sounds. But the final sentence spoken was completely believable. Adobe, one might imagine, confirmed they are heavily considering the ethical implications of such a feature and how they can digitally watermark edited content to protect against malicious use of this software.
Project Clover is a virtual-reality video editing technology that brings editing 360-degree video off the two-dimensional screen and into a VR headset. With Project Clover, a Rotational Alignment Tool allows an editor to cut from a particular time and angle at the end of one clip to a specific angle or direction of view that makes sense for the viewer in the immediately following clip — all within a virtual-reality headset. The video demo below is really the best way to understand the importance of this and the future development of other editing tools that must be created when taking editing in this new medium into consideration.
This one really, really impressed the audience. Imagine you want to find an image with a woman standing next to a dog, with the dog on her left and the sky to the right. In Photoshop, write out each of these words over a shape of a particular color to show positioning or scale details (optional), and arrange the words in the literal space that you'd want them to be in within the photograph. And boom, Adobe will search Adobe Stock for the perfect image. It's hard to understand unless you see the video, but yeah, that's actually how it works. Really, really amazing.
Project Quick Layout
Project Quick Layout is a neat feature that could find its way into applications such as Adobe XD, Photoshop, and InDesign, but is currently still a work in progress. Quick Layout recognizes various elements and automatically identifies and separates various sections of that particular layout. A series of side-by-side images is recognized, around which a framework is automatically created to enable easy, click-and-drag adjustments to relative aspect ratios and sizes of those images in the layout. Meanwhile, as dropping images into an existing layout might affect a title and subtitle section of type, Quick Layout automatically identifies these as their own element in the design without the need to have those type assets on a separate layer, ultimately allowing for a quick adjustment such as a repositioning of text to make room for images.
The automatic recognition of these elements without being based on a pre-existing template is exciting, but this is one of those features that you feel like should already exist, which gives mixed feelings: it should already be here, but at least it's coming. Then again, perhaps its the magic of Project Quick Layout's ability to automatically identify design elements within a layout and make them easily editable that misleadingly makes it seem so simple. Project Quick Layout looked ready for game day in the demo, which gives me hope that it might not take too long to come to market (fingers crossed, but don't get your hopes up: plenty of other seemingly ready projects from last year still haven't seen the light of day).
Project Syncmaster was one of the most impressive in the sense that it's incredibly usable, provides features we all could want, and seems as though it's completely ready for integration into Premier Pro. Syncmaster automatically identifies "events" within a song, creating smaller ones or larger ones based on the beat, built-up crescendos, etc., and then visualizes that information for editing. Alternatively, its identification of the important parts of songs allows you to drop an audio clip onto the opacity or scale sliders to add perfectly timed jitters and other effects to your video clips so they literally don't miss a beat. I can't wait for this to come out.
Project Wetbrush takes the textures and behaviors of various types of paint (e.g., oil paint) and allows you to paint with them into a file that is rendered in three dimensions, much like an actual oil painting. You can then tilt the painting and see the relief created by your "paints" and finish the file off in a 3D print. Adobe had an on-stage demo of this with an actual, 3D-printed painting on stage during its Sneaks presentation. The way paints actually mixed similar to in a real-world scenario was nice to finally see in a digital painting environment -- something that has always lacked in this area. Of course, this technology relies heavily on physics modeling, which is the backbone for Project Wetbrush.
Project Loop Welder
Project Loop Welder is fairly neat, but basic. And yet, when its potential is really put to use, it shines in a way that very, very pleasantly surprises you and actually makes you hopeful for the future once again.
Project Color Chameleon
Perhaps a less exciting domain for design is the all-important and under-appreciated area of desktop publishing. Color Chameleon aids designers by helping match colors within a range of photographs to a particular color palette or brand color scheme. Of course, the eventual applications are plentiful and not just limited to use within designing flyers.
Project Intervector is a tool to create vector files from photographs, allowing designers to easily create a completely scalable asset from photographic inspirations. This one might be underwhelming for photographers, but designers will rejoice at the ease with which this might soon happen.
Project Sky Replacement
This is one of the most photo-related sneaks of the presentation. Project Sky Replacement does just what it sounds like, and then some. Apart from automatically swapping the skies in your photos for better ones (supplied by you or through the program), Project Sky Replacement also matches the foreground coloring and shading based on the direction, color, and general qualities of light that such a sky would create. Photography editors are finding themselves more and more at risk of forced early retirement (okay, maybe not – but this is still pretty cool).
Check out all of Adobe's Sneaks here and let us know which is your favorite!