What connected creativity looks like: Adobe partners at NAB 2017


Creative Cloud

Creative tools should allow us to move easily with our ideas from concept to delivery, with lots of room for exploration, iteration, and refinement. The goal of creative freedom is the driving force behind Adobe Creative Cloud: a connected experience that opImagens up your options, including core video capabilities like broad native video format support, Dynamic Link, and CC libraries – and sleek new features, like Motion Graphics templates, the Essential Sound panel, Camera Shake Deblur, and more.

And it gets better. With over 250 video technology partners, innovative integrations extend the Adobe workflow in all areas of production. More than 140 of those partners will be with us at NAB 2017 with lots of new tools, showcasing the spectrum of connected Adobe workflows available to content creators of all stripes, from cameras to playout, and everything in between. Here are just a few of the highlight.

Surround by 360 VR

BorisFX (SL6824) will be presenting their new Mocha VR plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects, which leverages planar tracking for 360 post-production tasks like rig removal and stabilization. Mettle (N913VR) will show-off the latest Skybox Studio cinematic 360/VR tools running on Dell EMC Precision workstations. Mettle also has an amazing line up of VR filmmaker presenters at their booth, and – can you believe this? – hip-hop pioneer Mix Master Mike will be performing there on Thursday morning, April 27. Jonathan Winbush (who created Magma Chamber a 360VR experience for Mix Master Mike) will be presenting a new 360VR promo piece for the new AMD Ryzen CPU line at the AMD booth (SL7620) created with Adobe and Mettle tools and AMD graphics. Nokia is bringing a technology demo to NAB with their OZO camera, exporting stitched VR footage and spatial-orientation metadata into Premiere Pro, showing how the workflow for 360 content can be simplified.

Mettle Skybox Studio 2.0 for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Streamlining live-streaming

Telestream is making waves with their Wirecast solutions for live-streaming, including new support for Adobe Character Animator CC, enabling realtime webcasting of live animation. Now THAT sounds like fun! SlingStudio (N5135MR) is introducing a new, cost-effective system for live streaming multi-camera productions – and importing the whole set-up onto the Adobe Premiere Pro Timeline, including the live-switched program. SlingStudio will be available for sale at B&H (C10916) – another great Adobe partner – in May, 2017.

You can never have too much (graphics) power

AJA (SL2505) will showcase HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) HDR playout from the new release of Adobe Premiere Pro using new AJA KONA 4 and Io 4K hardware. The aforementioned AMD (SL7620) will also be showing off the lastest Radeon Pro graphics. Adobe’s Jon Barrie will be presenting at AMD booth daily at 10:30 am. Bluefish444 (SL10021) will also show off the latest Adobe video tools with new KRONOS video, audio and data I/O cards for 4K HDR, high frame-rate playback. NVIDIA Quadro P6000 GPUs will strut their stuff in state-of-the-art Dell and HP workstations at the Adobe booth (SL4010). With more and more demanding 4K, UHD, VR, HDR, HLG, and HFR content, goodness knows we need more graphics horsepower – and a new dictionary – just to keep up!

Workhorse workstations at NAB

Dell EMC (SL9111) will exhibit in a big new booth at NAB with a focus on post-production solutions, including 4K uncompressed Adobe workflows using fast new Isilon Nitro storage. And yes, they can even top that: Hollywood editor Vashi Nedomansky, will give a presentation about the native 6K RAW workflow – yes, you read that right: 6K – used on upcoming feature film 6 Below with Adobe Premiere Pro, NVIDIA graphics and Dell Precision workstations. Dell EMC is also a sponsor for a long list of Post|Production World 2017 courses offered by Adobe training partner FMC (SL118180), with brilliant master trainers like Christine Steele, Jeff Greenberg, Rich Harrington Jarle Leirpoll, and others.

Other workstation partners at NAB 2017 include Puget Systems (SL13707), who’ve done some very cool benchmarking studies with the Adobe video tools, Boxx Technologies (SL10930), and of course HP (SL2424) which today announced the new HP zBook Mobile Workstations with server-grade processing power. HP is also showing their new 4K HP DreamColor display, ideal for color-critical workflows, like the Lumetri color tools in Adobe Premiere Pro.

HP z840 workstation with HP DreamColor display

Production automation

The aptly-named Automate-IT (SL8124 with Aspera) will be demonstrating factory v2, which streamlines complex production and delivery workflows, including sleek Adobe integrations. BitCentral (SU2610) will present the latest CORE:news™ integration for Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder that allows editors to select optimal encoding based on available time-to-air for broadcast content. Marquis (SL9030) will present EDIT BRIDGE, which facilitates Premiere Pro and After Effects integration with Avid Interplay. Evolphin (SL9913) will show the latest version of Zoom VideoFX for connecting production tools, asset and archive management, and external transcoding, and featuring integration panels for Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects, along with their existing asset management support for other Adobe Creative Cloud apps, like InDesign CC, Adobe Illustrator CC, and Photoshop CC.

More media = more storage

All these big new media files need more storage and more speed. We’ve already given a shout-out to Dell EMC Isilon, and that’s just one of our amazing storage partners at NAB, a list that includes Harmonic (SU1210), Promax (SL10216), and Object Matrix (SL5405). Object Matrix has just announced support for Adobe XMP for extracting metadata from media assets. Remember: metadata adds value to media!

Adobe’s Karl Soule is talking about Thunderbolt workflows with Lacie storage at Seagate (SL9724) on Wednesday, April 26 at 2pm. Seagate will be showing the whole gamut of storage solutions from Lacie desktop devices to large post-production facilities, including Quantum Stornext file systems technologies and ATTO network arrays.

You can also see Quantum (SL9724) and ATTO (SL9611) in their own booths where they will be showing their latest storage and infrastructure solutions respectively. OpenDrives, with whom we’ve partnered on Hollywood successes like David Fincher’s Gone Girl, will be at the Waskul TV StudioXPerience (SL2424). Promise Technologies (SL6821) are bringing their Thunderbolt expertise to NAB and desktop storage and upgrade specialists OWC (SL8905) will be there as well.

Covering your asset management needs …

The volume of video content is growing almost exponentially today. Media Asset Management (MAM) systems help users stay on top of their files, not only finding what they need, but also to track what content has been used where, track approvals, work-in progress, and much more. At NAB 2017 Empress (SL14509) will showcase eMAM3.8 with improved Adobe integration and support for Team Projects (Beta), the collaborative editing toolset built into Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Adobe Media Encoder (included with Creative Cloud Teams or Enterprise accounts). Niels Stevens, on the Adobe video team, will give a presentation at the Empress (again, that’s SL14509) on Monday, April 24 at 2pm.

Cantemo (SL9024) is unveiling a new Cantemo Iconik™ hybrid cloud solution for distributed production workflows with Premiere Pro and Team Projects. IPV (N5925) is presenting the latest edition of their Curator solution for enhancing remote production workflows with integrated panels for Premiere Pro and After Effects, perfect for … you guessed it: Team Projects! And, on the subject of projects … Vizrt (SL2416) is adding new project management features to their Viz One integration for Premiere Pro. Vizrt is also hosting a social event with Adobe at their booth (SL2416) on Tuesday, April 25 from 5-6pm. Please join us there, if you’re at the show!

IPV Curator 0 integrated Media Assessment Management for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Taking control: input devices

Keyboard and mice, look out! With touch surfaces and other ingenious input ideas, there are a lot of options for precision control of the Adobe creative tools. Dell Canvas (see title image at the top of this post) is one new example, offering a large touch enabled desktop (as in, and actual “desktop”) that includes pen and Totem devices. Adobe has just added support for Timeline scrubbing via the Dell Totem, and Microsoft Surface Dial.

Palette has announced full Adobe Premiere Pro support for their fun controllers: button, dial, and slider modules that attach magnetically in any configuration you want. Tangent Ripple is a portable color-grading panel with excellent Premiere Pro and the Lumetri color tools. The Presonus FaderPort is a compact audio controller, a great addition to Adobe Audition. All three of these cool controllers will all be in action in the Adobe booth (SL4010).

And so many others …

DJI (C2807)will be showing daily demos with Aaron Grimes editing drone content in Adobe Premiere Pro … and these are just a small sample of the Adobe partner technologies coming to NAB. There are at least 103 partners I haven’t mentioned in this post, but you can find them all at the show, on the web, and by searching our Technology Partner Program page. Many of our partner plugins and integration panels are available on our Adobe Add-on marketplace. We also have a nice selection of Adobe video partner tutorials on our YouTube playlist.

The trend towards tighter integration and interoperability is obvious. We’re proud of open architecture of our applications – designed to connect – and we’re proud and grateful to our many partners for the ingenuity with which they extend the Adobe workflow to meet the many different types of production needs of our customers. This is what connected creativity looks like.

Learn more about what’s new in the latest release of Creative Cloud video and audio tools, Premiere Pro and Media Encoder, After Effects, Audition, Character Animator, and Adobe Stock.

Check out the Adobe booth (#SL4010) at NAB 2017 theater schedule

Stand Out, Work Hard, and Get a Life: Shane Mielke’s Career Advice For New Designers


Creative Cloud

Shane Mielke is here to help. That’s the idea behind the veteran designer, developer, and creative director’s book Launch It, which he calls a “handbook for digital creatives.” It’s chalk full of work (and life) advice he’s picked up along the way over his 20+ year career working for some big clients (think Batman, The Hobbit, Ford and Domino’s Pizza). We asked Shane to share some words of wisdom for new designers on how to ‘make it’ in the business and maintain a healthy work-life balance while you’re at it.

Some of Shane Mielke’s work for Mad Max.

What’s your best piece of advice for designers and developers who are just starting out?

A page from Shane Mielke’s book, Launch It.

Lead by example! Create cool stuff that doesn’t look exactly like everyone else’s and the recognition, important sounding job titles, creative freedom, life choices, and money will take care of itself. Do you want to work at your favorite company? Do you want to work on award-winning sites? Do you want to work from home? Show everyone that you can consistently create top quality, unique work, and then you’ll be able to pick and choose your pathway. Look like everyone else and you’ll likely struggle to control your creative destiny, job and salary.

Along the way you’re going to be told “work hard” to be successful. Everyone works hard. So you can’t just work hard and expect to stand out. Find an emerging design style, technology, or type of work and be one of the first to set the standards there.

Too many people talk about doing great work, but really just sit on social media hustling for that perfect quotable tweet. You’re only as good as your last project. If that last project sucked, or your best project was 2 years ago, no perfect social media presence will get you work. Eventually no one will hire you because they haven’t seen you do any real work recently. Fear being obsolete.

When was a moment when YOU received a piece of advice that changed your career?

My high school football coach Jim Hartigan gave me so many bits of motivation and advice that have influenced my life and career. The one that has always resonated with me throughout all aspects of my life is the phrase “everyone wants to be a game day hero but nobody wants to practice.”

The foundation for success happens in the trenches. Everyone wants to work on those once-in-a-lifetime epic award-winning projects. No one tells you that the road to those projects is paved by the hard work, mistakes, and victories you achieve on all of the ordinary projects that came before it. All of the core skills you need in this industry are learned and earned by doing grunt work on all of the embarrassing early projects we would never show anyone.

A page from Shane Mielke’s book, Launch It.

So, I’ve always tried to be the hardest working person I can be no matter what the project was.

Another turning point of my career wasn’t a verbal piece of advice. It was what I learned from the source files of my friend Eric Jordan the first day we started working together back in 2001. On my first day on the job I opened several of his Photoshop and Flash files and my mind was immediately blown by the sheer amount of layers and love that had been poured into those files. I learned more about Photoshop, Flash, animation, tempo, keyframes and easing in 5 minutes than I had the previous year. That is the moment that my career changed, as I suddenly became aware of what was possible. I now knew what award-winning, detailed work with a unique personalized style looked like from the inside. I used that information, applied that to my unique style, and launched my own personal site.

You write about work-life balance. So how do launch both a successful career and also have a life?

Love your job, but have more important things you’d rather be doing outside of work. Make commitments to do things that you can’t get out of. Have family or friends you need to see. Book vacations. Find activities, hobbies, passions and things you’d rather be doing or are already committed to.

I’ve always used this strategy to motivate me to consistently work harder, faster and more intelligently to achieve better work in less time. It has not only made me more effective at what I do, but has also given me a world of experiences outside of work I would not have had I only focussed on the project at hand.

Check out Shane Mielke’s work and learn more about his book, Launch It, over on his website.

Building a Great Design Team Starts with the Job Posting: How to Appeal to Top Talent


Creative Cloud

User Experience Designer, User Interface Designer and User Experience Research are all titles that made it onto CNNMoney/Payscale’s Best Jobs in America in 2017. The list covers careers with ‘big growth, great pay and satisfying work.’ The design jobs listed have a predicted job growth of between 13-27% – meaning that demand for these jobs is expected to increase by these percentages over the next decade.

Many companies in a diverse set of sectors are building in-house design teams – from banking to telecommunications and healthcare. Increased demand for designers means that talented candidates have lots of options to choose from, and that both design agency/client service firms and in-house teams are competing for skilled practitioners.

So what can you do when creating job postings for design roles to ensure you get quality applications from excellent candidates?

The Goal of a Job Posting is to Get the Right People to Apply

A job post is a tool that helps a designer decide whether a job is the right fit for them – their skills, aspirations, and goals. Being user centred in how you create a job posting is crucial; think about your ideal applicant, and what their needs, goals and aspirations are. A quick empathy map exercise could be a great starting point to get in the head of those you are trying to hire.

The job post is also screening mechanism which should immediately help people to move on if there is misalignment. It is imperative to know the difference between a job description and a job posting. The description is an internal document which explains the responsibilities and expectations of a role. A job posting is the bait – you want to get the right fish to nibble and take the next step.

A well written job ad will be clearly structured and will answer the following questions that a designer will have top of mind:

  • What type of designer and skillset is needed to succeed in this role?
  • Is my skillset the right fit?
  • Are the design challenges that I would be working on interesting and resonant?
  • What will the opportunities for growth and career progression be?
  • What does the company culture feel like and is it a good match?

The user goal is to quickly determine whether or not to take the next step and apply for the job.

Get Specific About What’s Involved in the Role

In order to achieve the above, the job posting needs to be very specific. As Jared Spool points out in his excellent post on hiring designers, vague or high level information does nothing to paint a picture of the exact challenges the designer will be working on: “What top designer could get excited about working on ‘end-to-end digital projects’ or ‘concepting, designing, and delivering new and refreshed creative that meets marketing objectives and acquisition strategies?’”

Clarity on specific challenges, goals, and tasks will be an effective screening tool for both the company that is hiring and the designer. What type of projects will the designer work on? What will their responsibilities be? How many other people are on the team? For example, rather than a vague bullet point such as, ‘support user research,’ use specifics like, ‘plan and execute usability test sessions, including research planning and recruitment, data collection and synthesis.’

Illuminating the difference between must haves and nice to haves is another important level of detail. Job postings for ‘unicorn’ designers that ask for the moon, sun and stars will be off-putting and overwhelming to designers, and may deter people from applying who would be a good fit. Think carefully about what skills are non-negotiables, and which ones are nice-to-haves for the role. Be sure to separate these out from each other in the posting.

Show Me That You Know Me (and Design)

There’s nothing worse for a designer than reading a job posting that gradually (or immediately!) reveals the lack of nuanced understanding of design and the role it can play. It is important to be thoughtful in the title you are hiring for – try to avoid things like “UX ninja” or worse, hybrid, made up roles like ‘UX Developer’ which immediately portray a lack of understanding of the space. If there are specific aspects to the role such as working predominantly on voice platforms, include those – for example Voice Interface UX Designer.

Paul Adams of Intercom outlines a matrix which can be used to think about the layers of design and the corresponding skill levels in each. This example being of a minimum requirement of a skill profile for a visual designer.

Demonstrating an understanding of the range of design skills and an intention of which ones are needed will certainly earn brownie points and trust among a design audience. There are several useful frameworks that can be used to map this out. For example, The Moment’s Innovation Design Capabilities Map takes a broad look at twelve skills that designers may have competency in, or Paul Adams’ skill profile matrix for designers (above).

Designers want to feel confident that the nuances of a design skillset are understood, and that they won’t be expected be expert in something that is outside of their core competencies – for example assuming a UX designer to be highly skilled visual designer by default. They also want to feel that design is valued within an organization, so communicate how design is valued, or what’s unique about design in your organization as you draft the postings. Is there a design role at the executive level? Do you have a designer co-founder? Is this an opportunity to grow and scale design capability from the ground up?

Connect Me To a Purpose

Many designers are very purpose driven, and feel that it is their duty to ‘do good’ or ‘have impact’ in a positive way on people’s lives. This may in part be driven by the popularity of a human-centred approach to design. Job postings that highlight a company’s broader vision and mission beyond the discrete design role being advertised will appeal to designers who want to contribute in a meaningful way. It’s a win-win for the company and designer if a match can be made at this level.

Mozilla job posts include the company’s mission statement and a ‘why Mozilla’ – creating a value proposition for potential applicants rooted in purpose.

 

For example, Mozilla includes their mission statement on their job postings:

“Mozilla exists to build the Internet as a public resource accessible to all because we believe that open and free is better than closed and controlled. Join us to work on the Web as the platform and help create more opportunity and innovation for everyone online.”

Appealing to a deeper sense of purpose creates a call to action for a design whose beliefs are in line with Mozilla’s, to contribute to a cause using their skills. It also helps designers to picture their potential role supporting a company mission.

First Impressions Matter

A job posting is often the first in-depth consideration a designer has regarding an opportunity. This touchpoint can be the difference between having lots of great candidates to choose from or tumbleweed in the interviewing stage. The ad is also just that, an advertisement, where you are selling the best design talent on why they should apply. A little extra care and consideration goes a long way – think about how to be specific about the role and required skillsets, demonstrate an understanding and appreciation for design, and how to connect people to a shared purpose!

Hayden Zezula and Project Felix: Experiments in Light


Creative Cloud

In 2016, Adobe asked a group of designers to use a pre-release version of Project Felix in their work. Their feedback allowed the Project Felix team to better meet user needs. In this editorial series, we share the experiences of some of those designers, what they learned, what they accomplished, and what they can do with Project Felix that they haven’t done before.

Hayden Zezula’s work in design originally began as a photographer and video editor, but eventually he turned to 3D animation. He liked the freedom 3D animation gave him to create without limits.

Unlike the other designers in this series, Hayden uses 3D animation and design software on a daily basis. “While Project Felix is being built for graphic designers who are new to these types of features and capabilities, we frequently consult with designers who have extensive experience using 3D design software,” says Kerensa Hogan, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe. “We want to make sure we’re building a solution that gives graphic designers control over the visual aesthetics they admire that come from traditional 3D design platforms.”

Adobe approached Hayden last year to be part of the Project Felix pre-release program to get his perspective on how Project Felix compared to the sophistication, control, and visual results of 3D software.

It’s all about the lighting

As a professional 3D designer and animator, Hayden knows that the key to realistic images is light. Similarly to last week’s featured designer Victoria Pavolv, Hayden experimented with Project Felix’s lighting tools to gauge how successfully the app could composite images and objects into something that felt and looked real.

“I experimented a lot with lighting because, I think, it is the most important thing you approach in 3D design,” Hayden says.

Hayden believes that lighting is one of the most important elements of 3D design. As he began working in Project Felix, he experimented with a variety of lighting situations and shadows.

In Project Felix, users can add their own background images and build image-based lighting (IBL) from those images. Hayden took pictures with a variety of backgrounds and used the Auto-IBL feature to evaluate the lighting effects in his scene in relation to the placed 3D object. The hope was to make sure the object looked like a natural part of the scene, not simply a layer on top of a background image. By using shots with different types of lighting, Hayden could see how the software would adapt to preserve the photorealism of the image.

The way light reacts in the image has a lot to do with the characteristics of the 3D objects a designer chooses to place on the background. Hayden’s compositing work in Felix has mainly consisted of suspended geometric shapes. “I wanted to make it feel like a sculpture, but hovering over the ground,” Hayden says. “No anchors or anything holding the pieces down.”

By suspending the 3D objects in the air, Hayden was able to clearly see where IBL was successful and where improvements could be made. Equally important to light in creating a photorealistic image is the resulting shadows. The hovering 3D objects gave Hayden plenty of opportunity to judge the effectiveness of Project Felix’s IBL features by observing whether or not the shadows it generated were realistic.

Many of Hayden’s early designs in Project Felix played with the idea of floating, sculpture-like geometric shapes.

The faster, the better

From his experimentation, Hayden said that compared with heavy duty 3D software, the Auto-IBL tool rendered much faster, making Project Felix advantageous for certain projects.

“In full-fledged 3D programs, you have to do a little bit more manual tinkering to get it to look just right. There are a lot more steps involved before you can get the finished project,” Hayden says.

Project Felix gives designers like Hayden a simple way to quickly play with lighting, colors, and textures in a photorealistic way.

For example, Hayden was invited to take photographs and create an art series during New York Fashion Week. He says that had he been using Project Felix, he could have made the project go a lot faster without losing the photorealistic feeling aspects like light create.

“What I ended up doing in 3D software was going and masking out every single frame. It took a long time to pump stuff out,” Hayden says. “With Project Felix, I could easily take a photo and then have all the light come through. I could just as easily add geometric images and have them floating around.” Eliminating manual steps with automatic tools like Auto-IBL comes in handy when you are working on tight deadlines but still need to create high quality images.

From his perspective as a 3D designer, Hayden says Project Felix is a good introduction to the field for those with minimal 3D experience. “It’s a good entry to figuring out how to manipulate textures, shadows, and especially lighting — all important aspects of quality 3D design.”

Want to get your hands on Project Felix? Download the beta app, and stay tuned for more stories from other designers who are discovering the graphic design possibilities that exist in 3D.

A Global Design Refresh: James Widegren on the May 1 Reboot


Creative Cloud

Imagine it’s the year 2000, and you’re a designer working with a team of friends and colleagues all around the world. Everyone has big ideas, different projects and dreams. You all love collaborating and showing each other your work, so you decide to take it one step further. On May 1, 2000, you all relaunch your portfolios, websites, and design projects together. ‘May 1 Reboot’ is born.

A lot’s changed for James Widegren since that year, when he pioneered the first May 1 Reboot. He went on to co-found his own creative agency, Your Majesty, based in New York. Since then, the May 1 Reboot tradition has changed hands several times, but now it’s back in full force with Behance as a partner. We talked to James about the idea behind the May 1 Reboot, and why this global movement is just as relevant in 2017 as it was in 2000.

Where did the idea for May 1 Reboot come from?

I was working with a very tight-knit group in 2000. Our industry was developing fast and, at the time, you could redesign your website in a day or two.

We were working hard. In the evenings after everyone else had gone home, we designers were still there challenging each other, experimenting, and swapping Photoshop files. Sort of mish-mashing each other’s work.

It came to a point where we were all working on something new, and we said hey, ‘let’s launch it all together at the same time.’ Out of that came the date, which was May 1.

We announced we were all going to relaunch then. That garnered a lot of attention. We got a big response and people really wanted to be part of it.

So you made it a yearly tradition?

We made it public the next year in 2001. That just blew it up and the whole community bloomed, there was so much excitement. It was such a success.

How has May 1 Reboot evolved?

Tobias van Schneider (who was net Magazine‘s 2016 Designer of the Year) worked with us and totally modernized it. We can basically run it via Twitter, which makes perfect sense.

There were over 3,000 people last year, and this year we’re at 2,000 so far. Tobias has a bigger reach than we did. The vibe and excitement is huge. Just looking at the hashtag is pretty exciting and it’s from all over the world.

It’s giving designers and makers an incentive to stop procrastinating and get stuff done.

Why do designers need that push to get cracking on their own projects?

Well, it’s almost like a project manager for you. May 1 Reboot pushes you and rallies you, and once you actually say you’re going to do something, you have to do it because the whole community is with you. You don’t want to miss out.

How has that design community changed since 2000?

On the whole, I think the whole community is much bigger and the awareness of design is much wider. It trickles into other sectors and industries and that’s why we intentionally mentioned why it’s for ‘makers’ in general. So if you’re a knitter who wants to relaunch your website on Adobe Portfolio, there’s a chance for you to take part.

Another difference is it is much easier to create something new now, but at the same time design is much more refined. You have to worry about responsiveness and it has to work on any device. There’s more pressure.

Back then, I thought there was more experimentation. Nowadays, what you do at work is all your output, and you rarely experiment in your spare time.

What do you hope the Reboot does for designers who take part?

If they manage to get into the showcase, it’s a great PR opportunity for them to get exposure and maybe even get a career out of it. It could change their lives in a sense.

Secondly, it revitalizes the whole community. There’s a lot of new stuff that comes out and all the design portals have a fresh batch of new work they can feature. There’s content for everyone.

Thirdly, for all the recruiters in the world (including my wife). They can just log on to the showcase and grab people, and they do. It’s a win-win-win.

OK, but what if you miss the deadline?

A lot of the people who just come across May 1 Reboot after the fact say ‘oh damn, I missed this.’ It is kind of a sacred date. There’s good energy in it.

If you’re going to launch it at a different time, it takes major discipline. Don’t procrastinate, but we all know how that goes.

Really, I would tell you to wait until May 1, next year (laughs).

Check out the May 1 Reboot website for all the details, and head over to Behance to see creative work from the world’s best designers, and showcase your own.

Creating a 360° Facebook Photo World


Creative Cloud

With the evolution and growing popularity of 360°-style photography, photographers and designers can create worlds of their own imagination, allowing viewers to experience it from seemingly endless angles. Sharing an immersive view of your world, real or imagined, is easier than ever with social platforms like Facebook giving fans the option to upload interactive 360 photos.

If you want to experiment with the 360 photo trend or with creating an original environment of your own design, the Adobe Stock library of 75 million diverse and compelling assets is the perfect place to to start. In fact, to celebrate this year’s Earth Day and National Park Week, the Adobe Creative Cloud team created five dramatic 360 images blending the landscapes of two majestic national parks – all in perfect timing for the National Park Service’s observation of National Park Week.

Below, we’ve added a step-by-step guide to outline how anyone can create a 360° image from Adobe Stock content to reimagine a landscape of their liking.

1. Proper Parameters

Start by setting up proper parameters. For this demonstration, our designer used images from the Great Teton Mountains in Yellowstone National Park (on the left) and mountains in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve, on a canvas sized at 6000×1217 px.

Place the sized photos on an art board and roughly align image similarities. Here, the designer aligned the mountains found in both images, so the scope of field remains relevant.

For this example, two images were used; however, you can also use multiple images.

2. Go With Guidelines

This is where the shape tool comes into play. Here, our designer inserted a black rectangle using the shape tool, using it as a guide to visually see the portion of the image they were working on. From there, they chose a portion of the image that is not showing, placing it on the right side and used the flat rectangle shape tool to overlap on the right-hand side. This serves as a guide to visually see what portion of the image that needs blending.

3. Get to Blending

Begin blending the center of the image by creating new layers. This is also where the Stamp tool comes into play; use it to bring the parts of your image forward that you would like to stand out; in this case, it’s parts of the mountain. You can continue doing the same with other elements as well, playing with the opacity and blend modes.

4. More Masking

Incorporating masking – a part of the layer that you use with the stamp tool – will add both texture and depth to your image.

For these two images, the artist also added a hand-drawn purple haze.

Finally….

Now that you’ve created your 360° photo world, it’s time to share it with everyone else.

To do this, place the PNG into Facebook’s 360° Template and save it out as a JPG. This is a very crucial “must” step so the metadata will transfer from the template to create the 360°. For this example, the artist used pano-template-360-65-6000×1217.psd.

The most beautiful aspect of seamlessly blending worlds in a 360° image is that there are absolutely no restrictions, except for the ones you place on your imagination. Whether you want to celebrate Groundhog Day with Punxsutawney Phil , marvel at a Winter Solstice or Take a Hike in a desert, through the woods and along the shores of a beach – all at once.

So what does your 360° world look like?

A/B Testing Insights From UserTesting’s Brian Smith


Creative Cloud

Brian Smith has been on the forefront of eCommerce and digital marketing for more than 20 years (his first online purchase was in 1994)! Through much of that time, he’s been running A/B tests for clients around the world. A/B tests (sometimes called split testing) involve comparing two variants of a website or product (let’s call them A and B) to similar visitors to see which one performs better. The one that performs better, triumphs!

Now the vice-president of marketing for UserTesting, he and his firm focus on “high-value conversion opportunities”: A/B testing form completion rates, gated content, demo requests, and messaging. We asked Brian why A/B tests are a key part of the UX design process, and for some tips on running them successfully.

Why is A/B testing a key part of UX design?

For years, I lived in a world where I thought I was a really smart marketer. I could look at all the data, through platforms like Omniture, Qualtrics, or Adobe Target, and make decisions to drive the business. However, after I was exposed to UserTesting through working on an Enterprise site redesign at Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning), I realized while platforms where I ‘lived’ showed me what happened, UserTesting gave me key insights into why something happened.

So I think of A/B testing as a key part of the UX design process, and UX research as a key part of A/B testing. They should go hand in hand. When you’re thinking of running an A/B test, you often don’t know what to test. A UX professional can step in and uncover insights which can focus A/B test on the most impactful areas. Conversely, when you’re in the design process and using tools like Adobe XD, it’s a no brainer to include A/B testing to help make directional decisions.

A/B testing and the UX design process together really take the guesswork out of developing great products.

When is the right time to A/B test?

I’d argue that you should do A/B testing throughout the entire design process.

There are many studies that show the cost of re-work, or correcting a problem during development, is 10x more expensive than fixing the same problem during the design process. So start your qualitative and quantitative research as early as possible.

What’s the biggest mistake UX designers can make when A/B testing their products?

I think the biggest mistake anyone makes doing A/B tests is assuming that A/B testing is simple. I’d strongly encourage any UX designer to team up with a seasoned A/B testing pro before moving forward with an A/B test. I love the supposed simplicity of running an A/B test, but this type of experimentation can lead you to make dramatic changes in a checkout flow, for example. When a small drop in conversion rate can cost you millions of dollars in sales, it’s important to put together an A/B testing plan and properly scope out the test goals before you begin.

Again, while this might sound easy, it takes a while to properly articulate the metrics you’re trying to drive towards. For example, you might think about changing button colors to drive engagement, but most likely you’ll want to drive higher engagement for a specific audience segment. This might mean that you need to look at not just top level metrics such as clicks, click through rate (CTR), or conversion rate, but also further down the funnel metrics such as buyer persona, lifetime value, repeat purchase rate, etc.

No matter how many A/B tests I’ve run as a marketer, the hardest part is properly articulating the metrics necessary for success and the associated scoping to connect the dots of the user journey.

Learn more about A/B testing and UX research from UserTesting over on their blog.

April Visual Trend Exploration: Earth Day and Conservation Photography


Creative Cloud

In honour of Earth Day, we’re exploring the roles individuals and organizations play in spreading awareness of environmental issues, and the role images play in these conservation efforts. To get some insight, we spoke with accomplished conservation photographers and Adobe Stock Contributors Peter Chadwick and Tasha Van Zandt.

Transcendent photos with an earthly mission.

Peter Chadwick is a conservationist and photographer deeply committed to protecting African animals and their habitats. He’s a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) and has spent over 30 years photographing wild scenes with a purpose.

Peter’s current project is advocating against environmental crime, especially poaching. The work puts him on the ground with rangers and gives him a close-up view that comes through in the intensity of his work. “Through my training with specialized anti-poaching units, I have a unique photographic perspective of the effects of poaching. Not only are countless rhinos, elephants, and other species being savagely slaughtered, but there is a human cost. During the last decade, over 1,000 rangers have been killed while on duty. It is absolutely critical that we recognize the role these rangers are playing in conserving species and habitats or we will lose far more than just the rhino and the elephant.”

PETER / ADOBE STOCK

While much of Peter’s work captures the tragedies he’s witnessed, he intentionally captures the stunning beauty of animals in their natural habitats, too. This optimism is by design. “Powerful images can easily reach a large audience, transcending language and culture, and in so doing, hopefully bring about positive change,” explains Peter. “We need to show the incredible beauty and diversity of the planet in a positive light that makes people excited about protecting it.”

PETER / ADOBE STOCK

Photographs connect us to our shared world.

Tasha Van Zandt is a photographer, director, and conservationist. Her current documentary project traces a single melted drop in Antarctica as it ripples throughout the rest of the world. “Through my research on this documentary, I’ve realized just how closely we are all connected through water and the impact sea level rise will have on our world as a whole.”

For Tasha, conservation photography is a uniquely potent tool for making climate change real and personal to viewers. “Images can be one of the most powerful tools to create social change and build cultural bridges,” she explains. “So much of the opposition against conservation stems from simply not being able to clearly picture how our actions truly impact this planet and its people. Looking at an image has the ability to transport people outside of their personal worldview and into someone else’s.” This is why one of her main goals right now is to get photographs that tell environmental stories into the hands of policy and change makers.

The next generation of environmentalists.

For aspiring conservation photographers, Peter advises finding a project that you are passionate about, and researching as much as possible before picking up the camera. He adds, “Draw up an image list that will help you define your message, and offer a solution of hope for the future.” It’s key to have a call to action, so the public understands how they can make a meaningful difference.

Tasha recommends diving deep into the communities and environments whose stories you want to tell. “The closer you feel to your work, the higher the chance is that others will feel it too.” She also stresses the importance of delivering the message. “In nature photography the subject is defined by aesthetics, but in conservation photography, it’s important that the work uses those aesthetics to define conservation priorities,” she explains. Like Peter, Tasha believes that “conservation photography has the opportunity to be most powerful when it shows the world the beauty and importance of what’s being lost.”

PETER / ADOBE STOCK

Images of corporate responsibility.

While brands aren’t in the trenches of conservation like Peter and Tasha, more of them are raising the bar on sustainable practices. Sustainability initiatives help companies drive innovation and save costs on resources like energy and water. As more consumers demand eco-friendly products, these campaigns also help nurture customer loyalty and engagement. Like the work of conservation photographers, beautiful images take center stage in many of the campaigns.

Patagonia’s Worn Wear campaign encouraged customers to share stories and images of their favorite, most enduring pieces of Patagonia clothing. The campaign created public visibility and facilitated conversation among their customers, and underscores the company’s commitment to making “high-quality stuff that lasts for years and can be repaired, so you don’t have to buy more of it.”

Hellmann’s Grow with Us campaign invited consumers to virtually visit tomato farms, interact with farmers, and learn about the sustainability of the brand’s supply chain. As part of the campaign, striking views of nature helped drive home the why of sustainability. Efforts like these aren’t just good for the earth, they also have financial pay off. Last year, Unilever announced that their five biggest brands were sustainable, and that they grew 30 percent faster than the rest of the business.

LEONIDOVICH / ADOBE STOCK

Eco-friendly visual trends.

As we wrote earlier this month, we’ve seen growth in stock searches for nature over the last year. Even searches for urban images tend to show a balance between man-made elements and the natural elements around them. This visual trend seems to be a piece of the bigger environmental picture — breathtaking images of nature remind us of our responsibility to own our impact.

To see more powerful images or nature, browse through our dedicated Earth Day collection.

A Practical Foundation for Product Strategy


Creative Cloud

Let’s be clear: there are many, many ways to design a product, and none of them are perfect for every situation. Your method will depend on the maturity of your organization, the resources on your team, the complexity of the project, and your own skill set. In a larger organization there is likely already a process and/or mentors to guide things but smaller companies often have people with with more experience making things as opposed to strategy work.

No one seems sure how many startups fail each year, but the general consensus is that it’s a lot. Having a well designed product that meets a genuine need is a great way to increase your chance of success. This article outlines a few basic steps that should help you create your own product strategy, customizable to your needs and situation.

Getting Started: Take Inventory

The situation can be radically different from one project to the next, so always start by seeing what you’ve got to work with. First question: Is there a business strategy? I believe that product strategies exist to support business strategies, so I cannot overemphasize how important it is to have something that tells you what you’re trying to accomplish. How are you generating revenue? Do you have any inherent advantages? Is there a market opportunity that’s driving your project? These will direct your efforts and possibly highlight early issues. Is there a brand strategy? Are there personality traits or brand promises that can help guide your thinking? Finally, has anyone conducted any preliminary research? Competitive analysis, gap analysis, market research, ethnographies, context labs… it can get a bit nuts to be honest but it all helps you in the next step. If none exists then you should definitely do some.

Hypotheses

These are the core of your strategy and should be derived from the combination of the business strategy and your research. You need at least one, but having more will give you greater flexibility later and give you more to test and develop. Each one should outline a belief about a premise and a result. For example, “Our audience will be more likely to use (and share) a site that offers competition as part of the experience.” Stake your claim and then explain a bit about why you think it’s true. Taken together, your hypotheses should start to outline the the opportunity that the product will take advantage of. Your goal is to start testing these hypotheses as quickly and easily as possible. Start with the riskiest assumption and go from there.

Product Vision

With your hypotheses in place your product should be taking shape, so now is a good time to think about how to communicate it. I like to keep these short, like an elevator pitch. I usually repurpose the Positioning Statement offered by Geoffrey Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm which basically goes:

For (target customers) who (statement of primary opportunity), (ourproduct name) is a (product category) that (key benefit, reason to buy). Unlike (primary competitive alternative), our product (statement of primary differentiation).

It’s not a flashy and new technique, but if used properly it can clearly communicate the basic outline of what we’re making, and can also be a bit inspiring. Remember that the goal here is to give people a quick outline of what you’re making rather than getting into the details.

Desired Product Outcomes

Okay, now get into details. What will things look like when your product is a success? What will be better and what will be different? It can be tempting to just go for features at this point, but having outcomes will serve you better. They are inherently measureable because they describe a desired result.

Second, the outcomes will help you to weigh and prioritize the features you do eventually come up with. An example of an outcome could be “Create better ways of <the thing you provide> that focus on <way you do it differently>.” Spend the time to create great outcomes and when you achieve them, if your hypotheses are right, you’ll likely have a great product.

Bonus Points: Design Principles

Depending on how articulated your brand is, design principles can range from nice-to-have to super-duper-important. These principles should outline what kinds of design ideals your product will hold. Will it be fun? Serious? Trustworthy? Slick? Approachable? Utilitarian? Defining these characteristics will help you understand what your product should feel like, and what it should value and emphasize.

Sooo, ship it?

I want to emphasize again that this is simply a starting point. How much further you need to go and what tools or methodologies you choose to employ are entirely up to you and your situation. The goal here is to create a simple starting point for organizations looking to realize the very real benefits of the sometimes confusing and always changing world of product strategy.

Behind the Scenes of Abstract with Show Creators Scott Dadich and Dave O’Connor


Creative Cloud

Recently, we’ve been able to share interviews with the featured designers in the new Netflix series, Abstract. Along the way we’ve learned about the creative processes and technologies that are key elements for designers in a wide variety of fields.

This time around, we are going to peak at the wizards behind the curtain, Scott Dadich and Dave O’Connor. They shared what it is like to produce an engaging and intriguing series. Plus, they share some of their lessons learned.

Together, you have created a series that does such a singular job of showcasing design. Where did the idea for “Abstract” come from?

Dave: For me, the idea started when Scott invited me to an event he hosted at Skywalker Ranch in 2015 called “Wired by Design.” The conference was a hand-selected group of people from various fields, including some fields that wouldn’t normally be considered design. But everyone was talking about their work from a design perspective, and it was so inspiring. I went home from that conference and started workshopping the idea with my team about how to create a series about design. We kicked it around six ways from Sunday before I took it back to Scott for his thoughts. We went back and forth on it for a couple months before we felt like it was ready to pitch.

Dave O’Connor, co-creator and executive producer of Abstract.

What did you choose first, people or topics? For instance, did you decide to do a segment on Platon and then make that your episode on photography or did you decide to do an episode on photography and then go to Platon to fill that role?

Scott: We started with people. And there were a couple of different factors we used in weighing who those people were. First of all, most of these folks were people that Dave and I had worked with quite a bit, or knew very well. So, there was an approachability factor and a trust factor. Second, their work had to touch a really broad number of people. When you see a skyscraper in a city skyline, it affects every inhabitant in that city. Or with sneakers — everyone wears shoes. We looked for instances where the design work itself was broadly applicable. Third, they had to be, if not at the peak, approaching the peak of their talents and doing some of the most important work of their lives. Lastly, if you’re going to spend an hour of your life watching this person practice their craft, you have to want to be around that person. You have to want to like them. So, general charisma and approachability was also important. They had to be likable.

Platon and Scott Dadich behind the scenes in Greece.

The response to the show has been extremely positive and recognition even comes from far outside the design community. When you were putting the show together, did you think it would achieve such mainstream popularity?

Scott:I hope it has become mainstream. One of the goals of the series is to illuminate processes that are opaque to people, so reaching an audience outside of the design world is important to us.

Dave: We also tried to figure out ways to tap into different communities of design-adjacent audiences so we could build bridges between those worlds. Our hope was that, if we delivered compelling film on a topic that was engaging, they would stick around to learn about people and disciplines they may not have had any initial interest in.

Dave O’Connor with camera operators in Greece.

What are your personal favorite moments, and what lessons did you learn?

Dave: On a personal level, in each film there is at least one moment where we saw something magical unfold before our eyes. That was incredible, and I think the biggest lesson I learned was just how much design thinking could be applied to my own life and my own work. I learned just how much design thinking I do without even knowing I’m doing it.

Scott: I often struggle to externalize my internal thought processes. When you imagine something, you see it in your mind’s eye, and it’s hard to share that with another person. So we came up with this idea — I call it “design hallucinations” — where you see designs in your mind and, through the use of graphics, visualize some of those abstract concepts. Like what you see when Platon talks about his struggle with dyslexia or when Tinker describes a shoe that would automatically lace itself around your foot. I love those design hallucinations.

What important realizations do you hope audiences will take away from “Abstract?”

Dave: Our grand hope is that people open their eyes to the world around them and see that behind all of the messaging, the products, and the information, there is that process of creation. Things don’t just appear magically before us; there are people everyday who are creating those things, and those people are just like us.

Scott: Our hope from the very earliest days was that people would go back to their daily lives with a brand new sense of discovery — that you won’t look at things around you in the same way anymore. That you shouldn’t lace up your shoes in the morning without contemplating the choices of color and material. That you can’t go to work in the buildings we inhabit without an understanding of why buildings are designed the way they are. That during just about every part of your day you can have a new, and a renewed, sense of discovery about the world around you.

Haven’t seen the series yet? Catch “Abstract” streaming on Netflix and look for more behind-the-scenes interviews with the show’s stars right here on the Creative Cloud Blog.