Adobe MAX is a big annual conference for creatives, so no wonder the intellectual adrenalin is flowing. Through keynotes, seminars and other events, creatives get to hear from artists like Mr Bingo and Jeff Koons, for instance.
One of the highlights of this year’s MAX was Sneaks, an internal competition which goes through several stages before items are presented.
As Gavin Miller, Head of Adobe Research, told me, “We want to showcase future technologies both to generate a sense of excitement and also to get feedback from our customers and the press and elsewhere. We also want to give the technologists themselves a moment in the sun, It’s not all about celebrities. We want to make the scientists celebrities, or the engineers celebrities.”
Sneaks is a packed event (6,000 and counting in the room, more online) where ten engineers, many of them interns, will demonstrate their ideas. The reaction of those in the room where it happens can decide if the ideas are incorporated into future Adobe products.
This year, given the excited response of the audience it looks like quite a few could make it. Here are the five that were the most intriguing, polished or just fun.
1. Project All of Me
For me, this was the real standout at Sneaks. AI is a big thing for Adobe, with apps using it more and more. But All of Me aims to make the most of photos which are somewhat lacking.
Imagine you want a photo of a dear friend. You have one but it’s only down to their knees and you want full-length. And your subject’s clothing leaves something to be desired. And the background is terrible.
Normally, you’d write this image off and move on. But All of Me can extend their legs, imagine shoes, remove an unwanted handbag and replace the background. All in a series of quick clicks where you can change the color of shoes, the tone of the background and more.
Presented by Qing Liu.
2. Project Blink
This is a new transcript-based video editing tool, so that choosing highlights is as quick and easy process as editing text. So, you can type a word into a search box and Blink will find it in the audio, for instance. More than that, it can pull out key moments of video as well. Diarization means that in the transcript it knows who is speaking and you can also do a visual search for objects within the video.
It’s a way to rapidly traverse long-format videos, especially, for instance, long meetings.
Within Adobe, Miller says, “To some degree Blink has meant that we now send little video snippets to each other whereas, before we might have cut and paste a paragraph from an email.”
Presented by Mira Dontcheva.
3. Project Instant Add
Editing video and adding special effects is made simpler with this project. So, while it’s easy to add a logo to a sweater in a still photo, for instance, it’s time-consuming and difficult in video. Instant Add uses AI from Adobe Sensei to work out how to put the logo onto the sweater in successive frames of video, matching it to the movement of the wearer, for instance.
You can add text to a video, so that it looks like it’s floating in the background, adjusting as the camera zooms or the foreground moves in front of it. It’s quick and highly effective.
Presented by Joon-Young Lee.
4. Project Magnetic Type
If you’re attaching shapes to letters, you can make dramatic images. But change the words and those shapes need to be manually moved to the newly appropriate place. So, a sword shape that’s placed to attach to the letter I in Knight, for instance, needs to be moved every time the wording updates.
Of course, you could just nail down the wording in advance, but things, change and Magnetic Type means the sword graphic, or whatever it is, moves in perfect synchronicity, as though it’s fused to the letters.
Presented by Arushi Jain.
5. Project Made in the Shade
Shadows are never easy to achieve realistically. At least, not when you keep wanting to change your mind about stuff. As you add elements to an image, they grow or shrink as you place them, with quick and wholly convincing shadows. What’s more, the shadows can fall accurately on complicated shapes, like a car, for instance, where it follows all the curves. Made in the Shade even lets you extract parts of an image, and their shadow comes along.
Don’t like where the shadow falls? With this project it’s easy and quick to alter the direction of the shadow. You can even add objects offstage, as it were, so it’s just the shadow of a palm tree, not the tree itself that appears. You can even import the shadow of a video of a palm tree, if you like.
Presented by Vojtech Krs.