OS X 10.10 Yosemite: Will Adobe software work?

OS X 10.10 desktop, courtesy Apple Inc.

Now that OS X 10.10 Yosemite is available as a free upgrade from the Mac App Store, you’re probably wondering how well your Adobe software and other Mac apps will run on it. Below is a summary of various reports I’ve read on Adobe.com and around the web. I’ll continue to update this article as I find out more. The good news is that upgrading to Yosemite seems to cause fewer compatibility challenges than some earlier OS X upgrades did.

Yosemite and current versions of Adobe software

Adobe FAQs: Adobe has published a tech note, Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10) compatibility FAQs. It contains links to additional information, so be sure to expand each of the FAQ questions on that page. On that page Adobe says “The latest versions of all Adobe CC products are compatible” and that no updates are required to run Adobe CC products on OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

The Adobe FAQ says “In our testing we have found no other significant issues with running Creative Cloud products with OS X Yosemite,” but with every OS X release something usually turns up. If I hear of any, I’ll add them to this article.

Plug-ins: If you rely on any non-Adobe plug-ins, make sure those plug-ins are compatible with Yosemite. A plug-in that is not compatible with Yosemite may prevent its host Adobe app from starting up.

Upgrading to Yosemite with older Adobe software or from earlier versions of OS X

If you’re upgrading from OS X 10.9 Mavericks or OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion you probably won’t run into problems. But if you’re making a bigger jump from an earlier version of OS X, or from Adobe software earlier than CS6, you may find issues that affect your migration.

Note that CS2 applications, including Photoshop, were written for Macs with PowerPC CPUs. OS X 10.10 Yosemite only runs Intel CPU-compatible software, so Yosemite will not allow CS2 to run or install. Adobe CS3–CS5 applications might run, but those versions were not tested on Yosemite by Adobe.

Photoshop: The Photoshop team has published their own blog post about the OS X upgrade, Photoshop & Mac OSX 10.10 (Yosemite). In it they say that they tested Photoshop CS6 through Photoshop CC and found no issues. However, it has been discovered that the Yosemite installer might corrupt an existing Photoshop CS5 installation; if this happens reinstall Photoshop CS5 and then it should work.

In Photoshop CS6 in OS X 10.8 through 10.10, if you are having problems with keyboard shortcuts or brushes, especially with a Wacom tablet connected, you may need to install the “white window workaround” plug-in. Another suggestion from Adobe is to downgrade the Wacom tablet driver to version 6.38-2.

After Effects: The After Effects team has also published a blog post about Yosemite compatibility, After Effects good to go with Mac OSX v10.10 (Yosemite).  In it they say that they tested After Effects CS6 through After Effects CC and found no issues.

An application won’t start: Two possible reasons for pre-CC versions to not launch in Yosemite are Java not being available, and having non-Adobe plug-ins that aren’t compatible with Yosemite. See the topics Java requirement below and Plug-ins above.

Java requirement: When launching some older Adobe software for the first time in OS X, OS X may say that a Java runtime needs to be installed. If a button is provided, click it; if not, download the Java installer provided by Apple and install that. Some users have reported that the Adobe launch issue is not fixed until you reboot a second time after the Java installation. Also, some report that earlier versions such as CS3 are not working with the latest version of Java (currently Java 8), but it does work if they install Java 6, which is provided by Apple in the link above.

Some are wary of Java security issues, but OS X won’t let some Adobe applications launch without it. In the case of Photoshop, Adobe says Photoshop doesn’t need Java at all, but OS X puts up the message anyway.

OS X Gatekeeper may prevent older Adobe software from starting: Gatekeeper is an Apple security feature (added in Mountain Lion) that helps protect you from running malicious applications. If you run Adobe software released before Gatekeeper, you should know what to do if Gatekeeper prevents Adobe software from starting. Adobe covers that in this tech note: Error “has not been signed by a recognized distributor” | Launch Adobe applications | Mac OS. The short answer is to bypass the error by right-clicking the application icon, then choose Open from the context menu.

Adobe software released after Gatekeeper was introduced properly conforms to Gatekeeper requirements, so no adjustments are needed for them.

Intel compatibility required: If your Adobe software is earlier than CS5, to run under Yosemite at all it must support Intel processors. After Apple switched to Intel-based Macs, Apple started phasing out support for running software based on the older PowerPC processors. Starting with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, Mac OS X no longer runs PowerPC-based software. You’ll have to check compatibility for each of the Adobe applications you want to run; for example, Photoshop CS3 was the first version of Photoshop that ran on Intel-based Macs. But even if your software older than CS5 runs on Yosemite, it may still have other issues because OS X has changed a lot since then.

Upgrading from Mac OS X 10.6 or earlier: You may also want to read my blog post “Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: Will Adobe apps and other software work?”, so that you can also be up to date on the more dramatic changes that were introduced in Lion, such as the end of OS X support for PowerPC-based software.

General compatibility and info

To learn about OS X software compatibility of Mac software in general, a great resource is the Roaring Apps database. It lists OS X software and its reported compatibility with the last few versions of OS X. For mission-critical software, you should also check each company’s support website to verify that it works.

Wondering what Yosemite is all about? For the most in-depth Yosemite review you’ll probably find anywhere, read John Siracusa’s review at Ars Technica. As with every major release of OS X, Siracusa not only reviews the visible features that Apple promotes, but goes under the surface to explain changes to some of the underlying technologies in OS X and how they affect your Mac experience.

10-bit video displays: For many years, Photoshop users and other graphics professionals have wanted proper support for 10-bits-per-channel video displays on Macs. (This isn’t about the file format, but the data path to the video monitor.) While 10-bit-capable displays, graphics cards, cables, and software (such as Photoshop) have been ready for some time, Apple has not provided the necessary APIs to complete the chain. As far as I know, there is nothing in Yosemite or even the new Retina iMac to indicate that this has changed.

Rethinking the Pixel: It’s All Relative Now — CreativePro.com article

How big is a pixel? It’s widely thought that a pixel is the smallest dot that screen hardware can physically display: One pixel is one pixel. That was safe to assume for over a quarter century because the pixel density of most of our screens was stuck between 72 and 120 pixels per inch (ppi) during that era, even while everything else about our computers got exponentially faster and bigger. But screens would finally make their move, and for designers that would change how a pixel is defined.

Want the whole story? Click the link below to read my article at CreativePro.com:
Rethinking the Pixel: It’s All Relative Now

Rethinking the Pixel: It’s All Relative Now

Hyperlapse, time lapse, and video stabilization: Different problems, different solutions

Instagram Hyperlapse app

Instagram introduced its Hyperlapse app on the iOS App Store not long after Microsoft showed results from its own Hyperlapse research project in August 2014. Online reactions suggest that a lot of people are confused about what Instagram and Microsoft are actually doing. Are these companies simply copying each other to get on the hyperlapse bandwagon? Is hyperlapse just a fancy repackaging of time lapse, which many apps already do? Or is hyperlapse stabilization just another form of the video image stabilization that’s already been available in video editing applications for years?

The short answer is that time lapse, hyperlapse, and conventional video stabilization are distinct techniques with different challenges. The recent efforts by Instagram and Microsoft specifically address the instability of hyperlapse video. But they aren’t copying each other, because they use contrasting strategies.

Time lapse versus hyperlapse

First, let’s compare time lapse and hyperlapse. In time lapse photography you record sequential frames at a much lower rate than a normal video or film frame rate. For example, you might record one frame every 10 seconds. After recording, you play back the frames at a normal frame rate such as 30 frames per second to produce the effect of compressed time. In the following time lapse, I compressed about 20 minutes into 20 seconds:

In most time lapse photography, the camera stays in one place. The only way the camera gets to rotate or move a short distance if it’s on a motion-control rig. (In the time lapse above, the camera was locked down on a tripod; the movement was simulated in software by panning a 1920 x 1080 pixel video frame across a sequence of 5184 x 3456 pixel still frames.)

In a hyperlapse, the camera can change position over a long distance. For example, the camera might be mounted on a car recording a 200-mile road trip, or it might be a helmet camera as you climb a mountain, or you might hold a camera as it records while you walk down the street. Hyperlapses are often recorded with a first-person point of view, especially as wearable action cameras have become affordable and popular like the GoPro. Many hyperlapse videos are recorded manually using frame-by-frame methods that are labor-intensive, as shown in the video below by DigitalRev:

Because a typical hyperlapse recording makes the camera cover a significant distance, it’s just about impossible to maintain consistent framing as you move the camera again and again. During playback, this results in much more shakiness and instability than you’d see in a traditional time lapse, making it difficult to watch. This inherent instability is the hyperlapse challenge that Instagram and Microsoft have tried to overcome.

Comparing how Instagram and Microsoft approach hyperlapse instability

One answer to the problem of hyperlapse instability comes from Microsoft, which published the results of a research project where they found a better way to analyze first-person hyperlapse footage and remove the instability. To achieve this, their solution tries to figure out the original 3D scene and motion path that was recorded by the camera in 2D, and then it uses that synthesized 3D data to reconstruct each frame so that you see much smoother playback. Here’s the demonstration video from Microsoft Research:

The Instagram solution takes advantage of both iPhone hardware and iOS APIs to acquire additional data while recording video. The Instagram Hyperlapse app takes 3D positioning data from the iPhone gyroscope and camera so that it can immediately apply accurate alterations to each frame as it renders the final video. (Instagram says Android APIs currently don’t provide the needed access to an Android phone’s gyroscope and camera.) This is a short demonstration video of the Hyperlapse app by Instagram:

Both approaches are useful in different ways. The Instagram approach is potentially more accurate because it records 3D orientation data directly from the camera at the time each frame is recorded. Having actual orientation data can greatly reduce the amount of processing needed, because there’s no need to guess the original 3D motion path. The lower processing load also means it’s much easier to run it on a smartphone, where both processing power and battery power are limited. The Microsoft approach is better when the original video was recorded by a camera that couldn’t provide the necessary gyroscope and camera data, but it needs much more processing power.

The Instagram Hyperlapse app currently has some additional advantages: Instagram paid a lot of attention to user experience, so using the Hyperlapse app is easier, simpler, and faster than creating and stabilizing hyperlapse videos the manual way. And it’s available to millions of people now, while Microsoft is still in the labs and its final ease of use is unknown.

Both Instagram and Microsoft are trying to solve a problem that’s increasingly common now that there’s so much more footage from action cameras like the GoPro, but their approaches are so different that they are clearly not copying each other.

Hyperlapse stabilization versus software video stabilization

Some have asked whether these hyperlapse solutions are the same as the image stabilization that’s already common in video editing software. Mostly not. Video image stabilization in software is usually designed to address high frequency camera movement during real time recording, like when a clip looks shaky because you handheld the camera.

Advanced video stabilizing software can go beyond basic software or digital stabilization. Some, such as Adobe Warp Stabilizer VFX, try to work out the camera’s 3D motion path instead of analyzing just 2D shifts in position. Like Warp Stabilizer, the Microsoft hyperlapse solution does a 3D analysis of 2D footage, but Microsoft does additional processing to adapt and extend the 3D analysis for time scales as long as those in a hyperlapse.

The Microsoft approach can also be considered a form of digital image stabilization in that each frame is processed after a frame is recorded. In contrast, you can think of the Instagram solution as a variation on optical image stabilization where a camera or lens includes stabilizing hardware such as a gyroscope, so that an image is already stabilized before it’s recorded.

Each solution has a purpose

This overview should make it clear that these different approaches to stabilization aren’t redundant. They all exist because each of them solves a different problem.

Optical, digital, and software-based image stabilization are options for stabilizing footage that’s both recorded and played back in real time. The Instagram and Microsoft methods are ways to stabilize long-duration footage that’s recorded for a hyperlapse playback speed.

Optical stabilization and the Instagram hyperlapse approach use recording hardware that helps produce cleaner source footage. By stabilizing the image that’s originally recorded, there’s less need for additional stabilization processing.

Digital image stabilization, image stabilization in video editing software, and the Microsoft hyperlapse approach are for post-processing footage that was recorded without physical orientation data from the hardware. They require more processing power, but they work with recordings from any camera.

Editing Highlights and Shadows in Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw — CreativePro.com article

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw have two sets of controls for making tone and contrast adjustments: The Basic panel Tone sliders and the Tone Curve. Because the slider names in these two sets of tools are almost the same, some believe that both sets of sliders do the same thing, while others believe the newer Basic Tone sliders are better and there is no longer a need for the Tone Curve. But neither statement is true: A closer look reveals that each set of controls affects your images in subtle but important ways.

Want the whole story? Click the link below to read my article at CreativePro.com:
Editing Highlights and Shadows in Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw

Editing Highlights and Shadows in Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw article on CreativePro.com

How to Blur Backgrounds with a Compact Camera — CreativePro.com article

Blurring the background of a photo is often used to help draw attention to the subject. It’s not hard to do with an SLR camera because of the size of the digital sensor or film frame, but what if all you have is the little digital camera in your pocket? You can still get it done using traditional techniques for depth-of-field control, but with a small camera you’ll have to work a little harder at it. The good news? Some newer digital compact cameras give you more of the depth-of-field control that used to be available only with larger cameras.

Want the whole story? Click the link below to read my article at CreativePro.com:
How to Blur Backgrounds with a Compact Camera

How to Blur Backgrounds with a Compact Camera on CreativePro.com