Adobe’s new Super Resolution feature is certainly rather good. It allows you to breathe new life into those lower resolution images from older DSLRs as well as smartphone images to an impressive level of quality. But does it really eliminate the need for today’s high-resolution cameras like the Canon EOS R5, Nikon Z7 II and […]
Netflix’s Mank is leading the 2021 Oscar hunt with 10 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, so some backstory on the production of Mank may be of interest. Adobe recorded a panel discussion with editor Kirk Baxter, first assistant editor Ben Insler, and assistant editor Jennifer Chung to discuss their remote workflow with Premiere Pro and After Effects and some creative choices they made alongside director David Fincher.
For years, Fincher and his team has worked to bring more and more of the post production in-house, and expanding integrated feature sets has allowed faster adjustments and feedback as the team moved from Avid to Final Cut Pro to Premiere Pro and After Effects. The panel discussion video is on the general side, but contains interesting highlights, as does a good short article on Adobe’s website, Netflix feature film Mank takes editorial workflows to a new level. Here’s a couple of teasers from both sources:
“Productions took efficiency to a new level for the team. The Productions panel acted as a hub for managing multi-project workflows. Rather than having to navigate to different folders, all Premiere Pro project files were saved to a single Production folder. The team divided the complex workflow into manageable projects, and each team member could see what others were working on. Assets were easily shared between projects within the Production, with changes synced and reflected in the Production folder.”
[The “Fincherized” Chung adds:] “One of the things that gives us the flexibility and efficiency within visual effects is using Dynamic Link [between Premiere Pro and After Effects] and that’s a huge part of our workflow because of the volume of the temp work that we’re doing. That allows us to seamlessly go into After Effects and do whatever work we need to do, whether that’s splits or stabilization or rotoscoping or removing any equipment, and then we can jump right back into Premiere and render that and have that in the timeline.”
Are you familiar with the parable of the organ grinder’s monkey?
Mank is a retelling of the life of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz and the creation of Citizen Kane. There’s long been controversy over historical details and authorship of the script. Ben Mankiewicz, grandson of the main character, spoke to director Fincher for CBS News several months ago, but the segment was short. Viewers will likely have questions over why the Fincher chose to present the picture in various black & white stylizations despite fantastic colors seen in set pictures and clips. Other questions over the meanings of scenes, characters, historical detail, and authorship of Citizen Kane might leave you in the Playland hall of mirrors of The Lady from Shanghai, rather than a flashback to Citizen Kane.
I have seen a bit of reporting out there on this topic from the likes of PetaPixel and Fstoppers, but other than that the ramifications of this new feature in ACR have not been widely promoted from what I can see. The new Super Resolution feature in ACR essentially upsizes the image by a factor of four using machine learning, i.e. Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Super Resolution builds on a technology Adobe launched two years ago called Enhance Details, which uses machine learning to interpolate RAW files with a high degree of fidelity, which resulted in images with crisp details and fewer artifacts. The term ‘Super Resolution’ refers to the process of improving the quality of a photo by boosting its apparent resolution,” Chan explains. “Enlarging a photo often produces blurry details, but Super Resolution has an ace up its sleeve: an advanced machine learning model trained on millions of photos. Backed by this vast training set, Super Resolution can intelligently enlarge photos while maintaining clean edges and preserving important details.
What does this mean practically? Well, I immediately tested this out and was pretty shocked by the results. Though it might be hard to make out in the screenshot below, I took the surfing image shown below, which was captured a decade ago with a Nikon D700 — a 12MP camera — and ran the Super Resolution tool on it and the end result is a 48.2MP image that looks to be every bit as sharp (if not sharper) than the original image file. This means that I can now print that old 12MP image at significantly larger sizes than I ever could before.
What this also means is that anyone with a lower resolution camera, i.e. the current crop of 24MP cameras, can now output huge image files for prints or any other usage that requires a higher resolution image file. In the three or four images I have run through this new feature in Photoshop I have found the results to be astoundingly good.
Let’s run through how this works. First off, it works with any image file, whether it is a raw images file, a TIFF, or a JPEG. You will have to open the image file in Adobe Camera Raw via Photoshop or Adobe Bridge as shown below. To access the Super Resolution feature, right-click on the image and choose “Enhance” as shown below.
A dialog window will come up so you can see how the image will look and you can also toggle back and forth between the original image and the new Enhanced version. The dialog will give you an estimate on how long it will take to create the new Enhanced image, which will show up as a separate image file. Once you are ready simply click the Enhance button in the lower right-hand corner. ACR starts working in the background immediately to build the new image file and it eventually appears right next to the original file you selected wherever that one is stored.
In my testing, as shown below, it took this old 12MP image from 4256×2832 pixels to 8512×5664 pixels. The screenshots below show this enlargement. The top image is the lower resolution (original) version and the bottom image is the one that went through the Super Resolution process. The higher-res image looks absolutely amazing. And at 48MP I could easily blow this up to a 40×60 inch print just as with any image captured using my 45MP Nikon D850.
Once I upsized the image using the Super Resolution feature, I zoomed into the resulting image and was very impressed. The image seemed just as sharp (if not a little sharper) as the original image file but of course it is massively larger (in terms of resolution and file size). Kudos to the folks at Adobe for creating a truly revolutionary addition to Photoshop. I have tried some of the Topaz AI software options, like Topaz Gigapixel AI, but I have not seen it work this well.
So what does this mean? For starters, it means that AI technology will have a huge impact on photography. Going forward, the software we use to work up our images (and upres them) might in some instances have a larger effect on the final images than the camera that was used to capture the image.
To a certain degree, this new tool in Photoshop significantly equalizes the playing field no matter what camera you are working with. All of a sudden my Nikon Z6 and Fujifilm X-Pro3 (respectively 24MP and 26MP cameras) are capable of producing stunning large prints in a way that was previously just not possible.
What about high-resolution cameras you may ask? Where do they end up with all of this? The new Super Resolution tool will allow up to upres any image as long as the resulting “Enhanced” image file is less than 65,000 pixels on the long side and under 500MP in total. What that means is I can upres the 102MP images from my Fujifilm GFX 100 and GFX 100S cameras and produce insane 400MP image files from a single image. That is getting into the absurd, but that also opens some doors for crazy huge prints.
The reality is that this feature is a huge boon to lower resolution (12MP to 16MP) and even medium resolution (24MP) camera owners. Higher resolution cameras will still yield better image quality but we now have the option of making large prints from relatively low-resolution image files.
Enhancing a Photo to 376 Megapixels
After talking with some photographer friends about this new feature I played around with images from a variety of different cameras to see how it varies. I ran a few images through from my Nikon Z6 and also a few from my Fujifilm GFX 100. With the GFX 100 image, the Super Resolution feature popped out a 376MP image file that was damn near identical to the original image file, just four times larger. My jaw hit the floor when I zoomed into 100% and compared it to the original! You can see both the original and the Enhanced images below. There is no way to actually convey the 100% image size here as I have no control over the viewer’s screen resolution but regardless, they both look wicked sharp.
From what I can tell, the Super Resolution tool seems to do an even better job with higher resolution cameras and in particular with cameras that do not have an anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor. My Nikon Z6 images when enhanced with this tool still look impressive but not as jaw-dropping as the example above. The Z6 has a very strong anti-aliasing filter, basically a filter that slightly blurs the image to reduce digital artifacts. In addition, it seems like the amount of sharpening or noise reduction applied to the image is also magnified so playing around with how the image is worked up may have a significant effect on the final image quality. I will have to do some more testing.
If you have gotten this far, and are still reading this full-on pixel-peeping madness, then you might have realized that this could be the best upgrade to any and every camera ever. This is certainly one of the most incredible features Adobe has ever released in Photoshop.
This is just the start of the AI revolution. It also shows quite clearly that many of the advancements in image quality are going to come from the software side of the equation as we start to see cameras with incredible specs that might be hard to dramatically improve upon in the coming years. I am super excited about this new option in Photoshop as it will allow me to offer much larger prints than I have been able to create previously–and they will look stunning.
About the author: Michael Clark is an internationally published outdoor photographer specializing in adventure sports, travel, and landscape photography. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Clark contributes to National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, Sports Illustrated, Outside, Men’s Journal, Backpacker, Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Climbing, Alpinist, Rock and Ice, Bike Magazine and The New York Times among many others. You can find more of Clark’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
Today, March 10, 2021, Adobe dropped its latest software updates via the Creative Cloud and among those updates is a new feature in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) called “Super Resolution.” You can mark this day down as a major shift in the photo industry. I have seen a bit of reporting out there on this […]
Adobe Camera Raw now includes a new feature that will be coming soon to both Lightroom and Lightroom Classic. It’s called Super Resolution and it’s essentially a machine learning AI-powered method of upscaling that offers massive image upscaling benefits at the push of a button. Well, you have to push it a couple of times […]
Adobe has today announced that Adobe Photoshop native to Apple computers using the new M1 chip has now been released. Adobe says that it delivers major performance gains for those using the new Apple systems, stating that a number of features are showing a 50% speed increase over previous generation systems during internal testing. That […]
Today Adobe is releasing the 2021 versions of the main video apps in Creative Cloud. You may have to refresh updates in the Creative Cloud app. Besides a faster Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro and After Effects, there are improvements in UI in After Effects, and a new hope in the public beta of Multi-Frame Rendering in After Effects.
Many of the features have support video in the What New section of each app Help section (linked below).
Real-time 3D Draft Preview in After Effects gives users immediate feedback on 3D designs in the Comp panel so they can make creative decisions faster and iterate on designs more easily.
3D Ground Plane in After Effects helps designers orient in space, providing a horizon line, vanishing point, and grid with snapping for positioning and aligning objects with precision.
More Efficient Composition Toolbar in After Effects is more logically organized and presents tools contextually, based on the current task.
Media Replacement in Motion Graphics templates, enabling creators to step up their personal brand, add visual style to their videos, and use templates to provide dynamic visual treatments — all without having to know After Effects.
Multi-Frame Rendering in After Effects (public beta 18.1×21) may provide 3 to 5x faster rendering when exporting compositions with multicore CPUs. About 200 of 290 plug-ins that ship with AE will support MFR. See the MFR FAQ, and let’s all route for plug-in developers!
A streamlined Render Queue now highlights the most important information to simplify the export process
New Captions Workflow in Premiere Pro offers a comprehensive toolset for quickly adding, customizing and stylizing captions and subtitles. The Captions workflows will be further accelerated by Speech to Text features later this year.
Copy and Paste Audio Track Effects Racks in Premiere Pro — along with the option of copying individual audio effects, users can now copy and paste complete audio effects racks between audio tracks.
Rollover to 2021 naming for Premiere Pro & After Effects
Cloud-driven collaboration and remote work — the last year has shown that teams need to work efficiently regardless of their location. Premiere Pro and After Effects use the cloud to enable remote collaboration, like Creative Cloud Libraries for organizing and sharing branded assets and Team Projects, which give editors and motion graphics artists a common project file format for secure collaboration.
A photo archive that documents the 78 days between the U.S. election and inauguration is the first to be verified by the standards set by Adobe’s Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI), illustrating how newsrooms can address the problem of false or misleading information.
Called Project Starling, the USC Shoah Foundation and Stanford University’s Department of Electrical Engineering partnered with Reuters and blockchain data integrity startup Numbers to apply Adobe’s CAI attribution standards. Called 78 Days, Project Starling is launching its prototype archive as an example of how to create a tamper-evident, transparent set of images for photojournalists.
“For 78 days, teams at the Starling Lab and Reuters worked together to document the presidential transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden with an array of new image authentication technologies and decentralized web protocols,” Project Starling writes. “The prototype archive that we created is a time capsule for both this historic moment in U.S. politics and a microcosm of the difficulties reporting the news in our digital age, as allegations of fake news and altered digital photos abound.”
Based on the white paper published in August of 2020, Project Starling used early access to CAI specifications to implement the ideas and technologies so that the 78 consecutive days of photographs produced by Reuters photojournalists were created with cryptographically secure metadata. Their goal was to use and evaluate tools for secure capture, storage, and verification of images.
“Restoring faith in online content is important now more than ever, and we’re thrilled to see Project Starling apply the Content Authenticity Initiative’s standard to its photo archive project,” Dana Rao, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary at Adobe said in reference to Adobe’s involvement with Project Starling. “Partnerships like these demonstrate the impact of the CAI, and we look forward to continuing to build strong alliances across hardware, software, publishing, and social media to help society move forward in restoring our faith in facts and content.”
Project Starling notes that technology is not a cure-all that will solve the trust issues with media, but it can help establish and restore trust by improving how news is gathered, authenticated, and published.
In the archive, clicking on the “i” in the upper right-hand corner of an image will give you an overview snapshot of the photo’s provenance and links to the records that log its authenticity. Clicking on “view more” in the overlay will launch a web-based app that lets you see the full history of changes made to the photo over time.
To this point, the CAI has been an idea that sounded like a process that should be implemented but stopped there: it was just an idea. The rollout of the 78 Days project is proof that the process not only can work but is a demonstration of exactly how it can function. From here, it’s just a matter of a larger rollout for all images captured by photojournalists and not just ones that are archived for specific projects.
Image credits: All images, including the header image, via Reuters and used with permission.
Adobe is leaning a bit more into the benefits of a cloud-based architecture with the rollout of an easy collaboration button and asynchronous editing in Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fresco. The “Invite to Edit” button is available starting today.
The update allows asynchronous editing across all supported surfaces (iPad, iPhone, and desktop) via the newly-added Invite to Edit button found on the application’s taskbar in the upper right-hand corner. While it doesn’t allow for multiple people to edit a document at the same time, it does make collaboration much easier.
Once you update Photoshop to the latest version, clicking the Invite to Edit button will first ask you to save the document to the cloud, which will allow you and others to access it across devices.
The next screen asks you to save the document and will also display any other cloud documents you might have. Once the file has been uploaded, adding a collaborator is as easy as inviting them via email address.
An interesting side effect of using this feature is that any file you save as a cloud document doesn’t appear to allow you to easily save it to your machine. The “Save As” feature popped up a different window than the typical one and did not seem to easily allow an easy way to save a version to a local machine.
In addition to the collaboration feature, Adobe has added Preset Sync in Photoshop on desktop, which allows you to sync brushes, swatches, gradients, patterns, styles, and shapes from your Adobe Creative Cloud account to whatever desktop you currently find yourself.
The addition of these features is available now via an update from the Creative Cloud application on desktop and through an app update on iPad and iOS.