All posts tagged copy

This has been standing in my draft queue for quite some time now. It wasn’t quite done yet, and there were a couple of things I needed to check first, but here we go then (a couple of days mentioned below isn’t quite accurate anymore, that’s a month and a half or so ago by now πŸ˜‰ )

Wow… I’m getting the feeling I’m being watched πŸ˜‰

A couple of days ago I revisited my Digimarc experience and I wrote how I was contacted by Ms Gina Giachetti, representing Digimarc, and asked if I wanted to blog about the new Digimarc.
I wasn’t too keen at first to write about it, since my first experience with Digimarc wasn’t all that spectacular, but Ms Giachetti promised to put me in touch with a product manager to “talk things over”. For some reason that went all south because of a miscommunication, as it now appears: holidays from both sides (I had no idea Digimarc was located in Oregon, otherwise I could’ve stopped by the office in March when I was in Oregon!), busy time schedules, etc. etc.

Anyway… I posted the revisited the 28th in the morning, and that same day in the evening there’s a mail from Ms Giachetti waiting in my inbox. Yep, things had gone all south, and that wasn’t how it was supposed to be. So we gave it a second try and last Wednesday she set me up in a telephone conversation with Digimarc’s product manager Ben Bounketh. Very agreeable guy, I must say (I’m also not getting paid to say this, dang! πŸ˜€ ). We had a really interesting conversation in which he told me a bit more about Digimarc in general and more specifically about the watermarking process and product. I’m not going to repeat that all here, so you’ll have to head on to the Digimarc website. And -I already mentioned in my first post about Digimarc that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with their customer service- he set me up with a free Pro account for a year for me to test the new product. Wow! πŸ™‚

Mr Bounketh presented me with a little video on how the new Digimarc Watermarking would be really imperceptible. And no matter how nice he sounded, my first reaction was “Sure, that’s a generic picture, the OLD watermarking would even work on that. You’re not getting off that easily with me!” So… You all probably remember the jellyfish picture I put my test on? That was the OLD method. Ghastly… Autch!

Digimarc watermark examples: left without watermark, right with watermark

Digimarc watermark examples: left without watermark, right with watermark

So I thought, let’s see how Mr Bounketh’s statement will hold up in this image.

Digimarc watermark examples: left without watermark, right with watermark

Digimarc watermark examples: left without watermark, right with watermark

And well… Kudos, Mr Bounketh. Kudos to you and Digimarc. Compared to the old version this is a world of difference. Where you could see the obvious difference in the first example, even without the need to view full, in the second example I had to enlarge the areas to show the difference, and even then you can’t see it without looking at the full view.
When looking at a 4000+ pixels image at 100% you can see some slight noise in these even areas, but the quality of the images with watermark has improved so much that you can’t even really make a decent comparison anymore.
I’d still be a bit reluctant uploading images with an even background like this in full resolution to for example a stock agency, but for the “normal” images, with a more diverse and detailed background it will be no problem whatsoever, and for web images it will be perfect.

The watermark itself is pretty solid in terms of durability. I put the watermark in a 4000+ pixels image, downscaled in stages and in one go to 300pixels and only at that point was the watermark not found anymore. Upscaling and cropping the same story.
However… as with all editing with images you ARE supposed to do it in the hi-res version, and when I tested adding the watermark to a lower res version it came out with the same ghastly result. So added in a 4000 pixel image and then scaled down to 800 pixels is perfectly acceptable, but adding the watermark straight to the 800 pixels picture is a big no-no (still). When presenting this issue to Mr Bounketh, he did give a plausible explanation. In short and super-simplified something along the lines of the watermark having to be hidden in less available pixels).

Jellyfish comparison

Left the image in which the watermark was added at 800 pixels, right the image where it was added at 4000 pixels and then downscaled to 800 pixels (click to enlarge).

I can’t say anything on the reporting and scouting/tracking of images, yet. That will take some time, but I’m going to upload a batch of generic images with Digimarc watermark to my website and see if they are picked up and where they end up. Mr Bounketh did explain a little on how the searching and “tracking” works. He also noted that, because of the time and costs involved, at this point only larger sites with a lot of traffic will be scanned/indexed on a regular basis.Β  I’m not really sure if it will be super useful for (starting) artists who don’t have much traffic to their website, since those websites would be scanned/indexed only like once per 3-6 months. But since the price has gone down and the scouting/tracking is included in that price, there’s little to do about it anyway.
I’m happily testing away now, and I’ll probably do a re-re-revisited in a year or so, or if/when I get some data in on the scouting/tracking.

Tsk tsk tsk…
There I was, reading through one of my photography magazines. I ended up with the back cover, checking out how Nikon presents one of its new lenses to its public. Lo and behold, and imagine my surprise, when the ad showed a beginner’s mistake in its copy text. Of course, this kind of error doesn’t show up in the automated spell-check, because both its and it’s are spelled write.

One would think that, with a company of this size, probably hiring services from a well-paid agency, these kind of miss steaks wouldn’t occur. They’d be pulled out in the first correction stage. But nooo….
Shame on you, Nikon!

(the whole sentence reads: It’s huge zoom range brings distant objects right up close.)

Nikon ad

image: courtesy of Nikon, scanned from the back cover of Practical Photography, May 2010 issue.

Whoa! I didn’t expect this whole thing to stir up so much emotions.

I appreciate all the feedback, and would like to tell everyone that I DO read also.
I read that the guys on the outside are wearing masks. But the whole angle on the left picture is totally off.

Head from the left page on the left, head from the right page on the right

Head from the left page on the left, head from the right page on the right

If you check the image, you can clearly see the outlines of the mask on the left side (it must be a cardboard mask including hair).
On the right page the mask sits naturally and believably, but on the left page the model must be sitting, crouched, in a seriously uncomfortable way in order to be able to hide behind the mask like that.

Well, anyway… Think of it what you like… I will do the same.

I figured I wouldn’t be writing anymore this year, but I just couldn’t let this go by unnoticed.

Being a graphic artist and a photographer I read (or page) through a lot of magazines and photographs (hence my interest in the National Geographic contest, and e.g. (little) projects in Photoshop and Lightroom).

So… The past days in between all the courses of food during the christmas holidays I was reading through the Esquire (American edition). Great magazine, for most part.
When I came to the end of the January issue I ran into this spread:

Esquire, January 2009 issue

Esquire, January 2009 issue

For those of you who don’t know what a spread is: it’s a left and right page in a magazine. So whenever you open a magazine, whatever you have in front of you is a spread.
Don’t mind the quality of the scan (the guy looking like a freak isn’t due to the bad scan, he really looks like a freak πŸ˜‰ ).

Now, I always thought that a quality magazine has quality graphics, quality editors and people who are able to produce graphically pleasing and responsible images. And usually this is the case in Esquire. However, this time… I don’t know if it was the stress to get everything out and mailed before Christmas or what, but what you see here is a plain awful butcher job. A very poorly executed example of copy-paste-rotate.
And they even took the head from the same spread. If anything in the graphic editing land is a big no-no, it’s that.
I’m sure the photographer shot 1000 pictures on this shoot and sure, that particular head on the left version of Adam RappΒ  may have looked a bit funny, but the mask could’ve been at least turned so that it looks as believable as on the right page.
And the person who did that, and the poor masking / cutting / pasting job, should get a boot up his behind.

Oh, and happy holidays once again!