On The Trade Show Circuit; Springing Into New Digital Imaging Products

“I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me.”—A. A. Milne

The beginning of the year is a busy one for trade shows, ranging from the huge Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that showcases everything from the latest vacuum cleaners to digital cameras. On top of that, there’s the classic Macworld Expo in San Francisco that while a shell of its former self (heck, the PC-oriented COMDEX show long ago departed this mortal veil) is worth a visit if only for new Apple product announcements. Then there’s the Imaging USA trade show that Mary and I attended in Phoenix, highlighting new and exciting products aimed at the pro digital imager. Imaging USA was a source of many new photo product introductions, at least until PMA 2009 heads back to Las Vegas, continuing a cycle that started with CES.

© 2006, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

See Ya In The Funny Papers
Digital Anarchy’s (www.digitalanarchy.com) ToonIt! Photo 2.0 is a Photoshop-compatible plug-in that produces cartoon-like images from photographs, eliminating the drudgery of painting and masking. The plug-in’s algorithms create cartoon shading and outlines in either Adobe’s Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. ToonIt! analyzes the photograph, creates flat regions of color, and outlines them to produce a cell-shaded cartoon. The Effects Palette lets you add special effects such as enhanced shadows, color effects, and halftones. The Style Creator offers 12 different algorithms that can be used to create the underlying cartoon or apply a painterly look to the image. The Preset Manager and somewhat tiny Preview Window display options to control the appearance of the cartoon.

One of ToonIt!’s best features is the ability to translate details of the human face into a believable cartoon. People are difficult to “toon” because everybody knows how facial features and expressions should appear, so ToonIt! identifies areas that should be shaded as one color and uses sophisticated edge detection to draw the outlines. This creates consistent, pleasing features while also retaining detail in the hair and eyes. ToonIt! Photo 2.0 works with Windows Vista 64-bit and Photoshop CS4 64-bit and supports RGB, CMYK, and Grayscale in 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit files. ToonIt! Photo 2.0 costs $159. It’s the most fun plug-in you’ll use this year.

© 2008, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

Ding! Your CD Is Ready
At Macworld Expo Roxio (www.roxio.com) announced Toast 10 Titanium, the latest version of the company’s Mac OS burning and digital media software. Toast 10’s features include AVCHD Archive for backing up original content onto DVD or Blu-ray and a video file capture and conversion tool that allows web-based video to be viewed on DVD or mobile devices. Toast is still the de facto way to burn optical media on Mac OS computers, but Version 10 includes Folder Sync to synchronize folders bidirectionally between multiple computers, network volumes, or external hard disks and lets you create personalized DVDs with more than 20 DVD and Blu-ray menu styles—in full-screen and HD widescreen versions. Roxio also released Toast 10 Titanium Pro aimed at creative professionals and photo and video hobbyists.

In addition to including everything that’s in Toast 10 Titanium, the Pro version bundles a Blu-ray Disc plug-in as well as third-party applications, including LightZone (see the February 2008 issue of Shutterbug) that lets you produce striking photos in a simple and intuitive way. Sophisticated features such as zone mapping and relight give you the control to achieve some pretty amazing results. There’s also FotoMagico that turns pictures into slide shows with a few simple clicks and presents them in HD. Toast 10 Titanium is available from Roxio for $99.99, while the Pro version costs $149.99. Since the Blu-ray plug-in itself sells for $19.99, the Pro version is clearly the way to go.

Plug-In Of The Month
At the CES show, Tiffen (www.tiffen.com) unveiled the latest version of its Dfx digital filter plug-in for Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop Elements that includes the same multiple masking and layering capabilities found in Tiffen’s Dfx 2.0 plug-ins for Photoshop and Aperture, as well as its new stand-alone application. All Dfx 2.0 editions feature more than 1000 new filters and effects, including Ambient Light, Close-Up Lens, Dot, Eye Light, Flag, Gobo, HFX Star, Haze, High Contrast, Ice Halos, Rainbow, Sepia, Sky, Soft Contrast, Soft Light, Warm Center Spot, Warm Polarizer, Water Droplets, Wide Angle Lens, and 812 Warming. Dfx’s EZ Mask is one of seven mask types available and lets you create precise multiple masks in just a few strokes. Filters and masks can be copied and moved between Dfx layers. The stand-alone edition of Tiffen’s Dfx 2.0 is available for Mac OS (10.4 or higher) and Windows XP or Vista and costs $99.95. All versions of Tiffen’s Dfx 2.0 are available as a free watermarked trial download from Tiffen’s website. Current owners of Dfx wanting to upgrade to Version 2.0 should visit the website for details.