Great photographers often employee great assistants. Ansel Adams hired master darkroom technicians who printed to his exact specifications, and the lush lighting in an Annie Leibovitz portrait is typically achieved by trusted assistants who understand her vision.
Adobe is working to bring photographers of all levels a valued assistant — and the voice of that assistant may sound familiar.
A video produced by Adobe Research shows a man giving voice commands to an iPad to crop a photo and prepare it to post on Facebook. The voice coming from the iPad sounds like Siri as it repeats the photographer’s commands.
The 40-second video shows just a few voice commands that trigger what appear to be the basic editing tools of the device’s native camera. But the video offers a glimpse into a post-production future that needs no mouse, trackpad or keystrokes.
Adobe Research “is exploring what an intelligent digital assistant photo editing might look like,” the research team wrote in the introduction to the YouTube video. “To envision this, we combined the emerging science of voice interaction with deep understanding of both creative workflows and the creative aspirations of our customers.
“Our speech recognition system is able to directly accept natural user voice instructions for image editing either local through on-device computer or through a cloud-based Natural Language understanding service. This is the first step towards a robust multimodal voice-based interface which allows our creative customers to search and edit images in an easy and engaging way.”
While the voice interface is cool, I am intrigued by this phrase: deep understanding of both creative workflows and creative aspirations.
Toning a photo in Photoshop can be a very nuanced, precise and time-consuming process. The end results of the step-by-step tweaking are subjective and based on the tastes of the individual photographer. How casual a user could be with language is not clear from Adobe’s video, but it is likely that should voice commands be available for a sophisticated program like Photoshop, a user would need to apply certain words for tools, settings and actions.
But could voice commands be used to skip the technical steps all together?
In 2014, Adobe and MIT made public research on building complex algorithms based on the signature styles of different acclaimed photographers. You might not be able to afford to hire Martin Schoeller to shoot your LinkedIn mug, but you could take a selfie and hit a preset to bring his look to your otherwise drab photo.
Imagine a single voice command for that photo you made at Yosemite over the summer that goes something like, “Make it look like an Ansel Adams print.”