When it comes to making big technology purchases, it’s always nice to know that a team of reliable pros has your back. Not only do our accounts team make billing easy, solve any issues with payment plans, organise your 30-day credit account and more, but our squad of creative technology experts are available to support you every step of the way.
Still not convinced? Here are our top five reasons why you should come to us for all your creative technology purchasing requirements…
1. We’re flexible on payment methods.
We’ve got options to help you spread costs, ways to fit in with your budget and can offer you a 30-day credit account. Not to mention that our on-the-ball accounts team make sure that we (and our suppliers) are compliant with all the relevant legislation, so you can spend less time on your due diligence checks.
2. We know what we’re talking about.
Because our team of technology experts and ex-creatives have worked in the industry for years, we can offer insightful advice on how to get things right first time to avoid costly replacements and expensive downtime.
3. We’ve got everything – and we mean everything – covered.
We can provide all your kit from start to finish, as well as services and support afterwards, so you can get everything you need in one place, under one invoice. We also have a £7 million stockholding at HQ, all available for next business day delivery – sorted!
4. We’ve stood the test of time.
We’ve been providing creative solutions to the industry for over 25 years, and in that time we’ve listened to what you guys need to make the whole purchasing cycle as pain-free as possible. From keeping you up to date on the latest releases, to working closely with vendors to ensure we get first UK stock on key releases, we’ve got you covered.
5. We pay great attention to detail.
We can work within a given budget, advise where you can save time and money, foresee potential shortfalls and ensure that your kit is future-proof. Whatever your objective, we can make sure you achieve whatever you set out to do.
Thinking of forking out for a Wacom tablet? Now’s the time! Jigsaw24 customers will receive a free 90 day Adobe Creative Cloud membership with the purchase of selected tablets between 1st October 2017 and 31st March 2018.
Wacom and Adobe are teaming up to help creatives hit the ground running as soon as they buy a brand new Intuos Pro, Cintiq, Cintiq Pro or MobileStudio Pro tablet. With three months of free Creative Cloud, users will be able to access Adobe’s entire collection of creative apps for Mac, PC, smartphone and tablet and get to work right away. That includes 29 separate desktop apps and 10 mobile apps, including favourites such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Premiere Pro. Customers will also have access to exclusive Adobe services such as Adobe Stock, Typekit and Behance absolutely free.
Ideal for mobile working, collaboration and productivity, Creative Cloud allows users to sync, share and create on the go thanks to Adobe CreativeSync, which powers Creative Cloud Libraries and lets you access your favourite creative assets anywhere, any time. Throughout the 90 day period, you’ll also receive new features and updates as soon as they’re available, plus in-app tips to help get you started if you’re new to Creative Cloud.
Following their MAX conference in October, Adobe released the latest version of Photoshop CC. It offers a variety of new features for designers, digital photographers and illustrators, and our design team were eager to get their hands on the newest iteration of the app and put it to the test.
With Adobe touting the effectiveness of the Curvature Pen, Stroke Smoothing and Variable Font functionalities, I sat down with Xenia – our Senior Designer – to hear her thoughts on the enhancements, how she’s been using them and how they’ve affected her creative workflow.
Curvature Pen tool
“The Curvature Pen tool is really useful, and it’s taken the hassle out of drawing curved shapes and straight line segments. I like that it lets me plot basic points in a rough shape initially, then move and adjust each point when needed – and double clicking provides an angular point rather than a curved point which is helpful, too.
Overall, I’d say it’s much easier to use, intuitive and accurate compared to the regular Pen tool, and its helped streamline my Photoshop workflow by cutting out the time consuming, unnecessary tasks that used to make drawing simple shapes kind of awkward. Plus, the tool makes it quicker to create paths without losing accuracy, which is ideal for when I’m cutting out certain elements of photographs.”
Stroke Smoothing (Pulled String Mode)
“I’ve enjoyed using the new Stroke Smoothing functions in Photoshop, particularly Pulled String Mode. My favourite thing about it is that it’s given me more control over the brush tool, which feels much smoother and creates less jagged edges – it’s a way better experience. As you use it, you can see the brush rotate and twist carefully, making the brush strokes much more accurate and precise, and cursor movements inside the ‘smoothing radius’ don’t leave a mark on your design. This has allowed me to create softer curves and rounded elements. It’s nice because it means I can put more time and care into my work, and helps me get things right on the first try without having to redo things.”
“They’re okay, but not as useful as I expected them to be. Variable Fonts let you customise certain attributes of fonts with sliders, such as weight, width and slant, although some Variable Fonts only let you adjust one or two attributes rather than the whole lot. And while this has still been helpful, not every font is as ‘variable’ as I had expected, meaning you’re limited to Adobe’s predefined list of Variable Fonts.
The list appears to be quite large, but is actually just made up of slightly different variations of the same few fonts. If I’ve needed to use a Variable Font, I’ve just found myself looking for one in the list that most closely resembles the font I initially wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I like that you’re able to quickly toggle different options with fonts, and it’s helpful for when I’ve been experimenting with quick layouts and I’ve wanted to see how a font may impact the overall design, but I think it could use some work. With a bit more development, it could be a really handy feature and I’m excited to see what Adobe do with it going forward.”
We’re a festive bunch here at Jigsaw24. When November rolled round, our creative team only had one thing on their collective mind – 2017’s Christmas adverts. With top brands such as John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and others pumping out some absolute classics in recent years, we were waiting with bated breath to see what they had in store for us this year.
Once every big Christmas advert had been released, we gathered our team together to watch each one and create a definitive ranked list of our favourites. With monsters under the bed, talking bears, magical factories, snowmen and snowdogs, there was a lot of ground to cover – but it was a challenge our cynical bunch were more than willing to take up (stick with us though, we get more twinkly as the list goes on). So, without further ado…
12. Sainsbury’s ‘#everybitofChristmas’
Having been spoilt with big budget productions over the past few years (who could forget Mog?), we were expecting something special from Sainsbury’s, and this year’s effort seems like a bit of an afterthought by comparison. Carrying on their ‘living well’ campaign from the rest of 2017, they partnered up with rapper and actor Doc Brown to write a song titled Every Bit Of Christmas and set about finding people to sing the tune…
The team’s thoughts
“The best bit about it is the fact that they are talking/singing about Christmas problems and memories etc that most people have. But I’m not that keen on it being black and white, and I’m not a massive fan of the tune.”
“I think going against the ‘expensive Christmas ad’ is a good idea, but it’s a shame that Tesco did it better. And tying it into their existing campaign and branding rather than having a very separate Christmas look is fine, but I’ve not seen much of that campaign unfortunately.”
11. Barbour ‘The Snowman and The Snowdog’
Using beloved stories and characters to sell stuff is always a risky business. People can get very angry if it doesn’t turn out well. And that’s what Barbour (who partnered up with Snowman Enterprises and Penguin Ventures) were up against this year when they took two Christmas favourites – The Snowman and The Snowdog – and created the “next chapter” of their story…
The team’s thoughts
“Animation of already popular franchises seems to be a bit of a craze this year. And with The Snowman being a classic Christmas film, it does conjure up fond childhood memories. Although, I’m not sure how I feel about giving the snowman a coat which will melt him…”
“This is a travesty. Firstly, the Snowman dies in the Snowman. That is the entire point of the story. That is why it’s been making people cry for 25 years. Reviving him robs any emotional impact, and by giving him an ill-fitting jacket the man is actually speeding his friend to a second heat-induced death. Not cool.”
“It’s alright I guess. Always nice to see the big guy.”
10. Aldi ‘Kevin The Carrot 2017′
Aldi brought back their sentient carrot – Kevin – this Christmas for their vegetable-themed take on Murder on the Orient Express. Love-struck and determined to meet his future carrot companion, he ventures across the dinner table. But before he can make it all the way there, he has to risk his life to save the girl of his dreams. Watch Kevin in action…
The team’s thoughts
“It’s ok. I like the narration, Christmas music and setting, that all works for me. Also like that they are showcasing the product. But I just can’t get too warm and fuzzy about carrots.”
“Not keen on veggies talking about wetting themselves on the Christmas dinner table. Overall a bit weird, nowhere near as good as Kevin’s 2016 adventure.”
“Kevin the carrot is cute, I can see why he’s back again, but it didn’t make much of an impression on me story wise.”
9. TalkTalk ‘This is Christmas’
Teaming up with creators CHI & Partners, TalkTalk made Christmas simple this year. They made it so simple in fact that it looks exactly like every British Christmas ever. The ad is actually completely unscripted and was shot during Christmas Day 2016. It follows the TalkTalk Family (of Gogglebox fame) as they go about their festive celebrations, and features Christmassy scenes that you’d expect to see in every house throughout the country – and that’s what makes it work…
The team’s thoughts
“I think this suffers because I don’t know about the TalkTalk family, but it’s probably my second favourite after the Tesco ad. What can I say, I like my Christmas ads pseudo-realistic.”
“I liked the concept and the fact that they haven’t spent loads on it but I felt too detached from the characters, nothing quite interesting enough in it for me.”
“Another very simple one about a British family Christmas, I really enjoyed it because a lot of it was recognisable.”
8. Very ‘Get More Out of Giving’
Using the same theme, characters and glowing pink presents as last year, Very went down the animation route once again. When a little girl goes to sleep on Christmas Eve, she dreams of delivering the final present on her ‘giving list’. To help her along the way, she’s joined by her toy-wolf-turned-real-wolf – but when she loses the gift, her companion disappears over a waterfall. Luckily, Santa appears to save the day. She wakes to find a bight pink present on the windowsill containing her wolf and giving list, with Santa’s name crossed out at the bottom. All in all, a nice enough advert with a nice Christmas message, but I’m sure ‘man infiltrating the dream’s of children and influencing the real world’ is the plot of something else…
The team’s thoughts
“Nice message however I felt the ad went on too long and didn’t really see how it promoted Very.”
“Sweet enough but not quite as heartwarming as it could have been.”
“Not very keen on it stylistically, but the story I thought was stronger than a lot of the others. It definitely stays on my mind more.”
7. Argos ‘#ReadyForTakeOff’
While putting in some seasonal graft at Santa’s workshop (which looks like it’s been outsourced to a futuristic packaging company), one plucky elf notices that a child’s Christmas delivery is missing a gift and about to leave. To save the day, she has to make it through the warehouse to gate nine before it closes and the Rudolf-4 delivery ship takes off. Naturally, she makes it and Argos saves Christmas…
The team’s thoughts
“Promoted their key product and had a very child-like Christmas spirit to it. I’m not too keen on Santa/North Pole being represented as that futuristic, think it takes away from the magic a little. Doesn’t feel quite as heart warming thinking of it as a high tech military operation.”
“I quite like this – they’ve gone for quite a nice telling of a more commercial angle.”
” I like the energy of this and the fact that it’s gone slightly less schmaltzy than other tie-ins.”
6. Asda ‘Best Christmas Ever’
Asda have gone for their version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this year, and unsurprisingly, it’s doesn’t feel very Christmassy. The ad follows a young girl and her grandfather as they explore an Asda factory at Christmas time, and features lots of products, as well as some fun little Christmas/elf-themed scenarios and vibrant colours…
The team’s thoughts
“I do love the colours and style to it so an extra mark for that, but it’s a little forgettable for me story-wise.”
“This raises too many questions about Asda’s recruitment and health and safety policies for me to give it any more than three stars.”
“I think it’s a great campaign. They’ve managed to cram in a wide variety of their products without it having a hard sell.”
5. Apple ‘Sway’
With the tagline ‘Move someone this Christmas’, Apple’s advert uses the brand new iPhone X and AirPods to tell the story of a man and woman who bump into each other in the street and bond over the Sam Smith song ‘Palace’ (each to their own). After the woman hands the man one of her AirPods, they embark on an epic dance routine throughout the city before parting ways as the song draws to an end. It’s all relatively straightforward, and probably one of the nicer commercials this year…
The team’s thoughts
“This is kind of cute. If the song fit the dance a bit better it would have been great.”
“I like this ad from Apple. The fact it’s Sam Smith knocks a couple of points off, though.”
“Enjoyed the advert, but the Sam Smith song doesn’t really give out the Christmassy vibes.”
4. Boots ‘#ShowThemYouKnowThem’
Boots is in at number four. Inkeeping with this year’s family-theme craze, this seasonal effort focusses on the relationship between two sisters (played by real life adult sisters Kathleen McDermott and Karen McGarrity), and how – by recounting childhood memories – one of them figured out which perfume the other wanted for Christmas. Touching stuff…
The team’s thoughts
“I do not have a sister, and would now quite like one for Christmas.”
“Again, I love the song, and it’s a nice sentiment, but the reality is is that’s it’s only perfume, and if it’s anything like my family you’d specifically request what perfume you wanted.”
“Really sweet, could have been a bit more Christmassy but I liked the story. Also – I know that there are vintage Boots products in every scene from the right years, which is clever (even if you don’t notice it until someone points it out).”
3. John Lewis ‘Moz the Monster’
It was the one everybody was waiting for. The granddaddy of all Christmas adverts. There was a lot of anticipation for John Lewis’ commercial this year (people were even uploading ‘leaks’ to YouTube), and with the success of Buster the Boxer in 2016, as well as Man on the Moon and Monty the Penguin before that, they had a lot to live up to. This year’s advert tells the story of a little boy – Joe (played by twin brothers) – who struggles to sleep at night thanks to a large, snoring, farting monster under the bed called Moz (played by two, oxygen-deprived men who do the body movements, while CGI handles the facial expressions). After befriending the big dude, the boy stays up late every night to play with his new pal. When Moz realises the boy is always tired, he gets him a nightlight for Christmas which makes the monster disappear. The young lad’s reprieve is short lived however, as Moz quickly returns once the nightlight is switched off, thus condemning the boy to a lifetime of sleepless hell. Not very Christmassy if you ask me…
The team’s thoughts
“Always great production-wise, top marks here. The story was fairly good but it needs to be more than fairly good – it needs to be exceptional for John Lewis and this was just not at a high enough level emotionally.”
“Love the song, so that gets me on board straight away. I think being a parent here pulls on my heart strings. The relationship between the monster and the cute little boy is heartwarming, and I’m a sucker for an emotional ending. Love it!”
“Not a huge fan of the design of Moz, though having seen the behind the scenes video I have nothing but respect for the poor souls sealed inside.”
2. Marks & Spencer ‘Paddington & The Christmas Visitor’
While number two capitalises on the success of a popular film, it’s still really lovely. Marks & Spencer’s Paddington & The Christmas Visitor takes the much-loved bear and puts him on a Christmas mission to deliver Santa’s presents. The gifts have been stolen by a thief who Paddington mistakes for Father Christmas, and while the criminal is initially frustrated at the bear for returning his ill-gotten gains to their rightful owners, the advert ends with him realising the error of his ways and enjoying a marmalade sandwich. What’s not to love?
The team’s thoughts
“The animation was excellent, the general tone was adorable, and it’s one of the most sensible tie-ins I’ve seen so far.”
“Love this advert, it makes me feel Christmassy with the snowy scenes and the lovely decorations. I also have very fond memories of Paddington Bear back when I was a child, and love the new movies.”
“The burglar wasn’t very convincing and this could get easily lost. Appreciate that it’s appealing to a younger audience and doesn’t want to appear ‘frightening’ though.”
1. Tesco ‘Turkey, Every Which Way’
With many millions of pounds spent on this year’s Christmas adverts, it’s really quite nice that one of the more simplistic, down to earth commercials is the best of them all. In a similar vein to the ads from TalkTalk and Boots, Tesco based theirs on the typical British family Christmas. The advert includes different types of families and scenes that every viewer can relate to – arguments about the food, excited kids, Christmas crackers, wanting ketchup with dinner, people falling asleep and turkey sandwiches – and has a heartwarming, inclusive message to top it off…
The team’s thoughts
“I think this is really strong. Low costs to produce but really captures Christmas, the nostalgia and love the inclusive message about whichever way you do things. It’s all lovely and fuzzy.”
“I am hosting Christmas this year, and watching this advert makes me worry intensely about whether the turkey will fit in my oven.”
“This is what I like, and I think they’ve really hit the nail on some of these situations. The basting argument is my fave.”
“I love the simplicity of this one, and how well it reflects a typical busy British family Christmas. The simple ones definitely won out for me this year.”
“Favourite advert, encompasses true family Christmases and everyone can relate to at least one family portrayed in some way.”
That’s all for this year, folks! Merry Christmas from everyone at Jigsaw24.
While AI (artificial intelligence) might conjure up thoughts of machines dominating the world, when it comes to the creative industries, the reality is quite different. No, you’re not being phased out in favour of designing or copywriting robots – if anything, AI will probably make your life and daily processes more straightforward. But in order for AI to be successful within marketing agencies and creative teams, it’s essential for individuals to be open minded and optimistic about its potential and implementation within creative workflows.
It’s no wonder people are sceptical and even scared of AI – even its definition is kind of spooky. Artificial intelligence is ‘the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, and translation between languages.’ Earlier this year, Facebook were forced to abandon an AI experiment after two artificially intelligent chatbots began talking to each other in a secret language that only they understood.
As weird and off-putting as that might sound, Facebook weren’t scared. They only dropped the project because they wanted the AIs to talk to people rather than each other. But no matter how you feel about two chatbots developing indecipherable code-speak (or AI robots gaining citizenship in Saudi Arabia – we’re looking at you, Sophia), it hasn’t stopped tech firms and agencies from using AI to bolster their content output and boost their engagement statistics.
Using AI to inform creative and marketing processes
As any marketer or creative knows, the key to success lies within their ability to stay ahead of the curve and embrace new technology and trends as quickly as possible. If there’s tech out there that can put you ahead of the competition while streamlining your day to day processes, adopting it sooner rather than later will have a tangible effect on business. In that vein, agencies throughout the world are looking for ways to implement AI that could help support human creative processes – whether that’s by automating repetitive tasks, filtering and managing data, handling complex data analytics, providing predictive marketing functions, or simply freeing up more resources so creatives can focus on content generation.
Marketing agencies need to be able to respond flexibly to data patterns, while designers and copywriters rely on said information to aid their creative decision making. But in order to do this, all parties require insights into what works and what doesn’t, and how audiences are reacting to their existing content output.
An analytics-focussed AI that drives predictive marketing should help teams identify their successes and failures, improve targeting and provide a clearer route to desired results. That means your team won’t have to spend so much time worrying about data and statistics, and can instead focus on creating effective content and achieving the highest possible conversion rates. Some AIs are even intelligent enough to recommend potential directions for a campaign based on tried and tested results, and AI chatbots can be used on webpages to interact directly with customers to gather marketing information in real time.
Advertising and creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi LA used an AI to run a number of campaigns earlier this year. Back in January, they teamed up with Toyota and launched a Facebook campaign using the AI ‘IBM Watson’ to help social media users find unique activities to try. Having provided Watson with 1000 distinctive interests to filter through, the AI targeted adverts at people depending on the interests they had in common with each other. In one example, Watson matched individuals who shared an interest in both barbecue and martial arts, before giving them adverts for an activity called ‘taikwan tenderizer’. Saatchi & Saatchi LA were pleased with the results, and were happy to have have access to deeper insights. They’ve even given this type of advertising a name – ‘flexible storytelling’, where certain parts of adverts can be altered depending on data findings.
Using AI for content creation
With the advent of driverless cars, chatbots, and everything from automated call centres to automated operating theatres, experts have been pretty concerned about the impact automisation will have on the workforce. But there’s one job that experts aren’t so worried about – content creation.
Artificial intelligence already forms the part of the backbone of creative software we use every single day. Adobe Sensei is an essential part of Creative Cloud, pulling together trillions of content and data assets within a unified AI or ‘machine learning framework’ to provide advanced image matching functionality, deeper understanding of the meaning and sentiment of documents and fine-tuned targeting of key audience segments. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s also capable of fleshing out incomplete photos, identifying objects and faces, transforming paper into digital documents, enabling complex image searches and much more.
Taking it one step further, some companies have even made the leap to employing AIs to write articles. Developments in things like natural language processing, machine learning and image recognition have allowed scientists to develop the writing skills of AIs to a point where they’re indistinguishable from something produced by a human. And as lots of marketing content available online shares similar messaging, tone and style, it’s easy for a machine to replicate existing content without any noticeable flaws.
AI has even been used to create film and music. Grammy award-winning music producer Alex Da Kid used Watson to help guide the production process of his debut solo single Not Easy. When it came to lyrical, emotional and rhythmic inspiration for the song, Watson took five years’ of Billboard hits, plus other pieces of pop culture information to help create something that appealed specifically to the emotional state of the listener.
Similarly, in 2016, 20th Century FOX teamed up with IBM to produce an AI-created movie trailer for the horror film Morgan. IBM and FOX also used Watson, and tasked the AI with analysing visuals and sounds from hundreds of horror film trailers to get an idea of how they were composed and pieced together. From there, Watson chose scenes for editors to patch together into a trailer. Ultimately, the entire creative process for the trailer took just one day, when it would usually take weeks.
It makes sense that intelligent machines can handle data, analyse statistics, provide basic communication functions over the internet and carry out administrative duties (thus giving creative teams more time to be creative), but there aren’t many people who believe artificial intelligence could feasibly replace humans when it comes to creativity. Surely all creative work, whether written or designed, comes from years of experience, trial and error and the recognition of complex patterns only made possible by a living human brain?
We’ve been supplying leading creative technology solutions for more than 25 years now, and we’ve worked with some of the UK’s top creatives for just as long. We realise that lots of creative teams manage with the basics when it comes to storage, security, servers, and the other less glitzy IT stuff, but it’s essential to ensure that your assets and files are protected against the unknown.
Of course, nobody ever expects massive data loss to happen to them. And while it may sound dramatic, it’s probably worth asking yourself what you’d do if your premises went up in flames overnight. If your team are working from a shared hard drive on the office floor, saving assets and files to internal hard drives on your computers, or backing up to a server sat on the floor above, you could be putting all your work at risk.
Reportedly, 58% of small business aren’t prepared for data loss, with a further 60% closing down within six months of losing critical data. And while you may even be storing duplicate copies of your files on separate hard drives, there’s still a risk of those failing too. By slacking in the backend, you could face losing years worth of clients’ work, your company’s entire history of creative branding and marketing collateral, and more. Fortunately, there are solutions out there that’ll help prevent a file-related disaster before it happens, and will have your back on the off-chance one does occur. Here are a few of our top recommendations for keeping your precious work out of harm’s way…
For data backup…
If your business currently handles over 1TB of data, our very own Backup24 is perfect for keeping your files safe. It offers secure, offsite protection for all your digital media assets, and you can leave everything with us so you don’t have to bother with the management headache. Backup24 is scalable, meaning you can increase or reduce the amount of data you backup quickly and easily, with pricing starting from just £40 per terabyte per month. Users will also benefit from professional over the phone support, anytime access to data, fast and simple data retrieval, and much more. Unlike when you go with bigger providers, we can physically check your data everyday and don’t charge you to access your backups. You can find out more about Backup24 here.
For data security…
Security should be a top priority for every creative team. It’s important to consider what protection you have against hacking and infiltration, and to have a plan in place in case your data is compromised. Lots of teams use services like Dropbox or Google Drive to store files and assets, and while they may be cheap and convenient, this can leave your data wide open to malicious attacks.
If this is something you’re concerned about and want to ensure that your files stay private and secure, or if you’re a larger organisation that needs complete control and visibility over lots of assets, we’d recommend Acronis Access Advanced, which addresses common file security and privacy issues. It’s ideal for businesses who need a safe method for users to access and share content both internally and externally across a range of devices. The solution allows users to work with business files anytime, anywhere, bolsters content security and privacy, increases IT control and ensures compliance, boosts end user productivity and improves collaboration between colleagues. It also offers comprehensive security functionality and controls to better manage and protect users, apps and data, and the whole solution is easy to install, administer and use.
To receive a 30 day free trial of Acronis Access Advanced, head over to their website. In the video below, the Acronis team asked business people where they think their data is being stored and what would happen if it was lost or stolen…
For data transfer…
If you’re going to start regularly backing up your creative files and assets, you’ll require connectivity that’s well-suited to handling bandwidth-intensive processes and applications. For this, we reckon ATTO’s ThunderLink devices are ideal. Basically, they act as external adapters for Thunderbolt 2 to Ethernet, Fibre Channel and SAS and Thunderbolt 3 to Ethernet and Fibre Channel. They connect all-in-one systems and laptops to storage devices while delivering high data transfer rates, as well as link aggregation and failover, redundancy and increased availability for critical network applications to protect against potential system failure.
ThunderLink devices provide optimised, scalable connectivity and are designed to integrate seamlessly into existing infrastructures. ATTO’s latest ThunderLink lineup boasts superior throughput to meet modern bandwidth requirements – respective devices deliver 40Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 to Ethernet and scalable 16Gb/s and 32Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 to Fibre Channel connectivity – perfect for speedy data backups and transfers of large creative files and assets. You can find out more about ATTO hardware here.
If anything we’ve discussed has got you thinking about the way your team secures, stores, shares and transfers creative files, get in touch with our specialist team on the details below and they’ll be happy to discuss any of the products mentioned above and any workflow requirements you may have.
We’ve been working with Adobe for more than 25 years, and are an Adobe Platinum Reseller. That means we’re always super excited for the Adobe MAX conference – Adobe’s annual event promoting the very latest releases and developments – and it’s safe to say this year’s conference delivered.
Adobe announced a ton of awesome new features and fresh innovations, all of which are sure to boost your team’s productivity and help make them more creative than ever. So, without further ado, lets get into it…
Brand new apps
Expand your team’s creative capabilities with Dimension for 3D graphic design, XD for user experience design and Spark for visual storytelling, and produce impressive content like never before.
Deeper Adobe Sensai integration
Adobe have further embedded artificial intelligence capabilities across all applications and services, enabling creators to go from concept to completion much faster, and bring the power of advanced technology and deep learning to accelerate the creative process.
Enjoy all-new panel layout, improved font flexibility and Puppet Warp functionality, allowing you to twist and distort your work while transformations appear more natural. And Illustrator now starts up 30% faster, meaning you can get to work even quicker.
Use the brush smoothing slider to remove jagged and wobbly edges on drawings, and the new Curvature Pen tool to create paths intuitively, and then simply push and pull segments to modify them. Save new fonts into your library and share with colleagues, and organise brushes into folders so they’re easier to access.
Adobe Stock additions
Stock’s asset library now includes hundreds of professionally created motion graphic templates for Premiere Pro and After Effects. New filters have also been added, including depth of field and vivid colour options.
More efficient After Effects
Adobe have improved the efficiency of motion graphics creation by streamlining your ability to create data-driven graphics and deliver high-quality VR and 3D results. And it does it all faster than before with GPU performance enhancements.
Adobe Character Animator
Previously in beta, Character Animator has finally received a full release. This 2D animation tool helps bring still image artwork from Photoshop or Illustrator to life. New features include pose-to-pose blending, new physics behaviours and visual puppet controls. Adobe Sensei also helps improve lip-sync capability by accurately matching mouth shapes with spoken sounds.
Collaboration in Premiere Pro
New deep collaboration features have been introduced to Adobe’s industry-standard video editing application, as well as state-of-the-art immersive 360/VR workflows and responsive motion graphics controls.
One-click access to assets and inspiration
New integrated assets and extended services across Adobe Stock and Typekit, plus expanded education resources to help customers get started.
Adobe Capture improvements
Simply take a picture of a font you like, and Capture will use Sensei AI technology to analyse and provide you with similar fonts.
If you’d like to find out more about Adobe Creative Cloud and how its powerful apps can improve your team’s workflow and bolster creativity, get in touch with our expert team or visit our Creative Cloud homepage. We’ll also be happy to advise on any financial requirements your team may have, and can discuss Adobe’s different subscription models and find one that suits you best.
The augmented reality (AR) trend is one of the fastest growing across the technology, marketing and advertising industries. It’s estimated that by 2020, the AR market will be worth £90 billion, and with such impressive financial projections, now’s the time for creatives and marketers alike to explore and experiment with AR, and make the most of it while it’s still fresh.
These days, iOS and Android devices can power through demanding augmented reality apps with no problem, and developers are more optimistic about its future than ever. Having already proved popular, AR opens the door to a whole new world of technological possibilities, including three dimensional advertisements, immersive storytelling, virtual tours, interactive decorating and style apps, engaging games and much more.
In retail, companies are always looking to create fresh, immersive brand experiences that leave an impression in consumers’ minds, meaning AR presents an incredible opportunity for creative agencies to offer cutting edge services around it. Brands such as Tesco and Ikea have worked closely with agencies to develop apps that allow customers to experiment with furniture in their homes, while Lacoste and Converse created apps that let users try on virtual shoes before buying the real thing. Agencies are also helping brands to liven up conferences and exhibitions with the creation of location-based AR events, where visitors can engage with rich virtual content as they move around. And now that creative agencies are mastering AR and realising its potential, they’re better positioned to deliver unique and innovative campaigns for clients all over the world. As part of this, they’re assisting brands in the development and visualisation of concepts, and are working hard on UI and UX design to produce AR experiences that are both appealing and easy for customers to use.
With Apple launching powerful tools like ARKit, and Microsoft spending huge sums on their HoloLens mixed reality headset (including the billion dollar acquisition of Minecraft-maker Mojang to bring the popular game to the device), it’s clear that industry giants are taking tremendous steps in their pursuit of the AR top spot, and are committed to making the new technology a success. With that being said, it’s apparent the creation of engaging content that provides realistic interactions while offering unique technological value is the way forward for companies hoping to turn AR into the next big thing.
The story so far…
Believe it or not, AR technology was first developed back in 1968 at Harvard University. Although extremely primitive, computer scientist Ivan Sutherland had successfully produced an AR head-mounted display system that used computer-generated graphics to show users basic wireframe drawings. In the years that followed, university laboratories, private companies and governmental organisations began researching and experimenting with the technology, and in 1990, Tom Caudell, a researcher at Boeing, gave it a name – ‘augmented reality’.
Throughout the 1990s the technology advanced rapidly, and by 1998 the NFL adopted AR, using it to display a yellow marker on the field during the broadcast of a live game. Over the next few years, developers became more familiar with AR, and in 1999 Hirokazu Kato developed the ARToolKit. Still popular today, the open-source computer tracking and software library is designed to allow developers to create augmented reality applications that are capable of overlaying virtual imagery on the real world through the use of video tracking functionality. Having already made the jump to entertainment and media, AR was finally ready for consumer audiences by the end of the noughties.
Augmented reality today
By extending live experiences far beyond the screen, AR is proving to be an industry-shifting trend, and audiences are responding well to the technology even though it’s still in its infancy. It’s already a part of our daily lives, with sport and news broadcasters regularly relying on AR to bring statistics, stories, newsrooms and more to life. Games are changing too, and have come a long way since the days of Snake – people of all ages and demographics downloaded Pokemon Go (which had an incredible 45 million daily active users at its peak), and were encouraged to take to the streets in search of their favourite creatures. With such a huge user base, it was a positive sign for AR.
Despite this, British police logged an unbelievable 290 incidents relating to the game in 2016, demonstrating its real world influence and forcing developer Niantic to urge players to “abide by local laws” while gaming. A couple of months after launch, the number of daily users had fallen dramatically and continues to drop, showing that developers need more than initial intrigue and excitement to keep users coming back to their AR apps.
Snapchat filters are used by millions every day to liven up everything from a casual selfie (what would teenagers do without the dog filter?) to large group photos. Snapchat’s AR filters have even managed to become popular memes – everyone remembers the horrifying face swaps with inanimate objects, the dancing hotdog and rainbow vomit, and it’s safe to say that the app’s AR capabilities are a key part of its continued success with younger audiences. In their first proper attempt at taking AR mainstream, Apple’s upcoming Animoji with iPhone X is sure to make traditional emoji more exciting and engaging.
Similarly, ARKit – which was introduced with iOS 11 – is, in Apple’s own words, a new framework that allows you to easily create unparalleled augmented reality experiences for iPhone and iPad. Users can combine digital objects and information with the environment, allowing apps to break free from the confines of the screen and interact with the world in real time. ARKit utilises powerful A9, A10 and A11 processors to provide breakthrough AR performance, and comes packing TrueDepth Camera for robust face tracking, Visual Intertial Odometry (VIO) functionality to effectively track the world around it, and Scene Understanding and Lighting Estimation to ensure everything looks as it should.
What does the future hold?
With so many advancements and landmark developments over the last couple of years, the future looks bright for AR. Powerful design tools are allowing developers to be more creative with the technology than ever before, and evidence and research suggests that audiences are eager for more. It’s estimated that AR headset sales could hit almost £1 billion this year, and with Microsoft going full steam ahead with HoloLens and rumours of other tech companies such as Google, Apple and Samsung following suit, that figure looks set to grow. It’s even starting to play a part in social media strategy, with marketers looking for innovative ways to engage with customers online.
Whatever happens, AR is up there with VR as a soon-to-be essential technology for marketers and content creators (click here for our kit recommendations), and it’s definitely worth striking while the iron is hot to put yourself ahead of the competition.
NewTek have released the world’s very first native IP camera designed for Network Device Interface (NDI) video workflows in the form of the NDIHZ-PTZ1. Touted as an affordable, IP-based pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera, NewTek are calling it the best way to acquire live video for input into their revolutionary IP-based live production workflows.
With Newtek’s NDI standard already pioneering the move from SDI to IP with their hybrid live production systems (such as the TriCaster TC1 that was announced earlier this year), it makes sense they’d follow suit by integrating their NDI standard into a camera.
They set out to produce a camera that can be placed on an ethernet network and work right away, and they’ve done just that. The PTZ1 is a broadcast-quality IP video camera that doesn’t require a capture card and a PC, USB dongle, or any other add-on or accessory to get up and running – it’s capable of sending video solely through ethernet. It transmits full native HD resolutions up to 1080p 60fps and 20x optical zoom to NDI-compatible receiving devices available on a network, and is perfectly suited for IP-based live productions and streams that require single or multi-camera setups, such as sports and events coverage, video conferencing, lecture capture, distance learning, media communications and surveillance.
The camera’s ethernet input delivers audio and power, and provides bidirectional communication that supports PTZ camera control and tally. If you’re still transitioning to an IP workflow, it also integrates with baseband equipment thanks to it’s industry standard 3G SDI and HDMI video connections. And thanks to the recently announced NewTek Spark HDMI and SDI converters, you can also incorporate your existing into video cameras into your IP workflow to work alongside the PTZ1.
Lastly, both the PTZ1 camera and NewTek Spark models are compatible with hundreds of production solutions, including NewTek live production systems and third-party video switchers, as well as software-based video tools such as Livestream Studio, OBS, Streamstar SW, Telestream, Gameshow, Wirecast, VidBlaster, vMix, XSplit, plus all other NDI-enabled products (NDI version 2.0 or higher).
The NDIHX-PTZ1 is also compatible with popular desktop video applications – such as Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Skype, WebEx, Zoom and more – thanks to an NDI|HX driver.
Check out some of its key features:
– Native support for HD video formats up to 1080p 60fps.
– Integrated and automatic tally support via NDI.
– Motor-driven PTZ operation with preset positions.
– Remote control and monitoring via web-based user interface.
– Remote control over IP via NewTek Studio Monitor.
– Remote capture and recording via NewTek Studio Monitor.
– Power over ethernet via POE+ (802.3at) or included DC 12V 1A external power supply.
For more information about the world’s first native NDI PTZ camera, visit our online store here or get in touch on the details below.