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Adobe engineers show off 11 projects they're building behind the scenes

adobe 2016 sneaks jordan peele  kim chambers
Comedian Jordan Peele, right, and Adobe's Kim Chambers talk about the future of Adobe's software during the Sneaks at Adobe MAX, in San Diego. Denis Poroy / AP Images for Adobe
Future versions of Photoshop could instantly replace the sky, easily transform photos into vectors, and turn empty canvases into a work of art by using 3D brushes. After announcing the latest version of Photoshop CC, Adobe shared its latest works-in-progress during the 2016 Adobe MAX conference (called Sneaks, where the stage’s spotlight shines on Adobe engineers), including 11 features or standalone programs that have the company’s engineers experimenting with new possibilities. It’s a good bet that some of these innovations will make their way into an Adobe program a year or two later. For example, at the 2014 conference, Adobe demoed Project Animal and Defog, two in-development projects that ended up being the features Character Animator and Dehaze, respectively.

So, what’s on the horizon for Adobe software? These 11 experiments give users a pretty good guess.


Concept Canvas

#ConceptCanvas. Adobe MAX 2016 (Sneak Peeks) | Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Stock is growing as an easy way to find graphics without ever leaving the Creative Cloud, but Concept Canvas extends the platform’s image search by allowing users to find an image based on spatial relations. That allows graphic designers to find images consistent with their initial vision or perfectly suited for projects that may require text or graphics on a certain area of a background image. The search tool works by allowing users to draw on their Photoshop file, then type in a keyword of what they want to find within that space. Concept Canvas works with more than one object too, for example, if you want one object to be on the left or right of another object, or if you are looking for a certain background.

Inter Vector

#InterVector. Adobe MAX 2016 (Sneak Peeks) | Adobe Creative Cloud

Turning an image into a vector allows designers to save time by converting an image into a clip-art-like figure without actually drawing the object. Inter Vector is a program for automatically generating vectors from images by giving designers options to select what and how to convert the image. The program allows users to refine the object’s edges and choose from different styles to customize just how that image turns into a piece of clip art.

Sky Replace

#SkyReplace. Adobe MAX 2016 (Sneak Peeks) | Adobe Creative Cloud

Shooting an image with an overexposed sky is a common issue, but replacing that sky is a time consuming process. Sky Replace handles that task automatically by recognizing the differences between the sky, buildings, and landscape. Adjusting is as simple as dragging over another image that has a more suitable sky. The software will also help adjust the remainder of the image, so the sky appears to be a more seamless match with the landscape.

Adobe says you don’t even have to dig out a new sky photo for the replacement system – the Sky Replace tool will also auto generate sky replacement suggestions, quickly displaying previews so users can choose the best option.

Video and Audio


#VoCo. Adobe MAX 2016 (Sneak Peeks) | Adobe Creative Cloud

Sure, Adobe Audition can remix audio files and add sound effects, but what if you want to add something that’s not already there, and add it in the same voice used in the initial recording? VoCo is being called the Photoshop for Voiceovers, and it allows users to simply type new words to change the audio.

A simple copy-paste could rearrange the words, but what’s even more intriguing is that the program can add words and even phrases that are not included in the original audio file, while still maintaining the same voice. The program needs about 20 minutes of voice sampling in order to generate the new speech, Adobe says.

While the possibilities are intriguing, Adobe is also recognizing that the program could make audio forgeries an issue — that’s why the developers are already working on a way to add a sort of audio watermark that identifies the speech as altered so, for example, an audio recording presented during a court hearing can be verified as unedited.


#CloverVR. Adobe MAX 2016 (Sneak Peeks) | Adobe Creative Cloud

360 video is gaining more support, but editing the video is tedious at the least. Premiere allows users to edit the 360 perspective in a traditional frame, put VR goggles back on to see the changes, then take the goggles back off to apply more changes. The 360 medium also prevents new challenges with changes requiring tools that don’t yet exist, like scenarios when the editor wants the viewer to start seeing the clip from a certain perspective.

Clover VR allows users to edit in VR using a headset or scrolling around the video while editing, eliminating that back and forth between the actual VR preview and what the user sees in Premiere. The work-in-progress can also mix multiple 360 clips and choose what direction the viewer first starts that clip in, so that when the video switches, the viewer isn’t missing the most important part of the action behind them.

Loop Welder

#LoopWelder. Adobe MAX 2016 (Sneak Peeks) | Adobe Creative Cloud

Social media has created a surge in eye-catching looped videos, but getting a video to loop without a stutter in the motion as the footage replays is a tough task. Loop Welder is a system to automatically loop videos without that catch when the clip restarts, stabilizing the image and finding the best places to loop for a seamless look.

Adobe says the software could also be used to extend the length of b-roll footage that isn’t quite long enough. For this task, Loop Welder works by finding not one but all of the possible looping points that would create a seamless video. Instead of just re-looping one three second stint, the system can move back and forth between different looping points, extending the length of the video without making the repeat obvious, since the looped footage is also re-arranged.


#Syncmaster. Adobe MAX 2016 | Adobe Creative Cloud

Overlaying music to video clips is about as old as video editing itself, yet syncing the video and the music still takes some time. Syncmaster’s algorithms turns the audio into a visual representation, then finds all the most interesting elements of that music and matches the clip changes to the musical changes. The result? Footage that flows with the music with minimal effort. The software can also be used to appear to make graphics – such as a logo – dance to the beat of the music.

Art and Graphic Design


#Stylit. Adobe MAX 2016 (Sneak Peeks) | Adobe Creative Cloud

Artistic renderings have surged in popularity thanks to apps like Prisma, but what if you are working with a blank canvas, and not an image? Stylit allows graphic artists to transfer artistic styles from paper to 3D models. In the demo, Adobe selected a 3D dinosaur model, then drew out a simple color pattern on a circle using oil pastels. The drawings qualities, including stroke, colors and shadowing, were applied to the 3D model nearly in real time. Swapping out the dinosaur applied the same effects to another 3D model, using the same shadowing the create a 3D look.

The program’s aim is to simplify the process of creating realistic art digitally — theoretically, if you can color in a circle, you can create a work of art on any 3D model using Stylit. Adobe says you could also use computer-generated art within Photoshop to create the same look on a 3D model. The Stylit demo even included applying the effects to 3D animations. While still a work-in-progress, a demo is already available for download.

Color Chameleon

#ColorChameleon. Adobe MAX 2016 (Sneak Peeks) | Adobe Creative Cloud

Collaging any number of images together, whether it’s for a social media share or professionally designing a brochure, makes any color differences much more obvious. The colors may be off between the images, as well as between the images and the other elements in the design. Altering the images to use the same color scheme would take a Photoshop expert a significant amount of time.

Color Chameleon turns the color matching into a one-click process. While the same project in Photoshop took over 20 minutes just to recolor, the new software pulls colors from the theme and automatically applies them to images. If the colors don’t quite look right, users can pull one of the colors out of the image with two clicks, then the software will re-generate the image colors.


#Wetbrush. Adobe MAX 2016 (Sneak Peeks) | Adobe Creative Cloud

Photoshop’s brushes are an integral part of the way the image editor works, but they are only two dimensional, making it difficult to imitate effects like painting with oils. Wetbrush uses the physics of an actual paintbrush with thousands of bristles moving, as well as how paint mixes. By basing the system’s characteristics on actual paint and brushes, the program is capable of creating a digitally generated painting with 3D qualities – users can even place the painting under different lights and view it from different angles digitally. With a 3D printer, that digital painting becomes a physical product, including all the ridges and texture detail of the “paint.”

Think of it as Pablo Picasso meets Microsoft Paint.

Quick Layout

#QuickLayout. Adobe MAX 2016 (Sneak Peeks) | Adobe Creative Cloud

Quick Layout is an Adobe program designed to allow graphic designers to say good-bye to redesigning entire projects just because one element needs to move. Adding new elements (or moving existing ones) inside Quick Layout automatically resizes and rearranges the other elements of the design, for example, moving text so the newly-placed image doesn’t cover it up. The platform also allows users to tweak some of those automatic layout adjustments with resizing options.

Adobe’s latest works-in-progress seem to follow a similar theme – cutting back time spent at the computer, or adding creative features that simply weren’t possible before. With a range of experiments from art to audio, future creatives could have a much wider tool set in their arsenal if the software giant’s current experiments become fully fledged programs.

Hillary K. Grigonis
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she's been…
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