Adobe Max's innovative updates and celebrity presenters make it the best creativity conference ever

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Adobe Max 2020 was the most entertaining Max-tacular ever, with bravura celebrity moderators and presenters like Conan O’brien, Ava DuVernay, Chelsea Handler, Shepard Fairey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Awkwafina, Taika Waititi (JoJo Rabbit Oscar winning director), Stanley Tucci, Tyler the CreatorAi Weiwei, Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs, Grand Budapest Hotel), Nick Offerman and Roxane Gay.  But taking center stage were Adobe’s magical Sensei innovations driven by AI that are contained within their applications.  All the sessions are still just one click away when you go to the Adobe Max Site.

The magic that Adobe evangelists Terry White perform on the big stage with apps looks great, but can you make it work right out of the gate?  This year you can. From Neural filters to Sky Replacement the Adobe Creative Cloud 2021 Update is the most user friendly and useful yet. 

After viewing Terry White’s Max presentation I tried the Sky Replacement Filter.  The results I got from my first unschooled attempt were impressive.  I took two photos one taken of an eagle in Alaska with a Canon 5D Mark IV and one taken in Sedona with the Procam App on my iPhone 6S plus.

Before and after Sky replacement

Alaskan Eagle before Sky Replacement

With landscapes you can choose how much the sky influences the foreground shot. In the original, the sky was a brilliant blue. For this shot I chose a sunset sky as it would complement the high desert colors. Using the controls in Sky Replacement you can modulate a mix of original photo and the new effect. You can choose to use Adobe’s complement of skies that ship with the app or upload your own sunsets and skies.

Before Sky Replacement

With neural filters you can change your expression and your age, even with a wig and soft focus. The neural filters panel offers choices, including some, that are still marked Beta and will continue to improve (don’t wait use them now). 

The photo below was among the least flattering images I’ve ever taken. I was trying to look like a burnt out rocker. And I succeeded!

Before neural filters

It has realistically turned me from a bummed out rocker on his last legs to a kid with a guitar. 

After neural filters

Included is a mind-blowing ability to colorize a black and white photo; something that might have taken days…truly, a head turning feature, as we see in this video below featuring Conan O’Brien. (click photo below to see video)

Quick run thru 2021 updates

For a deeper dive watch Terry White’s Masterclass which covers all the new innovations for photographers which includes possibilities in an expanded Lightroom which rivals any color grading and developing application.

Adobe Lightroom New Color Grading Panel

As he explains all this processing can chew up whatever video ram you have.  So, before you use neural filters convert for smart filters so the demands of the file are smaller (proxy). Then if you have an older computer or one without a lot of video ram like mine it won’t gag on the task and you won’t get the spinning ball of death (computer freeze).

As extraordinary as the 2021 Update is, there is nothing that can match the glimpse of the limitless future that the Adobe Sneaks offers.  Through Sneaks, hosted this year by Adobe Evangelist Paul Trani and Chelsea Handler, we glimpse the impossible become possible.  One of the Sneaks, Scantastic, took scans of a sneaker and turned it into a photorealistic 3D model which would have taken a genius in Maya a couple of days. In Scantastic it took about 4 minutes.  Click photo below to see video.

Adobe Sneaks with Paul Trani and Chelsea Handler


Perhaps the only downside of Adobe Max 2020, is that the rare insights offered by artists like Wes Anderson, Ava DuVernay and Taika Waititi revealing their creative process, are no longer available to be viewed by those that missed those presentations.  They were unlike any magazine or TV interview I have seen; with creators revealing their process unobstructed by redirection by press or other personalities. Even the simple moments, like Stanley Tucci’s tutorial on how to make an old fashion, was priceless. Let us hope that somehow these gems find a way to resurface.

About Bob Hershon 8 Articles
Multimedia lab specialist at a College. Photographer and journalist mainly for Jazz Magazines in the 90's. Wrote about soundtracks and did press releases for Verve Gitanes after that. Worked at the Menlo Park VA (1969-1970 same one Ken Kesey was at earlier. He's older. It was a cuckoo's nest. My first day they kept me in locked ward to show me who was boss. They fed vets mellaril (thioridazine) which turned them into Walking Dead with tremors (pseudoparkinsonism, extrapyramidal symptoms), There is a warning now that says must only be used if nothing else works. God then reached out his hand and moved me to Palo Alto VA (under the best scientist I've ever met, Leo Hollister)1971-1974. Part of the group were two other geniuses Hamp Gillespie and Jared Tinklenberg, M.D. I was just a research assistant on my way to screwing up a doctorate. Burt Center Residential Treatment Center for Autistic and traumatized children and young adults 71-74 under Mary Burt who pioneered treament of Autism. Family Service Agency of SF before recovering my sanity at Canada College Music School. John Kreiger and Phillip Ienni guided me to the light and polytonality and pandiatonicism. To stay sane I played guitar for 40 years. The picture was taken years ago. I have gone gray and old.

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