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Post Processing and the Cloud

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Biro, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    I bought an iPad 2 this year and may very well also replace my five-year old iMac with the latest version (or possibly a MacBook Pro). But I'm wondering how Apple's new iCloud service will impact my computer purchases going forward.

    To wit: Up to now, I would always buy a computer with the fastest and most-powerful processor, the most RAM and the biggest hard drive I could afford in order to handle the heavy-lifting involved in post-production and rendering of still images and video, and the storage of both.

    But will cloud services mean I can go with the entry-level equipment, like a base iMac or even a MacBook Air, allowing me to spend more on photo equipment? Will all the heavy lifting will be done by cloud servers? I get the impression the cloud is offering not just storage but actual work.

    I'm a Mac user but this question seems applicable to PC/Windows users as well. Has anyone else been wondering about this? Do we have any conclusive answers or are we really in "we'll have to see" mode?
     
  2. IIGQ4U

    IIGQ4U Mu-43 Regular

    120
    Mar 22, 2011
    La Jolla CA
    Yes, iCloud is more than just storage as it can push content to your various devices, however, this should have no bearing on photo or video processing needs.

    I would purchase a Macbook Pro over the Air any day but any of the Apple products currently available will be more than capable of handling any of your photo editing needs with ease.
     
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Not seeing anything in the recent iCloud announcement that indicates that any processing is being done 'in the cloud'

    As far as I can see what icloud will do is store and push the documents created in icloud aware applications to all your devices.

    I cannot imagine that pro apps like photoshop or Final Cut being part of the iClouds remit

    K
     
  4. SMaturin

    SMaturin Mu-43 Veteran

    243
    Apr 30, 2011
    New York's Backyard
    If you are going to be doing PP with Aperture or the Adobe products, or just about any other photo manipulation software, you will likely still want as much processor power as possible in your local machine for the sake of speed in image processing.

    MacBook Airs may well do the trick fairly well in the near future, but a bigger screen of a bigger MB Pro will still be an advantage.

    I doubt that the hardware will significantly offload processing tasks to iCloud when using image manipulation software with large images. The upload and download times and variable connection bandwidth will mean local processing is still faster than cloud-based processing with most consumer-grade current internet connection speeds.

    MY guess is that iCloud storage, if you want to keep more than the last 1000 images, will still end up being expensive relative to cheap local storage.

    As I see it, the convenience of instant and transparent synchronization across multiple devices is where iCloud is going to shine. Manipulate the image on your fastest hardware, then it is instantly available to all of your gadgets.

    I envision using an EyeFi card to send my photos wirelessly to my 3G ipad as I am shooting, which then sends them on to iCloud when it finds a wifi connection, so I can open them on any internet-connected device for further processing when I feel like it. I would not need to carry around a whole lot of backup SD cards and sync them often to a laptop for fear of losing my precious images.

    I would probably still use local redundant drives for long-term storage and backup. My current Pictures folder is well over 200Gb already, and that would take days to upload to the cloud, even if they could provide that much storage cheaply. But all my current projects could be accessible in iCloud from anyplace I had a connection, whether LAN/WAN, cellular or wifi, whether on my MBP, my ipad, or somebody else's machine. This is what I find exciting about the iCloud announcement.

    There was no mention by Steve Jobs whether Aperture will have built-in iCloud management, as I recall from the presentation. He talked about iPhoto using iCloud. But I cannot imagine they would leave it out of the next update to Aperture.

    I also hope Apple builds some really useful gallery and slideshow tools into iCloud, better than what MobileMe had. We shall have to wait and see what they come up with.

    -Steve
     
  5. c5karl

    c5karl Mu-43 Regular

    144
    May 31, 2011
    Fairfax, Va., USA
    "Cloud" can mean a lot of things.

    It can mean distributed network storage, which mostly means that backups are someone else's headache, and that you have the same access to your data from any connected device anywhere. Dropbox is a good example of this.

    It terms of software, it can also mean server-side applications, where all the work is done remotely and your computer is simply a dumb terminal. Google search is a good example of this. All the work is done on a server, and your client only needs to be able to display text.

    But much more commonly, cloud software is a combination of server-side plus some sort of thin client software. The "thin client" requires no software installation. It's a combination of ****Script, Flash, Silverlight, etc., code that loads dynamically and runs in your browser. Google Mail would be an example of this. Unlike Outlook, which has to be installed on your computer, you simply access it from a browser. But the browser is not just a dumb terminal. Some of the software is written in ****Script and Flash to run on your computer, so that you can do things like drag & drop files to attach them to e-mail messages.

    The local client need not be a browser. It can be some sort of app you download & install.

    There are lots of factors that determine what makes sense to assign to the server and what makes sense to assign to the client, but the biggest consideration is avoiding pushing a lot of data around. And high-res photos contain a lot of data. So today it wouldn't makes sense to create a completely server-side photo editor, because you'd need to push massive amounts of data back & forth from server to client to refresh the image after each and every edit.

    What you're much more likely to see are cloud photo editors that do most of the work on the client side, which means that in your case, your iPad would need the horsepower to do the bulk of the work locally. Even worse, tools like ****Script and Flash aren't very efficient for things like photo editing, so the iPad would need even more CPU & memory for thin client photo editing than it would for something like an iPad port of Photoshop Elements.

    I think what you're going to see are a lot of tools like the Picnik photo editor in Picasa Web Albums: A fairly simple tool with some basic capabilities like red eye removal and adjusting brightness & contrast. However, that simple tool, because it runs locally on your client and is built to run in Flash, actually needs a fair amount of computer power to run.

    So it's hard to see in the near term how cloud computing hastens the arrival of strong photo editing tools for tablets. When those tools do arrive for the quad-core tablets that are coming in the next year or two, they'll be downloadable apps that at most use the cloud for storage.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Thanks guys... this answers my questions very well. I really only plan to use the iPad, in a photographic sense, to store and move material to other platforms. But it looks like I'll once again end up equipping my next iMac or MacBrook Pro with the best processor and the most RAM I can afford. I'm sure the base processor and RAM will work fine. But I get impatient... so anything I can do to make the process faster is a good thing in my mind. :)
     
  7. IIGQ4U

    IIGQ4U Mu-43 Regular

    120
    Mar 22, 2011
    La Jolla CA
    ^^^ It really isn't necessary, but it's your money.

    I never wait with my MBP while editing photos nor have I upgraded my RAM. Additionally, I never (Hardly ever) use the second (Faster) graphics card. I do have an upgraded processor however.
     
  8. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    I am guessing you don't shoot raw or actually do any intensive PP work then...which is fine....

    K
     
  9. SMaturin

    SMaturin Mu-43 Veteran

    243
    Apr 30, 2011
    New York's Backyard
    Yeah, cooking up the RAWs in Aperture, even my MBP 2.8Ghz Core 2 Duo with max RAM is getting long in the tooth after two years. I have outgrown a half terabyte drive and need to put in a full terabyte aftermarket unit. I am wondering about just upgrading the whole machine, instead.

    Life is too short to drink bad wine or buy cheap silicon.

    -Steve
     
  10. IIGQ4U

    IIGQ4U Mu-43 Regular

    120
    Mar 22, 2011
    La Jolla CA
    I don't know what you consider intensive but I only shoot Raw.

    The only time I have had any issue was when I cloned a fair amount of an image. Even then, the computer was heat soaked as it had been sitting on the sofa. I also created a desktop background on the computer yesterday without any issue.

    I measured my system activity while performing some cloning and other standard image editing tasks today and usage reached no more than 57% for a brief moment then decreasing into the low 20% range.

    I don't really understand my experiences would differ from many of yours.

    A 2.8Ghz MBP Core 2 Duo should be more than capable of handling Aperture Raw edits.
     
  11. SMaturin

    SMaturin Mu-43 Veteran

    243
    Apr 30, 2011
    New York's Backyard
    A single edit, no big deal. Processing the import of an entire card of recent images, or running the Photomatix or Nik plug-ins on several big images, and you will see the twirling beachball a lot.

    That said, it is still better than any stock windoze machine for daily tasks and switching back and forth between apps that are processing stuff in the background.

    Crunching pixels will always be a more processor-intensive task than most other things folks do with their computers. As sensors get bigger and processors get smaller and faster, it will always be a trade off. More money for better and faster silicon every couple of years will remain the nature of the market.
     
  12. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    FWIW, I upgraded a November 2009 iMac to a brand new iMac last month. 8gb of ram in both cases, but the faster quad core processor in the new one. I don't notice a lot of difference in Aperture, but I notice a huge difference using the Nik plug ins, particularly Silver Efex Pro, particularly version 2. I used to run the original version of Silver Efex on the older iMac with not problems, but when version 2 came out it was running like molases - I'd have to adjust a slider and wait a while for the image to update to show the effect of the slider - nothing was happening in real time so it was a real iterative process of editing. With the new iMac, Silver Efex Pro is screaming along again, with every slider showing me the changes as I manipulate them. This is obviously a HIGHLY preferable situation.

    None of this difference has anything to do with the cloud, which is where I store a backup of my stuff, but don't do a lot of actual work beyond emails.

    -Ray
     
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  13. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Then just imagine how long the beach roll spins in my 2006 iMac with 1.7 Ghz Core Duo (the very first Intel dual core processor for Macs) with 1 gig of RAM! That said, it still works and completes its tasks in both Aperture 2 and iPhoto. But I've generally been experiencing more sluggishness ever since I upgraded to Snow Leopard. If I go the iMac route again, I plan to get an i7 chip and 8 gigs of RAM. Anyone have any thoughts on iMac vs. MBP for photo processing purposes?
     
  14. SMaturin

    SMaturin Mu-43 Veteran

    243
    Apr 30, 2011
    New York's Backyard
    I have never owned one of the iMacs, but have liked the looks and specs of the recent generations. Our household has had multiple Apple laptops, going back to the original PowerBook 140 two decades ago, and several tower/box desktops over the years. In recent years I have stuck with the laptop line. I currently use a 2009 MBP 15", which was the higher spec model of the 15 then. Apple still offers two grades of hardware in the 15" model now, but with later generations of the processors.

    My thoughts about MBP vs iMac is based on my desire for portability outweighing my desire for a larger screen. The 27" iMac is in the same price range as the 15" MBP. Internal hardware specs are fairly similar, so I doubt there will be a dramatic difference in processing photos. So the screen size is the most outstanding difference, besides portability. I would love to have the bigger screen for my aging eyes, but I could not carry it on trips with me.

    On the other hand, the MacBook Air still seems too small a screen for me for photo manipulation, and I do not want to give up the optical drive just yet. The MBP 15 remains optimal for me.

    -Steve
     
  15. IIGQ4U

    IIGQ4U Mu-43 Regular

    120
    Mar 22, 2011
    La Jolla CA
    The other great thing with laptops these days is that they can easily be connected to an external monitor external monitor for the best of both portability and screen size. portability and screen size.

    I feel that iCloud was an evolutionary upgrade from MobileMe first of all in regard to price and of course in the enhanced functionality. It will be great to better free our hard drives for more important things such as the memories we capture.