by Mike McNamee Published 01/04/2008
Round two - having introduced it to the readers Mike McNamee goes back for second opinions
Since we first showed Portrait Professional to readers of Professional Imagemaker, the word has spread around at amazing speed. We therefore went back to Martin Sellars, who first brought the program to our attention to see how he is getting on at the business end with, 'the first piece of software that has earned me money'.
We have also taken the opportunity to show off the program at a number of seminars and generated quite a wow factor! At Focus on Imaging, the CEO of Anthropics, Andrew Berend and the company chief scientist, Tony Polichroniadis stopped by and we had some interesting discussions, particularly over a breakfast coffee with Andrew the following day. With a degree in philosophy from Oxford, Andrew proved to be an entertaining breakfast companion as he recounted the trials and tribulations of arriving at the point at which the company now stands. This group of imaging specialists from the Cambridge area have a background in the film and animation industry and had looked aghast at the behemoth that Photoshop has become and also the dedicated, hard work that is required to learn to use it. They felt that they could do better and as you might expect from such a talented group they set about demonstrating just how much simplification could be introduced!
The team started by defining what a 'beautiful' or 'attractive' face consisted of. Apparently the human face is relatively simple to describe and only requires a few bytes of 16-bit data to map it out (for shape that is). The team then set their minds to analysing what it was that made faces attractive and to the setting down of the mapping description. To some extent this is well trodden ground which has filtered down to photography from the surveillance industry. For example the FujiFilm system can now identify which parts of an image are faces (even though it amazingly includes any wall-portraits in this 'selection'). This is used in even the most modest of compact cameras, to determine focus, colour balance and so on. The clever thing that the Anthropics team accomplished was to set up the software so that all the user does is define five 'cardinal' points in the face, by clicking the mouse. These are then used to build the blue default Bezier curves which appear as you use the program and hit the space bar. These curves define just how the 'perfect face' should look and then shift the face towards this idealised shape. In essence then, the closer the blue Bezier curves are to your face, the better the match to the idealised face. To test this out we took David Bailey's recent shot of Katie Price (aka Jordan) and ran her through Portrait Professional. Unsurprisingly her face fitted very well, for whatever your views on the lady in question, she does have classically attractive features (and we mean above the neck not below it!)
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