Monday, June 16, 2008

Thoughts on Baseball Batch using Bibble

Wow. In my typical fashion, I put off writing a post for a day... and it ends up sitting around for a week.

The previous posts relating to processing over five hundred baseball images with Bibble are here and here.

Actually, the five hundred is an understatement... I had previously gone through and deleted the obvious non-keepers, so I probably started out with one thousand or more images.

Obviously, processing a bunch of images really shouldn't be notable enough to make a blog entry, since pro photographers do it at least once a week. But it is a new experience for me, as evidenced by the way it took me a little over 8 hours total to edit the images down (that's a little over 90 seconds per image). Of course, next time should go a LOT faster. And, now I have a record of how to solve some common workflow problems in Bibble.

I really had to rush things at the end though.

Picture this: we're at the $4 million house of one of the team parents, and I'm handing out CDs with hand-written labels in plastic sandwich bags. Plus, even if they fired up their browser on the Bibble gallery on the disk, clicking an individual image would pop up the full resolution image, which would be way too large to see on their screen.

My point is, a little more time and I could have straightened out a few issues. And, obviously, if I was a pro, I would have taken that time and put nicer labels on the disks to maybe get me business in the future. Actually, a pro would have never put the full-res images on the disk in the first place!

The fact is though, I'm not a pro, and I'm not really looking for work.

It has been a week, and nobody has even contacted me to let me know they liked the images. Oh well.

On Bibble:

I'm pretty happy with Bibble's performance. Speed-wise -- Bibble took me 30 minutes of processing for all the images; Lightroom would have taken MUCH longer. And Bibble is very responsive once you figure out the interface.

The best part of Bibble is the full set of output options -- I was able to set up a batch queue that writes both the gallery and the full images to a single directory; a great help if I'm making CDs like this in the future. I can definitely see how Bibble can streamline work-flow if I'm running through a lot of images (like a wedding photographer).

On the other hand, the thing that bugged me most was the horrendous rotation interface. VERY awkward compared to Lightroom, but, as a comment said on my review post, that should be fixed in Bibble 5.0.

Yes, better keywording would be nice in Bibble, but most of the functionality I need (finding, sorting images) is enabled by work queues.

I'm planning on buying Bibble, although I'm beginning to suspect that when I requested a temporary key they gave me a full registration key.

Don't worry, I'll go ahead and purchase the license either way.

On CD Creation:

I do have a few things to share about CD creation which I figured out early last week when I was burning our own disks:

First, getting the CD to autorun (and automatically fire up a web page) isn't that hard, but it took some searching. A good source of info is here. The part I had the most trouble with was finding the ShellExecute command -- it works well, but only on newer Windows OSs (XP and above). My autorun file was:

label=Reds Baseball 2008
Icons were another area of trouble for me. I decided that I wanted to put a custom icon on the CD -- after all, I'm used to processing images, how hard can it be?

Turns out it is really hard. Long story short, I ended up getting an icon online and using that.

Long story long, I figured out the process to make an icon, then realized making an effective image using only 32x32 pixels is really hard when you are used to working with photographs. I got bored and ended up just grabbing the icon online. I can definitely see why there's a number of companies out there who will design your icons for a fee; I had no idea how difficult it was to get a good icon together.

But, for your information, I'll outline the process and link up resources here:
  1. First, learn about the conventions and requirements. XP and Vista each have their own icon design and style guidelines. These are pretty specific -- both in terms of technicals (specific sizes, multiple color depths, etc) and visual style (right down to specific perspective and drop shadows). Of course, for a homemade project, there's no reason you have to fit the specifics -- most icons will work.
  2. Build your icons. There's a ton of ways to do this, but you'll need to create multiple images at multiple resolutions with an alpha channel. Many icons are created using vector graphics too. PSP XI can do this, although most instructions on the web are in terms of Photoshop. Expect to spend a lot of time adjusting pixels individually. FYI, the XP spec needs 48x48, 32x32, and 16x16 icons in 4-bit, 8-bit, and 24-bit color (although icons will display with fewer options, but not in all cases).
  3. Convert your icons and put them into a file. Gamani's GIF Movie Gear is the main program used to generate an icon file (.ICO) from image files. Luckily, it has a free evaluation! Gamani also has a page describing the basic process.
Sure, it looks like three easy steps, but in reality, good icons are pretty time consuming to create. The other option is the wide range of free icons out there which you can find with a quick web search.

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