Is this new Adobe tool bad news for graphic designers?

Once touted as a possible new Photoshop feature, Sky Replace's position in Adobe Marketing Cloud asks some important questions.

Adobe has previewed a new technology – or perhaps more accurately an evolution of a few technologies – last year with something it calls 'Sky Replace'. What it does is pretty much as its name implies: it largely automates the process of replacing the sky in a scenic photograph.

Yes, this does come off like a one-trick-pony, and the demos only show a simplistic application of a dark sky being replaced. The first question that came to mind was why is this a standalone product, rather than simply a new feature of Photoshop?

Boring black sky…

…Sky Replaced with a more spectacular backdrop

It was explained to us that the range of applications for this technology is a lot further reaching than it might initially seem. This new toolset can also automatically recolour the rest of the scene to better match the replacement sky. Furthermore, this can be used for a wide range of replacement needs, including swapping out elements in virtual reality and even gaming projects – think product placement swapping, and other real-time advertising applications. Plus, it will integrate with Adobe Stock in many new ways as well. Cool.

Changing workflows

If that was all there was however, then this might not rate a complete article. What caught our attention was the fact that this toolset, which is based on a range of Adobe’s optical recognition and artificial intelligence technology, is not only being rolled out for use by the Creative Cloud user base, but also for use by Adobe’s Marketing Cloud users as well.

If you are not familiar with it, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud is a large set of tools designed for use by all those marketing and sales folks you see walking down the halls of your average advertising and media company. Yes, Adobe makes toys for those nice people as well.

But why would those folks need a graphics tool like Sky Replace? Adobe believes  there is an increasing demand for quick and dirty graphics functionality by marketing pros. For example, for the times when they are moments before a presentation or maybe on the road, and simply do not have the time to send the project to a full graphics team.

And Sky Replace isn’t the only graphics capability Adobe will be rolling out for its Marketing Cloud user base – it has over seven other very cool technologies that are set for release this year. One of them is an automatic tagging system that recognises the objects and scenes in an image and automatically adds to the file’s metadata all appropriate tags. Now imagine this capability rolled back to some of our programs, say Lightroom.

In addition, these programs will integrate with Adobe Stock, and in turn with the creative community. This will allow a direct path for creatives to connect with many potential new clients that they would not have before. 

The result of all of this effort on Adobe’s part, and the cross-pollination that is going to be happening between the creative and business sides of our industries, will open a wealth of new opportunities to create, refine and monetise our talents. 

Much like we have learned about navigating the web, and life in general, things aren’t always linear. These advances and shifting of capabilities from one group to another is nothing new. We have dealt with this before when our world went digital 25-plus years ago. The definitions of who does what are always changing. In the coming years it may not be the CREATIVE > PRODUCTION > CLIENT > CONSUMER  path we have always had. Like social media did to the customer support industry, things are going to change. But we will have to wait a bit longer to find out how.


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