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Photoshop Releases Breakthough Content Aware Revolve

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A long requested feature is finally here. After nearly a decade of diligent engineering and testing, Adobe announced this week that they’re finally ready to release the beta of their new Content Aware Rotate feature to a small audience for testing.

“This new feature solves a lot of problems. No longer are photographers slave to carefully planning shoots, collecting client shot requests or over shooting a set up just to be sure they have what they need.”

Thanks to content aware revolve, you can now select an object within your composition and actually rotate it. For example, have you ever taken the perfectly lit product shot, only to realize that you need to rotate it ever so slightly to compose the artwork perfectly? Now you can fix such oversights in post.

As is often the case, the feature works best on object that have minimal or plain backgrounds and works best on those images clipped entirely. But this option is no less impressive with that caveat. The time it takes to carefully clip an object is far less than it would be to set up your studio, check the lighting, hit the shutter button and process that image separately.

We’ve been lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of the beta to test ahead of the release and we can tell you, it’s quite amazing. Below are some example results to demonstrate how this tool works.

Adobe Content Aware in Action

As you can see here I’ve clipped an image of an old Kodak camera I had in my office and brought it into Photoshop. Using the Content Aware Revolve Tool (left-hand side, hidden inside the rotate pullout menu), I’ll rotate it to the left.

Applying the Content Aware Rotate (Photoshop attempts to recreate this view of the object)
Applying the Content Aware Rotate (Photoshop attempts to recreate this view of the object)

And the results are nothing short of amazing. At least in this example…

The final result after rendering...
The final result after rendering…

Of course it would be more than we could dream of if this worked in all instances. But, even this tool has some limitations. When objects are shot against a busy background or aren’t clipped out, Photoshop has to guess a lot more, resulting in some less than excellent results. For example, in the image below we have an object that is fairly visible from the busy background, but some of that object is obscured by the surroundings and we didn’t clip it out from the background before applying the affect.

Russain Doll Before Content Aware Revolve
Russain Doll Before Content Aware Revolve

And the results are OK, but not great. This image would still require a good amount of retouching to finish out.

As you can see, some of the content has been mistakenly rendered as the "back" of the doll (which is, in reality, nearly blank).
As you can see, some of the content has been mistakenly rendered as the “back” of the doll (which is, in reality, nearly blank).

Until the kinks are totally worked out, I’d say this tool is excellent for product photography or isolated objects that you may want to tweak for composite work. It really could save time in the studio. However, if your family portrait caught grandpa gazing off camera and you want to rotate him, beware, the results may not be what you’re hoping for. I might suggest reshooting, or hope that nobody notices grandpa looks a little funny.