Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Wisdom of the Crowd

This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a Focus Group in Los Angeles, hosted by Nikon. During the four sessions held over 2 days, we were discussing image editing habits of consumers.

Each participant had been given a detailed pre-questionnaire, and the moderator spent some time probing the group to validate the participant's earlier answers. We then demonstrated several different software programs, editing the same image but in uniquely different ways.

It was very interesting to hear "real world" feedback on how people were organizing their images and the typical types of image editing they do. Most were quite interested in color and exposure correction. Universally they confessed that Photoshop is difficult and that selecting areas of their image to work on was particularly hard.

Enter Capture NX and U Point technology! U Point technology powers a core feature in NX called "Control Points." When placed directly on colors or objects in an image (such as sky, skin, grass, etc.), a Control Point will reveal easy-to-use sliders that photographers can use to quickly adjust brightness, contrast or color in a fraction of the time needed by other tools.

Now, it's safe to say that - working at Nik Software - I have officially "drunk the kool-aid" on U Point. But it was a whole other thing to hear people who'd never seen it before mention things like "time-saver", "it looks extremely easy to use" and "I love not having to make selections."

Of course, it's also nice to get to know work colleagues over a great meal. In this case, we ate at a cool, beach-side Thai restaurant in Malibu called Cholada. As we pulled up it looked like any number of little taco shops along the coast, but instead served up some serious quality Thai. Bustling. Non-pretentious building set close to the highway. Dirt parking lot. Poster homage to "Save Topanga Canyon" stapled to the wooden post. To my delight, Shoko Yoshida, one of the Nikon marketers, took lead in ordering. The Papaya salad was yummy.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Etsuko Morihara, who was consulting with Nikon. In her previous job, she helped design the interior of the famous Nissan Skyline car. Wow!

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