An exclusive interview with Anders Brander

Hi Anders

Thanks for taking some time to speak to us about Rawstudio. With Adobe LightRoom, Apple Aperture and Nikon Capture as the behemoths of RAW processing softwares (available on proprietary OSes), with Bibble, RawTherapee and LightZone as contenders (available on Linux, but not open source), it is good to see what pure open source software can produce as a RAW batch processing software.


For as start, can you tell us a bit about yourself – where you live, what you do as a day job?

I’m 28 years old. I live in a Aalborg, a little town in northern Denmark. Besides hacking on Rawstudio, I have a great daytime job (alongside other Rawstudio developers) at CEGO ApS developing casual computer games. A place that have been very supportive and interested in our development of Rawstudio😉 .

Your main OSS project is Rawstudio, can you tell us about its roots and history?

Anders Kvist and I did a lot of analog photography together some years ago (I still have hordes of undeveloped films in the freezer!). When Kvist felt it was time to go digital, we saw the need for a free raw converter that would be simple to use with just the basic features that we knew from our experience with film. We held a few meetings at a local bar. Between beers and peanuts a plan for Rawstudio started to materialize, now all that is history – and now even I got a shiny digital camera.

Are you involved in other projects?

Not really besides the usual patch-writing and bugreporting. I have a few projects that have never left the basement – and probably never will. Rawstudio is already taking up all my free time. I try to take part in the discussions on various mailing lists, but generally I prefer coding on Rawstudio.

Do you need to be called Anders to be part of the Rawstudio development team?

It certainly helps!🙂 .

With the 0.7 release (which incorporates a high-resolution demosaicing algorithm), Rawstudio is becoming a very usable piece of software. One of the distinctive features of Rawstudio is its batch mode. Any other feature that you are particularly proud of and would like to advertise or comment on?

Speed. What we really got going in Rawstudio is speed. From day one speed has been a big priority, the user should never have to wait for the software. Currently we’re working at supporting newer OpenGL hardware for really fast previews and more features.

Can you give us a hint of what gains we could expect in using OpenGL both in terms of speed and added features?

A philosophy in the Rawstudio has always been that the final exported image must be 100% equal to what the user saw in the preview. This is a challenge, because many operations can be slow and heavy on memory usage.
Using OpenGL shaders makes a great and fast 2D rendering engine. It’s not the holy grail, but for people who have a modern OpenGL 2.0 capable system, it enables extremely fast previews with instant updates. It saves a lot in memory usage, because we don’t have to do any prerendering. I think the only feature implemented for now is a live magnifying glass – at the moment all this is currently bleeding edge development, not even near ready for end-users.

Any other long term plans?

We would like to implement a plugin system, for the more exotic ideas that don’t belong in the core product (red-eye removal, watermarking, special effects, you name it).

In a shorter time frame, what else would you like to see included in Rawstudio before, say, a 1.0 release?

Uhh, we’re in a hurry here. We would really love to have 1.0 ready for LGM2008. So we have to limit ourselves somewhat, but a sharpen feature will probably find its way in before release 1.0.

I read on the developers mailing list an allusion to denoising images before demosaicing – which is the approach that DXO 5 boasts about and that was also recommended by David Tschumperlé from GREYCstoration. Any update on that?

No news under the sun at the moment, but we believe that denoising should be done as early in the process as possible where the data is as pristine as possible. As David Tschumperlé explained in another interview on this very blog, denoising is a quite complex task.

With your focus on speed (and your success in doing so) and taking into account the amount of post-processing available from RAW files, how do you keep the balance right between features and speed?

This is the single most discussed thing between the active developers. I try to hold back features from entering and everyone else seems to push forward new features. I tend to question every little feature and every little button, this often leads to some very lengthy and hopefully healthy discussions🙂 .

Any domain(s) where help with Rawstudio would be welcome?

Yes. Definitely, come on in and join the mailing list, even if you’re not named Anders😉 .

More seriously – we could use more people to do tasks not specific to developing core features, to port Rawstudio to new platforms, maintain the website, write documentation, manage releases, scratch their own itches and so on…

How do you see the place of Rawstudio inside the RAW processing workflow on Linux? In your opinion, is there still room for a Gimp or Cinepaint-like program to do local masking, cloning, printing etc or would you like to see all of these functionalities inside Rawstudio – given infinite development time🙂 ?

I don’t in any way want Rawstudio to become another Gimp – Rawstudio is for photo developing, not photo editing. Gimp is excellent in its domain, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
Rawstudio is the first program the photographer starts when he gets home from shooting, he can then quickly and painless process his photos – and then, if he wants to, do further processing and printing in other applications.

Even more generally, how do you feel about the state of photography in Linux? What are the greatest achievements and the most dearly missing pieces?

I think that state is very good! Things is moving forward at an amazing pace; Gimp has made quantum leaps in the last few years. I find it really difficult to think of a thing I’m really missing. I concentrate almost all my energy on improving Rawstudio.

What has been the biggest surprise in the development of Rawstudio?

I think the biggest surprise was that people did care. I was really surprised to see people joining the mailing lists, helping each other and participating in the development of Rawstudio. It is an amazing experience to actually see it happening. It’s like living a dream!

One last word you would like to mention as a conclusion?

Please. If anyone is going to LGM, please do come say hi, 3*Anders will be present!

Anders, thank you so much for your time.

Thank you! It has been a pleasure and a welcome insight into our project!

7 Responses to An exclusive interview with Anders Brander

  1. Xavier says:

    Hi Joel,

    I like your idea of interviewing developpers of open source photographs related softwares.
    Unlike Anders, I would say that given the amount of energy, time and workforce dedicated to create a photographer oriented software I do miss a free counterpart of Lightroom.
    I mean that if you keep the best of exiftool, Ufraw, RawStudio, Digikam, f-spot, krita and cinepaint, there is very little to add in order to match a features rich software like lightroom.
    But when you have to process a lot of picture in a very short time, it is a pain to have to jump from one application to another. Moreover, having to save the result at each step generates huge amount of temporary data.
    I have to confess that in order to keep some free time I will consent to the purchase of a Lightroom license.
    Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading your blog to keep an eye on what’s going on in the opensource world.

  2. jcornuz says:

    Hi Xavier,

    I think your need is to process lots of pictures from start to finish as quickly as possible; so it makes sense to use a “do it all” software. In my case, most of my post-processing is pushing the delete button with very few images making it to the last step (print or website). To each its own.

    You could probably gain some time with well written bash scripts but again, writing scripts takes time🙂 Let me know what you think of Lightroom…

    More than reading my blog, I am interested in having a pint with you once in a while …

    Amitiés

    Joel

  3. NewMikey says:

    If it’s processing a lot of pictures quickly, try this:

    http://www.pbase.com/newmikey/ufrb_kde

  4. Xavier says:

    Hi Joel,

    Whenever you want, I’m up for a pint.
    Actually, I could do almost everything with Digikam if it handled my camera (EOS-1D) and supported writing metadata in RAW files.
    So far, I’ve been using Canon DPP and exiftool with various GUIs for tagging.

    NewMickey,

    Interesting link, I’ll have a look.

  5. Thanks for the tip ..that software looks great ..i’ll test it.

  6. AP says:

    @Xavier

    Unfortunately, what Digikam utterly lacks is a thoroughly thought out workfow for RAW processing. Other than that, all the pieces are there. They just don’t merge into the puzzle yet.

  7. S110 canon says:

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    It’s great to come across a blog every once in
    a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information.
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