What presets you have installed determines how powerful your Studio Artist is

So i've been running automated tests on the new apple M1 ARM chip mac (powerbook pro) with Studio Artist V5_64 bit.

And i've been noticing something that kind of disturbed me, and it has nothing to do with apple or the new M1 chip computers.  It has to do with how Studio Artist presets are configured on the release V5 that gets installed on your computer.

I was using Gallery Show (a very cool Studio Artist feature if you aren't aware of it).  And i was watching the screen, and the variation of results being shown was not at all what i personally experience when i use the program.  I found this highly disturbing on some level.  Why was this the case?

We made a decision to try and simplify the presets we ship with the Studio Artist 5 demo.  Reduce the number of them, reduce the complexity.  Because 1000's of presets can be kind of overwhelming to someone who is just checking out the program.  None of these V5 release presets were designed by me, they were designed by a graphics designer we worked with.  And this person made a lot of really great new presets.  Working off of older ones, and creating new ones.

But at the same time, they left out a lot of what i would consider really important stuff.  Especially when you are working with something like Gallery Show, where the diversity of presets you are using as input to the Gallery Show automated generation system can be really important in some circumstances.

So, i copied all of my personal preset files over into the Studio Artist install on the new system.  The preset folder that i personally use when i work with Studio Artist.

This personal preset folder is huge.  It's the kitchen sink, and more.  It's literally every preset ever made here from the dawn of Studio Artist time, which is 1999. So it's 20 years of preset development. I dropped that into V5 release.

Then i started my gallery show automated testing again this morning.  And low and behold, i was getting the kind of output i would expect to see.  So much better than what i got with just the V5 release presets.

So obviously we need to fix this for people who care about it.

Everyone who bought a long time ago probably has presets from different older Studio Artist release versions that they drop into new Studio Artist installs when we do an upgrade to a new release.  But that is not true for anyone who has bought recently.

We used to be able to attach large file downloads here on Ning (the service we use for the user forum).  But that is no longer the case.

So maybe we need to add some kind of additional preset downloads on the Synthetik site?  Maybe we should put them up on github for people (although i worry about a lot of our users actually being able to use github).  Maybe someone else would love to get involved and i can just pass that stuff off to them and they can set it up online for people to download (i'm unbelievably busy right now, so that would be awesome if anyone wants to step up to the plate)?  We'll work to try to figure that out.

I felt it was important to make people aware of this.  So now you are.

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OK i think i figured out an option for this for people to download via our dropsend server.  It will probably take me a few days to get it up.  I'll put together 'Big Kuhuna' preset folder.  It will have SA V1, SA V2, SA V3, SA V3.5, SA V4, and SA V5 presets. Plus the old user submissions categories.

Remember the preset sharing group here on the forum also has additional presets you can download.


I feel like I've sort of noticed this too, but not so strongly that I went back to old versions of SA and copied presets up to the newest.

A download would be so excellent. If you guys don't have time, I would volunteer to set it up on my artofgeography server, although I'm not sure if my understanding of the goal is the same as yours... I was thinking it would be a download from a special landing page.


It would be awesome to have some of the V1, V2 Presets that got me hooked on SA to begin with.

And some of the user developed Paint Synth presets. Somewhere between V4 and V5 A lot of my own Paint Synth presets stopped working... Or rather - some 32 bit developed stuff doesn't work in the 64 bit application... And I have been to lazy to save them (many, many hundreds) out. Making more has been more fun. I miss some old ones tho that I want back for further tweaking.

I do recall a lot of variety in the Paint Synth presets from many years back that I don't see in the more modern factory stuff. I know I experimented with a lot of odd stuff back then that was from the presets supplied in the app. There was a lot of what was "digitally" original looking and behaving then, that might look sort of "old fashioned" now. But just to have them available would be awesome.

I wouldn't be any help with stashing and serving big files - but I can collect all the old stuff I put together - if you ever need one big pile of old Paint Synth presets with "cd" in the preset names.

I too would welcome installing John's mega-preset folder. I just checked mine which I have continuously modified since I started using SA around V1 or V2. It is just under 3GB with 95,000 items (according to Mac Finder).

And Gallery Show is one of the most fun features for me in SA.

So I can't offer any help with the effort but will look forward to downloading John's preset folder if and when it becomes available.



+1 for access to the kitchen sink (and any pantries, closets or other areas ;-)). Great idea, John. Hopefully Mac O/S will recognize existing presets and folders and offer to merge or skip existing...

It (kitchen sink) is moving forward. I want to make sure all of the preset preview icon information is formatted in a form that will display in SA V5.5.  So that is the current hold up.

The gory details are as follows.  SA V5 (both the 32 bit and the 64 bit) can still access the resource fork of the preset file.  Resource forks were a great feature of the original classic mac.  I guess Next people who moved to apple weren't interested in this great 'mac only' feature, since they didn't invent it.

SA V5 (even the 64 bit build) can still tap into the resource forks.  Studio Artist originally stored the preset icon in the resource fork of the preset file.  Starting with SA V4, we added an additional internal iff block in our preset file format so that they could live directly in the main fork of the preset file as well.  We had to do this for windows, since windows doesn't support the concept of a file actually being 2 files internally, resource fork and data fork.

Of course the most recent mac os release don't support this anymore either.  (Gee thanks apple!)

And we had to drop all Carbon api support in SA V5.5.  So SA V5.5 can't read them either (resource forks).

Now as it turns out, the MSG IFF block (which is hideously complicated internally) appears to be messing up the preset icon IFF block read when SA V5.5.  So any preset files that have an internal MSG IFF block are affected by this (so if a paint preset has an internal MSG block in it, then it would be affected as well).

So now you gain some insight into just one of the various bullshit issues (often apple related) we are dealing with that have been delaying the SA V5.5 release.

Don't expect SA V5.5 to automatically integrate preset folders.  Sorry.  We may let you swap between different ones as your root.  If that isn't turned on in the initial V5.5 release, it will probably be turned on in a later point release of V5.5.

There is a lot of pressure on us from the charming folks at apple to either hide the preset folder internally inside of the application bundle (there by making it unapproachable for users unless they are technically sophisticated enough to navigate the finder to get inside of the application bundle) And that opens up a whole other can of worms since you could easily trash the application fooling around in there (inside of the bundle).

Or, we could put in in /Users/yourname/Library/ApplicationSupport/StudioArtistStuffLivesHere.

Of course the problem is that is you navigate in the finder to /Users/yourname, you won't see the Library folder since apple hides it from you.

In my mind both of these approaches make things more difficult, not easier.  Both for the user, and for us, the developer.

The whole point of the initial Studio Artist preset folder design was to take advantage of the fact that your computer comes with a navigable file system. So why not use it for preset organization.  Makes it easy for people to customize the preset organization.  Makes it easy for users to share presets.

Please don't hide or even tuck away in Library the Presets folder. I constantly edit mine and love knowing where things are without going into dark places on my computer.

I have been dealing with both hacking the app folders and or un-hiding the User/Library/Application Support/… folders for a while now.

Adobe hides its Application Support content in the hidden Library folders and other smaller apps allow View Package Contents.

Drawbacks to hacking a Package are that the resources are down in the guts of the app and it takes some nerve and copying/organizing content out to multiple locations - if I want to retain the original Package resources. I also have to overwrite existing files with my alterations - limiting what I can change.

Also updates run thru the Apple store overwrite the app and its contents - completely wiping hacks.

Drawbacks to customizing application support content (Adobe stuff for me) can be:

Unhiding the Mac Library folder.

Navigating to a folder where the actual content I want to alter is kept.

Retaining an Alias to the folder (folders are created for each app version - so maintaining consistency between versions also has to be done manually)

I use a lot of custom scripts in Flash (Animate CC) and need to manually add them to folders many levels down. These scripts cannot be loaded into the apps resources thru the application unless specially packaged as installers - even then that’s using an external installer.

Altering resource content is on a par with hacking the resources directly in an app package - a plus: the additions or alterations are not susceptible to overwrite (yet) like what happens when updating an app - and - I can access the folders quickly - if I save out Aliases to Apples hidden folders…

Nevertheless - a pain in the butt and potentially nerve wracking (accidentally wrecking an application would be a sad byproduct) either way.

So i guess an interesting question to think about is the following.

Why is apple working hard to force application developers to use either of the less than desirable solutions i discussed?  Other than pissing everyone off, and making life much more difficult for everyone in the process.

I should also make clear that i'm not in favor of either of these 2 scenarios. I would like us to continue doing what we do.  My fear is that someday we will actively be prevented from doing so.  And i can certainly understand why Adobe made the changes they did.

Many of apple's new security 'enhancements' in Catalina and/or Big Sur are more than annoying.  

Like every single fucking time you run SA V5.5, if you are accessing a source image in your desktop, or in your Documents folders, the operating system brings up a dialog saying the application wants to access the Desktop or Documents folder, is that ok.

And then you go to open a new source image, and you use apple's standard file dialog to navigate somewhere in your filesystem (to the image you are interested in opening), and then another annoying 'are you sure' dialog comes up asking you if it's ok if studio artist access's the folder you yourself just specified you want to go to (using apple's standard file dialog). 

What the fuck!  If you didn't want to access that folder, you would not have navigated to it yourself, so asking you if you want to do it after you already manually navigated to it seems overly stupid and annoying to me.  Like the people at apple making these decisions don't actually use the computer to do real work.


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Bernard Bunner commented on Bernard Bunner's photo

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"I just had to restart my Mac. And now when I run these 2 "bug" presets, I don't have any problem ! Curious ! (I'm on Catalina 10.15.7)"
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"John, these 2 bugs are "old" bugs. They also appears with SA 5."

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