Hi, everybody. Sorry I missed out blogging on Friday – my wife and daughter flew up to New York City to meet me Friday morning (I was already up in NYC on business), and I got all caught up in that. We had a blast (saw two awesome shows: ‘Wicked’ and ‘School of Rock’ and took a hilarious tour of NYC called ‘The Ride’ – highly recommended).
Anyway, I’m back and of course, on Friday (as luck would have it) all hell broke loose when Google added a disclaimer to their download site for the free Nik Collection of plug-ins, that they would no longer be supporting it moving forward. If a new OS from Apple or Microsoft is released and it breaks the Nik Collection from working, they’re not going to fix it. Or, if a new version of Photoshop or Lightroom stops it from working, they’re not going to fix it. Or if a stiff wind comes along, and it breaks the Nik Collection they ain’t fixin’ it). Tip of the hat to DPReview for uncovering that.
Well, long time Nik Collection users are (me being one of them) are pretty much freaking out, so I thought I’d do a quick Q&A about it here on the blog-a-roonie:
Q. Didn’t Google pretty much say the same thing when they first released the Nik Collection for free?
A. They did. They said, in kind of a soft-sell way, that they weren’t going to support further development of the collection.
Q. So we kind of already knew this?
A. Yeah, we pretty much did. I wrote about that in my Q&A the day they made the initial “free” announcement, back in March of 2016.
Q. So what exactly did you say in that Q&A about it?
A. Well, I answered a “Q” with an “A” (see below).
Q. Does this mean that future updates for this collection have ceased?
A. Based on what I’ve read, I absolutely think that is the case, but I haven’t confirmed it with anyone inside Google yet.
Q. So, what if I download it today, and then there’s a major Mac OS or Windows update down the road and then it doesn’t work anymore. Will Google do an update to fix it?
A. Not as best as I can tell, so use it today and enjoy it for as long as it works.
Q. Will Google ever release a Nik Collection Version 5?
A. I would love that, but based on their post about why they are making it free, it seems fairly clear that their desktop plug-in days are over (that was my take on it anyway).
Q. So, how much longer will it still work?
A. For some folks, it’s already too late. I’ve seen posts and gotten emails from people who have told me straight up that when they updated something and the collection stopped working. They have some sort of configuration (maybe it’s a particular graphics card with a particular OS update, of what-have-you), but it broke their Nik world. I hate to hear that (and I worry about it myself because I’ve been a Nik Collection user for years. In fact, I did an entire KelbyOne online class on how I use the Nik Collection (and released it just a few days after Google made their “Free” announcement).
Q. So, if they already alluded to the “we’re not updating this stuff anymore” situation when they released the free version, how come everybody is freaked out now?
A. Because Google added the “we’re not updating this stuff anymore” text right to the downloads page itself, so it’s more official and scary looking. Plus, I think we all hoped that Google wouldn’t really just leave us hanging like that and that they actually would, in fact, update the software when push came to shove.
Q. Yeah, but you’re saying people are already having issues with the Nik Collection working?
A. Right. So, push has already come to shove – and apparently enough people with problems contacted Google for help that they felt they needed to put a disclaimer on their downloads Website.
Q. Maybe Google is understaffed and doesn’t have someone available that could patch the software?
A. That’s entirely possible, but at last count, Goggle had around 62,000 employees (but that’s from last year. It’s probably more by now).
Q. So they have 62,000+ employees, but they can’t spare one to simply fix this plug-in that is beloved by so many people?
A. Apparently not. If Google wanted to assign one, or even one thousand, Google certainly could and probably not even notice they were missing — but apparently, they don’t want to devote even one single engineer to fix it, or they would, right? This is a business decision for Google (no longer supporting the Nik Collection), and I get it — it doesn’t fit into their plans/strategy moving forward. I’m not happy about it, but I do understand it.
Q. But isn’t there a petition on change.org asking Google to at least to a maintenance update?
A. There sure is. Here’s where you can sign it.
Q. Did you sign it, Scott?
Q. So, do you think if enough people sign this petition, it will convince Google to change their mind?
A. No. Not a chance. I believe that Google has no interest in the Nik Collection whatsoever. I believe the most work that has been put into the existing Nik Collection since 2012 was them putting up the notice that they’re not going to support it any longer.
Q. This reminds of when you said on “The Grid” right after Google bought Nik Software — you didn’t think Google bought Nik because they wanted to get in the business of selling plug-ins for Photoshop. I remember you saying that.
A. Yup, I did. I said I felt they bought Nik pretty much just for their Snapseed mobile app (which is awesome), and that I didn’t see them continuing to develop the Nik Collection as desktop plug-ins.
Q. And at the time, how did the Google/Nik folks react to you saying that?
A. I believe it was the catalyst for them installing a dartboard set with my photo on it.
Q. Yeah, I heard about that. Didn’t they even send two Google/Nik employees to be guests on The Grid to refute what you were saying?
A. They did, and they were masters at not answering my direct questions about will there be a Nik Collection 5. I made the joke on air that they were so skilled at not answering the question, that they should consider becoming politicians.
Q. So did they ever release that Nik Collection version 5?
A. Senator, I plead the 5th on the grounds that I don’t want to yell “I told you so!” so loudly that it knocks their dartboard set off the wall.
Q. Maybe, since Google doesn’t want it, they’ll give it to Adobe, and they could add it to Lightroom or Photoshop?
A. Ahhhhh, if only the software industry worked like that on any level. What a wonderful world it would be. It’s more likely that Google would assign 200+ engineers to update it than it would that they give it to Adobe or anyone. That’s not how multi-billion dollar software companies roll. I don’t want to whine too much – they did give us for free what was once a $499 collection of plug-ins (and they added another plug-in to it; the Analog Efex plug-in that everybody was hoping for. Stop snickering). ;-)
Q. So, all that aside, where does that leave us now?
A. We’re pretty much hosed. It is over. If your Nik Collection hasn’t stopped working yet, it’s like I said, “Enjoy it while you can” because it’s death is a-comin’.
Q. So, what’s your plan?
A. You might have already noticed that I’ve been transitioning over to using MacPhun’s Luminar plug-in. It has a lot of the same type of effects as Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 (which was their plug-in many pros I know relied upon — that and SilverEfex Pro for black and white conversions). It’s only been out since late last year, but it’s already had over 4-million downloads on the Mac alone, so it’s pretty much just taken off.
Q. Yeah and that’s why I didn’t switch to them earlier — they don’t have a Windows version.
A. Well, now they do (MacPhun announced it a week or so ago, and it’ll be shipping very soon).
Q. So, it’ll be on both Macs and PCs now?
Q. Well, are you going to do a class on these as you did on the Nik Collection?
A. I’m on it. In fact, I’m in the studio taping it this week.
Q. How does it compare to the Nik Collection?
A. I think it compares closest to the Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 plug-in (well, it should be – some of the guys from MacPhun used to be “the guys from Nik Software”). It has many of the same types of effects I went to Color Efex Pro 4 for, like: glows, detail enhancement, bi-color gradients, high-key effects, black and white conversions (not quite as good as Silver Efex Pro, but still good), Advanced Contrast, Structure, Polarizer, all that stuff (though it doesn’t have a straight-up Bleach Bypass effect, I think there’s a preset that gets close, but I will miss that effect from ColorEfex Pro 4. It doesn’t have “Tonal Contrast” by name, but it has the look (they call theirs “Structure”).
Q. Anything it does better?
A. It has lots and lots of presets (a lot that comes with it, and others that are downloadable), and the user interface is better (except for the pictures they use for the presets icons – they look very “consumerish” to me). It has a good Layers feature, so that’s pretty huge for Lightroom only users and their masking tools are really good. It’s got a spot healing tool that’s not bad (again, if you’re Lightroom only), and you can use it as a stand-alone app if you like (it doesn’t have to plug-in to Lightroom or Photoshop, but that’s how I use it exclusively).
Q. Anything worse?
A. It loads a lot slower when you first launch it. I’ve whined about it to them like a thing that whines a lot. I imagine it will get faster soon due to a bunch of whining [not just mine alone, but I can whine with the best of ’em when it comes to software], and if not, the whining will continue, (but much louder).
Q. So, if you’re telling us about which plug-in you’re switching to, I’m picking up a vibe that you feel like the Nik Collection might be ‘going away.” Am I right?
A. No. that’s not the ‘vibe’ I’m putting down. The vibe I’m putting down is the ‘death vibe.” Google said it — they are not supporting the Nik Collection any longer. It’s over.
Q. Scott, now you are starting to freak me out because maybe I’m reading between the lines here, but it sounds to me like you’re hinting that the Nik Collection may not have a very bright future.
A. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m saying “it has no future, and is dead now.”
Q. Maybe I’m jumping the shark here, but it kinda of sounds like you’re intimating that the Nik Collection may stop working for some people some day soon.
A. It has already stopped working for some folks now, and the reason is — it’s dead.
Q. But it sounds like you do think that Google will step in and save the day by assigning some engineers to do a maintenance update so we can keep using the Nik Collection, right?
A. No. I do not think that on any level, nor have I ever thought that, not even for a minute. I hoped it. I wished it, but that train has left the station.
Q. So, if I’m reading you right here, you just said Google is ‘training’ someone to update the Nik Collection? Is that what I’m getting from this?
A. You need to talk to someone.
Q. Are they at Google in the Nik Collection update department?
Well, folks, I don’t know what else to say. The train has left the station. The horse has left the barn. That dog don’t hunt. Fill in your own folksy phrase for “it ain’t gonna happen” here: ______________________. Hey, we still made images before the Nik Collection was even around, and we’ll be making ’em after they’re gone — we’ll just use a different set of plug-ins. Life goes on.
I hope you found this Q&A somewhat:
d) All of the above
Here’s wishing you a day where all your plug-ins work in perfect peace and harmony [insert gong sound here].
Seat 11C, 33,000 feet
Feel free to move about the cabin, inc.