Shutterfly Buys School Photo Company Lifetouch for $825M in Cash

Shutterfly Buys School Photo Company Lifetouch for 5M in Cash

Shutterfly has announced that it has agreed to acquire Lifetouch, the employee-owned photography company best known for being the national leader in school pictures. The purchase price is $825 million in cash.

“Shutterfly and Lifetouch, two undisputed leaders in their respective industries, are both built around the mission of helping customers share life’s joy through photos,” says Shutterfly CEO Christopher North. “The two companies are uniquely well suited for one another, with similar target customers as well as complementary manufacturing capabilities.”

North says the deal will give Shutterfly access to the millions of families who need to order photo products from Lifetouch. In addition to school pictures, Lifetouch also shoots portraits for special events, sports, businesses, churches, and in studios.

Lifetouch was founded by two traveling salesman 82 years ago in 1936 as National School Studios. Eldon Rothgeb and R. Bruce Reinecker opened their own school photo company after raising $500 in funding during the Great Depression. After starting in a rural area in the Upper Midwest, the company grew to cover all 50 states and rebranded as Lifetouch in 1984.

Every year, Lifetouch photographs over 25 million children in the United States on fall picture day, serving over 50,000 schools and 10 million households in the process. In the previous fiscal year, Lifetouch had revenues of $963.9 million and earnings of $111.3 million.

But growth has slowed in recent years, and Lifetouch had been actively looking for a buyer over the past several months.

“Lifetouch essentially had put itself up for sale in recent months, said its CEO, Michael Meek,” reports StarTribune. “He said it wasn’t growing fast enough to generate sufficient cash flow to invest in new technology and in other ways in the business, while cashing out some of its 16,000 employee and former employee owners as they reach retirement age and are eligible to sell their stock back to the company.”

Shutterfly investors, apparently enthusiastic about this acquisition, sent the company’s stock surging nearly 28%, from $53 a day earlier to over $68 at market close today.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2018, after which Shutterfly will officially be in the school picture business.


Source: PetaPixel

Shutterfly Buys School Photo Company Lifetouch for 5M in Cash

Google’s Clips AI Camera Was Trained in Photography by Pro Photographers

Google’s Clips AI Camera Was Trained in Photography by Pro Photographers

In October 2017, Google announced Clips, a small hands-free AI-powered camera that’s designed to capture your life’s memories without much human intervention. The camera isn’t on store shelves yet, but Google is revealing some new interesting details about it. One such detail is that the camera was trained with the help of real professional photographers.

Clips uses artificial intelligence to automatically capture memorable moments in your life, so Google needed to teach it to recognize photos worth keeping while ignoring throwaway snapshots. The goal is to allow people to enjoy moments more while trusting Google Clip to preserve memories for them, instead of being so absorbed in capturing photos that you miss out on experiences.

“This year, people will take about a trillion photos, and for many of us, that means a digital photo gallery filled with images that we won’t actually look at,” Google writes. “This is especially true with new parents, whose day-to-day experience is full of firsts.

“During moments that can feel precious and fleeting, users are drawn to their smartphone cameras in hopes of capturing and preserving memories for their future selves. As a result, they often end up viewing the world through a tiny screen instead of interacting using all their senses.”

To train Clips in photography, Google turned to a strategy called “human-centered machine learning.” The company put out ambiguous job listings for photographers and ended up hiring a documentary photographer, a photojournalist, and a fine arts photographer. The group then began gathering footage from Clips team members and attempted to answer the question: “What makes a memorable moment?”

“We had romanticized conversations about depth of field, rule of thirds, dramatic lighting, match cuts, storytelling … but what I learned was that we should never underestimate the profound human capability to wield common sense,” writes Clips UX designer Josh Lovejoy. “Basically, we’re trying to teach English to a two-year-old by reading Shakespeare instead of Go, Dog. Go!.”

To establish and improve a baseline of quality, Google trained its AI on what bad photos looked like: objects blocking the shot, blurry images, photos from inside pockets and purses, etc.

Google then trained the AI on things like composition (e.g. stability, sharpness, and framing), recognizing social norms (detecting social cues and people who are consenting to photos), editing (picking out special photos instead of mundane ones), and more.

“Success with Clips isn’t just about keeps, deletes, clicks, and edits (though those are important), it’s about authorship, co-learning, and adaptation over time,” Google says. “We really hope users go out and play with it.”

Google Clips will cost $249 and will be available soon through the Google website (where you can currently put your email on the waitlist).


Source: PetaPixel

Google’s Clips AI Camera Was Trained in Photography by Pro Photographers

Google Photos’ AI Panorama Failed in the Best Way

Google Photos’ AI Panorama Failed in the Best Way

Alex Harker was skiing with friends at the Lake Louise ski resort in Banff, Alberta, a week ago when the group stopped to take some photos on Harker’s Android smartphone. After shooting a few shots, Harker found that the AI-powered panorama stitching feature inside his Google Photos app had created the photo above as the suggested panorama for his scene.

For some reason, Google Photos saw fit to insert Harker’s friend Matt as a colossal bust in the snowy mountain landscape, making the guy look like a colossus peering over the hill at Harker.

“Google Photos offers you animations if several photos are taken in quick succession, sometimes puts filters on your photos, and offers panoramas if it notices your photos are side by side,” Harker writes.

“I literally took like 3 pictures, one with them in, and two without them,” he says. “And for some bizarre reason Google Assistant offered me a really strange panorama of the 3 photos spliced together.”

Here are the three photos Google Photos saw before it decided to create its masterpiece:

Last Thursday, Harker shared the photo on Reddit with the caption: “I took a few shots at Lake Louise today and Google offered me this panorama.” The post has racked up over 187,000 upvotes and has become one of the top Reddit posts of all time.

Good job, Google Photos. You’re so intelligent that even your fails turn into big wins.


Image credits: Photographs by Alex Harker and used with permission


Source: PetaPixel

Google Photos’ AI Panorama Failed in the Best Way

Canon G7X Mark III Photos Leaked: 4K Video is Coming

Canon G7X Mark III Photos Leaked: 4K Video is Coming

The first photos of the upcoming Canon PowerShot G7X Mark III camera have been leaked, and the images reveal that 4K video recording is finally coming to the PowerShot line.

Photo Rumors received and published the first leaked photos of this camera, which will replace the Canon G7X Mark II. From the images, it appears that Canon is taking a new direction with the physical design of the camera — one that’s smoother, sleeker, and simpler.

Canon Rumors notes that a number of features and specs can be figured out from what’s seen in these photos.

First, the camera will shoot 4K/50P video, the first time 4K recording will be offered in a Canon PowerShot camera.

Other specs and features include a 1-inch sensor, 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 IS 4.2x lens (35mm equivalent), USB-C, a microphone jack, HDMI, and a tilting screen that’s possibly OLED.

Just for the sake of comparison, here’s what the front and back of the current Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II look like:

There are no other details available about this camera at the moment, but we’ll likely be hearing more about it in the coming days.


Source: PetaPixel

Canon G7X Mark III Photos Leaked: 4K Video is Coming

Instagram Now Tells People When You Were Last On: Here’s How to Disable It

Instagram Now Tells People When You Were Last On: Here’s How to Disable It

Instagram is rolling out a new Activity Status feature that you may or may not be comfortable with, depending on how much privacy you like to have on social networks. It allows people you follow or have previously chatted with to see how long ago you were last on Instagram.

The Verge reports that the feature is on by default, so you’ll be constantly broadcasting how frequently you open up the app. The time since your last use will be visible to people on the direct messages screen.

While this type of feature is common on social apps these days, this one is being quietly rolled out on Instagram and forces you to reveal more information about your behavior than before.

Some people have turned to Twitter with warnings about it to others who may be unaware:

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If you don’t want to broadcast your activity, thankfully it’s extremely easy to turn off this new feature. Here’s how…

First, visit your profile screen and tap the settings button.

On the settings screen, scroll down a bit and you’ll see a new option called “Show Activity Status,” which is on by default. Turn this off, and voila! You’re now browsing more privately.

Do note, however, that the Activity Status is a two-way street — you’ll need to share in order to see. If you turn off your Activity Status, you won’t be able to see other people’s either.


Source: PetaPixel

Instagram Now Tells People When You Were Last On: Here’s How to Disable It

H&M Slammed for Photo of Black Boy in ‘Monkey’ Hoodie, Mom Hits Back

H&M Slammed for Photo of Black Boy in ‘Monkey’ Hoodie, Mom Hits Back

The clothing giant H&M sparked controversy this week after people noticed a photo in its online store that showed a black child model wearing a hoodie sweatshirt with the words: “coolest monkey in the jungle.” Now the boy’s mom is speaking out and criticizing the critics.

As the photo was circulated online last week and as controversy grew, celebrities began using their social media accounts to weigh in. Among them were basketball superstar LeBron James, soccer star Romelu Lukaku, and musician The Weeknd.

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The New York Times reports that H&M publicly apologized for the photo on Monday and promised to pull the shirt from all stores worldwide.

“We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print,” H&M wrote in its statement. “Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally.

“It is obvious that our routines have not been followed properly. This is without any doubt. We will thoroughly investigate why this happened to prevent this type of mistake from happening again.”

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But at least one person involved in the controversy is now speaking out in defense of the photo. Terry Mango, the mother of the child model in the image, took to social media to criticize the controversy.

“[I] am the mum, and this is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modeled,” Mango writes. “Stop crying wolf all the time, [it’s] an unnecessary issue here. Get over it.. That’s my son, [I’ve] been to all photoshoots and this was not an exception. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about this… I really don’t understand but not [because I’m] choosing not to, but because it’s not my way of thinking. Sorry.”

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The New York Post reports that Mango’s posts have since been deleted from her social media accounts.


Source: PetaPixel

H&M Slammed for Photo of Black Boy in ‘Monkey’ Hoodie, Mom Hits Back

Rare ‘Fake Leica’ Sculpture Shows Up on eBay for $100,000

Rare ‘Fake Leica’ Sculpture Shows Up on eBay for 0,000

A famous and rare stainless steel “fake Leica” camera sculpture has popped up on eBay. The asking price: $99,995 with $350 economy shipping.

We first reported on this sculpture back in 2011. It was created by Chinese artist Liao Yibai, who made three 772lb (350kg) sculptures that were subsequently displayed in Leica stores around the world.

One of the three sculptures was reportedly sold in December 2014 after it had been on display in Leica’s Los Angeles store with a $1 million price tag. It was also rumored that the buyer was Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson, who purchased a $70 million hilltop mansion nearby that was soon reported to have “a giant Leica camera” as decor.

In addition to these three giant Leica sculptures, Liao also made smaller versions of the sculpture that measure 17.625x30x19.25in (44.8×76.2×48.9cm) and weigh 88 pounds (40kg).

It’s one of these smaller sculptures, bearing the serial number 8/12, that is now being sold on eBay by the Dutch store Leica Store Lisse.

“It comes with the wooden crate included, which is especially designed for shipping this sculpture,” the store writes. “One similar ‘Fake Leica’ recently sold at Westlicht Auction (in November 2013, lot 332) for Euro 96.000!”

“So here is your last chance to obtain a very rare art-piece which you’ll not see offered on e-Bay anymore once it has been sold!”

Head on over to the eBay listing if you’re interesting in shelling out $100,000 or making a lower offer.

(via eBay via The Phoblographer)


Source: PetaPixel

Rare ‘Fake Leica’ Sculpture Shows Up on eBay for 0,000

DJI Drone Collided with US Army Black Hawk Chopper and Dented Its Rotor

DJI Drone Collided with US Army Black Hawk Chopper and Dented Its Rotor

On September 21st, 2017, a DJI Phantom 4 camera drone flying recreationally near Brooklyn, New York, collided with a US Army Black Hawk helicopter. The chopper received a 1.5-inch dent on one of its main rotor blades, but it was able to land safely.

The NTSB has published a new report into the incident after a thorough investigation.

Ars Technica reports that drone owner Vyacheslav Tantashov wanted to see some spectacular views in the skies above New York, so he flew his drone roughly 280 feet into the air and out of sight.

After piloting the drone 2.5 miles away from the launch site near Hoffman Island, Tantashov commanded the drone to intelligently “return to home.” The drone was supposed to fly directly back to Tantashov and the launch location, but it never arrived. Tantashov waited for the drone for half an hour before returning home.

It turns out the drone had smashed into a US Army helicopter.

The 1.5-inch dent left in the helicopter’s rotor blade. Photo by the NTSB.

The NTSB was able to identify and contact Tantashov because a portion of his drone had gotten lodged in a cooling fan in the helicopter and was recovered afterward. The serial number was visible on the drone part, and DJI was able to help the US government track down Tantashov using the sales record.

According to the NTSB, the helicopter was flying low at around 300 feet with another chopper at around 7:14 pm when the co-pilot spotted the drone. Despite taking immediate action, the pilots weren’t able to avoid the collision.

In addition to not flying the drone in his line of sight, Tantashov was also relying entirely on the DJI GO 4 app for airspace awareness, the NTSB says. Since the feature was off and because he wasn’t connected to the Internet, Tantashov failed to see that there was a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) imposed on the area where the helicopters were given authorization to fly.

So for its verdict regarding the probable cause of this accident, the NTSB concludes that there were two: first, “the failure of the sUAS pilot to see and avoid the helicopter due to his intentional flight beyond visual line of sight”, and second, “the sUAS pilot’s incomplete knowledge of the regulations and safe operating practices.”


Source: PetaPixel

DJI Drone Collided with US Army Black Hawk Chopper and Dented Its Rotor