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Platform Updates: Granular Turnaround Times, Insights, Custom Stacking, and more


Retouching service insights dashboard

As always, we’ve been hard at work improving our retouching platform the last couple months.

The most obvious change was to our dashboard, where we’re surfacing KPIs and giving you a finger on the pulse of your business. That one got its own blog post, Pixelz Pulse: Your New Retouching Dashboard.

But that’s far from the only change we’ve made recently. Here are a few of the other most notable updates.

Insights Dashboard Refresh

Retouching service dashboard reliability insights Monitor KPIs like delivery time relative deadline in the Insights dashboard

As you saw from our introduction of Pixelz Pulse, we believe deeply in the value of data and transparency in our operations.

We’ve updated our “Insights” dashboard to have clearer wording, more precise data, and to present all graphs in your local time zone.

Flow Retouching: Granular Turnaround Times Flex Throughout the Day

One-piece flow gets more done, faster, than batching. It's fundamental to Flow Retouching's astonishingly fast turnarounds.

You’re probably familiar with your SLA’s turnaround time: it’s generally something like 3 hours for Enterprise running Flow, Next Morning for Pro, and 48 hours for Solo.

We’re now able to make deadlines granular based on time of day, on a specification basis. This is most relevant for studios running Flow Production to enable Flow Retouching (continuous upload throughout the day for ultra-fast turnaround).

The idea is to match real life operating deadlines and objectives in order to help customers hit KPIs like throughput, time to market, and budget numbers.

Let’s look at an example schedule.

Maybe internally you require art director approval of your on-model images before publishing them. So you build deadlines around your art director’s schedule. Let’s say they review images 3 times a day, at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

Model retouching is relatively time-intensive, so we won’t have wild turnaround times. Let’s say no less than one hour. You could have the following schedule:

On-Model Retouching Turnaround Schedule

Built for Art Director Approval at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.
UPLOAD TIME
DELIVERY TURNAROUND
DELIVERED BY
8:00 a.m.
3h
11:00 a.m.
8:15 a.m.
2h45m
11:00 a.m.
...
9:45 a.m.
1h15m
11:00 a.m.
10:00 a.m.
1h
11:00 a.m.
10:15
2h45m
1:00 p.m.
...
11:45
1h15m
1:00 p.m.
12:00
1h
1:00 p.m.
12:15
3h45m
4:00 p.m.
...
2:45
1h15m
4:00 p.m.
3:00
1h
4:00 p.m.
3:15
Next morning
8:00 a.m. tomorrow

Schedule your retouching delivery based on the time that actually matters to you.

With this schedule, every product photographed before 10:00 a.m. could be published at 11:00 a.m., and every product photographed before 3:00 p.m. could be published same-day. Not bad!

But why stop there? In certain cases, with the right client and retouching requirements, we could be delivering in as little as 10-15 minutes!

That’s the power of automation and our lean post-production smart factory.

Learn more about 10 minute retouching at scale.

To set up custom deadlines, contact your Customer Success Manager directly.

Custom Stacking Templates & Triggers

stacked product photos of boxers in retouched composite image Composite separate product photos into one stack for multi-packs and more.

Our Stacking extension for composite images has been available and in wide use by customers for a while now. Some customers have been asking to customize the stacking templates even further, and to provide and trigger custom stacking templates outside of the UI (for example exclusively through upload and file naming triggers).

Now you can.

Custom stacking allows you to:

  • Include the layout as an input file
  • Describe the order of the files within the template
  • Trigger the layout by filename or the normal stacking UI
  • Receive either all component images + the stacked image, or only the stacked image

For more details and to set up custom stacking for your account, please contact your Customer Success Manager directly.

PNG Quantization

color quantization before and after example A colorful image reduced to 4 colors using spatial color quantization, via WikiMedia. For illustrative purposes only; most common is to reduce to 8 bit (256 colors).

We have started supporting PNG optimization using quantization. This is an optional feature you can have enabled for individual specifications.

What is quantization and how is it different from “normal” PNG compression?

PNG is a lossless image compression format. We currently optimize PNGs using the Zopfli algorithm, and that’s the correct decision if you truly want lossless images.

Quantization algorithms—of which TinyPNG is probably the best known—aren’t truly lossless compression. They use “smart lossy compression” instead to reduce file size by reducing the number of colors in an image.

Why would you use PNG quantization instead of JPG if you’re okay with slight—perhaps unnoticeable—reduction in image quality?

For transparent images!

There are other use cases, but that’s the big one. PNG is still the only near universally supported format for partially transparent images.

Because of the potential for unexpected quality loss, we’re only enabling quantization on direct request at the present time. If you want to use PNG quantization, please contact your Customer Success Manager.

Trial Savings

If you subscribe before your trial period expires, we’ll add remaining trial days on to the end of your subscription. Enjoy!

AI Blocked Early Warning Dashboard

Most of the development work we do is less obvious than changes to the user interface. Instead of seeing the change itself, you experience the improvement in quality, consistency, and faster delivery times.

Here’s a quick peek behind the curtain.

Watch full video of Computer Vision scientist breaking down AI in Creative Operations.

At Pixelz, we’ve automated over 50% of the image editing process. This is a very good thing in terms of efficiency, consistency, and speed. For communication, however, it can pose some challenges.

A human who gets stuck retouching an image knows to ask for help. Bots… not so much. We have processes to route problem images to humans or trigger alerts, but this month we’ve also added dashboards for monitoring how long an image has been assigned to a bot, so we can intervene if we think there’s a problem.

Expedited Image “Go” Time

retouching service expedite feature UI illustration Expedite images or orders at the click of a button.

Any Pro or Enterprise user can expedite an image or order via the “Expedite” button within their account at any time, no other communication necessary. Expedited images will have a 3 hour or less turnaround.

We have fixed a bug where in some cases we were setting the expedited deadline based on the time “Expedite” was pressed, rather than when the order was confirmed. This could occasionally wreak havoc when an order with extremely short, or even negative, deadlines slipped into S.A.W.™, our lean post-production platform.

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