Super Select AI is a new feature that ON1 is working on. It’s not available yet, but should appear in ON1 Photo RAW some time soon. It’s a feature that ON1 is calling ‘semantic masking’ in its YouTube video, which you can watch below:
It’s designed to solve a perennial problem with photo editing – the time and expertise it takes to select objects and areas for individual editing.
ON1’s solution is to use the power of AI and what it calls ‘semantic masking’. The technology uses AI to pick out objects and areas when you move the mouse pointer across them – and you simply click to turn that area into a mask. From the video it looks as if you can then click again to pick up any nearby areas and objects that should also be included.
Once you’ve made your Super Select AI mask, you will then be able to right-click and choose from a large number of pre-configured adjustments. The demo shows adjustments for local adjustments, effects, presets and styles, and it certainly looks like a quick way to enhance specific areas of a scene.
AI masking isn’t perfect, and from ON1’s own demo it’s clear that the tool didn’t pick up areas of sky between the branches of a tree in the sample landscape, for example. But then it’s in the nature of masking tools that you choose the best tool for the job and no one tool is perfect for everything. In ON1’s own example, it’s clear that the sky selection would have worked less well with a sky darkening effect applied because the missing areas would have become obvious. But let’s not be too critical – with masking, if the adjustments are subtle then any inadequacies in the masking will be far less visible.
Other software publishers have their own clever AI masking tools. The Lightroom AI sky selection and subject selection is very good indeed, for example, and Capture One’s Magic Brush is pretty good too. Ultimately, though, masking is likely to remain a craft rather than a quick fix, and while AI masking tools like this can save you time with certain enhancements, they can’t replace your own vision of what an image should look like. The whole art of black and white dodging and burning depends not on selecting and masking specific areas necessarily, but your own judgment of the balancing of light and dark across the image.
It’s not clear yet when ON1’s Super Select AI tool will become available. We are already more than half way through 2022, so if it is planned for an update for the 2022 version, the window of opportunity is shrinking. Otherwise, it looks like it might arrive in ON1 Photo RAW 2023, which will be a paid upgrade for users not on an ON1 subscription plan.
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