24 Hour Wallpaper Remasters

Continuing our strive for excellence with improved techniques

We spent the month of November quietly remastering many of the 24 Hour Wallpaper sequences. We had to learn some new techniques and acquire fancy new software to make many of these improvements. If you downloaded wallpapers before December 1st you may have older versions.

Because the app doesn’t have a wallpaper update method (yet) you have to update the wallpapers manually. In the future we may add a “update wallpapers” mechanism to the app, but for now we didn’t want the lack of such a feature to prevent people who were early adopters of the app from getting these updates.

How do I update the wallpapers?

There are two ways you can update your wallpapers. We recommend updating all of them (Option #1).

Option #1: Update all of your wallpapers - this is by far the easiest way.

  1. Open 24 Hour Wallpaper preferences from the Menu Bar Menu

  2. Select the Downloads tab

  3. Press the “Remove Downloaded Files…” button at the bottom of the window and press “Remove All” when prompted.

  4. Once the old files are removed, click “Download All Scenes

Option #2: Update specific wallpapers - if you only have a few wallpapers installed. Before updating specific wallpapers, check the wallpaper list below to make sure that wallpaper was remastered.

  1. Open the Wallpaper Browser by selecting Browse Wallpapers… in the Menu Bar Menu

  2. Select the specific wallpaper you want to update

  3. Hold down the OPTION key - you will see Delete Download appear in place of Set as Wallpapers.
    While holding OPTION, click Delete Download.

  4. You can release the option key now. You may notice flickering. This is fine.

  5. Once deleted, click Download and Set as Wallpaper. The new version will then be downloaded.

Note that you may also combine these options, using preferences to delete all of the wallpapers, and then the scene browser to download them again.

Note that if you have Dynamic Desktop mode enabled, the DD will re-generate after the wallpaper is downloaded. This means you may experience heavy CPU usage while downloading the updates.

If you have any questions or issues with this process please do not hesitate to contact us at support@magicwindowapp.com. Thanks for your support and enjoy the updated wallpapers!

What wallpapers were remastered?

The following wallpapers were remastered:

  • Alabama Hills (Sierras)

  • Amsterdam Rijksmuseum

  • Bristlecone Pine (Sierras)

  • Lake Taupo

  • Malibu Oceanfront

  • Mojave Hills

  • Mojave Preserve

  • Nevina’s Vineyard (Sonoma)

  • Onion Valley (High Sierras)

  • Phuket

  • Sydney (Rose Bay)

  • Tokyo (Harijuku)

  • Yosemite (Lukens Lake)

  • Yosemite (Tioga Road)

  • Waterlogue Mojave

  • Waterlogue New York

  • Waterlogue Yosemite Mix

What was done in the remasters?

  • The primary focus of these remasters was improvement of night imagery. We worked hard to reduce noise, eliminate errant pixels, and make other improvements to make the night images look better. We also made an intentional effort to make sure all night images feel like night. Some of the images were just too bright, despite being technically correct.

  • In addition we tried our best to better align images on sequences where they weren’t in perfect alignment. It’s not easy to keep the camera absolutely perfectly steady for 24 hours, and in the cases where we didn’t we’ve done our best to fix it in post.

  • In some cases we replaced specific images in sequences with different images from the same sequence. This helped in a few cases make the overall scene feel better and more consistent.

Why aren’t your night images as crisp as Apple’s?

Why are the stars blurry?

Apple’s Mojave Dynamic Desktop is not a photograph; it is a computer rendering. Because it is a computer rendering it looks crisp and sharp in a way that a photograph can not. If you put our Mojave wallpaper side-by-side with Apple’s the fakeness of Apple’s becomes quickly apparent.

Photographing high quality images at night requires a camera with a high quality high ISO sensor (like the Canon 5DSR), a super-fast lens (ideally f1.4), low-wind conditions, and some advanced processing techniques. Even with all these, if the photograph takes 10 seconds or more to capture, the stars/earth will move, and thus be slightly blurred. We can’t stop the movement of the cosmos just to take a photo.

One method to overcome this challenge is IR photography. You can buy/modify a special camera body that filters out all colors other than IR. We can’t use this technique without also using it on the day images because the camera body can’t be changed without moving the camera. While this produces a very cool effect, it’s not what people want for day images.

Another method to overcome this is by taking multiple shorter photographs, layering them, and using special software that properly aligns the stars. However if this is done repetitively, in sequence, the camera sensor is heated to the point that the noise is not acceptable. So while we continue to experiment with multi-photo methods, we are only able to use them in cold environments. When we tried this in the desert… well. It was not good.

Finally, using computer rendering, or hybrid computer rendering/photography, offers a middle ground. This isn’t an area we have a lot of practice with but we are exploring it. It may ultimately make the most sense to use the foreground of a photograph and simulated stars and sky. But will it be believable? Welp people believe Apple’s desert is real…

We will continue to improve our techniques both in the field and in post production. However we are never going to be able to match the quality of a computer rendering with a photograph. We’re interested to see how Apple handles this for locations that have more detail than a desert.