Production then and now The evolution of piecing the magazine together
December 1, 2006
A person graduating from a graphic design and advertising program today would have no idea what we would be talking about if we were to describe the way in which Truck News was produced 25 years ago. ...
A person graduating from a graphic design and advertising program today would have no idea what we would be talking about if we were to describe the way in which Truck News was produced 25 years ago. The production language and equipment have completely changed. And the concept of a career as a typesetter would indeed draw a blank look since that occupation no longer exists.
We have all said “It seems like yesterday” at one time or another, and indeed it does seem like yesterday that Truck News was literally carved together each month with x-acto knives on drafting boards with set squares, t-squares, ruby-lithe, registration pins, rapidiograph pens, typesetting equipment that churned out edit and ad copy to be cut apart and pasted up by eight freelance artists. No digital images. Photos were reproduced from polaroids, slides and negatives and were laboriously manipulated on a stat camera and fed into chemicals and processors, then hung to dry before being run through waxers and pasted into position for the printer. IBM was the buzz-word in the late 80s and the greatest technological advancement allowed format codes to be added to the editorial type on an IBM PC which was then passed through a conversion program and automatically converted to its proper size, font, line length etc. Wow, in those days, this was a huge breakthrough for typesetter, editor and artist.
Brian Light was our fearless visionary back then and Ted, his brother and side-kick, was a face known well to the industry and friend to all who produced the book. On occasion, should we be short of bodies to produce the book due to illness, both Brian and Ted would find themselves with us on a drafting board and while Brian was fairly proficient with an x-acto knife, the overlay and ruby-lithe process used to carve out drop shadows and colour was sometimes daunting to Brian and completely lost on Ted.
Ted had no ego about that fact and was just as content to be the coffee runner or the guy who bought the beers once the book was ‘put to bed’ – and trust us, that was just as important in the process as making sure all overlays lined up. It was a mentally and physically demanding process each and every month with many late nights and long hours. It amazes us today when we look back at some of those issues, in books that were 136 pages, that we always met our press deadline and were on the street on time. Our claim to fame was that we never missed a deadline and that holds true today.
We are now a production team of three and all three of us have worked on this book for 20 of those 25 years. Ted was there when Truck News made the leap to computers and as with the ruby-lithe, made no bones about not becoming computer savvy.
Rob Wilkins took the helm about the time that we decided to go direct to film and like Ted, he really encouraged the new process and was happy to stay in the field of expertise that was his, outside the Macintosh world. The changes we have encountered were by no means done in baby steps – always in giant leaps. Pages are now digitally produced; most communication happens via e-mail and FTP sites; fax machines are a little rusty these days. The Internet is our new best friend and extends the reach of our printed product. Layout boards in portfolio cases have been replaced by three or four CDs being dropped to the printer. No more massive packages with pounds of film being dropped off to us from agencies – now it is a single hi-resolution PDF. We haven’t seen film in about four years – our book goes direct to plate. No more late night visits to the printer to sign-off on last minute changes; now online proofing comes directly to our home computers.
Yes indeed, our jobs have definitely changed! The ever-changing climate that the computer world presents has certainly placed a whole new set of demands on us and anyone trying to put out a product while staying current and on top of their game can surely relate. The beauty of producing our magazine electronically is the knowledge that creativity is only limited by ones imagination. Always learning and ever-changing can be a truly exciting prospect and as the three of us have come to know and expect, just a program update away.
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