||FULLY AUTOMATED DIGITAL PAGINATION and LAYOUT SYSTEMS FOR PRINT PUBLISHING MEDIA.
||CUTTING PRODUCTION COSTS
This fully automated digital
pagination system was one of the largest projects I have managed in the publishing
industry. Its full development took five years and, in the end was the result of
collaboration work between Canadian, American, British, German and Dutch software
developers specialized in publishing and advertising.
When completed, the 160 page publication (for which we developed the system before
being marketed to others) required only three production people
(down from twelve required before this implementation) and the full layout time
of the newspaper required less than four hours for each edition (down from twenty
hours. In addition, the quality of design in advertisements and the overall visual
presentation of this publication was raised to new standards which, in turn,
permitted the paper to both raise its advertising rates and acquire new accounts.
All overtime pay was eliminated.
The prototype configuration of the system, allowed a full color, 32 page magazine
to be laid out by ONE single person in less than ten hours. The variable, of course
was only the operator's skill level. When completed, the finished pre-press digital
files were delivered to the printing company (initially) on a CD disc, later were
uploaded directly to the printing plant's servers (in some cases, the printing services
were located in other cities or, even countries.
Please note that the rest of the copy on this page was written shortly after the
project was completed; thus the writing style.
To built an automated newspaper layout production system that required minimal use
of staff handling a high volume of advertisements under very tight deadlines.
The Impossible Task
Presented the proposed project to the publisher. Demonstrated its benefits and
explained why the first step, which was also the crucial turning point in the
publication's future success: the transition from manual paste-up to digital
composition while using a key off-the-shelf product as opposed to the already
chosen (installed and in use) proprietary software.
Project Implementation (I-a)
(a) Built a production computer network and configured all machines (computers)
to the exact design and technical standards. Also set all the ad design standards,
digital templates, color correction values, etc.
Project Implementation (I-b)
(b) Built the production's network directories and the company's first digital
image library - where over a period of eight years I managed to build over
1,000 logos and miscellaneous corporate identities.
(c) Installed and configured dedicated production stations: server, backup computers,
scanning and digitizing machines. Programmed and installed automated scanning and
image processing routines and trained the production staff on how to use them.
(d) Designed and programmed specific PostScript fonts (Illustrator, Fontographer,
etc.) which were installed into the paper's ad-taking system (Mac and PC versions);
built font translation filters for international characters in order to import
ads coming - via the internet - from similar papers from around the world.
Project Implementation (II)
(e) Trained the sales people on what was needed and how it was to be accomplished:
usage of the digital cameras, file naming convensions, a common design vocabulary
that was needed in order to communicate properly between the departments.
(f) Wrote procedural manuals and "Quick Reference" cards for all the stations of the
production department and guidelines for the display sales and the classifieds advisors
and held regular training and update sessions with all departments - managers and
departmental key positions.
(g) Maintained and troubleshooted the production's computers and network's configurations:
operating systems and application software, routing, file sharing and transfer,
communications, backup scheduling and upgrades. Networking configurations included
setup and management of Apple file servers, internet routers, remote troubleshooting,
etc. Operating system: Mac OS.
|THE BENEFITS OF THIS SYSTEM|
When installed in production
environments this system requires a minimal use of staff and time, thus providing
production-saving performances rarely achieved with traditional layout and design
methods. Here are its major benefits...
- Reduce the production cost by cutting a number of redundant activities in your company.
- Reduce the number of employees and eliminate overtime.
- Cut expenses on production materials used for layout purposes.
- Eliminate loss of revenue incurred as result of layout errors and missed ads.
- Eliminate the pre-press fees that printers charge in order to cover the costs of making final additions, corrections and "touch-ups", or printing extra proofs.
- Avoid production pressure and further errors created by missed deadlines.
Improve the publication's visual presentation. This
particular page make-up system is a controlled environment. In most cases,
it follows fine-tuned digital layout or "traffic" reports which are unique
to each publication and each issue. For this reason, any publication produced
with this technology also experiences a major improvement in the quality of
its visual presentation.
Increase advertising revenues. As advertisers take pride in presenting their
ads, and as ads become cheaper to manage and produce, it is obvious that
these advertisers will buy more ad space.
Reduce sales commissions. Where applicable, or required, these systems can
maintain parallel online functions which, in addition to creating access to
archives of current and past issues, they would enable the sales of business
ads and subscriptions.
In addition, by being a distinct process, this pagination contractual proposal
also suggests to respect all your other in-house, non-related and pre-pagination
procedures. This means that, regardless of how or where your publication's content
is produced, this process will not interfere with your other production functions.
Save time. Needless to say that, by reducing the production's workload, your
managers will be able to focus on further priorities.
|THE PROCESS' OVERVIEW
its full configuration, this system involves the development of numerous automation
routines between classified ad-taking systems, the production of content used in the
design of display advertising and the actual layout process of all pages of the publication.
The process can also double-format a publication. That is, it creates
the content for both the print and online versions, simultaneously.
Where applicable, the process handles the formatting and transfer of data through a number of
operating systems such as UNIX/Mac, Windows, etc.
the pagination process, the system sorts, transports and places all types of ad formats
according to a layout report which follows all the technical and marketing specifications
such as page colors (CMYK, SPOT, B/W), page positioning, ad size and cost.
Raw images (from either scanners or digital photo cameras) are imported in automated
processing routine at the end of which are properly formatted, according to preset
parameters, for both the printed and online versions. During these routines, all required
corrections to the images are also applied.
automation routines, fully developed by Padronius programmers, can be configured to any
type of print production setup.
As mentioned above, this pagination system is based on Quark XPress and serves for both
the Macintosh and PC platforms. However, at this time, we only offer this service for
the Mac-based production environments.
Read more about this, and learn what actually happens during a pagination process, on the right column of this page.
The system's architecture is based
on modules, which means that you don't have to wait until the completion of the project
before you see any results. As each step is being built it is also incorporated into
the live production of your publication. Should you decide to change directions or add
more modules as you go, you can do so pretty much at any time without compromising the
overall process of development.
|WHAT GETS DONE|
The first step in the introduction of a new automated
digital pagination system is the assessment process: what is it that the subjected
production environment has, what exactly is that it needs and how is everything
going to be done. of the your specific pre-development needs.
Typically, the following list will cover most scenarios:
- Build development flowcharts based on your desired production configuration.
- As we do so we will help your publication make a smooth transition from lower production technologies to a fully automated digital composition process.
- Build and link image libraries and advertisement databases.
- Design and program PostScript fonts which you own and install on your production systems (Mac and PC versions).
- Build font translation filters for international characters in order to import advertisements and text coming - via the internet - from similar publications from around the world.
- Setup and maintain the production's computers operating systems and your network's configurations: system software, routing, file sharing and transfer, communications, backup scheduling, upgrades and troubleshooting.
- Train computer graphics - and desktop publishing - and fundamentals of applied visual communications for advertising, development of branding and corporate identifications, billboards, posters, point of sale, and even government and office forms.
- Write training manuals and updated technical releases for in-house use in order to increase your company's efficiency.
- Link the publication's printed production to an online presence, if already available (other than web publishing).
- Link your site to references that will enhance your online experience.
- Provide online technical support for all services.
- Provide further research and/or development of your production's special needs.
Under a previous production
model which was used for five years (still under a computerized configuration)
this publication employed 12 layout people who were working an average of
20 hrs each (including an average of 5 hrs of overtime, each) in order to
layout the 120 pages required.
At the completion of the new digital pagination system, the (now) 160 page
publication required only three production people working less than four
hours for each edition. In addition, the quality of design in advertisements
and the overall visual presentation of this publication was raised to new
standards which, in turn, permitted the paper to both raise its advertising
rates and acquire new accounts.
:: Return to top
HOW EVERYTHING WORKS
As content (ads, photos, editorials,
etc., also referred to as "objects") is being created, it is also being filed in
designated modules of a layout database.
Once ready for pagination (better known as page layout or composition) all objects
are collected from their respective databases, formatted and fed to Quark XPress
where the layout of the publication is pretty much being done by the computer(s).
The entire process is automatically controlled by an advertising "traffic", or
layout report. The functions of the layout report are built, partially, based on
information collected from the ad sales logs for that particular issue. A number
of other parameters, such as ad-tracking, ad-value, technical and procedural data
also make-up an issue's profile report.
During the layout process, all objects
are placed under their assigned / reserved pages, categories and exact requested
(by advertisers) positioning, following the exact order decided upon. Photos, logos
and other images are imported from their database or some storage device - even
directly from a digital camera - after they undergo a digital file formatting process.
The entire process is done in three steps: 1] place holders for each object are
positioned onto pages (they contain a contract number and a short description of
what actually will be filling those spaces), 2] the actual content is brought in
and 3] an error check is performed and (if any) necessary adjustments are flagged.
The entire ad value of the publication is calculated automatically prior to pagination
and all spot color and CMYK pages are positioned according to the number of pages
determined for each particular issue and the respective printing templates provided
by the printing company. Place holders for house ads and fillers are also reserved.
Registration marks for color separations and other utility functions are inserted
automatically along with page numbers, dates and sections' descriptions and their
graphical markers or logos, if any.
First of all, you need
to understand that, in general terms, the cost of advertising is
based on readership. You also need to understand that readership
is also a marketing tool, which means, it has to look good no matter how you slice it. So,
the more "eyeballs" the space where your ad is printed on is seen
by, the more expensive your ad is going to be. (Ad prices are also
heavily dependent of their size, color and page positioning or, in
other words, how eye catching they can be. However, these are all
attributes that classifieds don't qualify for).
For the most part, readership numbers are calculated by multiplying
(a) by (b), where
(a) is the average number of copies that a publication prints during
the time period for which your ad is published, and
(b) is the "manufactured" number of people that the publication is
presumably read by "in general" -- not necessarily within the time
frame that your ad was booked.
Is this confusing? Well, it should be, because if you would really
understand all the technicalities of selling print advertising, you'll
no longer be interested in buying the ads.
What all this actually means when translated is that no matter what
"they" want to have you believe, your ad will never be seen by that
many people they tell you. No one, that is, NO ONE reads an entire
newspaper -- every single page, section and/or ad on it. By the way...
Usually, and depending on demographics the manufactured household
readership is a number between 2.5 and 4. And, yes, the newspaper
market research people will impress you how good and accurate they
are at what they do. So, when you call the paper to place an ad, the
sales rep will eagerly inform you that in your city, in average, there
are (i.e.) 3.47 people per household. Got that? Not 2, not 3, not even
4, but exactly 3.47 family members, all of which read the classified
ad that you are about to pay for so happily and handsomely...
Do you really believe that those 1.47 kids (in the household) under
five years of age which are part of the readership will actually shuffle
the paper and read your business ad, between breast-feedings?
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