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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Vectorized Photo

This photo was vectorized in Vector Magic by Stanford University, then downloaded as an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic), taken into Illustrator, then exported into Photoshop and finally made into a JPG (I feel a bit faint). I have seen paintings of this sort of image.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Typophiliacs Unite!

I just found this site called Typophile, and joined up. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Bearie Photoshopped

I am trying to work out how they did that rotoscoping for the movie Waking Life. I used Photoshop to manipulate this image of Bearie so that it resembles the movie images. I would have to change all the colors around to really get it there, but this does show a beginning. They say they used Illustrator. I am not sure how. I am presently *gasp* READING MY MANUALS (unheard of)!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ancient Models

In response to Osprey, whose post on her first computer was very different from my first experiences, I want to share my early typesetting days. Above you see an IBM Selectric. In 1980, when I was hired by a New York City department store to do paste-up and typesetting in their art department, this was their equipment. It could remember, if I recall correctly, about two lines of type. Once those two lines were printed out on clay-coated paper, the next two lines could be input and so on. Once the entire block of type was printed out, the paper was sprayed with a fixative to prevent smearing. From there, it was run through a waxer, which deposited a thin coat of hot wax onto the back of the paper; it was then cut out and pasted onto the "mechanical", a complete image of the ad, for example. It was covered with a flap of tissue paper, and sent to the printers to be photographed and then the image was used to make a printing plate for the press.

Fonts could be changed by changing the "ball", a spherical metal object with 3-dimensional letters on it, like those in a manual typewriter.

The Blue Box

My next experience was on the Compugraphic dedicated typesetting machine. This was much more involved. The machine had a rapidly rotating drum, onto which were affixed two font strips, which were simply negatives of the entire typeface including all unusual characters. The operator (that could have been me in the photograph) typed in the entire piece, which was then edited before printing. It made life much easier.
Once the block of type (usually the entire piece) was correct, it was printed out onto photographic paper, which was rolled into a light-proof container. From there the container was inserted into a self-contained darkroom apparatus, and it came out developed and fairly dry. Then the type was, once again, waxed and pasted onto the mechanical. The Mergenthaler Linotype had a machine that was in direct competition to this system. It was more complex and had a system of space that was much more sophisticated. One could "kern" the characters, for example, moving an "A" closer to a "V" so that the outer edges of the characters would not be miles apart. Without kerning, the letters would have a surrounding rectangle that would not allow the next letter any closer.
Tabs were the most difficult part of this work, being highly complex and difficult. In both these systems, the operator had to imagine how the tabs would look in the finished piece, since there was no WISYG (What You See Is What You Get) display at that time. To be a good typesetter, one had to use complicated math involving the translation of inches into picas and points, and to be able to use one's judgement about spacing of tabs so that there would be enough room for all the data and room in between to separate the columns of data.
I became quite proficient at this form of typesetting, which led to jobs at very large banks in New York City, and the New York Stock Exchange. It was challenging, and I was a back room person. No one bothered the typesetter at her job.

The Macintosh Miracle

By the time 1988 rolled around, I got a job at a design studio in Houston, and they asked if I would mind being trained on the Mac. Of course I said yes, and it was a whole new world. I could SEE what I was doing! After eight years of having to picture my results, I was able to preview what I wanted to print out. Not only that .... the printer was a laser printer. No more photographic paper to develop! I had worked on many versions of typesetting computers by that time, and had become quite accustomed to "flying blind", but it was a relief to see again.
I had started all this as a graphic artist and pasteup person, a jill-of-all-graphic-trades, so this was back to the future! I reveled in it, and learned Quark XPress, Photoshop and Illustrator. How marvelous it was, to make complex visuals as well as to do typesetting without all the laborious parts. It rocked my world.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tom Waits

Not a lovely voice, just a weird one. Hear his song "Chocolate Jesus" here on YouTube.

Recovery is a Drag, Man

One of my hard drives began failing recently, and long story short, I had to get two new drives, have them set up as a RAID1 system. For the unitiated (I was one not long ago), RAID means Redundant Array of Independent Discs. Unfortunately, a RAID ZERO which is what I had, is definitely NOT redundant. RAID0 requires that both discs be functional in order to boot the system. It splatters data all over both discs indiscriminately. The RAID1 is a "mirror" system, meaning that all data and boot data are redundantly captured by both discs. It means I have a little less storage, but I have a safety net. If one drive fails, I can simply replace it and keep on truckin'. Theoreticallly, no data loss. We shall see. Many many techies have promised me many, many things about computers, and few of them have been correct.

I also had to replace my external hard drive because I was asked for the serial number, which is on the BOTTOM of the drive. I naively picked up the drive and turned it upside down. It gave a big KICK and died in my arms, well, in my hand. I replaced it and did a backup (as advised) every day. Well, trust me, that is NOT the easiest way to save data to put back on a hard drive. "Backups" have layers and layers and layers of folders, and the data is inside the lower layers. Not only that, but when I tried to do a "restore", the drive said "backup location not available". I tried copying the entire contents back onto my internal hard drive, and ended up with HUGE numbers of folders I could not delete. I had to re-format my hard drive AGAIN to get rid of them. Now I am simply COPYING my document folders onto the external drive. That way I can just copy them back on.

These have been expensive lessons in computers, in money, time, and emotional wear and tear. I know a lot more now. I am back online and my computer can do most things. My software woes continue. It is amazingly difficult to get everything back in its former functionality. *sigh* I hope this will be resolved soon.