Thursday, February 19, 2004

I had to make the Fed-Ex run tonight. We normally don't have to worry about that, because Fed-Ex makes a pick up at our office every day at 5:00. The problem comes in when a client (who is at a trade show) calls in at 4:55 and wants two hundred copies of their circular sent to them overnight. This is problematic because we didn't do their circular, another agency did it and for some odd reason, they just can't seem to be able to output these flyers.

The client says ok, send me a pdf and we'll get Kinko's to do it.

Yeah, right.

The Kinko's printouts don't look right, so what do they do? They forward the file to us.

So it falls in my lap. The client says "oh, by the way, can you fix our logo? It looks low-res on the Kinko's printout."

Sure, no problem, just open it up in Illustrator and drop in a clean logo. Nope, that doesn't work either. The idiots at the other agency did their page layout in Photoshop, then placed it in a Freehand Document and then made a pdf file. An RGB, 72 dpi pdf to be exact. Gee, I wonder why the printouts look low-res?

I, along with everyone who has ever worked in pre-press, hate people who do things like this. Yes, I can edit the file, but it's an aggravating process that takes much longer to do than it would if the layout were done properly from the beginning. And in the end, the print job still looks like crap. Garbage in, garbage out.

There are days like today that I want to climb up on a rooftop and scream. Photoshop is NOT for page layout. Freehand is NOT what you need to use for multi-page document layout ( I don't give a rat's ass what Macromedia says, I'm the one who has to fix crap like this).

Quark, Indesign and Heaven forbid, Ragemaker are a hundred times easier to work with when you get ready to go to press. Freehand and Illustrator are great for doing single page layouts, but don't send me a four page layout done in Freehand and expect me not to curse loudly and profanely while describing the ancestary of the desginer for the past fifty generations.

I have make this stuff work in the real world. I honestly think that every print designer should have to spend at least two years working in pre-press before they go to work for an agency. Then they would have a far better idea of what works and what doesn't and wouldn't dump crap on their printer to fix at the last minute. One of the best reasons in the world to be nice to your printer is because they can save your ass. If you send them good clean files that they can USE, they are much more likely to call you and say "hey, we've got a problem with this file, are you sure you want to run it like that?" That beats the daylights out of them saying "oh well, they signed off on the proof. run it." On a big print run, say a 100,000 copies, that can cost you your job.

Ok, the proper sequence for this job to have worked properly. Do the funky background image in Photoshop (this is NOT the time to place logos), drop it into a Quark (or Indesign or Ragemaker) layout, import vector logos (Illustrator, Freehand) set the type, write a postscript file (including all fonts, setting it to create a generic cmyk file), make a pdf with Distiller 4.0 or newer with maximum jpeg compression, then email the damn thing to me so that I can't print it out without having to spend two hours fixing screwups... and if there are screwups, well, if the file is set up like this, then I can open it in Illustrator (or Freehand) and fix it.

I'm through with my rant... for now.

On a different note, if you're a web designer who's taken offense at this, you have my apologies, 99% of what I'm talking about doesn't apply to you.