Los Angeles InDesign User Group
From Paste-Up to InDesign
Thursday, July 17, 2014
La Cienega Community Center, 8400 Gregory Way, Beverly Hills, California
By Alvin Takamori
On July 17, the Los Angeles InDesign User Group met at the La Cienega Community Center in Beverly Hills. I walked in and was greeted with a warm welcome and a firm handshake. There was a large room with lots of seats and a side room with big pots of coffee. After a few seconds, I realized there were no familiar faces, so I turned back to the nice man who greeted me and received directions to exit another door and cross the hall to a much smaller room. Hopefully, we didn’t lose anyone to that AA meeting, but if you missed our meeting, here’s a brief summary.
Our guest presenter was Barry Shereshevsky, who continues a long and distinguished career as an art director and designer including the creation of promotional campaigns for movies and television. He regaled us with interesting stories from his career and in the process also provided a history lesson in design.
For those old enough to remember, Barry recalled the days when graphic design required paste-up to create layouts. He used amberliths and photostats. Photography had to be ordered and it would take weeks to get everything and strip together camera ready art.
During those early days, Barry learned a letter spacing rule that still applies. To improve the spacing, isolate any group of three letters and make sure the middle letter looks centered between the other two letters.
Another valuable design lesson that Barry shared was that successful designs should have an impact. There needs to be a message that draws a viewer into an image. He cited an example of a movie poster he worked on. Most ideas had a silly image of a meteor chasing people, but he created a more compelling visual that showed a unique perspective of a meteor approaching the earth.
Design styles, like fashion, seem to change in cycles over time. There was a time when movie posters relied heavily on illustrations. Then designs became photography focused and every poster made use of photos. Now illustrations are coming back.
As a side note, Barry noted how useful InDesign is for taking a design and generating different files for the various output devices that exist today. You can create a PDF for printing, then a JPG to post on the internet. Sharing on social media is a great way to quickly do some marketing research. For instance, if you design a logo, you can conduct an instant survey by posting the design to see how many likes it receives. A catchy subject line can be key to getting a lot of responses.
During the time Barry worked with Suzy Rice on a brochure for Star Wars, a lot of back-and-forth communication was required to grasp the ideas of a rusty ship and storm troopers. Just the look of the lasers took a drawn-out process of creating multiple looks with different colors and different glows, having them rejected, and submitting design after design before the final version was approved. Back then, internet conferencing didn’t exist.
There used to be something called Alphatype, which was typesetting on film. One drawback to using it was that it was critical to have a dust-free environment. A piece of dust could easily ruin 8-point body copy.
In the 70s, the Intertype Company — makers of a linecasting machine that was a rival to the Linotype — had a lot invested in hot metal typesetting equipment and sought a way to utilize that same machinery in the nascent age of phototypesetting. In one of the strangest combinations of technologies ever, Intertype inserted a photographic negative of a letter into a hole drilled in the brass matrices (letter molds). Rather than pressing hot metal against the matrices to create a line of type, the matrices were turned sideways and photographed one letter at a time. The Fotosetter, as the contraption was called, was state-of-the-art for about five minutes.
The Mergenthaler V-I-P, another early computer typesetting machine, loaded negatives with fonts six at-a-time using 4k of memory. A 16k board could be purchased for $4,000. The first computers were so slow and limited in memory that you could easily take a coffee break while you waited for an image to render.
Prior to computers, font design was a lot of work. While working on a logo idea for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, it was decided that raw, hand-drawn letters were the best solution. The problem was that the advertising required that all the actors' names had to be drawn in the same style.
To reveal one way that the design process has changed, Barry told us about Mike Salisbury, who among other things was art director at Rolling Stone magazine. Mike used to sketch ideas on whatever was handy, like a napkin. This along with various samples he collected would serve as a guide to his design staff. He would create a design by sorting through a collection of scrap samples and indicating to use this type with this kind of photograph, and the colors from this sample, and do it in a design style similar to this example. Now the need to gather a collection of samples or catalogs of photos and illustrations has been rendered obsolete by Google.
Similarly, Warner Bros. used to have catalogs of their film library that Barry designed for distribution to station managers. The managers could look through the catalogs and order the films they wanted to broadcast. As the internet grew, Barry realized all of this could be done online, and suggested it. However, he was told that some station managers were old guys who still needed the books. It gave him a few more years of work designing catalogs, but eventually technology and progress prevailed. That theme probably summarizes the changes in the design field during the course of Barry Shereshevsky’s career.
There were several multiple raffle winners. Traci Larson won FlightCheck 7, an LA Web Pro ticket, a Fotolia subscription and eDocker CREATE! Rick Torres won Stylism for Illustrator, a Fotolia subscription and Type DNA. Davi Cheng won Blacklining for InDesign and an iDML iPad app.
Single winners included Joanne Abensour who won Font Agent Pro 6, Robin Schiff who won Stock Layouts, Nancy Anne Fox who won ColliderScribe for Illustrator, and Gay Swaine, Eric Renard, and Lea Frechette who each won an LA Web Pro ticket.
Matthew Torres won a subscription to InDesign Magazine for a year as the person who drove the farthest to attend the meeting. He came from Lake Elsinore.