GAMUT: Idealliance Printing & Packaging Podcast

64: Google's Marco Ugolini - A Journey from the Dark Room to Perfecting Brand Color in the Digital Age

June 23, 2020 Idealliance Season 1 Episode 64
GAMUT: Idealliance Printing & Packaging Podcast
64: Google's Marco Ugolini - A Journey from the Dark Room to Perfecting Brand Color in the Digital Age
Show Notes Transcript

Google's Marco Ugolini discusses the digital transformation of brand photography in advertising, print, and packaging. Marco's career began in photography at the world-famous Lexington Labs in Manhattan, collaborating with legendary photographers like Bruce Weber to produce iconic ad campaigns for clients like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. A certified Idealliance G7® Expert, Marco takes us on a historical journey from black and white photography, to his early adoption of Photoshop, to why G7® is his go-to requirement within a brand and print supply-chain.

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Speaker 1:

Here's the question, how can we serve innovative voices, smart ideas, and the latest technology to improve brand identity, product consistency, and profitability, and the print and packaging supply chain. Welcome to the ID Alliance gamut podcast. And I am your host. Jeff Collins idea Alliance is a nonprofit association and we serve the global supply chain for brands, print and packaging with 12 offices located around the world. If you are interested in becoming a member of IDL Alliance, you can join us by visiting our [email protected] on today's gamut podcasts . We have a very special guest from Google, Marco , UGA , Leni , and he works in color and print and packaging for Google. And Marco has an amazing story to tell, and you get to hear it today about his journey before the desktop revolution, before Photoshop working with iconic photographers like Bruce Weber, clients like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, as well as brand agencies and design agencies like Landor and associates in San Francisco. So stay tuned. Marco's also a GSM and expert, and he explains the value of [inaudible] and gray balance and tonality and good contrast and the principles he learned early on and producing great photography and great images. Mark your thank you for joining us on the gamut podcast today. And before we get started, I just want to thank you. And thank you Google for allowing you to share your journey, your experience within the industry. I mean, you were at the forefront at the beginning of the digital transformation of print design and in particular photography, and it's where you got your start and you have worked for some amazing, amazing, iconic pioneers within the industry on all sides, all aspects. We talk about the print supply chain, but you have lived in breathed the print supply chain as well. Um, working again, like I said for, and I'll let you tell your story, but , uh , our listeners are in for a treat, a historical treat. So thank you again.

Speaker 2:

No problem. Thank you for the opportunity.

Speaker 1:

Yeah . Starting out before. Well , we'll just kind of benchmark the time and date stamp without giving out our actual ages. And we'll, we'll talk about early days.

Speaker 2:

I can talk about my age. I was in my twenties in the eighties, so in my , in the eighties, so people can do the math.

Speaker 1:

That's funny. We're, we're, we're definitely a little bit older than the average Photoshop user nowadays. And I guess, to get started. Why don't you tell us about your journey, your career before the desktop publishing revolution, the digital transformation in photography before Photoshop and Google became part of the English lexicon?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. I started in the late seventies, late 1970s. I started being interested in photography. That was a completely new thing for me. Um, nobody in my family or nobody , um, very close to me , um, uh , had similar interests, although I had seen photographs and I had known people who had a passion for photography. I, I developed a , um, a passion on my own for photography. And then I, I met a local , um, graphic artist , um , who was , uh , very renowned, very successful in my , um, part of Italy where I was at the time I lived in his first 29 years of my life. Um, and this guy was , um, was a friend and , um, he was a good photographer and one day he just, he was just holding a class in photography. And so I said to myself, man , I want to go. So I, I started, I started dabbling with photographs. Uh , I bought it very bad camera , um , but you know, it was enough to learn and , uh , I took it from there. Um, and then four years later, I moved to New York city and , um, may then I had developed , uh , skills in , um , in darkroom techniques. And , um, I became a , um, I, I got a job in a photo lab in Midtown Manhattan at 46th street between fifth and sixth Avenue. And , um, that , that place was called a license a labs . I don't know if you ever heard of it, but , um, it had, it had some renown in those days. Um, the biggest client there was , uh , Bruce Weber. And so I was with lox and some labs and working mainly for Bruce Schreiber . Actually I , I did black and white photography for myself and for license on labs. I was , um , I was the person that did pretty much 78% of the black and white work. There was another guy, but he didn't do Bruce Weber. I did everything by Bruce Schreiber , including the film. And he would come in, Charlie, his assistant would come in with bags of, of two 20 film and dropping her in my lap. And I had to go and develop them and make contact sheets and so forth. Then it stopped. But it was pretty exciting because in those, in those years I was fresh and New York guy, I was just there in this lab with, you know , glad glamorous people really probably inclined would come before for a party every once in a while, which one , Peter Beard was one of our , uh, of our photographers. Um, Peter Beard , uh , quite a, quite a character. Um, I love his work. I love him as a person too. And , um, so I , I was doing all this work and it was fantastic really . Um, uh , Bruce is a pleasure to work for him and I was very, very, very enthusiastic and appreciative , um, great guy, great guy. So , um, there I was , um , and also on the side doing the work for myself, you know , my own photography, which was pretty much in the style of streets , street photography, and the tradition of , uh , DNR, Robert, Frank Garry Winogrand people are people, people like that. So yeah, those years were , were very formative for me. Um, I was there at the license on labs until about the 85 86. I forget exactly when, and then I left, I went to two , I went to work for another much higher level , uh , place Schneider Erdman down in Cooper square. That was a , um , quite a fancy place , um, quality wise , but one of their clients was Bruce Davidson. Um, but I was not working for him. I did some little work for Maryanne marks there, David Kasserine and names like that. I was very busy developing my own style and developing my own aesthetic really , um , by , um, doing this work, which was , um, very , um, independent. Some of the work was easy or some of the work was harder. The work for Bruce was in the middle. You know, some of the things I did for him kind of hard because they were so underexposed and so I had to learn some tricks. So I learned all these , all these , um , fundamentals. I knew nothing about print , of course, print dark and nothing about any other print offset or anything. So , um, what I did was just create photographs on paper, you know, on the , on a photosensitive paper, we're talking about tiller highlights. It was inferred , um, infer , gallery paper, basically, most of the, yeah. And , um, so I , uh, I worked mainly, almost exclusively with , uh , Charlie Garrison , which, which was , uh, who was the , um , assistant for Bruce. And he was the one that came in with a film and picked up the prints and give me directions from Bruce whenever there was a redo or something that needed to be changed a little bit here, a little bit there, but most of the time it was a , it was a very pleasant work environment. Uh , with , with Bruce. I was always very pleasant for me. Um, so what I, what I developed in , in , in those years was a , was an eye for what looks right and what looks wrong. I'm very demanding of myself. So whenever I saw something that wasn't right, I tended to see it. I didn't, I didn't have to have somebody else tell me I knew it was wrong. Um, so sometimes I wasn't sure, but, you know, I, I, I kind of , um , solidified my , uh , aesthetics. Yeah. My sense of judgment, visual judgment, you know , so those , those years were very important in that way. And especially with , uh , Schneider Erdman man , those guys were demanding and not in a bad way, not in a bad way. I, I love, I love the fact that they were so important in my personal development as a, as a visual Gary, Gary Snyder was particularly strict, but, you know , um, in a good way,

Speaker 3:

Strict , uh , what did you learn from that type of environment where you have this much higher , uh , sensor level of perfection

Speaker 2:

With Gary? You never got away with anything. That's what I got from it right there, right there. And then I kind of fell down all tension , uh , anxious, but, you know, in retrospect that was like , um, you know , um , Marine training, I think I understand . So , um, with, with Gary, it was all about the fullest dynamic range with blacks have to be clean. The whites have to be clean with just a hint of a tone that can not be, that can not be any pure white indifferent . It's got to have a minimum of tone, all those principles I learned, and they are all directly later in hindsight, they're all directly transmissible to print area coverage and minimum dots. Yes, exactly.

Speaker 3:

So what you've described to me is the essence of what we, or the principles I should say of G seven. And we're looking for a high dynamic range, very, very good tonality from the minimum dot all the way to the darker shadows . So we have great contrast throughout the tonal range. And this is the same concept for principle for black and white photography, as it is with [inaudible] and for color reproduction.

Speaker 2:

You seven is that really it's about just having is about tonality contrast and the very bones of what makes an image.

Speaker 1:

And , you know , bones is a great analogy. It's something that we say quite often, that gray balance and G [inaudible] tonality and contrast is the backbone of good image reproduction.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So not to make it long, a long story too long. Yeah . There was an interlude, I , I, in 87, 88, I was with Schneider Erdman for about two years. Um , and I left because my back was just killing me. And , um, and so I couldn't stand being in the document anymore. It's kind of a lonely job. Uh , I had enough of it. Um, so I wanted to move on to something else. And for a while I was doing what at the time in the late eighties was I was called desktop publisher . Right. Um, but then when Photoshop started coming out , um, I, as a photographer, I, I looked at Photoshop and I went off photography with computers. Right. And , um , I, by then I had a Macintosh already. I was , um, um, I was literate in computers. I'm talking about, we were talking about the beginning of really of the computer era, as we know it, the late eighties, it was when I bought a Macintosh. And , um, so with , uh , Photoshop, I started messing with it and saying what , what it , how it , uh , dealt with , with the principles of photography that I knew. And I was immediately Schmidt because this , this thing, this , this program, and of course, as it was before, before Photoshop 2.5, I believe there were not even layers.

Speaker 1:

I remember those days we were working with the SITECH systems to do essentially what Photoshop was trying to do. And within a few years, we were using Photoshops on Mac and those very expensive side workstations like Prisma were no longer useful, not definitely not economical compared to buying a copy of Photoshop,

Speaker 2:

This as something that in the document would have died for immediately. I saw the potential, I, I knew that this program, this application Photoshop at the beginning of the nineties would grow to be a monster in power and possibilities. I knew it. So, and I was right, because right now it was written now in this time and age Photoshop is , is as the best tool I know anyway . Um, um, yeah, I've heard about possible alternatives, but I'm not sure you're going to study. I'm going to study the situation, but we'll see what happens with the other , um , applications that are trying to usurp Photoshop. But , um, I saw immediately what this thing was going to do for images and imaging. And I knew that the doctor was gone finished , um, that , uh , the future was there in front of us. And , um, always has been very enthusiastic about , uh , innovations in computer technology, such as this, you know, I'm also an avid of music enthusiasts , you know , and I think that music has never sounded better than today, you know , in the sense of the sound of it , the sound, the way the period , you really have the sound, not so much the quality maybe, but , uh , the quality of what gets put out except a few rare exceptions, but , um , the quality of the sound is just fantastic, right ? And the same with the quality of the images, what we can do today with , uh, with images is quite astounding

Speaker 3:

And market . What I find interesting about your career is that , uh , your work in the early days with Photoshop, you were at landlord associates in San Francisco and Lander and associates. Walter Landour is an icon and design and advertising and branding at for some of the major retail brands like Coca Cola and more for our listeners and Google landlord associates or land or San Francisco, Walter landlords had quite an amazing history , uh , within the graphic communications industry. And I would love if you could share your experiences at Landour in the early days of Photoshop in the digital transformation.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I started working with Landour associates in 19. I left in New York in 1994, and then I started working with Landor associates in the San Francisco. And immediately I was put to use , um, I was, I was the Photoshop guy there and I was using 2.5 and it didn't have layers. It was really painful, then had layers. It was much better, so on and so forth. One thing that I bang my nose against against again, and again, was this , um, um, mystery that , um, that everybody was presenting me with a print shrouded in mystery and the magic. Right.

Speaker 3:

All the different, everybody has their own special sauce on how they,

Speaker 2:

But it was, you know , well, how is it done? Oh, that's let us do you , you don't want it . You don't touch it, redo it. Okay. And what I, soon enough, I realized that what was coming back was not what we want it . So we're talking 95, 96, 97, 98. And I was disappointed. I, I said, there must be a better way to get results. Like I want them, like, we want them, there's no way to predict here. You know , everybody does what they want and , uh , things can come out darker, lighter red, or blue or greener . And we have to make, we have to find out a way to, to make this work. So in 97, 98, I started hearing of , uh, the color , same technology from Apple. So I started , um, I started attending the user group meetings in the Cupertino.

Speaker 1:

Is this before CBO was launched or [inaudible] yeah ,

Speaker 2:

I think, I think late nineties, right? Yeah. So people like Bruce Fraser was there and , um , you know, talking directly about these , uh , these new technologies, you know, and Bruce was explaining how color management works on this . The first time I heard about color management . So late nineties, I started dabbling in it. And by, by 2000 or 2000 or so, I was, I was pretty good at it, you know, with , with Bruce's help. Bruce was , um, was not exactly a close friend, but it was friendly. And I was able to ask him questions and he would answer me. So that was quite a privilege. I always looked back with fondness. There was just a lovely person.

Speaker 1:

It's amazing listening to your story, Mark air , you mentioned, and working directly in collaborating with people that for our listeners who don't know these people, that Marco is worked with and Bruce Frazier in particular, again, are pioneers in our industry. And , uh , it is today what it is because of their contributions, including yours. Marco , I just want to let our listeners know , uh, who Bruce Frazier is to pay hamachi , uh , passed in 2006. And Bruce was an internationally renowned Photoshop trainer. He worked on the alpha and beta of a Photoshop and is a , again, a pioneer in the digital transformation and digital imaging and photography around the world.

Speaker 2:

So Bruce Fraser and , uh , other people who at the time were , um , in the forefront of the new ICC column manager. And so if we want to call it , um, so , um, I started , um , feeling more, more confident . Um, and as soon as the point, I was able to make , um, uh , management into the work at Lander . And , um, we bought, we bought a spectral Lino, the noisiest machine on the planet , um, uh , very slow. Um, but you know, it was a start and then we bought a rib . We started making proofs. So , um, whoever, whoever starts out, I should see color management. You need patience and dedication. Okay. And long and long studying , you know, you have to study deep and slowly, at least I had to , and it will not come to you easy. You have to work for it, but the results are worth the effort. Absolutely. So from this far end where I am now, I look back and I see all those years as , um , as an investment in what I, in the skills that I have accumulated over the years, you know , which I think are, are useful to places like my current place of employment. And I am in charge of color and print at Google packaging. So , um, that is, that is something that fills me with pride that , uh, you know, I, I was able to , uh, be of value to a company like Google.

Speaker 3:

Wow. Very nice. Uh , Marco and I was, I was listening. I was thinking about how someone like yourself coming from a high-end brand or ad agency creatives, you know, working with these top legendary people and photographers and how you became so knowledgeable about the print side of the process. How did you start? Did you take a class , uh, explain to our listeners your journey in , on the print side?

Speaker 2:

Well, I , um, I had to figure out things one step at a time. So I figured out , um, the basics of print. Right. But everything that broke , I never remembered the title, that tiny book , uh , where all the terms of printing are , um , are explained. I forget it . Yes . That one everybody had . Um, and , um, yeah, I, that was my first introduction to the mysteries of print. Pretty much whenever I D I didn't know some, some terminology, I looked it up there. Remember we didn't have the Google search engine. No .

Speaker 3:

I mean, every prepress deport, you couldn't fit, you know , you walk into commercial printer and you'd probably fought a copy of the pocket. Pal laying around somewhere

Speaker 2:

Was , uh , was very important to me. Um, it was , um, there were a few other books like that, but, you know, I've always been self-taught in my life. And , um, but I've made up for that was a voracious appetite for information. Um, and so I, whenever I couldn't find an answer, I looked for it and , um, I usually found it , um, so bit by bit by bit by bit. I understood the basics and , uh , what makes , um, print, I understood the concept of taking an image, making a screen, separating the colors , um, and angles, print, angles, dark sides . Um, so I slowly, I understood that all of that was not a mysterious, mystical things . The scientific , it was very , it was a very practical, physical things that could be controlled. So that , that was my revelation. And , uh, you know, in the early two thousands, really, I went through this transformation where, from somebody who stayed, tried, none , tried to let them do their job. And I do mine, which was to make , um , good-looking images. Uh, I started saying , um, I , I have to take more responsibility for what I give them, and that will only make things better because , um, there are many of them are like me, they don't know everything, although they want to make it look like they know everything they don't know. Right. And so why not work together to make something good? Right. So I, I took it as my responsibility is to provide the best files that I was able to , uh , capable of providing, which is a principle that I applied to the stay. So that was my , um, my angle. So from that point of view, I started , um, I , I also had, I've also had a freelance career on the side. Um, I left land or in 2003, and from 2003 to 2012, I was freelancing. So during that time, I was able to , um, grow my, my skills , uh , by trying things out, finding better ways to do the same thing in ways that were more economical and , and solid. Um , so for example, I learned how to make, create my own ICC profiles for output, for , um , situation. I would, I would get a client that , uh , would print at a local printer. I gave him a tissue . I'm not , it was I to see, but it was an idea or an ECI 2002 .

Speaker 1:

Yeah, 2002 ECI, 2002 , seven , five .

Speaker 2:

I would give that to them. I would say, print them printed with no color management. They don't put any changes into a file. And then I would make a profile and I would , uh , separate. And , um, then I, I give it to them and things came out great. So, and then, so that demystified everything for me, you know, all of a sudden I saw this mysterious thing dissolve in front of me and the , in the sense that it was not mysterious anymore. It was, it was, it was like, Oh, the light in the dark, right ? The light, the paper, how does it work? You know , it works, you do it right. It works. Um, so there's , um, then I re I learned a few tricks of my own. I have a few ways of doing things that I'm not necessarily , uh , in wide adoption, but , um, yeah . Things that I use all the time, for example, there's one thing that I discovered a long time ago, and I still use to this day is this thing that I call mixed K separation. It's not exactly max K as the way if you took is literally, it's not that it's a high black generation. So when you, when you separate and I've been doing this for now, more than 10 years, every time I, I create a custom profile, I don't do not even bother with the regular normal GCR, whatever. I don't know . I don't, I, I separate. So that CMY is always lower than K pretty much across the board.

Speaker 1:

Right. You have a heavier black compared to your CNYK separation. Yeah .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. If you look at the , um, in Chrome, X , uh , call the same, for example, right. You look at the relative colorimetric , um , um, net neutral curve. You will see, you will see the CMY below a pretty much a straight K . So why is that important for two reasons? Because it , it does not affect the apparent , um, uh, depth of the image. If an image is dark, there's a misconception that in order to give a visual weight, you have to add CMY . It's not true. There's a , there's a point, there's a point of which , um, ed in CMY adds trouble, but not visual depth . Yeah . Yeah. So a good balance of, of , uh , of a decent amount of CMY plus K gives you the same visual depth, the same L value, for example, as , um, as a different , uh , separation was less black and Morsi and Y but, but what is the second advantage of that? Okay. You don't lose any, any dynamic range. You really don't, it's hard to prove people to believe, but if you don't lose dynamic range. Got it. Yeah. Yeah . And the second thing is, is a bonus that I have never been able to be to live without, which is the print is more stable and yeah , because preserved, you can make moves in CMY and not affecting the travesty as much as you would by having higher CMY and lower K. So I was talking to Dave Hunter at color 20 a few days ago and , um, and other people there. And , um, and I said, do you use , um, anything other than , um, hi black generation? I think it was David. I don't want to be wrong . I think he said something to the effect of, no, it doesn't really make sense to use anything else. I think he said that you said. Yeah. Yeah. And so , because, you know, I'm never, I'm never a hundred percent certain that what I do is the best possible way. I tried to keep that humility about what I do, you know, I don't, I don't have all the answers and , and my, my practical guidance is you don't necessarily have the best possible answer. And there might be something you can still learn, obviously. So ask questions, you know , and I ask questions of people who you , you appreciate and , uh , are in your highest esteem like David and , uh , and , uh , Don Hutcheson and , uh , Ron Ellis , uh , started to connect. Um, I haven't asked this question of wrong or done, but , um, this thing with max K that I call Mexico is something that I, I, I don't see any reason not to , um, use.

Speaker 3:

I absolutely agree. And, you know, looking back on Photoshop and what you were talking about as far as doing , um , you know, working in a dark room for burse Weber , and now we look today at solutions for color management and color separations, and it is, we should be very proud of how far we've come. And sometimes I don't think we take the time to pause, to reflect back on the huge advances that we've made within this sector. As far as technology, we look at cloud solutions now, color management in the cloud doing verification of brand colors, instantaneously from the press through the cloud, to the brand or the buyer for approval now. And , uh, you're talking about , um , separating and , and , you know , black and black generation. And we have really smart algorithms and AI technology to do ink optimization for a variety of different conditions that make sense. And we were on a conversation. I had a conversation with Thorston Braun and his wife, Barbara on color logic solutions and some of the advanced they have. It's absolutely amazing where , uh, how far we've come.

Speaker 2:

Uh , I at code 20, I met Thorston. He's , uh , he's a great guy and , um, his products are great. I use this software right now for, for , um , um, yeah, one thing that I want to increase my , um, expertise on is , uh , device niche , because for things like what you are talking about , um, device links are definitely the thing to do.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely Marco. And I want to shift gears a little bit based on a conversation that I had with another major brand, under Armour on our podcast, we discussed how they handle their digital assets. Do they use a premium company or do they communicate and handle the transfer of the artwork to the print service provider directly? And if they do, do they convert and prepare the files and convert them to grackle 2013 and they do the separations themselves, or do they allow the print service provider to handle that? A lot of them do. And to some degree they have issues because there's issues with communication. And I was wondering what your particular policy is when you transfer and , uh , provide your artwork to your print service providers.

Speaker 2:

Yeah , we, we don't release any thing that is not fully separated to basically the standard grackle 2013. Um , so it's , it's fully separated with my custom profile. And , um , because I , I create the S the mass scale version of Graco 2013 using copra , um , things go out of here into the vendor's hands. And it's good to go into the, into the play-making . I said , yeah, there's really nothing to do there other than possibly, I dunno , um , laying out things, the form

Speaker 3:

And what , what value does, you know , targeting a G seven data set, bring to what you're doing? Where's the, where's the ROI and , uh, going that direction versus something that's an alternative?

Speaker 2:

Well , um, there's a complication in the work that , um , I do currently, which is , um, elimination, right? Lamination , uh , puts a kink in the works. Um, but [inaudible] still works. Uh , you, you, you target, you go for GSM and targeted before lamination , so hit the solids and your friends. And then , uh , once you got the , um, the primaries on the overprints and within the targeted tolerance , um, then you laminate , and then you pursue that, and then you have a G seven workload . It's not perfectly column managed because on top of that, you should do really a , um, a color space customer CRPC right. But , uh, things that difficult when you deal with many vendors and , uh , varying quality and capability. And so one, one thing about scaling of work that is so massive, like what we do here , um, is that you have to be carefully , um, gauging and dialing in all the variables and being that you have to go for what is feasible. The color space requires requires a level of proficiency and , uh , reliability and stability that we are still working towards. So , um, yeah, you , you have to be, you have to be, that's one flaw that I see, honestly, I love, I love idea Alliance and , uh , you know , I appreciate what you guys are doing, but , um, I , I think that many people are just, they show a quantification on the wall, but then you ask them to do it and they seem to fumble.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. And like any quality management program that printers , uh , have a lot of time there's cultural change , uh, that hasn't taken place to be able to sustain the level of quality that they could do when they had originally implemented it. And of course, there's companies that have , uh , adopted a full cultural change as far as quality is concerned, adopting lean programs and things like that. And they are very, very successful. And some of them are multi-billion dollar , uh , packaging

Speaker 1:

Suppliers. Now you, yourself for you, you're a certified G seven expert. What , uh, um , w w what value did that course bring and what light bulbs went on or did , uh, it was really a con from your backgrounds , really a confirmation process. When we talk about those core values of tonality and gray balance.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . I joined Google after I had worked , um , at nest for , um, you know, Tony Fidel's company between 2012 and 2017. I was there and there things were smaller, right. So I was not using just seven at all, but then I come to Google in November of 2017. And , um , one of the things that I immediately saw was that my nest ways, I'm not going to work here. I no longer have just a little bitty thing that can be done on one press, always the same press, always at the same vendor, I have to think bigger. And , um, I have to think of something that , um, guarantees quality, but is , uh , as they say, in these marketing terms scalable, right? Yeah. So massive scale scalable, because we're talking about, you know, big print runs. So things, things have to be , um, um, have to be managed and prepared cautiously, and in ways that , um , don't require a custom treatment for each location. Right. Yeah . Which is something that I did at nest, but I can't do here. So everybody gets the same files. Right. But then they have to play the game by the rules. Now we're now we're playing major league. So in November of 2017, when I joined, I took a quick look and I said, okay, this is what I'll do. The first thing that has to happen is that I have to become an expert, which I was not at the time. So they said yes to their credit . And I went to LA to Don Hutchinson's , uh, training in December of 2017. And I became a, an expert in January. I put in my exam, I passed. So , um, and then from then on , um, I, I tried to think, and because , you know, you know, when you, when you become certified, you know, become an expert instantly, right. You still have to figure out, okay, now I got this tool in my hand, what do I, what do I do with it?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. It puts you in a saddle and it gets you in the saddle, but you got it right

Speaker 2:

From the bottom, from the top. And you go, okay, how does this work? That's fine. Don said all those interesting things, but now how do I really make it work? So I had to figure out all the procedures, all the steps, all the things that I was going to ask the vendors to do to make this thing a reality. Right. And so I, okay. So one of the things that, one of the, there's some bottom lines here that cannot be changed, like for example, everybody has to do 300, 300 lines per inch. I'm not talking about pixels branch . I'm talking about Lionbridge LPI, very high , uh , line screen-free frequency. Why? Well, because in the highlights, you don't get the , the is effect of one 75 or one 50, and it's smoother if you do it right. It's smoother. So, and then there are other rules, like , um, slowly , um, all images have to be done in 16 bits . I'm a strong believer in 16. Unlike other people I could mention that I don't want to , uh , I have a long feud with somebody whose name is widely-known , but , um, and he's a big enemy of 16 bits and

Speaker 4:

We won't mention his name. Yeah, no, I get it. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You can guess where it is. But , um, so , um , we believe in 16 bits because when it comes to shadows and gradients, there's nothing like it. Even when you convert to a , from 16 to eight, there's a, there's an , um, uh , burnt in there that there's miracles. You know, this it's really the best, the best shadows, the smoothest best shadows and gradients. You can, you can, you can produce, but you have to start in 16 bits . So those things, right . Uh , certain rules on the vendor side, like when you say that you , you , you can hit that one percent.at 300 lines per inch. The dot has to be on the plate. Not only on the plate has to be on the page, on the, on the sheet. Okay. I'll disappear. So all these things , um, so one thing about all this about [inaudible] about color management that cannot work, unless you do something about it. Um , it's not technical. Of course there are the technical things, but one thing is not technical. One thing is , um, human management has to be on your side. The vendors management has to be on your side. They have to commit to doing what it takes to provide, to, to, to give you the results that , um, that the , the technology requires without doing that the results will be touch and go change. You know, because if, if the management doesn't tell the people on the printing floor, this is not a joke. You have to do this. It's not left to your decision, whether you do this or not, you do it.

Speaker 1:

And I don't think that there's anything wrong with that. And as a print service provider, we want to, you know , expand our capabilities. And if a buyer or brand puts in front of us, a challenge , uh, and we can meet that challenge. Um, we gain your trust and we gain your business and we become a partner , um , because we're serving your needs is as simple as that. And , uh, we often find print service providers don't measure a monitor, their quality capability, and they end up getting themselves into relationships where they can't deliver the customer's expectations .

Speaker 2:

One main requirement that the management has to guarantee is that the quality is consistent. Meaning no matter who's , who's on press the results don't vary by more than the acceptable tolerances. Okay. So it can not be up to shift. Number one, to be the star and then shift number two. And number three, usually there's three shifts a day , uh , to , to be the, the ones that can't get it, because you never know when the prints that you need will be done by shifts two or three, right? You don't want to be, Oh, well , I wanted only done by shifts . Number one, they have to be the people I ended up in the, in the prepress room. And the people on the , in the print room have to be able to people in the free press restroom . I have to be able to make plates that are, whose dots are the dots. That should be not, not plus a minus four. It wasn't minus one, maybe.

Speaker 1:

So looking at VI . So looking at vendors, your print, service providers, what are some of the attributes that you look for before you consider providing a worker or engaging in a partnership?

Speaker 2:

You , you have to use good materials starting with the yanks . Um, you have to be ISO 12, six, four seven two. I, at this point I can't accept anything other than , um, and then the , the prepress room and the, on the printing floor had to be qualified. The facility has to be just at a new master college space. At this point. I don't accept anything lower than that . Not only they have to be just a master of color space, but they have to have their internal people, preferably two people in the print room who are certified experts, right ? Yeah. Yeah. And they have to be the people who do the work. They cannot hire somebody from outside and get that thing that they put on the wall that says, decide master space. We cannot be that we want to see, as you said , a Mexico space qualification that is achieved by your own means, that is really important. And then we want management to be on our side saying, saying, you guarantee the stability, the repeatability, the consistency that we need. I , I want to put in place a situation where all the vendors are capable. I'm trying to make things go from earlier ways to a manufacturing model where things are done according to manufacturing procedures. Some people might hear that and go, Oh my God, that's awful. They've taken the humanity out of it. No, not really because the results will be beautiful. How is that taking that ? The humanity, when something, my responsibility, if I had to encapsulate my responsibility here is to make it's to make things look beautiful, okay. To my design , the designers I've worked with, they want the things that they work on so hard to make it look beautiful, to look beautiful on the page, on the sheet . And it's my job to make that happen. The manufacturing model, in my opinion, and I'm open to discussion, but it seems to me, kind of a , um, an obvious thing that the manufacturing model will do that

Speaker 3:

Marco you're preaching to the choir. I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. And if we look at artists , uh, the famous artists and they create art work, that's beautiful. Um, it's perennial, but what people think, I think is a misperception is that , uh, you know, because of the word creative and are they think that , uh , there's no process involved. And in fact, it's absolutely a process involved, especially if you look at, if we look at the education history of the masters, there's a process, very similar manufacturing processes that are involved in . I remember watching a documentary on PBS, not too long ago, about three sculptors. And they were discussing their processes that they use to develop their art. And I saw the, you know, the consistency in the way that they approached each one of their projects. It was what it was very similar to watching and working with, you know, engineers , uh, that are in, you know, prototyping and , uh, the process of developing a new product or invention. But there's absolutely nothing wrong with implementing processes that make the product consistent to meet the needs of the customer, let the customer be creative, you deliver, and to deliver consistently, you need to take a manufacturing approach to it is basically what I'm hearing.

Speaker 2:

You know what I mean? Yeah, yeah. I know. I know what you mean because I am that way about my work , my , my own photography. I have a body of photography and I am absolutely committed to the best possible visual quality for my work because, because I wanted my work to look beautiful. Okay. And the more I know about the technical side of it, the more my work was looked the way I want it. So, you know, when, when people it's a romantic, it's a romantic, mixed misconception to say that technique takes away the humanity it's so wrong. It's not true. I I'm a , I'm a strong believer in, in, in, in the power of technology to create beauty. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, there's nothing, there's nothing that can convince me that getting more stability in printing , um , detract from the, what the craft, I mean, people who are crashing craftsmen , the best craftsmen in the manufacturing process are , are a pleasure to behold, you look at these people and you go, Oh my God, dad . Right ?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. You know, the standards are a backstop they're guides to continually better. The manufacturing process. That's the craftsmanship part of manufacturing is continually improving the value stream. And then we get into the area where automation is a bad word. When we look at improvement of processes and solutions, and we have technology that is fully automated. And a lot of the time people perceive that as a job killer and , uh , companies I've seen that , uh, take a different approach to the word automation, a root word of process improvement, where they're looking at it as the V you know, what's the value stream and taking out a non value , add , uh, steps in touchpoints through automation or better technology doesn't necessarily mean that we're killing jobs. What it means is that we're able to use people in a value add capacity. And because of that, the business will improve. Sales will improve. The company grows, the business grows. So it's a win across the board for everyone

Speaker 2:

Earlier times, right before the car came up, came around, right. Lower Manhattan was, it was a pigsty covered in tons of , uh , horse done every day, credible amounts of disease and rodents and infestations. And, you know, but you can't, you can't keep horses around just because, you know, it's more natural. It's going the way of the car made sense then. So I'm saying that things that opposing opposing, what is , um, a move forward in the name of values or perceived values of the past, doesn't make sense. And then Brent , I dunno what this will mean for print . I don't, I cannot really, I, I don't know what it will look like in 15 years. I have no idea what kind of processes will be in place. It's , it's hard to think that what we have today will last much longer ,

Speaker 3:

Uh , most definitely, you know, we were already starting to see , uh , some of that , uh, come to life with smaller sensors, smaller spectrophotometers , uh , spectrophotometers possibly in mobile phones and that type of thing. And , uh, ICC max, which is a new flavor of , uh , uh, an , a huge improvement to the current ICC standard. And if we look back on what you were talking about, when we look at manually exposing film and all the steps, you don't want a stripping table , uh , that we took, and you compare that to what you're talking about with Photoshop.

Speaker 2:

Well, dude , due to my background, once in a while , I can't, I can't help, but look back at the old days and go, Oh my God, what am I, what I'm doing today here in one hour, it took me a couple of days to in the old days , you know , and not only, not only I'm saving time, but the quality is so much better. It's exactly like I want it . And it will be exactly like, I want it every time I print in the darker , one thing that in the darkness I was faced with every time was , for example, I make a print to the X for me. Um, I don't know some photographers . And then the same photographer comes back a month from now. Do you think, I won't remember exactly how I did it. I had to tell notes for every little trend .

Speaker 1:

I know, especially in a , in a dark room. I mean, you know , we think about variables now. I mean, look at all the variables back then , uh , is that

Speaker 2:

Grinch that required six minutes of exposure.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And if your bulbs a little , I mean, what about the lifetime ? You know, your, your bulb starts to diminish. You have to check to make sure

Speaker 2:

The bold , bold is dimmer, right? Yeah . The light different, the color of the light is different, which means that the perceived radiation, light radiation perceived by the scent by the sensitive materials is different. Therefore you cannot say exposed for two and a half minutes on five minutes and you will get your friends. No , because the bulb maybe went from 40 Watts down to 30 and it's redder . Therefore it's not as blue as it was be required by the paper consensus, stuff like that,

Speaker 1:

Plain , you know, and people complain today that they have to calibrate their monitors. I mean, you know, I can exactly cry me a river, cut , calibrate your monitor every once in a while. Please can you help us?

Speaker 2:

And there are ways to do things now , uh , in the Photoshop, for example, that , um, um, if you have a background, like I do, they're so intuitive, right? You do know exactly what to do, you know , um, preserve, preserve a certain range of tones, but emphasize a certain range of tones and the other on the other end. Right. And you can isolate things for example, or you, you understand how to create better gray scales from color, right? Because you have all these tools that give you incredible options. Right? So , um, as a black and white photographer, which I can show , I still consider myself a black and white photographer. Um, I look at this smorgasbord of fantastic tools as it is . It is, it is a godsend . You know, I'm not one of those people who say, Oh, there's nothing like film . I don't want to be that stubborn.

Speaker 1:

Imagine you don't want to be called boomer or any of the , uh ,

Speaker 2:

I am of the baby boom generation. But when it comes to innovation, I'm completely with it a hundred percent. I've never been a nostalgic. Oh, the old days. No, not me. Um, I've always moved forward and , um, that's what , um, that's, it propelled me all these years , uh, this, this, and endless for me, it's an endless search for better, better ways to do things in my field of expertise, which is imaging right now , it's print and color, which is strange, a person like me trained in black and white and become a color expert. But it's not that strange actually, because the fundamentals of color , um, have a lot to do with tonality and contrast , which are the backbone of what Don defines it by saying that , um , Jason brings RGB to say , K , it's a good way to put it because in order to be in order to be equal numbers in our GMB , give you perfect neutrality, right? You seven brings more or less perfect neutrality to cm . Okay . Well put in core principles, which is find something that gives you the same contrast and the needed neutrality, right? And then you shared the peers and doesn't matter where your prints more, there's something in common between all these prints. Although the color might not be there. Of course, if you want color besides shared neutral appearance to match, then you have to do other things. You have to deal with differences in gambits . For example, you cannot expect the same results from your uncle stock that you get from a glossy stock . But , um, the appearance will be the same things will not look dramatically glider or darker , dramatically more contrast or less contrast . They will all share those traits

Speaker 3:

Well said, Marco and we have been on for quite a while. And thank you so much. It was a joy to listen to your journey and your insights. And we so appreciate it. And thank you for joining us on the gamut podcast.

Speaker 2:

All right. Thank you. Thank you, sir. Bye-bye

Speaker 3:

Thanks for listening to the gamut podcast. If you have ideas, suggestions, or would like to join us or even sponsor future podcasts, simply email [email protected] . That's J C O L L I N [email protected] , take care and have a productive day.