Recently, as our creative team was working in high gear keeping up with revisions that were pouring in on a tight deadline creative project, we started talking about how not all that long ago—in the “pre-tech” era—the speed at which we were making these modifications was simply not possible.
Back then, if a client needed last-minute changes, we didn’t sit down at the computer to quickly make edits. Instead, we created mechanicals by hand, ordered type from our local typesetting vendor, and waited until the next morning for the type galleys to arrive.
When we were really under the gun, we would search through old type galleys to hopefully find just the right words or letters we needed to make the most recent type changes. We’d then cut out individual letters and paste them onto the mechanicals before sending them off to the printer to make the deadline. Sometimes after we finished patching the type in haste, we’d notice a letter had fallen off the mechanical. We’d frantically begin looking for it and find it stuck with rubber cement to the production artist’s sleeve.
Needless to say, the creative world has changed drastically over the last couple of decades.
Now, if we need to send a copy of a document or image across the country, we simply scan it and transmit to the recipient via computer. It’s quick, simple, and a clear representation of the original.
Remember the Qwip machines used in the late 70s to send facsimiles of documents and images afar? You would wrap the document around a cylinder, insert the cylinder into the machine, and watch it noisily spin round and round and round as the Qwip machine slowly transmitted a roughly rendered copy of the document to a vendor across the country. (If we were lucky it took about 20 minutes for one page to transmit!)
Our photographer had an art professor who was showing the students a new way to create interesting art pieces. He set up the Qwip machine, transmitted an image through it, and when the copy appeared on the recipient’s end it was a very crude rendering of the original image with lots of lines and distortion. The art professor called the Qwip-distorted image “art!”
Our photographer also told us a story about the Macintosh Plus, which happened around 1990. Mac Plus was Apple’s 3rd Mac computer model, it was introduced around 1986. The computer system was on a floppy disk that needed to be inserted into the computer for the computer to work. He found a used Mac Plus for $1,200 in Bargain News (which had good deals on used items before eBay was invented), called right away to find out if it was still available, flew to the bank, took out money against his credit card, and drove an hour to the location. When he arrived there was a note on the door saying, “Sorry, someone got here ahead of you.” Hard to believe it was such a hot item at that price.
In a previous agency where I worked long ago, my creative director wanted to equip our creative department with a new form of communication called “email.” After she explained it to us, I remember thinking how ridiculous and pointless that sounded, and I asked her, “Why do you need to talk to me through email when my office is adjacent to yours?” It was such an odd concept at the time.
Photoshoots were also a much slower process in those days. After a day of shooting, we’d send the film off to the lab and have to wait until at least the next day for the film to be processed and arrive back from the lab before the client could see how the shots came out. Today, our clients are in the studio with us during the photoshoot, and we are looking at each shot on a large computer monitor as its being photographed. Instant results, instant approvals.
The evolution of graphic design technology over the last few decades allows us to produce high-quality edutainment creative at a much faster pace than ever before. What never changes, though, is the importance of being a reliable creative support-team partner who does whatever it takes to ensure that clients are happy with the final product.