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View Full Version : how did they do magazine layouts computers?


Freejooky
12-19-2004, 05:35 AM
Magazine layouts - what would be photoshop or quark work in today's society. Did they actually cut and hand-assemble articles, pictures, etc. on some "master" and then somehow "xerox" it?

GuanoLad
12-19-2004, 06:57 AM
Yes, they'd paste up onto paper, usually with gridlines in pale blue 9which wouldn't show up in the photographic process) and then make a 'bromide' which is like a huge full colour negative, which they then use to make a metal plate of the page which is taken to the press. I think there may have been a more direct way to print them from the bromide too.

At least, that's what I vaguely remember from when I was taught about newspaper production when I was a teen.

Actually, I am pretty sure some small run presses still do it the traditional way.

11811
12-19-2004, 07:18 PM
Yes, they'd paste up onto paper, usually with gridlines in pale blue 9which wouldn't show up in the photographic process) and then make a 'bromide' which is like a huge full colour negative, which they then use to make a metal plate of the page which is taken to the press. I think there may have been a more direct way to print them from the bromide too.

At least, that's what I vaguely remember from when I was taught about newspaper production when I was a teen.

Actually, I am pretty sure some small run presses still do it the traditional way.

I worked in a typesetting shop in the early through late 80s, just before Quark and Pagemaker got big. Paragraphs of type were positive printed on film and "waxed" to a thick sheet of mylar. This wasn't really "pre-computer," but it was page makeup done largely without computers.

kunilou
12-19-2004, 07:56 PM
Back when I was editing my high school newspaper, we would send our stories to a typesetter, who would return long strips of formatted copy. We then glued them onto "style sheets" (this is where the term "paste-up" came from) Then we'd do the same thing with the headlines, attach the photos and artwork and deliver it to the printer.

This is why reporters were taught to put all the most important information at the beginning. If we had to cut copy to fit the space, we literally used a pair of scissors.

SanibelMan
12-19-2004, 08:51 PM
What they said about wax and paste-up is true, and it's not that long ago that it's become outdated - I bet some small-town papers are still doing it that way. (Our teacher insists that some still do, which is why we learn how to count headlines* and size photos using a pica pole and proportion wheel. :rolleyes: ) At the college paper I edit, we're in the process of renovating our newsroom, and just last week we dismantled our paste-up boards and pitched our wax machine.

We've been using computers for a few years now, but even two years ago we printed the pages on a special laser printer that used broadsheet paper (13" x 21") and pasted it to special pages that our printer, 40 miles away, came and picked up. If we didn't have the pages ready, the editors had to make the hour-and-a-half early morning drive themselves. Now we make PDFs in InDesign and upload the pages onto our printer's FTP server.

*Our professor said the old method was much more time-intensive as well. Rather than typing out the headlines on the screen until you find one you like, you had to write it out ahead of time and compare the letters to a chart which told you how much space you had. Then you used a special headline-making machine to choose one letter at a time and *clunk* it onto the page. He said the editors would easily spend an hour a page doing just headlines on an eight-page tabloid. (Of course, they also spent a good deal of time getting high on mushrooms and making snow angels, but that's another story...)

Eve
12-19-2004, 09:07 PM
Yep, when I started in the business, we were still cutting-and-pasting on boards, with X-acto knives and rubber cement, then we'd ship the boards off to the printer.

When computers came in, everyone said, "Oh, how wonderful--this will speed up the process and make putting together a magazine so fast and easy!" And I said, no, because now the designers and editors will want to make endless last-minute changes for no other reason than that they can, and everything will ship hurriedly at the last minute.

P.S. I was right.

Jonathan Chance
12-19-2004, 09:23 PM
My first job in the magazine business was for a (relatively) poor non-profit educational publisher. And for some of the magazines (journals, really) our design and layout crew still used light-boards.

That would have been the early 90s but we were WAY behind the curve there updating the gear. It was simply cheaper to keep doing it the old-fashioned way than to upgrade.

Gunslinger
12-19-2004, 09:56 PM
My college newspaper switched from pasteup to all-digital the third year I was there. Before that, they'd design everything in Pagemaker, laserprint it out in pieces on 11"x17" paper, then cut up the paper and paste it up (we used clear tape) on broadsheet-sized grid paper (with the lines in that particular shade of blue that doesn't photograph). Then they'd take it over to the city newspaper office, where it would be photographed actual size with a really huge camera. Those negs would then be used to make the printing plates.

Gunslinger
12-19-2004, 10:00 PM
Oops, forgot to mention that they did the pasting up on a light table that ran the length of one wall of the room, long enough to do all 12 pages at once.

(I was a photographer; all I ever personally did in the pasting-up process was last-minute proofreading of photo captions and occasionally getting pieces of tape so the person doing the pasting didn't have to take her hands off the page.)

panache45
12-19-2004, 11:02 PM
Type was the first thing to be computerized, in the late 60s/early 70s, many years before page layouts. But at first it was met with some resistance by the old fogies who were used to type that came from a Linotype machine, or "hot metal" type. When I did typesetting back then, my clients would ask for type with hot-metal spacing. I tried to explain to them that I could set type that was better and way more sophisticated than hot metal, but they wouldn't hear of it; it wasn't what they were used to.

Then I became an Art Director, and set my own type my own way.

And by the way, the first computerized type was set with a keyboard, but no monitor. It was like a typewriter keyboard with a few additional keys for spaces and line endings, plus a "bell" key for coding. It had an LCD showing of about the last 20 characters you typed, so you could back up and correct something. The output was punched onto paper tape which was then fed into the actual typesetting device. Afterwards, the only way you could edit the tape was manually, by splicing things in.

Exapno Mapcase
12-19-2004, 11:08 PM
Yep. Long strips of paper, cut, paste, pick up and paste again because not straight, pick up and paste again because corner won't stick, get burned on hot glue machine, pick up and...

Thanks a lot, Freejooky, for starting a thread that brought together and exposed every geezer on these boards. :D

I feel so old some days...

Hometownboy
12-20-2004, 03:32 AM
As one of the geezers on the boards who started at the end of the pasteup era, I'll throw in a few newspaper memories.

Sixteen years ago yesterday I went to work for a small weekly newspaper that had just transitioned from Compugraphic machines to early Macs: Mac Plus, and in a few months, a half-dozen Mac SE's. We managed to buy them mere days before the much superior SE-30s came on the market.
The seven inch screens were considered hot stuff - we could actually SEE what we were typesetting in a word processing program (MacWrite) and then flow it into Quark (Version 1.0, kiddies, muy primitivo) in which we could lay out a whole virtual page. Among the advantages were perfectly square boxes around the ads, perfect circles and shaded boxes. Only a few fonts, because a font family might cost $150 to $200 or more.

Our expensive (thousands of bucks) laser printer maxed out at a whopping 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, and it took six of them printed out and waxed down to make a full broadsheet page. Photos were still done in the darkroom and physically cut to size and waxed onto the pasteup page (we called 'em flats) which had to be put into an oversized artist's case and delivered to the printer 20 miles away by car.

Color? Yikes! An accent color was available, but it depended on handcutting a mask with goldenrod or rubylith paper.

Four-color was hideously expensive. To print a four-color photo, we would first have to take the picture on slide film. The developed slide was then sent to a processing bureau in a nearby large city, where it was separated into cyan, yellow, magenta and black elements, each printed on a piece of film, a process that could be done overnight, but would cost a couple hundred bucks. We'd have one or two color photos a year, one of them at Christmas.

We still have a waxer around somewhere, and a few sheets of pasteup pages with the blue non-repro lines that we show visiting schoolkids, but it's been a few years since they were used. It's all PDFs delivered over a T-1 line to the printer which spits out a double-truck of film that goes right on the plate burner. It's a significant boost in productivity, and yes, as Eve pointed out, the advertisers will want lots of last-last-last minute corrections.

Hilarity N. Suze
12-20-2004, 04:04 AM
I used a waxer just a couple of weeks ago, to stick new page numbers onto a reprint.

It was the easiest way.

So I'm a geezer. I remember the first time I laid out a page in--I think it was Quark. It drove me nuts. When you did pasteup the old way, at least things stayed where you stuck them* and the format didn't change. I made one teensy little change to the style sheet and it changed everything in the publication! But I adapted . . .

*Unless you took the flats to the printer in a car that was either (a) too hot or (b) too cold. I once had to drive them to the printer in subzero weather in a car with no heater, and when I got to the printer everything had come unstuck, so I had to rebuild half the pages. Fortunately I had brought along the dummy. Another editor had a similar experience on a hot day. Someone had to run the dummy over to him. (Couldn't fax it because he did his dummies in non-repro blue.)

Eve
12-20-2004, 09:56 AM
Color? Yikes! An accent color was available, but it depended on handcutting a mask with goldenrod or rubylith paper.

Omigod, I'd forgotten about that. Thanks for shaking that dust-covered memory loose. "Damn! I sliced too faródo we have any more rubylith?"

hawthorne
12-20-2004, 10:02 AM
I'm reminded of the old days every time I smell a cat. Mmm, bromide fluid.

RealityChuck
12-20-2004, 10:58 AM
No one's mentioned having to chase a document yet:

One job of mine involved doing scientific papers for a conference. Once you have pasted up, the author would insist on adding a paragraph (or sometimes a new line). Since we couldn't say "no," we had to lift up all text after the new paragraph, place the paragraph in position, and then move every paragraph in the document to make room. :rolleyes:

Once, we were even typesetting name badges. They also insisted that ALL name badges were typeset; if you arrived late and signed in, it wouldn't do to have your name handwritten on a blank. So we'd take the list of new names to the typesetter. After that, they were taken to the printer. You'd print off the ten new names, and have to send them by courier to the printer to the conference. They were the world's most expensive name badges.

Nowadays, an inkjet on site would do the job in a minute.

Voyager
12-20-2004, 12:45 PM
I never got to layout a magazine, but in those days when you submitted a paper to a conference you got camera ready sheets - oversize paper with the outline of where the text should go (two columns) in non-reproducible blue. You printed out your paper with margins set to match the columns, and cut it to fit. We'd often add or remove a line or two to make the paragraph break come out at the column break. You got to be real good with the paper cutter, since scissors would never cut straight enough for this job. For journals you mailed in your ms, and they typeset it.

Forget about corrections. I came across a paper from 1983 where a change was clearly handwritten in to the final version.

gotpasswords
12-20-2004, 01:38 PM
Oh the memories...

A Compugraphic and a rack of lenses for it. Yes kids, there was a vaguely computerized machine that photographically projected the images of letters through a lens to create the galleys. Not cheap lenses, either.

You got it so good now - Just nudge the type down to 9.7 points to make everything fit. You didn't have to futz around with slicing up galleys to take a tenth-hair out from between each line and re-set the whole mess to squeeze in that one last line.

Waxed layouts and falling apart in the cold - yup.

The smell of stat cameras and their processors.

Fun with rubylith and amberlith and register marks.

Xacto blades by the carton.

And woe on anyone who borrows your pica stick and fails to return it in less than five seconds!

Eats_Crayons
12-20-2004, 04:15 PM
Color? Yikes! An accent color was available, but it depended on handcutting a mask with goldenrod or rubylith paper. Hey, my first pre-press job was working in dye-sublimation using an enormous screen printing process. (Well, not that enormous, my film was 36" x 48"). 85% of the time I was working with an 800 lb roll of rubylith. That was up until about 4.5 years ago. I think they still use it for all the spot colour projects.

Lucky for me, technology had already caught up to the process by then. We had a plotter that would either draw line art on paper with a pen or on rubylith with a blade. So the rubylith went through the plotter with computer precision and I got to peel off the rubylith that wasn't supposed to be there (we got really excited with big pieces!).

I used to do a ton of manual film stripping then too and it was not that long ago (now most of our jobs are direct-to-plate). Being at a computer or over a light-table all day took quite a toll on my eyes by the time I went home.

We also had -- though it was obsolete and never used -- one of those big-ass cameras. Your pasteboard sat in a frame and this big, honkin' camera would take a big, honkin' photo of it. You'd go into the darkroom and come out with a big, honkin' negative. The size of the negative was 1:1 compared to your artboard. If it had to be scaled, I think there was a way to move the camera closer or further to the pasteboard so that the size of the negative would scale according to some percentage. The negative was the film for the plate (if it was for printing) or if it was for screen printing, we used the negative to make a film postive (I think it was done like a contact print).

I never used the camera though. It was already retired as a useless time-consuming tool by the time I got there. So take the above camera stuff with a grain of salt. They just showed me how it worked once then we left the machine to continue gathering dust.

I still cut a lot of rubylith by hand though, I tell ya.

SparrowHawk
12-20-2004, 04:16 PM
Omigod, I'd forgotten about that. Thanks for shaking that dust-covered memory loose. "Damn! I sliced too faródo we have any more rubylith?"I think I still have the tail-end of a roll of rubylith around here. Maybe I should donate it to the Smithsonian.

Eve
12-20-2004, 04:28 PM
We also had -- though it was obsolete and never used -- one of those big-ass cameras.

Is that one of those cameras that makes my ass look big? I hate to tell you, but they are still in constant use.

Eats_Crayons
12-20-2004, 04:34 PM
I think I still have the tail-end of a roll of rubylith around here. Maybe I should donate it to the Smithsonian.No really it's still used a lot in screenprinting for spot color jobs. The company I used to work for still uses it and buys it in those monster big rolls for the plotter (which also cuts vinyl for signs).

Amberlith, however, I haven't seen in ages.

We hated to use ruby for compex jobs. And Og help us if our manager said "Well, have Yub-Yub help you peel the ruby it'll go faster." You have to understand, "Yub-Yub" was the well-deserved nickname for our cow-orker. It's an abbreviation: You useles bitch, you useless bitch.

You'd have a 36" x 48" sheet of ruby from the plotter. Something really complicated like the green separation of a forest. You star peeling away at one end, working on your big film postive (oh, yeah you see where this is heading). Yub-Yub would start at the other end. At the halfway point you'd find out that she did hers as a negative.

Then you'd have to stab her to death with your bodkin.

SparrowHawk
12-20-2004, 04:47 PM
At the halfway point you'd find out that she did hers as a negative.

Then you'd have to stab her to death with your bodkin.I should be feeling your pain, but I have to admit I am laughing my ass off. I am okay with this, as that camera that will take up the slack.

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