Skip to Content
Skip to Table of Contents

← Previous Article Next Article →

ATPM 13.06
June 2007




Download ATPM 13.06

Choose a format:


by Mark Tennent,

One of Leopard’s Hot Spots

Back in the last century, when we got started as designers and our clients paid their bills (unlike today—You know who you are), we used to work with companies’ directorates.

Usually the personnel manager would call us in to discuss the new magazine/sales leaflets/whatever. They would pass us over to the senior manager or director it was destined for, most likely the head of sales. We worked directly with them. They took the decisions, accepted to proofs, and things went wonderfully smoothly. If they also took the opportunity to get few more hairs added to their heads, maybe a tummy tuck and wrinkles removed, so what. We were pleased to oblige with early pre-Photoshop image editors.

The Good Old Days

If only things were like that nowadays. It must be a feature of our educational system, teaching children to work collaboratively. Will no one make a decision on their own nowadays? We start the job with who we assume is the “client,” they send us “final text,” accept the visuals, and we produce the finished artwork. We are told they are “just going to show their colleagues,” before returning with a whole new ball game.

The final text apparently wasn’t and “can we just slip in these four extra pages of A4” (into a DL leaflet usually). The images they sent aren’t correct, and one of their friends doesn’t like the pink corporate color we were told we had to use. Worst still, they send something they’ve knocked-up in Office, which they want us to recreate; complete with centered Times bold titles, “friendly” Comic Sans body text, and clip-art bullet points.

Creating everything digitally should have been a time-saver, but because people use word processors, they assume that it is just as easy to make changes to a piece of design. No matter if you just spent four hours shoe-horning text into place to get all the baselines aligning across the spread. Or, the PDF you sent as a low-resolution visual gets forwarded to the printer who happily runs out a million, full-color copies with 72dpi images pixelated to destruction.

Apple to the Rescue

Far be it for an Apple fanboy to blab on about the maker of his computers…but it looks like they may have a solution to proofing problems. The next version of iChat, Apple’s instant messaging client, will have iChat Theater. With it we will be able to work collaboratively, holding a conversation with our client while editing their document. They will be able to watch us in realtime without leaving their desk.

To a certain extent this can be done by turning a free-standing Web cam towards the computer screen, but Apple’s move to build cameras into the monitor has taken this away. Plus, many of our clients go into a flappy-handed tizzy at the thought of setting up something new. They want the IT department to do it for them. iChat is so simple that we can talk them through completing three one-line address boxes.

Once iChat Theater is incorporated into applications, audio and video can be presented during an iChat conference. Editing changes will be easy-peasy. Our client will see that their addition of a “word or two” throws off the whole document’s layout, and that they’ll have to cut out words elsewhere in the document to make the everything fit. Their damage will be right in front of them, as will the solutions we try before finding a workaround.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (3)

Julia · June 2, 2007 - 18:45 EST #1
What a great summation of how things have changed! As someone who just spent months working on a simple company newsletter that should have been written, edited, designed and printed in about 3 weeks, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as I read your column.

You are so right that "civilians" seem to think that digital means that no copy is ever "final" even if the entire layout is finished and on its way to the printer. I don't know if I'll ever be able to get the non-Mac oriented folks I work with to use iChat theater, though. They won't even use Google Docs to collaboratively edit press releases.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · June 30, 2007 - 14:03 EST #2
Lawrence - Skype may not have the upcoming iChat Theater features, but for simply videoconferencing, it works beautifully across both platforms.
Toby · July 29, 2007 - 21:36 EST #3
An acceptable cross-platform alternative to iChat might be a shared desktop using remote viewing software. VNC seems to be the open source realization of this. Then 'the team' can log as viewers into the shared machine and you can communicate using, dare I suggest, a telephone.

This does admittedly require the complexity on their end of typying in an IP address, which could lead to an amusing variation on the old light-bulb routine ("How many clients does it take to...")

Add A Comment

 E-mail me new comments on this article