30 July 2006

The Big Hezbollah Banner

My thanks to Pajamas Media for pointing this item out at Power Line.

Here we see the modern use of Print-On-Demand by terrorists, to vent frustration at the fact that their bluff has been called... and that they are endangering innocent civilians. So they generated up this little number:originalA beautiful piece of work, artistically speaking, although they did use a low resolution image of Secretary of State Rice to start with, but that can't be helped with when you are in the middle of a war, I guess. Note the lovely finish on it... such beautiful blending and composition.... and lets take a bit further a look at its sizing:Pretty big! 16' x 32' or so.... measurements inexact, of course, but good for a rough estimate of things...

There are a few main problems with creating a graphic for outdoor signage that is 200" by 382" and that is actually doing the photocompositing, art work generation, tonal balancing and then doing a color match for the type of output media being used. At this size you either end up with three 300" long strips of output from a 72" plotter on continuous roll-fed media OR six 200" long strips. There has to be good color and tonal balancing between either runs on a single machine (preferred) or across multiple machines (much more challenging). Then, once finished, the entire piece needs to be mosaiced together after drying.

Unless you have access to one of these: FloraSuperwide HJII 5000 at 16.4' wide or 198". This graphic gets you to around 410 square feet of output, which is about a half-hour at high quality mode output for the HJII 5000. Depending upon media type... this looks to be some sort of vinyl or thick plastic, so that may add an extra couple of hours to the drying time, depending upon exact output device and media type. It isn't Tyvek, which can take well nigh forever with the *right* inks, so that is a plus. It does not look like a matte finish, and paper at this size would not have the integrity to withstand ripping. Probably some sort of printed fabric or mesh, possibly kevlar, although that would be a bit of overkill. Most likely a vinyl of some sort. So thrown in an extra hour or so of drying time.

However you do it, the cost for output (not equipment) is in the $2k-$3k range.

Cost of the plotter is probably in the $200k range, without RIP (Raster Image Processor to translate from your computer's color space to the colorspace and output size of your output device), computers for composition, some sort of color control system, etc. All of that can run you another $200k easily, if not more.

Believe me, having worked in this area you *want* one continuous piece of output with NO cutting and piecing together. Colormatching between even the same series of plotter is nasty. And seams are extremely visible when you do such work, not a great way to impress a customer.

Now, since the folks who made this banner were *not* going to wait around for a few hours to gather photos, do composition work, masking, generate up original art work, composite that, and so on, just for a single use... they probably pre-made the entire thing while leaving space available for quickly doing a type mask to overlay and quick composite. Once that is done the entire file needs to go to the RIP before hitting the plotter. Depending upon the speed of the computer and its storage capacity, that RIP could be anywhere from a half-hour to four hours. Note that you *cannot* pre-RIP this as the type needs to mask out the other layers.

What you come down to is that this graphic was pre-composited, leaving space to have type inserted, then, with that done it was sent to the RIP and printed,then dried flat, rolled up and taken to wherever it is they put it up. Give an hour of roll/unroll and transport, and a half-hour for setup to this point.

Roll/Transport/Unroll/setup - 1.5 hours
Dry time - plastic or fabric substrate - up to 4 hours
Colorproof - 1 hour
RIP - half-hour to 4 hours
Time to type in the text - 1 minute

Composition to the 'ready for text' stage - call it 3 hours.

It looks like mid-late afternoon and the bombing took place in the morning. Say no one gets to real work until 9 AM... yes, that all fits for a pre-composited piece of work ready to go for when the blood runs. And that is if they are using *good* equipment... put in a slower RIP, use more than one output device, color match, realize you did it wrong with a colorproof on a smaller device, re-run the RIP, proof it, print it, dry it, roll/transport/unroll/setup... just *barely*. If they got it ALL right the very first time.


Mike's America said...

I'd hazard a guess and say that there are probably not too many places in Lebanon where such work could be done.

And those would make good military targets.

A Jacksonian said...

mike - The actual print area for this could be pretty small... but the layout and dry area, though a large flat space, would need air cirulation over it at a pretty constant speed. Possible outdoors with fans, I would guess... or rooftops with similar... but to do it *well*, you need consistancy of airflow and humidity for even drying.

When I was active in the industry *that* was a real problem for small print shops wanting to upgrade ot large, extra-large and grand format. Look for a billboard printer and you have the likely producers of this.

eccentric recluse said...

good post and a good observation. the real war in the mideast is being fought in and with the media, the carnage we see and hear about is simply fuel for the fire.

A Jacksonian said...

eccentric recluse - My thanks! Very much a media war, so that Hezbollah can find aid and comfort for its actions there... The organization, itself, is venomous and barbaric.

greer rants - You are quite welcome! I believe that the face is that Ehud Olmert, although smiling and face forward, which is somewhat rare for him. Nice work on desaturating it and giving it a slightly blue cast to blend in with the background. Definitely not *something whipped up for the circumstances*.