We're gonna start with working in house or working in the office and I need to be careful about our terms here because when we are speaking about this kind of stuff, we'll say, are you working in your house? Are you working in house? But in house in our vocabulary means you're going into the agency, so this is gonna be a little sticky and I promise you I will actually mess up when I say it so I'm gonna try to be very careful. When you work out of your home office or are you going into an office, some of these practices you can take with you, some of them you can't and we'd like to talk a little bit about how you can work with that flow. We're gonna talk about the naming convention, layer management, and the markups. Now, I wanna talk about this briefly. When you work in an office, you can't change their naming convention. You don't get to. You don't get to change the folders unless you go to an office where there is no system and then perhaps some of you who are good at this should con...
sider this as a big opportunity. I think we have a few minutes, I can take a minute to talk about this story. So when I was working at my first high end, really high end finishing house, it was called Metaphor, fantastic place. They didn't really have a great production system like file folders and that sort of thing, so I developed a system and we're gonna actually go through that system with you guys. We've been using it for a gazillion years, haven't we in the industry?
And most folks do.
Throughout my career I still was a finisher and worked on finishing and I got a job after a few agencies at probably the best, or highest quality, best known, most famous, rockstar, I'm not sure what to call it, finishing house in L.A. and honestly it was the worst job I've ever had in my life. I don't know what happened. It was oil and water. We just didn't melt and it was really painful 'cause I had finally arrived, arrived, to the best place you can arrive and I couldn't work there and at the very same time, Simon got a job interview at this big agency and it was to start the whole television finishing division. It was a big job, but it was a lot of management, like production management, and you know what he did? He said, you know what, I'm not your guy. Call Carney, call Carney, do you remember that?
And it's best job I've ever had, I've worked there for 20 years and it's 'cause that was in my wheelhouse and I think for some of y'all who are finishers and retouchers, sometimes your skillset also includes management and that is hugely valuable but no one talks about it. All finishers and retouchers talk about is, oh, can you paint a picture, can you do this? But no, I wasn't kidding. A big huge portion of the job is the management. I'm really good at managing staff, I'm really good at managing other retouchers. That is a skill and it's a valuable skill and you should get paid for it and so I'd like to throughout the rest of this day pepper career choices in here and talk about how you can still be a finisher and it's a not a sellout to also be a production manager and it's equally as valuable.
The epilogue to her story is the job that I got her, so they offered me the job, I said it's not for me, call Lisa, she took that one and I took the job she left.
Isn't that funny?
It's just the way it works out and on a side note for that, at the end when we're talking, actually, in a couple segments, we're gonna talk about expanding your network with other retouchers and how that's not actually cutting you off from work. It's gonna actually help you with work. Do you wanna talk a little bit about size and color and depth or you want me to take this?
File size, I'll start off and then you pick up where I leave.
Any holes in my stuff. File size. Back in the day, you had low res and high res and everyone wanted higher res and I think it started off, I mean it did look better the higher res you went, but then at a certain point, it's not worth it. You're draggin' around extra information, bigger file sizes.
I think you should expand on that. That's really important. You're dragging around extra information for no reason.
For no reason. It's never gonna print. But back in the day when we had a single piece of key art to produce and then that one piece of LVT, it was film that they would send around, scan and print for every application. So you would make that one piece of art super high res 'cause that was it, one. But from those days, everyone was asking for bigger scans, bigger files, so then you get Photoshop in layers and now you start with a huge file and it keeps getting bigger and bigger and everyone's a little bit afraid to go, that's big enough, we don't need it that big. Have you ever heard that?
You have heard that?
So to cover themselves, they're just like, bigger's better. Give me a hundred gig, hundred meg, 200, 300, I'm like, really? 300 meg file? Yeah, so we'll get asked for that, but part of this is knowing how to get around it. So we'll deliver that, but there is an intelligent file size to work in where there is no ending of results because you're working. So you work as big as the photograph is.
So let's talk about this for a second. This is an umbrella conversation about file size and working so when I get hired for a job and they say, great, we want a one sheet, I don't wanna switch slides, but we want a one sheet or a two sheet and I am starting the job, if you're working on a file, I'm gonna give you an example. Last week, I was working on a two sheet for an outdoor for a show. I kid you not, the file was 44 gigabytes. I kid you not. I did not build it. Some other agency had built it and I was doing the breakdowns for it. The original images that went into that to make that art was a stock shot that was 35 megabytes and a unit shot from a show that was 50 megabytes. What in heaven's name are we doing working, because you can imagine, let's talk about money here for one second. You're talking about computing time, so there's a time to open, manipulate, and save. On a 44 gigabyte file, that takes a really long time. There is money for the actual space. You need a computer that can open it, so you have to have a higher end computer. You have to pay for the storage space of that file and, I'm sorry, have we mentioned that every time there's a revision you save that file and you start a new one but you have the old one? So I'm counting in my head, we had at least five rounds on one of these files. That's five different 44 gigabyte files for one board when a station domination can have up to 37 boards.
All over those two originals.
I hope somebody's doing the math here. It doesn't make sense, and then, oh, I'm sorry, on top of that, would you go ahead and add my hourly wage to sit there and wait for those files to crunch? So really this is a big danger, Will Robinson sign here. Pay attention to your file size and why we have it at the beginning is, to me, it's like you're starting the job, the first thing you gotta think about is how big, what are you doing? And it's kinda controversial, but we're telling you maybe not do what you're told. Oh, so if the client is asking, we're gonna show you some numbers on some files that the clients will actually be asking you for and we're gonna suggest, we are suggesting that you don't necessarily work at that file size. However, you deliver it in the end at that file size. So that means, at the end, when we go over our finishing touches, you're resing up, you're adding grain, you're sharpening and you're saving out a singular file, not a fully layered file. A singular file that is that size, okay? So I really want you to put a gold star on your notes or whatever to pay attention to this. Should I give them a size? Let me give you a size. I'm gonna give you an example. I do a one sheet. My average one sheet size I do at 27 by 40 and I only do it at 200 DPI, so I'm working on average on a flat file that's 155 megabytes, that's it. And then I add my layers, so it's gonna be good for being a 12 gig file, but it's not gonna be a 44 gig file and we're gonna give you some more numbers later, but I just want to give you kinda a scope, somewhere to follow in.
And the thing is, whatever you do as long as you give 'em what they want, as long as the product works at the end of the day, and I've seen with my own eyes an 80 megabyte file blown up to eight foot tall standee and I was like holy smokes, that's the reality of the situation. There's the proof. An 80 megabyte file will print out to eight foot tall by 10 foot wide and everything's just fine.
We're really overall saying for your industry, check. Find out, don't just blindly go, oh, okay, I'll make ya a 20 gigabyte file, oh, okay. Do you wanna talk about Marco's experience with the printer?
Yeah, another friend of ours is a finish artist. Especially for outdoor, outdoor gets squirrely really quick and folks are like, wow, it's bigger printed out. What are those, 48 foot long by 14 foot tall. Print it out at 100 DPI, print it out at 200, oh, let's go 300 just to be safe. And then the next guy, let's go three and a quarter just to be safe and you're just gettin' bigger and bigger and bigger with all the layers and logos and stuff and it gets massive. Marco calls me up, he goes, how big do you really do it? I was like, my neighbor's a printer. He's saying high res is 30 DPI and okay is 21 DPI and he was like, a 30 megabyte file? I was like, yeah, 'cause when they print it out, the dots per inch is just huge. It's these massive dots. When you walk up on it, it's like here's a big red one, a green one, a blue one, a C-M-Y-K, but it works when you're that far away. Your eye melds it together. His bosses were like, they continue, 325, 400, and he finally makes an appointment with the printer and he tells his bosses, I'm gonna go talk to the printer at lunch time and they freak out, man. They're just like what are you talking to the printer for? He's like, I called up, I wanna get to the bottom of this. We're comin', so my buddy gets on his motorcycle, drives up to the valley to the print shop. They all follow in their BMWs and Mercedes-Benzs in their suits and shiny shoes and he walks in with his bosses behind and the printer turns around. He goes, who's giving me these files that are so extraordinarily big? And Marco was like, tell me about files too big. He goes, first thing I do, I bring them in and squish 'em down about 50 megabyte files so I can do what I need to do with them, and he turns around, looks at his bosses and--
There were some gestures.
There was some gestures.
So did you hear what he just said? The printers are resing down the files that we're spending all that time. It's all about communication. Now I'm gonna tell you why that conversation happened. Let's be honest, today's all about being real. Our dear friend is on salary. So working on those huge files means he's staying 'til two, three in the morning sometimes and he's not getting paid for that. Now, I'm hourly. What do I care, I'll work the extra hours. Now why I care is I take responsibility for my vendors. I wanna be called 'cause I save money and I don't take too much time, let's call it like it is. And it offends my sense of business to do it wrong, but I'm hourly, so there's pros and cons.
In the happy middle is you give 'em that huge file at the end but you work on it smart like we and our experience tells us this is good enough. This is perfect.
And I will say, on those worksheets you will get, you will notice there's a line for the printer contact. Call the printer. Find out who the printer is. Please, they're lovely, they're lovely people and they want to be friends with you. They don't want 7,000 gig files. Anyway, so let's move on to the next hiccup in our life, color space. I have lost clients over this, so I feel I have a personal twitch over the color space issue. When you are in RGB or CMYK, it's not just oh, I'm in RGB or I'm in CMYK. You got some choices within there and these things are critical because it changes the look of the adjustment layers. It changes files. So we're only talking about RGB for a second right here but it is imperative that you know which color space you are in and which specific color space. So I wanna tell you a little story about how it changed or why it changed in my industry 'cause you might find it interesting. So SRGB was not a valid color space for television land, where I worked, because we were doing a lot of magazine and print, it was all magazine and print. Social media hadn't even taken off. That's how old I am. There was no social media when I started. And so what happened was for our vendor and with magazines going worldwide, we had no control over the printing. We had no control over the printing. You send something to People Magazine, they print it. You're not there on the press checking it. So for that vendor, Colormatch was the appropriate RGB color space because we found for our client when we converted it to CMYK that gave us the truest file. We weren't working in a color space that was giving us these great exotic colors that we're never gonna print, so we weren't in the process of sending the client these Epson prints that looked really pretty and vibrant and then saying, oh, yeah, but it's not gonna look like that when it's in the magazine. So we worked in Colormatch for about 15 years. At the same agency, they did theatrical work and at that agency, when you do theatrical work in your comping, you need to have your prints look the best and with that Epson printer, SRGB made the most saturated and deepest blacks for a print. So the theatrical department only worked in SRGB and printed out in SRGB. So you'd have designers on the theatrical team who would do some of the television work and they're in the wrong color space but they don't know because they work in theatrical. They don't know that Colormatch was for the TV land so there was this big disconnect. Adobe RGB tends to be what most of my photographers give me files in is Adobe RGB and then ProPhoto. I get a lot of ProPhoto and I have my own business. I work for a lot of clients. That means my Photoshop needs to be switching color space all the time and I need to be very aware of it. Well, when I lived in France, I got a theatrical job and I did it and I was so proud of myself. It was some kind of Peter Pan movie, I don't remember what it was, it was of that ilk. It took a lot of illustration. I sent it in, sent it in layered, so happy. I did it in the complete wrong color space and the team that opened it up opened up the fully layered file. They opened it up in SRGB and all my curves looked wrong. They never hired me again. That was it. That was a one and done. Please be careful.
It is really important.
For me, this was kind of the stuff, this is how you can get in trouble and I don't wanna deal with it. Just tell me the answer, but it's an important answer. It's like, what's the address of the place you want me, what time you want me to show up, and what color space. I mean, it's really like top three questions. And get that out of the way, but don't forget it and get into trouble.
Yeah, and so what I wanna say is on your Photoshop make sure you have your preferences set to tell you when there's a mismatch. Please, I beg of you. Next thing is bit depth. Shall we talk about bit depth?
So this is not gonna be popular for a lot of retouchers or people out in internet land because photographers really like every single bit of everything that they can use and it don't work in our world so we are eight bit retouchers, period paragraph. The only time I've ever used 16 bit in my professional career, my career, is when I've had to do car stuff, for the grille. When you have metal and really fine detail in that mesh, that's when I've used 16 bit, but it didn't matter in the end when it got printed, to be honest.
All that data got dumped.
I back the photographers. Man, if they have a shot and to get that one layer, one shot, as good as possible, extra bit depth is helpful. You get smooth gradients, you get extra detail, so by all means, use it. As soon as you step into layerville and movie posters and compositing, it's just extra baggage you gotta carry around with you. So it's not worth it. It's not worth, supply and demand, you know. You don't need to bring it with you, it's just gonna slow you down.
Imagine for one second a 27 by 40 inch document at 300 DPI in 16 bit.
So it's immediately--
Your head should hurt right now. There should be pain. Blood coming from your eyes, ah, no, I'm kidding. I'm not kidding. Now, I know that there's fine art printing. I know there are people out in the world who are gonna be using 16 bit. I don't know anyone who used 32 bit in my life, but maybe it's fashion. Maybe it's high end magazines. So yes, there are people who will do it and I would gather that most of those people are doing singular images, not compositing. It's not smoke and explosions, it's one offs and fine detail so for whatever it's worth, put down in your notes and see if that helps you career wise. Yes ma'aam.
Lisa, thank you for addressing that, the number of bits, because it does always come up in classes here and we had some questions too but what happens, this is from Michelle, photog, what happens if their client insists on their files being 16 bit? Do you have any suggestions on working from eight bit and up resing to 16 bit or would you try to educate the client on why they don't necessarily need to?
Educate first and that is the conversation, I can do it but the file is four times as big or twice as big? From eight to 16?
I think it's four. I'm sorry, I don't answer that 'cause I don't know.
Okay, but it's at least double the size if not quadruple and tell them it's gonna me longer to do what I need to do draggin' around this larger file and if it's important to 'em, then you gotta do what they ask.
And they'll pay for it.
And they'll pay for it and once you come to that agreement don't go back on your word and sneak around and do all your work in eight bit and then res it up. That's poor form and it's going against what you told them.
Yeah, that's a good point. Also I wanna remind everybody, I haven't said this yet today. Today we are giving you guidelines. This is not gospel. We're telling you what works in our world and our system. It may not work for everybody's and so I don't want any angry phone calls or anything. But in regards to that question, for example, if she's working with photographers, we have a friend who just did a beautiful Cuba book. It was amazing. He had to do the whole thing in 16 bit. Huge, huge, beautiful book and I think he lost a little hair over it too. It was a deal, but okay, you know what you're getting in to and you educate and you proceed.
It was gorgeous in the end.
And he got paid for it, too.
Yeah, so good.
Yeah, thank you for the question. It was a great question. So again, a reminder about digital sizes. You've got one sheet, two sheets, and billboards for outdoor. You're gonna have magazine. A magazine's pretty much gonna be a one sheet file even though it doesn't need to be as big. Why am I showing you this? I also wanna show you, it's kinda like keeping in mind that there's, what do you call it? Do you call it a sell up, upsell? An upsell. I think sometimes even in a consumer market or client direct we forget to upsell. How about if you get a one sheet size, again, that could be a magazine or a print ad, and say, hey, would you like me to do your social media stuff for you? Would you like me to do your social media breakdowns? And you can have templates already ready and offer that as an upsell and make money on it. So bookcovers, for example. When I do bookcovers, I'll do a bookcover, I'll do an animated GIF, a Cinemagraph kind of thing, and then I'll be like, great, I can also provide you with your social media and how many versions do you need and do you want social media content that moves? So kinda keep that in your mind. I know it's a little off subject for production, but.
That's good thinking.
Throw it in there. Alright, here's some numbers, right? Let's talk numbers. As I said before, this is what the general requirement is for a 27 by 40. Notice it's 27 by 40 on the inside, so we need to build the file bigger. So the file, I always say 27 by 40, but when I'm building a 27 by 40, it's not 27 by 40. It's a 31 by 44. My brain just can't remember those numbers. My brain remembers 27 by 40, and as I said, what the client's gonna ask for is this. 300 DPI, flat, that's 351. As I said earlier, I built this file. I said 27 by 40. I really mean with bleed, 31 by 44, let me be very clear. But I build mine at 200 DPI and if my math is correct, which it occasionally is, it should be somewhere around a 155 megabyte flat. That's how I build my file. And same with this. I would never build a two sheet this big never.
This bleed stuff, like the resolution question, can get out of hand pretty quick, too. Bleed used to be we're gonna make it 27 by but give us a quarter inch, half an inch, in case the plates that are physically getting printed shift, we don't want to be missing artwork on one little corner of it and it just goes to white paper. So you would add a little extra artwork in case the machine shifted over the course of a week of printing. It was just there for that little bit of insurance. Now they're printing digitally and nothing shifts, however the bleed they're asking for these days is start with two inches. Two inches this time, let's go two and a half inches next time, let's go three inches next time. Now we're getting up to, if you have a 27 by 40 poster, they'll want it three widths to the left, three to the right and give me two on top and bottom. Again, tell them they're either gonna pay for it, tell 'em everything's getting bigger, and you can get into a real wormhole. Like there's not art in the photograph. I did one that was a shot in the woods so the trees went behind this guy starting a fire and that was the end of the shot and now they want twice as much. I had to reillustrate that around all those trees and it was not easy. I'd make up trunks, everything was in perspective, depth of field, you had mist over top of it. This was my whole job, now I have six times the job and the size just got huge. Got paid for it and learned a couple tricks in the whole process but--
Alright, so I have three things. They're slightly related that I wanna talk that he just brought up, which, fantastic. So when he was talking about the extra bleed. So if you have a client or an art director who's saying extra bleed, like imagine out where this red line is, so he does that, and that could be quite difficult 'cause you imagine, you have a shot that there is no arm, as he was saying. If you're working in house at an agency, please remember the accounting people have no idea that you're being asked to do that. They won't see it unless you do an illustrated bill, so they're gonna wonder why did you charge us $500 extra or $1,000 extra and he can say in his paperwork, well, that's 'cause I spent two days building out a bleed because that junior level art director asked you to when you didn't need it. Do you understand? This is really important. This is kinda that minutious stuff but I really feel it's important to talk about. In addition to that, cropping. If you're a designer, for our designer friends out there who are retouching, please, please, please, I beg of you, do not design at your trim. Don't design to this level. Please put a bleed frame on. Why do I want you to put a bleed frame on? I want you to put a bleed frame on 'cause when I get called to estimate your comp job that I have to finish, I would like to please be able to take that bleed frame off and look and go, oh, I need to build some extra trees that aren't here. I need to add that in my estimate. If I'm getting a file and everything's cropped, I don't know. I can't find it and it's a surprise and it's a surprise nobody wants. In addition to that, it's a surprise on time because what'll happen is aside from the money, now I need some more time and there might not be any more time and so forewarned is forearmed. Forearmed is forewarned? Whatever that expression is, you guys get the point. And the third thing I wanna talk about is do you remember I was talking about that file, the 44 megabyte file because it was a two sheet kind of thing? Well here's the dimensions. This is why this became that big. This was finished by another company and I had to build breakouts. We've been spending the last day talking about oh, you have to do a horizontal build then you have to do kind of a vertical two sheet build and then you get another weird build. That agency that did that build, that first initial build, they cropped their elements so I didn't have any more elements. They weren't labeled. They were called layer one copy 17. So I didn't have anything to pull from. I didn't know where it was. We're gonna talk about file construction later. It was built horrible and it was 44 gigabytes.