out in front with quick-turnaround photographs on disc for desktop
by Alan Zisman (c) 1995 First published
in Business in
Vancouver , Issue #292 May 20, 1995 High Tech
computers have held out a promise (or threat) similar to that of
gas stations--no need for gas jockeys, do the work yourself. So now
we have business people doing their own typing, their own taxes, their
own financial analyses and their own page design and layout.
It can be
or not this is progress... Certainly, graphics professionals can point
to a lot of ugly pages with too many fonts and little or no sense
of white space--all telltale signs that amateurs are loose with desktop
publishing (DTP) software.
levelling seems to be here to stay. While the initial generation of
pricey and often hard to use publishing software like Ventura
Publisher or Quark XPress simply created a new computer-using
generation of graphics professionals, newer programs like Microsoft
Publisher or Serif's PagePlus put a significant whack of
power on the casual user's desktop.
a big difference between the pros and the once-in-a-while DTP
was the use (or abuse) of photos. Nothing stopped anyone from using
photos in their home-made computer-generated page designs, but how
would they get the photos onto their computer? The high-end folks
had access to lots of tools--$2,000 and up for a flatbed scanner (a
photocopier-like machine which sends a picture into the computer)
and expensive photo-editing software like Adobe PhotoShop.
amateurs could use
clipart--stock cartoons and the like--or they could glue a snapshot
onto the completed printout, forgoing the ability to resize or alter
got a break a couple of years ago when Kodak released its
format, which allowed anyone to take a roll of 35mm film to the local
developer and have it put onto a CD-ROM disc. Cost was about $1 or
so per photo. But this never really caught on, and Kodak seemed unsure
of how to market it. Were we supposed to buy another sort of home
CD-player, so we could show the vacation snapshots to Grandma on the
TV? And a turnaround time of up to two weeks made this impractical
for most people trying to produce a newsletter on a tight schedule.
an upgraded version, aimed at the DTP pros, and users can pay a premium
for faster processing time, but it's still a matter of days, not hours
But now Seattle
Filmworks has moved into the Lower Mainland market from its
state base. From a Richmond office, it offers photofinishing by mail,
providing prints, slides, and images on disk, all from the same roll
of film. This is more convenient than PhotoCD, but relying on the
mail means we're still forced to live with that two-week time between
taking the picture and being able to work with the results.
giant London Drugs has recently stepped up to the plate,
digital photos from the one-hour photo lab in the chain's Broadway
store. (Don't take the one-hour part literally: you actually get
service.) If customers go for it, London Drugs promises to expand
to other outlets throughout B.C. and Alberta.
$24.88, a user gets
a set of 24 prints along with the same pictures on a disk. If you
prefer, a digitized collection can be created from any 4"x5" photo.
Basic software to view and work with the photos is included on each
a number of limitations--this can only be done from 4"x5" prints.
Slides or images of other sizes can't be processed. And it's a
process--a tad inconvenient when professional-level computerized
is still primarily done with Macs. As well, compressing 24 photos
onto a single floppy can only be done by scanning at a relatively
low level. If you only put a few, or even one picture on the disk,
you can get scans done at higher resolution.
software works fine,
but is very basic. Photos are saved in a proprietary format, and can't
directly be used with other applications. The software does allow
you to copy a picture to a clipboard, letting you paste it directly
into your page-layout software or into an image-editing program to
be cropped, altered, and saved. Even with 24 images on a disk, the
pictures look good on screen, and will print just fine on laser
or colour inkjets.
really being aimed at graphics professionals: it's aimed at the large
number of business and home casual publishers--people who may need
to produce a leaflet or newsletter now and then. Real estate people
can now quickly produce a leaflet with photos of houses for sale (or
post them on the Internet, as we saw a few weeks ago). Product
can be produced for printout, or distributed electronically online
or on disk. Photos can be easily added to any other document that's
produced on a (PC) computer desktop.
could do all this for years, what's new is London Drugs making it
widely (and quickly) available to people without the budget or need
to purchase a scanner.
I wouldn't be
if similar services quickly become available from other large
And with colour inkjet printers becoming more available, the next
hurdle--colour hard copy--starts to become more realistic. Now if
only we'd get widely available, cheap colour photocopying!