PIM Member Profile: Walsworth Publishing Company

PIM Member Profile: Walsworth Publishing Company

Presence. Performance. Personalization.

By John Gumina

walsworth

These three words probably best describe Walsworth Publishing Company, this issue’s Printing Industry of Michigan “Member Profile.”

Along with its facility in St. Joseph, Michigan—acquired just five years ago—the Missouri-based Walsworth has continued to expand its operational presence throughout the U.S., and maintains an international reach as well.

Founded in Missouri in 1937 by Don Walsworth, the company is still family owned and specializes in printing yearbooks, catalogs, periodicals and books. It performs among the 30 largest printing companies in the U.S. overall, and is among the top 10 publications printers and top five book printers. Today, it employs some 1,250 people worldwide.

Walsworth is further distinguished by the fact it is the last privately-held printer of yearbooks among the Big Five, and it has more than 675 employees who have attained “Master Printer of America” status!

According to Tom Ashton, Sales Director, Eastern Region at Walsworth Print Group, at its core the company has a philosophy of placing the client first, and maintains a “big enough to help but small enough to care” approach.
It is this personalization, so to speak, which has kept the majority of clients working with Walsworth for fully 10 years or more.

The St. Joseph, Michigan facility offers a full-service print operation, from receipt of files to shipping out the door. “We have heatset web presses as well as sheetfed presses,” Ashton states. “We can stitch or perfect bind projects across the entire platform, or if sewing and case-binding are needed, rely on our Missouri plant. Following completion, we can ship to a destination, mail through our onsite U.S. Postal verification, co-mail, or hold in our warehouses for ongoing fulfillment and distribution.”The manufacturing operation at St. Joseph occupies 150,000 square feet in its own building. Administrative offices are located across the street in 9,000 square feet, and the Fulfillment Operation occupies 50,000 square feet of warehouse and office space in a 500,000 square foot building nearby.

Walsworth acquired IPC of St. Joseph five years ago from Journal Communications, Ashton points out. This was part of a strategic expansion of Walsworth’s platform, its scope of offerings, the markets it served and its product diversification. (IPC had operated in the St. Joseph region for decades prior to the acquisition, occupying a number of facilities.)

About 195 individuals work at the St. Joseph Walsworth facility today which most recently began implementing a new enterprise wide production system to streamline operations and improve efficiency and tracking.

Ashton states, “We have added several new presses and supporting operations, including platesetters and paper handling equipment. We continue to invest significantly in both our local Michigan operation and across our entire platform. Our annual investment easily exceeds $5,000,000 across our platform, as we seek to improve operations and grow our services. In addition to the pressroom equipment, we have invested significantly in our Integrated Solutions suite of services.” Shortly after Walsworth acquired IPC, Ashton joined the company.

“I am responsible for leading our Eastern Region sales team, selling our entire platform. The team is selling solutions applicable to the catalog, periodical and book markets in addition to ongoing fulfillment services and integrated digital solutions.” Ashton emphasizes “the vast majority” of Walsworth clients have been with the company for 10 years or more.

“We count our clients both in numbers and in longevity,” he adds, noting Walsworth prints many hundreds of focused publications, niche and specialty catalogs, and books of all kinds. But services go beyond this.

Ashton states: “We’ve been working with one long-time client, for example, in revising their website and their marketing strategy to incorporate different conversation streams and methodologies, their approach to new subscriber acquisition, as well as, the layout and design of their magazine.”

This has already resulted in more than an 11% increase in new subscriptions and well over a 200% increase in web traffic, he adds.

In an economy that appears to be growing, but still remains challenging, Ashton states Walsworth: “Continues to identify where we can have the greatest impact on the success of our clients and prospects. We focus our efforts on those activities. By refining our approach we can make our marketing and selling more effective, and negate the need to trim or eliminate.”

What about future plans?

Ashton notes Walsworth is continually investing in both traditional brick-and-mortar operations along with the supporting and complimentary services, such as its “Apps” and “Integrated Solutions” programs.

Walsworth Apps helps its clients to develop and deliver compelling content to readers wherever they are and on whatever devices they use – computer, tablet or smartphone. Ashton adds Walsworth Apps offer a rich content-viewing experience, interactive advertising opportunities and real-time analytic insights along with a new component which reviews, recommends and defines new revenue opportunities for the client.

“Integrated Solutions typically begin with a Digital Presence Assessment, so we can help the client stack rank where to invest time and effort to get the best return. For some, it means revamping the website or tweaking SEO, while for others, it means developing apps with responsive design and frequently updated content. One size doesn’t fit all: we tailor our digital efforts to compliment the traditional printed vehicle so each leverages and enhances the other.”

As a member of its local communities, Walsworth is proud to participate in activities and efforts to support the residents, Ashton points out. “We have been a pacesetter company for the United Way campaign in the past and continue to run an employee campaign each year,” he states. Walsworth’s presence in Michigan also goes beyond the local. “We are proud to partner with Susan G. Komen of Michigan for whom we provide in-kind printing services.”

Walsworth also participates in “green” activities. For example, all of the overhead lighting at its St. Joseph manufacturing operation has been replaced with energy efficient fixtures. “We maintain Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certifications for sustainable forest paper products,” Ashton says. “We also recycle 100% of our process waste paper. Additionally, our Sunday web press is a zero-emission press, meaning atmospheric exhaust from that press is water vapor only.”

An active Printing Industries of Michigan member, Walsworth views its membership as “an effective way for us to connect with our colleagues in the industry,” Ashton states. “It helps our organization locate potential production partners, both for specialty applications and overflow resources but also for presenting Walsworth capabilities to other members.”

PIM also serves Walsworth as a method of information consolidation and distribution, both internally and across its local industry, Ashton adds.

For more information about Walsworth, visit its website at walsworth.com, or call Tom Ashton at 269.428.1200. You can also email them either through the website, or through thomas. ashton@walsworth.com

Charles Stanhope (1753 – 1816)

Charles Stanhope (1753 – 1816)

Iron Printing Press

By Kevin R. Donley • kevin@multimediaman.org

crm

Historians generally agree that the first industrial revolution took place between 1760 and 1840. Among the features of the great economic and social transformation were: (1) the progression from predominantly rural to urban society, (2) the replacement of handicraft with machine production, (3) the introduction of iron and steel in place of wood and (4) the substitution of muscle power with new energy sources like coal-fired steam power.

A unique set of circumstances – a stable commercial environment, advances in iron making and an abundance of skilled mechanics —made Britain the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Beginning with new techniques in textile production, industrial innovations spread rapidly to other manufacturing sectors and then across national borders in Europe and around the globe. All aspects of life would be touched by industrialization: population, politics, trade and commerce, science and culture, education, transportation and communication.

It was during this era of remarkable change that the English aristocrat Charles Stanhope invented—sometime around 1800—the first printing press constructed wholly of iron. Prior to Stanhope’s achievement, the design and build of printing machines had not changed in the three and a half centuries since Gutenberg.

Previously, small adjustments had been made to the wooden press. These related to structural stability, increased sheet size and automation to reduce human muscle power. But, even with the inclusion of some iron parts, the basic design of printing presses remained as they were in 1450.

With the Stanhope hand press, both the design of the impression mechanism as well as the material from which the machine was built were transformed; Stanhope’s contribution was a crucial preliminary step in the industrial development of print communications.

Young Lord Stanhope

Charles Stanhope, third Earl Stanhope, was born on August 3, 1753, the younger of two sons of Philip Stanhope, second Earl Stanhope, and his wife Lady Grisel (Hamilton) Stanhope. As a member of the English peerage system—with titles like Duke, Earl and Baron—Charles is often referred to as Lord Stanhope or Earl Stanhope. Born into the English aristocracy, he was afforded a privileged upbringing and, at the age of nine, was enrolled by his parents at prestigious Eton boarding school.

In 1763, following the death at age seventeen of his brother Philip from tuberculosis, Charles became family heir. His parents decided that Charles’ “health should not be exposed to the English climate, or the care of his mind to the capricious attention of the English schoolmaster” and the family relocated to Geneva, Switzerland. At age eleven, he was enrolled at the school in Geneva founded on the principles of John Calvin and there studied philosophy, science and math.

As a teenager, Charles was known to be a devoted cricket player, an exceptional equestrian and a well mannered young man who was admired by his peers. At age seventeen, Charles won a prize in a Swedish competition for the best essay, written in French, on the construction of a pendulum.

While Charles was accomplished academically in math and science, he was also known to have talents in drawing and painting. As a nobleman, Charles had obligations as a militia commander and he developed a passion for archery and musket shooting. At eighteen, he won a competition and was crowned the best shot and so-called “King of the Arquebusiers.”

By the time Charles completed his education in Switzerland, his parents decided to move the family back to England. According to a published account, as the family and its entourage left Geneva in 1774, “The young gentleman was obliged to come out again and again to his old friends and companions who pressed round the coach to bid him farewell, and expressed their sorrow for his departure and their wishes for his prosperity.”

Stanhope the Inventor

During their five-month journey home to England from Switzerland, the family made a stop in Paris. Charles was welcomed and “esteemed by most of the learned educated men of the capital” over the prize he had won for his paper on pendulum design. He was developing an international reputation as an innovator.

Upon his return to England, Charles used his skills in mechanics to win election to London’s Royal Society, a world renowned club founded by King Charles in the 17th century to promote the benefits and accomplishments of science. At the age of 20, Charles embarked on a series of self-funded experiments and inventions and his interest in such matters continued throughout his life.

The most important of these were:
• A method for preventing counterfeiting of gold currency (1775)
• A system for fireproofing houses by starving a fire of air (1778)
• Several mechanical “arithmetical machines” that could add, subtract, multiply and divide. These inventions were early forerunners of computers (1777 and 1780).
• Experiments in steamboat navigation and ship construction which included the invention of the split pin, later known as the Cottier pin (1789).
• A popular single lens microscope that became known as the Stanhope that was used in medical practice and for examination of transparent materials such as crystals and fluids (1806).
• A monochord or a single string device, used for tuning musical instruments.
• Improvements in canal locks and inland navigation (1806).

Charles Stanhope became so well accomplished in international scientific circles that he was befriended by Benjamin Franklin. The two spent time together during Franklin’s visits to England prior to the American Revolution. They shared a mutual interest in electricity and, in 1779, Charles Stanhope published a volume entitled “Principles of Electricity” that corroborated through experimental evidence Franklin’s ideas about lighting rods.

The Stanhope Press

By 1800, as has often happened in graphic arts history, the environment became ripe for a major step forward in printing methods. Charles Stanhope—who had the desire, know-how and resources to make it happen—stepped forward with a significant breakthrough.

Due to his many democratic political pursuits and scientific publishing activities—some of which concerned freedom of the press—Charles was very familiar with printing technology. Among his concerns were the cost of production, the accuracy of the content, the beauty of the print quality and the importance of books for the expansion of knowledge in society as a whole.

All letterpress technologies require a means to transfer ink from the surface of the metal type forms to the paper. This process requires the application of pressure, i.e. an impression, that mechanically drives the ink into the paper fibers. The pressure also creates a slight indentation in the shape of the letter forms in the surface of the paper.

Prior to 1800, press designs were based on the screw press that had been used for pressing grapes (wine) and olives (oil), cloth and paper going back to Roman times. The screw mechanism is a complex arrangement of the screw, nut, spindle and fixed bar that drives the platen—the flat plate that presses the paper against the type form—downward. There are many historical drawings and engravings that illustrate how physical strength is required to pull the bar and make a printing impression with the Gutenberg era press design.

Stanhope’s innovation, according to historian James Moran, was that “he retained the conventional screw but separated it from the spindle and bar, inserting a system of compound levers between them. The effect of several levers acting upon another is to multiply considerably the power applied.” The compound lever system was so successful that it became referred to as “Stanhope principles” and was incorporated into subsequent generations of hand press design in the nineteenth century (Columbian, Albion and Washington).

Other important Stanhope press changes were:

• All iron construction including a massive frame formed in one piece

• A double size platen

• A regulator that controlled the intensity of the impression

The Stanhope press would undergo several important modifications, the most important of which was strengthening the frame in 1806 to prevent the iron from cracking under the stress of repeated impressions. The second design—with its characteristic rounded cheeks—is what today is commonly associated with the Stanhope press.

The Times of London immediately adopted the Stanhope press and it became successful across Europe and America in the first few decades of the 1800s. Meanwhile, further developments with all-iron hand presses would continue up to the end of the nineteenth century. However, driven by the rapid advancement of the industrial revolution, the next stage in the evolution of press design—the introduction of cylinders and steam power—would rapidly eclipse Stanhope’s accomplishments.

Stanhope the Statesmen

Charles 3rd Earl Stanhope was an unusual man. In addition to his many inventions and scientific studies, he devoted himself to radical political causes that often controverted his aristocratic background. He often referred to himself as “Citizen” Stanhope. The origins of his democratic leanings were to be found in the influence of his father—who was a member of Parliament and an outspoken critic of the crown and proponent of Habeas Corpus—his education in the radical environment of Geneva and the Revolutions in America (1776) and France (1789).

Known publicly as Viscount Mahon at the time, Charles was elected to Parliament in 1780 and adopted positions that conflicted with the political elite. His demands for electoral and finance reform and religious tolerance of dissenters and Catholics did not sit well with the establishment. Charles was also known to have campaigned against slavery and was party to the abolition bill known as the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

Charles Stanhope was an opponent of the war against the thirteen colonies and a supporter of John Wilkes, a British sympathizer of the American rebels. Despite his efforts on behalf of the oppressed and downtrodden in society, Charles Stanhope’s personal eccentricities caused him, especially later in life, to be isolated from his family.
Always thinking of others before himself, he allowed his manse at Chevening, Kent to fall into disrepair and it is speculated that he had starved himself to death on a diet of soup and barley water. Charles Stanhope was interred “as a very poor man” in the family vault at Chevening Church one week after his death on December 17, 1816.

Michigan Printing Week Committee

Michigan Printing Week Committee

33rd Annual Ben Franklin Awards Dinner

By John Gumina

printing week

Stellar awardees; meaningful program; great camaraderie and fine dining!

Giving no more than a nod to an icy blast of January weather, over 200 PIM members and vendor representatives, family, friends and associates joined together Tuesday, January 12th at the renowned Michigan Printing Week Ben Franklin Awards Dinner.

The event, taking place at Laurel Manor in Livonia, saw two coveted awards given: Individual of the Year was garnered by Julie McFarland of McNaughton & Gunn in Saline; the Corporation of the Year went to Wolverine Solutions Group of Detroit. Along with these awards, six Michigan college students enrolled in printing/graphics programs were Scholarship Recipients.

And once again, Ben Franklin joined us for the fun, along with his wife Deborah!

The evening was introduced by Kevin Donley of Adair Graphic Communications who noted that the Printing Week Dinner is the one time each year that so many people associated with the printing and graphics industry in Michigan get together for a unique networking opportunity.

He noted, as well, that today marked the 310th anniversary of Ben Franklin’s birth, a man whose life was a mix of adversity and perseverance but filled with overriding innovation. All of these, Kevin made clear, were part and parcel to the printing and graphics industry.

“Today there are so many challenges,” he stated. Among them: the economic slowdown of late 2000 that lingers; and, the fast-changing technology impacting the industry, including digital, mobile and wireless realities. All need to be integrated.

“Success requires innovation, even along with risk,” Kevin said, adding that there were many examples of companies and individuals at the Awards Dinner that recognized this. And along with this was a tone of optimism that clearly ensures the printing and graphics industry will prevail.

Introducing Corporation of the Year recipient Wolverine Solutions Group was Tip Quilter of Tip Quilter & Associates, LLC. He is Wolverine’s leadership coach and strategy advisor.

Tip said Wolverine’s success was “no magic,” but a combination of “grit, determination and commitment” that has brought it the success it enjoys today.

Wolverine Solutions Group was founded in 1978 by Bob Tokar as Wolverine Mailing & Packaging, occupying 4,000 square feet of space on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit. Its growth from there saw it move to 30,000 square feet, then to a facility with 180,000 square feet. It focused on the opportunities that the direct mail business offered, especially during the 1980’s and 1990’s, and made early entry into the digital print business.

High-speed multiline, automated sorting equipment came next, followed by continuous variable digital web presses. Wolverine, in fact, was one of the first companies to drive the presses from a PC platform.

By the early 2000’s Wolverine leadership knew it had outgrown its “mailing” nameplate; thus, the company name changed to Wolverine Solutions Group to better reflect its provision of solutions in the direct communications business. Today, Wolverine enjoys an active client base of over 300.

Tip noted that succession and quality people within the company were major factors in the 39% growth Wolverine has enjoyed as a result of its transformation through the years. He added: “Wolverine is receiving this award tonight because of success driven by hard work.”

At this point, Tip asked a number of employees of Wolverine Solutions Group to join him on stage. In a few moments, there were nearly 20 of them standing either side of him! He asked them if the hard work of change to better the organization had been easy. They exclaimed, “No!” But was it worth it, he asked. They joined in a resounding “Yes!”

Among those joining Tip on stage was Robert Tokar, the son of Wolverine’s founder, who began working at Wolverine shortly after its doors opened. Today, he is CEO.

Robert stated that he has enjoyed the hard work and the “journey” at Wolverine through so many years and that he has looked at life as the “glass half full,” just as his father did.

“And my dad always told me: “Always work to better yourself.’” Robert also especially thanked his wife, Felicia, for “staying with me” through all the hard work of being involved with a successful business.

Referring to the employees on stage with him, Robert said “This is what it’s all about; our most important asset is the right people.” He added that he has always taken the attitude that he will let them be creative, make their own choices, and make decisions that they feel would be best for the company and its clients.

Introducing the Individual of the Year Award recipient was Jim Clark, Director of Operations at McNaughton & Gunn, a renowned book printer. He noted that winner Julie McFarland’s important and steadily increasing responsibilities through the years with the company began in 1990 when she took the Assistant Controller position. She went next to Controller, then COO, then to CEO, and presently is President.

Jim also listed many of Julie’s numerous personal and civic honors and appointments, including Treasurer for the Ann Arbor Graphic Arts Memorial Foundation; Past President and Treasurer of the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce; United Way and Junior Achievement volunteer. In 2003, Business Direct Weekly named her one of the “Most Influential Women.” “Today, McNaughton & Gunn is profitable because of Julie,” Jim added.

Noting that the company has sales of $25 million annually, Clark called Julie “a great leader” who has been at the helm for the past 14 years. He stated: “And we are still producing books in this challenging industry!”

In 2015, McNaughton & Gunn celebrated 40 years in the business and has received numerous awards including: The Principal’s “One of the 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security; Printing Industries of America’s “Best of the Best Workplaces in America; and one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ “Cool Places to Work.” In 2006, McNaughton & Gunn received Printing Week Association’s corporate Ben Franklin award.

At the podium, Julie stated that she feels “very lucky to be part of this industry.”

She added that she is passionate about books because they “allow us to explore emotions, explore new worlds, and to learn.” The industry also captures history and gives us a view of “where we can go,” she said.

Julie also stated that she is very happy to be a part of a family business, noting that her father, Bob McNaughton, was one of the company’s founding partners over 40 years ago. She recalled how in the early days, the “business phone was in the living room and we bound books in the garage.”

Julie said that in order to be successful, one had to “jump at opportunities as quickly as conclusions.” She urged all in the room to recognize that technology is impacting the industry, but that we must “take our expertise and our experiences” and work with technology.

Each year, the Michigan Printing Week Association, Printing Industries of Michigan and their numerous partners pool resources to provide scholarships to worthy college students in the printing and graphics curriculums.

This year’s recipients of Graphics Arts Scholarships were:

Ferris State University
Karen Lynn Readon and Carly DeWeert

Western Michigan University
Adrianna Bird, Andrew Bogan, Bradley Green and Sarah Meldrum

Congratulations to all! Perhaps the words of Ben Franklin, printed in the Award Dinner program book, offer some of the sagest advice for members of the printing and graphics industry today:

‘Tis true there is much to be done, and perhaps you are weak handed, but stick to it steadily, and you will see great effects, for constant dropping wears away stones, and by diligence and patience the mouse ate in two the cable; and little strokes fell great oaks.”

She concluded: “We need to continue to take pride in our industry, and color our world in print!”

Each year, the Michigan Printing Week Association, Printing Industries of Michigan and their numerous partners pool resources to provide scholarships to worthy college students in the printing and graphics curriculums.

Streaming and the Era of On-Demand Media

Streaming and the Era of On-Demand Media

By Kevin R. Donley, kevin@multimediaman.org

printing week

On January 6th, Netflix went live with its video-streaming service in 130 new countries across the globe. The expansion— covering most of the world except for China—was announced by Netflix cofounder and CEO Reed Hastings during a keynote speech at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Hastings said, “Today, right now, you are witnessing the birth of a global TV network.”

Prior to this latest announcement, Netflix had 40 million subscribers in the US and 20 million subscribers internationally in a total of 60 countries and available in 17 languages. According to Hastings, the company’s goal is to reach 200 countries by the end of 2016 and sign up 90 million US and 450 million worldwide subscribers.

The rapid expansion of Netflix is part of the transformation of TV program and movie viewing that has been underway for a decade or more. While “linear TV”— programming that is presented at specific times and on non-portable screens—is still popular, it is being rapidly overtaken by the new personalized, on-demand and mobile subscription services like Netflix.

According to Netflix, the growth of Internet TV is driven by (1) advancements in Internet reliability and performance, (2) time and place flexibility of on-demand viewing and (3) accelerating innovation of streaming video technology. A possible fourth driver of Netflix’s success is its subscription-based user model. Unlike previous on-demand solutions that often required consumers to purchase one at a time—or rent for a specified period of time—their own copies of movies and music, streaming media solutions like Netflix offers subscribers access to their entire content library without limitations for a monthly fee.

Streaming media refers to video or audio content that is transmitted in a compressed digital form over the Internet and played immediately, rather than being downloaded onto a computer hard drive or other storage media for later playback. Therefore, users do not need to wait for the entire media file to be sent before playing it; the media file is delivered in a continuous stream and can be watched or listened to as soon as the playing process is able to begin.

Media streaming originated with “elevator music” known as Muzak in the early 1950s. It was a service that transmitted music over electrical lines in retail stores and building lobbies. The first efforts to stream music and video on computers and digital networks ran up against the limitations of CPU performance, network bandwidth and data stream interruptions associated with “buffering.”

Attempts in the 1990s by Microsoft (Windows Media Player), Apple (QuickTime) and RealNetworks (RealPlayer) to develop streaming technologies on desktop computers made important breakthroughs. However, each of these solutions required proprietary file formats and media players that resulted in an unworkable system for users.

By the early 2000s, the adoption of broadband internet and improvements in CPU and data throughput along with efforts to create a single, unified format led to the adoption of Adobe Flash as a de facto standard for streaming media. By 2005, when the social media and video sharing service YouTube was established, Flash became the dominant streaming technology on the Internet. More recently—especially since 2011—HTML5 has advanced as an international standard on computers and mobile devices and it will eventually supplant Flash.

printing weekStreaming media has been transforming the music industry along side of TV and movies. While digital downloads still represent the largest percentage of music sales in the US, they are falling. Meanwhile, streaming music services like Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music have already overtaken physical CD sales and represent about one third of the industry’s income. Some analysts expect revenue from music streaming to surpass that of digital downloads in the near future.

Consumers and Content

Streaming media has fundamentally shifted the relationship between consumers and entertainment content. During the era of broadcast radio (1920s) and television (1950s), consumers needed a “set” to receive the analog programs of radio stations and TV channels. Meanwhile, audience members had to be in front of their radio or TV—with “rabbit ears” antenna adjusted optimally—on a schedule set by the broadcasters. The cost of programming was paid for by commercial advertising and corporate sponsors.

In the cable and satellite era (1970s), consumers began paying for content with subscription fees and programming was “commercial free.” Along with home recording devices—at first analog magnetic tape systems like VCRs (1970s) and digital recording devices like DVRs (late 1990s)—came an important shift in viewing behavior. Consumers could do what is now called “time shifted viewing,” i.e. they could choose when they wanted to experience the recorded content.

At first, music publishers mass produced and marketed analog audio recordings—records (1950s) and then audio tapes (1970s)—and consumers purchased and owned a library of recordings. These records and tapes could be enjoyed at any time and place as long as there was an audio system with a stereo turntable or cassette player available.

The same was true of mass produced CD audio (1980s) and DVD video (2000s) optical discs. While these digital formats improved portability and their quality did not deteriorate from repeated play—the way that analog magnetic and vinyl did— they required a new generation of optical devices. Portable CD (1980s) and DVD players (late 1990s) addressed this issue, but consumers still had to maintain a library of purchased titles.

With digital downloading of music and video over the Internet, content could finally be played anywhere and at anytime on portable digital players like iPods (2001) and notebook PCs. However, consumers were still required to purchase the titles they wanted to enjoy. Instead of owning bookshelves and cabinets full of CD and DVD jewel cases, downloaded electron- ic files had to be maintained on MP3 players, computer hard drives and digital media servers.

When Internet-based media streaming arrived alongside of mobile and wireless computing the real potential of time and place independent content viewing became a reality. Add to these the subscription model—with (potentially) the entire back catalog of recorded music, TV shows and movies available for a relatively small monthly fee—and consumers began flocking in large numbers to services like Netflix and Spotify.

Streaming Media Trends to Watch 2016

Media industry analysts have been following the impact of these streaming content and technologies and some of their recent insights and trend analyses are below:

Streaming Devices:

  • Linear TV content still dominates US households. However, there are signs that streaming media devices such as Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast and Amazon Fire are rapidly shifting things. The adoption of these devices went from about 17% in 2014 to about 28% of US households with broadband internet in 2015 [Park Associates]

Streaming vs. Downloading:

  • Online music streams doubled from 164.5 billion to 317 billions songs
  • Digital song sales dropped 12.5% from 1.1 billion to 964.8 million downloads
  • Digital album sales dropped 2.9% from 106.5 million to 103.3 million downloads [Nielsen 2015 Music Report]

Cable TV:

  • The cord-cutting trend—households that are ending their cable TV service—is accelerating. Total households with cable subscriptions fell from 83% in 2014 to under 80% in 2015 [Pacific Crest].
  • Scheduled “linear” TV fell and recorded “linear” TV was flat (or even increased slightly) from 2014 to 2015, while streamed on-demand video increased [Ericsson ConsumerLab].

While streaming audio and video are growing rapidly, traditional radio and TV still represent by far the largest percentages of consumer activity. Obviously, some of the cultural and behavior changes involved in streaming media run up against audience demographics: some older consumers are less likely to shift their habits while some younger consumers have had fewer or no “linear” experiences.

As the Ericsson ConsumerLab study shows, teenagers spend less than 20% of their TV viewing time watching a TV screen; the other 80% is spent in front of desktop and laptop computers, tablets and smartphones. Despite these differences, streaming content use is soaring and the era of “linear”media is rapidly coming to an end. Just like the relationship between eBooks and print books, the electronic alternative is expanding rapidly while the analog form persists and, in some ways, is stronger than ever. Nonetheless, the new era of time and place independent on-demand media is fast approaching.

Adrian Frutiger (1928 – 2015)

Adrian Frutiger (1928 – 2015)

By Kevin R. Donley • kevin@multimediaman.org

usps

Adrian Frutiger died on September 10, 2015 at the age of 87. He was one of the most important type designers of his generation, having created some 40 fonts, many of them still widely used today. He was also a teacher, author and specialist in the language of graphic expression and since his career spanned metal, photomechanical and electronic type technologies Frutiger became an important figure in the transition from the analog to the digital eras of print communications.

Frutiger was born on May 24, 1928 in the town of Interseen, near Interlaken and about 60 kilometers southeast of the city of Bern, Switzerland. His father was a weaver. As a youth, Adrian showed an interest in handwriting and lettering. He was encouraged by his family and secondary school teachers to pursue an apprenticeship rather than a fine arts career.

uspsAt age 16, Adrian obtained a four-year apprenticeship as a metal type compositor with the printer Otto Schlaeffli in Interlaken. He also took classes in drawing and woodcuts at a business school in the vicinity of Bern. In 1949, Frutiger transferred to the School of Applied Arts in Zürich, where he concentrated on calligraphy. In 1951, he created a brochure for his dissertation entitled, “The Development of the Latin Alphabet” that was illustrated with his own woodcuts.

It was during his years in Zürich that Adrian worked on sketches for what would later become the typeface Univers, one of the most important contributions to post-war type design. In 1952, following his graduation, Frutiger moved to Paris and joined the foundry Deberny & Peignot as a type designer.

During his early work with the French type house, Frutiger was engaged in the conversion of existing metal type designs for the newly emerging phototypesetting technologies. He also designed several new typefaces Président, Méridien, and Ondine in the early 1950s.

San Serif and Swiss Typography

San serif type is a product of the twentieth century. Also known as grotesque (or grotesk), san serif fonts emerged with commercial advertising, especially signage. The original san serif designs (beginning in 1898) possessed qualities lack of lower case letters, lack of italics, the inclusion of condensed or extended widths and equivalent cap and ascender heights that seemingly violated the rules of typographic tradition. As such, these early san serif designs were often considered too clumsy and inelegant for the professional type houses and their clients.

kabelAlong with the modern art and design movements of the early twentieth century, a reconsideration of the largely experimental work of the first generation of sans serif types began in the 1920s. Fonts such as Futura, Kabel and Gill Sans incorporated some of the theoretical concepts of the Bauhaus and DeStijl movements and pushed sans serif to new spheres of respectability.

However, these fonts—which are still used today—did not succeed in elevating san serif beyond headline usage and banner advertising and into broader application. Sans serif type remained something of an oddity and not yet accepted by the traditional foundry industry as viable in terms of either style or legibility.

futuraIn the 1930s, especially within the European countries that fell to dictatorship prior to and during World War II, there was a backlash against modernist conceptions. Sans serif type came under attack, was derided as “degenerate” and banned in some instances. Exceptions to this trend were in the US, where the use of grotesque types was increasing, and Switzerland, where the minimalist typographic ideas of the Bauhaus were brought by designers who had fled the countries ruled by the Nazis.

gillAfter the war, interest in sans serif type design was renewed as a symbol of modernism and a break from the first four decades of the century. By the late 1950s, the most successful period of san serif type opened up and the epicenter of this change emerged in Switzerland, signified by the creation of Helvetica (1957) by Eduard Hoffmann and Max Miedinger of the Haas Type Foundry in Münchenstein.

It was the nexus of the creative drive to design the definitively “modern” typeface and the possibilities opened up by the displacement of metal type with phototypesetting that brought san serif from a niche font into global preeminence.

Frutiger’s Univers

bauhaus schoolThis was the cultural environment that influenced Adrian Frutiger as he set about his work on a new typeface as a Swiss trained type designer at a French foundry. As Frutiger explained in a 1999 interview with Eye Magazine, “When I came to Deberny & Peignot in Paris, Futura (though it was called Europe there) was the most important font in lead typesetting. Then one day the question was raised of a grotesque for the Lumitype-Photon [the first phototypesetting system]. …

“I asked him [Peignot] if I might offer an alternative. And within ten days I constructed an entire font system. When I was with Käch I had already designed a thin, normal, semi-bold and italic Grotesque with modulated stroke weights. This was the precursor of Univers. … When Peignot saw it he almost jumped in the air: ‘Good heavens, Adrian, that’s the future!’ ”

final version of frutigerOriginally calling his type design “Monde” (French for “world”), Frutiger’s innovation was that he designed 21 variations of Univers from the beginning; for the first time in the history of typography a complete set of typefaces were planned precisely as a coherent system. He also gave the styles and weights a numbering scheme beginning with Univers 55. The different weights (extended, condensed, ultra condensed, etc.) were numbered in increments of ten, i.e. 45, 65, 75, 85 and styles with the same line thickness were numbered in single digit increments (italics were the even numbers), i.e. 53, 56, 57, 58, 59, etc.

Univers was released by Deberny & Peignot in 1957 and it was quickly embraced internationally for both text and display type purposes. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, like Helvetica, it was widely used for corporate identity (GE, Lufthansa, Deutsche Bank). It was the official promotional font of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

Frutiger explained the significance of his creation in the interview with Eye Magazine, “It happened to be the time when the big advertising agencies were being set up, they set their heart on having this diverse system. This is how the big bang occurred and Univers conquered the world. But I don’t want to claim the glory. It was simply the time, the surroundings, the country, the invention, the postwar period and my studies during the war. Everything led towards it. It could not have happened any other way.”

Computers and Digital Typography

Had Adrian Frutiger retired at the age of 29 after designing Univers, he would have already made an indelible contribution to the evolution of typography. However, his work was by no means complete. By 1962, Frutiger had established his own graphic design studio with Bruno Pfaffli and Andre Gurtler in Arcueil near Paris. This firm designed posters, catalogs and identity systems for major museums and corporations in France.

Throughout the 1960s, Frutiger continued to design new typefaces for the phototypesetting industry such as Lumitype, Monotype, Linotype and Stempel AG. Among his most well-known later san serif designs were Frutiger, Serifa and Avenir. Frutiger’s font systems can be seen to this day on the signage at Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports and the Paris Metro.

The penetration of computers and information systems into the printing and publishing process were well underway by the 1960s. In 1961, thirteen computer and typewriter manufacturers founded the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) based in Geneva. A top priority of the EMCA was to create an international standard for optical character recognition (OCR)—a system for capturing the image of printed information and numbers and converting them into electronic data— especially for the banking industry.

By 1968, OCR-A was developed in the US by American Type Founders—a trust of 23 American type foundries—and it was later adopted by the American National Standards Institute. This was the first practically adopted standard mono-spaced font that could be read by both machines and the human optical system.

However, in Europe the ECMA wanted a font that could be used as an international standard such that it accommodated the requirements of all typographic considerations and computerized scanning technologies all over the world. Among the issues, for example, were the treatment of the British pound symbol (£) and the Dutch IJ and French oe (œ) ligatures.

Other technical considerations included the ability to integrate OCR standards with typewriter and letterpress fonts in addition to the latest phototypesetting systems.

In 1963, Adrian Frutiger was approached by representatives of the ECMA and asked to design OCR-B as an international standard with a non-stylized alphabet that was also esthetically pleasing to the human eye. Over the next five years, Frutiger showed the exceptional ability to learn the complicated technical requirements of the engineers: the grid systems of the different readers, the strict spacing requirements between characters and the special shapes needed to make one letter or number optically distinguishable from another.

In 1973, after multiple revisions and extensive testing, Adrian Frutiger’s OCR-B was adopted as an international standard. Today, the font can be most commonly found on UPC barcodes, ISBN barcodes, government issued ID cards and passports. Frutiger’s OCR-B font will no doubt live on into the distant future—alongside various 2D barcode systems—as one of the primary means of translating analog information into digital data and back again.

Adrian Frutiger’s type design career extended well into the era of desktop publishing, PostScript fonts and the Internet age. In 1989, Frutiger published the English translation of Signs and Symbols: Their Design and Meaning, a theoretical and retrospective study of the two-dimensional expression of graphic drawing with typography among its most advanced forms. For someone who spent his life working on the nearly imperceptible detail of type and graphic design, Frutiger exhibited an exceptional grasp of the historical and social sources of man’s urge toward pictographic representation and communication.

As an example, Frutiger wrote in the introduction to his book, “For twentieth century humans, it is difficult to imagine a void, a chaos, because they have learned that a kind of order appears to prevail in both the infinitely small and the infinitely large. The understanding that there is no element of chance around or in us, but that all things, both mind and matter, follow an ordered pattern, supports the argument that even the simplest blot or scribble cannot exist by pure chance or without significance, but rather that the viewer does not clearly recognize the causes, origins, and occasion of such a ‘drawing’.”

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