Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Visiting Customers

Yesterday I went on my second on-site customer visit (my first was a couple of months ago to PDI). This time we went to two retouching/processing/printing places in San Francisco. The first was dmax imaging which where the above picture was taken. These guys have all kinds of nifty clients and they do a lot of work with advertising. Naturally they are heavy Photoshop users and routine push the product to its limits. Apart from learning about how customers use Photoshop (and getting their feature requests and pain points) the customer visits are also sometimes really interesting for the tidbits of information you learn about their business.

In this case I learned a LOT about printing large (both in size and volume). I had always figured that with the quality you get out of an Epson 9800, it would be sufficient even for large print houses. Turns out the total cost of doing a LOT of prints and the relatively slow speed of an inkjet like the 9800 makes these big print houses look for other solutions. One such solution is the Chromira 50 (pictured to the left) which is this massive photographic printer that uses LEDs to expose photo paper. This means that the printer requires a dark room and the paper must be loaded in complete darkness (not easy feat considering the size and weight of a roll of paper).

The second place we visited was newlab. These guys offer all kinds of printing services such that even you or I could drop stuff off to get printed. They also get a lot of film related stuff; hence I saw a lot of high quality drum scanners. One of the really cool things I saw here was a genuine old school darkroom (pictured left); something I haven't seen since I was in high school and something that is becoming more and more rare. If you do ever get the chance to visit these guys in person, I would highly recommend checking out some of the work they have in their 'lobby' area. These prints (done by them of course) were part of a project they did for the whole San Francisco earthquake centennial. They scanned up a bunch of the original negatives and reprinted them. Not only are the prints exquisite but the shots are truly inspiring.

I had a great time and am looking forward to more customer visits (I think I have one next week).

Technical Specs: Fuji F30

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