Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Coming Attractions

Nancy Donigan from the compliance office says she hates InDesign and that she feels, well, bad when she sits in front of computer trying to use it.

She didn't exactly say bad. She used other, more emphatically colorful, words.

TigerBlog gets it. Most of what Nancy is trying to do is set a bunch of tabs in a document, the student-athlete handbook, so she can finish the final edits.

So what is InDesign? It's a desktop publishing program. 

Setting tabs can be a pain. And you can throw indents in there too.

InDesign works in text blocks, so whatever text is selected will have the same tabs and indents once they're set. The problem is that if there are two paragraphs that need one set of tabs and indents and then two paragraphs after that need different ones, followed by two more that need the first one and on and on, then it becomes an endless series of dragging little arrows and triangles all over a little box.

Unless you used the "styles" function, something that TB has never had success with no matter how many times he has tried.

One of TB's real pet peeves used to be when someone would space over instead of setting a tab. Yes, it could accomplish the goal of having text line up. No, it wasn't the right way to do it.

Especially when new text is added, pushing the original text down one line and exposing all the spaces.

When TB first started in the OAC, InDesign didn't exist. Instead, it was a program called "PageMaker" that was used for desktop publishing.

It's earliest forms were bulky to say the least. TB thinks the first version he worked with was PageMaker 2.0 and the last one was PageMaker 6.0.

At first, it would take an eternity to print a page, and no two people in the office could print at the same time. By the end, it was a fairly efficient program - one that simply disappeared when InDesign was launched. Well, it didn't exactly disappear. It's just that it can't be run on anything approaching a modern Mac.

Still, TB figures Mr. PageMaker made a ton of money off the program.

So has Mr. InDesign.

TB used to spend hours each day on those programs. Now he hardly uses them.

For some reason, the handbook that Nancy has been working on is in InDesign instead of Microsoft Word. It would seem more of a natural for Word, because it has very little in the way of graphics and no pictures.

The handbook is on the OAC's backup computer, which is now called "the Big HD" but what was once called "John's Big HD," after John Cornell, the former publications person here.

Way back when, the OAC added a position of publications coordinator. Only two people ever held the title, Cornell and his predecessor, Mike Zulla.

The idea of having a publications coordinator now is laughable. TB actually eliminated the position when Cornell left, because it was more important to have people here who could cover sports and because everyone could do their own publications, which at the time primarily meant media guides.

TB can't imagine how many hours have been spent working on media guides in this office. Hours and hours and hours.

These days, the need to be a desktop publishing expert isn't nearly as pressing as it once was, at least in the field of athletic communications.

These days, it's all about video.

TigerBlog remembers the meeting a few years ago when he broke the news to Princeton's coaches that Princeton was getting out of the media guide business and transitioning to video. It was met mostly with some cautious optimism about the potential and with some real dissenters who thought giving up media guides would be a huge recruiting disadvantage.

As it turned out, a year later, media guides were eliminated across the board in the Ivy League anyway.

Now it's mostly video. The more video, the better.

And why not? It's an actual live-action view of what goes on here. It appeals to fans, alums, donors, parents - and especially recruits.

Ironically, most of the people who work here were hired because they knew how to produce publications, not video. They've all had to learn on the fly, and now they're all fluent in iMovie, in shooting basic video, in all of it.

The real pressing need, TB thought, was for someone who could take that to the next level, and so that's what Princeton has done.

Coming soon to and will be John Bullis, a former hockey player at Wisconsin River Falls. Among his work there was a documentary about his best friend, who was killed in Afghanistan.

Bullis will be the first person to work at Princeton whose job will be solely video related. Bullis will begin after Thanksgiving.

His job will be mostly to produce video content, the kind that the OAC staffers haven't had the time (because they're also covering multiple sports) or expertise (because they've all had to learn on the fly) to do.

Bullis is more of a cinematographer than he is a sports information type. The possibilities for the new position are endless and exciting.

Coaches' shows. Plays of the week. Mini-documentaries. Anything. All shot by someone whose background and training is in video production.

TigerBlog thought back to the days of desktop publishing often during the whole search process that resulted in Bullis' hiring. It seems like so long ago, like watching an old movie in black & white.

Video. It's what it's all about now. TigerBlog can't say enough good things about the job that the OAC people have done in recent years to embrace that, to shift from what their backgrounds had been in desktop publishing and to change that on a dime to do video.

Check out how much original video content is already being produced.

Bullis' arrival will take that to another level.

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