InDesign on MTV
Photoshop is the program you see all the time on television, especially detective shows. “Can you zoom in on the license plate?” they ask the electronics geek, who obligingly drags the Zoom tool around around a cloudy blob and runs the CSI Filter, snapping the numbers into crisp focus.
But when do you ever see Illustrator (“Can you live trace that license plate?”) or Acrobat (“Can you OCR that license plate?”) or InDesign (“Can you wrap some text around that license plate?”) – never! is what I would have said, until last week, when I spied a tell-tale overset text frame right there on channel 245.
On the MTV teen reality show (a guilty pleasure) called The Paper, you’re a voyeur in the cutthroat world of high school journalism. Okay, this is MTV, so most of the time you’re in the hallways or at a house party, listening to the angst about why they weren’t chosen to be editor-in-chief, and how Amanda’s nose job wasn’t worth it because it looks exactly the same. (I thought the doctor did a fine job, myself.)
But once in a while you get to see them actually lay out the newspaper, the award-winning The Circuit, Cypress Bay High School’s paper of record. During a scene in the 3rd period journalism class, iMacs on every desk and thirty kids running around yelling and texting and making out in the corner (the teacher is seldom shown, she’s more like an extra), the camera looks over the shoulder at someone actually working on the layout. I was idly wondering what software they used, when the camera zooms in on the page and shows the student enlarging a text frame.
Two seconds later the camera is elsewhere, so I rewound (all hail the Tivo) and stepped through it, scene by scene … until finally, a-ha! Look at the little overset box towards the bottom of the right side of the frame (barely visible in this screen grab from their site, but it’s there):
Unfortunately, they don’t mention the name of the software, nor how great it is. (Adobe, get over there and pay for some product placement!)
As far as general layout production and design are concerned, there was one unintentionally funny scene where the well-meaning but secretly despised editor-in-chief goes around with a printout in hand, asking people to “print out their grayscales” to make sure they match the one she’s waving around, because “it makes the paper look professional.” What she wants, actually, is for everyone to use the same tint of black in their sidebar backgrounds.
Why aren’t they using Object Styles? I wondered. That would solve the consistency problem. In fact, I think a great episode would be where the famous InDesign trainer comes to the classroom for a 30 minute tips and tricks session, and the students are all amazed at how cool she is, and cute-as-a-button Trevor gets a crush on her, leaving his snarky girlfriend Gianna (the “clubs editor,” give me a break) to follow the trainer around like a puppy and bring her coffee, begs to be her intern for the summer, and then later … ummm, hmph. Where was I?
Anyway, it was a minor geek thrill to see InDesign finally make it into a television show. And congratulations, Mrs. Weiss (the harried journalism teacher), for deciding to go with it!