Taking print to another dimension: an interview with Nick Saglimbeni
By Jon Severs Friday, 15 June 2012
The only way progress really occurs is if someone is willing to push the boundaries of what is deemed possible, or even sensible. Nick Saglimbeni is one of those people.
A world-renowned photographer – with clients such as Kim Kardashian, Skechers, the New York Times, Maxim and The Wall Street Journal – last August Saglimbeni launched the world’s first completely 3D magazine, World’s Most Beautiful, to work across print, mobile and web platforms. Every element of the magazine, from the text to the adverts, was rendered in 3D and photographed using Saglimbeni’s own 3D photographic technology. The magazine represents a leap forward in what people believed was possible with 3D technology and so, as print is at the heart of the product, PrintWeek caught up with Saglimbeni as he prepared to roll out his latest issue to find out more.
PrintWeek Nick, launching any new magazine in a print format, let alone one that is pushing the boundaries of technology, when everyone – wrongly – says the print medium is yesterday’s news in publishing is an interesting move – was print always part of the plan with World’s Most Beautiful?
Nick Saglimbeni Well, when we decided to do the magazine, everyone tried to talk me out of doing print. Despite this, I was absolutely passionate about having a print publication. I did not want the magazine to be something that just rich kids with the latest iPad technology could access. I wanted it to be accessible to people everywhere on all budgets. I wanted it to be something physical that people could buy and that I could ship around the world to places iPad and other digital technologies were not accessible.
PW So, why 3D?
NS The thing with 3D is that it can be very affordable. The cardboard 3D glasses are ridiculously cheap and so magazines and advertisers – anyone really – could utilise 3D very easily and very affordably. With this magazine I am demonstrating the potential of 3D to move away from this niche thing you see at the movies and bring it into the mainstream. I think it is perhaps a bit ahead of its time at present, but with the inaugural 3D category at the Sony World Photography Awards [which Saglimbeni won] we are starting to see 3D’s potential being realised.
PW It is a beautiful piece of print; it doesn’t look like you have scrimped on the print process.
NS It is a half-inch thick, so it is a substantial publication! Unfortunately the quality I wanted means it is not necessarily a mass-market magazine at the moment because of the amount of money that has gone into making it look as good as it does. I have been shooting for magazines for nine years and I know what the production standards are for mass market magazines to make it work financially, but I wanted to push things further. That said, the cover price is only $14.99 so it is still affordable compared to buying an iPad and so my aim of it being a more accessible version of the magazine has still been achieved.
PW Print quality is important to you, clearly.
NS It is so depressing as a photographer to have your work produced on poor paper or printed poorly. I grew up on comic books, and I wanted the production values of a graphic novel to be the benchmark for this magazine; I think it achieves that.
PW Did printing an all-3D magazine present you with any particular challenges though?
NS Many problems! Not only is CMYK prohibitively frustrating for any photographer, but for a 3D photographer it is a nightmare. For the 3D to be believable the red and cyan has to cancel out properly. When the printer does a shift from RGB to CMYK the colours become less saturated and the 3D does not work as well. So the 3D on my iPad is flawless, there is no ghosting, but in the magazine there is some buzziness, and it doesn’t look quite as good. I was willing to make that sacrifice to have a print product, however.
PW With those issues in mind, were you heavily involved in the print process?
NS I drive my printers crazy. I am a micromanager with printing. I think it is because I take great pride in my work and, as my name is on it, it is my reputation. I can’t just blame the printers as at the end of the day it is me that has the control, it is my fault if the product is not right. With the first issue of the magazine, for the 2D side (the magazine has a 2D version) I was very particular about the colours and I think the printer has really managed to create something special, I have rarely seen a publication that is this vibrant, with such perfect skin tones. It does not matter whether it is filtered shots or how I have shot it, we have so much vibrancy in the magazine – such great pastel colours even, which you don’t see a lot. I go through every page of the magazine meticulously to ensure that happens.
PW The magazine is considered a turning point in the use of 3D and has attracted a lot of attention as a result. Does that make you feel all the money and effort was worth it?
NS Well, regardless of the scale of the audience, making history and making a quality product were always the most important things. I love this magazine and I really hope readers love it too.
It is exciting for me to be able to put out volumes of 3D art. We have a fiercely loyal fanbase, and they get extremely excited about 3D. When you look at the guys on the 3D forums, there has never been anything of this consumer scale really pushing the 3D message and so that is very exciting for them.
And it comes in a year when Sony offered a 3D award for the first time. I think this is a really exciting time for 3D and I am honoured to be part of it and thrilled that I can ensure print is also part of it too.
– For more information on Nick’s project, visit NickSaglimbeni.com
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