Join Michael Ninness for an in-depth discussion in this video User-generated content, part of InDesign CS4: Interactive Documents and Presentations.
The next trend I want to talk about is user generated content. Now this is kind of a buzzword. It's part of the Web 2.0 thing. But this notion of having the community be involved in your content, and in some cases actually being the bulk of the published content. The example I really find compelling here is JPG magazine, if you have never seen this. It's just jpgmag.com. And this is a really interesting publishing model where the community is very involved in actually the final printed version that shows up on the newsstand. So the way it works is they pick a theme or a series of a themes for each particular issue.
They have current themes going on right on. Let's go ahead and click on the Themes link here, and the three themes that are open for submissions are Zen, House, and Fairly Tale. Now the way it works is that you join the JPG community here, and as a member you can submit photographs against that theme, whatever that theme means to you. So Zen. Let's go ahead and click on one of these and these are some of the current submissions against that particular theme from the jpgmag.com member community. Now, what you get to do is vote on these particular submissions and the idea is that the photographs that get the most votes end up in the printed version of the magazine.
Now, if I take a look at some of the magazine issues here then you can actually see all their backlogs, here is the current issue and you can see thumbnails of the previous versions here. But the last issue, the main theme of the magazine was Faith. If we go ahead and click on this little thumbnail, they kind of do something really interesting, I kind of wish all magazines that were promoting themselves online would kind of have this type thing instead of just a little static tiny thumbnail of the cover of the current issue. JPG actually let's you experience the magazine a little bit and actually flips through it to see what the content is all about.
I think that's a much more compelling way to kind of communicate what your magazine is all about. So great kudos to them. Now they actually take it one step further, they actually let you download a high resolution PDF of the magazine or a portion of the magazine which you can experience and get a larger resolution. You can print on your inkjet printer if you want, and it's kind of a nice way to experience the content there. Now, what I find interesting about the model if you talk to a traditional magazine publisher, they tell you that a successful publication tends to sell 50% of their print run right.
All right, so what does that mean? That means 50% of what they print actually ends up in landfills, are being recycled. JPG is claiming that they are getting 80% sell through of their printed issues, and they attribute that to the fact that the community is very involved in creating this printed object that you want to purchase and experience and have an analogue touch and collectible, if you want. Now, these are coffee table quality print jobs with beautiful photography and the community was very involved in the creation of them. So, is this a trend that we'll see being introduced in other areas? Perhaps, I don't know.
I just think this is one of the compelling examples of how you can use the community and involve them in the creation of your publication and create compelling content at the same time.
- Configuring a custom InDesign workspace for designing digital documents
- Building slide navigation buttons for interactive presentations
- Adding reflection effects to images within a presentation
- Using InDesign to build an interactive mood board
- Creating an interactive digital spiral-bound portfolio
- Using InDesign and Flash Professional to build and animate a digital magazine
- Adding a video file to an interactive document
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: After exporting a portfolio in InDesign, as instructed in the tutorials, the portfolio items appear fuzzy. The letters typed into the InDesign document look fine, and the PDFs placed into InDesign look as they should, but once the items are exported, the type is fuzzy. What could be causing this?
A: The problem described occurs when a PDF is placed into an InDesign document and then scaled on the page. When the final SWF file is then exported from InDesign, the PDF graphics end up looking “soft and fuzzy” because they are being downsampled to a lower resolution.
First, be sure to update InDesign to the latest CS4 dot-release from Adobe. There was a bug in the shipping version of InDesign CS4 that caused images in SWFs to always go out as low-quality JPEGs regardless of the settings chosen in the SWF Export dialog. This issue was addressed in a subsequent release. To initiate the update from within InDesign, choose Help > Updates.
When images, including PDFs, are placed into an InDesign document and then exported to SWF, the images will all be downsampled to 72dpi and saved in one of two file formats, JPEG or PNG. The JPEG file format is a "lossy" file format, and depending on the image quality setting chosen, the final images quality could vary wildly. The PNG file format is "lossless", in that it does not add distracting and ugly artifacts to images.
In the SWF Export dialog, the default setting for Image Compression is set to Auto. Change this setting to "Lossless (Do Nothing)". It is unfortunate that this option is named this way. The three choices should be listed as Auto, JPEG and PNG. Adobe has changed in this in InDesign CS5, but for CS4, one has to know that "Lossless (Do Nothing)" really means “save the images as PNGs.”
The plus to using PNGs is that the images will end up looking great. The minus to using PNGs is that the file size of the SWFs will be larger because the images are not being compressed.
2. Choose High or Maximum JPEGs
If file size is a concern, then switch the Image Compression option to JPEG, but choose a higher quality setting from the JPEG Quality pop-up. The default is set to Medium. Choose High or Maximum instead. The higher the quality setting, the better the images will look, but their file sizes will be larger. That said, the file size of a maximum quality JPEG is usually smaller than a PNG.
3. Resample in Photoshop and Import JPEGs
The method that gives the user the most control over image quality and file size is to downsample the images in Photoshop to the exact pixel dimensions desired before placing them into InDesign. Open the PDFs (or any other image file formats) in Photoshop and size them to the desired pixel dimensions. If opening a PDF, Photoshop will display an Import PDF dialog first where the pixel dimensions can be set. If other file formats are used, resize them in Photoshop by choosing Image > Image Size. Then make sure the Resample Image checkbox is turned on, choose Bicubic Sharper from the pop-up menu at the bottom, and enter the pixel dimensions in the Pixel Dimensions section of the dialog box (not the Document Size section).
Once the images are the correct size, save them as JPEGs, and set the quality desired level.
After the final JPEGs are placed in the InDesign document, do NOT scale them. Place them at actual size (100%). If a JPEG goes into InDesign at 100% and nothing else is done to them, they will "pass through" to the final SWF untouched. Meaning, they'll go out exactly as they came in. This also means the JPEGs cannot be altered in any way that would cause them to be resampled during SWF Export. Examples are applying transparency effects, drop shadows, etc., to the JPEGs in InDesign.
See the examples below, where a PDF was placed into InDesign, scaled to 50% of its original size, and then various SWFs were exported, changing the Image Compression and JPEG Quality options as described in items 1 and 2 above.