We spoke with Dana Francks, VP of Impact Digital about how the retouching industry uses GLOBALedit, and the trends in the retouching workflow.
What’s in a name, how did Impact Digital get started?
Impact Digital started as a two-person Graphic Design team. Steve Kalalian, our President and CEO, had been working on model cards at the very beginning. He later expanded the company to handle high-end retouching and CGI. Today we are one of the top New York City retouching super-boutiques and handle a wide range of clients from photographers, to ad agencies, to international retail brands.
Can you give us your background in retouching?
I have a very artistic mother who always had me using art to express myself at a young age. In high school I focused a lot on painting. Then I got my Bachelor's Degree at The University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Visuals Studies with a concentration in Art Practice and Technology. I took many different studio classes including Photography, Video Editing, Painting, and Graphic Design. UPENN added Visual Studies as a major when I was a Freshman—perfect timing! I was able to help mold the curriculum for future students, which was very cool. When I started working at Impact Digital in 2008, I realized there was much more to Retouching and I had previously just scratched the surface. I'm always learning!
What aspects of photo retouching do you find the most challenging?
The most challenging aspect of retouching is probably just extremely tight turnaround times. Anything can be done beautifully with enough time. The tricky part is making it beautiful with very little time. We are used to this challenge—it's very common in our industry.
How much direction do you typically receive from a client?
It depends on the client. Some are very hands on and will give a ton of detailed direction on color, shaping, clean-up. Other clients just let us use our judgement completely. Other times we have several different people directing the same image. We always find a happy balance so all parties love the end result.
How much time do you typically spend on an image? Longest amount of time spent?
Again, it depends. A straightforward editorial image could take an hour or less to do some color moves and light clean up. On the other hand, an image with lots of compositing like a hair campaign beauty shot could take up to 20 hours before we're ready to show the first round to a client.
How has GLOBALedit's cloud changed your job or the workflow of retouching?
The clients who use GE have a much easier time of getting us images and information. It cuts out a ton of back and forth, and leaves little room for any miscommunication. In the world we live in, everyone just expects to be able to share things digitally with no fuss—GE gives the photo industry a tool to do that. If we still used hard drives or FTP to transfer files to and from all of our clients, there would be a lot more waiting around. I have to admit, I have very little patience for slow technology!
ID recently worked on the advertising images for Showtime's latest seasons of Californication and House of Lies. How did GLOBALedit fit into the production process?
Showtime used GE to make their selects after the shoot. We were able to download their selects to build the composite images in retouching. It also came in handy when we were in need of some extra body parts. Instead of bugging the client to find another shot that would fit our very specific retouching needs, we were able to search for one ourselves by scrolling through the shots super fast.
How does GLOBALedit fit into your workflow with clients and internally amongst your team?
One of our clients, Victoria's Secret, uses GE to it's full potential which is extremely helpful and efficient for our retouching workflow. We barely need to have any actual verbal communication because we simply receive their lightbox and markups and we hit the ground running. The process is so easy with lightboxes and markup editor that the only thing left to discuss is the schedule for rounds of matchprints. Internally, GE helps us keep organized. Our process with GE is all buttoned up. We can download high-res files in seconds without worrying that anything will time out or get corrupt.
What is the future of retouching?
In regards to media, there has been a huge shift towards the digital. Digital billboards, iPads, Smart Phones, and computers are all getting the same content that traditional print media has. We are also seeing a ton of our clients who require motion capture and editing along with their print campaigns. Everything is integrated. As far as Photoshop goes…we're loving CS6 and looking forward to all the new tools we'll have to play with in the future.
Whose work inspires you?
The first people that come to mind are my fellow PENN graduates, Michael Pertnoy and Michael Kleiman. We were in film and video classes together in college. I was always amazed with their work then, and even more inspired by their work now. They are filmmakers and have worked on some incredible documentary films in the last few years including the award-winning film, The Last Survivor, a film that presents the stories of four survivors of genocides (The Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur, Congo). They've made a difference doing what they love to do, and they inspire me to try and do the same.