Of the 10,000 magazines Reporter printed this week, no two
are exactly alike. What you see is something truly unique; literally, it is one of a kind.
How did we do it?
On April 9, 11, and 14, Reporter set up stations in the lobbies of the SAU, Nathaniel Rochester Hall,
and Building 70. At each of these stations, our photographers pulled aside passersby and shot their
portraits on a white background. The only requirement was that they have an RIT ID card to scan,
and that they give consent to use their portraits. In the 27 hours of shooting that were covered,
several hundred portraits of RIT students, staff, and faculty were taken.
To handle the massive amounts of data, our Online Editor, Chris Zubak-Skees, wrote software to
combine information from the scanned IDs and the photos from tethered capture of the portraits.
The software put the images into folders sorted by University ID numbers.
After all the photos were shot, our Photo Editor, Dave Londres, went through each folder manually
and deleted all but the best. He also cropped every image to fit in the available space and be a part
of a cohesive design. The photos were then treated as variables to be automatically plugged into
templates laid out by our design staff, under our Art Director, Jason Sfetko. The ensuing process
was made possible by a technique known as variable data printing.
What is variable data printing?
Variable data printing is a relatively new term for a redefined printing process which has only
recently become practical with the rise of digital printing. Basically, images or text are a part of a
database that feeds an algorithm plugging into a larger document. The end result is dynamic publishing
of print material, or many different versions of the same thing.
For this issue of Reporter, a separate record was created for each magazine. They were fed into the
Adobe InDesign document using XMPie. Our Production Manager, John Carew, programmed it such
that there would be no repeated images on any issue. In total, there are 10,000 separate issues. On
these, there are 431 cover images, and 200 faces sliced up and used to create the larger, composite
face on page 20.
The pages of this magazine containing variable data (the front cover, the back covers, pages 2, 20,
and 22) were printed at the RIT Printing HUB on the Xerox iGen3; all others were printed using the
Goss Sunday 2000 at the Printing Applications Lab.
For their kind assistance throughout the many iterations of this project, Reporter would like to thank:
Everyone at PAL and the Hub
Scott K. Boone
Doug H. Hausner