Advanstar's "Pharmaceutical Executive' breaks new ground with its 3-D cover
Last fall, Jeffrey Katzenberg told a gathering of consumer magazine executives that this year would prove to be a turning point for 3-D imagery. Of course, he had a vested interest since his studio was preparing for this year's release of “Monsters vs. Aliens” in 3-D, and it plans to release all future animated films in this format. But he looked beyond movies to a future filled with 3-D billboard advertising, 3-D handheld devices and 3-D televisions.
Advanstar Communications is certainly catching the wave. The company's May issue of Pharmaceutical Executive, which included its annual special report on the 50 top pharmaceutical companies, featured a 3-D cover with the image of a superhero bearing the number 50 on his chest.
“The key to the whole thing working was controlling the costs,” said Debi Harmer, a production director at Advanstar. “[Publisher] Jay Berfas had that totally under control from the start.” Cegedim Dendrite, a provider of customer relationship management solutions to the life sciences industry, covered most of the extra costs related to the 3-D cover in return for having its name featured on the glasses that were polybagged with the issue.
Berfas said he has been a 3-D connoisseur since childhood when he read 3-D comic books and went to see such 3-D film classics as “Creature From the Black Lagoon.” “I've wanted to do something like this for a long time, but the right situation hadn't presented itself,” he said.
Harmer said other Advanstar titles have proposed doing this in the past but none saw the process through to the end, mostly due to financial concerns. The fact that Pharmaceutical Executive has a comparatively small press run (21,066) greatly helped the process and kept costs down, she said. “This requires ride-along postage,” she said, “and that's 16½ cents per piece, not including the glasses. Those kinds of prices will dissuade larger print runs.”
The May issue was selected because it is one of the title's biggest of the year. “We wanted to make the issue really stand out even more as being something important,” said Berfas, who hired an artist, Craig Foster of Foster Medical Communications, to create the cover.
Harmer contacted three 3-D glasses suppliers to compete for the job and went with American Paper Optics. “They're a leader in this, so they were able to produce the glasses and have them at my printer in less than four weeks; so lead time was not a problem,” she said.
The issues were printed at an R.R. Donnelley plant in Minnesota, and Harmer and a colleague went for a press OK. “We just wanted to make extra sure that it looked the way it should,” she said. “One of the greatest things about it is that it was just a four-color image. There were no extra tricks in the printing process.”
Foster created the stereoscopic image by using Autodesk software Maya and Mudbox. He created a camera rig within the programs that used a central reference camera and two other cameras to represent the location of human eyes. The combination of the images created the 3-D effect.
“It was the first time Donnelley had done something like this, so they were excited about it,” Berfas said.
Harmer has since gotten quotes for another Advanstar book in a different market that is considering running a 3-D cover. “I'm surprised I haven't gotten more calls from our other publishers,” Harmer said. “They just need someone who will sponsor it.”
The bottom line, Berfas said, is that 3-D makes people feel good. “Just putting on the glasses makes people smile,” he said. “We had subscribers who were wearing the glasses around their offices. In these tough times, it felt good to bring a little happiness to people and have our title associated with that.” M