Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

John Savard


John Savard
Last Active
  • Re: The vinyl records of font formats

    Vinyl is not lossless. Recording engineers had to boost certain frequencies just to get an LP to sound reasonably close to the original tape recording.
    Neither vinyl nor CDs are an absolutely perfect reproduction of the incoming audio waveform, they both have limitations.

    However, neither of them involves lossy compression in the sense that we find it in JPEG image files or MP3 audio files. Nothing is making a choice, based on the kind of audio is coming in, to selectively preserve the most important features.

    I'm not sure if one could compare, say, Dolby, to a lossy digital compression scheme or not.

    But the RIAA equalization curve used in making vinyl records was reversed when the records were played back; what it changed, therefore, was how the noise inherent in the vinyl records was heard, it didn't change the music itself.
  • Re: The vinyl records of font formats

    Nick,  Comparing vinyl to streaming is not the issue-- compare vinyl to CD quality.  I assure you, CD is better.
    While high-end audio is not really on-topic here, some comment is required.

    CD certainly has a much lower noise floor level than vinyl. It is better in a number of obvious ways.

    However, sound reproduction has many subtle aspects. In the very early days of the CD format, the very sharp frequency filtering required by a system running so close to the Nyquist limit was accomplished through methods which caused phase distortion. (Oversampling was how they fixed that.)

    The human ear can't hear the phase of audio signals directly, only their loudness and pitch. But because the human ear is a nonlinear device, transients are distorted. Changes in phase can turn a transient into something smeared out that won't reach the high levels that experience the distortion.

    Basically, with audio reproduction, as with many other things, it is not enough to simply look at the obvious and stop there.
  • Re: Color will be the new Italic. Color will be the new Bold.

    If color is the "new italic", or the "new bold", then it will be up to the user to decide when letters change color, just as it is up to the user to decide what words are to be set in bold or set in italic. And word processors already let people change the color of text.

    Using color as an element of a typeface, so that one takes Bifur and replaces the areas made gray by being striped by color areas, and similar things, is an entirely legitimate action as well, even if doing so now means that the typeface can't be changed in color and still work properly.

    The problem isn't that making color an element of the typeform, or using it for emphasis, is not legitimate. The problem is that it is being oversold. (That a new idea has to be hyped a bit to get people to pay attention, though, is another issue - one I am not prepared to address.)

    It certainly is true that computers with color displays make it easy to use any combination of colors one likes - recently, I was doing some reading, and I was reminded of the history of artist's pigments. Finding pigments, in the various portions of the range of possible hues, that were resistant to fading under exposure to light, and that were nontoxic, was often very difficult.

    And it is because color wasn't easy to use that it didn't become a routine element of typography. The natural world is a colorful place, books and magazines that are printed by a four-color process, so they can have illustrations and photographs in color are appreciated - so the idea that color should become natural and integral to the text between those illustrations as well... perhaps ought not to be rejected out of hand.

    But just because people enjoy color, of course, is not a reason to employ color at the expense of readability or legibility. The temptation to mix twenty different colors like twenty different typefaces on one page could have similarly bad results. (But hue values, like grey scale values, are part of a continuum, so disaster is not quite as inevitable in the case of colors.)

    The ancient Egyptians, though, used red ink for emphasis. So some limited use of color does have a long precedent.
  • Re: Is the term ‘foundry’ a proper name for digital companies?

    This discussion has reminded me of an important difference between the kind of font one would order from ATF or Kelsey and a TrueType font file. If one wanted to typeset an entire book, a single 20-a font wouldn't have enough letters in it to do the job, one would have to buy a bigger one.

    So a .TTF file isn't a finite collection of letters that can be re-used after one finishes with a given document, it's an endless supply of as many letters as you want.

    So maybe we should be calling them TrueType matrix-case files?

    Of course, the precedent was already set in the phototypesetting era; the negatives with letter shapes on them were called fonts... I think, but I could be wrong.

    And, of course, type designers can certainly call their businesses type design studios instead of typefoundries; that term existed in the metal era.
  • Re: "W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design"

    Caledonia is a very popular typeface; one very tiny footnote to the career of W. A. Dwiggins that few people know is this: the symbols "dek" and "el", used for a while by the Duodecimal Society of America (now the Dozenal Society of America), and which received sufficient public notice that they appeared in a "new math" textbook I used in junior high, were designed by W. A. Dwiggins.