"The printing officially starts with our repro team. They’ll process the files that you’ve sent over, and then impose them into the right order so that when we back up the pages they back up correctly. The magazine is A5, but it’s printed on larger sheets in 32-page sections, with 16 pages on either side of each sheet. Our team check for any potential issues, but essentially this is done by the computer.
"Once the files have been processed, we need to create the printing plates [templates] for each spread. Colour images are made up of four colours – CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) – so for every colour spread we need to produce four plates. We need 28 plates in total for one issue of Viva. The process used to involve lots of chemicals, but now the images are burnt onto the plates using a combination of thermal and light exposure. It’s a very environmentally friendly way of printing. The aluminium plates are recycled after use.
"Viva is printed on one of our large presses – the Heidelberg XL press. The clever thing about this is the colour control; the colour is recalibrated every 14 sheets. This means that as the sheets are moving through, the computer is scanning the images to make sure they’ve got the right amount of colour in them. If a page is low on, say, magenta, it automatically pours in more magenta ink to make sure there’s colour consistency. Before this technology existed it would have been done by eye, with one person standing at the end of the press, systematically pulling out sheets and manually adjusting the ink. This press prints up to 18,000 sheets per hour, and all the inks now are vegetable-based.
"The printed sheets are fed by hand into a folding machine. This folds each B2 sheet into a 16-page A5 section – we’ll end up with six lots of these per magazine. We then deliver the finished sections to a company called Kensett’s in Hove to be bound together. You might wonder why we don’t do this in-house – we have a machine here which can bind publications up to a certain number of pages by stitching a wire through the spine, but for a magazine of this size, the stitching wouldn’t hold together. The sections are glued together instead - or PUR bound - and the covers are fitted. Finally the edges are trimmed off, leaving the finished magazine.
"We keep our presses running 24 hours a day, five days a week, and eight hours on Saturdays – sometimes longer if we have a big job to finish. Gemini has been going over 40 years and we’re doing really well, but we invest most of our profits back into improving our equipment and upgrading our technology. We employ about 125 local people and we’re still busy – sometimes that’s enough."
As told by Mark Tulley at Gemini Print
Photos by Adam Bronkhorst, adambronkhorst.com