YouTube, that Google-owned cultural phenomenon, showed nine million videos in a single month last year.* Within YouTube’s ever-expanding video vortex are, believe it or not, a fair number of clips related to printing. This was noticed by Offset Guy, a participant in a thread on envelope feeding over at PrintPlanet.com. Having found the answer to the poster’s question in this snippet, Offset Guy observed, “YouTube is a good source for printing videos.”
He’s right. Searching YouTube’s database by general printing terms or press manufacturers’ names turns up a cache of short films marked by the same kind of no-frills authenticity that makes the rest of the site’s user-created content so addictive. Some of the clips are promotional, but their simple directness gives them a credibility that can elude professionally produced commercial videos. Never mind the hand-held camera jiggle, the near-darkroom level (sometimes) of the lighting, or the astigmatic focus—these little movies are as real as a press department working overtime, and they epitomize the new wave of D.I.Y. cinéma-vérité that has made YouTube so enormously popular. We particularly liked the following:
From Progressive Printing of Springfield, VA, comes “How Does Commercial Printing Work?”, a concise tutorial that tells the whole story in just 6 minutes and 15 seconds. Phil Gray, president of Progressive Printing, narrates.
For art-house enthusiasts, “A Heidelberg printing press in action” is a close-up study of the mechanical ballet performed by the components of an Original Heidelberg platen press.
Greenwich Letterpress of New York City, a purveyor of “museum quality letterpress printing,” produces the fanciest kinds of social invitations and business stationery—but this quick tour of its press department is engagingly unpretentious.
This walk-around home movie of a four-color Ryobi 754 at work in a print shop in the Netherlands is typical of much of what can be found at YouTube under “printing.”
For more, look in the “Related Videos” menu next to any of these selections at YouTube, or perform searches of your own. Let us know which ones you found as diverting to watch as we found these.
*Virginia Heffernan, "In Vino Veritas," The New York Times Magazine, February 10, 2008