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  • August 8, 2012

    Verticals Need Not Apply

    Verticals Need Not Apply. A continuation of my article from the other day on the ZAPP image issue.

    Someone at Westaf has been making really bad decisions about the images. You know, our jury images, the only thing we have between an application and an acceptance. Or maybe it’s not someone at Westaf but a hired programmer who came up with the idea of using the entire widescreen monitor space to display images. But then someone at Westaf approved the decision. And I want to apologize to Leah and Christina for taking the brunt of my concern. I realize that it’s not their fault. They are the only conduit I have into the system.

    I had posted about this the other day and Don Ament rightly pointed out that maybe most of the artists reading it didn’t understand the pixel dimension numbers and what they really mean.

    Unfortunately for me, I can see the bigger picture when things like this happen. Like the detective Monk says, it’s a blessing, and a curse. Since ZAPP went live in 2004 I’ve been fighting for fairness in how our jury images appeared to the jurors. This industry has enough problems and it doesn’t need a lopsided representation of our images that may give one group a distinct advantage.

    In 2004 when ZAPP went live, the image requirement was 1080×1920, widescreen TV format. As soon as I read that I called Westaf and asked Matthew Saunders (the tech person at the time) to make it square at 1920 with black borders masking rectangular images. Otherwise horizontal images would appear much larger than verticals. Within 24 hours they had changed the image format to 1920 square, because after testing the images, Matthew agreed with me.

    Why is it that 8 years ago decisions that could jeopardize the system could be made and things changed within 24 hours? But the real question is why is it that today, decisions that could jeopardize the system can’t be acted on for months, if at all?

    Here’s the real issue. The new system upgrade allows larger or non square images to be uploaded. The issue is what happens to those images once they are uploaded. In the past, they enlarged in our profiles to 700 pixels long dimension on a black background so that rectangular or square, they displayed the same size to us when we enlarged them, and to the jurors of all the shows using monitors, about 90% of the shows within the system. Now once they are uploaded they are fit to an image size that is wider than it is tall. So much so that horizontal images without black borders appear almost twice the size of vertical images with or without black borders, square images or horizontal images with black borders.

    horizontals without black borders are sized 969x727


    verticals without black borders are sized 727x545

    This is where artists have a difficult time understanding the numbers. They have to understand that ZAPP is allowing horizontal images without black borders to appear almost twice the size of any other size uploaded into the system when juried on monitors. The above screen captures from my profile are on my 1280×1024 monitor. Examples from my widescreen laptop are in the previous article I wrote about the ZAPP image issues.

    That means artists that have vertical or square jury images (black borders or not) are basically screwed when applying to the 90% of the shows that use monitors.

    ZAPP is now not providing the shows with tools to hold a fair jury.

    horizontal and vertical thumbnails at the new size

    Thumbnails are another related issue. They are now rectangular favoring horizontal, meaning thumbnails of horizontal (non squared) images are twice as large as thumbnails of verticals, squares and squared horizontals. That in itself isn’t that much of an issue except for the fact that all juries see the thumbnails on the page where the scores are entered, both projection and monitor juries. No matter how smart the jurors are, that sends a subliminal message at the worst that some work may be better than other work, and it will definitely send a confusing message as the row of thumbnails will be unevenly sized.

    Now in a related but not critical issue. With about three quarters of a million images in the system (that’s 750,000 in numbers), and if maybe one third horizontal, as word spreads there’s going to be a mad rush for artists to remove the black borders and replace those images in the system. But ZAPP has removed the replace image button in the edit image menu because they didn’t think it was used enough. Well if the new image format flies, that replace image button would have been the most used button in the edit menu.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself, because how could the art shows, artists and system owners let ZAPP create an unfair playing field before the jurying even starts.

    Updated information from ZAPP.

    © Larry Berman