On most Sunday nights in Carlstadt, N.J., Ron Beuzenburg directs six strippers, three dot etchers, one or two Cromalin makers and a couple of scanner operators. No, he doesn't run the North Jersey branch of the Star Wars cantina. He's responsible for the quality of SI's four-color illustrations, and what he does, with help from the aforementioned photoengraving staff at G.S. Lithographers, is attempt to produce sharp, bright, even color in our pictures and artwork. "Ron tries to bring a color consistency to transparencies of disparate quality," says Deputy Art Director Richard Warner. "For example, he can instruct the engraver to add more natural skin tones to a pale figure like Larry Bird so that he won't look like a ghost, or conversely, lighten and bring out highlights in a dark transparency. Ron also makes type within a photograph, such as a cover billing, more legible, by lightening or darkening the area around the letters."
"You're not putting anything in the picture that's not already there," says Beuzenburg. "You're just making it easier for the reader to see a puck going into the net or the detail of someone's face."
Beuzenburg, 32, a 1973 graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, began working with SI in January after five years in a similar position with Reader's Digest. "He's essentially a liaison between the editorial side and the engravers," says Warner. "He understands what we want and what they can and cannot do. His advice is invaluable."
"I love the challenge of closing so many color pages so fast," says Beuzenburg. "At the Digest we had weeks to do what we accomplish here in hours." On Sunday, when most of the magazine's stories close, he takes a cab from our New York offices to nearby Carlstadt and works through the night supervising the four-stage photoengraving process, which, in essence, consists of converting a slide, drawing or painting into a pattern of yellow, red, blue and black dots. In stage one, either cameras or laser scanners generate four sheets of film—each showing the dot pattern of one color—from the original slide or artwork. Dot etchers then increase or reduce the size of the dots. Next, the four sheets of film, through exposure and development, are combined into a laminated, plastic-like Cromalin, or proof, of the picture; if the colors meet Beuzenburg's approval, strippers finish the process by combining four-color film with type film for the printers.
Beuzenburg's most difficult task involved last week's issue. Managing Editor Gil Rogin was displeased with the first Cromalin of Bart Forbes's cover painting of Larry Holmes and Gerry Cooney. " Cooney, a white guy, was almost as dark as Holmes, a black," says Rogin. Beuzenburg, who hadn't been involved in making the Cromalin, immediately took it to Carlstadt and spent the next 10 hours working on revisions until he had a version faithful to Forbes's original. As he told one of the weary dot etchers, "I want the reds redder and the whites whiter. I'm sorry it's more work, but it has got to be right."