Many outside the print industry are often confused at the difference between digital and offset printing and which is best for their individual needs. The truth is that to some degree both have a role to play in satisfying client requirements. However, digital, the print industry’s latest kid on the block, offers enhanced flexibility which just can’t be met by traditional offset methods.

The versatility of print has led us at ELAN Print to invest heavily in cutting edge, digital printing and plotting equipment that can deliver high resolution printing up to 1400 dpi for today’s modern branding needs from vehicle and venue branding to POS materials, glass and wall stickers and 3D printing.

Before a decision on which method to opt for is taken, it is imperative to work out several guiding prerequisites – budget, print run sizes and deadlines among them.

The case for digital:

Digital is today’s go-to flexible technology which can be used for large or wide format and custom artworks without the need to produce or change plates for every individual piece of artworks which makes it fast and highly cost-effective. Because of its ability to produce to large, wide, or even extra-large, formats, it can meet a whole host of modern-day print needs including wall and floor branding, venue branding and major retail or brand displays. Today’s super advanced digital print machines can produce media up to five metres wide so it’s great for advertising posters, vinyl banners, fabrics etc.

The beauty of digital print is that it is custom made and directly printed from electronic computer files making it much quicker, with no plate production required, and much more cost-effective.

Digital is also ideal for short print runs anything in fact where the print run is less that around 500. With digital you can print only as specific amount when you want it. It’s also great for jobs that require a level of personalisation when the data might need to be changed, as with a graduated advertising campaign.

With digital you can reproduce the most detailed and elaborate full colour designs with no screen making or set up costs and achieve full wash fastness across a range of print host materials. You can also have a print sample to scrutinise.

Rely on digital for jobs requiring large or wide format prints, small print runs and quick turnarounds particularly those that call for a change of information within the same piece.

Another major plus of digital is its environmental wins including less paper use than traditional printing which can by 10% or more, less material wastage, the use of eco-friendly water-based inks and fewer toxic chemicals, and its ability to service eco-friendly textiles and fabrics.

The case for Offset:

Offset printing is generally the choice for large production volumes of the final approved jobs. This is because a design template in raw, pre-moulded plates, of one metre wide or less, needs to be produced for offset printing, on a printing press, and produced in multiple layers. All this takes considerable time, and the final product must be allowed to dry before finishing can take place, so the more the print run, the more cost-effect offset is. It is, however, time consuming.

If you are going for offset you have to understand that it is vital you have decided on your final content because plates can’t be changed once production starts, which means if any changes are needed, the job begins again and the cost, and delivery times expand accordingly.

Offset printing is credited with producing the highest quality possible and the tightest control over colour though digital is catching up fast. Offset therefore is usually the ‘go-to’ choice for long print runs of magazines, books, manuals, brochures, direct mail, letterheads, posters, and paper-based labels.

The Decisive Factors:

A good way to assess which type of print is good for you is to use the following questions as a guide:

A. How big a print run do I need?

If your project is over 500 pieces Offset can be more cost effective.

B. Is this a rush job?

If you are pressed for time, digital is the answer.

C. Do I need to customise the messaging?

Digital will do the job

D. Do I need to see a sample proof?

Digital has the advantage.

These are just the basic questions, your particular job may have other requirements, such as special material, wraparounds etc and our ELAN Print experts will be ready to offer all advice and you can contact them via our website at: www.elanprint.qa.

As industries around the world look at making their operations and processes COVID safe, ELAN Print, as a local leader in the printing sector, would recommend they revisit the printing materials they use during and post the pandemic. On the surface, it may seem that printing might be one area least likely to be impacted by cross-infection, indeed printed material, including way finding, floor graphics and packaging, has been invaluable in passing on crucial preventative measures messaging and encouraging public response, but in fact, it too needs careful attention to the materials used during these trying times.

The reality is that some materials can withstand disinfection better than regular printing materials and it is crucial that those requiring printed collateral of any kind – particularly for high quality venue branding or retail activation, for instance – opt for materials which can be cleaned and sanitized without detracting from their readability or impact. This prevention requirement rules out paper because it can’t be washed.

Deep cleaning of facilities is now a part of health regulations and for many organisations whose premises have an abundance of printed collateral, such as retail, hospitality, leisure and healthcare, it’s important that disinfectant chemicals don’t cause the materials to deteriorate. And with deep cleaning comes the need to sanitize branding, office signage, PoP and PoS units, branded walls, and floors. The optimum aim will be to keep the collateral, hygienically sanitized and in as good a visual condition after cleaning, as prior to it.

Basically, it all depends on the printed material used. Great alternatives to paper are PVC-based rigid material, acrylic, foam board, flute sheet or ACP sheets.

Though leaving something to be desired from an eco-sustainability viewpoint, direct acrylic printing has several hygiene advantages necessary in these trying times and no solution can yet meet both the optimum in health and environment ideals. Acrylic printing is easy to clean and delivers great results with vibrancy of image colours and impressive durability being waterproof and featuring UV protection, so it won’t fade when exposed to sun rays or deep cleans Acrylic prints are also shatter proof and will survive if they are dropped and they are also scratch proof.

Foam board printing being waterproof is another easy-to-clean alternative. It is affordable and has a moisture barrier which stops the collateral from warping and can deliver a high-quality image. It is lightweight, ideal for both indoor and outdoor use and can be used for dual-sided printing.

Another lightweight solution is the fluted polypropylene board – a lightweight, corrugated plastic sheet which is waterproof, stain and moisture resistant and impervious to UV rays, making them great for outdoor POP displays and online delivery goods packaging. The boards are suitable for hygienic cleaning as they are largely resistant to most solvents.

Printing to Aluminium Composite (ACP) is a high-quality option for signage. High durability qualities again lend themselves to outdoor use. This is a good option for commercial signage, PoS displays and advertising boards.

All collateral can be produced with a PVC, polyester or polypropylene film overlay which all have some degree of resistance to chemical cleaners. PVC, though only allowing single way vision, has impressive resistance to the aliphatic alcohols widely used in grade A institutional level disinfectants and to the dilutable acids found in more common cleaners. Organisations should, however, take care to avoid organic solvents such as acetone and products using ester-based chemical compounds as they can damage protective PVC overlays. Collateral with a polypropylene (PP) overlay can resist as well as PVC but can also withstand ester-based cleaning solutions.

For those planning new printed collateral of any type, the advice is: take professional advice to ensure you have the most suitable for your sector’s cleaning and sanitization needs. As one of Qatar’s largest digital printing houses with cutting edge, digital printing and plotting equipment is eminently qualified to proffer advice which if taken now, could save replacement costs later.

Visit www.elanprint.qa for more details on your printing options.

Although we have taken steps to have 80% of our office workforce working from home during the pandemic period, in the print industry, working from home is not an option for all, most notably site installation and warehouse staff. Conscious of the need for strict COVID prevention procedures to safeguard the health of both our staff and clients while ensuring the timely delivery of client needs, we have drilled down deep into the latest precautionary measures and created a comprehensive operations procedure to prevent infection. These have ensured that our essential workers can continue to operate and fulfil installation requirements fully focused on client requirements within ELAN’s overarching commitment to product excellence and time sensitive delivery.

This procedure provides for a check list to ensure all the necessary PPE our onsite workers need is continuously available so they can progress installation. These include face masks, disposable hand gloves, hand wash soap and sanitizer, tissues, and the obligatory face shield. Before they even arrive on site, clients can be assured that staff have had their temperatures taken and that supervisors fully monitor and record outcomes. This is repeated when staff return from on-site installations.

Clients can also be reassured that the staff who are working on their installations are fully briefed on more in-depth measures they should take to protect all around them. All staff have been taken through guidance advice sessions leaving us confident of their safety awareness and their ability to pass this confidence on to clients. Staff sanitize the equipment they use prior to arrival on-site, ensure they alone use the equipment and that sanitization is repeated in between tasks.

Our staff have all been fully briefed to stay alert for any symptoms and if they do suspect they have any, they are asked to seek immediate medical help by firstly contacting their supervisors or installation site safety personnel. Or if they suspect flu like symptoms when they are at home, they are asked to remain there and to contact the public health hotline for testing.

Our safety protocols extend well beyond our installation sites, indeed cover all our operations. We have ensured that clients have the convenience to check our services from our website www.elanprint.qa and request quotations directly from there. We are also ready to help clients reassess their printing needs recommending various print mediums which will help protect collateral in times of deep cleaning requirements. There are numerous, cost-effective, and durable solutions to assist all to clean down everything from signage, to menus, to wall charts or branding without damaging the visual impact.

For the sake of all concerned, our protocols also include politely excluding non-essential people from our place of work. Authorised personnel and sanctioned third party visitors must go through a screening process, and are asked to show us their green code rating on the EHTERAZ mobile risk detection app which was developed by Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Crisis Management to help speed up the process of contact tracing to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Once inside our facility both staff and visitors are asked to abide by social distancing policies, including, where possible keeping at least two metres away from others, and making sure they do not shake hands. Hand sanitizers and tissues are also freely available throughout our site.

Overall, our normal work practices during this time involve avoiding face-to-face meetings and using technology for communications whenever possible. To aid these practices we have made technology solutions extensively available to all including phone, Skype for business and the Microsoft Teams communications and collaboration platform.

Should for any reason a face-to-face meeting be necessary, we insist on participants keeping the 2-metre guide rule apart from each other.

We anticipate these measures will keep our staff and clients totally safe and our business operating with on-time installation continuance during these challenging times. By following guidelines, we will together emerge stronger from this unique period and be ready to play our role in a full business rebound.

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising is undergoing seismic shifts across the world during these unprecedented times. As the world reacts to the challenges of Covid 19, (the media world) has realised the need to utilise existing technology in new ways. Across the world DOOH has become reactive, agile and relevant. The ability to offer relevant messages in real time through existing channels in this unparalleled time is becoming invaluable on a wide range of matters, from governmental messages and instructions, royal addresses to nations and passionate messages of thanks and support from brands. The technology that is available brings heightened flexibility, speed and agility to the medium, whether that is in a shopping mall, an iconic tourist destination like Times Square or Piccadilly Circus, an international airport and even the world’s busiest traffic routes.

Let’s go back to basics; historically the higher the footfall or traffic, the more digital screens would be in demand due to their ability to place a brand in the right place, at the right-time, in front of the right audience.

Then came the Coronavirus and, everything changed. Footfalls fell as governments worldwide appealed to the public to ‘stay at home and save lives.’ This instruction meant that everything would change instantly; managing with ‘essential shopping only’ which surpassed ‘nice-to-have’ lifestyle consumerism which we all enjoyed. Some of the busiest DOOH sites across the world saw their occupancy fall dramatically as consumers bunkered down in their own homes and the majority of brands paused their advertising campaigns.

Yet brands began to understand the worth of Digital out-of-home as a public messaging medium with its ability to ‘go live’ with incredible immediacy, to precision-target relevant audiences and to deliver value without additional print and installation expenses.

In the Covid 19 era, Digital out of Home has emerged as a key public messaging outlet that is able to access audiences even whilst they are locked down in their homes. The medium’s remarkable flexibility has allowed lightning fast turnarounds for messaging purposed for changing times. Take for instance the creativity of Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit.

Ohanian moved quickly to buy up digital space in Times Square – one of the most sought after advertising mediums in the world – to send out a powerful ‘Stay at Home’ message to the minority who insisted on wandering around Times Square in the midst of the global pandemic. The Reddit message read “Staying home means saving lives, flatten the curve.’ Ohanian knew that the only people to see the message in real time would be the minority, the aptly named “covidiots”, but his move, and his message, was lauded on social media, and viewed by millions from the comfort of their own homes. A new normal, using DOOH to appeal to the minority and gain the support of the majority.

Throughout the world DOOH has been used to impart information, to advise and to demonstrate heartfelt support for the essential workers who have kept lives on track during these challenging times. The effect is innovative and effective, a twofold approach of issuing a civil instruction whilst offering gratitude.

Other methods have been incredibly simple; with just a subtle change in lighting, the UK’s digital screens turned blue overnight in a major nationwide demonstration of appreciation for its National Health Service. Other changes coincide with the nations weekly clap of gratitude for the health service and essential workers, a routine that originated in Italy – and social media has been busy spreading this visual imagery beyond Britain’s shores.

DOOH received a near royal seal of approval when, in a ‘first’ for her 68-year reign, Queen Elizabeth II’s Covid 19 Message to the Nation was beamed on the iconic Piccadilly Lights in near real time.

What these quick-thinking examples demonstrate is the immediate power of DOOH given the speed at which it can be harnessed to deliver messaging which has urgency behind it. The fact is that DOOH is now being used in a manner that is reactive, agile and fast.

While being asked to ‘stay at home’ people across the world have relished their limited daily allowance of outside exercise. The result is a rediscovered appreciation for being outside and the benefits such a simple pleasure provides to every one of us. Not just this industry, but the world and nature will benefit from a heightened public appreciation of the great outdoors as consumers worldwide get out to enjoy the places, events and freedom of movement which have been out of reach. Conscious, relevant, sensitive and impactful social messages from brands and governments will reach out in the ‘new normal’ as a perfect balance in our rediscovered appreciation for the great outdoors.

Technological advances mean that DOOH campaigns can be adjusted in real time to respond to events. A campaign can be transformed at super speed to reflect the needs and desires of the specific environment it is addressing. The immediacy enables brands, event organisers and the public sector to consistently evolve messaging to meet changing circumstances and recalibrated consumer preferences.

The extraordinarily simple but effective Uber ad ‘stay home for everyone who can’t, thank you for not riding with us’ is a simple story highlighting the highs and lows of lockdown whilst addressing social responsibility and simply doing the right thing. It showcases how Uber is reacting to the changing circumstances with multi-faceted effect.

DOOH’s flexibility, speed, and relevance through allowing messaging to be scaled up or down will also resonate with companies, big and small, who want to appeal to a rising consumer appetite for increased trust. In these uncertain times, trust and credibility are the magic ingredients. According to research carried out by Nielsen; “consumers will be seeking greater assurance that the products they buy are free of risk and of the highest quality when it comes to safety standards and efficacy.” The research adds; “In the short term, intensified demand from consumers will require manufacturers, retailers and other related industry players to clearly communicate why their products and supply chains should be trusted. In the longer term, and dependent on the eventual scale and impact that COVID-19 has on consumer markets, it may speed up a re-think on how shoppers evaluate purchases and the benefits that they see as the key factors to consider.”

The DOOH industry has proved valuable as a medium for societal messaging in these rapidly changing and testing times. It is a high-speed responsive channel which can play an integral role in messaging campaigns and to demonstrate true purpose for brands that now, more than ever, need to show they are part of a new world. Now as consumers are reassessing, and will continue to evolve, their own priorities, it is  a newly discovered agreeable tool for governments looking to more closely engage with their public and a super-charged channel for all marketeers and communicators waking up to an era where trust and purpose are the new essentials. With highly valued currencies of flexibility, speed, cost-effectiveness, and advanced technology at its disposal, DOOH is being utilised as a palette upon which endless possibilities can be created.

The Post Covid world will be a different one of that there is no doubt. This pause button on the world, will have changed perceptions on everything and given a new meaning to all our lives…how the world will react as we enter the new normal is still the unknown. There is hope, fear, new routines, restoring forgotten routines, reaching out to all members of society, hindsight, gratitude love and a new normal. As we dust ourselves off and look towards this new reality, we see an opportunity to embrace all that we have learnt.  DOOH is visual, emotional, agile and relevant… how the world can now utilise this medium is unlimited.

By Jamie Ball, Chief Operating Officer of ELAN Media

The worldwide closure of cinemas in the wake of the global battle against the spread of coronavirus and the confinement of millions around the world to their own homes, has led to an unprecedented uptake in streaming services. The enormous appetite for streaming content among home-bound populations has led some to question whether cinema-going will be a thing of the past once Covid 19 is consigned to history. At ELAN, we believe the answer to that question is an empathetic NO! and we point to lessons from the past when movie-going was also subject to a survival debate.

The fact is that cinemas and movie-going have proven over the years to be nothing short of super resilient. When TV first arrived on mass into peoples’ homes, many predicted the days of outings to the big screen were over. They were proved wrong. Later came the perceived threat to cinema-going from videos and DVDs – again the doom-mongers were at work predicting the demise of the movie theatre as people rushed to buy or rent content and watch it in the comfort of their own home at times to suit them. Yet again, however, news of cinema’s supposed death proved greatly exaggerated.

Not that the cinema industry ignored these threats! The industry was aware, and concerned, about them. What did change was that the cinema sector upped its game luring audiences out of their homes with vastly improved services and investment in delivering a more compelling experience. In came bigger and more luxurious seating; foyers which turned into social meeting points for friends to share a drink or meal selected from wider and more exciting menus, the immersive IMAX experience and a much faster supply chain bringing blockbusters to market worldwide immediately upon a film’s release.

Now comes the supposed threat of streaming services. Again, we are not ignoring the impact of streaming – figures show that worldwide over just one weekend of Covid 19 shutdown, streaming service subscriptions jumped 13%. Streaming is popular and the cinema industry must continue to invest and innovate to maintain and build on its own popularity.

Streaming popularity, however, doesn’t mean people will be less inclined to go to cinemas once the crisis is over. In fact, a recent study from EY’s Quantitative Economics and Statistics Group (QUEST) – www.eyquest.com – found that people who go to movies also more frequently watch more streaming content than those who go to cinemas less often.

The study found, for instance, that those who visited a cinema nine times or more over the past year consumed more streaming content than those who visited only once or twice over the same period. Those who saw nine or more movies at the cinema averaged 11 hours of weekly streaming compared to seven hours of streaming reported on average by those who went to the movies just once or twice. This leads us to think that the two entertainment forms are complementary, rather than competitive.

Cinema will survive, indeed thrive, in the post Covid 19 era as people look to make the most of the freedom and opportunity to get out and socialise. Cinemas are great places for families and groups of friends to enjoy immersive Big Screen experiences together. The EY Quest survey demonstrated cinema-going as a favourite among teenagers. Those who responded to the survey and were aged between 13-17 reported going to an average of 7.3 movies a year while consuming 9.2 hours of streaming content each week – the highest of any age group.

Post crisis, those much-anticipated movie releases which were put on hold due to global lockdowns will flood into cinemas creating a worldwide rebound film fest. Crowd pullers which have had their release dates postponed will win audiences back. These include the latest Bond movie, ‘No Time to Die’ which has had its release pushed back to November; the animated comedy Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, initially planned for a Spring release which will now hit our screens at the end of August and the ninth instalment of the ‘Fast and Furious’ which will now only be released in April 2021.

But it’s not just superb movies that audiences can look forward to and which will keep bookings buoyant – it’s the continuously evolving cinema-going experience which will soon take another leap forward leveraging the latest technological developments such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality and the arrival of 4D theatres. Ultra-comfortable, bespoke cinema experiences will be the norm making a visit to the movies an even Greater Time Out and an engaging social experience that streaming just can’t replicate. The experience will also likely benefit from the introduction of E-Sports and gaming as complimentary attractions which will have magnetic appeal among younger audiences.

We at ELAN Entertainment are confident of a post-Covid 19 cinema resurgence. Being the home of Novo Cinemas, which has been delivering A Great Time Out to GCC audiences since 2014, we have experience to call on. We have pushed boundaries, pioneered change, and consistently striven for the ‘new’ and ‘next’ big thing – and this modus operandi will continue. We have introduced evolutionary technologies throughout the MENA region. Our guests choose from 2D, 3D, 4D, IMAX with Laser, benefit from online booking, e-kiosks and the first cinema-dedicated mobile app and enjoy luxury seating and the latest F&B trends.

Post Covid 19, theatres will be destinations not just for the latest international blockbusters but also for regional premieres and preview screenings as well as alternative content such as live boxing, cricket and football matches, performing arts masterpieces and a wide range of stunning IMAX documentary films. Evolution and innovation hallmarked the cinema-going experience before we had ever heard of Coronavirus. They are values which will characterize the Post-Covid era as well. Streaming is here to stay – but the credits are far from rolling on the cinema-experience. See you at the movies!

 

Debbie Standford Kristiansen

Chief Executive Officer- Novo Cinemas