Our beautiful programme booklets are delivered

In the run-up to the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2015 at the Castle of Good Hope, I was tasked with putting together the programme booklet for the event. Challenging, exciting, daunting, stressful, inspiring… and beyond exhausting… are just some of the adjectives that describe the experience.

CTMT 2015 PosterWith this being the 10th Anniversary of the Tattoo (after the first two in 2003 and 2004, there was a break in 2005 and 2006, and another in 2011 when we had a Sunset Picnic Concert instead, so that’s why we’re celebrating the 10th one this year), we were eager to create a professional looking programme booklet that people might want to keep as a special memento of a world-class event for years to come.

Thankfully, I had a fellow musketeer on the same mission – Mandy, who, in addition to being a talented tenor drummer in the Drums and Pipes of the Cape Town Highlanders, also happens to be an absolute whizz in the use of InDesign.

While we were in constant communication with helpful people in the production team as well as performers, directors of music, bandsmen and -women, musicians, support staff, members of the executive committee, a certain knowledgeable historian, fellow photographers, advertisers, etc., in order to gather and collate and make sense of all the information needed to populate the programme, we were racing against the clock to combine text and photos in a visually attractive and logical design.

Fortunately, I had a database of photos from previous Tattoos and other military events dating back to 2010, and my fellow photies Brent and Lorraine had taken many beautiful photos since the early days of the Cape Town Military Tattoo as well (click to access the official website).

Proof prints of the front and back covers

Proof prints of the front and back covers

Incidentally, it is Brent’s spectacular photo of the Fingers of Light that was unanimously chosen for our cover, as well as for the posters and flyers! As far as I can recall, we only had those lights in 2010; and after he had taken that photo, we’d said “That is a keeper! That is going to make the cover one day…” And it did! Well-deserved Fame and Glory!

By pooling our resources, we were able to put together a special Pictorial Retrospective of the Tattoo. To be honest, choosing which pictures to exclude was hard! We could have easily filled pages and pages with photos and memories.

After long days, late nights and busy weekends spent hunched over our respective computers, proofreading, tweaking, correcting, adjusting, and some last-minute panic, with Emails, SMSs, WhatsApps, and SkypeChats flying through the ether, we finally handed over the print-ready PDFs to the South African Navy’s Printing Unit in Simon’s Town this last Monday. Sergeant Noel Muller printed the proofs of all the pages and the inside and outside covers for us so that we could do one final check, and Warrant Officer David Porter was on hand with helpful advice and reassuring words.

Mandy scrutinises all the pages carefully

Mandy scrutinises all the pages carefully

On Wednesday morning, I drove through to the SA Navy Printing Unit to see whether everything was going smoothly.

It was incredible.

I’d never seen this kind of industrial-scale printing being done before.

The friendly sailors on duty, noticing my curiosity, showed me around and explained what was happening at each station. I’ll do my best to summarise it here, though I don’t really know the correct terminology to use!

The various machines in the large printing hall were running at full speed, so it was seriously noisy! The covers had been printed and were being varnished in a huge machine – I had pictured them doing this by hand, but was relieved that it’s not! As it was a warm day, drying time was luckily short.

At the same time, 8 x 2 pages at a time were being printed on large sheets, back to back (it looks like the proof prints in the photos). An A4 desktop inkjet printer takes about half a minute or more to squeeze out a page – these massive printers were spitting out full sheets in split-seconds! Neat piles of printed sheets were inserted into a complicated folding machine, which folded them down to A4 size. These were stacked in piles. As our booklet consists of 48 pages (3 x 16 pages), we ended up with 3 large folded sheets for each booklet.

We make some final tweaks

Some final tweaks are necessary.

Once all the sheets had been printed and folded, the three folded sheets or sections, together with the varnished and dried covers, were put through a stapling machine. Thereafter, the edges had to be cut and trimmed to make it all look nice and neat.

The SA Navy Printing Unit had also generously offered to Eurobind some of the programmes; Eurobinding, as I learned, is a complicated kind of glue-binding process, where sheets and covers are fed into a huge machine by hand. It’s time-consuming but creates a really beautifully finished product.

I had a quick look at what was coming out of the printing and folding machines, and it looked simply amazing. The colours of the photos were coming out crisp and bright, and the text was clear and easily readable.

This morning, when we visited the Castle to marvel at the progress that had been made in the front arena (see: Seating, Lighting & Flooring, I saw the printed programme booklets for the very first time.


I think we did good.

We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who responded so willingly to our pleas for background information, suitable images, etc. etc. etc… And of course, to the awesome team at the SA Navy’s Printing Unit who helped us to pull this particular rabbit out of the hat with such flair and elegance… And last but certainly not least, considerable thanks are due to our temporarily neglected spouses and pets who supported us in their own special ways. πŸ™‚

So, having hopefully wet your appetite – if you want your very own Special 10th Anniversary Edition of the Programme Booklet of the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2015, you will have to reserve your seats at Computicket!

Do not tarry any longer, as it’s going to be a world-class show, and you don’t want to miss it!

Here is the link to Computicket: http://online.computicket.com/web/event/cape_town_military_tattoo_2015

Here they are - boxes filled with beautiful programmes...

Here they are – boxes filled with beautiful programmes…

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