“Over the Skype” has been the INKISH response to the coronavirus crisis, but it has given us tons of opportunities to talk to exciting people from all over the world. In this session, we talk to Wilson Chunk, who works and live in Hong Kong. Wilson Chung works with Idealliance and is a colour specialist and a capacity in both Hong Kong and China. With several books, hardware- and software development, we are sure you will enjoy listening to Wilson Chung’s great story here on “Over the Skype.”
As with all our ‘Over the Skype’ interviews, quality is limited to bandwidth, web-cams, and ability to literally LIVE mix the conversations. However, it works, and with Over the Skype, we will bring you more than 20 exciting people, and angles on the industry as it is right now.
This is Morten from Inkish TV, and yet another episode of old Skype. This time, I’m very honored because I’m going to talk to Wilson, who is from Hong Kong. And he is very interesting; he’s been working with colors, and I think you will be quite amazed to see what he has to talk about in a second here. So please welcome Wilson Chung.
So Wilson, you are in Hong Kong right now. How is the situation in Hong Kong?
Hi. Hong Kong situation is much better than two months ago. The total cases about Coronavirus in Hong Kong… around 1,000 cases. And these few days, no more confirmed case. Already. It’s okay.
So the Coronavirus… I mean, because Hong Kong, there’s a lot of people. There’s like… How many people live in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is around seven to eight million people in Hong Kong.
So if you look at 1,000 infected people, that is not too bad for such a large city, right?
Yeah. Yeah. Not too bad. [crosstalk 00:01:34]
And you and your family had… Sorry. And you and your family has not been infected by anything, of course. Well, I hope.
It is good. But actually, my family member… My son, my daughter, grandson, they are all in Canada. Toronto. I’ve just been in Hong Kong.
Okay. And before the Coronavirus, I think that a lot of people in the world were worried about Hong Kong because of the riots that you had in the city. Is that all gone now?
It’s much, much better than two months ago, because almost all the people in the outside area wear the masks.
Okay. Okay. I get that.
Much, much better.
Okay. Wilson, before we talk about what you do today, let’s hear a little bit about your story, because you didn’t start in the printing industry, did you?
Yes, yes. Actually, before I am in the graphic art industry, actually I am a carpenter.
Woodworking. Woodworking. Cabinet making, something like that. For around two years. At that time, I was 17. 17.
Okay, so I start to work in the graphic art industry; the first job is, I learn commercial photography. I work in a small photography studio in Hong Kong. We do a lot of commercial photography jobs for advertising agents, for design house.
That time is 1972. And a few months later.. I joined a company a few months later; they changed from photography to the photo finishing work. We do the darkroom film processing, print enlargement, something like that. And one year later, my boss changed their field to [inaudible 00:04:11], also used the photo method. Actually, at that time called photo graphic reproduction.
Okay. So that came from being… You were processing the films in the darkroom, and now you changed to be more in a different area from the photos themselves, right?
Yes, yes. The difference is, we use a large format repro camera. At that time called repro camera. I worked [inaudible 00:04:46], and then our boss introduced… get some material from America: Kodak. At that time, that material is called PMT. P is photo… Photo Mechanical, PM. T is transfer.
That is a high contrast photographic material, and it is a [inaudible 00:05:19] paper: put on the camera, adjust the size, and then suit the image to the [inaudible 00:05:28] paper, and then put another one. It’s what we call receiving paper, together. Go for a processor, like just one chemical.
So that meant that you didn’t have to go into the darkroom and do chemicals in the processing, because it was transferred from the paper. Or, from the film.
All in darkroom. Under red light. Under red light.
Under red light, okay.
Because it is a dual sensitive photographic materials can be worked under red light. And then two papers together, go through a roller and chemical, wait for one minute, and peel it off. Like a Polaroid. So you get the reproduction. At that time, we used this material for reproduction, for the logos, letterings, in different size for the designers. They [inaudible 00:06:36] for the ad works.
At that point.
Yeah, and you know, when you talk about this, it doesn’t sound like that long time ago. Just imagine how many things have happened technology-wise since you were doing the replication of photos the way you just described. What was the next step for you?
Okay. That job, around almost 10 years. In these 10 years, in just these 10 years, we from long mode photography to graphic reproductions in a darkroom, and also we invent something. I show you.
This is a book called Graphicat.
And it is published in 1982. In this book, all about my work. Especially this part. This part. Okay?
This is all about my work.
“When you find ad, you have found what you need.”
I will send you this image.
Yeah, yeah. That could be nice so we can see it a little closer, yeah.
And we use this graphic effect, [inaudible 00:08:17] and use the photographic method to help the designers more easy to make a special effect. For example, like this.
That is so… Wilson, that is fantastic, because I’ve actually sometimes been wondering about how you did that before the computer time, but now you show me how you do it before computer time, right?
Yes. That is before the computer. For example, this one. The designer give me a straight line artwork; I make it into circle.
Okay. And that is done by photographic techniques?
Yes. It is special techniques at that time, I think. For example, at that time, I use one sheet of four by five inches film. It is five dollars at that time. Five dollars. I think, “What can I do to let the designers more happy, more easy to make their job done?” I think, “Okay, maybe use some photographic techniques and darkroom techniques to do something.”
So that effect is… I think, “Okay. If I use some optical refraction, something like that, to do that,” I think, “Okay, I think of prism.” Okay? Prism. It is a triangle. You put… It is a right angle. Put something on here; you can see the image in another way.
You see? You see?
Okay. I make this prism in a round shape.
Ah. So it was more like a cone, basically.
Just like a birthday hat.
Circle, at the same time, it’s a cone.
The outside is straight. You see?
Okay. I calculate the circumference of the circle, I make a reproduction of the artwork to the length of the circumference, I put the straight line over the circle, and the top, I see a circle.
So that means that when you did the circles that you just showed us on the book, that means that every time you had something, you had to find the diameter that was the same sides as the lengths of the text that you were trying to reproduce, right?
No. Actually, I special make a prism lens in a circle.
Okay, so it was depending on where on the cone you were basically placing the design?
No. I make a… glass. Something like a glass, okay? In a circle. In a circle. And at the same time, is a cone shape. That means a circular prism. Okay?
Yeah, yeah. I get it. Yeah, yeah.
Got it? That means I have a special lens.
Okay. I put a straight line outside the cylinder, and atop…
Yeah, I understand that.
I can see the circle image.
Yeah, I understand that. Yeah, I got it. But I was just wondering, so, when you have the cylinder, I was just wondering if you had to make a new cylinder based on the lengths of the design you wanted to have a photo from the top. No.
No need. I make the cylinder just once.
It’s once, okay.
In fixed size. And then I change the artwork… use the photographic method, to different size.
Oh, that’s how you do it. Okay, perfect. Okay. That is fantastic, and I guess that when you look and you tell me this story, that was how you did it. Everybody, the repro photographers and all the designers, that was how you worked before the computers, right?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. They are happy. At that time, I make the revenue my work. It’s 30 times more. [inaudible 00:12:58] And the designers, they also happy, because they use their hand to draw those complex graphics… maybe two days, three days, or four days. And then they give me the simple artwork in a straight line; I can do it within two hours.
They are very happy.
Yeah. So your work and your entrance into the graphic arts industry, that came from first working in a darkroom and then working with reproduction [crosstalk 00:13:34]. And then…
Yeah, precisely. You got into this, and you started working also even with color things and all this kind of thing. So maybe we should go back and hear more about that story, but before we do that, I was just wondering, maybe we should now… just so people understand why we have this conversation… What is it you do today? Because then we can revert a little bit back. So who is Wilson Chung, and what do you do today?
Okay. Well, I say my main job is a color consultant, or a printing consultant for most of the printers in Hong Kong or China. My major work is helping printers to solve all their problems about color reproduction.
That is a big subject, right?
Yeah, yeah. That is. Actually, 20 years ago, my company was a major business in software selling. Software selling. But software selling is, in China, is difficult. It’s difficult. Not quite good. At that time, it’s going down. It’s going down, the software. Especially at that time, the most income from software is Chinese forms. [inaudible 00:15:15].
But that’s another advantage, because I think it is, Mandarin, you have 4,000 letters right?
Much more. Okay.
In Chinese characters. Chinese characters. The biggest data set in the world is 80,000.
How do anybody get about remembering these when they have to write something, right?
Not easy. Not easy. And in the [inaudible 00:15:53] that we use in the computer, it is around 20,000.
Most common in the… For small kids, when they… After primary school, they should know around 3,000 to 4,000 characters. We can use commonly in the language.
It’s funny because it reminds me… I was in Shanghai some years ago, and I was driving with a lady through a printing company. And I was sitting in the backseat, and then her and the driver, they took out the GPS. And I was wondering why it took so long time for them to enter the address, and then I saw that every letter has to be drawn on the little GPS pad. So when I just say the address now, but at that time you had to type it in. So I just remember that having all these letters is actually something that is a little bit more required than only having 28 or 29 letters, right?
Yes. Yes. But another funny question for you about a Chinese sentence, or a [inaudible 00:17:22] letter, for example, okay. If in computer, English or Chinese, which can get more memory to memory the same letter? English or Chinese? Which needs more memory?
Memory… I think it’s a trick question, isn’t it? You’re trying to trick me to say Chinese, and it’s probably the Latin, then. What is it? Tell me.
Actually, that is a research. That is the research. Okay. In the English word, average, how many English characters? A to Z, how many characters in the alphabet? How many English alphabet become a word? Usually?
Okay, so what you’re talking about is now, if you have a sentence… Let’s say I want to write, “I love you,” for example. Then it’s an I, space, L-O-V-E, space, Y-O-U.
And in Chinese, it could be only three letters [inaudible 00:18:41].
Yeah. Okay, I got it.
In the computer world, English every… for average, average is five characters become a word. Five characters in the computer world, we need five bytes. Five. In computer world. Okay?
But in the Chinese, we need two bytes only, for a word.
Yeah. That is… It’s funny that you-
It is. It is same words, the Chinese needs less memory than English.
Yeah. But then you have to remember more letters to understand it, right?
Yeah, that is another thing. Okay. Go back to my work.
Okay. Actually, 20 years ago, one day I think, “Okay, my business is going down for the software selling. So what thing in the industry is almost forever?” I think, “Okay, lettering.” For Chinese, English phones. Almost gone because software is going down. The price is going down very rapidly. So I think another one. I changed the letter to color.
To color, yeah.
That’s the key word: color. Color, if I change the key word to color, so what can I do?
And that is business today.
Because whatever 100 years later, 200 years later, the colors are still color. There will still be colors.
Yeah. So I use this keyword to think, “Okay, what can I do?” So I go around in the industry. “What do you think,” from the traditional to digital. They have to solve some problem, from traditional work to digital. Because almost 40 years ago, at the 1970s, 80s, all the colors work is done by some kind of a professional.
Color set printers, or some kind of professionals. But nowadays, these colors is handled by a designer. Or a photographer. They don’t know what [inaudible 00:21:49] about CMYK printing.
No. And another thing which also I have in mind when you say that is also that in the old times, where you often would use less colors, fewer colors in your presses because you had one color press or two color presses… The four color processing of arts have changed, so now everybody is working in an RTB color space and converting into CMYK color space, and some of the people and some of the designers have never been at a printing company and don’t even understand the difference in the color spaces very well. So I guess that you’re right that there’s a hole where skilled people like you can help bridge between design and output, right?
Yes. That is the key at that time, I think. Okay? And also because the DTP revolution make it happen. Some kind of professional color work in handled by some people, they don’t know what exactly CYMK printing. So that is the problem. And they work in the RTB environment, and they don’t know how to think to printing, how to do that.
And Wilson, I was just wondering, because when we talk about all these colors and all the challenges that you are talking about right now, I think that two organizations may have done a lot in order to give the printers common understanding of colors, and one of them is Fogra in Germany, and another one is Idealliance in the US. Is that something that you are working with, as well?
Yes. I’m the first one, actually, of Chinese people to have G7 expert training. At that time, I was in America to join the training for the G7.
It is made by Idealliance.
And [inaudible 00:24:19] is a German organization; they do something like that. Very similar. And at the time, I also get a PSO training from… Actually, at that time I’m not in Fogra; I’m in [inaudible 00:24:38]. [inaudible 00:24:39] in Switzerland.
Switzerland, okay. And when you work today, are you then working with printing companies to get certifications of G7? Or what is it you do?
Yes. Some of the job is, I help the printers, they get the G7 master certifications. And also, last year I also [inaudible 00:25:12] decisions, because in Hong Kong and China, most of paid people, they use their mother language to work. So it is a lot easy to learn from English. So I ask Idealliance, I want to be a G7 expert trainer.
So you train G7 in Chinese.
Yes, I train the G7 expert in Chinese, yes.
That’s fantastic. And just before we started filming this Skype thing, you said that also you are focusing on some software and hardware solutions that you promised me to film afterwards so we can see what it is you’re actually doing. Is that part of that certification program, or why did you want to show us this?
Okay. Why I make this happen? Because almost 16 years ago, 2004, something like that, I go to America GATF. I learn something about color management, print control. I know in the US world, they use a lot of instruments to help people to do the better job.
I come back to Hong Kong and go to China; they have some of these tools, some big brands… the printer makers. Like Heidelberg, like [inaudible 00:27:03]. They have some of these expensive tools, but they don’t know how to use. And also, the maintenance cost is very, very high. So some of the equipment, they put it aside. Nobody wants to use.
Yeah, because it was too difficult.
Too difficult, and the operation is not… how do you say… it’s not very easy. It’s like this, this way, okay. I am the user. I know what the operators, the press operators, what they need is easy operations, easy understand, and also the maintenance is… the cost, not so high. They want, especially the bosses, they said, “Wow, the equipment is too high, and also the maintenance cost is very high, and after two years, three years, they’re out of order.” Nobody wants to keep it.
So at the time, if I can do something on this, that is make the [inaudible 00:28:28] more easy. At that time, around 2006, I have this thinking, because I go to the factories, I help them to do some print standardization. If standardization needs measurement, it needs data to support.
If you don’t have data, you cannot standardization.
No, that’s true.
So they don’t have the equipments fit for that, so I have an iron, for handheld.
Yeah, yeah. So that was… [crosstalk 00:29:12] Is that [inaudible 00:29:13], or is the…
It’s [inaudible 00:29:18]. Actually, this is a spectrophotometer.
A spectro… Okay, yeah. Because there’s the two… In the old times, you used the [inaudible 00:29:23], and today you use the spectrophotometer, right?
Yes. Yes. At that time, it is a… affordable equipment we have is from [inaudible 00:29:35]. Actually, at the time it’s not [inaudible 00:29:37]. It’s [inaudible 00:29:38].
I have the i1. Around $1,000 US, cost. And every day, I use for color management, color measurement. I think if I can make it automatic.
Ah. That is a good idea, yeah.
Yeah. Okay, I try to do some color type, use some strapping motors. I do it myself, in my workshop. Because that’s a hobby. But after a few weeks, I make it automatic. But I don’t have the good software.
So sometimes later… My son is graduate in Canada; he learned computer science.
Oh, that was a good mix, right?
Yeah. When he come back, I ask my son… he called Kent. K-E-N-T. Kent. I say, “Kent, if we can make this a small instrument and make a software to drive it, and then make it more easy to use, is it… Can do?” My son say, “Yes. Why not?” So we take a few months, make the hardware and make the software together. So one year later, we have a affordable measurement device with our software. [crosstalk 00:31:10]
So the film that you will send me that we will put into this film is basically a product that you have developed together with Kent.
That is great. I look forward to see that. You wanted to show me it live before, but we saw that the camera was moving too much, so we do that afterwards to make sure that we can get a proper view of that.
Wilson, we are on our 32nd minute right now, and I think that we have to… It’s so interesting to hear you talk, so I might ask you for a second interview at another time, but I would like to end this conversation just asking you maybe to briefly on… After the Corona time and when everything goes back to, hopefully, more normal time, how is the market situation in Hong Kong? Is it a good printing market, or how is that… I know it’s jumping a little bit, but we are running out of time, so I’m just curious.
Okay. Actually, in Hong Kong, the printing market is not very big. Because-
You have China [inaudible 00:32:28] on the other side of the border.
Yes, yeah. Because the border, most of the labor costs and most of the cost is much cheaper than Hong Kong. So most of the big printers, they move to China area… to Mingde area, actually. [inaudible 00:32:51]. So just in keep in Hong Kong is usually smaller printers; printers in Hong Kong, they do some advertising printing. Also the magazine printing, because the time, and because some of the magazine cannot print in Mingde. Must print in Hong Kong. That kind of printers, they will keep in Hong Kong.
So most of the printing factories in Hong Kong, it’s less than 100 people.
Oh, okay. So it’s relative small printing companies.
From a few to less than 100. That’s the size in Hong Kong. But in China, it’s easily 1,000 people.
Medium to large printing factories. Because a lot of work is need by hand.
Yes, yes, of course. Yeah.
Some process need hands. After the printing of the image. For example, the post processing use a lot of man power. That’s why they need to put the work in Mingde.
Yeah. It was so exciting to hear these things. I was in Hong Kong a couple years ago, and I love that city, so I hope that next time I come to Hong Kong I will have a chance to meet you, Wilson.
It’s been fun to talk to you and get to know you a little bit. And we have to stop now, because I don’t think we will have all our audience listening to us if it takes too much time, but I just want to thank you very much for your time here with me all the Skype. I think it was really exciting, and remember to send me the film so we can see the device that you and Kent developed. That would be exciting. So once more, thank you very much, Wilson.
And see you soon, I hope. And stay healthy, right?
Thank you. Bye bye.