-Review- 

Video Review: "The Practical Guide To Dye-Sublimation" 

by: J. Stephen Spence 
Produced by: National Business Media, Inc. 

Review written by: Tamara Hoffbauer, In The Air, Carmel Indiana

Volume One: Getting Started 

The introduction to this video certainly bears remembering: "No Guarantees or Endorsements are implied." With that grain of salt firmly in hand, let's take a look at what Mr. Spence has to share with us about getting started in sublimation. 

Volume One begins with a basic description of the equipment required to produce sublimated products. Brief highlights are offered for the various printers: Laser, Inkjet, Wax Transfer, and Alps. The information is brief, but sufficient for the curious who are considering sublimation and want to know what it is and how to approach it. 

After a discussion of the various styles of heat presses available, we move into a demo of the creation of an actual transfer on the computer. Using clip art and simple layouts, Mr. Spence shows us the very basic steps needed to create a finished product. One might be tempted to say that the simplicity of the demo makes the process look misleadingly easy, but for someone who has never printed a transfer, the basic idea is outlined. 

A few more demos follow, showing us some of the products that can be sublimated, such as T-shirts, plates, plaques, and name badges. 

This introductory video most likely brings up more questions than it answers for the viewer, and might be better titled "What is Dye Sublimation?", but would be a great visual aid in learning what you can achieve with the process.

Volume Two: Advanced Techniques 

The objective of this volume is to present a few "tricks" and "corner cutting techniques" for easier sublimation. The tricks and techniques are sprinkled throughout what is basically a continuation of the demos from the first volume. We look at the basics for creating such things as a mug, plate, clock, photo frame, tile, ornament, and hat. 

Most of these demos are kept simple without getting into much detail about all the steps required. There was virtually no mention of the color correction software being used, rather several remarks of "just send it to the printer".  One tip was offered for making ornaments: create a template slightly larger than the item and store it on your hard drive. Scan an outline of the ornament, and then "digitize" it, or turn it into vector art. Unfortunately there is no discussion of how to complete that last and all important step. Again, there are some helpful tips and techniques, but this is not a full blown seminar by any means. 

Several Unisub products are shown, as they were somewhat new to the market at the time this video was produced. Mr. Spence does state that these products have a degree of UV resistance, allowing them to go "months, perhaps even years without serious fading". It would have been nice to have a bit more explanation about fading for the newcomer to sublimation, but at least it gets a mention. 

A short discussion of printing black on gold metal is helpful, but no actual samples are shown for comparison. 

A fairly lengthy plate demo is full of hints for success. Mr. Spence uses a Geo Knight combo press, but offers all kinds of advice for achieving good results, even showing us some of his "blunders" and offering reasons as to why they didn't work out. 

Mugs are discussed and demonstrated as well, but I had problems with some statements made in this section. One was in regard to top to bottom printing - "You can pretty well print from top edge to bottom edge without any problem" claims Mr. Spence. Given one of his sample mug presses was an ORG-2, I have to point out I find that statement to be completely false. 

Next we are given a look at the Geo Knight Combo press. Starting with the mug set-up, Spence points out the limitations of doing only one side at once on a combo press, and mentions that mug wraps are an inexpensive option. The hat attachment is demonstrated as well.

The end of this volume is probably the best - here Mr. Spence takes us through his suggestions for marketing and pricing, suggesting you plan your marketing strategy before you buy your system. We also get an up close look at his own show room displays and ideas for how to capitalize on showroom space. He also offers a pricing formula to get you started, and discusses pricing using perceived value over actual costs. There are several good tips to be found here. 

One last note about Volume Two: during the last two thirds or so of the entire video there were some blatant production problems. These were distracting to the point that we miss some of what Mr. Spence is trying to tell us due to the sound track being polluted by what seems to be Spence's own voice while he is discussing the shots we are looking at with his producer. A very strange intrusion, that surely makes the viewing less than acceptable. Overall, the two tapes together do provide the novice or beginner with some helpful information. But at a cost of $59.99 each, it may not be the right investment for anyone on a budget. If you had to pick just one, I would recommend Volume Two.

My rating: 2 1/2 ink drops out of four.

The Practical Guide to Sublimation videos can be purchased at many sublimation distributors.  The two video set  costs approximately $99.00 or you can purchase the individual tapes for around $55.00 each.

Copyright © 2002 Tamara Hoffbauer. All rights reserved. This article may not be copied or reproduced.

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