Sunday, December 30, 2007

13 bad cereal killer design formatting

Lucky number for the "bad design" series of posts... and probably the last one for this year. This one is about formats or standard formats. Raul sent me a quite interesting and disturbing article about TV screen aspect ratios... and yes, I am quite sensitive to that issue. I can't stand watching a stretched image... I don't like when I stand in front of exhibition TV's on a store, and they all have stretched images... my eyes hurt when I see something like that. It's not an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, although I may have some real obsession with objects being straight and aligned. When I sit on a table, I have to move salt & pepper and any other objects on it to have a balanced pattern of proportions and visual weight. I am telling this, because... yes! it becomes sometimes an anxiety for me when things are not proportional, squared, aligned, straight, etc. Some of my students might have experienced my anxiety when their work is not in perfect visual balance, because my sight is as accurate as a laser line level.

Anyway, I don't like those wide-screen TVs and I was glad when Peter and Anja gave us their old 32" TV a couple of months ago. We were thinking about getting a new TV and we got this one as an early Christmas gift. It's big enough to watch movies even when they have those black stripes, and of course it's the old square format which is perfect for watching normal TV programs. I am getting anxious with the thought of what am I going to do in the future when there are none of the normal 4:3 TVs available... scary!!!
"Have we lost all sense of proportion?

Aspect ratios have been established for over a century, but the arrival of widescreen and digital TV has done away with the default application of standards. Television images are crushed and stretched, faces flattened, cars stretched, every object subjected to a level of catastrophic visual distortion in order to maximise the picture to the available screen size. For most people this is not immediately noticeable (although some find it annoying) and so it is accepted. Slowly but surely, we are losing our ability to discern between 'good' and 'bad' proportions."
Another of my compulsive obsessions is storage. A couple of weeks ago Sandra bought this box of cereal. I was freaking out, because the box doesn't fit into our shelves. I can't understand why, if those breakfast cereals come more or less in standard net weights... why are the boxes completely different in sizes? As a good compulsive obsessive, I believe (not just cereal, but also any packed food) should come in standardized size containers. That would not only make it easier to design storage units, but also some appliances like refrigerators could be more "space efficient". Why 392 grams on a cereal box? when we could have a standard ISO proportional portions for food (and food containers), something like the ISO 216 paper size:
A series = normal diet
B series = overweight diet
C series for Paris Texan, supermodels & the like.
Where 0 (zero) represents the daily recommended personal intake, then subdivide by halving into the proportional parts until we have only 8 sizes of containers. Containers and boxes could have also a colour code according to their nutrition groups :
or probably, and better yet, subdivide the zero size by those groups according to the percentage of daily intake... that way, we could assemble a puzzle of containers and exchange the items daily to have a balanced diet, and exactly proportional sized containers. Now that is being compulsive obsessive to the extreme! I promise to work on that the next year.

Bookmark and Share


Anonymous Hooper said...

Man you can be so anal retentive some times!...
...Ever heard about letter boxing for 4:3 TV sets?
Well there's a thing called pillar boxing for wide screen TV sets.
TV vendors are just too stupid and lazy to fix the settings accordingly.

As for the cereal boxes... well you have to take into account the volume of the cereal and not just the weight. Corn flakes take more space for ounce than, say... rice crispies.

Loosen up man ^_^

6:28 PM  
Blogger Fernando Vallejo said...

I have only seen ONCE a widescreen tv with those "pillar boxing" thingies... my claim or concern is that the image adjustment should be done automatically by default. I don't know, but maybe a signal carrier (?) without having to enter a menu or adjust it manually on the TV set... as you say, people are lazy (and sometimes stupid), those are ergonomic principles ! And the suggested approach to solve "the user laziness" is to use an automatic system. However, the idiocy problem can not be solved by design.

Not just TV vendors, but also the general public seems not to care about watching distorted images... I guess it's true that we've lost all sense of proportion.

As for the cereal... which one is heavier: a box with a kilogram of rice-crispies or a big can / bottle with one kilogram of japanese peanuts?

3:42 AM  
Anonymous Hooper said...

A Kg. is a Kg. is a Kg...
But a Can/bottle may be heavier than a box... provided is not a wood, lead or depleted uranium box ^_^

I agree with you that the process of switching aspect ratios on a TV set can be a taxing chore for some people (the same people who never set the clock on their TV sets because is too damn hard)

But most of the time --I guess-- is a case of "I bought a 52" and I want to see a full 52" screen image, no matter that Keira Knightley looks like a bloated toad, square images are for loosers"

Kinda like the old days (Te acuerdas Lampinho?)when a bloke would crank up the bass on the stereo just to show you he has a new equalizer. Should you tell him that the equalizer is working at its best when you don't notice its there, he would laugh at you and say there's no point in paying for something you can't see.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Hooper said...

Ah!... by the way...
Cereal boxes are made from a set of standard sizes, from the school lunch size, up to the mega-giga-zilla size.

It's maybe your shelves that are not made to specs +_+

4:14 PM  
Blogger Fernando Vallejo said...

I guess the rationale behind that is something like:

"if I payed 1500 bucks for a widescreen TV and most of the TV programs are in square format... it's like waisting 600 bucks for nothing, never mind if Paris Hilton looks on my widescreen like Kristie Alley... or Caroline Rhea, I want to watch her in full format!"


4:26 PM  
Anonymous Hooper said...

On the plus side...
Oprah does look impressive ^_^

4:37 PM  
Anonymous hooper said...

"if I payed 1500 bucks for a widescreen TV and most of the TV programs are in square format... it's like waisting 600 bucks for nothing, never mind if Paris Hilton looks on my widescreen like Kristie Alley... or Caroline Rhea, I want to watch her in full format!"

I guess you mean full frontal

4:40 AM  
Blogger Fernando Vallejo said...



1:28 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home