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Digital Remote Soft Proofing: The Key to Effective Color Communication

(June 2008) posted on Thu Jun 19, 2008

Digital remote soft proofing offers screen and digital printers a way to improve color control, speed up time to press, and greatly reduce rejects. Read on to find out more about this technology and some of the other benefits you can reap when you implement a remote soft proofing system.


By Mark A. Coudray

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One of the really great benefits of a digital workflow is the greatly reduced production time. Through it we can eliminate many traditionally analog steps, such as removing film generation from screenmaking by using a computer-to-screen system. This sort of technology can help us get jobs on press in a matter of minutes.

Likewise, the transfer of and accessibility to digital information has become a key part of the critical path in our workflows. We can lose hours or even days in the approval process as key players become increasingly disconnected and distanced from the physical manufacturing facilities, which is why digital soft proofing—the ability to accurately view, comment on, and approve digital color both on site and remotely—is now an essential part of an efficient digital production model. This article will introduce the benefits, limitations, and realities of remote soft proofing. We’ll look at the technologies and the path to integrating it into your existing digital or analog/digital workflow, operating under the assumption that the files you work with are digital in nature and the hard proofs you generate are also imaged digitally.

 

Origins of soft proofing

Remote soft proofing means that two are more parties, separated physically by undetermined distances, can view color-accurate digital files on their monitors and be able to output calibrated, precise, inkjet proofs that match the images on their monitors at their independent locations (Figure 1).There are no limits on how many parties can be involved simultaneously.

The concept of soft proofing isn’t new. Companies were in development of collaborative digital workflows as far back as 1996. But like all things digital, the concepts were sound but the technology was immature and lacking in the necessary speed and bandwidth to deliver a practical solution. Companies like WhamNet.com were formed to help deliver the Gigabyte-sized files necessary for commercial printing over the Internet. Using ISDN and proprietary hardware, WhamNet.com attempted to close the loop in the rapidly emerging digital-reproduction landscape.


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