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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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Again, the issue of which profile, stock, and printing practices comes in-to play. The challenge in a pure CMYK environment is less complicated, but still formidable. If the printer uses GRACoL or SWOP practices, the question concerns the accuracy of these specifications to the real printing method and the substrate. Further complications crop up when we move to a DeviceN or nChannel profile to accommodate Hexachrome or spot-color printing and to expand the gamut to achieve accurate Pantone matches across the majority of the Pantone library.

Achieving continuity is beyond the influence of any individual printer. The gap between creative-content generation and the reproduction of that content is well recognized in the graphic-arts community. The call for an international proofing standard to be established at the ISO level to overcome these differences grows louder.

Adherence in a PDF workflow to strict PDF/X1a and PDF/X-3 compliance to assure accurate color management is very important. The X-3 standard was specifically designed around the color-management issues. Understand that you are working in a true PDF-compliant environment and not just a PDF wrapper that’s often automatically generated by the design application. Compliance means you’re working in a Distilled environment, a more robust and strict interpretation of the PDF protocol.

 

Interpretations

Let’s take a look at how we view and interpret hard proofs for comparison to the soft proofs. When hard proofs are part of the mix, do they have color bars or other control points that we can measure with a spectrophotometer or densitometer? If not, there’s no way to know whether they were generated under controlled and calibrated conditions. What kind of verification do we have? How do we validate?

Frequently, complaints from printers focus on files being produced outside of a color-managed environment (no calibration, characterization, or adequate viewing environment). The root cause seems to be an industry-wide lack of professional education and implementation, which comes from two sources.

The first are old-school analog printers who desperately struggle to understand newer digital technologies. Their implementation is spotty at best and just plain incorrect the rest of the time. They have a make it work on press attitude that stems from the way they were trained in a craftsman-based world. But that model just does not fly today.


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