Commentary & Analysis
Remote Proofing: What's Going On?
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: May 25, 2007
--- Print Buyer's Corner Remote Proofing: What's Going On? By Margie Gallo Dana May 25, 2007 -- It dawned on me that I hadn't heard or read much about remote proofing lately, so I contacted Dan Caldwell of ICS to get an update. Dan is the Vice President of Operations at ICS (Integrated Color Solutions, Inc.) in their Carlsbad, CA development facility (www.icscolor.com). Replace the time to create and ship nine hardcopy proofs with nine emails and the savings becomes quite obvious. ICS products include Remote Director and PressOK. Remote Director is a SWOP-Certified, monitor-based contract proofing system. PressOK is a wide-format scanner that transmits sheets directly into Remote Director to enable off-site approvals of what the press is running. First, Some ABCs With remote proofing, the printer's proof comes to you, via your own computer or on another output device. Industry terminology isn't 100 percent standardized (big surprise), but this might help: * Remote proof: any proof (hard or soft) produced elsewhere, used to proof content OR color. * Soft proof: a proof sent over the 'net to a client's monitor. Soft proofs are generally used to proof content but are being used more often for color, too. * Virtual proof: a subset of "soft proof" and the highest type of remote proofing, used to approve contract color on a monitor. Remote proofing for color has been accepted widely by large publications that have the same specs job after job, such as magazines and catalogs. Tick, Tick, Tick! The biggest customer benefit of remote proofing is a savings in production time. These proofs are convenient and can be sent to several individuals at once. Caldwell gave a good example: a full-page ad in a weekly magazine that prints in eight locations requires 10 proofs (one for each printer and two to file). These proofs are all sent to the publisher and then reshipped to each printer. Replace those nine shipments and their time to create and route with nine emails to everyone viewing a proof from a single server--and the savings becomes quite obvious. Monthly publications and catalogs have the same savings on a smaller scale, he added. Customers save on courier costs, too. But printers aren't saving, explained Caldwell. In fact, their costs go up because of the investment in the technology. And they must maintain two proofing systems: one for the virtual proofing clients and another for everyone else. Many customers use remote proofing so they can check the content, not the color. They get the file from the printer (or access it on the printer's web site), print it off on their color laser printer, and review it. If you regard a remote proof as a contract, or final proof, and are using it to check for color, that's where the challenge has been. Once the barriers are broken, the usage becomes quite high very quickly. Some printers install output devices at client sites, so they can print off remote proofs in their offices. In these situations, process control is absolutely essential. The printer and the client must use identically calibrated proofing devices. Slow Going Widespread acceptance of this technology has been slow, said Caldwell, and one reason is because remote proofing is a disruptive technology. "However," he added, "once the barriers are broken, the usage becomes quite high very quickly. The technology originally designed to help with the iterative proofing during the creative process was nudged into high gear when Time Inc. insisted their printers add virtual proofing press side to eliminate the paper proof." (This happened in phases beginning in 2005.) One issue with remote proofing is the lack of interoperability – printers have different proofing technology based on client demands, and every system is different. What's New? "In a word,integration," Caldwell noted. "Systems can be integrated into any asset management solution with two-way notification of proof creation and sign off by clients. Industry standards groups are pushing towards writing the proof-viewing criteria into the PDF, so that any system can view it correctly. Integrated solutions with interoperability, when adopted, should remove the final obstacle to rapid acceptance." Who are the key manufacturers in remote proofing technology? The top three, said Caldwell, are ICS ( www.icscolor.com ), Kodak ( www.kodak.com ), and Dalim ( www.dalim.com ), though there are others. I want to thank Dan Caldwell for his time and insights. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And Margie Dana, president of Print Buyers International, can be reached at email@example.com. Please let Margie know what you think. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. See More Exclusive Articles Margie Gallo Dana is founder of Print Buyers International, an international organization focusing on the needs of print buyers, while creating a forum that unites buyers with printers and suppliers throughout the graphic arts industry. She can be reached at 617-730-5951 or by email at email@example.com.