Commentary & Analysis
FREE: More Prepress Details at Graph Expo
by Cary Sherburne October 7,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: October 7, 2003
by Cary Sherburne October 7, 2003 -- The Prepress portion of the show floor consumed more than a quarter of the overall floor space at Graph Expo, and was home to a host of exhibitors during the four days of the show. Last week, we reported on a number of participants. More exciting developments are sampled in Part Two as WhatTheyThink's prepress coverage for GraphExpo 2003 continues. AHT After a period of relative quiet in terms of media outreach, AHT was at Graph Expo with two announcements: * The upcoming release of its newest product, OneRIP 2, which is designed to act as a controller for up to ten digital copiers, including one color digital copier, in a clustering model. OneRIP 2 also offers other features, including: * HotTicket Job Ticketing - Allows users to create and save job settings for easy reprinting. * HotBox Scan Tool – Lets users set up "HotBoxes" for easy scanning and sending of documents to multiple locations. Users can scan directly from the copier to multiple emails, broadcast fax or network folders. * OneDriver Universal Print Driver - OneRIP users need only install one driver for any number or types of printers. * The upcoming release of the new onCore 2 embedded controller platform. onCore 2's technology represents the hardware core of all of AHT's new controller products going forward. According to Christine Chang, AHT's Director of Marketing , onCore 2 offers improved performance and stability, and is built on a newly designed embedded controller platform that gives it a consistent hardware base for all copier engines. She did indicate that OneRIP 2's scan-to-email function is not currently LDAP compliant; however, the company is considering adding this capability to a future release. onCore 2 is being launched in conjunction with OneRIP 2. Both products will be generally available by the end of 2003. Chang also indicated that AHT currently has 40 employees, and has an installed base of approximately 1,000 non-embedded RIP units in the marketplace. Enfocus WhatTheyThink spoke with David van Diressche, CEO of Enfocus, and Catherine McCarthy, Area Director of North America , during Graph Expo. Belgium-based Enfocus has been heavily involved in JDF implementation, and as an Adobe partner, prides itself on providing PDF solutions targeted specifically at the Graphic Arts market. At Graph Expo, Enfocus featured Pitstop Pro 6.0 and its CertifiedPDF.net solution. Enfocus is also working with a number of partners to deliver upstream preflighting capability, believing that to the extent tools and services can place user-friendly preflighting capability further upstream in the process, the overall productivity of the production process will be enhanced, bridging the gap between the creators and producers to create more reliable PDF files. CertifiedPDF.net provides a collaborative space that allows publishers and printers to post downloadable specifications and generate automatic notifications to all parties when those specifications are modified. Launched in June of 2003, Enfocus has received positive response to this unique offering. Enfocus also indicated it had entered a partnership with StaffingTools.com to offer training on its complete line of products. Enfocus counts among its OEM partners Agfa, Artwork Systems, Creo, EFI, Global Graphics, Heidelberg, WAM!NET and Xerox. The company indicates it is in discussions with other potential OEM partners as well. Enovation/FujiFilm Enovation and FujiFilm shared a booth at GraphExpo to demonstrate the breadth of their offerings and to help promote a better understanding as to how the two entities will work together. In effect, Enovation acts as the distribution arm for Fuji products, as well as products from other manufacturers. With the launch at Graph Expo of its new “Get it from the Experts” theme, Enovation is positioning itself as a partner to graphic arts service providers who need help and are looking for a trusted resource to help them stay current with technology. The company works with its customers to understand business requirements and recommend solutions based on its broad portfolio of offerings. Enovation also debuted a private label brand of film and plates at Graph Expo, manufactured by FujiFilm. According to Tim Combs, Sr. Vice President, Sales & Marketing , for Enovation Graphic Systems, “ Merging two businesses, manufacturing and distribution, presents some big challenges. But it also gives us a lot of opportunity to deliver the best of the best to the customer. Margins aren't what they used to be, and we need to be more efficient in delivering goods and services. We've pulled together a wide range of talent, and we believe we have the ability to help our customers be better at what they do. Although we, of course, sell products manufactured by FujiFilm, two-thirds of our portfolio comes from other manufacturers, and that puts us in a position to recommend what customers need.” Combs also reported that Enovation has fully staffed the team responsible for selling the Xerox digital color products, and indicated that Enovation is selling units—with the DocuColor 6060 generating a lot of success—although he declined to provide specific numbers. FujiFilm launched its new Co-Rés (pronounced Co-Ray) Screening technology, which is now out of beta and available commercially. FujiFilm positions Co-Rés Screening as its answer to stochastic screening. The technology enables increased quality and productivity in plate production. Another introduction was Version 2 of PictroProof, a product that was originally intended for high-end internal proofing. However, with its SWOP certification and network connectivity, many graphic arts providers are using the device as a contract proofer, and as a remote proofing device as well. The company described it as extremely easy to use, in effect “dummy-proof — just plug it in and it's ready to go.” Kodak Polychrome Graphics The star of KPG's booth was the demonstration of its Matchprint Virtual System. This groundbreaking solution consists of a kiosk with a controlled light environment that makes it possible to deliver color managed, reliable monitor proofing that, according to KPG's Director of Corporate and Worldwide Marketing Communications, Beth Hogan-Scott, “allows monitor proofing to bridge the digital gap that now exists.” The solution consists of two high-end Sony monitors made to KPG specifications to allow for color critical viewing; a viewing box; and a computer. RealTimeImage's RealTimeProof (see RealTimeImage coverage below) is incorporated into the solution. KPG was conducting live demos at the show in real time, simulating an actual collaborative review and revision effort between two remotely situated colleagues. Hogan-Scott indicates that the kiosk's monitors must be calibrated once a day, a process that takes about ten minutes. The solution won a 2003 GATF Intertech award and is SWOP certified . Hogan-Scott continued, “ Monitor proofing is going to arrive fully evolved across the application spectrum in terms of what customers want for a contract proofing solution. Matchprint Virtual allows users the opportunity to segue to monitor proofing rather than requiring a disruptive process shift.” The solution also improves the productivity of the creative and approval cycles. By enabling online viewing of the many rounds of proofing that occur before a file is approved for print, Matchprint Virtual Proofing speeds up the approval process and fosters stronger collaboration between everyone involved in the production process. Monitor proofing can be used for content, imposition and color-critical proofing, predicting press results, checking for file integrity, routing jobs for all levels of approval and communicating print expectations. With Matchprint Virtual, digital camera artists can actually see what an image will look like before it goes to press; and publishing, prepress and agency personnel, used to using a light box to look at proofs as a group, can use the solution without significantly changing their behavior, but only shifting the underlying technology. Hogan-Scott concluded, “KPG came to the show with a goal of making this an educational experience, exposing more people to the benefits of monitor proofing.” Based on the crowded demos that took place throughout the show, including both a live presentation and an opportunity to tour the kiosk, it would appear that this goal was achieved. KPG also introduced the SWORD EXCEL Thermal Printing Plate at Graph Expo. Extending the SWORD technology, which combines a no preheat, no postbake thermal plate with “write the background” imaging in a negative chemistry processing environment, the SWORD EXCEL printing plate delivers run lengths of up to 500,000 impressions and hard dots that yield resolutions ranging from 1% to 99% at 200 LPI. The ultrahigh resolution makes SWORD EXCEL plates compatible with the latest advances in stochastic screening at 20- and 10-micron dot diameters. The negative chemistry environment means that there is no change in work process for the majority of printers. The hard dots also provide faster roll-ups by producing sharper edges that generate less ink for the fountain and sheet to disperse and carry off the plate. KPG utilized a photograph taken in the Grand Canyon in 1981 by Kodak employee and photographer Joseph Holmes, produced in a limited press run, to demonstrate the quality that can be produced using this technology. The company also showed the DirectPress 5034, its Presstek-enabled direct imaging (DI) Press, launched earlier this year. This product puts KPG in a unique position, with an output portfolio consisting of Xerox digital color presses, the DirectPress 5034 DI press and its CTP solutions. With the addition of EFI's Velocity OneFlow, also announced at the show, KPG is able to offer a workflow capable of managing all three types of devices. RealTimeImage Yehuda Messinger, Executive Vice President for RealTimeImage's Graphic Arts Division, had a busy show as new partnerships were announced and attendees came to the booth to learn about the latest developments in the company's online proofing solution, RealTimeProof Express. The product, which won the GATF InterTech Award, is a hybrid product that combines the capabilities of the ASP-based RealTimeProof.com and a local server imaging engine which allows the ability to retain high resolution images within the firewall, thus improving both security and productivity. RealTimeProof, using its patented Pixels On Demand technology, serves up the relevant portions of the image so that even the largest files can be accessed quickly via the Web. In the show floor demo, a 422 megabyte file resident on the host server was handled by the system almost as though it were a local JPEG. The software allows the user to view images to the pixel or dot level, measure color with a built-in densitometer tool, annotate and collaborate, and manage complex approval cycles online. New to RealTimeProof at the show was its MultiView capability, with which up to eight images can be simultaneously loaded, viewed and processed. This means that multipage files can be cross-checked for content and color fidelity. RealTime also showed its new Compare feature, which allows up to ten images to be selected, and displayed up to four at a time. And when multiple remote parties must work with two versions of a given image, both versions can be displayed side by side, with changes highlighted. The user also has the option to display, in a third window, only the changes, whether they are text- or image-based. RealTimeImage also announced support for Agfa's Apogee print drive files, and EFI Best BRP files, linking into the respective workflows for both soft and hardcopy proofs. RealTimeImage has also been active in the digital asset management space, having partnerships with players such as Xinet, Canto and WAVE, driven by demand from corporate users who desire tighter linkages with their print service providers. As mentioned earlier, RealTimeProof is a key component of KPG's Matchprint Virtual solution. Screen The folks at Screen were enthusiastic about this year's Graph Expo, reporting brisk sales activity on the show floor. WhatTheyThink visited with Mark Crawford, Screen's CTP Product Manager, who was showing visitors the new PlateRite 8800, unveiled at the show. Crawford indicates that the PlateRite 8800 delivers 30 thermally imaged 8-page plates per hour, demonstrating that “speed without violet” is possible. EFI also had a presence at the Screen both, with the announcement that Screen would sell EFI's Velocity OneFlow as an entry level workflow for its Micro 2-page-format platesetter. Screen was also featuring its E-Order and RitePortal solutions at Graph Expo, programs which are being managed by industry veteran Sang Lee. RitePortal is designed to streamline workflow and to put PDF, rather than native files, into the hands of printers. Lee described it is a reliable, virtual print driver configured to the printer's custom profile settings. Files are uploaded, and a certified PDF is created. While output is currently directed to Screen products, JDF/JMF can also be generated to allow the offering to support non-Screen output devices. E-Order allows printers to deploy a Web site without having any Web programming skills, and lists for $20,000 as a packaged software solution. E-Order provides a framework for printers to establish an online ordering system for business forms, brochures, postcards and corporate identity materials, empowering the printers' customers to create or customize those same documents with a simple user interface. As one of only a very few licensed software (versus hosted) solutions in this space, with robust capabilities and a reasonable price tag, E-Order should be attractive to Screen customers. And because of its standards compliance, the application may well find an audience outside of that base.