Just before 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 28, George Ryan, President of the Printing Association of Florida; Larry Kudeviz, CEO and President of Genesis and chairman of the board of PAF; Sarah Patt-Pronek, PAF Vice President of Trade Shows; Curt Kreisler, Chairman of the PAF Trade Show Council; Juan Carlos Sacco, President of Conlatingraf, and Jose Luis Zamora, Vice President and President-Elect of Conlatingraf; gathered in the crowded lobby of the Miami Beach Convention Center to welcome the massing crowd to the show (with Rosie Curiel translating). At 11:00, the ceremonial ribbon was cut, declaring the 33rd Annual Graphics of the Americas open.  As the strains of bagpipe music filled the lobby, an initial throng of attendees wended their way onto the show floor. And as large as the initial crowd had been, it grew larger over the course of the day.

By the time the show floor opened, the Graphics of the Americas conferences had been running for two days. The InDesign Conference, the Pixel Conference, the Vector Conference, and the Acrobat Conference had been underway since Tuesday, with well-attended seminars given by key graphics industry luminaries.

PAF Gala Fetes GALA Recipients

The Vizcaya Mansion in Miami was in full Gilded Age splendour Wednesday night as PAF’s opening gala kicked things off in grand style. Close to 200 people gathered in the Italian Renaissance-style mansion overlooking Biscayne Bay to honor the recipients of the 25th annual Graphic Arts Leaders of the Americas (GALA) award: Barry Meinerth—senior vice president, production and fulfillment, Time Inc.—and Felix Enrique Cortes Pinto—president of F.I.G.E. (Graphic Industry Federation of Ecuador).

The bilingual awards ceremony was moderated by PAF President and CEO George Ryan and David Ashe, President of Carvajal’s Latin American trade and consumer magazine operations.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Meinerth discussed the challenges that print publishers face in the era of competition from Internet news sources, and how the business must change if publishers hope to recapture errant eyeballs. “I’m a firm believer in the Web, but I think in the next decade it’s a complementary—rather than a replacement—channel, at least if we get the basics right with the existing one.” He added, “Recognizing and adapting to change is imperative in our business. Hoping that our business won’t change isn’t a strategy. And maybe the toughest part of all is that when we’ve identified that paradigm shift, we need to make some difficult decisions.”

Mr. Pinto spoke about how the graphics industry is the “industry of industries” and that, as business professionals, “we are obligated to invest in programs of improvement and human development that allow working in an environment where the relationship between employee and employer is producing benefits in all areas of productivity without neglecting the elementary principles of solidarity and social justice.” Pinto’s career began in a print shop, and his company today is a family business. “My four children, Mauricio, Carlos, Diego, and Myra, work in the business and I am fortunate to see them every day. Even my oldest grandchild, Jorgito, with us here tonight, joins me at the business on occasions. It is very rewarding sharing lunch together with family on a daily basis.”

The GALA Awards, first presented in 1983, are awarded each year to two outstanding industry professionals, one from the North America and one from Latin America. GALA winners are chosen by PIA/GATF affiliates and Conlatingraf (Confederación Latinoamericana de la Industria Gráfica) members. Nominees are selected for their leadership in areas of management, technology, business, and quality, as well as their contributions to the graphic arts industry, their community, and society in general.

Adobe’s Future of Print

A session at the Acrobat Conference was tantalizingly titled “Print is Not Dead: An Adobe Perspective on the Future of Print.” Led by Dov Isaacs, principal scientist, workflow and interoperability for Adobe Systems, the session used the changing nature of print, the evolving (or, in some cases, devolving) print buyer–provider relationship, and advances in prepress and printing technology as the backdrop to a detailed discussion of the Adobe PDF Print Engine. The problem was stated thusly: “Print customer satisfaction and print service provider profitability have been severely impacted by changes in the print industry including many technological advances as well as fundamental print marketplace changes.” 

The session began with Pazazz’s popular YouTube “crazy printer” video clip, and then traced the ways that print and prepress have changed since the mid-20th century. In particular, the inexpensive availability of desktop publishing tools has made designers and print buyers of people who are, to be frank, clueless about the print production process. At the same time, print providers have been applying criteria to and rejecting submitted files (especially PDFs) for often illogical and inexplicable reasons. And design schools often don’t find the teaching of print to be “hip,” so designers graduate with minimal understanding of “real world” print production.

Although many of the solutions to these communication problems are not necessarily technological, the Adobe Print Engine—built into such workflow production systems as Kodak Prinergy 4, Kodak Nexpress Nexstation V, Heidelberg Prinect MetaDimension 6.5, Xanté RIPit OpenRIP Symphony 2.0, Agfa ApogeeX 4.0, and more—can help printers and their clients shift to a pure PDF and JDF workflow, and away from older PostScript workflows which don’t necessarily support things like transparency and other elements that cause output problems.

Brand Protection Keynote and Shocking Demonstration

Last week, I previewed the Brand Security Conference. Thursday morning, Paul Fox, director, corporate communications and global operations, external relations, for Procter & Gamble, gave the keynote for the Brand Protection Conference, a talk entitled “Counterfeiting: A World of Difference.” Procter & Gamble, by virtue of having some of the most successful product brands in the world, is fighting its own battle against counterfeits and knockoffs (for example, Fox said that 8% of the Web hits for P&G’s Duracell batteries point to counterfeits). Yet Fox is quick to point out that the problem is “a lot more menacing than most of us realize.” Despite the economic impacts, which are considerable (but by no means clear cut), there is a substantial health and safety impact, especially in the case of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, counterfeit auto and aircraft parts, and fake baby formula. Counterfeiting has also been linked to organized crime and terrorist activities. In fact, according to Fox, there is evidence to suggest that the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 was financed in part by counterfeit T-shirts sold, ironically, in the shadow of the towers themselves.

Solutions are not just technological, although RFID, electronic product codes, panographs, holograms, and other items do go a long way toward thwarting counterfeiters. At the same time, Fox stresses that supply chain security is one of the most crucial elements of an anti-counterfeiting initiative.

Later on Thursday was the much-anticipated demonstration of the counterfeiting of a pharmaceutical label. In the session titled “Profiling the Counterfeiter,” security printing consultant Richard D. Warner provides a look at the “culture” of the counterfeiter and the structure of the fraudulent organization. Greg Bassinger, expert in photography, color separation, color printing, and capturing and manipulating images, analyzed and counterfeited a label for a product called Reveality Diet Supplements, attempting to identify and replicate the various anti-counterfeiting deterrents built into the label, which included UV blocking, microprinting, a data patch, random screening patterns, image watermarking, and “crazy numbers,” or variable text that used non-alphabetical characters that varied from label to label. Bassinger admitted that certain elements were too complex to counterfeit easily and ultimately felt that it was not a product that would be worth counterfeiting, since every label would need to be unique. Although many printers and marketers are reaping substantial results with variable-data printing, counterfeiters tend to avoid it like the plague. At least for now. Even so, the samples that were provided at the session looked flawless to the naked eye—and the consumer picking up bottles bearing these labels in the drug store would hardly be cognizant that they were counterfeit.

The original of the label was provided by Dr. Steven Simske, distinguished technologist, and principal scientist, security printing and imaging, Hewlett Packard Laboratories, who then gave a post-mortem on Bassinger’s label attempt. Although he missed a few items (like the watermark in the image), Bassinger did an admirable job in replicating—at least to the naked eye—many of the “steganographic” security items. (Steganography is the art of hiding items, like anticounterfeiting deterrents, inside larger design elements, such as microprinting inside screens, random characters inside other shapes, and so on.) Dr. Simske says that anticounterfeiting is not a technology, but is an ecosystem that comprises deterrents, education, investigation, and management.

“If trucks with your product are being hijacked instead of your products being counterfeited,” said Simske, “that’s a sign of success.”

Friday’s Graphics of the Americas will include more of the Brand Protection Conference, as well as digital and variable-data printing sessions.