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Ubisoft Goes With Enfocus PDF solutions

Press release from the issuing company

Ghent (Belgium) - Paris-based video game powerhouse Ubisoft turns to Enfocus PDF workflow solutions to overcome challenging document production. At the heart of Ubisoft's innovative workflow are Instant PDF, Certified PDF.net, PitStop Server and FullSwitch.

Ubisoft is one of the most remarkable success stories in the video game industry. Founded in France in 1986, Ubisoft is now the third largest independent video game developer in Europe, and the fourth largest in the United States, with award winning titles such as Rayman, Prince of Persia, Ghost Recon and Far Cry. The company has an annual turnover of €1.058bn, with 5,800 employees and branches in 28 countries – and is now facing some very challenging production requirements.

"We design our product packaging and manuals internally, working from templates provided by game console manufacturers, such as Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo," explains Axel Robert, prepress QA manager at Ubisoft. "Files are then forwarded to these companies' printing subcontractors for final production. If something unexpected comes up during the prepress or printing cycle, we have to step in and update the corresponding files in record time."

For other marketing documents, such as posters, POS material and promotional items, Ubisoft oversees the entire production cycle. But managing a number of contributing third parties, such as design agencies and printers, can prove difficult. "Last year, we produced €2m worth of promotional material to support 170 new games released across all platforms," says Robert. "This equates to 70,000 PDF pages to manage."

In such a demanding environment, it's imperative to be able to trace jobs and files throughout the entire production loop and keep track of all parties' operations.

An integrated design workflow with Enfocus solutions

In 2005, an audit of Ubisoft's document production process concluded that a streamlined and electronically managed workflow had to be put in place. "We needed a coordinated design workflow that could match the prepress workflows that most printing companies have set up in the past decade," explains Robert. "We quickly found out that for the part of the workflow we were interested in, most of these vendors were using licensed Enfocus technology."

Ubisoft initially selected Instant PDF to produce relevant PDF production files, and PitStop Professional as a validation tool in an AppleScript driven hot folder workflow, designed by François Lemaire, of Prépresse Conseil, a consulting company specializing in PDF solutions for the printing industry. But the work load quickly grew from a few documents to several hundred a day, calling for a more robust workflow. So in 2007, Ubisoft installed LightSwitch to coordinate its increasingly busy workflow.

Axel Robert then turned to Christian Blaise of Bleu Process, a PDF workflow specialist, with a requirement to set up an architecture that would scale up more efficiently. Today, Ubisoft uses FullSwitch as its workflow backbone, with PitStop Server as a PDF validation tool and CMYK Optimizer to ensure color consistency and control ink coverage. Instant PDF is used to produce PDF files from five in-house design workstations, with profiles centrally managed using Certified PDF.net.

"All our contributing design agencies are required to use Instant PDF, with our dedicated profiles, to output all PDF files they send to us," says Robert. "On a wider scale, we're convinced that Instant PDF is a tool every designer should use."

Ubisoft's PDF workflow increases throughput and reduces errors by checking incoming files against Ghent PDF Workgroup specifications, checking filenames against internally agreed naming conventions, managing color and outputting production-ready PDF files with the corresponding ink jet proof.

"We work in a time-critical industry and delays can be very costly, so our PDF production workflow is proving itself to be a highly valuable asset," concludes Robert. "It makes production far more reliable, allows us to accurately trace every event relevant to a given job, and helps us avoid costly trips to the print room."

Ubisoft has now eliminated nearly all incidents from its print production cycle and is currently working towards a PSO (Process Standard Offset) certification, expected in 2010.