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Embracing New Proofing Technology

(September 2008) posted on Tue Sep 23, 2008

Proofing tools have come a long way in a short period of time.

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By Stephen Beals

* Oris continues its "reiterative" approach to color proofing with the release of Press Matcher, a new version of the company’s Press Matcher Pro product line designed for the digital and wide-format market (the previous Pro version was designed for high-yield production presses like the Xeikon, iGen, and Nexpress). This is a server-based color control system designed to control all of the machines with the same basic data, using device-link profiles. The CGS approach to color proofing is to repeat the process of evaluating test print files until the profile created is as precise as possible; this methodology eliminates the subjective factor of using human input to "tweak" color, relying instead on mathematical algorithms to bring the different color capabilities of each output device into one common color gamut. By using this method, even shops with limited color expertise can get all of their machines in sync.

* Onyx Graphics has just released Version 7.2 for its workflow software packages-Onyx ProductionHouse, PosterShop, and RIPCenter. The new features include added support for HP Professional Pantone emulation technology on select HP printers and spot-color mapping algorithms for more accurate matches of out-of-gamut Pantone spot colors. Integrated RAL and HKS color libraries are now standard and the new Pantone Goe uncoated colors have been added to the existing color-matching library.

* X-Rite Optical Brightener Correction Solution (OBC) is designed for use in conjunction with X-Rite’s i1iSis family of automatic spectral chart readers, and ProfileMaker or MonacoProfiler profiling software. The solution allows users to compensate for color shifts in custom ICC output profiles caused by optical brightening agents (OBAs) in papers and other printing substrates.

* Earlier this year, SAi introduced its Color Solutions suite, which includes ColorExcel color-verification software as well as a Sprint spectrophotometer and Snap color-profiling guides. The ColorExcel color-verification software compares colors to determine the Delta E difference between them; it can compare color samples printed with various devices on differing media. The program analyzes information from a spectrophotometer and offers a "pass" or "fail" rating for color consistency, ensuring that corporate colors match. Additionally, user-created master files enable users to determine color tolerances to set custom standards. The ColorExcel master files work with any printer; the program has a built-in calibration system that works with standard spectrophotometers, and works as a standalone or integrated system.

* Datacolor’s Spyder3Print is a print-calibration solution that includes software and a Datacolor 1005 spectrocolorimeter combination for consistent and accurate color as well as black-and-white output. The SpyderGuide enables users to create custom profiles with standard color or black-and-white targets.

* The latest version of Caldera’s wide-format RIP solution 7.55, features: integration of Pantone libraries for spot-color support, including Pantone Goe and Pantone Color; and integration of the RAL color library for spot color.

* Earlier this year, Wasatch upgraded its ColorRIP product to 16-bit color, designed to maintain color data and produce output that’s faithful to the original source image. Color subtleties and gradients in raster images are maintained with detail, while vector gradients remain perfectly smooth at any output size.

Putting it all together
You get the idea: Color proofing has come a long way, and the latest technology is considerably better than what was available a few short years ago. Machines are faster, inks are better, and calibration equipment and software are much more user-friendly. That doesn’t mean you need to throw away everything you are using now and buy everything new. But, if your current proofing system is slow, inaccurate, or otherwise not meeting your needs, it may be time to consider an upgrade.

Prepress veteran Stephen Beals writes from his home in Seneca Falls, New York.