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Freeman Decorating Sets Up Remote Proofing System

(April 2003) posted on Tue Apr 08, 2003

To help manage expectations for packages of trade-show graphics

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The need for color-management first became apparent a couple of years ago when Nuhbegovic noticed variations in Encad output at their Chicago facility: "We have several models of Encad printers, and if you use the same settings for each printer, it's amazing how different they are." Color management has enabled Freeman's graphics technicians to save a significant amount of money, because they are no longer wasting precious time and material trying to get the output to match. By using calibrated monitors to soft-proof during the design stage, Freeman's in-house designers now have a much more realistic view of how their projects will appear when output.

Freeman chose the HP Designjet proofer for its remote-proofing system because the economical, relatively stable inkjet-printing device has a color-gamut wide enough to simulate output from a variety range of other inkjet printers"?even the Encad NovaJets. The Designjet's self-calibration feature enables the printer to adjust to the changes in ambient temperature and humidity that commonly affect the color output of inkjet printers. But because this self-calibration feature works only when used with HP software and media, Freeman's graphic technicians plan to calibrate the inkjet proofers themselves.

Nuhbegovic advises each user of an inkjet printer at Freeman to print out a set of Pantone color patches on the first day the printer is calibrated, and then post the patches next to the printer. Before each major job is run on subsequent days and weeks, technicians are urged to reprint the test patches and visually compare the new patches to those posted next to the printer. When significant differences are apparent, it's time to recalibrate the printer.

To simplify the remote-proofing process, technicians in Freeman's Chicago office are currently compiling Onyx "QuickSets" of data that branch sites can use to instruct their HP proofers how to simulate graphic files to be output with the different types of inks and materials typically used on Freeman's Nur, Salsa, Encad, and Mimaki equipment. The QuickSets utilize Freeman's custom color palette, which incorporates data on how the different lighting used in popular convention halls affects the look of commonly used Pantone? colors.

The graphics pros at Freeman Decorating don't view hard-copy remote proofing as a cure-all for all types of printing workflows. As Nuhbegovic points out, "On the production side, we can only do half the job." Profile data sent to designers is meaningless if the designers aren't using calibrated equipment. He believes designers and other creatives need a higher level of color-management training and commitment before remote proofing becomes more widely accepted during the late stages of graphics production.

But at Freeman Decorating, where graphics absolutely, positively must be delivered in time for the opening of each and every trade-show, remote proofing now provides a way to keep a multitude of clients better informed about how graphics produced on different machines and materials will look when printed. (Freeman Decorating: