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ICS Invents Tools for Color-Accurate Visual Collaboration

(August 2003) posted on Wed Aug 13, 2003

Co-developer of ColorBlind continues to push the envelope

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By Eileen Fritsch

"If you have deep, saturated colors in your image, most monitor profiling packages will display a dark red--as dark as the monitor can display it. Any reds that go darker than that just get displayed the same way," explains Caldwell. The gamut-compression technique developed by ICS avoids the tendency of saturated images to flatten out when displayed on screen. But this capability can be toggled off for precise rendering of graphics that within the display's gamut.

Will color management ever be easy? Caldwell has served on both the ICC and SWOP (the organization that sets standards for web offset printing) and would like to see manufacturers develop self-profiling digital input and output devices that would make ICC color-management easier for more people to use, "The only time ICC color management will be 100% successful is when everybody's using it and they don't know that they're using it." He expects it will happen some day. But for the time being, it's in the best interest of digital-prepress and printing hardware and software vendors to hang onto their proprietary color-management engines.

Even though Caldwell knows color-accurate soft-proofing has arrived, he's also aware that printing firms aren't likely to buy Remote Director until their customers start asking for it. So ICS has begun showing Remote Director to publishers and catalog companies who currently spend a lot of money on proofs"?even lower-cost. inkjet-generated proofs. He expects that when they calculate how much time and money they can save, they'll start asking their print suppliers, "Why can't you deliver proofs to me in this manner?"

From his background marketing ColorBlind, Caldwell knows it always takes time for new digital workflow technologies to take root--especially those that disrupt the daily routines used in most workplaces. He recalls that scanner operators initially felt threatened by ICC color management because it seemed likely to diminish their authority as color experts. That hasn't exactly been the case, though. As Caldwell points out, color-management simply provides tools for reproducing digital originals: "And very, very seldom do you want to reproduce the original. Typically, you want to lighten the image, brighten it, or remove color casts, and that's where the scanner operator's talent lies. Color-management simply allows scanner operators to achieve the desired results much more quickly and be much more productive." Caldwell hopes graphics firms will soon be able to say the same for remote soft proofing. (Integrated Color Systems: