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Reproducing Reality

(September 2007) posted on Wed Sep 12, 2007

The challenge of color management.

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By Jake Widman

But Brown sees help on the way: "The people who really get color management are making more and more tools for the uneducated to use. The companies with the knowledge are working on bringing this to more people. That is the trend."

One goal, she says, is to "package color management in a fun tool that would make someone want to use it, so that people get managed color without ‘color management.’" Perhaps not surprisingly, she points to the Pantone Huey pen-size monitor calibrator as an example. "This device comes with no manual, it’s so easy to use," she boasts.

Will Holland, vice president of corporate marketing for X-Rite, agrees that, "The technology is going to ‘go down-market’-it will get more and more inexpensive and more and more prevalent." And echoing the color-to-consumers theme, Holland predicts that color management will soon be embedded in home-theater displays: "We’re now seeing ‘colorphiles’ who are as picky about their screens as audiophiles are about their sound," says Holland. Not long ago, audiophile sound was the province of those few who were willing to do the work to put together a system. Now you can walk into Best Buy and walk out with a quality home theater sound system without knowing anything about how that quality was achieved. When consistent color is similarly easy to get on TVs, consumers will come to expect it elsewhere as well.

According to Brown, color management is also beginning to reach new professional markets. "One of the biggest trends is the creative community beginning to engage in color management for their own use." For a long time, she says, color management was implemented downstream from the design community, at the professional production stage-in the hands of print providers.

Among the early adopters of color management in the creative community were digital photographers. "They clearly understand the need for a color-managed monitor," says Brown, and from that starting point they acquired other color-managed devices. That same movement is now occurring among designers, she says: "The designers also are beginning to understand using color profiles and how they need to incorporate color-management practices into their workflow."