Which Color Managed Proofing System is Right for You?
Production Managers have a variety of options when choosing a proofing system. Advances in technology coupled with the industry's demand for cost and time savings have made SWOP-certified softproofing a viable option. But for those who still like the feel of paper in hand, there are options.
Customer-Generated Hard Copy Color Proofs
With the cost of high end laser printers decreasing and quality of output increasing, creating color proofs yourself can be a good option. Most publishers take this route to avoid the cost of a printer's SWOP-compliant proof. Be aware that you'll have to make an effort to keep any scanner monitor and printer within correct color balance using ICC color profile standards in order to generate a proof that's reproducible on press.
The plusses: Generating color proofs in house can reduce your "per proof" cost and save time off your schedule.
The minuses: You'll have to invest in a good quality printer and commit to maintaining the fidelity of the color output. Plus there's all that paper to recycle.
Printer-Generated Hard Copy Color Proofs
Popular opinion says that these proofs have the best chance of matching the printed product. Since the printer generates the proof from the same data file used to create the plate, any required color adjustments can be applied to the data prior to generating the proof. They can also be used at press during an on-site press inspection.
The plusses: The printer takes responsibility for maintaining the color fidelity of the whole system - scanner to printer to press.
The minuses: Shipping the proofs back and forth add time to the production schedule and incur additional cost as well. You also have to pay for the cost of manufacturing the proofs, which can become expensive.
Printer-Generated Remote Hard Copy Color Proofs
If you'd like to output hard proofs in your office, but want a greater color match to the press (including custom color adjustments), then consider this method. The printer will process your page files, then send the SWOP-certified file over a high-speed wide area network (such as the Internet) back to you for printing. This method also requires a SWOP-compliant printer and some diligence in maintaining the color fidelity of the output device.
The plusses: This method can shave days off of your production schedule while still offering excellent quality proofs.
Printer-Generated Remote Color Proofs
Remote proofing, soft proofing, virtual proofing - it's known by a couple names. But it all comes down to the same thing - viewing a preview of the printed output on a screen. The preview files are generated using the exact same data used to image the plates, so there are no surprises later. It provides an immediate return of printer processed, color managed files without the cost of any materials.
The system that Fry uses also provides tools for color analysis and group review (including instant messaging), the ability to look at pages in spreads vs. single pages, and other features.
The plusses: Remote proofing provides immediate file preview, saving time off the schedule as well as the cost of outputting and shipping materials.
The minuses: System qualified monitors and calibration devices are often required (with daily monitor calibration) so that you're viewing your pages in an accurate color environment.
Fry Communications is committed to providing the right solutions for our customers. Our prepress experts would be happy to discuss your proofing needs and technology comfort level, then make recommendations on the right proofing system for you. And if the system includes moving to the next level of technology, we'll provide all of the training you need to get comfortable with the new system. It's all part of the Fry YES! approach.