Hearst Implements PDF/X-4 Workflow System
Publisher advances from PDF/X-1a for editorial and advertorial pages.
As PDF/ X-1a workflows near ubiquity for some publishers, Hearst Magazines has become the first to implement a new system based on the PDF/X-4 standard, according to Ken Pecca, Hearst's director of premedia imaging.
PDF/X-4â€”what Pecca calls the â€śSmart PDFâ€ťâ€”is a layered file that supports live transparencies without flattening artwork or converting the file to PostScript. Unlike the PDF/X-1a, the file contains the searchable metadata it needs to be easily repurposed through a digital asset management (DAM) system. Images remain in RGB format throughout the pre-press process and the heavy lifting of color management isnâ€™t handled until the last stage.
To implement its PDF/ X-4 workflow, which Hearst began using in February, the publisher adopted Kodakâ€™s Prinergy InSite system. The switch took an initial investment of less than $200,000 in production tools, Pecca says, and has resulted in a 30 to 35 percent increase in efficiency. â€śOur production staff has taken on new projects. Promotions, collateral workâ€”anything sent outside weâ€™ve brought in house,â€ť he says. By a â€śvery conservativeâ€ť estimate, Pecca says he projects the system is equivalent to two to three people.
Pecca sees the system as an enterprise solution, allowing Hearstâ€™s production staff to communicate with each other, proof and approve pages in real time from anywhere in the world through an Internet connection and a simple log-in process.
Right now, Hearst is using the PDF/X-4 system exclusively for its editorial and advertorial pages. For advertising pages, using the system at this point would be a â€śhuge liability,â€ť according to Pecca. â€śWe havenâ€™t even explored how this would work.â€ť In the future, though, he says, â€śThis is a workflow that everybody is going to end up adopting for everything. I just donâ€™t see any way around it as people see that thereâ€™s a better, easier, smarter way to digitally manage your files. But to put a time frame on it, itâ€™s still uncharted territory.â€ť