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Dickeson--Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Black Magic

May 1998
"Where's the payback?" I asked myself at the Sunbelt Computer and Graphics trade show in Atlanta in early March. Here was a new product introduction called CSR V.1, being offered by QIP Inc., that baffled me.

I watched as one of the representatives fanned out the color bars of a dozen or so printed press sigs on a flatbed scanner. He lowered the cover and clicked a button in the software. All of the bars appeared on a computer screen exactly as he had spread them.

After about a minute or so, a window opened on the screen with the sample set data for density, dot area, dot gain, print contrast, trap, hue and grayness. Data for each segment for each of the dozen bars appeared. Accompanying the data were charts with curves and plots of all sorts together with the identifying number of the sample set.

Sophisticated Software
What confused me was the absence of a traditional densitometer making the readings and recording the information. "How did you get the readings from all those samples for each of the black, cyan, Magenta and yellow segments on each of those sets at once?" I asked.

"From the scanner information," the rep answered.

"But suppose you didn't have those sheets at the same space intervals and got them cocked or staggered on the scanner bed. What would happen then?" I asked.

The rep responded by putting the sheets down at random angles with varying distances between them and pressed that button once more. Same results. They appeared on the screen at those various angles and distances apart, and the numeric results, graphs and charts were displayed.

"You see, Roger, the scanner software programs find the color bars you lay on that 11x17˝ glass bed wherever they are and however they're displayed," the rep said.

"How wide do those color bars have to be?" I asked.

"Width doesn't matter," the rep replied. "Quarter of an inch, eighth, 16th, 32nd, whatever you want. You print 'em, and the scanner finds 'em and measures 'em."

A group called Apogee apparently developed the programs that identify and analyze color bars using some of the same techniques used by military intelligence to identify and count tanks, trucks and guns from aerial or satellite photographs. Apogee programs gather the scanner data from the color bars and pass the information to the Color Metrix programs.

Color Metrix utilizes programs and techniques it has developed over the past few years to analyze and process the raw data into graphs, charts and tables significant to the printing operations.



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