Dickeson–Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Black Magic

“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.

Really, it was some “gee-whiz” technology. But I’m beyond being snowed by all of the technological magic of today. So I asked myself aloud, “What do you do with that information?”

Information that doesn’t lead to decisions and actions is worthless. You’ve got the gain, contrast, density, hue, etc. “What do you do with it?” I asked a guy standing next to me.

“Tell you the first thing I’d do with it,” he fired back. “I’d take those charts and tables back to the color separation crowd and tell them, ‘This is the real world. This is what that press can print on that paper using those inks. Now make your color separation scanners match those real numbers!’ Then I’d take it to the digital proofing folks and say, ‘This is your product specification. These numbers are what your proofs must reproduce.’ ”

BR>Good thought? What it suggested to me was that you could take, say, 10 sample sets of 10 sigs, compute the information, and come up with a realistic approximation of press process capability. Sorry, gang. No more smoke, mirrors and quality illusions. WYSIWYG. What you see with these numbers and curves is what you get from the process.

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