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DIGITAL digest 6-01

June 2001
Exploring Digital Options

BARCELONA, SPAIN—As part of its ongoing efforts to provide educational resources to the graphic arts community, Agfa-Gevaert N.V. hosted an international press forum here recently on digital technology options. Digital proofing and computer-to-film (CTF) or -plate (CTP) workflows were the primary topics of discussion.

Digital color proofing is one of the hottest areas of interest among Agfa customers, reports Willy Van Dromme, international marketing manager for digital proofing. It's still seen as the missing link in the all-digital workflow, he says, and there is considerable confusion about the technologies and their applications.

The halftone dot/no-dot debate is one source of confusion, Van Dromme explains. He notes that the acceptance of no-dot proofs for contract proofing applications is increasing, due to improvements in ink-jet systems and a growing comfort level with the process that stems from its increased use. However, Van Dromme believes this will become a moot point in the near future—as the resolution of piezo-electric ink-jet proofers increases to the point where they will be able to print the rosette structure.

Generically referring to the class of products as ink-jet proofers also has been the cause of some confusion, the marketing manager says. He points out that Agfa opted to go with drop-on-demand piezo technology after evaluating continuous ink-jet imaging methods. Agfa found the latter technology wanting, Van Dromme says, because of its resolution limitations and inferior consistency due to the variability in dot uniformity, especially as the head ages.

No matter which imaging technology is used, Van Dromme says it is essential to use color management in a digital proofing workflow. The proofer must also integrate seamlessly into the workflow, regardless of the product manufacturer, he adds.

Agfa recently upgraded is ColorTune Pro product to version 4.0, with a key new feature being the capability to edit profiles, according to Van Dromme. A number of tools for editing profiles are provided. The Curve Tool lets users edit individual RGB and CMYK channels. With the Gradation Tool, users can adjust the luminance to lighten or darken tonal areas without affecting the other colors outside that area.

A Neutrals Tool corrects neutral areas either by adjusting curve values or with a visual correction tool and only affects colors in those areas. The Paper Simulation Tool adjusts the paper's white simulation values to more accurately simulate the background of the final offset print.
 

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