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Digital Proofing--Proof Positive

April 2000
While this cutting-edge technology offers the promise of "speed without compromise," some reluctant customers (who are uncomfortable with the electronic concept) fear that the digital proofing promise is simply too good to be true. How, then, do commercial printers convince them otherwise?


"Have you looked at a National Geographic that was printed in 1980? Looks great doesn't it, just like today's issue? Only the 2000 issue was produced in a fraction of the time—without compromise in quality and from a source of information that is vast," says John Bassett, director of sales and marketing at Scholin Brothers Printing in St. Louis. "This is the moral to the digital proofing story. It's all about speed without compromise."

Too Good to be True?
Speed without compromise? Sounds too good to be true . . . And, if something sounds too good to be true, that's probably the case. If "speed without compromise" is the moral to the digital story, then the digital story must be a fairy tale.

At least, that's what some reluctant print buyers might think. Digital contract proofing is a hard concept to sell to customers who are unfamiliar, or uncomfortable, with this cutting-edge technology.

And that's part of the problem printers face when trying to sell their customers on digital proofing, says Bassett, an 18-year graphic arts veteran who worked closely with 3M (pre-Imation) in the sales and promotion of, as Bassett describes it, "the most widely used analog proof—Matchprint."

"Back then, our goal was to convince the industry that off-press proofs had many benefits over the then-standard press proofs. That challenge is the same today," Bassett explains, noting, "Funny how history repeats itself." When it comes to proofs, be they analog or digital, Bassett says customers' concerns remain unchanged.

"Where are my dots? Why did my proof fade? Where's the PMS color? What is an ICC profile? Can you match my proof on-press?" Bassett echoes the voice (and concerns!) of the print buyer.

"Ah, the life of the print buyer," he sympathizes. "Just when they thought they had us figured out, we throw more curves at them. We introduced a myriad of new variables with new terms and new standards, but the same old objective: Just match my proof!

"The digital proof—and the dozens of brands and recipes that are served up as a smorgasbord for the print buyer—have left many of them still hungry . . . hungry for information," Bassett contends.


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