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REMOTE PROOFING -- Approved On-site

April 2001
BY MARK SMITH


Since the dawn of the digital age in the graphic arts, remote proofing has seemed to be a logical way to more efficiently communicate with print clients. At that point, the Internet was still just the domain of computer geeks and researchers, and terms such as e-production and ASP wouldn't be coined for years. Yet, some prepress pioneers were trying to find effective ways to build electronic bridges to their client sites.

The cost of maintaining a digital pipeline to customers had traditionally been a significant barrier to adoption of remote proofing. Given the rate at which high-speed Internet access is being implemented by businesses of all types and sizes, that is now fast becoming a non-issue. The boom in Internet businesses also has spawned a number of new Web-based remote proofing solutions and services (see sidebar below).

Other potential barriers remain largely unchanged, however. What's at issue depends on the type of remote proofing being considered. There is a clear distinction between proofing done on a computer screen (soft proofing) and the outputting of proofs on some kind of hardcopy device at the client site.

Monitor technology has improved and color management has become more practical to implement, but contract color still is beyond the scope of soft proofing. The capability typically is used to proof for content and color breaks—not color match. Even so, clients may not be comfortable using a screen to review these elements.

The primary barriers to remote hardcopy proofing all revolve around the question of responsibility. Who's going to pay for the proofer? Who's going to keep it calibrated? Who's responsible for the consumables?

Current trends would seem to indicate that interest in and acceptance of remote soft proofing is increasing, while adoption of the hardcopy approach has peaked. (Note: Remote proofing is defined here as involving approvals by clients of work done by a print supplier, not designers simply proofing their work internally.)

The Graphic Arts Technical Foundation's "Digital Proofing Study, Part VI," seems to support this conclusion. The study found that about half of the survey respondents were actually providing soft proofs to a percentage of their customer bases, while only 17 percent reported doing remote hardcopy proofing with any clients. In both cases, the remote proofing users typically reported using this approach with 10 percent or less of their clients.

They may be small in number, but remote proofing users are big proponents of the capability.
 

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