COLOR CONTROL -- Managing the Variables
Since the Chicago facility does catalog work, it was an early adopter and has taken color management the farthest. "It's workflow can keep files in RGB all the way up to the RIP," he adds. "Catalog publishers pick up product shots all the time, so having color-corrected RGB images enables them to be used for multiple purposes. That can mean big savings."
Gaughen says the RGB workflow also is more efficient because the tools for doing color correcting and swatch matching (usually for clothing) enable a color expert to work more quickly and efficiently.
The LA facility, on the other hand, mostly does publication work. Since publishers rarely pick up images and ad materials can come from a variety of outside sources, images are converted to CMYK after scanning, Gaughen reveals. Color management has made that process more efficient, however.
"We're now able to scan 20 to 30 percent more work in the same amount of time. You do have to think differently about the process, though. Our scanner operator is just capturing the images, which are transferred to a server. I can then have five or six color operators convert the images into CMYK using ICC profiles," he explains.
"You still need the right people converting the images. Color management is not a magic wand; that is probably the biggest misconception," he continues. "You're usually trying to improve the original, not just match it, so it still needs to be interpreted by a color person. "
Look to the Experts
He agrees with Hookway that hiring a consultant to help put a color management program in place can be a good way to start. "You need someone who knows what they are doing to get things off the ground, but you don't have to get all caught up in the stuff about color space and gamut," Gaughen says. "The main advice I would give anybody getting into color management is to first think about what your expectations are and what you are trying to achieve."