ICC Color Management -- Saving Time And Money
The ICC specification divides color devices into three classifications: input, display and output. For each device class, a series of base algorithmic models are described that perform the transformation between color spaces. These models provide a range of color quality and performance results, which provide different trade-offs in memory footprint, performance and image quality.
ICC profiles allow the input for digital workflows—which is generally captured as RGB data at the very beginning of a job—to remain in RGB throughout the workflow. However, ICC profiles can also be useful in CMYK workflows (where data is transmitted in CMYK) to enable proofing and re-purposing of data.
Que-Net Media has implemented ICC-based color management at 15 prepress facilities, including eight major locations that serve both Quebecor World printing plants and other customers, Gaughen says. "We do 18,000 scans per month," he notes. "We can do 400 to 500 per day with four scanner operators, all because of color management."
Que-Net launched its ICC implementation about three years ago. "It was a hard sell to management back then because it costs $20,000 per facility for hardware, software and training," he recalls. "However, we needed fewer rounds of color because it was more efficient," Gaughen says, citing the Spiegel account and its $90,000 in materials savings over six months as an example.
Incoming images at Que-Net tend to be split evenly between transparencies and digital files. Incoming digital files are usually in some form of RGB color space, but Gaughen says the company converts them all to a consistent format keyed to the Kodak Approval proofing system. "We work with one profile," he reports. "Our benchmark is the Kodak Approval, and we have everything else geared to that."
One result is that the image capture process no longer requires a high skill level. "Before, we had to have our #1 guy on the scanner, and had to rely on the scanner for color corrections," Gaughen says. "Now, we can have five scanner operators. We gain more flexibility, more quality and more efficiency."