ICC Color Management -- Saving Time And Money
RGB to CMYK for Printing
The skill crunch comes late in the process: when RGB is transformed to CMYK for printing. "You still need a very highly skilled person to turn it to CMYK," adds Gaughen. "You still need to know color."
Proofing has also been a critical area. Traditionally, printers and customers have been willing to accept "good enough" proofs for layout checking, proofreading and similar mid-process tasks, but insisted on a top quality proof for final approval before printing. Eliminating industry standard, film-based proofs, complete with halftone dots, has been a big job, particularly when many users felt the ink-jet output devices that were so well-suited to quick, cheap, digital output weren't good enough for contract proofs.
"Color management-assisted proofing is probably the largest success of ICC to date," contends Donnelley's Rodriguez. "In ink-jets especially, it has been a humongous success."
William Fechner, CEO of Advertisers Printing in St. Louis, agrees that ink-jet devices are getting very good. So far, though, his company has relied on high-end systems like Digital Matchprint. Even so, the $100,000-plus price tag for this type of machine creates a strong incentive for ink-jet manufacturers to boost their products to the highest tier of quality.
"In 18 to 24 months we might have very high acceptance of ink-jet proofing," Fechner predicts. "We're also trying to switch over to stochastic screening, and ink-jets are actually a better representation by far for stochastic jobs."
Advertisers Printing has also seen significant savings in the pressroom, according to Fechner. ICC color management, he adds, "worked early on and has continued to work. We're getting much, much better results now than we ever did with film."
LAGraphico, in Los Angeles, followed a fairly atypical growth route when it decided about five years ago to make a major investment in sheetfed offset presses to complement its longstanding prepress business. Today, the company runs two Heidelberg sheetfed presses: a five-color Speedmaster CD 74 with coating and a six-color Speedmaster 102 with coating.