Target - DRUPA 2000
The DRUPA exhibition, scheduled for May 18-31, in Dusseldorf, Germany, is now just one month away. Digital prepress technology trends targeting the international show include new PDF-based workflows, new color management tools and a variety of solutions to further automate front-end functionality. To map out the digital prepress direction of DRUPA 2000, Printing Impressions went direct to the sources . . .
Dennis Aubrey, CEO of the Altamira Group, on the limitless nature of images at DRUPA 2000 and into the next year—when digital images are no longer restricted in size or resolution.
The year 2000 will see a production world in which digital images are no longer restricted in size or resolution because they are described in terms of pixels. Instead, mathematical encoding structures will create completely scalable image assets that can be rendered to any size from a single lossless archival source. From a practical standpoint, this means that digital asset management systems will store only a single version of each image from which all output sizes and resolutions can be derived. The production process will no longer be encumbered by files that are generated by the requirements of output devices.
Instead, images will be scanned or generated at the full resolution of the capture device. This medium-size source file will be stored, edited, transmitted and proofed. Production artists and designers will be able to work in real-time. When a specific size and resolution are required for output, the source file will be used to generate that file from either an image editing or page description environment.
High-resolution print images will be served and transported over conventional phone lines via the Internet. The individual image will be as agile and as versatile as a vector graphic, while remaining capable of performing in the most demanding print environments.
Color Tool Demands
Iian Trevor Pike, senior marketing manager at X-Rite, on his firm's upcoming series of color management devices and the color management market, in general, for DRUPA 2000.
Commercial printers will expect and demand color tools that work.
Bells and whistles are fine, but the prepress industry needs solid color control technology that really works, withneeded features at the most affordable prices available.
For DRUPA 2000, X-Rite will focus on continuing to deliver quality color tools that work with advancements in speed, compatibility and versatility that speak to multiple software applications. We will unveil a series of new products and innovations that will allow users to select the right tools for their particular color control needs. From new measurement technologies, software capabilities and color management functionality, X-Rite will continue to show why we're the world's leading color technology corporation.
In 1999, X-Rite made several significant additions to its product line. The ATS Publication System is a new color measurement system that caters to the specific needs of web printers, which utilize multiple ribbons, and where color bars are smaller than the historic, 6mm size. Coupled with this new system was the introduction of the latest in the 500 series. The micro-spot boasts the smallest aperture available today in a handheld spectrodensitometer, capable of measuring 1⁄16˝ color bars.
These small color bars are fast becoming state-of-the-art on short-cutoff web presses and in publishing environments such as newspapers. This technology is not only for publication printers; X-Rite sees the 500 micro-spot being critical to the control of color on packaging, inserts and screen printing, along with metal decorating, where the use of traditional color bars is not possible.
Early last year, we introduced a color measurement device that utilizes a USB interface in support of the new Apple Macintosh architecture. With the Monitor Optimizer USB, users can calibrate and profile a monitor—regardless of whether it is on the Mac or Windows platform.
For the color calibration and color management of digital proofing and printed output, X-Rite offered the DTP41 AutoScan spectrophotometer, which is capable of reading almost 500 patches in less than 5 minutes. The latest version, DTP41/T, has the capability of measuring opaque reflective media, as well as transparent and translucent media used for large-format, backlit, display graphics and presentation materials.
Indeed, DRUPA 2000 holds much promise for printers in the area of color measurement and control. X-Rite will continue to bring to market color tools that work.
Focus on PDF
Catherine McCarthy, business development manager at Enfocus, on removing the remaining obstacles to using PDF for high-end digital prepress and ensuring PDF's future as a standard.
Major industry forces are ensuring that Adobe's PDF will lead the graphic arts as a standard communications
format as we go into DRUPA 2000 and beyond. Giants such as Agfa, Scitex and Heidelberg, to name just a few, are integrating PDF into their production systems and industry analysts agree that the adoption curve of PDF on the desktop will now accelerate greatly.
Enfocus is confident that its PDF technologies, now centered on automated preflight and revision, will continue to be popular with both end users and OEMs. Enfocus' goal is to become the worldwide leader in software tools that enable, enhance or support a variety of PDF workflows, above and beyond what is provided by Adobe. As such, Enfocus will expand beyond its current product portfolio, which includes PitStop, PitStop Server and PDF CheckUp for InDesign.
These technologies are important to the graphic arts market because the new version of Acrobat removes the remaining technical obstacles to using PDF for high-end prepress, enabling its use as a primary production format. In addition, InDesign allows one-step generation of PDF (as opposed to going around via PostScript and the Distiller), greatly enhancing PDF's appeal as the format of choice for sending jobs from document originator to service provider. Other application vendors, such as Quark, have announced support for one-step generation of PDF in future versions of their products.
Miranda Tivey, director of marketing at Vio Worldwide, on the rise of online intelligent workflows.
Just five years ago, the world was a much larger place for those in the graphic arts. Even though satellites, microwave links and leased T-1 phone lines had been used for years to transmit the vast quantities of relatively small packets of data used in general-purpose computing, few in the graphic arts community knew about such technologies, much less used them. Many print buyers still dealt with a handful of suppliers typically within an hour ride by courier; print service providers were just beginning to preflight jobs routinely; and if you used an ISP, a browser and e-mail, you were labeled a computer techie.
Within the past three years, the widespread adoption of digital technology has dramatically changed how quickly print jobs are produced, and where they can be produced. Today, shipping ZIP disks or CD-ROMs by courier or by overnight shipper to more distant locations is no match for the relatively short time it takes a user with a T-1 or ISDN link to transmit or receive a multi-megabyte image file.
What has happened in the past three years will seem insignificant compared to the changes—and the opportunities—that are coming in the next three. We're already seeing an increasing number of choices in high-speed file delivery mechanisms such as cable, DSL and wireless communications, in addition to more standard means. Meanwhile, printers and other service providers who have become more knowledgeable about all-digital workflows, including CTP, direct-to-press and direct-to-print, are more comfortable with the notion of maintaining files in an all-digital form throughout a workflow that increasingly is being distributed geographically.
The acceptance of digital file delivery as a replacement for disks, CDs and couriers, coupled with an understanding of the vast potential inherent in a network as far reaching as the Internet, is paving the way for online intelligent workflows. This next wave will bring an entirely new dimension to graphic arts production through a variety of integrated applications available online, from ad delivery, production job tracking and media asset management to color-managed remote proofing and distribute-and-print for short-run, variable data and on-demand printing needs.
By becoming integral and indispensable components in the production stream, these online applications will make it easier than previously imagined for workgroups of all sizes to create, correct, proof, track and produce jobs in a more collaborative way, sharing information online in automated processes.
It is the goal of Vio Worldwide to offer an e-business environment with secure file transfer and online intelligent applications, such as automatic file send and receive, ad delivery, instant online job tracking, remote proofing and digital asset management, that customers can select to put together the value-added services they require for their business success.
Joe Schorr, senior product marketing manager at Extensis, on an innovative approach to document preflighting that allows users to check PDFs for problems earlier.
One of the exciting changes that will affect the prepress market in 2000 is the ability to utilize the tremendous time-saving capabilities offered by the Internet to preflight documents from your desktop. New e-services such as Preflight Online take an innovative approach to document preflighting, allowing users to check their PDF files for potential output problems involving fonts, colors or graphics before they are sent to the printer and costly mistakes are made.
Traditionally, communicating document errors to customers has been an expensive, time-consuming and often difficult proposition for printing organizations. Prepress operators or customer service reps may spend hours trying to reach clients in order to explain show-stopping problems and then spend time negotiating how best to correct them. These situations generally cause deadlines to slip, resulting in frustration for both the printer and the customer.
As a growing number of users increasingly rely on the speed of the Internet to help streamline their workflow processes, industry problems such as these can be eliminated. We have conducted extensive research and interviews with numerous service providers who resoundingly told us that prepress professionals really want a system that catches problems before a job is submitted, before cost estimates have been made and before the files leave the customer's hands.
Solutions such as Preflight Online make this possible. Instead of printers having to wait for files to arrive from customers in order to preflight them, preflighting can happen online as a seamless part of the file submission process. This has the ability to truly revolutionize the prepress industry.
John O'Rourke, consumables product manager at Presstek, on not compromising on plates when it comes to low-cost printing.
It has become evident to all that direct imaging is not just for quick printing any more. On-press imaging yields the fastest makeready, and therefore, highest productivity. Add lowest cost-to-print to the equation and you truly have a solution that fulfills technology's promise to make cumbersome, expensive processes highly efficient and without quality trade-offs. In plate technology, customers will not have to compromise on quality or environment-related risks.
Presstek's technologies enable all of the world's DI presses. In fact, there are more Presstek thermal imaging modules installed than any other system in the industry. Presstek thermal plates, platesetters and proofers reduce waste, optimize cost, and ensure quality and efficiency—in the most environmentally conscious manner. This is adding value.
To survive in 2000 and beyond, printers require economically feasible, high-quality and productive systems. And they have become more intelligent about their technology choices—whether something is merely hype or a genuine solution. The bottom line is that they need to satisfy their current customers, bring on and maintain more customers as they become more efficient and stay profitable in a highly competitive environment.
Christie O'Malley, product marketing manager at Harlequin, on DRUPA 2000 and its promise for all-digital workflows and CTP advancements.
As we move into the new millennium and closer to DRUPA 2000, the 1990s' promise of computer-to-plate, computer-to-press and all-digital workflows is finally becoming reality. The Internet is becoming a tool for digital prepress and printing, rather than just a threat.
And the overwhelming trend of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions within the graphic arts and printing industry means more and more nationwide, continent-wide and even worldwide print suppliers, and fewer and fewer local suppliers.
So what does it all mean? It means substantial changes in design, prepress and printing production workflows. It means distributing the production steps across an even wider audience of participants, who are often hundreds, even thousands, of miles from each other. And it means that the vendors who love and serve this industry must deliver tools that can ensure the predictability of the final printed product, even though the job will pass through a multiplicity of vastly distributed systems, devices and humans before it actually hits the press.
Two of the most critical technology areas for providing such predictability are digital proofing and color management.
No longer strictly the realm of high-end (and high-priced) halftone proofers, digital proofing—even for color contract proofs—is beginning to move toward lower-priced ink-jet printers, such as the Epson 5000 and 9000.
Our OEMs are able to drive these lower-cost proofing devices using virtually any of our screening technologies, including our traditional Harlequin Precision Screening (HPS) and our stochastic screening, Harlequin Dispersed Screening (HDS). By providing the same screening techniques as those being used for final output, these ink-jet devices are able to provide a closer match to the final output than ever before.
We will continue to develop new screening techniques to ensure that our OEMs are able to deliver high-quality, matchable color proofs from whatever proofing device they choose to support.
Of course, the most critical software technology for moving these ink-jet devices into the realm of color proofers is color management, and especially the use of ICC color profiles. But the question of what are we matching will become even more profound as the production process gets spread across more and more participants, farther and farther away from each other.
Color management has been a core part of Harlequin's technology for many years. As we move forward, especially in supporting the remote proofing requirements of the new "distributed" workflows, we will continue to concentrate on in-RIP color management, as well as further enhancements and support for ICC profiles, including device-link profiles.
By allowing the user to link an ICC profile for a standardized printing condition (SWOP, SNAP) to a device-specific profile, it is possible to compensate for differences between standard printing conditions and a specific device. This, then, provides the best method for assuring accurate color output across diverse devices, even on lower-cost ink-jet printers.