The New Soft Proofing System You Should be Using
Remember when sending a client a physical proof of a print job was a chargeable service? That seems to have disappeared when we went to electronic distribution and suddenly clients started expecting a free emailed PDF proof. Many challenges arose with this system due to color inconsistency, productivity loss due to multiple revisions, etc.
Today’s soft proofing systems offer convenient sharing, color accuracy thanks to screen calibration, automation, enhanced project monitoring, and other benefits that improve your workflow and reduce costs.
How can you implement a system like this in your business? Here we spoke with Dan Caldwell, President of Remote Director, on the latest soft proofing innovations and how they can be the solution you’ve been looking for.
Want a preview? Before you read this take a guided tour of Remote Director.
PIA: What are the downsides of traditional soft proofing?
DC: Most people feel that a PDF proof displayed on a monitor should cost nothing. But this has been eroding our value and profits as print providers. It used to be that the physical proof was like a signed “contract” for what we would deliver to our customer as the final job. These contract proofs had value and were charged for as part of the prepress costs.
However as desktop publishing and CTP removed the need for creating film-based proofs, we shot ourselves in the foot by devaluing the cost of professionals in prepress. To regain prepress value, we can’t un-ring the bell of emailing free PDFs, but we can offer a better solution to restore value to the client, improve productivity, and create an automated audit trail for comments, revisions, and signoffs that were previously hidden in various email threads..
PIA: What is the solution?
DC: Using today’s soft proofing systems, we provide a server-based solution where the final full-resolution files from prepress can be stored for all stakeholders to review. These systems eliminate the need for low-resolution files to be created along with the duplication required by email.
PIA: Can you tell us about some of the key benefits of these systems?
DC: There are plenty of benefits. For instance some systems can be automated with your current workflow software to provide hands-off creation. Once set up, files are added automatically and reviewers receive an email with the link to open the proof on their desktop. Using the provided tools, users can mark up and sign off on the proof.
Another key functionality is the color management these systems provide through screen calibration. As dictated by the prepress coordinator, you can assign each user with a role that defines what tools they have access to. For example a legal viewer would not need the color management tools that an art director would.
You can also route proofs through stakeholders to automate invitations and improve productivity. Hundreds of jobs and thousands of files can be sorted through quickly based on client name, due date, etc. An audit trail shows how long a proof sits between reviews and when a signoff is complete.
PIA: What are some other uses for this soft proofing technology?
DC: A proper system can handle all phases of a print production project. Photographers can shoot directly to a server, allowing art directors to direct a photo shoot remotely. Color departments can use the system for color corrections and retouching approvals. Printers can download the approved file and use the proof as their guide for setting color on press.
PIA: Your company, Remote Director, recently collaborated with PIA to make a soft proofing service available to our members. Can you describe how this service works and how members can access it?
DC: The new Remote Director Soft Proofing Trial* is a virtual proofing system exclusively for PIA Affiliate members who can access it at no additional charge. Like the systems I’ve described, Remote Director is soft proofing made easy. You can create and share proofs with anyone, anywhere and retain control of the color. You’ll collaborate with any number of viewers and mark up and approve graphic files.
To sign up for this free trial through PIA, send your name, your company email, and company name to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then you’ll be prompted to set up a username and password and receive you own company project folder. Members can add files, invite clients and staff, and access all of the capabilities of Remote Director, including annotation and approvals of color-accurate soft proofs.
Remote proofing is here to stay, and the Remote Director Soft Proofing Trial is a unique opportunity to test drive this innovative technology and see how it can change the way you do business.
*Member login required
Members through PIA Affiliates can now access the new Remote Director Soft Proofing Trial* as a free tool from the Center for Technology and Research. To learn more visit www.printing.org/remotedirector.