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Proofing Progress

May 2004
Installing CTP means rethinking your proofing methods.

When the State of Washington Department of Printing decided to add a Creo Lotem 800 II Quantum platesetter last fall, the in-plant had to start thinking about proofing in a whole new way.

Without film, its DuPont Waterproof system wouldn't be much use. So the in-plant added Creo's Iris4Print ink-jet proofer, with an eye toward upgrading to the new Creo Veris 1,500x1,500-dpi proofer this spring, according to Dan Maygra, interim prepress manager.

The same thing happened at Arkansas State University Printing Services when it added a Heidelberg ProSetter 74 in September. The in-plant went with a Hewlett-Packard 5500 ink-jet proofer. And because it has been fingerprinted to each of the in-plant's presses, it provides much better color accuracy than the previous Kodak Polychrome Matchprint proofer.

"We match the colors right on the money," proclaims Director David Maloch.

Proofing is never far from the mind of any in-plant manager considering computer-to-plate technology. The two are inextricably linked.

Though some CTP vendors make the proofing choice easy by offering a package deal that includes an ink-jet proofer, other vendors are busy trying to eliminate hard copy proofs entirely and put everything on screen. Big advances in "virtual proofing" have been made by companies like Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG). Still, many printers and their customers remain skeptical.

This is not so hard to understand; the same thing happened in the early 1970s when film-based (analog) proofing emerged and tried to replace the press proof. Printers didn't trust 3M's Matchprints or DuPont's Cromalins. But by 1980, analog proofs had largely displaced the press proof.

Then came digital proofs, like Kodak's Approval and 3M's Rainbow, and once again their color accuracy was suspect. But time proved their merit. ICC color-managed proofing, supported by ink-jet printers, received the same treatment, and eventually prevailed.

Now remote printing is getting scrutinized. In the past couple of years, though, color-accurate monitor-based proofing software was introduced. Systems based on this software operate in a color-managed environment with ICC profiles and ICC-based spectral monitor calibration. In addition, SWOP Inc.—the organization that developed and maintains uniform specifications and tolerances to ensure consistency and quality of material in publications—began certifying monitor-based proofing systems. KPG and Integrated Color Solutions have had their proofing systems certified (KPG's Matchprint Virtual Proofing and ICS's Remote Director).

Already, major publishers like TV Guide are trusting monitor-based remote proofing for production. Some say paper-based analog proofs will all but disappear over the next few years.


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