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The Latest Developments in Monitor Soft Proofing

With soft proofing, your monitor provides an accurate prediction of the press output so that people can view the proof at different locations, yet see the same colors.

March 2010 By Abhay Sharma
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MONITOR SOFT proofing allows many benefits in terms of time and convenience. With the current economic challenges, all printers must look at ways to increase efficiencies. Soft proofing and online collaboration were obvious solutions even before the current financial meltdown, and now the case for soft proofing is even more compelling.

The aim in soft proofing is that the monitor provides an accurate prediction of the press output and different people can view the proof at different locations, yet see the same colors. Soft proofing can be for content and collaboration only, but most of the time we also want accurate color. A soft proofing "kit" consists of the following basic components:

• A good quality monitor, preferably with a hood
• A measuring instrument
• ICC color profiles
• A software solution such as ICS Remote Director or Kodak Matchprint Virtual

Selecting Your Monitor

The choice of monitor is important. All solutions today use only LCD flat panels, and most solutions are based on the Eizo Color–Edge (CG) series or Apple (HD or LED) displays. Other makes seen at recent trade shows, however, include NEC displays, the HP DreamColor and Quato monitors.

When choosing a display, uniformity from one side of the screen to the other is sometimes an issue, so a good software solution will take measurements from all over the screen before you start and then use that data to improve the display uniformity. The color gamut of the monitor needs to encompass most commonly used print gamuts. Images are displayed in a manner that simulates a press condition, thus the screen needs to accurately display all press colors. Usually, if you are buying a complete soft proofing solution, your monitor choice depends on the models supported by your chosen provider.

Color Management Basics

Color control for press, for ink-jet proofing and for soft proofing relies on a color management system that uses ICC profiles. ICC profiles are used by software products to create a number of common proofing and printing scenarios. (See Figure 2) An offset press result can be proofed on an ink-jet proofer to show the client a preview of the press job, by using the offset press profile and the ink-jet proofer profile.

In another scenario, the digital press output can be previewed by a remote customer on his or her desktop using the digital press profile and the client's monitor profile. To do that, an offset press job is previewed by a customer using the offset press profile and a monitor profile. We can also create color workflows with three profiles. If a job has a camera or other input profile, we can use that profile, followed by the digital press profile and then back to the customer to view on a monitor using his or her monitor profile.

 

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