Are You Seeing?
Monitor calibration tools take the frustration and guesswork out of color management from screen to print.
THE EXISTENCE of color may be just a trick of the light, but maintaining consistent, precise color through a digital workflow involves more science than magic. When the goal is print reproduction from a digital file, achieving accurate color results without a properly calibrated monitor can be as hard as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
The monitor displays color in combinations of red, green and blue (RGB), just as our eyes perceive color; however, most printers operate in terms of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). "You have to have a way in which the red that is created in RGB on the display can be absolutely the same red created with the CMYK inks of the press," explains Carla Ow, senior line director of MacOS graphic technologies at Apple Computer, Cupertino, CA.
Fixing the color by fiddling with the knobs at the base of your screen doesn't get the job done. Prepress professionals can, however, utilize a variety of calibration, characterization and color conversion tools to ensure that their monitors are displaying to known specifications and to create profiles for matching and translating color through every step of the production workflow.
Here is a sampling of the products and methods you can use to keep your monitor in the pink:
"PANTONE's Personal Color Calibrator requires a color measuring device: your eyes," remarks Richard Herbert, vice president of Pantone, based in Carlstadt, NJ. "The monitor calibration software goes through a series of routines to measure aspects of the monitor, such as white point—that is, determining if it is a blue white or a yellow white," Herbert explains. When profiling the monitor, Personal Color Calibrator takes into account ambient light, video card adjustments and Internet image viewing.
MonacoVIEW, by Monaco Sys-tems, Andover, MA, is designed to create ICC and other profiles, especially to quantify the monitor's imaging capabilities.
X-Rite, Grandville, MI, offers a dedicated Monitor Optimizer solution; in addition, its Colortron product for comprehensive desktop color management, is available with a monitor foot for display calibration and characterization.
Carlstadt, NJ-based Beta Indus-tries' Beta ProColor monitor calibration solution will automatically adjust color temperature and gamma to standard or custom settings, and includes an ambient light compensation feature.
GretagMacbeth, New Windsor, NY, offers the Spectrolino hand-held spectrophotometer which can read three types of light: emissive (from monitors), reflective (from paper) and transmissive (from transparencies).
"So you can use one tool (to profile) all of your workflow devices," notes Cathy Hofknecht, marketing manager, digital imaging for GretagMacbeth.
Apple Computer's ColorSync 2.5 is more than a computer program: It is an operating system-level color management tool. Not only does it help to translate color between spaces, but it helps automate color management.
"Whether you want to view with thousands or millions of colors, ColorSync (ensures monitor calibration)," says Ow. Also, Apple has released a monitor compatible with ColorSync which is designed to create a profile and then calibrate itself to that profile.
Radius, Sunnyvale, CA, offers the PressView Display System for Windows. PressView is designed to reach a color space by adjusting the electronics of the display, not of the display card. The package also includes ProSense colorimeter and software, ColorMatch ICC profiles and ColorShield display hood.