On January 22, 1984, during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII, Apple Computer aired its brilliant 60-second commercial introducing the Macintosh. Directed by Ridley Scott, the spot depicted an Orwellian world of conformity—a thinly veiled swipe at IBM—shattered by Apple's new desktop. Admittedly, the early Macintosh was underpowered, but expected to improve with time. While many in the prepress business stood back and scoffed, others took a deep breath and went for it, realizing that they were witnessing the dawn of a new revolution, knowing that one day it would significantly impact their business model. And they were right.
The greatest impact of the subsequent Macintosh iterations has been on workflow. Apple has almost single-handedly caused the print production industry to push certain responsibilities and prepress tasks upstream. It's not news that designers prefer to create on their trusted Mac workstations, but there's buzz about a trend that saddles these creative folks with traditional prepress responsibil-ities. Is this really a trend? Are prepress tasks commonly performed now by internal agency production departments or design firms? And if so, what are the new skills our creative friends must learn now that their roles are changing?
The straightforward design of prepress is often dictated by the type of print project. For example, if the designer or agency is producing collateral like brochures, and it is being produced by a printer of the agency's choice, taking prepress in-house at the creative stage may allow the designer greater control of the project's outcome.
In a previous professional life, Kevin Daly, creative director for Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare was an independent designer. In this role, he frequently prepared final digital files for the printer, in addition to handling scanning and high-resolution retouching. His advice to designers is to be careful and cautious when selecting suppliers: "There are a lot of people out there who sell printing as brokers; steer clear of them. You need to deal with real printers with a good production team [that's] accessible to you."