CTP in Practice at Talcott Communications
Talcott's experiences provide a cautionary example to publishers interested in CTP.
"CTP is wonderful," Seng states.
"But if a printer doesn't have press and bindery equipment backing it up, it won't work. You can't look at CTP individually and think, 'this will solve all of our problems.' "
In addition to supplier glitches, Seng discovered two other unexpected CTP issues.
Talcott made the decision to place all of its own low-res FPO ads.
"This creates a workflow quandary: Who gets the added work of placing several hundred low-res files?" explains Seng. "Traditionally, the ad traffic staff has been responsible for managing ad placement by means of a cut-and-paste system." That, Seng says, gave the ad traffickers precise control over ad placement. Now, the Talcott designers must place the low-res files and then move them electronically if the ad placement changes. The time required to place the images, says Seng, negates the time gained through CTP.
"My goal," Seng says, "is to train our ad traffic staff in QuarkXPress to avoid these problems."
"Otherwise, you're flying blind," Seng notes. Also, the publisher had to establish a moratorium on digitally transmitted ads for forms that were CTP-bound. Font issues became so complex that digital ads had to be output to film by Talcott's prepress bureau, where the available font list was much larger than the printer's.
Such were the problems with CTP and its auxiliary issues that Talcott has reverted to using CTP only for design-intensive forms and no longer considers CTP a priority when evaluating printers.
"CTP is only third or fourth on our list of questions for potential printing suppliers," Seng declares. "Conventional systems' cycle times are more important right now."
"In a few years I hope to do everything CTP again," he continues. "Now we have a sample of the problems and pitfalls of CTP, and I think we can move forward in a more methodical way."