A Hard Look at Soft Proofing
Ask almost anyone in the publishing business a decade ago, and they would have scoffed at the notion of soft proofing for high-end print advertising. Just a few years ago, proofing-by-monitor was widely accepted as a creative tool for early rounds of the review/approval process, but not as a hard-copy, contract-level proof alternative.
But, oh, how the landscape has changed, and increasingly, soft-proofing technologies are proving crucial to the magazine and advertising workflow, which continues to be challenged by more time-sensitive schedules and an omnipresent need for better, faster and cheaper print.
When time (and money) is of the essence
Foote Cone & Belding (FCB) New York’s digital transformation began nearly a half-decade ago, when the agency brought prepress in-house, recalls Ken Lantz, senior vice president and director of print creative services for FCB New York.
One of the in-house prepress department’s directives was to create a digital proofing workflow that would be efficient, cost-effective and most importantly, reliable—a proofing workflow designed to support all types of proofs, from composition to contract.
The first installations were hard-copy proofers—high-end ink-jet and digital halftone systems. Two years later, with increasing pressures to produce ads faster, FCB began its quest to fold soft proofing into the mix.
First, FCB New York signed on to become a beta test site for Kodak Graphic Communications’ Matchprint Virtual Proofing System (a solution still being tested at FCB). Since then, the agency expanded its soft proofing technologies to include Integrated Color Solutions’ (ICS) Remote Director, a monitor-based proofing system certified by standards organization Specifications for Web Offset Publications (SWOP).
“We’ve found that we needed all three types of proofing methods—ink-jet, halftone and monitor-based proofing,” Lantz confides, “although, we are relying more and more on soft proofs.”
For FCB New York, soft proofing has become more necessity than luxury. The drive to implement soft proofing came from a need to cut costs and shave time off of print production.