Make Digital File Exchange Easier
We know that a number of publishers have converted to digital workflows and are pleased with the results. We read about them monthly in the pages of PrintMedia. Still, as we watch the digital adoption rate only modestly increase, we know that there is something preventing the majority of publishers from following suit.
I'm sure there are several reasons for this, but one of the more obvious ones—and one that I'm going to address in the next three installments of "Digital Directions"—is the difficulty involved in exchanging digital files. This month, let's look at TIFF/IT-P1.
TIFF/IT-P1 is an accredited ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and ISO (International Standards Organization) standard. It's wonderful that the industry was able to agree on a reliable, secure format for digital file exchange. Unfortunately, the specifications for preparing TIFF/IT-P1 files have grown a bit wild and wooly, and they're in need of some grooming.
I recently learned that some agencies—those that are wisely
supplying their digital ads as TIFF/IT-P1s—are having to pay more for multiple sets of files than they did for multiple sets of film. This is largely because publishers' specifications vary.
Lauren Elliot of Wicked Good Print Productions (formerly with McCann-Erickson A&L) notes, "Agencies are ready, able and more than willing to embrace digital delivery. However, from the agency perspective, it is difficult to explain to [agency] clients the increase in costs for digital files versus duped film. Where's the motivation for the agency to send digital files when the costs in many cases are higher? Let's say, theoretically, I have to send a standard page ad to six publications. I create one common size mechanical and send it to the engraver. Traditionally, I would be billed for six sets of dupe film. But when sending the materials digitally, I may be charged for three TIFF/IT-P1s at 2,450 res, two TIFF/IT-P1s at 2,400 res and one in PDF/X-1 format!
"If publications would be willing to standardize resolution for the TIFF/IT-P1, then it would go a long way in minimizing costs and ultimately a lot of confusion," Elliot concludes.
The inconsistency in specifications for resolution has to do with whether the output device is metric or imperial. The resolution of a metric device is res 100 (2,540 dpi) for the LW and res 12 (304.8 dpi for the CT. The resolution of an imperial device is 2,400 dpi (LW) and 300 dpi (CT). However, most output devices can handle a range successfully, which is why some publishers offer a number of options in their specifications. They may say they prefer 2,400 dpi but will accept files between 1,600 and 2,400 dpi. This inconsistency is confusing and costly. (An exception occurs when bitmap images are included. The image resolution must then match perfectly that of the output device settings.)
Another factor that complicates TIFF/IT-P1 exchanges is that the specification covers seven file types. This means that the CT and LW may be accompanied by an FP, HC, MP, BP or BL file, as well. TIFF/IT-P1 is supposed to be a standard. Why then the plethora of options? Although each extension represents a slightly different format, can't we settle on one?
Alan Darling, COO of Western Laser Graphics, notes, "This is one of the areas in which the DDAP (Digital Distribution of Advertising for Publication association) should be leading the way. This is especially true now with the association between the DDAP, SWOP and DAL. With these three organizations, we should be able to develop an effective solution in a relatively short period of time." And that's just what the group intends to do. Hopefully, creating and delivering TIFF/IT-P1 files in 2001 will be more elegant and economical than ever before. Stay tuned.
-Linda Manes Goodwin
Linda Manes Goodwin (firstname.lastname@example.org), is a CTP evangelist. As executive director of Manes Goodwin Associates, she specializes in optimizing digital print production workflows.