Profile of Soft Proofing
PrintMedia Inbox briefly sat down with Al Bowers, Banta's general manager, to discuss the pros and cons of soft/online proofing. The technology, which the printer uses throughout its workflow, is touted as being able to reduce prepress and production time and cost. Bowers explains.
InBox: What is the basic service that Banta Digital offers a publisher?
Bowers: We supply prepress into Banta print operations and to other printers. This covers graphic arts, commercial printing and book publishing. Most of our relationships are with print buyers and publication printers.
InBox: Do you use soft proofing technology?
Bowers: Internally, we do soft proofing for a variety of applications ranging from everything you do when you'd be viewing film. No matter what media, we look at it as a soft proof at some point.
InBox: What are the benefits of soft proofs for publishers?
Bowers: Soft proofs are ideal for the initial approval stage, but most of these are not color-control proofs. We receive files from an agency. We post those files to our customers so that with a T1 line or Internet connection, they can go in and approve them for copy. Or, they can pull down an image for hard proofing at their location. We can even send PDF attachments by e-mail.
InBox: When would you not want to use a soft proof?
Bowers: Not typically for color approvals. The technology is there, but what isn't there is the expertise. To so a soft proof that's color-controlled, we've got to have calibrated monitors. A lot of printing press rooms don't necessarily have that. And one of the places the proof has to be used is at press side. Many printers can't open a graphic arts file—they may not have a Macintosh.
InBox: How do PDFs compare?
Bowers: PDFs provide a preview; we'll have a sense of design. We'll take that image and attach it to a PDF, mark that up and send it back (to the client). Virtually every customer somewhere in the workflow will receive a PDF. It says, "This is what image is coming; this is what it looks like." One hundred percent of the time, the first thing they see is a PDF proof attached to an e-mail.