Publishers are finding production time is shrinking. Turnaround times are tighter for editorial, design assignments, and approvals—basically everything that gets a magazine published.
Deadlines are squeeze to the last moment. Prepress moves upstream as a consequence. Publishers who conduct business remotely have an advantage.
Conducting business remotely means proofing remotely as well. We're talking physical, hardcopy, contract-quality proofs here, because soft proofs simply don't look like print.
The availability of high bandwidth and low cost networks makes it easy to deliver digital content. Supported by the right software and hardware, publishers can iterate and approve final content and color locally, saving courier charges and speeding the process.
'Remote proofing nirvana' sounds great, but must support hallmarks of traditional proofing: accuracy and consistency. We won't dwell on accuracy. The proof must match the press. Period.
Most important for remote proofing in particular is consistency, or repeatability. You must be assured that all proofing devices in all remote locations are calibrated to the same color standard.
It's more difficult than you might think, and ICC profiles, the buzzword tech of the day, are not the answer. With ICC profiles, you accurately define what an individual printer is doing. However, because ICC profiles don't provide a reference standard, you're not telling the printer what it should be doing.
Multiply this across multiple digital printers at multiple locations and, well, you get the picture (or should that be 'color inaccurate picture'?). It's tough to make all devices match an undefined standard.
The solution: approach calibration differently. Imagine drivers for each model of digital proofing printer. These drivers define how a brand new printer is supposed to print when it leaves the manufacturing plant.
During system installation your individual printer is recalibrated to this known standard. ICC profiles characterize a printer. (It's better to calibrate a printer.) With this known standard, you can set all devices to the same standard, making them output identically.