Remote Proofing Gaining Ground
"Hurry up with that package! The messenger is here to pick it up!" Sound familiar? Conjure up images of production managers trying to stuff page proofs into stiff envelopes that never seem to be large enough? The battle cry, "FedEx is here," rates at about a six on a production manager's stress meter. But soon, that stress may be quelled as hard-copy proofs are slowly phased out of our workflow—in all cases except ad proofs, that is, which may hang around for at least the next generation.
A handful of companies are now offering high-res proofing products for both soft (monitor) and hard (substrate-based) proofing, accessible from either your prepress supplier, your printer or through an ASP (Application Service Provider). The forerunners in this category are RealTimeImage (RTI), www.realtimeimage.com, with its RealTime-Proof, and CreoScitex, www.creoscitex.com, which purchased InSite (formerly known as ViewIT) from Carmel Graphics last year. Both solutions offer collaborative viewing capabilities so production managers, art directors and prepress providers—anyone involved in the project—to simultaneously view, annotate, pan, zoom, measure and approve images online.
Whether tackling high-res soft or hard remote proofs, calibration and color management are perhaps the most critical elements of the process. Unfortunately, they represent stumbling blocks for many—but not all—print producers.
In order to offer up-to-the-minute coverage of last year's Olympic Games in Sydney, Sports Illustrated (SI) turned to RealTimeProof. Australia-based editors and photographers were able to successfully collaborate with the magazine's design and production staff back in New York City. Working as a team and supported by this promising digital proofing tool, the magazine was able to continually meet its Monday-night printer deadline.
Compressed images and text were transmitted to Sydney via SI's internal communication system, a switch 256 circuit line. Images were sorted and selected using a software tool that RTI created for the client. Text fitting, design and page layout were performed as usual by SI's New York staff. Print-ready DCS 2.0 files were transmitted to the on-location team for final approval. And in some cases, the extra quality control step ensured that errors, like misplaced photo credits, didn't make it to print.