The Black & White (and Gray) of Color
Color management has been a debatable subject since the late 1980's when late-breaking technology increased the faith many publishers invested in print. Some 15 years later, its effectiveness in digital workflow is of significant concern. TrendWatch recently released a new 95-page report aiming to answer the question, "Where is color now?" The organization specializes in the assessment of trends and changes in graphic communications markets.
Known for its analysis of the graphic arts and graphic communications industries, TrendWatch Graphic Arts (TWGA), reports in "Color Management: Another Gray Area" that there is a correlation between PDF use and the demand for color management tools. TWGA also reports that color management is experiencing increased demand among commercial photographers and publishers.
"An increase in investment in inexpensive image acquisition hardware such as scanners and digital cameras on the part of creative professionals is one of several forces driving the need for color management capabilities," notes Vince Naselli, director of TrendWatch Graphic Arts. "As magazine and catalog publishers increasingly bring prepress capabilities inside they also have a greater need for color management. Where we see demand curving downward is in the commercial printing segments. We attribute this to the possible saturation of reliable solutions already in place and the diminished perception of newer technology warranting new investment."
According to the Report, larger, more technically savvy printers tend to be looking more toward color management capabilities than smaller printers. These larger shops tend to draw a larger quantity of critical-color jobs. Says Naselli, changes in proofing trends and a decline in "critical color" print jobs are two additional forces driving the decreased need for color management capabilities. Similarly, color management tools are planned investments for 33 percent for all creative professionals who are PDF users, 44 percent of graphic designers who are PDF users and 38 percent of corporate design departments. Commercial photographers are the largest creative market for both color management software and equipment in general, although planned investment in color management software is highest among publishers who are PDF users (25 percent), especially magazine publishers (30 percent) and catalog publishers (23 percent).