Virtual Proofing the New Color Contract Proof
Color contract proofing on a computer monitor over the Internet, popularly known as 'virtual proofing', is here. Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) believes that virtual proofing is as effective in predicting final printed color as traditional hard copy contract proofs. At long last, a true virtual color proof is a color contract proof.
The ability for proofs to be viewed and managed entirely online throughout the creation and production phases, from concept to contract, saves publishers, graphic arts professionals, and their clients valuable time.
While the process of sending hard copy proofs for reviews and approvals often takes several days, virtual proofing allows review and approval cycles to occur in hours. Achieving time savings and other benefits requires a total system approach for true virtual proofing that includes computer hardware, software, and other equipment.
A brief overview of computer-based proofing systems on the market today points out the primary benefits and limitations of each.
'Soft proofing' refers to displaying files on a computer monitor for non color-critical application. The most common form of soft proofing, a PDF file, is used to display an image's or layout's position, geometry, and fonts, but is not used for accurate color.
'Remote proofing' means prints are sent electronically for hard copy printing at a remote destination. This method is also not entirely dependable for judging color, due to variances in the output devices used by the person or organization receiving the files.
'Virtual proofing' represents a robust system solution that combines the workflow advantages of soft proofing with the quality and communications advantages of remote and hard copy proofs. Following years of extensive research and testing in areas such as color science and software development, the Kodak Polychrome Graphics Matchprint Virtual Proofing System provides all the features and benefits of a true virtual proofing solution.
Virtual proofing, at its core, refers to color accurate viewing of CMYK proofs on an RGB monitor. Color matching and the ability to match standards, such as SWOP (Specifications for Web Offset Publications), are crucial for true virtual proofing.
KPG's Matchprint Virtual Proofing system includes an 'applet' (a small program) that automatically checks the system to confirm it is operating at SWOP-certified settings.
High-speed Internet connectivity and state-of-the-art image streaming technology enable large files to be transferred fast, without first being compressed or converted to another file format.
Beyond the software, a true virtual proofing system also includes a number of components and processes that ensure contract color proofing quality. Automated daily color calibration, two high-end color monitors, a controlled-light viewing environment, and a productivity tool suite are other components of a robust virtual proofing system.
This allows proofs to be managed entirely online, including the ability to make annotations and mark-ups similar to hard copy proofs. Compatibility with numerous graphics file formats is also essential to allow for integration with existing workflows.
True virtual proofing can be used for content, imposition, color-critical proofing, predicting press results, checking file integrity, and job approval.
These features of a true virtual proofing system reduce cycle times, expedite approvals, and improve production efficiencies. Barriers that hinder the approval and completion process are removed.
Acceptance of virtual proofing is under way. It represents the new color contract proof of today, and the preferred method for color contract proofs of tomorrow, and establishes the new color-accurate proofing standard.
- Rob Pipe
Rob Pipe is director of Kodak Polychrome Graphics' worldwide color proofing business. He can be reached at PipeR@KPGraphics.com.