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What’s Not To Like?

Soft proofing streamlines collaboration, speeds approvals, and cuts costs.

February 2009 by Jean-Marie Hershey
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Among the key influencers driving the implementation of monitor-based soft proofing and online collaboration, reduced costs and shorter time to market are twin forces to be reckoned with. Decreasing the number of hard copy proofs that are produced and shared among multiple stakeholders in different locations simultaneously yields savings in the form of shipping costs, faster customer signoffs, and potentially significant reductions in chemistry, materials, power, and other elements of the hardcopy proofing process. For these and other compelling reasons, the choice of a monitor-based proofing solution can be a smart decision for both vendors and clients. 

Says Larry Moore, applications support manager for EskoArtwork, “Shipping and consumables costs of $20 to $200 might not seem too expensive, but when you consider the need to deliver three or four iterations per project, the costs can add up quickly over a year’s worth of projects for a given customer. 

“Even if a converter prefers a signed, hard copy contract proof, the preliminary design layout iterations can be delivered as soft proofs in less time and at a greatly reduced cost,” he adds. 

The benefits of soft proofing also can be seen in enhanced support for event-driven, local, and short-term promotions, adds Bertin Sorgenfrey, head of international marketing for Dalim Software. “The Steelers and Cardinals are in the Super Bowl? Quick! Get the new labels ready!” he quips.

Beyond color

It’s true that “monitor soft proofing” reduces costs and turnaround time, but it can be used successfully only when certain viewing conditions are met. There are a number of elements necessary for accurate simulation and viewing of color in a soft-proofing environment. Requirements include a monitor with suitable color gamut, monitor calibration, color profiles, color definition, and suitable lighting both for monitor viewing and for -illuminating hard copy proofs or print/package samples. Color definition in packaging also can be extended to include characteristics of inks and substrates to provide accurate color under a broader range of conditions.

“No proof (hard or soft) viewed outside of controlled lighting is accurate,” explains Dan Caldwell, VP of operations, Integrated Color Solutions. “A distinct advantage with soft proofing is the ability of a system to demand correct viewing conditions before a client can sign off on a proof.” 

“Clients who take color seriously make sure that every room has the correct lighting conditions, light gray carpets and paint on the walls to prevent reflection, foil for windows to block out UV light, and regular [monitor] calibration,” Sorgenfrey says. “These are just a few parameters, but if you do these things, color management is assured.” 

 
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