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The Color Conundrum: Dan Reid

Here’s How to Turn “No” Into “Let’s Go!”

Demonstrable proof of small change creating big gains can help overcome natural reluctance to evolve.

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PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

MY WORK IS ALL ABOUT IMPROVING EFFICIENCY – processing and shipping more jobs faster. This generally requires change. However, change is inherently difficult.

In fact, many businesses tend to simply follow the lead of the past, as if previous leadership had it all figured out back in the day. In some cases, this makes a lot of sense. In others, the “tried and true” has already proven to be unsatisfactory, but continuing with routine seems a reasonable application of insanity.

This may seem laughable, but in truth, it is very common. Humans don’t like change, even if for the better, and even if it need not be drastic to make a significant impact. Going with what you know is a safer option. In the face of this human resistance, demonstrating how change could bring greater productivity, profitability, and efficiency can go a long way toward convincing the inherently skeptical.

For example, a while back I had a client doing large wall murals. They had an InDesign doc that was 3.5 GB and took forever to open. It was so big they had to crop it (tile) to send to print. At the RIP stage, it would take one or two hours to RIP each of these super-high-resolution tiles before printing.

I was there to teach color matching across several different printing technologies. However, I always spend time in prepress, because invariably there are some small changes that can have a big impact downstream. In this case, I used a different PDF template to export the PDF from InDesign. This resulted in a 50-Mb file from the 3.5-GB ID doc. I looked at them and said flatly, “I am not sure if this is going to work.”

The 50Mb file went quickly through the network to the RIP, the RIP processed the file in no time, and then started to print. I said, “Stop the press! We are printing the whole job!”

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We cropped down 50Mb to the size the of the high resolution tile printed and reprinted cropped version. I then asked the receptionist from the front come back and look at the two prints side-by-side (high resolution tile and the 50Mb cropped file). She was really nervous — she looked hard and struggled to see differences, even on close inspection.

I looked at them and smiled — “That’s your answer.” They were sending way too much resolution for the printer resolution and viewing distance. Some slight changes in creating the PDF made a drastic change in production allowing more work to be printed.

In another example, a different client struggled to match their Epson proof on the web offset press. Matching the proof on the press required changes in both prepress and the pressroom, but one part of the problem was simple: the proofs being generated were for the wrong color reference print condition (CRPC). I corrected the problem and the pressman was able to actually hit color on press that matched reasonably close to the proof.

In the end, proofs were being created that the pressman could hit and not struggle to match because we addressed press calibration to a CRPC and targeted proofing to the same. These were not radical changes, but they nonetheless contributed to achieving the end result.

Sometimes small changes in way you do things can have large impacts on how jobs are processed (by the RIP). However, sometimes these changes are elusive because companies are not fully using the tools at their disposal, often because the staff doesn’t understand the potential benefits or how to achieve them. Having an expert help you take advantage of the tools at your disposal is a wise decision. Even a small change can reap large returns in terms of improving efficiency, reducing waste, and streamlining fulfillment.

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Dan Reid, President, RPimaging. For more than 20 years Dan Reid has provided color management consulting services to many leading brands and print service providers. A G7 Certified Expert since 2006, Dan has helped numerous businesses achieve the merits of the G7 print calibration method. He keeps on the forefront of digital imaging as a beta test site for many leading software developers in printing, writing for trade publications, and speaking at industry tradeshows about practical implementation of printing technologies. RPimaging helps businesses maximize their profit potential by decreasing waste and improving efficiency and repeatability for commercial, trade, grand-format, and textile printing clients.

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