Connect with us

Workflow + Software



This year's VUE/Point Conference took
place for the first time in Orlando, quite
the change from its previous years in
Washington, DC. Not only could attendees
be found poolside soaking up the rays
during session breaks, but many also
brought spouses and children with them
to enjoy Disney, Universal, and the other
nearby entertainment venues”?two
major changes in the conference's feel
and tone.

Another major change in the conference,
this in its content, was that JDF
took a back seat to other topics. Last
year, JDF had two daytime sessions
devoted to it (including the leadoff session
on day one), and was the item of
discussion, even when it wasn't on the
docket. This year, JDF was demoted to a
night session, one that wasn't all that
well attended.

Why the change? Says Mike Vinocur,
Vue/Point's conference organizer, “We
deliberately did not run a JDF session,
per se, because we felt it's been overhyped
and isn't really 'there' to the
extent we've been promised. The
evening roundtable was attended by
maybe 75 people, but disproportionately
by vendors. It would have been really
interesting if we had had more printers
there. Jim Harvey [executive director of
CIP4] really made the focus more on
'automation' than 'JDF' and barely discussed
current interoperability capabilities
“?a sign to me that he realizes they
need to pull back a little on their promises.
It was a fun, animated discussion/
debate, but in many ways it further
supported just why we didn't do a 'JDF
session.' We try to focus on today's reality
from the perspective mainly of midsized
printers, and in that marketplace
the JDF story is still a bit limited I think.”

Beyond the absence of JDF, this year's
conference offered, as always, some solid
advice to print providers on a variety of

Is soft proofing practical?

One of the things that sets Vue/Point
apart is the likelihood that its panelists
and attendees will talk specifics and
name names. During the “Proofing Today”
session, for example, all of the panelists
indicated which specific system they
were using, why they had selected it,
what other systems they had looked at,
and what they did or did not like about
those systems. What you gain from this is
the realization that not every product fits
every situation. For example, while two of
the vendors on the panel were using Creo
InSite for soft proofing and collaborative
editing, this product would probably be
impractical for small companies (or, for
that matter, any company that did not
already use Creo products).


Panelists also bring up real-world
practical comments that speak to issues
vendors and salespeople will never talk
about. For example, panelist Dave
Koteski, director of color science for Arandell
Group, pointed out that his company
began soft proofing only in-house, and
gradually brought customers on board.
He said the biggest plus as customers
began soft proofing is that they immediately
bought the proper lighting for viewing
the proofs. He also said that, for many
of his customers, a monitor proof will
never be practical because five or six people
need to sign off on the same proof. It's
much easier to hand off a hard-copy proof
than to either buy everyone a monitor or
have them all stand around one monitor.

Another panelist mentioned that his
company had come up with the bright
idea of mounting its 30-in. Apple Cinema
Display horizontally into the press-viewing
console so the operator could look at
the sheet and display at the same time.
They quickly learned, however, that the
monitor was not designed to operate in
that position and Apple said it was likely
to cause serious problems. So they wound
up ripping it out of the press console and
remounting it in the normal upright position.
It's nice to be able to learn from
someone else's rather costly mistake.

Meanwhile, the surprise of the “Holistic
Workflow” session was that the chief complaint
is no longer the bad files that come
in. Although it's still true that a majority of
incoming files are still not “plug-and-play,”
prepress technicians have become adept
at using work-arounds and a host of tools
such as Enfocus PitStop, Callas PDFColor-
Convert, and tools within the RIPs to get
the files to image.

But what seems not yet to have been
solved is the proofing conundrum. People
are still not comfortable with color matching
across the workflow. Panelist Jimmy
Proulx, technical services director for
Impressions Inc., believes there is a tendency
to “over-proof,” and said that hardcopy
proofs are not needed in many
cases. This theme was carried over to the
aforementioned proofing session, where
two of the panelists use monitor proofs in
the pressroom, displayed on a 30-in.
Apple Cinema Display in both cases. Two
of the panelists also said they use soft
proofs for 75% of their color-critical proofs.

There are definite downsides to soft
proofing, panelists indicated, including:
Customers must obtain a high-end monitor;
the eyes get tired faster; giving up the
hard-copy proof and the half-tone dot;
bandwidth problems for customers; a lot
of customer hand-holding, at least initially;
and, the cannibalization of hardproofing
revenue, which some shops
depend upon.

Managing and marketing
Variable data


In the “Variable-Data Printing Workflows”
session, the basic point was that the
tools are there, but knowing how to wield
the tools is a very different matter. One
suggestion was to nurture partnerships.

If you do decide to take VDP on in-house,
keep in mind that what you'll be doing will
likely be driven by customer requests. Dave
Minnick, CTO of Consolidated Graphics
Group, reported that his company's VDP
work has been driven in just that way: “It
becomes a 'Can you do this, can you do
that?' kind of thing,” he said.

Other VDP pointers:

  • Design has become more crucial to
    Minnick's operation as a result of VDP, he
    said, “Because if a customer delivers a
    design and says, 'We want to do this,'
    but the design doesn't work, we have to
    redesign it in-house to accommodate
    the VDP.”
  • “Once you have a customer's data
    from one VDP job, they will rarely take that
    data”?or those jobs”?elsewhere,” said Tim
    Tyler, manager of DocuLink International.
  • The most successful VDP jobs are
    the most creative jobs, said David
    Rosenquist, president of Creative Type.
  • Keep in mind that some VDP software
    is geared to larger jobs and operations,
    while some VDP software is
    geared toward smaller jobs and operations.
    There is no need to over-buy.

Loving' that RGB

At the “How I Learned to Love RGB” session,
there were clearly some naysayers
in the audience who opined that RGB color
management was more myth than reality.
The panelists however, strongly maintained
that an RGB workflow can indeed
lead to great efficiencies without sacrificing
quality and control.

In fact, they agreed that an RGB workflow
allows greater control over color
rather than less. Although color retouching
with RGB files did require operator
retraining and some operators have trouble
making the transition, they said, their
own experience was that once operators
became comfortable working with RGB,
they preferred that color space. Panelists
also pointed out that many retouching
techniques can be done only in RGB.



These points on a variety of topics
stirred some interest:

  • Sales: Dave Harding, CEO of SPG
    Graphics, advocated that shops should
    have customer focus groups to get their
    input as to what services to offer. In
    addition, he said, in-person visits to
    clients are invaluable when it comes to
    ensuring that your clients know the
    entire range of services you offer. Don't
    leave it up to marketing materials, no
    matter how good these may be.

  • Adding technologies: When it
    comes to bringing on additional digital
    profit centers, one way to determine
    which digital technologies to take on is
    to evaluate how it will “solve customer
    pain,” as one panelist said, in the “Transitioning
    to Digital” session.

  • “Soft” printing aspects: When looking
    at which print shop to contract with
    for jobs, said Charles Richard, Kodak's
    director of imaging services, he often
    analyzes the “soft” sides of printing, not
    just the printing numbers themselves.
    In the “What's Driving Print Customers”
    session, he pointed out that a US print
    company now does a job Richard had
    previously sourced from China because
    the US company researched the entire
    job”?not just the printing itself”?and
    showed him how he would save on shipping
    and other costs that weren't quite
    so apparent.

  • Fulfillment: Considering taking on
    fulfillment as well as the actual output
    of a job? Be wary, said Al Kennickell,
    president of Kennickell Print, in the
    “What Kind of Business” session. His
    company is now storing and shipping a
    variety of items for clients, including
    leather bomber jackets, air purifiers,
    and more. As a result, he's had to look
    closely at insurance issues and costs,
    and add extra space to handle larger
    items like these.

  • PDF: In the “PDF Today” session,
    Benson Young with Knight Abbey Printing
    indicated that it's sometimes a good
    thing when clients believe that your
    shop is the only one that “can do the
    magic” when it comes to delivering PDF
    files. If clients feel that they can do their
    own PDFs or any other shop can deliver
    PDFs, they won't see your shop as so
    integral to their own operation. In addition,
    he said, using a PDF workflow will
    only save you time if you only have to
    deal with a customer file once; if you
    have a lot of back-and-forth to adjust
    and correct a customer-provided PDF
    file, you're not truly saving any time.

  • Finally, one of our favorite audience
    quotes: “We don't call our prepress
    department 'prepress' anymore”?we
    call them 'forensics'.



Printvinyl Scored Print Media

New Printvinyl Scored wide-format print media features an easy-to-remove scored liner for creating decals, product stickers, packaging labels, and more. The precision-scored liner, with a 1.25” spacing on a 60” roll, guarantees a seamless and hassle-free removal process.

Promoted Headlines




Most Popular