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The MonacoOPTIXXR Pro Edition monitor-calibration
system from X-Rite has been
tweaked several times since its debut in
late 2003 (it was the first product introduced
following the company's purchase of
Monaco). Two of the more recent enhancements
to the system, which comprises an
X-Rite colorimeter and Monaco profiling
software, have been the addition of a display-
stabilization feature for a more accurate
display measurement, and the addition
of languages including French, Italian, German,
Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese.

Beyond the unit's newer features,
X-Rite also has issued some special promotional
pricing on the MonacoOptixXR Pro
(as well as on the MonacoOptixXR standard
edition), which will be in effect through
the end of 2005.

Our production department recently
installed new Apple Power Mac G5s,
upgraded all our software, and added new
high-end monitors from LaCie at every
workstation. We had yet to integrate any
color-management systems into our
workflow with the new equipment. And
with the MonacoOptixXR modifications and
the new price points in place, it seemed to
be the perfect time to put a unit through
its paces and see what it could do.

Creating the default profile
The OptixXR Pro package is designed to
allow users to profile all displays/monitors
(LCDs as well as CRTs), ensure accurate
color reproduction from device to
device, ultimately match the colors of
images displayed on a monitor, and
match the end results output on a printer.

Installing OptixXR is a breeze. The system
requirements are a bit more liberal on
PC than on Mac, allowing anything from
Windows 98 to XP (Pentium PC or better), a
color monitor with 24-bit or greater video
card (with LUT support), 128MB system
RAM, and 64 MB free disk space. Dual monitor
support requires two or more video
cards (a Windows issue); single video cards
with dual monitor support cannot be handled
on the Windows platform. On the Macintosh
side, platform must be OS X 10.2 or
later to install the software, with a Power
Mac or better, 128 MB system RAM, and
64 MB free space; dual monitor support
requires only a single video card to perform.

The included instructions are basic
and straightforward. The package contains:
the software installation CD; the
MonacoOptixXR colorimeter, which is the
profiling and calibration device on a USB
cable; a counterweight, to keep the instrument
from moving when profiling CRT and
LCD monitors; and a suction cup to be used
if you're profiling hooded CRT monitors.


After installing the software, you're
ready to begin the initial monitor profiling.
You first thread the counterweight along
the USB cord (it slides freely to adjust to
different monitor sizes), and then plug
the cable into an available USB port.

Now it's time to launch the software
and follow the on-screen wizard instructions
to create a Monitor Profile. Tip: Prior to
launching the software, you should be
comfortable with and knowledgeable
about your monitor and its settings.
Because my monitor was new, I was not
yet well enough acquainted with it; as a
result, I had to go back several times and
start over until I understood how to change
all the settings (fourth time was a charm).

The interface guides you through
exactly what to do with your monitor's
settings, and where to place the calibration
device on the screen. The whole
process probably took me about 15 minutes,
until I arrived at the last step, where
I was prompted to save my profile. The
profile is saved to the appropriate system
directory, and becomes the default profile
for the monitor unless you manually
change it.

Two additional points here:

  • After the first few screens, I learned
    that I needed to position the monitor profile
    dialog box at another position on my desktop,
    because the box kept interfering with
    my progress.
  • How often should the profiles be updated
    to maintain the accuracy? According to
    Steve Rankin, product marketing manager
    for X-Rite's Printing and Imaging division,
    that “depends on the user's expectations of
    the profile. Once a week is the short

Additional features
If the MonacoOPTIXXR Pro Edition stopped
there, it would still be a fine tool. It
brings some additional features to the
profiling table, however, that truly boost
its value to a production environment.

After the initial profile has been created,
you can use tools provided in the
software to determine and correct
“monitor drift.” The Evaluate Monitor
Profile function compares current
measurements against your previously
saved (default) settings to determine
any drift, then tracks them using the
Monitor Color Trends tool. The Monitor
Color Trends feature graphs the Delta E
values in whatever timeframe you
choose; if you see that the trend is moderately
drifting, you can then recalibrate
to bring the monitor back in line. In addition,
there's a nice preference to remind
you”?at whatever interval you choose”?
that your prof i les have not been
updated (mine, for instance, reminds
me every 7 days).


Another handy feature is the Match
Monitor Profiles queue, which is used in
a multi-person workflow to achieve
desired results across a number of workstations.
In our case, we save each workstation
with its own unique profile name,
load them all into the Match Profiles
queue, and let it work its magic to create
a new profile that accommodates the
luminance value of all users. Because
we work with in-house scanning and
color correction before going to creative,
this helps to ensure consistency in the
viewing and output process.

Taking control
We couldn't be happier with the results
and ease with which we implemented the
MonacoOptixXR Pro Edition. With it, we have
been able to take better control of our
processes, and have a better understanding
of the results to be expected from start
to finish in a production environment. It
would be well worth the investment for
any production-oriented operation.

Price on the MonacoOptixXR Pro: $379;
for workgroups (one license covers all
monitors). Also available is the standard
MonacoOptixXR edition, for $249 (does not
provide monitor-profile validation, monitor-
drift trending, workgroup display
matching, calibration-curve editing, or
advanced mode). (X-rite:

Patricia Houston manages the production
department at ST Media Group, which
The Big Picture, and previously
served as a digital technician of R.R. Donnelley,
which prints this publication.



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