The hurdles of online print proofing

According to In3 expert Howie Fenton, the printing industry has been fascinated with remote (or online) proofing for many years now. The advantages are obvious. If a project is entirely proofed online it can be completed much faster, much more efficiently and usually to a much higher standard than if it were reviewed in print form. Yet there are some distinct disadvantages to online proofing too. It can be extremely expensive to set up and maintain, as remote proofing relies on access to the best possible graphics and design technology. It relies wholly on a company’s telecommunications system – if this fails or runs poorly, important projects can be delayed or interrupted.

There are many schools of debate regarding the usefulness of online print proofing. The vast majority of people working in the design industry support the use of remote proofing. It can help them to move from project to project quickly, as well allowing them to track, record and monitor important changes made to their work. Yet the turnaround of online print proofing leaves much to be desired and there are several complex processes that must be implemented before a remote system can begin.

Communications System

Before you can install remote-proofing software, you need a high speed line connection, says American Printer magazine. This doesn’t have to come from your own public internet access – it can be facilitated through a private or commercial network. In fact, many design companies are now starting to team up with big commercial network providers like Eclipse, Exa and Spitfire. These partnerships help to improve the turnaround and cost of remote proofing. They include co-marketing arrangements and cross-training on each others’ products.

The next step is to decide on a method of internal communication. The most successful method so far, seems to be digital annotation. This allows ‘remote’ colleagues to paste digital sticky notes on proofs. These notes are passed back and forth across the network in exactly the same way as a physical proof would be. Annotations of this nature are particularly useful, because they leave a record of the collaborative design process. It is innovations like digital annotation, that are allowing companies to continually speed up online print proofing. Alongside interactive conference tools, they can be invaluable.

Colour Management

Another vital part of the remote proofing process is colour management – in other words, guaranteeing that the devices at both receiver and sender site are of appropriate quality and reliability. According to Printing Impressions magazine, colour management software tells a digital file  what you are planning to use it for, so that it can simulate a more accurate outcome on screen. It ensures that remote colleagues using different monitors and different equipment, can both view the same images at the same quality.

Interestingly, most of the ink manufacturers that supply the design and print industries now sell colour management software along with their traditional products. Manufacturers like Agfa, PolyOne and Saw Grass Ink all specially designed colour management software alongside their ink. Again, this helps to tackle the high cost of online print proofing.

Implementing, developing and maintaining a successful online print proofing system is no easy task. It requires a lot of money, a lot of patience and a lot of trial and error. Online print proofing may very well be the future for the digital print industry, but it is not quite there yet. There are still some important hurdles that must be tackled and solved, before remote proofing can truly become global.

Author Bio: Sarah is head of a flyer distribution company. She recommends Print My Pixel for high quality, affordable printed product and services. She can be found blogging about different promotional avenues.

Joe Granados the author

Joe Granados is the owner of WebDevTuts. He is also a web designer & developer who loves to design and develop websites. If you're looking for him you can find him via @webdevtuts

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