Online Proofing - Make Mine Soft-Serve
Soft proofing technology can do the job, but its success depends largely on good discipline and the printer-client relationship.
"SOFT" PROOFING GOES by several names—monitor, virtual, online—and comes in an array of "flavors." No matter what you call it, however, the ultimate goal is as straightforward as it is universal: shrink production cycles, eliminate rework, reduce costs, and move everything faster.
Unlike traditional hardcopy proofing, in which handling and transmission of the physical proof increases both cycle time and the potential for error, soft proofing depends on workflows in which color-accurate proofs can be viewed on calibrated computer monitors under controlled lighting conditions.
Reducing time to market is critical in package design, where multiple individuals need to look at a package for reasons that range from compliance with FDA labeling requirements to shelf aesthetics to language. When every day not on the shelf means lost sales, fast online capabilities prove their worth.
Monitor proofing 101
Among the benefits of incorporating soft proofing into production workflows, the most obvious is being able to shrink the proofing stage itself by days, even weeks. Since there's no delay in printing out a proof and shipping it to the client, the instant that a job has been produced, it can be made available for approval.
"People are moving from 'I have to see it, feel it, touch it, and scratch it' to 'I just don't have time to do it anymore'," says Kent St. Vrain, vice president, sales and marketing for Paxonix, Inc., a MeadWestvaco company offering brand and packaging management software.
Sending PDFs as e-mail attachments is a rudimentary form of monitor proofing, and using PDFs for content approval is nothing new. However, newer tools like Integrated Color Solutions' (ICS) Remote Director, DALiM Software's Dialogue, and Kodak Polychrome Graphic's Matchprint Virtual Proof now enable multiple individuals to review and annotate a single file—a process known as collaborative soft proofing.