Soft-Proofing – Part 2

Offering your customers and an on-site monitor profiling service so that they can actually see what you will print can have long-term rewards. The customer feels they are calibrated to your specific press which creates a connection that is difficult to replicate.

The components of a monitor profiling system

A decent monitor is the first step in a monitor profiling system. Options to consider are Apples’ 23 Cinema Display, the Sony Artisan Color Reference system or a LaCie IV 22”.

The second component is the environment the monitor will be used in. CRT’s (cathode ray tube) require low light and low reflections for the best usage. LCD’s (liquid crystal display) can operate in slightly brighter environments. A digital video feed to the LCD is essential. If you are considering an LCD make sure you also include a decent video card.

The   big question is, has this technology evolved to the point where we can approve a proof on the monitor? At the recent IPA Digital Proofing Shoot-out, high-end soft-proofing solutions were evaluated in their ability to compete with traditional proofing systems. In the visual scores the ICS – Sony 23” came in 11th out of 33 different proofing systems. The score was right between the Creo Veris and the KPG Digital Matchprint. These are respectable proofing systems and the monitor proof was judged to be more accurate than 22 other proofing options.

My prediction is that we will see large LCD monitors next to the press in the next 3-5 years and that we will be approving a significant amount of print jobs via specialized monitor viewing areas.

However, there are some inherent weaknesses. The biggest one is the loss of touch; we need to hold and fold a proof to see how it will translate in the hands of the end user. I have never enjoyed reading the weekend newspaper on my laptop – it just doesn’t feel the same. I feel the same applies to proofing.

Another obstacle is spot-colours. The monitor does not currently have the gamut to encompass the full range of spot colours. However there are rumors of high gamut monitors on the horizon.

Monitor profiling is something you can implement with a low investment and a great ROI. The cost of the recommended systems has come down and the ease-of-use has gone up. You no longer need to be a colour management specialist to implement this technology.