The reality of the remote press approval

On many occasions I’ve been asked about online proofing. There are several products out there offering annotation tools and collaboration through email. Some products you can purchase outright and others are a subscription service hosted by the supplier. There is something for everyone. But, when it comes to online color proofing, the field is narrowed.

Two products on the market for SWOP Certified Online Proofing were compared using their available online demos and free training courses. Integrated Color Solutions (ICS) has two products, Remote Director and PressOK. Kodak Polychrome Graphics supplies the market with their certified Matchprint Virtual Proofing System.

First, what hardware and software do we need?

KPG supports these monitors: Apple 20 (earlier version), Apple 20 (newer version), Apple 23, Apple 30, Eizo CG 21 and Eizo CG210. Along with these, ICS also supports the Apple G5 iMac, Eizo® CG22, LaCie 321, Sony Artisan GDM-C520K or Sony 23 SDM P232 W/B. A 24-bit color video card is required for the computer.

Matchprint Virtual runs in an internet browser on a G4 or G5. Remote Director uses a client but runs on both Mac and PC with a 24-bit color video card. Both companies supply calibration equipment and software. The software from ICS, ColorEyes Display, is also sold separately and works with most calibrators. I must say that the new LCD monitors seem much easier to calibrate than their CRT counterparts.

Second, how are we going to educate our customers to use these products properly?

To start with, Integrated Color Solutions provides online interactive training through IC University. They provide training on their client software as well as training for Color Viewing, Profile Creation, Monitor Calibration and Proof Viewing. These seminars have been running weekly since the beginning of the year and are a convenient way to train your customers.

When setting up your customer, you need to explain how the environment, lighting and monitor warm-up time can affect color viewing. A quality control system should be established for them. A standard proof to compare to the screen, prepared by your company, can be given to them on a daily basis.

Third, what features do we need to accomplish color and content approvals?

Both products supply the standard remote proofing tools for annotation and collaboration. They are both hosted, secure, subscription pay-per-proof services. Your Administrator controls user permissions, job jacket filing, and e-mail notification setups. The Matchprint Virtual provides a branding package where your access to the website can be designed for you or your customer.

PANTONE Colors, traps, overprints, online color measurement and hard-copy proofing are supported. Both products give you the power to see separations, RGB to CMYK simulations, have multiple concurrent viewers and allow downloads as well.

From here, Remote Director moves ahead. The ICS product uses a JDF interface. There is the ability to enforce calibration quality by automatically denying approval from a monitor that doesn’t meet calibration requirements. Their monitor calibration software lets you match luminance across multiple monitors (crt or lcd).

The real kicker is the PressOK product. PressOK is a wide-format scanner that captures a high-resolution image of a press sheet up to 27 x 38 in approximately 4 minutes, and transmits it directly to Remote Director for reviewers to check color. Users can zoom in on the press sheet to see registration, dot structure and trap, as if they were using a loupe. They can compare the press sheet with the final proof remotely (side by side).

Both products will fit the bill for online color proofing. However, there may be customers out there who want to host their own site. I understand both companies are willing to work with customers if that’s the case. With both these products, we’re able to have remote color and content approval and press side monitor proofs – and the idea of a remote press approval is finally here.