The concept of approving a catalog proof that was anything but ink-on-paper seemed absurd back in the early 1990s. Sure, we’d all been soft proofing for years, eyeing up the way pages looked on our art director’s desktop display. But we looked at those images differently then. We saw them for what they were — a poor RGB imitation of what a CMYK-printed catalog would look like as the paper rolled off the press.
Some things never change.
“Soft proofing is a double-edged sword,” says Sarah Fletcher, creative director for Charlestown, R.I.-based Catalog Design Studios. “On the one hand, it is, by its very existence, impossible. What you see on screen is RGB, and what you get on paper is CMYK. RGB produces a much larger color gamut than CMYK. You can see more colors on screen than you can actually print.”
But then again, some things do change. Today, the print production community can scrutinize monitor-based proofs with a little less skepticism. That’s because there’s been some progress recently in soft-proofing technologies that are finally enabling catalogers to consider alternatives to hard-copy proofs for later-stage production and even contract-level proofing.
David Motheral, chief technical officer at Motheral Printing, Fort Worth, Texas, says his customers have embraced soft proofs, especially when they discover how cost-effective, reliable and convenient they can be. His company uses Creo’s Synapse InSite to facilitate proofing exchanges not only with its customers, but with its customers’ collaborative partners, too.
Via a standard Web browser, a cataloger can submit digital page files to the Synapse InSite portal established by the printer. The files are preflighted to ensure they’re accurate and all elements (e.g., embedded fonts, images) are present and accounted for. If the files pass preflight, the pages then become available to the cataloger as soft proofs. Internally, the cataloger can access the soft proofs and collaborate on them until the pages reach final approval. The printer is notified of the sign-off, and the files then can proceed through the prepress workflow.