What's changed with remote proofing in past few years?

I know that remote proofing has out for a while, but is this really a viable proofing option? What's changed in the past few years?

Remote proofing has definitely become a viable alternative given the right set of circumstances. What has changed in the last few years is the general acceptance and refinement of profiling software. The chief limitation of remote proofing is the ability of the receiver to see the same thing the sender sees. That means monitors and proofers have to be linearized and profiled to match. My own shop uses a rather sophisticated example of remote proofing. One of our customers has the same Fuji Pictro as our shop has. The machine comes with a spectrophotometer that runs an automatic calibration. We created a profile of our standard digital proofs and sent the profile to our customer, which is applied to their Pictro device. In this way, the output on their proofing device is virtually identical to our own proofing (which is keyed to the press the job will be run on).

This process can be applied to any other proofing system that accepts ICC (International Color Consortium) profiles. Your printer will need to have the software and spectrophotometers to build accurate profiles, but most programs, such as InDesign, Quark, Acrobat etc., can accept and apply these profiles. So can most proofing devices like Epson Inkjets and other printers. If you are proofing remotely, your monitor and proofer will need to be calibrated to make sure you are seeing the same thing on your end as the printer sees on their end.

But the bottom line is, remote proofing can be done. It isn't as easy or as automatic as the people who sell the software and calibration equipment would have you believe, but with a bit of effort and a commitment to keep your equipment properly calibrated, remote proofing can save considerable time and money.

Stephen Beals is a digital pre-press manager and has been writing for major print publications for many years. He is the author of A Practical Primer for Painless Print Production. He can be reached at stephenbeals@mac.com.
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