What are the current state-of-the-art methods of electronic proofing digital print?

What are the current state-of-the-art methods of electronic proofing digital print?


There are several kinds of electronic proofing, but the one thing they have in common is that the printer does not send a hard copy proof to the client for approval. Instead, a digital file is sent.

What happens next addresses the question of whether or not an investment in hardware is involved. Even in the best of circumstances, someone has to make some type of investment, but it may only be software, and it may not be the client that makes the investment (though they will always have to assume some responsibility for making the system work).

One solution is to provide a physical print device at a remote site that is kept calibrated and has been profiled. The printer can send a profiled and certified PDF file and have it printed on the remote proofer as a contract proof. The printer will need to provide proper profiles for the actual intended output device so the remote printing device can match it. In some cases, the printer provides the remote printer and may even take care of keeping it properly calibrated. Of course someone will have to pay the cost of this service and the cost of the printer itself.

It is also possible to simply view PDF files with embedded profiles on calibrated monitors. While current technology really does make this practical, few printers and buyers are comfortable with the process. There persists a fear that someone will say "that's not what it looked like on MY monitor!" With Acrobat 6.0 and above it is also possible to make collaborative changes on PDF files and use digital signatures for approvals, so you don't have to lose the paper trail hard copy proofs provide.

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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