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Remote-proofing sidebar 1: The case of the commercial printer and the ad agency

Feb 1, 2002 12:00 AM

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This article is an online sidebar to "Remote proofing: close at hand," February 2002, p. 18.


Blanks Color Imaging, Inc., a Dallas commercial printer, has been using a remote-proofing system with one of its ad agency customers for some time. A Kodak Polychrome Graphics (Norwalk, CT) DCP 9500 dye-sublimation proofer, installed at the customer site for the past year and a half, works in concert with RealTimeImage’s (San Bruno, CA) online proofing system, which Blanks uses to provide online collaboration and proof viewing for its customers.

According to Jim Smiddy, technical director at Blanks, the DCP 9500 comes out of the box with a Harlequin (now Global Graphics, Waltham, MA) RIP. When a customer downloads an image from RealTimeProof, it automatically goes into a hot folder and is then output by the DCP 9500. The file transfer is conducted via a T1 line between Blanks and the customer, which is located in north Dallas. Printer and client share the cost of the T1.

Blanks also sends full-resolution image files and RIPed pages to the customer’s proofers. "The colors on the proofs our customer gets are about 85 percent accurate to our Kodak Approval XP4 digital halftone proofer," Smiddy says.

The exec estimates the customer is printing between 60 and 70 proofs a week on the DCP 9500, and says the remote-proofing system has solidified Blanks’ standing with the ad agency. He notes that it has enhanced workflow for both companies and has also gotten Blanks more business from the agency.

Smiddy says customer adoption of remote proofing depends on many factors, especially the volume of business between the printer and customer. The ad agency in north Dallas, for example, is a $1 million account for Blanks.

Smiddy adds that willing participants are also vital to successful remote proofing. "It really takes somebody higher up in the chain of command to make a decision about adopting remote proofing," he observes. "The executive in charge at this particular client of ours was technology-oriented. She was a big factor in moving the remote-proofing system forward."

Other Blanks accounts haven’t been as receptive. "The agencies and companies we deal with don’t want the headache of having a proofer at their facilities. We offer it as a service to our biggest customers, but many just don’t want to adopt it," Smiddy says. Blanks offers technical help; Smiddy visits the customer personally to check the performance of the DCP 9500 proofer, clean it and log the number of proofs run.

Blanks has had more success with soft proofing, using RealTimeImage’s RealTimeProof, which has generated considerable interest. Blanks also offers a monitor calibration service, using Kodak ColorFlow software. Smiddy says the calibrated monitors are 90 percent accurate to the Kodak Approval contract proofs that Blanks generates for a customer. Smiddy has calibrated monitors at 25 customer sites in the past six months.

Smiddy will continue his efforts to sell remote proofing to his customers, particularly to a large corporate client in California. He will likely consider a Hewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, CA) inkjet printer or Xerox (Rochester, NY) DocuColor 12, driven by the Imation Matchprint Professional server, as output options.