Digital Distributors’ technical director, John Panton, explains how Veripress works: ‘Veripress is contract soft proofing using 30-inch displays and touch screen consoles. Ripped and screened 1-bit files from the prepress department are transferred to the soft proof for viewing on high-end Quato monitors, calibrated to meet ISO specifications and verified through spectral measurement of the Ugra/Fogra Media Wedge. The spectrophotometer is used on the face of the monitor, which flashes up and measures colour information.’
The benefits of using soft proofing are obvious, John insists.
‘It’s a huge money saver. As much as R40 000 can be saved on consumables each month. In addition, press operators get functionality from a soft proof that they can’t get on a hard proof. Colour separations can be viewed separately and a loupe tool allows the operator to zoom into the dot structure to see trapping and over-printing. The system also calculates how much ink will be used for a job, enabling the printer to order exact amounts of special colours,’ John explains.
The paper whiteness of the actual print stock is assimilated by the Veripress system and paper colour changed as and when required. ‘The effect of show-through can also be viewed, which is especially interesting on web presses running low-opacity stocks. The full signature, loose pages and reader spreads can be viewed,’ John adds.
While many soft-proofing systems are click-charge based, there’s no monthly charge for the Veripress service. Licences are unlimited and free. The printer buys the server and can use it on all the presses in a plant.
Press operators fully trained
The project was managed on behalf of Paarl Media by Hentie Olwage of Onyx Graphics, who ensured press operators were fully trained and the system fully operational before going live. Hentie says the biggest challenge was to get press minders to use the monitor instead of a paper proof as a colour reference target.
‘We started by offering them both soft and hard proofs,’ he explains. ‘As their confidence and competency levels increased, they started trusting the system. It didn’t take long before they preferred the soft proof. After one month, we stopped issuing hard- copy proofs to the colour desk.’
In Hentie’s opinion, the most important benefits are savings in time and materials.
The press operator has a fast and user-friendly touch screen console that gives instant access to the whole or any part of the print forme. He can reach approved colour faster as there’s no need to find the images and shuffle paper proofs to match. He also has access to a range of touch screen tools, including reader spreads display, ink key viewer and loupe with dynamic fingertip control for viewing fine detail. Accurate paper background simulation and the print see-through transparency factor also make matching easy and precise. Soft proofing also makes it possible for the publisher, agency or print buyer to view the same colour targets.
‘Veripress is an environmentally-friendly system that provides a fast return on investment,’ Hentie adds. ‘It saves on inkjet media and ink consumables and saves labour and time in the production of inkjet proofs. The system’s accurate and user-friendly ink weight calculator is a great tool for estimators and buyers. Soft proofing is the process closest to the customer’s origination and the logical way forward for the modern printer,’
Martin Koen, Paarl Media Cape prepress manager, believes the main benefit is eliminating costly proofing consumables. However, he also pinpoints time savings. ‘Printing proofs, especially large sections, can be time consuming and can even delay printing,’ he explains.
He cites other benefits as being able to zoom in on certain areas of the page, taking density readings and viewing the separations.
‘Veripress can also allow for strike-through and different ISO settings can be chosen (for example, LWC, SC, SNP, etc). The system works fast and shows whichever page you want to view immediately. It meets the standard for soft proofing, namely ISO 12646,’ Martin adds.
Easy to install
Veripress offers simple and robust technology that’s easy to install. ‘The most challenging part,’ John Panton reckons, ‘is understanding the principles of soft proofing and the correct lighting conditions.’
To get the lighting right, the display and ambient lighting have to be calibrated. The specific standard used for viewing conditions should be valued under D5O lighting conditions or ISO 3664-2009 standard. The viewing conditions for print depend on the temperature and the luminance of the light and ambient light conditions. These need to be adjusted to get a good match between hard copy and display.
To this, Martin Koen adds: ‘Getting the colour of the monitors and the ambient lighting correct is important. We will be installing dimmers into the overhead lights to come in line with ISOc-3664-2009 conditions. We’re still fine-tuning Veripress on our Rotoman press. As soon as everything has been sorted out, we will implement Veripress on our Lithoman 48-page and 64-page presses. For the bigger presses, we’re looking at using larger monitors.
‘We’ve been very satisfied with the back-up service, technical support and expertise provided by Digital Distributors. I believe nobody in South Africa knows more about colour management than John Panton and his team.’
And Hentie Olwage agrees that the installation has proved a great success. ‘From the planning stages right through to engineering the stands, final positioning and calibrating the monitors, workflow configuration, etc, the approach was professional. Digital Distributors has a dedicated, trustworthy team of well-trained people who hold Fogra accreditation. What’s more, they’re passionate about the world of colour printing.’
In conclusion, John Panton says: ‘Veripress is a sure way to eliminate the costs traditionally associated with proof sign-offs. We’ve always aimed to bring the latest cost-saving technology to customers and that philosophy won’t change. Over the next few years, I envisage more printers investing in soft proofing technology. It is a green solution in line with the global trend to work economically with resources such as paper. Printers may be concerned about their customers having to check soft proofs, but it has been proven possible at Paarl Media Cape, where no more hard proofs are made on the 16-page Rotoman.’
With the Paarl Media project successfully on track, John maintains that web presses are not the only presses that stand to benefit from this technology. ‘Although Paarl Media Cape is our first customer, in my view perfect target customers for Veripress are newspaper printers. Because of tight deadlines, newspaper printers don’t enjoy the luxury of time. They also can’t afford to have expensive proofs made of every page and typically only proof critical adverts.
‘The packaging industry could also benefit,’ John reasons. ‘In packaging, trapping and overprinting is critical, and Veripress allows better viewing. Veripress also assists with accurate use of spot colours. In addition, the dot structures can be viewed under proof. All the things that typical packaging customers complain about on their hard proofs can be eliminated and exact quantities of spot colours ordered,’ he concludes.
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