Skip to content
Previous post Back to CUSTOMERS Next post

Protecting the creative vision through production with the help of DALIM ES

Images and tech development are the two topics that Daniel Almstedt has worked with for many years. He loves to challenge old habits. His work philosophy is simple, direct, and successful: ‘Streamlined production, working smart, and correct, is the way to go. There is no need to do something in a bad way. It just ends up that you will need to do it twice. Do it correctly, smart, and quickly.” It has worked well for him. After studying at the School of Communication Arts in Raleigh, NC, Daniel spent two years as a retouch artist and prepress operator at KåPe Productions AB before becoming a founder and head of DAM and IT at Mods Graphic Studio AB—a move that has suited him very well. He is currently CEO of Mods. We caught up withDaniel to ask him about his company and his use of DALIM ES.


THEMAGAZINE: Tell us a little bit about MODS. Daniel Almstedt: MODS was founded in April 2000. The primary purpose was to have a fresh start with a company working in full RGB mode with all images—just let go of all the CMYK files and keep everything in RGB—and colour-man- age everything. We started off early with a big clothing company in Sweden, and most of their print material went through our systems in some way or another.


We have always said we retouch images because it’s easier to explain. But, for the last 15 years, the truth has been more about colour management, creating and converting PDF files, and adapting them for print and different media. During the last five or six years, that actually turned out to be true because now our biggest focus is image retouch- ing, so we’re back to where we started. So, we do image retouching and colour management.


Most of the time, it’s directly for clients like; marketing departments and ad agencies, on a more minor scale. That was the opposite 15 years ago when it was all ad agencies, but it’s turned around slightly.


How many employees do you have?
Nineteen. Most team members are retouchers, but we also have people who create artwork, along with colour experts and project leaders. We’re a small company, but since we are in such a niche business, we’re one of the bigger ones in Stockholm, Sweden.


What is the business goal of your company?

DA We’re here to make sure that whatever vis- ually an art director sees in a shot, it keeps that vision. Our purpose is to assure that for some- one who is creative—who has an idea for an image or a campaign—our job is to transform that idea, with all its emotions, colours and meaning, into final media—whether it’s print, online, web.

Just to be clear, we are not a creative company. We work for creative people as a production company.

Retouching, as a word, is often associated with manipulating images. But that is not just moving pixels around with the cloning tool. Colour is such a big part of the work. There are so many bad images out there, wrong in colour and poor feeling and look. And there is so much knowledge about this, and we are going deeper into that. Stay updated! ;)


Volume is our key—but we also love clients with very high demands and complex image works as well, the range of images we work on is vast. What our work always has in common is speed, control and high quality, and we need a platform to support that. ES has been a good choice for us and supports all that. The ES platform comes from the print industry and is designed for high-volume, it can take on any task and is extremely robust.


Do you want to say anything about your new relationship with the H&H Group?
We’re in a group with 15 sister companies, and we’re all in communication somehow. Whether it’s advertising agencies, PR, strategic companies, or movies and 3D, we’re all in the same area, making it more fun. I’m sure that we can both contribute to the group but also benefit from the group.


Could you describe yourself a little bit?
Sure. I’m creative with a technical interest. I started off as an image retoucher and was one of the founders of MODS. The image retouch- ing came along with all the technical things that needed to be fixed—servers, colour manage- ment, and workflows. Someone needed to take care of all the technology as we grew, so that was me. It was an honour to be asked to be the CEO.


What was going on before you used DALIM ES? What tools were you using?
Email and printouts actually, emailing JPEGs back and forth.


Obviously, you had some pain points.
Yes. A larger client of ours asked for a complete workflow to keep track of the whole process—all the comments, annotations, approv- al workflows, and so on. That was the thing that got us to really say, “Okay, we need a platform to see if we could have something.” Since we already used DALIM TWIST, we knew about ES. We knew about it and learned at that stage that it would solve our problem. But we are still exploring ES as a product; you discover there is more to it once you start using it.


How was the installation, and how helpful was your DALIM reseller, NI Solutions?
They were very helpful. We have had a good relationship with NI Solutions for 20 years.


You said you purchased DALIM ES because a client wanted a very specific workflow upfront, and you were able to do that pretty quickly.

DA: It’s my job to listen to the client’s challenges and help them understand how to solve them. I know what tools I can work with and to make that match. ES makes it a lot easier because it has such a complete toolbox.


What are you doing with it for the most part now?
Actually, both internal and external reviews. It’s for image commenting, annotations and approvals, and rejects. We’re also using it as a central hub for all our images—not all, but most. We’re also connecting it to external systems via the API. We can connect more with external systems from the ES platform with the API, so we’re using that for some of our workflows. It solves pretty much anything since we can access all features of ES via the API.

For example, one of our clients creates annotations in their own system, so we’re moving those annotations into ES, and they end up as annotations for our team to start work with. We use the API for that.


Where have you found the most significant benefit of the ES system?
Control. That’s the short answer. It’s one place to keep track of everything: who said what, and why, and when, and who fixed it, and if it is okay or not. It’s the one place to go when we look at images in our context.


Is there any favorite feature you have?
I know it sounds cheesy, but the compare tool is nice. When you can compare a series of images—maybe four—and you can synchronize them all, zooming and comparing, it’s just nice and neat, and it just works. You don’t sell that to a client, but it’s a good feeling - the power, the stability - when you’re working in the system.


Were there any surprises?
Pretty much every time, because it’s just up to our imagination. Would it be possible to do this? Most of the time, we can do it in ES. It just feels terrific to have that as a platform because I know we can do so much in it, and we don’t need to add extra features to it because it’s very complete from the beginning.


How effective has DALIM ES been for you?

DA: We can probably crunch those numbers, but the effectiveness is probably best described as Control. For example, we have clients whose people are working on the same project world wide. Some are in the US, in the UK, in Sweden, in China, and so on, and they are all going in and providing annotations to the same image. Of course, it accelerates the entire process when the platform is online 24/7, and we can have fixed dates and times when approvals or annotations should be completed. They have time slots when they should be doing their tasks instead of having someone collect JPEGs with all comments and trying to organize them all. Of course, it saves time and brings control with it.


Is there a specific job that explains how helpful ES has been?
Sure. Referring to what I just said, we have a client with product images. At least five people are commenting and making annotations on each image and are responsible for different parts of the product. Someone could be taking care of the overall feeling of the image, someone is looking at a specific detail of the product, someone is in charge of the colour, background, etc. Without a system that can connect all these people into one place, it would have been a night- mare to keep track.


From the client side, we have had client meetings many times, and before they worked with us and used our system, they had a project lead- er. It was like a 50% task force just to collect all those comments and remind people to do the commenting. ‘Can you do this? Are you done yet? Where are you?’ ES takes care of all the babysitting parts. Otherwise, I don’t think there could ever be a project that we could run. We’ve been fortunate to work with this client for many years now, and I don’t think that would have happened without ES.


How are you using DALIM TWIST?
TWIST came along in 2015 for a specific project. We would merge PDF files, text lay- ers, and image layers for a catalogue—for many catalogues actually - and the catalogue was produced in 38 languages. The PDFs came from two different companies: one company did just the text layer, and another company did the image layer. We were asked if we could merge those PDF files, colour manage them, pre-flight and keep track of them all. We built a database where the client could tell what print house to print what languages, and the TWIST workflow selected the correct colour profile when we started processing. It was a very nice setup!


I had meetings with NI Solution, who helped us build that workflow for a couple of weeks. That was just crazy—to build that workflow, have it controlled, do all the normalizing and colour management, and just take care of all those con- ditional if’s: ‘If that happens, if that happens, then what?’ That’s actually how it all started.


We already had the GMG colour management platform, and then we could connect those two together. TWIST is the backbone of the whole workflow. All PDF files —everything—is calculated and treated. The resolution, interpolation, pre-flight and so on.


Is the DAM something you’re looking at?

DA: We’re discussing how the DAM could be used in the best way. When you look ahead at the ES roadmap, it works.


I also like that DALIM is adapting the API First approach, which tells me that DALIM is keen that the software should function from the ground up. And really want a platform that is future-proof and really functioning and working.


I think ES will be an even more central figure in our company because we’re moving more projects into the system and letting all our internal and external retouchers in the system now.


DALIM ES feels like such a good foundation to stand on. We can do pretty much anything with it.

About the author
As a content manager with a multicultural background, I am dedicated to creating impactful content that extends my reach globally. I seek meaningful opportunities and challenges that engage my passion for helping others and solving problems through innovative content creation.