Advanstar Communications Inc. is a leading worldwide media company providing integrated marketing solutions for the Fashion, Life Sciences and Powersports industries. Its portfolio contains 91 events, 66 publications and directories and 150 electronic publications and Web sites – in addition to education and direct marketing products and services. Market leading brands and a commitment to delivering innovative, quality products and services enables Advanstar to “Connect Our Customers With Theirs.”
Within Advanstar’s centralized Media Operations division, their Digital Prepress and Digital Imaging departments handles all of the prepress for the publications and assorted directories, performs all imaging and color correction, retouching and drum scanning, and repurposes print for digital magazines. The 11-employee department works closely with the company’s production managers, who order print, send instructions to printers, and perform ad and editorial production tracking.
Before installing TWIST workflow 18 months ago, the company had been using an in flexible premedia system with few automated features. “For us, the RIPping process meant exporting a file from the native document and hoping that the output was correct,” says Jeremy Carlson, Manager, Digital Prepress, Digital Imaging. “With transparency in Adobe CS2 and Quark, our previous technology was not reliable for accurate out put. We also took manual steps to send the file to the RIP, and we had to organize files in the post-RIP process.” The sheer size and scope of Advanstar’s business, however, dictated that the company had to automate as much of its prepress workflow as possible, without adding personnel.
As it mulled the decision to upgrade, Advanstar became aware of DALIM SOFTWARE at an industry event and through one of its print vendors. According to Carlson, a closer look revealed that of the options under evaluation, “TWIST was the most flexible. It was not proprietary in its structure. We could foresee a giant step forward in the level of automating our Premedia processes. It was completely customizable and configurable to our optimal workflow. That was the big factor.”
Since installing TWIST, the company has seen positive results in terms of better output quality of its ad and editorial work, associated cost savings, and dramatically reduced cycle times. “Projects that took us 4-5 days a year ago we can now complete in just 1 or 2 days,” Carlson says. In addition, “Rather than using outside vendors for what is now our in-house imposition workflow, we’re adding value in prepress by doing more in-house -without adding personnel.”
The company was so pleased with the performance of TWIST, that it added virtual proofing with DIALOGUE a short time later – with predictable, high-quality results. Says Carlson, “Our color accuracy was much more reliable with DIALOGUE. It could simulate the paper stock better. Cycle time was significantly reduced. Prior to the installation, it had been a two- or three-day process to get proofs to our satellite offices and receive comments from the designers. Now pages are processed in real time from within our TWIST workflow. Prepress, production and designers receive a proof immediately, and have final approval in about 30 minutes. We have an efficient, paperless workflow from page creation to printing.”
Customers see the benefits when their ads print correctly. “Given the level of automation, there are no limitations to what we can accomplish with TWIST,” Carlson says. “If we want to do something new with our automation, we either get help from our integrator, or technicians will set it up internally.” Best of all, “We now have print predictability with our PDFs. Even ads supplied out of the PDF/X-1a standard will print to that standard. Whether a file is delivered to a digital platesetter or proofer, or to an e-zine, there’s no question that it will output the same.”
Advanstar has been so satisfied with the level of automation TWIST has delivered, that they are investigating options of producing a completely web-based flat plan, imposition and tracking system using MISTRAL. With it, they envision that editors, ad sales – the entire staff involved with production workflow – could have a view of the layout of each magazine and the status of each page in real time.
In the deadline-driven publishing world, ad closings can be postponed until the very last minute, narrowing the window for on-time completion. With TWIST, however, “We can ensure our advertisements and editorial outputs to a very high level of accuracy within a shorter cycle time,” Carlson explains. “TWIST also integrates beautifully with our other systems. Other premedia systems like asset management and ad portals are proprietary to this or that manufacturer, but TWIST integrates seamlessly with all of them.”