Soft Proofing – How providers and clients see it

Provider’s viewpoint

TURQUOISE_1Sandra Lalanne has been at the helm of Turquoise since June 2016. Turquoise is a Parisian photogravure company specialised in fine illustration, art books, and school textbooks. Sandra, who has been using ES’ soft-proofing since its creation, recently introduced it as part of a new Turquoise‘s offer.

Can you give us an example of how you set soft-proofing up with one of your clients in publishing?

I have just finished setting the system up at Belin (www.editions-belin.com, an independent academic publisher). The process was very simple. I gave them a quick 10-minute demonstration using one of their publications. I explained how to insert an annotation, reject or accept a page, and how to view the flat plan. Set-up was very quick. It only took one meeting. I’ve just started production with them on a chapter but they’re already doing a great job on their own! Soft-proofing is very intuitive…

When you did the demonstration, was soft-proofing really even an option for the client? Or was it your demonstration that won them over?

COUV_POIVRES(2).inddDuring a preliminary meeting, I told them that I used soft-proofing with academic publishers, and asked if they would be interested. Afterwards, Max-André Carru, from Galilée, our DALIM SOFTWARE integrator, created a user account for them. I then went back to see them a fortnight later with the ten-minute demo, and that was it!

Did you carry out the demonstration on your screen or theirs?

Theirs. They already had a calibrated screen. These clients are very aware of what’s going on, and are heavily involved in calibrating graphics and colour rendering, even though we are dealing with the  academic world. It’s a sector where you have to work very fast. Books are put together in a week, two weeks, or a month. You have to work fast and make sure it looks good! There’s no time for back and forth with couriers and test prints. For this reason soft-proofing is THE solution!

Once the decision has been made, how do you implement soft-proofing?

TURQUOISE_3You have to calibrate the screen, adjust its profile, and adapt it for ambient light. We base our settings on a test chart that we edit and print here at Turquoise. The client then validates this test chart. The screen has to deal as well with coated paper as it does with offset. For offset paper, Under Colour Removal is essential! If the photogravure operator isn’t capable of correctly converting the files and properly simulating paper tests, the gap between offset tests and print runs can be considerable. Printing can turn into a disaster. Therefore, the screen simulation prepares the client. It allows them to see both the dominant colouring of the paper, and how flattened and muted images will be rendered. Using adequate correction ensures the client sees a simulation that will be close to the printed reality, and above all to what they have validated! It means they have a greater sense of security in the end result.

For offset paper, there is a real interest in soft-proofing, with regard to hard copy proof, because the on-screen simulation takes printing paper characteristics into account, whereas hard copy proof is not carried out on the final printing paper. Moreover, changing support is both quick and affordable, because all you need to do is adjust a few settings.”

Client viewpoint

Catherine Bulot is head of photogravure for Albin Michel’s Education division (www.albin-michel.fr).

“Since 2009 a large percentage of photogravure undertaken by this division (school textbooks, children’s literature and some mainstream books) has used DALIM SOFTWARE soft-proofing. Since 2009, the product has evolved a great deal in terms of speed and design – notably with the electronic flat plan. From a publishing stand point, most of our editors are over the moon to be using this new tool. It allows them to view images and Ben-day dots in context, and to rapidly view the state of their work using the flat plan (missing pages and images).

From a production stand point, it lowers photogravure costs, and we gain a significant amount of time (less need for couriers, real time retouching, etc.).

Tools like the densitometer, colour channels, and ink coverage allow us to check our work, and/or to give the photogravure operator clearer instructions about the result we are looking for. The ‘compare’ function also allows us to see the photogravure operator’s actions after correction. This is an important function because in my role as head of photogravure for Albin Michel’s Education division, I assess the work carried out and take the know-how gained from it forward into subsequent projects.”

Interview conducted by Didier Destabeaux