“As a team, we agreed that our agency processes should follow a client-specific methodology, no matter who is working on a project,” recalls Dennis Warlick, VP, Strategic Technologies, at Deutsch, NY. “While we could do this by assigning studio artists to clients and providing guidance as to how to produce work correctly for a specific client – in reality, workloads and schedules require more flexibility. A studio artist might need to work on a job star ted by another. The result created inconsistencies; users were having difficulty following client-specific procedures. Production, output and quality control suffered. For example, we relied on users to create PDF/X-1a files and check them for conformance. We had no record of the quality control testing or any indication that a file had successfully passed the tests.
”In addition, Deutsch’s retouching department was manually updating art servers as images were revised. Because file names changed to indicate the revision, the replacement of obsolete art wasn’t automatic. “Retouchers were per forming librarian functions – a misuse of time.”
Deutsch needed an automated production workflow system that could streamline internal processes, was flexible enough to work the way they needed it to work and could be open enough to tie into its Xinet digital asset management (DAM) system seamlessly.
“Because of the ease-of-use and flexibility of TWIST, I can quickly create powerful workflows,” comments Warlick. “I have experience with production, relational databases and variable data publishing, but no real programming experience. The RegEx (Regular Expression) scripting language really lives up to its name. And the TWIST toolset allows me to create custom outputs and transmit them in client-specific ways.”
“For me, it’s like playing with a “100-in-1 projects kit” from the electronics store. But instead of wiring together modules to fashion a light meter or crude oscillator, I’m repurposing PostScript in valuable ways.”
“The performance of the system is impressive: Our TWIST server has processed more than 10,000 jobs in the last 60 days,” comments Warlick. “Every workflow creates a low-res PDF. Each time a revision is made, a new PDF is automatically created, overwriting the obsolete file. We serve these files to some clients, allowing them to see a job at any point in the production process. Adding value in new and unexpected ways is just one way TWIST has improved our agency’s service.”
Deutsch also utilizes DALIM SOFTWARE’s online softproofing system, DIALOGUE, for creative collaboration and content proofing. “We use DIALOGUE within our Retouching departments, letting the art director in LA see results of retouching done here in New York. We also discovered that art directors were using it for creative sessions that they hold online. While they are looking at the file in DIALOGUE, the creatives and art directors get on the phone together. “They try stuff they might not have done otherwise,” observes Warlick. “Sometimes they get silly, drawing mustaches and thought bubbles, but making the workday fun is a great way to stimulate creativity.”
Currently, Deutsch is integrating TWIST more closely with its DAM and jobs databases. As Warlick explains, “Combining this job data with our interactive PDF files produces a very powerful and intuitive search tool.” A user finds the desired image on the DAM system, clicks on the image within the PDF file and the asset info window of this asset is displayed. From there, the user can track image usage, download a low-res FPO copy or even convert the file format and resolution for download, all from within their browser.
“By integrating these systems, we can make calls to either the image database or the job database from within a workflow and customize the process, output and transmission schemes based on a much wider option of variables.”
With all of this cutting-edge process automation, you’d assume that Deutsch implemented the technology purely as a way to cut costs. However, that was not the main goal. As Warlick summarizes, “At Deutsch,‘always trying something new’ is the way we work.”
With each new tool, we try to improve the creative service we offer, rather than only to improve profitability or increase revenues. We drive ourselves to provide exceptional client service because it’s what we love to do. And the result, we find, is highly satisfied clients, as well as increased revenue and improved profitability. We use our tools and skills to strive for creative excellence. TWIST and DIALOGUE are helping us to reach our goal: to deliver an ever-improving product.