In #53 I listed a bunch of color resources I had found on the web. I was looking because we are putting the finishing touches on the first beta release of our ProofPass.com soft proofing verification module. For me this project has turned out to be about the journey not the destination. Of course the destination which is a viable commercial release of the aforementioned product that we hope to make lots of money on is not a bad place to end up.
The Journey, however, has been like going back to school for a guy so grounded in the color science of the physical ink on paper side of our industry. I have come to the conclusion that a monitor is just another â€œblack boxâ€ that creates color from my perspective. Just like a hard copy proofing system, a conventional printing press, or even a digital printing press is. So, that means if it can be measured it can be controlled.
The key to successful soft proofing appears to lie in the color management behind the system(s). I recently had the opportunity to view and measure eight displays powered by the soft proofing technology of three vendors all in one place. All were powered by Macs, but the displays came from two manufacturers. In our quick and dirty technology demo three of these systems (all under the control of one organization) came in with a very tight peak Delta E of only about 3 between the systems.
Monitors using the other vendors soft proofing technologies fell further out (as the software was pre-beta at that time I am going to omit any further numbers). The verification module did, however, catch that one of the monitors had been profiled to the wrong white point (letâ€™s just say I was pretty pleased with the new toy we built!).
Surround lighting and viewing conditions will make any quality soft proofing system work or not work. I have read papers on subject, I have tested it myself, and I have spoken to people who have done extensive testing of the systems. The less surround lighting (other than your 5000K light booth) the better. The surround and viewing conditions should be identical to the ultimate conditions when you make your monitor profile. One of the biggest factors I have seen to making a good or bad monitor profile is surround lighting.
It is clear to me that monitor proofing is here to stay in our industry, and is also highly viable when properly utilized. While I do not see monitor proofing replacing hard copy proofing altogether, I do see it replacing hard copy proofing in some applications very quickly. In other areas I see monitor proofing replacing many of the internal proofing iterations prior to the hard copy â€œcontract proofâ€ used press side. Much of this is going to depend upon how tight the deadlines are for being able to change copy, and the perceived quality level of the work being produced.