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FLEXO Magazine : September 2010
Technologies & Techniques The Future of Color Management As Technology evolves, so do the Challenges By Brian Ashe The history of color management and its arc from past to present to future can be summarized into a single per- petual challenge: matching what is seen on the display to what is printed out. To this end, color management soft- ware and its essential color measurement equipment have evolved over time to meet this challenge. The pace of change has become more deliberate and nuanced in recent years, as developers sought solutions to quality problems, making incremental advances along the way. Recent progress in the core math engine for profile generation has produced innova- tive results. A LiTTLe BACkground Modern prepress systems are designed for fully digital, modular, and often open production workflows. Digital cam- eras or scanners for image capture, hardware and software for color processing, and output devices all play key roles in prepress workflows. This involves a variety of device-specific color systems. No two digital cameras, scanners, monitors, or output devices are identical. Therefore, the modular nature of these systems requires new methods of ensuring the accu- rate communication of color information. At the same time, an increasing volume of data is repurposed for a variety of different media—print, the Internet, DVDs, etc. This requires a workflow that is media independent for color data processing. Color management should allow for flexible proofing of the color data. First, color data should be displayed on the moni- tor precisely as it will subsequently be produced on press. This soft proof applies both to CMYK and other color data. Second, the color data should be output on a digital print- ing system that will simulate the subsequent print run (hard proof). To this end, a digital color printing system should be sufficiently flexible to simulate any type of print production from one output to the next. Offering a technical solution for these reproduction targets is what color management is all about. A workflow involves four device-specific color spaces (a.k .a. color gamuts): the scanner/camera RGB space, the monitor RGB space, the CMYK space of the printer, and frequently the CMYK space of a proofing process. The main function of a color management system is to convert the RGB space of the digital file (scanner/camera) to subsequent color systems, for example, to the CMYK space of the printrun. In doing so, the scanner space, which is gener- ally larger, must be adjusted to the normally smaller color space of the output device (monitor RGB, printer CMYK). The colors within the scanner RGB gamut that cannot be reproduced must be replaced as inconspicuously as possible by colors within the target space. In many applications this involves what is referred to as color space compression or gamut mapping (Figure 1). dispLAy TeChnoLogy A great challenge to color management software is keeping up with ever-changing technology. Nowhere is this more appar- ent than in display technology. Not too long ago, displays were universally RGB and used CRT (cathode ray tube) technology. • People who edit each profile are often correcting for metamerism from two lighting conditions. • Some spectrophotometers have a light diffuser that allows it to read ambient light. • Posterization can plague output profiles, manifesting itself in banded gray ramps; smoothness algorithms can help alleviate this problem. Figure 1. When the gamut of a scanner or other device is larger than the output, gamut mapping and color space compression must take place. All art courtesy X-Rite inc. The following is a preview of FFTAs Fall Conference, nov. 8-10 44 FLeXO sepTemBeR 2010 www.flexography.org HD FLEXO www.esko.com firstname.lastname@example.org Visit us at: LabelExpo Americas 2010 14-16 September - Chicago Stand: 5202 The new quality benchmark in flexo printing HD Flexo combines high resolution imaging with advanced screening. The result is a digital flexo plate for superb printingquality and stability. Finally, flexo is able to match offset printing. Benefits at a glance... • Outstanding tonal range, detail & contrast • Smooth vignettes & gradients - print to zero • Reduction of image correction & retouching • Simplified conversion from Offset & Gravure HD Flexo is one of EskoArtwork’s many new technological innovations. Discover today how EskoArtwork can boost your flexo print quality. HD-Flexo A4- Americas.indd 1 7/16/2010 11:49:42 AM FLX_Sept2010_mech.indd 44 9/1/10 9:24 AM