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PrintAction - 1291 (Page 3)

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PrintAction - 1291
Manager, Digital Ad
Rogers Media
As the publishing world moves ever
closer toward the all-digital workflow, an
immediate question is who will take
responsibility for the file? The develop-
ment of standards and specifications for
the delivery of digital advertisement files
has allowed many large publishing com-
panies to openly accept responsibility
for the file ­ under certain conditions.
"In North America, publishers, as a
whole, have moved toward PDF/X-1
because it is now super economical and
easy to create versus a TIFF/IT, which
was never very economical or easy to
create," says Chris Smyth.
That is not to say that Smyth and his
team would not accept responsibility for
TIFF/IT or even a generic Postscript file if
it is specified to their standards. But if a
client sends their digital ad
as an application file,
whether in QuarkXPress or
InDesign, Rogers will not
accept responsibility for the
reproduction of that materi-
al. All of this is clearly laid
out on a website dedicated
to clients of Rogers ­
Smyth now deals with
more than 300 unique ad
files a week, after he joined
Rogers a few years ago to
help that company judge if
it was time to plunge into a
digital workflow. He contin-
ues to be a project member
of the Digital Magazine
Advertising Canada
Specifications (dMACS),
which was developed in
part to promote the use of
standards across the industry, most pre-
dominately PDF/X-1.
"The message has gotten out that it is
not a good idea to send a Quark file with
your fonts. For one thing it is not even
legal to do that with the fonts, but it's for
the final responsibility of the advertiser
to use a locked-in file format, whether
that is a TIFF/IT, a
PDF/X-1, or some
accepted alternative
to the publisher,"
says Smith.
As much as adver-
tising clients are
being pulled toward
the PDF/X-1 specifi-
cation, companies
like Rogers are inter-
nally compelled to
take responsibility
for the file because it
allows them to
ensure their primary
assets are in a for-
mat that can be
reused. "They are
not locked into an
obscure format that
is hard to re-pur-
pose, in other words,
CT line work or separated Postscript,"
says Smyth. "The same holds to your ad
material, which is valuable to Rogers."
Smyth continues to say that the all-dig-
ital workflow at Rogers Publishing started
to come together at the end of 2002.
Internal colour management systems are
now in place to calibrate the monitors
right from the scanning, through to the
monitor and through to the different out-
put devices. One of the biggest chal-
lenges was, in fact, integrating an exist-
ing electronic-based editorial workflow
with a new workflow for digital ad mate-
rial, but eventually the company shifted
toward a vector-raster PDF workflow.
The move to a vector-based PDF is
clearly the better option today, as Smyth
says, "Vector does actually tie quite well
into re-purposing, though on a smaller
scale. If you are raster you are dead
right there. You really can't reuse it for
anything else." Still, many companies
continue to fight the move away from
raster because they have a workflow,
and an archive, based on it.
A problem holding up the adoption of
PDF/X itself, according to Smyth, is that
Adobe decided to leave certain conver-
sion tools out of the downgraded
Acrobat model. And few business enter-
prises are going to buy the professional
Acrobat 6 model because they do not
need all of its tools. "Applications are
always being upgraded and operating
systems are always being upgraded, and
that will always present a new combina-
tion of challenges to get the file format
into the one that you want."
The Usual Suspects
PRINTACTION ­ February 2004
Ballantyne (Qbc): I think Microsoft is wondering `why
didn't we think of it first'. That is their big thing. I think
they were happy with everybody using Word docu-
ments and Excel documents as an exchange format.
Ballantyne (St. Joe): Yeah. That was basically their
Ballantyne (Qbc): So they were happy with that...
Ballantyne (St. Joe): It's true. We are forcing people,
corporately, to distribute PDFs because then we don't
have to buy everybody a copy of Microsoft Office.
Ballantyne (Qbc): Exactly.
Kew: What about the announcement that they are
going to shutdown PageMaker last week. That's big
because PageMaker was the biggest application in the
world, because it's on the Windows platform. So Adobe
bought it from Aldus and now, last week, they
announced that they are going to shelve it.
There seems to be an unprecedented fight going
on today between the likes of Adobe, Microsoft
and Apple trying to control the desktop?
Kew: They are not saying, `We are going to build the
ultimate platform and that you need to accept every-
thing and try to get there'. They are saying, `Here is what
we have, you need it'. That is the mistake that has been
going on for years. It happened with Scitex.
Ballantyne (St. Joe): What Microsoft tends to do is look
at the open standards and make them proprietary
because they have the widest install base, which makes
what they do the de facto standard. Everybody else has
to work with it and sort of half bastardize their own
standards to deal with it. I mean, After Affects can out-
put a PPML file. Even though [XAML] is going to be a
bad thing for Adobe, in general, they would be pretty
much open minded about it.
What is XAML exactly?
Ballantyne (St. Joe): It stands for eXtensible Application
Markup Language. The original idea is that it will be a
way to send instructions to the Longhorn version of the
core extensions in OS X, so it is the display engine of this
thing called Avalon. So it's a set of instructions for that
and then it can build you an interface.
So the interface can either be part of the program or
the interface can also really be a document, so that it
becomes part of the operating system. And apparently
Microsoft is only going to build it into Longhorn, so
even Windows XP or 2000, or any non-Microsoft oper-
ating systems, are not going to be able to take advantage
of any software that is written in that or any document.
Ballantyne (Qbc): Unfortunately, we are going to end
up going down the same path that we have gone down
for so many years, and have interpreters that are going
to have to convert back and forth.
Smyth: History repeats itself.
What does that mean for the graphic arts industry?
Ballantyne (Qbc): It is more expensive for us to buy
and integrate systems. When you start to talk about the
Reliable Digital Master, any time something has to go
through an interpretation it is not reliable.
Will the Reliable Digital Master model ever happen?
Ballantyne (Qbc): If we want to go there, then our
imaging model changes.
Kew: But you're right you cannot convert. You start
touching things and converting things this way and that
way, something is going to get caught in between.
Ballantyne (St. Joe): And that will be content and
Kew: But I think that I see a big drive by people who
want to get there. People who believe in it are in the
frontend. They think this is really cool. Like in the old
days when someone says, `Hey, you should do this' and
then you go, `Oh, OK, giant customer, I would love to'.
Director, Technical Services
North America,
Quebecor World
Quebecor World Aurora runs best when a
clean file comes in. That is an obvious
truth for any printing company, but clean
files really are the unsung engines driv-
ing the mammoth production lines of
large plants. Dave Ballantyne, who works
out of Quebecor World Aurora, feels that
premedia can have a much greater
impact on a small printer's bottom line,
while his company concentrates purely
on scheduling efficiency. That often
involves doing regular technical and
business audits with clients.
"This is intellectual property that we
give, because we live it," says Ballantyne.
"We lived the prepress revolution and now
our customers are having to undergo it. So
it is an opportunity to take our knowledge
and help them."
Ballantyne says that the technical team
he leads has never really tried to put a
value on the intellectual property of preme-
dia, because consulting really isn't their
core business. The goal is to get the print
contract. To meet that end, the premedia
arm looks equally at customer focus, pure
manufacturing, and what research and
development they can do to help vendors
position products in Quebecor World's
More and more, Quebecor World's direc-
tion appears to be based on using its pre-
media group as a hub that then is able to
branch out across the company's large
geographical area and varied equipment
base. "With how technology has evolved,
and with the cost of data communication
going down over the wide area, it has
made it very cost effective for us to central-
ize the knowledge base that we have,"
says Ballantyne. "But if you spread your-
self thin, you spread your talent base, as
well. That is why there are some big wins
for making that premedia hub."
Ballantyne continues to say that this
hub-and-spoke model provides advantages
with the pure size of Quebecor World,
where weaknesses in
certain processes are
exposed quickly to the
technical group. It
becomes a priority for
them to then smooth out
those weaknesses and
become more efficient.
This is usually where
Ballantyne's research-
and-development efforts
come into play.
The digital hub, how-
ever, is critically obliged
to stay on top of what
Quebecor World's clients
are up to, to link to their
workflows more closely.
"With each step in the
game our workflows are
getting further and fur-
ther intermixed," says
Ballantyne. "This can
happen to departments within a printing
company or in the communications with
customers and vendors. That is our main
focus. To make sure that information in the
workflow evolves so that all of these sys-
tems work together."
The desktop publishing revolution, of
course, created the rise of premedia (out of
prepress) as the functions
of a printing company
quickly moved upstream
and into the customer's
realm. And it is here, with-
in the customer's business
that you can often discover
those crucial points that
allow a supplier to win a
print contract. For exam-
ple, Ballantyne noticed a
large void in corporate
marketing departments
where companies primarily
based their own IT support
on a PC platform. Still,
there is a lot of genuine
prepress work left to do.
"Certainly software
makes it easier for them to
create a good PDF file, a
CTP-quality file, but what
we found is that all of the
problems that existed with pages before
desktop publishing still exist now," says
Ballantyne. "Things like the page size
being wrong, type safety or live area not
being adhered to, not enough bleed, all of
those things still rank in the top-five prob-
lems that we receive regularly and that
goes back to the film and stripping days.

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