To gain insight into the impact of variations in premedia imaging tasks related to color reproduction, a cross-section of creative and premedia professionals were interviewed. The data collected indicated that, based largely on the different focus of creative and premedia service professionals, the approaches of each population to specific color management-related tools and workflows resulted in a high potential for variability in color reproduction. While these results were somewhat expected, several clear trends into how those approaches were different indicate specific areas for possible improvements in production efficiencies and color consistency.
The primary objectives of this research were to:
The research sample consisted of 27 U.S.-based companies comprised of 11 creative services providers (design firms, ad agencies, publishers) and 16 premedia (prepress) and print services providers. Data was collected via a combination of surveys, interviews, and on-site direct observation. Interviews were conducted in-person, by phone, and via email correspondence and, relative to the research questions posed, provided the bulk of meaningful data collected.
Through the data collection, questions focused on the decision-making process and specific software settings that impacted color rendering of images through the premedia workflow. A great deal of information was gathered regarding color management policies and other general image processing tasks, but obtaining very detailed information about other imaging operations (e.g., tone reproduction, color correction methods, etc.) proved inconclusive.
Data collection varied in approach but focused on several key areas: (1) software color setting preferences, (2) RGB and CMYK workflows, (3) color correction workflows, (4) use of color profiles, (5) color proofing strategies, (6) division of tasks between creative and premedia services, (7) chargeable operations, and (8) general comments about the process.