PIA Color Management Conference: Take 5

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Color Management: 10 Years Back and 10 Years Forward - How Times Have ChangedPart 2

This session at The PIA Color Management Conference featured three industry experts who took the audience back in time and then took a peek into the future of color management technology. I will cover each speaker's presentation in a seperate blog post. This post covers Steve Upton's presentation.

Steve Upton
Steve Upton is the president of Chromix, maker of tools like ColorThink - something which is in the arsenal of any true color geek. He is a popular speaker at trade shows and conferences. See my previous blog post on his excellent article called "The Color of Toast" which explains color managment technology in everyday language.

Although Steve was charged with speaking about the current state of color management, he confessed that he spends a lot of time looking forward in the color management world, and looking at it optimistically. "I think it will all be wonderful, but hopefully not too wonderful. Over the years, if there is one thing I've learned, it's go where there's chaos.... If everything works perfectly, there's no work for any of us in this room." Steve said.

Current Developments in Color Mangement
There are some interesting things happening today that are worth watching, yet they have some challenges that surround them...

• Integrated Measurement
Building a good ICC profile doesn't solve color management. Keeping a single device calibrated doesn't solve color management. Some new printers have full-blown spectrophotometers on board and the potential to support other types of media other than the one the manufacturer wants you to use. "Integrated measurements is a good idea. And for those machines that have them, it appears to be working quite well." Steve said.

But Steve did caution that it also presents an interesting challenge. He told a story of a large creative agency in New York that had an HP and Veris printer, both with integrated measurement, and and Epson with a conventional prepress RIP in front of it. All of the printers were in the same room, but could they not get them to match each other. The printers all did there own stuff internally. "It's not the be all, end all, but there are benefits." Steve said.

"Hopefully over time we will see more and more consistency between the different technologies that are offered, so that more of these systems will match more automatically" Steve said.

• Cheap Instruments
The EyeOne Pro is a good low cost spectrophotometer and you can get good quality screen calibrators for $150 to $200 with decent software. "But a whole bunch of cheap instruments out there doesn't mean that everything is going to get better." Steve said.

• Large Gamut Displays
"These new flat panel displays are blasting light at us in incredible volumes. Which by comparison make your prints look too dark. But the printer is not the problem. The displays are way too bright [before you calibrate them]." Steve said. But he did add that it can be a good thing, because it means you can bring the light around you up more. "You don't have to work in the caves anymore" he added.

The backlight in flat screen technology is changing. Were moving from florescent tube to white LED. And beyond that, are three color LEDs so now you can balance RGB (white point). But there can be uniformity problems.

"When you graph these new large gamut displays in 3D, you see that there are colors you can get on press (like cyans available in SWOP), that now can be viewed on these displays. So it's another step to making soft proofing more reliable. We will see a lot of advancements in display technology in the next ten years." Steve said.

• Display Port
Apple's new Display Port technology is like USB for displays. There is the potential to hook up more than one display to a single port and the potential to do high bit depth through it.

• SWOP GRACoL specifications
New specifications like SWOP3, SWOP5, GRACoL, G7 have created a new set of reference data. Up until now with Photoshop we had one profile for US use: SWOPV2. We now have a unified way of doing things. "It's a renaissance in US printing for standards." Steve concluded.


Topics: Creative

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