CHROMiX ColorNews Issue #15 - To RIP or not to RIP
Welcome to ColorNews, a periodic update on things related to Color Management. We are striving for a regular consistent newsletter of high value to our customers. Please let us know what your interests are so we can address these concerns in our coming issues.
C H R O M i X C O L O R N E W S
** There are several new Monitor calibration devices released this month: the Eye-One Display 2 from GretagMacbeth, ColorEyes Display from Integrated Color Corp., and the Spyder2 from ColorVision. Details on all below.
** Monaco's $50 Rebate for Optix XR and Optix XR Pro has been extended until the end of the year! See ad below.
** CHROMiX is extending our new "Buy it Back" trade-in program. CHROMiX will buy your old competitive monitor calibration device when purchasing Eye-One profiling solutions. We'll pay you $80 when you buy an Eye-One Display and $200 when you buy an Eye-One Photo, Publish or Beamer. Contact Sales for more information. See Ad below.
** 'To RIP or not to RIP', an article written by CHROMiX President Steve Upton
Table of Contents
1. CHROMiX News
Since our last ColorNews Issue #14 (August 17, 2004) many things have happened at CHROMiX that are worth mentioning:
CHROMiX ColorThink Pro version was extensively mentioned and used (for imagery) in the newest version of Real World Color Management.
CHROMiX was at Graph Expo in Chicago Oct. 10 - 12. We participated with other members of the Color Management Group. Rick Hatmaker was there giving many demos of ColorThink software (2.1), discussing ColorValet/Profile City profiling services and discussing color management with show attendees. A summary of the noteworthy items at Graph Expo is listed below in the special Graph Expo Summary section (with a color management perspective of course).
CHROMiX will be at Photo Plus in New York Oct. 21 - 23. We'll be in booth #976 with Integrated Color Corp., ImageLink and See File Asset Management. We will be showing off ColorThink and discussing color management for photographers. Come by the booth and receive a 10% coupon off our CHROMiX branded products ColorThink and ColorValet!
Quarterly Commission checks went out to Partner Program members this month, and we are increasingly amazed by these amounts! We are very much appreciative your referral business!! Please let us know if you did not get yours.
If you think you could benefit from a little extra cash every quarter, then check out the CHROMiX Partner Program. It's very easy. And you get paid by just referring others to a reliable, knowledgeable color management resource called CHROMiX. Simply go to
Color, Product & Industry News
GretagMacbeth has announced the NEW Eye-One Display 2, an evolved version of the top selling Eye-One Display monitor calibration and profiling product. The Eye-One Display 2 touts 'one button color management' for your CRT or LCD monitor and much greater control than it's predecessor.
GretagMacbeth announced the Eye-One iCare Program. iCare is a premium extended warranty and accuracy verification program for Eye-One Pro customers! The cost is $395 List and iCare can be purchased anytime within the standard warranty period.
Integrated Color Corporation announced COLOREYES DISPLAY, for use with all monitors, CRTs and LCDs. ColorEyes Display will be sold with X-RITE's DTP-94 monitor calibrator because of its precision and repeatability. ColorEyes Display is based directly on the core technology behind "Remote Director" developed by Integrated Color Solutions (ICS).
There's a new FREE 2-page downloadable 'Photoshop Printing Tipsheet' from Color Remedies (aka Chris Murphy) that is very good. You can find it at: here
Manufacturers of profiling software have been, and will continue to release versions that produce profiles that conform to v4 of the ICC specification. Other software manufacturers are developing and releasing applications that will utilize ICC v4 profiles. For a list of these vendors, follow this ICC link and download the pdf:
The 'Professional Workflow 2 Digital Workshop' from ShootSmarter.com is starting a new FREE tour across the U.S.A. starting in Seattle on January 10, 2005. Check this schedule and see if it's coming to a city near you!
Adobe has updated and released Camera Raw version 2.3 (RAW file format plug-in for Photoshop CS) for Windows and Mac. Version 2.3 adds the Canon Powershot S60, Epson R-D1, Fujifilm FinePix S20 Pro and Nikon Coolpix 5400 to the growing list of RAW files the software can convert. In addition, Camera Raw plug-in also supports Adobe's newly-announced Digital Negative (DNG) format here
ColorVision has released the new Spyder2 colorimeter with new & improved pro-level monitor calibration software. The Spyder2 features: Precise calibration of CRT, LCD, and notebook displays (Mac and Windows), Wizard software with easy-to-follow instructions (site license), Gray balance and tonal response, Accurate flesh tones, Multiple monitor calibration and matching, 2 Year Spyder2 Warranty and free technical support. For more details go to:
Creo Leaf and GretagMacbeth have entered into a cooperative agreement to provide Leaf customers the ability to customize ICC color profiles to fit different lighting conditions based on the shooting environment. The solution integrates GretagMacbeth profile creation and editing products into the Creo Leaf Capture 10 application. The user will be able to create ICC profiles that takes into account unique and specific lighting for different shoots.
Good Economic news! Printing Shipments were Up for the Third Straight Month! According to Dr. Joe Webb, editor at What They Think.com, "Printing shipments for August 2004 were up $21 million compared to August 2003. This is the third straight month of increase, unadjusted for inflation. We are now at -0.5% for the first eight months of 2004 compared to 2003. This is, of course, good news, and combined with the
SHOWS & EVENTS
*! October 21-23, 2004 PhotoPlus Expo at Jacob Javits Convention Center New York, NY. This is the East Coast's largest and most comprehensive expo in the photographic and imaging industries. There will be over 200 exhibitors, new & live product demonstrations, hot products sold direct, top industry seminar and keynote speakers & presenters.
*! CHROMiX will be at PhotoPlus Expo in booth #976 with Integrated Color Corp., ImageLink and See File Asset Management. . We will be showing off ColorThink and discussing color management for photographers. Come by the booth, say hello and receive a 10% coupon off our CHROMiX branded products ColorThink and Colorvalet!
October 24 28, 2004, XPLOR 2004, 25th Global Electronic Document Systems Conference & Exhibition at Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, TX. here
*! December 5-7, 2004, the GATF 6th Annual Color Management Conference has been announced and will be held at the Hilton Pointe Mountain Tapatio Cliffs Resort. Steve Upton has been asked to serve on the board of directors this year and will be speaking in several sessions and Labs. More details to come.
January 10 - 14, MacWorld San Francisco, CA. Everything for the Mac devoted. West Coast style.
March 17-19, 2005 Graphic Arts 2005. Charlotte Convention Center, NC. This recent trade show and conference brought in thousands of industry professionals from the Southern USA. View the many highlights of the 2003 show edition and sign up to be reminded of the next show in Charlotte, NC.
September 9-15, 2005 PRINT '05 at McCormick Place Complex, Chicago, IL Because of its mammoth size and international presence, PRINT occurs only every four years and will take the place of GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO in 2005.
SPECIAL: GRAPH EXPO 2004 NOTEWORTHY ITEMS
X-Rite launched a new campaign and strategy called 'Streamlined Color Management'. This appears to be X-Rite's new global strategy for the graphics arts market, with an emphasis on simplicity, usability, and affordability. There are three keywords to this new strategy: CREATE, PREPARE and EXECUTE.
JUST Normlicht, Inc. showed the new 'proofStation'. JUST is setting new standards in design, functionality and innovative lighting technology with improved light distribution, luminance levels and unmatched color rendering qualities. CHROMiX was so impressed that we decided to carry this fine product line!
ICS (Integrated Color Solutions) showcased Remote Director, the first SWOP Certified monitor-based contract proofing system that applies advanced color management to verify the accuracy of every monitor and every proof. Running on commercially available hardware, Remote Director software allows multiple reviewers in dispersed locations to view, collaborate and comment on color as well as content and build a digital record of the proofing process from start to finish including legal sign-off.
GretagMacbeth showed their new products including the new Eye-One Display 2 and the DensiEye 700. They were also showing show attendees new aspects of Eye-One Shares ability to match and compare spot colors. GretagMacbeth also discussed and promoted their new Brand Program to leverage service products to customers.
The Color Management Group (of which CHROMiX is a proud member) promoted it's members and demonstrated it's collective and individual products and services that help control color throughout the workflow.
Left Dakota released and demonstrated it's new UltraLinks software, creating ICC links which convert RGB to CMYK while maximizing the color gamut; and Link-o-Lator products, helping the high-end color management user create the most accurate digital color proofs.
Jim Rich of Rich & Associates promoted and discussed The RIP Report: Using and Choosing ICC-based RIPs that Drive Inkjet Printers. This raster image processor (RIP) primer offers practical information about ICC-based RIPs, calibration, color management, and buying advice about ICC-based RIPs that drive inkjet printers.
Quark released QuarkXPress v6.1 that will feature a more intuitive, versatile interface. Quark also relaxed their Single-User Licensing Policy. Under the new policy, QuarkXPress 6 users can install and activate their software on a second computer at no additional charge.
ColorFAQ - To RIP or not to RIP?
With the proliferation of inexpensive inkjet printers it seems everyone can now afford one and most professional imaging people have one (or more). Most inkjets on the market - even the wide-format variety - are available without a RIP and are accessed through the manufacturer's print driver. We receive a constant stream of questions about RIPs: what they do, how they work, are they required. It seems high time to put together an overview of RIPs' basic functions and uses.
Strictly speaking, a RIP is a Raster Image Processor. Not since the days of pen plotters have lines and curves in software actually been drawn as lines and curves on paper. All major printing technologies create pictures, linework and text using a grid of dots sometimes called a Raster. To create this grid of dots, software is required to convert line work (curves, text, and so forth) and images to a printable matrix of pixels and then screen them using a complicated pattern of cyan, yellow, magenta and black ink dots. With the advent of Adobe's Postscript page description language our software had the ability to create entire pages of text, artwork and images using raster and vector commands that could then be printed on any printer that could interpret Postscript. Postscript is not an open language but Adobe licensed it to many printer manufacturers so we can use the same printing language to print to our laser or inkjet printer that we use to print a final job on press. The RIP software engine that interprets the Postscript often resides in printers themselves but can also run on a purpose-built computer directly connected to the printer or (as is becoming more common) on a desktop or server computer running Windows or Mac operating systems.
Like most things in the computing world, RIPs have evolved mostly by adding feature after feature. Many of these features have nothing to do with rasterizing Postscript but make good sense to have on the same computer. RIPs now share printers across a network to multiple users, allow printing queue management for prioritizing of print jobs, nest jobs to save paper, and so forth.
A number of features that DO control or affect color are: linearization, ink limiting, screening & dot simulation, direct channel control and color management. Let's handle them one at a time.
Linearization - straightening out the behavior of each channel makes a printer much more palatable to print profiling. RIPs have traditionally linearized based on density measurements but this is not necessarily linear as far as our eyes are concerned. Some RIPs are starting to allow linearization based on L* (the L in Lab) or Chroma (the C in LCH, a cousin of Lab). This type of linearization makes profiling much simpler and tends to increase accuracy as well. For printers that include light cyan and magenta inks, most RIPs allow control over light and dark ink blending to smooth the transition between inks.
Ink Limiting - inkjet technology is all about the relationship between ink and paper. RIPs can allow limiting of the ink in each channel as well as the total ink limit allowed on paper (good RIPs allow both). There are two strategies to ink limiting each channel. One is to set the inking limit to the point just before the ink puddles on the paper. This allows for the maximum gamut possible from the printer. Unfortunately, when laid down heavily, inkjet inks can behave rather strangely by changing their hue. This causes "hooks" at the end of each channel (easily seen when graphed) and profiling software can struggle to capture this behavior properly, causing inaccuracies in saturated colors. Accordingly the second strategy is to limit the ink to a point just before the sharpest part of the hook occurs. This can be an effective trade-off between gamut and inaccuracy and is popular for proofing systems where the target gamut is defined by the proofing / reference profile. Setting the ink limit to be just high enough to contain the reference gamut is sometimes the only way to get the accuracy proofing systems require.
Screening and dot simulation - Once vector and line work has been rasterized into pixels it needs to be screened into dot patterns. Most inkjet screening is stochastic / chaotic or something similar. Randomizing the dot patterns can create beautifully smooth tones but they are certainly different from the patterns typically seen on press. Some RIPs will simulate the dot patterns on press but it is tough to do this effectively as each dot needs to be color managed to simulate press inks and then they require blending as is seen on press. While this type of proof can illustrate dot pattern problems that may occur on press (like moire) its limitations are slowing its acceptance and most proofing is accomplished with non half-tone screening.
Direct Channel Control - Controlling a 4 channel CMYK printer using 3 channel RGB numbers means giving up on influencing the black channel. You may be able to control black better than the "canned" separation that occurs in a printer driver. Controlling a (true) 6 channel printer using 3 channel RGB numbers is even worse. On the other hand, RGB profiling solutions tend to cost less than CMYK and considerably less than 6-channel profilers. Like everything in life, greater control tends to mean greater complexity and cost. If you want it however, it's typically there for a price.
Color Management - the CMYK to CMYK color transformation that is required for correct proofing can be accomplished in desktop applications but it is much simpler to perform it in-RIP. When the proofing transform is moved to the RIP, any application can print CMYK and create good proofs. All applications (and all users) will create the same quality proof and page elements such as EPS graphics - which are typically un-manageable in applications - will proof correctly in-RIP. Another in-RIP capability which is often overlooked is the substitution of vector colors. Important client logo colors can be carefully formulated when tuning the RIP so at print time they are pulled from the Postscript print stream or PDF and substituted with the tuned color for your RIP.
So if a RIP is so powerful then why would we ever print without one? Well, with the power comes the price of complexity. In the past few years RIP interfaces and installation procedures have improved significantly but they still require more time and knowledge than printing from drivers. Also, drivers are included with the printer but RIPs can cost significantly more. They typically run on a separate computer so that also needs to be figured into the price.
What are the limitations with drivers? The most important limitations are the inability to linearize and the lack of direct channel control. If you use third-party papers or inks in your inkjet and find that no matter what you do it clobbers your shadow detail then linearization may be just the thing you need. If you can't keep neutrals neutral, find saturated colors muddy or struggle with a lack of dark saturated colors then direct channel control and its ability for you to specify black generation may help you as well.
It's fair to say that a RIP will almost always give you better results than simply controlling your printer with standard drivers. It's certainly correct to say that a RIP will complicate your life and add to the cost of your printing system. If any of the above points rings true for you then it might be time to consider a RIP. If not, consider yourself lucky and forge ahead with your driver. If you are really not sure then try a good custom profile using your driver. It's a comparatively cheap experiment to see if the driver will do the job before heading down the RIP road.
Thanks for reading,
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