Color Management: The Intersection of Technology and Intent

The Printerverse at Print 18 was a resounding success. Our panels, interviews and events were attended by almost 2000 print pros, with a few hundred more watching from home around the planet via YouTube and Facebook. More than 6000 minutes of programming was watched live. If you missed any of our broadcasts the replays are here thanks to our fabulous partners at Inkish.TV.

There were many remarkable moments during our three days in Chicago. We talked about Cannabusiness and how the print industry can support for the first time in a public forum. Sabine Geldermann the Director of drupa stopped by to share some poignant reasons to attend the world’s largest print show in Dusseldorf, Germany June 2020. Frank Romano told us about the first Graph Expo in 1968,  and how the Legacy of Print lives through his museum in Haverhill Mass. Ricoh and Konica Minolta hosted events that had people standing in the aisles, and Jules Van Sant became the fifth women to wear the Girls Who Print tiara and take home the 2018 Girlie Award.

Color Management-print media centr

There was plenty of action in our corner of the show floor, but none that ignited all of the senses more than the panel titled Color Management: The Intersection of Technology and Intent with panelists from Ricoh, HP and Canon Solutions America

Before you click play below to see the panel turn into a debate over COLOR INTENT, and see me clobber Toby Saalfeld from Ricoh with my little Alien friend, let’s spend a moment to see where everyone lands on this…

The print customer hires a photographer, has a shoot, retouches pics, composes layout, sends to printer and gets a proof. They approve the proof and printer runs the job. Client gets materials and says it’s not the color they wanted/expected and they aren’t happy.

DOES IT MATTER if every spectrometer says the color is the color on the proof if the customer isn’t happy?

DOES IT MATTER that you can mathematically replicate color on multiple devices if the customer doesn’t like it?

Those are big questions and the Color Management Movement is counting on you saying yes to both of those based on when the customer is happy with the result. However, there is no plan or answer for when they are not, it seems… other than Toby standing his ground that math is right, and humans are wrong.

Thanks to Toby Saalfeld from Ricoh, Tim Stefl from HP and Jan Lemieux from Canon Solutions America for providing great information, a lively conversation, and staying overtime in The Printerverse for this one.

7 Responses

  1. Colour management is a mess and it is a mess because of failures in basic logic at all levels and in understanding how to build a system that solves problems. Colour scientists are not really so good at solving problems and the problems with printing are not really related to colour science.

    Excuses are made by colour management experts for the failure of performance, that range from lack of training or IQ of operators to the idea that people see colour very differently. Blaming others is a sure sign of the lack of capability in the existing technical approaches to provide a relative simple solution. No amount of training can completely compensate for a poorly thought out approach to a technical solution. Hey, I didn’t get any training to use my TV. Seems to work great and maybe because it was logically designed that way.

    To say that people see colour differently as an excuse, just undermines the whole concept of colour science used for print, that is based on the idea of a Standard Observer. If the science is no good, what is the point of colour management being based on it. Printing devices can be made consistent without colour science by addressing the physical causes of variation.

    Anyone who brings up G7 as a solution for colour management has a problem. Even the innovator of G7 and there has also been on the Idealliance web site, comments that G7 is not the best solution to obtain colour and custom ICC approaches are better, so why is G7 being pushed so much if it is not the best approach?

  2. I ask the color management people all the time that exact question. I would agree without them it would be color chaos, but there is no SINGLE solution to something that will always be subjective human by human.

  3. Really Its very helpful and came to know the benefits color management, but its better to gain some printing techniques to maintain the color depth

  4. Then it seems to me that the solution should be one that is applied when such human subjectivity is encountered… at press check. And, the solution has to provide accurate, precise, effective results and with such efficiency at execution time that its use will be cost-effective. Deborah, do you agree?

  5. Hey Deb,
    The issue you’re raising is not actually related to Color Management. The same may apply to the paper or the color of staples or the type of glue you’re using to make the final product.

    The essence of your question comes down to this:

    Should print providers allow their customers to use them for their creative process?

    …and my answer is “No” (unless they pay them for this service).

    I really liked your example of the Michelin Chef. Let’s look at that a little differently – with commercial printer analogies in parenthesis:

    You hire a chef (commercial printer) to cook a recipe (CMYK file) you (end-customer) created yourself. The chef (commercial printer) uses the best pans and pots (printers) with the best ingredients (ink/toner, paper, etc.), and the best processes (ICC/DLP profiles, G7, etc.) to create the dish (printed CMYK job) EXACTLY the way you (end-customer) defined it in your recipe (CMYK file).

    Now, what if you taste the dish (view the printed proof) and you don’t like it…

    Assuming the Michelin chef didn’t make any obvious mistakes:

    Does it matter if the Michelin chef (commercial printer) applied the best processes (ICC/DLP, G7, etc.) if you don’t like the dish (printed CMYK job) you (end-customer) created (designed) yourself?

    I say “yes”, because all of those people who know how to create a good recipe will want their recipe to be cooked EXACTLY the way they created them. If they find out that they made a mistake and the dish didn’t turn out as expected, they will make educated changes to their recipes and ask the chef to cook it again.

    Should the chef ditch all of his experience (industry best practices), just because there are people who don’t know how to create a recipe correctly? Then why even become a Michelin chef?

    There are a few more considerations of course, but maybe that’s something for another podcast episode?! 😉

  6. I agree that there is NOT one solution to a process that will always require a human to agree with the outcome… like the perception of color.