Softproofing: Largely ignored in spite of being very accurate

By Erica Aitken

October 13, 2022

Softproofing is the natural transition from paper proofs to digital proofs. Today, we use a color-managed inkjet printer with a RIP to print contract proofs. The technology is mature and the proofs are close to perfect, not only for color but also in terms of what a specific press can do. Hardproofing is ideal and preferred for many environments, particularly in settings where the brand owner and team is synched with preferred vendors.

Other environments would benefit from a digital system that eliminates mirrored hardware and software systems, fosters real time dialogue from client to pressman, facilitates interaction between remote locations. That’s what softproofing brings to the table.

We have worked for years with Remote Director, a Californian company devoted to the development of digital proofing. We asked Dan Caldwell, president of Remote Director,  to tell us the current status of this interesting but often misunderstood technology.

Remote Director is a unique display-based proofing solution that pairs Remote Director Client with a Proof Server.

It’s the brand that sets the parameters for color as the files are added. Profiles, CxF data, various queues, are entered in the server and integrated in the solution. When the file is opened on the Client application, the correct profiles are automatically applied and the user can see a proof as accurately on the monitor as if it had been printed. The monitor, you might think, could be uncalibrated or too old.

How can you guarantee that the image is viewed correctly? In order to view the proof, Remote Director requires that the user calibrate his or her monitor with the included calibration module, subjecting it to a pass/fail score.

Pairing Remote Director with JUST Normlicht professional lighting

On press, Remote Director is used to view a sheet against a soft proof. To eliminate discrepancies between the luminance of the screen with the lighting of the booth, Remote Director includes drivers that automatically set the luminance of the viewing lights to match the display. To measure spot color on a running press, Remote Director is now working with LithoFlash. The LithoFlash readings, applied to a clone of the file on screen  allows the client to visualize  variations between the proof and the press.

In addition to all the normal mark up and approval tools, Remote Director provides unique tools for critical color work. Any file can be “cloned” to show two print conditions side by side. For instance, you can assign different spot colors to the channels, or different profiles. You can compare papers, dot gain curves or any combination of these settings. It gives the user the ability to make an informed choice that cannot be made with inkjet proofing.

Remote Director can be used from “Think to Ink” whenever and wherever proofing is required. From the photo shoot to press, or to the Internet. And when a hard copy proof is required, any user (with permission) can print to a profiled device and expect a match between proof and display.

A veteran of softproofing

Remote Director is the standard for softproofing because they have been at it, researching and developing this technology for fifteen years. They evolve to meet the ever changing needs of the industry. For example, the current development allows the proof to be viewed in a 3D environment when ambient light can reflect off varnishes and metallics. Other softproofing products are Kodak Virtual Matchprint, which is no longer supported, and Dalim (providing that you use their Enterprise Solutions workflow.)

Remote Director has an impressive array of clients and users such as Schawk!, Phototype, Associated News, Bauer Publishing, Time Inc., Kelloggs, Campbell, and many others.

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