RE: print-prep (was: Adobe Photoshop Justification

Subject: RE: print-prep (was: Adobe Photoshop Justification
From: KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 11:20:41 -0400

With embarrassing accuracy, Susan Ahrenhold said:
>
> If you simply do a screen capture, and don't fuss with any of
> the settings,
> your printer may be thinking that there is a lot of tweaking
> that could be
> done to clean up all those little things, that aren't a big
> deal for you.
> Many technical writers I know simply aren't aware of all the
> things you can
> do to a graphic, because they can produce a "good enough"
> graphic without
> learning all that stuff. And learning can be time intensive, and even
> expensive, as you mess with different settings and see how
> the printer deals
> with them.
>
> It's up to you and your manager to determine how much bang
> for the buck you
> can get by learning to tweak extensively.

So, what you seem to be saying is:

Here we are in the fourth quarter of the year 2000
(ok, day after tomorrow -- close enough) and the standard
approach to getting text-and-graphic material through
the commercial printing process is:

"Each and every technical writer shall re-invent the wheel,
in order to achieve initiation and an acceptable adeptness
in the mysteries of pre-press document production."

How can we possibly have reached this date and NOT have
achieved a generally-successful formulaic approach to
pre-press prep? The Xerox docutech is nearly ubiquitous
for low-volume and print-on-demand. It's been around for
years (you can say much the same for high-end Kodak, Kyocera
and other machines). Offset presses have behaved in a
consistent manner for a good chunk of a century. Ripping
software has been handling the conversion from pixels
to half-tones for many years.

So, howcum this stuff is still a combination of voodoo and
rocket science?

There is a finite -- one could even say small-ish -- number of
parameters to address and conditions to meet, in order to
have printed output look good. Knowing that, we know that
the INPUTS to that process must fall within certain parameters.
Take one more step back, and you have the software OUTPUTS
from our publishing and art programs. Is any of you using
a DTP package or a drawing package or an image package that
is NOT in at least its fourth release version? So, why do
we even need to HAVE these conversations? Why is there still
a gap of mystery and technique and "time intensive... expensive..."
trial-and-terror experimentation required. That's exactly
"re-inventing the wheel".

Have I missed a bunch of recent developments, where printing
technology radically diverged from what has come before?
Is there some abrupt discontinuity I failed to note, where
the printer/press/compositor companies simply dropped the
way they did things before 1998 and began selling machines
that worked on an entirely new model? If not, then it
surpatheth understanding that incremental development since
the days of the first PCs and Macs has not yielded a sensible,
enforced/enforceable standard that doesn't even need to be
understood by the users.

When I go to save/export a file from PaintShop Pro or Photoshop,
why aren't I prompted for
"Preferred Output Device format:
Docutech xx, xxx or xxxx
Xerox xxx or xxxx
Dinky little office laser 600dpi
Dinky little office laser 1200dpi
Offset with yyy screen density
Offset with zzz screen density
ISOaaaaa.bb" ?
The list might be long, but it wouldn't wrap my screen, and
after I'd made my choice, the rest would be automatic.

I mean, if they can make a program convert a bitmap color
photo into a Monet-like, or a van Gogh-like "painting", or
a charcoal sketch or embossed-tone-on-tone, with little or
no intervention from me, how much harder can it be to make
that bitmap look very much like itself, but in a standard
halftone screen?

Oh hell, I'm ranting again. </rant>

Somebody please 'splain it to me.

/kevin




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