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Reality check on prepress questions

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  • Reality check on prepress questions


    So I've been back and forth with my printer a couple of times needing to ask a few questions. Finally, after a month of trying to set something up, they were going to put me in touch with somebody in prepress, so I sent questions on 8/31 and they said they'd get the answers for me. I contacted them this week and they said they were trying very hard to get the answers from prepress but they're in press training due to a switchover to digital. I figured sending them in writing would be more helpful and provide me with a record of the answers, but now I'm told someone will call me tomorrow and answer my questions over the phone. I have an 18 hr day tomorrow with little room for phone time so I told them they'd have to leave the answers on my voice mail. They said the questions were extensive and required a dialogue but they'd try...

    So my question is, are the following questions really that involved? Here they are:
    1. COLORS: I have a Pantone color bridge uncoated. There is a huge difference between U and UP; I'm assuming I use UP since that's the cmyk side, but which one should I use? I noticed _____ was sampling from the U side. None of the CS programs list it, just U. Does the P stand for Process (which brings me to my next question...)?

    2. PROCESS/SPOT: Process vs. Spot: which one do you prefer?

    3. PERCENTAGES (transparency vs. tint?): On the front panel background for the ____ Retreat Brochure Summer-Fall I specified at 30% and on the back panel 10%, yet the back panel looked 3 times darker. Did I do this backwards or something? SNIPET ATTACHED WITH ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS ON IMAGE.

    4. PHOTOS/IMAGES: A previous conversation with ____ indicated a preference for submission of grayscale photos. My questions on the ____.jpg image about tint requests and their effects, as well as integrity of feathering, etc. are:

    Submitting photos in grayscale --
    not sure how to determine "wash" percentage or even terminology.
    Last brochure photos were completely washed out and I had them at 20%.
    Is the tinting for photos usually 100% to pick up detail, sharpness, etc. or something else?
    Will the feathering still hold up with the wash?

    Image vs. Text: To avoid font substitution and repositioning of work and elimination of gradient and transparency such as what happened with the last cover, is it acceptable to submit something as an image rather than text?


    Paper: We want to use the same paper stock and weight we use on our newsletter and past brochures (not including this last one). It's a flecked, textured matte.

    Fold/size: We would like to add a fold-over insert people can cut off and mail back to us, which would leave the brochure body at 8.5x11 with an extension for the cutoff postcard fold-over (illustration attached). Question is which side you'd need the extension to be coming from (top or side). Big questions are doability and cost.

    These are all, to my understanding, questions that relate directly to their press standards/preferences, so it's not like I can pull the answers out of the ethers. Meanwhile, time is ticking.

  • #2
    I think that after this time, the reality check is theirs. If the area you live has a selection of printers, I'd look somewhere else.
    I'd give ya 30 minutes on the phone to answer your questions and guarantee we'd both be happy.
    People tell me "Have a Good One!' Hell, I already have a good one, I just need a BIGGER one! - George Carlin


    • #3
      You need, really need to schedule time to talk, not via voicemail, but in an actual conversation, with the pre-press person and printer that you'll be dealing with. Yes, your questions are involved, because they show that you are new at this, and also because every printer has different RIPs, and requirements, and preferences. I'm not trying to be snarky here, I'm just saying you are in partnership with your printer to produce the most spectacular printed piece that you can, so you need to form a dialogue with them to find out the best way to achieve that.

      Ask yourself this: is it worth having the job rerun, most likely at your or your company's expense, because you didn't spend the time talking with your printer before sending them the job?

      I'm sorry about your 18 hour day, that really sucks, but trust me, your days are going to get a lot longer and Lucy, you'll also have some 'splainin' to do because you didn't invest the time talking to your pre-press person one on one with your questions.

      Here are some questions I can answer or try to answer for you, but seriously, make the time to talk to the pre-press people if you have that as an option. It will be well worth it.

      1. I don't have a Pantone Bridge here at home, so I can't swear about the the P standing for process. Generally, we do drawdowns when we're choosing spot colors on whatever type of stock we're going to be printing on, to determine whether the color is what we want to end up with. And there's a big difference between spot color on coated vs. uncoated, also even between those two types, you will have shifts depending on which paper you choose. Similarly, if you're going to be going with process, you might need to tweak the mix a bit to get it where you want it.

      2. Process vs. Spot: That's largely a cost and importance of color fidelity issue. Some spot colors make a fairly huge (and not always pretty) transition when translated into CMYK. Most people do their identity materials (letterhead, envelopes, etc.) with a spot (generally uncoated version) color, and determine the best CMYK mix for situations where that's called for, as in advertising in 4-color magazines, brochures, etc.

      3. You didn't attach a snippet, so I couldn't be clear on why the lighter one printed darker than the darker one.

      4. Why are you sending JPEGs to a printer? Those are not meant for printing, just for onscreen representation. Yes, it's true that stock photo houses usually supply images in JPEG format, but they should be saved as TIFF or if a clipping path needs to be involved, EPS.

      I'm not sure what you mean by wash percentage, are you talking about dot gain? Sometimes terminology differs in different areas, you don't state where you are from, so I'm wondering if something is lost in translation there.

      If you supply your text as an image, it will become what's referred to as device dependent, meaning that the resolution of the "text" image will be whatever the dpi is of the file you supply. I would advise STRONGLY against this. Supply the fonts instead.

      What program are you using to layout your files?

      Talk to your printer, talk to your printer, talk to your printer. Seriously! You sound like you are somewhat of a novice, no offense intended here, this is something you need to talk with them about. Hopefully what I've replied to here helps a bit. The printer and pre-press people are your allies, not simply lackeys who run your job through the RIP and it all comes out okay. They can advise you best as to what they require from you in order for your job to come out correctly without need of revision and very often, expensive corrections and re-runs.
      "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!" - Ricky Ricardo


      • #4
        P.S. After reading Rick's post, and re-reading yours in terms of response time, I'd suggest finding a more rapidly responsive printer. Sounds like they don't really care about your business.

        In general, when I contact a pre-press person at one of our regular printers, it's almost like they call me back before I even left a message. That's how much they want to work with us, it's not desperation, it's that they have no interest in tearing their hair out over poorly set-up files, and they want our business back for future pieces.
        "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!" - Ricky Ricardo


        • #5
          Aw crap. I just realized after reading Urst's post that I have to go and resave a bunch of graphics on a job - they have clipping paths and I saved them as tiffs. At least better to catch it now rather than getting a call from the printer.


          • #6
            Balou, are you working in Quark or InDesign? Because you don't need clipping paths if you're using InDesign. You can save the TIFFs with transparency and eliminate the need for clipping paths. Unless your printer doesn't like that.
            "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!" - Ricky Ricardo


            • #7
              It's going to an online place so I like to keep things as basic as possible. I didn't know that about the TIFFs and transparency in InD. See, an old dog can learn new tricks.


              • #8
                Thanks, and urstwile thanks for taking that time, I really appreciate it, but these are specific to this press house and the answers need to come from them, which is why I said I wasn't looking for the answers to those questions in here. Let me just clarify a couple of things and clear up some erroneous assumptions.


                Here's the thing. Being extremely aware of the importance of good communication with my printer, and having been told how much they appreciate how above and beyond I go to make that happen... Short of getting on my knees and begging, over the past month+ I've given over a dozen time slots during normal business hours when I would be available for face-to-face (I obviously offered to go out there) or phone. Giving me less than a day's notice (NOT one of the time slots) that someone would be calling me sometime during the day is not going to work due to my clinic schedule. I can't tell a patient or client that "hey, I'm going to break a couple laws here so I can take this call, 'kay?" I've given hours of free-of-charge time and have taken time out of my other contracts to make this happen in the past and have done so happily and very successfully; tomorrow is not going to be one of those days.

                Your comment about my 18 hour days sucking and only getting longer probably comes from you thinking I'm just starting out in business, and was assuming I was unhappy with it, although there was absolutely nothing in my post that alluded to that. I make my own hours, I own my own business, and tomorrow's 18-hour day certainly does not suck, but since I also run 3 clinics and my own practice and will be with patients during normal business hours, I literally will not have phone time other than 10 minutes in my car here and there. Does that clarify things?

                I've spent a tremendous amount of time building a fantastic relationship with the printer, both as a graphics person and as a managing editor. I can't speak with prepress without going through the print people I have the relationship with. I would love nothing more than to be able to build a relationship with prepress.

                I've made it very clear I'm new at professional press prep. but that's where the novice ends, and by the way even that is moving by the wayside at lightning speed. Even after a first professional press job, I've been told I submitted files and format more thoroughly and professionally than some who've been at it for years, so I'm not worrying about lingering on a learning curve.

                In answer to your jpg question, that was a reference to an attachment of an example to be viewed online and had nothing to do with the files I sent for press. I always send tif, obviously. In answer to your app question, I use InDesign.
                Last edited by typesoup; 09-15-2006, 03:30 AM.


                • #9
                  Okay typesoup, I didn't mean to offend, as I said.

                  The main questions I had were determined by some of the questions you were asking, which seemed pretty basic to me, sorry.

                  I think I would echo Rickself here, which is that if they give you this much of a runaround about scheduling time to meet and discuss your issues, perhaps you should find another printer. Because it doesn't sound like the relationship is that great. And to me, that's the key to a successful print job.

                  I'm very sorry if I misinterpreted your level of experience.
                  "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!" - Ricky Ricardo


                  • #10
                    Well, if we were your printer and you emailed me, I would replied within half an hour...
                    It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh


                    • #11
                      Same here.


                      • #12
                        That's about my experience too.
                        Why I didn't Make it to the Olympics| Time For Some Campaignin'


                        • #13
                          Good advice on getting good advice.

                          As for TIFFs with clipping paths--I've used these for years and years (instead of EPS) without any probs. Standard for PageMaker users. If you handoff as PDF, nobody would even know. It's a throwback problem with early versions of Quark and certain RIPs. Still, it wouldn't surprise me to hear that they're still teaching about avoiding TIFFs with clips at some schools though.

                          More blasphemy: you can use clipping paths with JPGs too.


                          • #14
                            Oh man, I'm sorry Urstwile. I just reread what I posted and jeez I can be a defensive little pooty head when I'm overtired and frustrated in the wee hours. Apologies all around.

                            Damn, I know you guys are right, and they get really good steady business from us, and all that work to make the relationship what... well, apparently it isn't any more, but certainly once was. I don't think it's lack of respect or anything on their part, but I do think it may have a lot to do with them not adjusting to system changes. This all started when they went through a systems change and has continued through to the digital changeover. I've been very flexible and maybe they've just gotten too comfortable with that. Dunno. I have a loyalty thing I guess I need to let go of, too.

                            The brochure is something quarterly in addition to what they do monthly for us (10,000 piece 11x17 newsletter) and last time they forgot about it. When I called about the blue line there was dead silence on the other end, they said they'd track it down (they'd sent the file to prepress but apparently they never got it), they rushed it through, missed a few crucial specs, and forgot to call me for a final proof after going to press. It was a disappointment, but I figured it was mostly me due to my inexperience. When I called (this was back in July) to find out how we could rectify things for the next run, they said they were heartbroken that we were unhappy with it and would do whatever it took to make it good. I just wanted better specs from them, which I'd asked for in June, July, and August in every way I could think of. Okay, rant over.

                            Time to go hunting. The finance director of the marketing agency we use was eager to give me a name so I guess that's my next call.

                            Thanks for the reality check, and sorry for the 12:30am one woman bitch fest, Urstwile.

                            (I had a 9am cancellation and put a call into the printer to see if the press person was available. We'll see if anyone calls back.)


                            • #15
                              Holy crap!

                              Well, they just saved an account.

                              My printers' new assistant called back within minutes, been on the job a week, long-time printer from NYC, and I've got an actual name of a prepress person I'm going to be meeting with on Tuesday. I set the time and day. Holy crap.

                              They didn't have an assistant before. Apparently, it became a necessity. Steve (the "assistant" from NYC) appears to be far far far more experienced than either person I've been dealing with (the people he's assisting), and I mean faaaaar more experienced. So that's what a conversation with a printer is supposed to go like? Wow.

                              I feel like I'm dealing with a new company.






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