Custom PDF Settings...

tony_mclachlan

Well-known member
Hi all,

I hope this is the correct place to post this question.

I'm wondering how many people out there have their own PDF Export settings defined and do you pass these onto customers? I've dealt with some companies that do supply custom settings, others that just request a Press PDF with bleed included, etc.

The majority of our supplied work here comes through in PDF format and at the moment I just ask for Press PDFs, etc. But with our recent installation of ApogeeX 4.0 I want to start getting ALL of our customers to supply PDFs, even the last couple of native file format holdouts.

So I'm just looking for some advice on what would be the best way to get PDFs supplied to us. Just as we have been, or should I create a custom set which I can send to clients to select when creating their PDFs. If you recommend a custom setting can I ask please what PDF options you've chosen to define and why...

Cheers, Tony
 

Damo77

Active member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

Hey Tony, at the newspaper, we just advise people to use the "Press" setting. We've found it's more trouble than it's worth to try to roll out a custom setting.

But if you run into trouble with transparency etc, you might need to do so.

Cheers,

Damo.
 

javadave

Active member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

I come at this from the composition/prepress side of things rather
than the printer, but thought my experience might spark a
conversation. Several of our clients (all major educational
publishers) have come up with their own PDF settings. Others rely on
individual printers to provide settings. In our experience, we have
much more success with settings provided by publishers than those
provided by printers. Printer-supplied PDF settings, believe it or
not, often result in failed preflights, dramatic color shifts, and
other random weirdness. The settings provided by publishers,
developed by testing with their print and prepress vendors, run
through preflight with almost no errors and output without any
problems on press. Oddly, the same printers who often want PDFs
created using their own settings often do not want to output test
files before production begins. They say a simple preflight is all
they need. Then when the final PDFs are made using their settings,
colors don't match those seen throughout the production/editing process.

David
 

chris_r

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

david,

im sorry to hear you have had those kind of experiences using printers pdf settings, but, as a prepress person who works for a printer who uses custom settings, i can't help but smile reading that post. i can only speak for my own situation, but the settings we have come up with and have provided were specifically developed with final output in mind, and are always under scrutiny. if you have a printer who cant control massive color swings within their pdf export settings, that would be quite a thing.

now, if you want me to set up pdf settings whose primary funcion is to NOT have anything flagged during preflight, i think i can set you up! our goal here is to flag ANYTHING that potentially could be a problem. then it is my job to make sure the customer is aware of the possible issues that could occur if the problem is ignored. i would always err on the side of caution, especially when it comes to making pdf files. some of the pdf files we get we have no idea where the came from, or who made them, or what made them, so the are going to get the full microscope treatment.

in this day and age there is no reason that any printer not know how to create a pdf file. again, this is only from my point of view as a printer, i would NEVER trust a pdf coming from a design house or publisher to go through my workflow and go to press without heavy scrutiny.

cr
 

javadave

Active member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

I know it's easy to create either PDF settings or a preflight profile
that will not have anything flagged during preflight. We, too, want
to know of any potential problems and our preflight profile is very
strict.

I wouldn't trust a PDF that came from a design house either--even
though my company does do design, we're not a design house. I don't
even trust application files that come from designers, and my company
doesn't send out design work that hasn't been through the production
department. And I'm not afraid of custom PDF settings. The settings
we use for most of our publishing clients were developed by process
of collaboration and testing between the publisher, the printer, and
the prepress provider (that's us). Our application files are nearly
spotless. We take extreme care with layering, fonts, stacking order,
graphic file formats, transparency interactions, color selections,
stroke widths, etc. We use automated scripts to make PDFs so that we
can be sure that the correct settings are used and minimize the
chance for user error. And we preflight every application file and
every PDF. We don't send files to the printer with preflight errors--
we fix them and remake the PDF. We treat all projects with the same
care.

The projects where we see problems at print time, however, are almost
always for clients that have not been involved with their printer in
developing PDF settings. The printer provides settings. I would
expect every printer to know what they're doing when creating PDF
settings. But there are printers that will just throw PDF-X1a at a
publisher and say, "If you use this setting, all your files will be
perfect." That's just not true. I suspect that where we have seen
color shifts, it's related to some color-correction profiles at the
end that are not being used throughout. It's been a few years ago
that we once received PDF settings from a large, well-known printer
that resulted in InDesign files that were created using only black
ink creating PDFs that were all rich black. A bit of troubleshooting
showed that the PDF settings as provided were outputting everything
as if it were RGB. A few tweaks to the PDF settings and everything
was normal.

D
 

Gerhard

Active member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

HI,

We all know PDF is used for different purposes. One of it is for printing and definitely you need a custom setting for this.
PDF 1.4 understands transparencies, 1.5 understands layers, 1.6 open type fonts and 1.7 CIS fonts. Your RIP does not understand these kind of settings and will not rip this files.
The best PDF for printing is PDF-X1, PDF-X3 or the latest one PDF-X4.
X4 saves your file in PDF 1.4 but with flattened transparencies.
X3 2001 saves the file in PDF 1.3, X3 2003 in PDF 1.4
Using PDF-X your file problems will decrease. Just make some tests and see how it works.

Regards,
Gerhard
 

mattbeals

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

PDF/X- *anything* is no panacea.

I've encountered tons of valid PDF/X-1a's that were completely unusable. Remember, PDF/X-1a, PDF/X-3, PDF/X-4 is a mile wide. Anyone can make one. Making a usable one is entirely different. You need PDF/X-Plus like what the Gent Work Group is doing to bring real meaning to PDF/X for different manufacturing requirements. ( http://www.gwg.org )

Having said that so many of the PDF export settings that I have seen are all basically the same thing anyways. Generally speaking "high quality" is enough and works very well. If that's not enough and you want to hazard CMYK black text and 4/c grays then use PDF/X-1a or Press Quality from Adobe.

Just don't confuse Adobe's version of PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-1a:2003 with the ISO spec itself. They aren't necessarily the same thing.
 

T

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

Our company definitely has custom PDF setting!! To send out to our clients and, most important, that all operators write PDFs the same!!

T
 

disbellj

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

"The best PDF for printing is PDF-X1, PDF-X3 or the latest one PDF-X4. "

If this is true about PDF/X-4 having flattened transparency, what is the benefit of PDF/X-4 over PDF/X-3?

Don
 

disbellj

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

Sorry, quoted the wrong part.

"X4 saves your file in PDF 1.4 but with flattened transparencies."

If this is true, what is the benefit of PDF/X-4 over PDF/X-3 or PDF/X-1a, since all have flattened transparency and none have live transparency, which is where prepress should be heading?

Don
 

disbellj

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

"Generally speaking "high quality" is enough and works very well. If that's not enough and you want to hazard CMYK black text and 4/c grays then use PDF/X-1a or Press Quality from Adobe."

Matt, are you saying that with high quality, you don't get "CMYK black text and 4/c grays" where with PDF/X-1a or PDF/X-3 you do?

Don
 

mattbeals

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

Yes, I see it happening frequently when a content creator uses the defaults for InDesign color management and someone on the printer/publisher side gets file and doesn't deal with them "well". Using the "high quality" settings allows to you keep all your colors as they are, unconverted. This is particularly handy with spot colors if you have LUT's in your RIP and with RGB images. That way they can be converted to the correct CMYK color space.

Remember with PDF/X-1a in Adobe apps by default everything gets converted to SWOP. Also by default if I recall correctly Adobe both displays and outputs blacks as "rich black".

As far as PDF/X-4 is concerned, yes it does *allow* for live transparency. You do *not* have to flatten transparency in PDF/X-4 like you do in PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-3.

I know a lot of this doesn't pertain to you, but for many it does.
 

disbellj

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

"Generally speaking "high quality" is enough and works very well. If that's not enough and you want to hazard CMYK black text and 4/c grays then use PDF/X-1a or Press Quality from Adobe."

After looking again at the joboptions, I see why you have said this. No profiles will be embedded, but "Leave color unchanged" instead of "Convert all to CMYK" in the Color tab of the joboptions will at least not cause problems*. Kudos! I like it.

*unless you got RGB included, which could cause problems downstream since it depends on the operator at the time's default RGB profile choice when converting downstream which would make the ultimate appearance, and if sending to multiple people to output, the result could look different because of the untagged RGB being sent, right?

Don
 

mattbeals

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

"Generally speaking "high quality" is enough and works very well. If that's not enough and you want to hazard CMYK black text and 4/c grays then use PDF/X-1a or Press Quality from Adobe."

After looking again at the joboptions, I see why you have said this. No profiles will be embedded, but "Leave color unchanged" instead of "Convert all to CMYK" in the Color tab of the joboptions will at least not cause problems*. Kudos! I like it.

MB: See... There is a method to the madness.

*unless you got RGB included, which could cause problems downstream since it depends on the operator at the time's default RGB profile choice when converting downstream which would make the ultimate appearance, and if sending to multiple people to output, the result could look different because of the untagged RGB being sent, right?

In the absence of profiles being included (which "high quality" doesn't do) you would have to make some assumptions. And it is "fairly" (what ever that means to you the receiver) safe to assume that North American defaults are being used. Most of the images most of the time (and that is a big generalization I realize, but then again I see *a lot* of files from *a lot* of different places) will be sRGB or SWOP. So now you have a bit more flexibility in what you do.
 

disbellj

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

I do see that there is a method to the madness. For me though, I will hold off on changing my workflow until I can export PDF with transparencies, fully embedded fonts, and profiles for every individual thing in the document, from both Quark and Adobe apps (send the customer the color settings and PDF export settings and tell them to use those settings files for setting up their color settings and exporting PDFs for me), then I can have a fully editable PDF (and will have to get a PDF editor at that time). For now, I just talk a lot on the forums when not having jobs to work on (cause when you got it streamlined it can go quite fast and any further streamlining will be if it actually improves my situation). And since Quark shows no signs of exporting PDF with transparencies, I guess I keep putting it off, but am not hurting from it except for when I have to edit a PDF nowadays (rarely thankfully). Until then, native files it is...

Don
 

Dov Isaacs

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

PDF/X-4 supports live transparency. I don't understand the post that implied otherwise.

- Dov
 

Dov Isaacs

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

PDF exported from InDesign 5 or Illustrator 13 using the PDF/X-4 settings saves live transparency. No "ifs", "ands" or "buts" about it.

- Dov
 

tony_mclachlan

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the ongoing conversations... the knowledge of people on this site always astounds me!! Its nice to get a variety of opinions though on how others are implementing ideas and the pros and cons for each.

I think for now I'll stick to advising people to use the "Press Setting" and see how we go. Hey, that's what we have been doing for the last while anyway and no major issues have cropped up!!

I will do some inhouse testing though with my own created jobs and see if I can develop a good set of rules to send out. I just fear though that if I do supply a PDF preset some customers are going to think that their job will print fine with us no matter what they include as long as they export to our setting!!

Cheers, Tony
 

disbellj

Well-known member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

Matt,

I've thought about it again, and if High Quality Print IS NOT creating 4C black, but PDF/X-1a or Press Quality IS creating 4C blacks, it's OBVIOUS (just as I've said before) that Adobe's 'Preserve Numbers (Ignore Linked Profiles)' is NOT doing what it is saying, and color management is happening.

I determined this long ago without ever going to PDF. And this is why I've said all along that I turn my color management policy for CMYK to Off for this reason - to make SURE that I'm not changing incoming CMYK numbers.

How the hell is the usual operator going to know that there sRGB images (untagged) are getting assigned the wrong profile in Quark (or Adobe if using prepress defaults)? How the hell is the usual operator going to know that there CMYK numbers are changing when Adobe is telling them they are not (by the color management policy)? This is f'd up as a football bat.

Don
 

RiotMac

Active member
Re: Custom PDF Settings...

PDF 1.3 flattens transparency. PDF 1.4 and greater keeps tranparency. All PDF /X standards use PDF 1.3 except PDF/X-4:2007 which uses 1.4 and keeps transparency.

We currently use custom PDF settings. I actually supply customers with our PPD, Quark Print Style, InDesign Print Preset and Acrobat Distiller Job Option.
 

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Color is in demand in all types of documents, making color management a critical part of Digital Printing 5.0. Managing color on one device/press can be an easy task with the correct tools and processes. But managing color to ensure printed pages are consistent and repeatable across the different substrates and color gamuts of toner and inkjet can be a much bigger challenge. Properly implemented color management workflows can help achieve consistent color results across multiple devices. Although many end-customers are claiming satisfaction with “pleasing color,” two challenges are still in play. Link to Article

 
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