Prepress or pre-press art?

slush11

Well-known member
Looking for opinions on a few things. Is it better to have a pre-press department or art that is submitted print-ready, according to proper specs by the client? Can one exist without the other? What is your definition of a pre-press department? What specifically do they do? (I actually already know but I'm finding that it varies VASTLY from company to company)
 

WI-Flexo

Well-known member
If you could get "art that is submitted print-ready, according to proper specs by the client" it would be great! But I think that is the goal of most printers and the reality is that rarely if ever happens. So you run into the classic situation of taking the job and needing a prepress department to fix those files or you simply turn away the business. The other problem with having no prepress department or even outsourcing the prep is trying to keep your changing press specs. For example if you decide to change the values of your rich black you need to relay that to all your clients and prepress vendors and try to make sure they follow your direction. Or you just tell your prepress department the new standard and leave to them to correct files.

Essentialy "dabob" nailed it but in other terms, prepress adjusts all files to match your specific printing environment and specifications and this usually involves much more than someone who has never been involved in the process can comprehend.
 

oxburger

Well-known member
We require all art from our clients (Native files, art, fonts). Here's why. We get a lot of files from companies that sometimes have frequent changes. We make the changes to their files and print. A lot of times, they will print the same thing the following year with changes. Sometimes it's just a few changes, sometimes a major overhaul. Sure we could make a few changes to a pdf, but if they have a ton of changes, you simply can't make them in a timely manner by editing the pdf. They would rather have us backup and maintain their files since they have many designers who work on them. It's easier for us to do it then to have them keep track. If they do a reprint with changes, we either retrieve their files and make them ourselves, or send the file back to them to make changes. Then the file comes back to us with a brand new job number.
 
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mwc

Well-known member
My Oponion,

First, Look at the function of a pre-press department in your shop...the functions will vary depending on your shop expectations.

For us, Prepress department includes the following:
Receiving Customer files.
Preflighting/Problem resolution.
Communication with Sales/CSRs/Clients if job specs are different than quoted (fix or wait for new art depending on direction of Sales/CSRs/Customers).
Rip/Trap/Evaluate
Impose job according to quote and specs from job planners.
Output hard proofs, softproofs for approval on Offset jobs, or send to Digital Press operator for proofs.
Run plates for pressroom.
Maintain and determine scheduled service for ALL prepress equipment (CPU's, Imagers, Proofers).

For us, prepress responsibilities goes well above a simple preflight of a customer's 'PERFECT' or 'SHIT' file...It is for getting a job ready for press.
Unless you go back to the service bureau days and have plate supplied to you, you need prepress.

If all you're looking for is that customer to supply 'perfect' files, and for them impose/trap to your shop specifications...then dream away, I'll take your customers in a heartbeat.
Customers do not prep files for printing every hour of every day, so to expect someone that prints a brochure with you once a year to even grasp what's required to nail it 100% on submission is certifiable, you will waste more time trying to tell Suzi Secretary what a bleed is, and how to position panels on a presentation folder with flaps and business card slits. Don't get me wrong, there are some serious preflight solutions out there that can fix a ton of Obama...and generate reports on what needs fixin'...but even that relies on an assumption that the customer has the time, or even the ability to read..... "but, I have ADOBE!"

Look, I'm a handy person, and I've 'dabbled' with a few home improvement projects of my own...but if I had to charge someone an hourly rate to do work, I'd have to work for peanuts, because I'd take way too long to figure it out as I go.

An EXPERIENCED prepresser is a professional...and they've seen about every imaginable way a client can screw up a file...day after day.
This person "fixes shit" and keeps the jobs rolling through the shop.
EXPERIENCED prepressers are a valued commodity, trading for 'tens' to 'hundreds of tens' in the print world.
 

slush11

Well-known member
If you could get "art that is submitted print-ready, according to proper specs by the client" it would be great! But I think that is the goal of most printers and the reality is that rarely if ever happens. So you run into the classic situation of taking the job and needing a prepress department to fix those files or you simply turn away the business. The other problem with having no prepress department or even outsourcing the prep is trying to keep your changing press specs. For example if you decide to change the values of your rich black you need to relay that to all your clients and prepress vendors and try to make sure they follow your direction. Or you just tell your prepress department the new standard and leave to them to correct files.

Essentialy "dabob" nailed it but in other terms, prepress adjusts all files to match your specific printing environment and specifications and this usually involves much more than someone who has never been involved in the process can comprehend.


But what about something simple like converting RGB to CMYK....I'm always terrified as a pre-press worker, that I'm going to alter the colors too much, then print it and have unhappy clients. And the problem here is that the clients who care about color (for us) are often in other cities and can't access a physical proof once changes are made....in this case (and in many others), I'd much rather they make the changes themselves...
 

WI-Flexo

Well-known member
But what about something simple like converting RGB to CMYK....I'm always terrified as a pre-press worker, that I'm going to alter the colors too much, then print it and have unhappy clients. And the problem here is that the clients who care about color (for us) are often in other cities and can't access a physical proof once changes are made....in this case (and in many others), I'd much rather they make the changes themselves...

I have found that even if the customer makes the conversion themselves they still have no way to view that conversion in a way that your press will output it. Sure you could supply them with an ICC and hope they have a quality proofer that is maintained properly but then your back to the issues above. In my opinion you are better off receiving a "color target" from the client and it is a prepress job to match that target on your proof that is profiled to the press. Also you then get the opportunity to clean up the images and eliminate dirty values, harsh drops, carry 1% dots if needed etc.
 

dabob

Well-known member
We require all art from our clients (Native files, art, fonts). Here's why. We get a lot of files from companies that sometimes have frequent changes. We make the changes to their files and print. A lot of times, they will print the same thing the following year with changes. Sometimes it's just a few changes, sometimes a major overhaul. Sure we could make a few changes to a pdf, but if they have a ton of changes, you simply can't make them in a timely manner by editing the pdf. They would rather have us backup and maintain their files since they have many designers who work on them. It's easier for us to do it then to have them keep track. If they do a reprint with changes, we either retrieve their files and make them ourselves, or send the file back to them to make changes. Then the file comes back to us with a brand new job number.

Ox . . . that's us too . .. . but in addition to your comments at least one of ours uses art that is suitable for Isle end-caps, or life size cutout of pro-sports players for art that will end up on a shelve talker or a coupon at 7 - 15 % resulting in a 2500-3000 dpi effective resolution . . . at least this way we can downsample the image during pdf creation to our specs and not give the rip a heart attack . . . . :)
 
I just tell people I polish turds for a living.
I have been in pre-press before the computer age ... i.e. ... NT cutter / rubylith film / peel off system / vertical cameras with filters / pmt / cromalin ... and I can go on. but one thing I must say the new designers on Mac are really good, but unfortunately they just know :"it looks great on the screen"
.... that's where I come in, prepare a proper artwork for repro , whether it films (which I do inhouse) or give them a high res PDF for DTP.
That's why I say my job is to " make shit smell nice"......
 

JimBob53

Registered Users
I am in much the same boat as sanddeepjungle, I have been in prepress for over 40 years... the new technology is great and many things that could not be done by hand can easily be done on the computer... but, the Graphic Artist today, for the most part, know how to run the programs, but, have no idea, nor do they want to know, what it takes to get their product printed.
 

David Milisock

Well-known member
To me it's a relationship thing, general clients we require PDF only, great clients get proper help with application files. Either way you have to be able to work with the applications, now marketing and ART CREATION are another thing that require you to hire special people
 

David Milisock

Well-known member
Sorry dabob but we're to the point where the customer is not always right but may not be right for us at all. If I'm breaking even or losing money I'll stay home.
 

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