What you must know about prepress in the digital age
By Eric Fiedler
In a profession that requires perfection, the prepress process can cause nothing less than an excess of stress. Seemingly endless variables and tight deadlines can make prepress production a tough area for distributors to master.
"If the press is the heart of an operation, prepress is the soul," said Henry Hatch, president of the International Prepress Association. "No matter what type of printing equipment you have, your prepress people must be able to get the job done right every time in order to succeed."
Prepress involves everything that happens between the original artist's conception of a print job until the final film is put to plate. Each step requires a multitude of technical knowledge.
"A lot of people jump into this business and have no idea what they are doing," said Lou Despirito, prepress supervisor at Newtown/CPC, Newtown, Pa. "This is a very demanding field and if you can't stay on top of things you won't survive."
Staying on top of things in prepress means keeping up with technology. Despirito said his staff attends classes and seminars de-signed not only to keep them in-formed, but to keep them afloat.
Distributors must also be aware of how individual printers function. "Dealers should call the printers before submitting jobs so they can make sure they know what information is needed," said Despirito. "If the dealer supplies us with correct information up front, it makes the job run a lot smoother," he said. "If they submit it with missing information or in the wrong format, it slows everything down."
Despirito said one common blunder involves sending a job without all the required fonts. "There are so many fonts out there that it's impossible for any printer to have them all. If you're using an obscure font, send it with the job and avoid a headache for everybody," he said.