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Monday, August 9, 2010

"Remade" PDF and AFP

So finally we introduce the notion of "remade" PDF and AFP.  What is this?

"Remade" means that we have processed the contents of some static job in a way to remake it into something we can use.  There is something of an elitist model in graphic arts (and particularly in the VDP area) that says this is wrong or it should not be done.

I believe it comes partially from the notion of specialized skills required in the past for graphic arts - but this is changing.  Today you see a lot of IT people doing graphic arts because its cheaper and faster.  Do they understand everything a pro might?  Nope.  But can they get the job "done enough" so the customer will pay for it? Yes they can.

Typical things that show up in "IT generated" PDF and AFP are mixed color modes, e.g., RGB and CMYK, resolution issues, i.e., low res logos where high res are needed, page count issues, i.e., ten thousand one page documents instead of one ten thousand page document, and on and on.  And on and on it goes...

On the one had the fact that these types of file are now being created at all indicate the overall success of PDF penetrating the IT world.  The downside is that the IT folks doing the creating have no idea about the limitations of PDF (or AFP).  None of the designers of PDF ever thought that it would be created by relative novices who really don't understand the gestalt. 

As an aside - recently someone came to me with a file that took a very long time to RIP.  There were not obvious problems externally but, upon examining the contents, I discovered that a number of PDF rules related to constructing the file had been violated - not that the file was invalid mind you.  Changing the file to incorporate the proper structure saved some 50% in RIP time.

Another customer presented a problem file that was very simple - some color box outlines laid over some text.  Previous versions of these files were quick to RIP and RIPing scaled linearly from a thousand page file to a thirty thousand page file.  It turns out that some transparency was used, probably inadvertently, in the newer file.  The customer did not even know this - a symptom of the general "A" list problems mentioned in other posts.  Unfortunately the only solution was to remove the transparency.

As PDF expands outside of graphic arts these problems will become more pronounced and profound.

Problems also revolve around VDP.  Some independent thoughts by someone much like myself can be found here.   No one involved in PDF has any real idea what the issues are for requirement-driven high volume printing.  Simultaneously, no one in AFP has any real good idea about high-end graphic arts.

The sad truth here is that highspeed printers today have gang-RIP options that render PDF/VT useless for the most part.  And any other performance gains can be acquired via "remaking" the PDF.  No VDP format files are required.  Yet the standards bodies march on compounding these messes through ignorance.

At the Lone Wolf we see opportunity in these gaps.  Opportunity to help the AFP folks do better with color and graphics and opportunity to help the PDF people escape the world of the crappy "A" list RIP time and content problems.

The opportunity exists in what we call "remaking".  Taking something someone has already created and altering it so that it meets the needs of the user.

At this point I am going to return to the separate PDF and AFP Outsider blogs and talk more about the tools we have.  I will return to post here when issues common to both emerge.

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