Is color management an endangered species?

Is color management an endangered species? Or merely a vulnerable species ready to adapt? It’s easy to look backwards at technology extinctions— The real knack is to spot a trend ahead of the pack.
I was recently at a Printing Tradeshow. After several days of standing and doing demonstrations I began to question whether the entire color management industry would survive much longer.TREX
The idea began innocently enough after I was running thousands of photo books on a Xerox digital press at the show. A polite couple from Texas asked me an alarmingly simple question. “We want to buy this digital press but do we really need all the color management from all these vendors? Do we need all these tools?”
I must be trustworthy looking. I gave the couple a balanced answer about cost vs. benefits of color tools. It was my best answer, at the time. Later, I came to question my own answer. Quite frankly, it feels like we are nearly past the need for many of the color tools & techniques.
Truth be told, I make many photo books on digital presses— I’m usually in a crazed rush for holiday gifts. Santa has no time left and drops jpegs from camera to printer. Most important— I get great results!! No advanced color tools or Photoshop. The simple fact is that if my daughter’s hair or face were wrong then I’d receive abuse from three generations of critics!!
In a world filled with blogs, tweets, and 3-D television— Is color management a dinosaur? Is it on the verge of extinction? Or is it merely a vulnerable species?
Tyrannosaurus rex may have new company soon.
What do you think?

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  1. Rob February 2, 2010 -

    I agree. We have a Xerox colour machine, a Roland wide format and Truepress344, and when the machines are running as they should, colour management is a simple, almost background thought.

  2. Daniel February 3, 2010 -

    To a certain extent I agree with you but I recently installed a Xerox DC242 with embedded EFI Fiery to a customer that wanted to match certain Pantone Processed Colours. After alot of playing around with ColourWise we managed to get their corporate colours very very close to the actual Pantone Spot Colours.

    This level of colour management is not available on your everyday colour machine.

    In fact as more and more companies move to in house printing the need for a certain level of colour management may well become more common place.

  3. Curtis Johnson February 3, 2010 -

    Color management and color consistency are far from extinct in high quality printing. Controlling all the variables in color output is a challenge. Color management has evolved; but, is still a difficult dinosaur to master.

  4. Craig February 4, 2010 -

    I’m sure you are aware but there are many Pantone colors that you just can’t make with CMYK inks (toners either), no matter how much color management or tweaking you do. Just try making PMS 137C.

  5. Norbert Kalinowski February 9, 2010 -

    This can only be an US discussion.
    In Germany ad some parts of europe as well you would die without good colour management and colour consistency checks, because you would always be compared to standard offset like ISO coated V2 or a proof system. And if you don’t get a match, you have an issue.

  6. Fred Ramsey February 9, 2010 -

    All good points. I think the challenge presented is that vendors are selling some fairly expensive systems to perform some relatively simple color mgt tasks. There is no doubt that Pantone, ISO standards are important to hit (and hit consistently!). What of the longer-term viability of the expensive and complex mgt models—when many only need Pantones and an ISO standard? Compare to your other choices for your investment dollars…

  7. Roel van de Ven July 15, 2010 -

    I have to agree with Norbert. In Europe you would not survive without good colour managing your workflows.We are the European partner of Xerox for Colour management and with our new solution we show that you can manage your colours with very low knowledge of CM. We provide an ASP-model for CM.This new model takes away 2 major issues with traditional colour management business models:

    1. No need for skilled / trained operators on the customer site.
    2. No need for serious upfront investments in hardware, software and training.CMI customers that use the ASP/SAAS model just pay a limited monthly fee (or buy a full contract) for unlimited colour management of their print and litho equipment.

    The model can be used for:
    1. ICC profiling for special applications like photo and packaging
    2. ICC profiling to match multiple devices or technologies
    3. Pantone optimisation, custom colour optimisation
    4. Closest possible match to ISO / Fogra / GRACoL or other industry standards;5. ISO / Fogra / GRACoL quality control + custom/brand colours (ISO PLUS)
    Ask us for a free 14 day trial:

  8. Malcolm Crawford September 10, 2010 -

    Hi folks, I just want to remind those customers who have purchased Xerox engines with any of the controllers below received a FREE Colo(u)r Management Package called Fiery Colo(u)r Profiler Suite, which includes:

    1. An ES-1000 Spectrophotometer based on the i1 from X-Rite
    2. Monitor profiling tool
    3. Fully integrated and optimized to the Fiery, printer profiling, including Device Links, Output Profiles and Simulation Profiles for matching any device to any device
    4. Profile inspection tool
    5. Profile Editing Tool
    6. Colo(u)r verification tool

    These Fiery Servers come with Fiery Colo(u)r Profile Suite, included at no additional cost:

    Xerox CP800/1000 with Fiery
    Xerox iGen3 and iGen4 with Fiery (in addition to the ILS)
    Xerox DocuColor 7000/7000 with Fiery
    Xerox DocuColor 7000AP/8000AP with Fiery
    Xerox DocuColot 7002/8002 (in addition to the ILS)

    Fiery Colo(u)r Profiler suite is also available from your Xerox reseller at very attractive and competitive pricing.

    For more info:

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