Applied emagination

Posted on 11 Mar 2009 by The Manufacturer

The period just before the printing of any publication is a point at which a huge amount of time and effort are expended – and where many technical problems often arise. Wyndeham Pre-Press has developed technology to take the waiting out of wanting

A lot of time and effort goes into producing the magazine that now sits in your hands, dear reader. The process between collecting and collating articles, reports, images, advertising, copy and finally printing the issue – pre-press, it’s called – is the time when a host of technical errors are most likely to be revealed. Traditionally, seemingly minor alterations or amendments would affect the entire publication and require re-thought, rearrangement and extensive editing. Not to mention the data implications, which range from colour specification to font type and size, article extent and page layout. Any change has to be multiple-inputted; advertisers have to sign off – and any final tweaks they want to make, in the light of the changes, then have to go round everyone again. Pre-press is definitely the period that generates the most grey hairs in magazine publishers.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, and now time and technology have caught up with traditional pre-press production methodologies. ‘emagine’ is an online prepress production system designed and developed exclusively by Wyndeham Pre-Press. It cuts through just about all of the commonly encountered problems, and through its open, transparent production environment, allows multiple inputs of opinion, ideas and acceptance simultaneously – all in real time. The system is web-based, meaning it can be accessed from standard web browsers from any location, at any time. The system is both password and username protected and even allows permission levels to be set for individual users. It also records and stores full historical information and data on every issue produced – and guarantees perfect colour match every time.

“We began developing the emagine system some time ago – and now, with recent major developments to the system, I am confident that it is a world beater,” said Barry Fitzpatrick, the engaging and enthusiastic managing director of Wyndeham Pre-Press, based on Paul Street, Shoreditch, just off Broad Street in London. The company is part of the Wyndeham Group, which provides print, pre-press, creative design, photography, web design, finishing, packaging and bespoke corporate solutions through five companies, including Pre-Press. “Clients, technology and suppliers in the UK had to catch up before it became truly viable. Broadband and wireless connections are now commonplace and have at last made it possible to deliver our vision – an open, integrated, pre-press production environment.“

“emagine allows everyone to participate and collaborate together in the publishing process: the financial department, publishers, printers, journalists, ad sales, whoever,” said Darren Ayles, technical director. He’s been involved in the emagine team more or less from the outset. “Essentially, emagine is a visually-based database with navigation tools to produce magazines efficiently.” Users from all functions, whether suppliers or customers, can access it through a password protected interface. It’s platform-neutral so it doesn’t matter if your designers are using Macs, your production people are using PCs and financials are using Oracle – they can all use emagine. Data is held on Wyndeham’s servers; there is only one version and all changes, amendments and sign-offs are automatically made on it. Any time anyone logs in they will see the latest edition.

Visual representation comes in four forms. Wire frame shows booking information, which makes it easy to see how far the product is to its page target. Click on a page and you will see job information, layout and everything else that’s been captured on the database. Status view does what it says on the tin – it tells you exactly where you are in your magazine, poster or other published product, from empty to ‘with courier’, through ‘proof required’, ‘proofing’ and finally, OK. An amendment to one page – an insertion or removal, for example – automatically updates the whole publication. Thumbnail view lets you see the lot at a glance – click on one and you get the full page image up on your screen.

emagine stores precise, agreed colour data and, if an ad is rerun, both the advertiser and publisher can be totally confident that it will be an exact reproduction. It saves a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. Producing proofs from downloaded files and sending them back and forth is time-consuming and expensive. emagine allows proofs to be emailed within the system and the address where the originating data is held is available at a single click. If you’re the printer, you can download it when it’s ready, approved and set to run. The data will be correct – there’s no need for final let’s-be-absolutely-certain checks, with consequent delays.

Downstairs from the pre-press office is an oasis of relative calm. Masterpiece, Wyndeham’s in-house graphic design studio, is housed in the basement of the Paul Street building. Ceiling windows keep it light and airy, with plenty of space for imaginations to become fertile. There’s a full photographic studio at one end, with Photoshop and InDesign experts on hand to retouch, remaster and redesign photos to clients’ requirements – advertisers and publishers alike.

“It’s as bright as any of the offices upstairs,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’re a fully-equipped prepress operation, able to provide our clients with everything we need, from a single photograph to a fully illustrated catalogue, magazine range, posters or any published material. We’re very good organisers, very efficient, and we understand print, from screen to paper. We’ve moved up the process chain and can undertake much of the work of producing published material as it should look, on time and efficiently.”