Remote Press Approvals: Meeting the Challenge in a Time of Travel Restrictions

Visual Review: Undoubtedly, the most challenging part of a remote press approval is the overall visual analysis, which must be treated with heightened awareness. Extreme attention should be placed on the environment in which any visual supports are taken. The viewing area should be an ISO 3664-compliant light booth. Additionally, any photos must include an approved basis of reference. While it may seem uncomfortable or daunting to review printed material via photos, when a basis of reference is included and combined with objective quantification, these photos guide the conversation with the printer on any requested changes. Keys to success:

  • Photos must be taken in a certified light booth
  • Photographed material is free and clear of any other printed material or elements
  • As much glare as possible is removed from the samples
  • Photos must include a basis of reference; i.e. contract proof or other approved visual

Production Expectations: Once an approval is obtained, it is the print supplier’s responsibility to continue to perform quantitative and qualitative checks throughout the production run. If the brand owner has implemented a print quality program, the printer must follow the established guidelines for digital or physical submission. For a remote approval, printed material should also be sent to the prepress agency, or whoever conducted the virtual approval. If possible, material should be held from shipment until feedback is provided. An analysis should be completed and formalized into a report to accompany the printed material for the brand owner. Successes and challenges can be discussed through a debriefing process to address any areas for future refinement.

One example of a recent virtual press approval success: a Beam Suntory Cruzan Rum redesign item. This label was reviewed and approved virtually.

Case Study

One example of a recent virtual press approval success is for a Beam Suntory Cruzan Rum redesign item. This label was reviewed and approved virtually through validation of printer-supplied reports, several visuals in an ISO-compliant light booth and open communication. However, it did not go without challenges—specifically, validating the metallic ink. Since some contract proofs are unable to simulate metallics, such as the one used, the basis of reference could not be used when analyzing the metallic silver. This was overcome by internal printer validation and trusting the numbers, instead of relying on visual confirmation. The net result of this label was all colors passing under a 2.00 Delta E 2000 1:1:1, an excellent visual match to the contract proof, for both process and spot color elements, and ultimately, a pleased brand owner.

By implementing the review process of upfront alignment, color, print and visual validation, brand owners can have peace of mind knowing best efforts have been put forth to secure the success of their production run.

In such unprecedented times, the true keys to success for remote press approvals are communication and collaboration. Collectively, if all parties keep an open mind, assume good intent, and are mindful of the limitations in a virtual environment, each party can leverage its experience and expertise to achieve the common goal of a successful approval and pressrun. Perhaps adopting these practices and learnings could be the future of press attendance post-COVID-19.

Tips & Tricks

  • When reviewing quality control reports for color conformance, the color name listed under the “Target” or “Reference” color can quickly signify if there is a misalignment. Typically, a color labeled with an internal ink name or code indicates the possibility of a mismatched target color
  • If the Delta L*a*b* difference is present in a report and the values seem high, it is likely that there may be adjusted weighting when using Delta E CMC or Delta E 2000
  • Always check for master or dependent colors if using PantoneLIVE or PantoneLIVE-dependent libraries, and ensure you are referencing the proper library for the brand owner

About the Author

Kristen Olberding headshot
A graduate of Clemson University’s Graphic Communications program, Kristen Olberding manages color and print quality initiatives for Phototype’s service offerings. She develops and maintains end-to-end color management workflows and solutions from design concept through print production. Color piqued Kristen’s interest as a student researcher, where she began mixing inks across various substrates to determine print achievability. This ultimately led to the creation of brand equity colors for one of the world’s most recognized brands. Today, Kristen oversees print quality management programs for major brands that you see on shelf every day.