DigiPage, currently available for Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, SGI and Solaris, is based on industry standard file formats and leverages the high performance of Global Graphics' Eclipse RIP technology. It can best be thought of as a digital film, or digital plate file format. That is because when Postscript, PDF or other standard page format files are processed through DigiPage, they are separated, trapped (if desired) and halftone screened at full Platesetter resolution, and saved as Dot-Locked DigiPage files to disk.
Each DigiPage file locks down the actual traps and halftone dots that will ultimately be imaged onto film or plate. In addition, DigiPage generates proofer resolution sub-sampled copies of each high resolution separation, and composites these together into a proofer-ready CMYK image. This image is then embedded as a printable element into the DigiPage file along with the high resolution separations. Since the colour proof image is derived directly from the halftone dots of the plate separations, the result is complete digital integrity. No other page file format can claim this level of true digital integrity as it pertains to the proof matching the plate.
What's in a File Format?
File formats abound in this industry. Every user application has it's own native file format, and the on-going issues with images and fonts have driven many to adopt PDF as an interchange format between the customer and the printer. This has, for the most part, been a positive step forward. PDF has emerged as a very viable page format for this type of interchange. PDF is very useful in many other ways in a workflow, and with the industry emphasis on PDF, it's usefulness will continue to increase.
Ultimately, however, even PDF files need to be separated and halftone screened in order to be imaged onto film or plate. As good and reliable as any file format is, unless it is comprised of the actual dots which will transfer ink to paper, it is not locked down. It is not absolutely representative of the printed output. And if the file is not truly locked down, there remains the possibility, even the probability, that at some point, there will be a discrepancy between the proof and the printed piece. Even with the exact same RIP, differences introduced by resolution changes, trapping parameters, separations vs. composite output or other operator defined values could introduce unintended changes from one output (low resolution composite proofs) to the high resolution separations. That is what makes DigiPage unique in the industry.
Plateable Solution for the PDF Workflow
Portable vs. Plateable. The plethora of tools available to modify, validate, qualify, and preflight PDF indicates two very important things about PDF. PDF has become the de facto standard for digital file transfer in the print industry. Also, as good as PDF is as a "Portable Document Format," it still requires a bit of work in order to ensure that it will print as intended in a commercial printing operation. An industry has been built around PDF pre-flighting. From software to consulting services and full-blown PDF workflows, there is an obvious need to ensure the printability of PDF files. No reputable printer would take a PDF file from a first-time customer and submit it for final output to a film or platesetter without at least some initial prep work on the file. That prep work might be as simple as opening the file in a PDF reader to make sure it looks like the customer-supplied proof, or as complex as a full-blown PDF workflow. Regardless of what form this check takes, the never-ending challenge for the printer is ensuring that something that is "Portable" is also "Plateable" -- that it will run on the press the way it was designed to look on the computer monitor or composite colour proof.
Pixels on the Plate. The major graphic design applications like Adobe InDesign and Quark XPress will continue to become more capable and complex in their feature sets and visual effects. And as they do, the target will continue to move, and the bar will continue to rise for whatever tools are used to ensure the final printability of the PDF files created by these applications. All prefilght tools on the market have been created to detect and prevent problems on the press and to ensure that the conversion from a composite PDF format to separated pixel data on film or plate is as reliable and predictable as possible. But regardless of how simple or complex the PDF file, in the end there is no getting around the fact that each and every PDF file with its various layers of contone data, text, and vector elements must be converted into 1-bit per pixel separated data that is imaged onto film or plate, or printed direct to press.
Trust but Verify - A Critical Piece of the PDF Workflow Puzzle. PDF will continue to be the standard for design document portability, while the various preflight tools become more capable and reliable. At the same time, many printers are discovering the tremendous benefits of what can be called the ultimate PDF validator. That is the ability to RIP, separate, trap and halftone screen the final PDF document into a "DotLocked" data file, prior to imaging on plate or film. In so doing, these printers are able to create low cost press-accurate inkjet proofs for internal or customer approval, generate composite PDF or TIFF files from the fully RIPped page, and have absolute assurance that the proofs and image data they are viewing will match the press output. This valuable addition to a PDF workflow allows printers to get a final visual verification that traps, transparencies, fonts, text flow and colour separations are correct, and that the design will print on the press as intended. This has, for many printers, proven to be a critical piece of the PDF workflow puzzle.
The DigiPage Difference. Fusion Systems International has been providing this capability for nearly 10 years to printers and publishers around the globe. DigiPage is a simple yet powerful Harlequin RIP plugin, and is now available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. When added into a PDF workflow, DigiPage gives customers many benefits.
• Absolute digital integrity between the proof and the press
• Shortened correction cycles
• Reduction in consumables costs
• Post-RIP imposition and page pairing
• Elimination of ad reruns or rebates due to proof/press mismatches
• Full scriptability for complete flexibility
• Multi-platform to match your IT and production needs
• Open standards-based for ease of integration with existing workflows
In addition to the primary benefit of true digital integrity, DigiPage Dot-Locked technology increases overall productivity throughout the workflow. Since pages are trapped and half-tone screened one-at-a-time, the RIP is never bogged down having to calculate and process traps and screens on an entire 4-up or 8-up flat. In addition, late stage changes and corrections become much less burdensome, since only those pages with changes and corrections need to be re-RIP'd, screened and trapped. This greatly reduces the compute overhead placed on the RIP, and eliminates the potential problems involved in re-RIPing other customer approved pages.
Ease of Integration
Fusion DigiPage is a standards based product. It accepts Postscript, DCS2, PDF, PDF/X, TIFF/IT, TIFF and other industry standard file formats. And it outputs industry standard formats as well. Fusion DigiPage integrates seemlessly with any imagesetter or platesetter which accepts standard 1-Bit TIFF data. At the final stage of the output process, the pre-screened and pre-trapped individual DigiPage files are composited (not re-RIP'd) into complete plate files and sent via standard network protocols to the imagesetter or platesetter's computer front end or RIP. Since these files are already screened and in 1-Bit TIFF format, the imagesetter or platesetter's RIP must only decompress the 1-Bit raster data and output it, eliminating any potential for interpretation errors or output discrepancies with the proof.
Fusion DigiPage is a multi-platform software solution. This gives the customer the choice of hardware and operating systems which best fit their own environment. Currently Fusion DigiPage is shipping on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, SGI IRIX, and Sun Solaris. Fusion DigiPage is a powerful workflow product for CTP and prepress professionals. It achieves an unsurpassed and industry leading level of digital integrity while at the same time offering flexibility and productivity.