Production Page: Pottery Barn Pleased with Remote Proofing

As a marketer of furniture, bedding, window treatments, and home accessories, Pottery Barn places a priority on color accuracy. But like nearly all other marketers, the San Francisco-based cataloger/retailer wants to cut costs as well. So in hopes of reducing production costs while maintaining high-level color quality, Pottery Barn implemented a remote proofing system across its catalogs: Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, PB Teen, and Pottery Barn Bed & Bath.

Last year Pottery Barn began using Remote Director software from New York-based Integrated Color Solutions for the early rounds of its four-round catalog production process, says Clay Ide, senior vice president of creative services for the cataloger. “In many instances, there’s no need to look at hard proofs,” he says. “We might be doing initial scans of product or simply making sure that a model that was used in another catalog was cropped in correctly.”

Pottery Barn used to have to color proofs sent via overnight carrier to and from its prepress operator. Now it checks the proofs via computer. The prepress shop places the proofs on a password-protected Website that can be accessed only with the Remote Director software. Having already downloaded the software, Pottery Barn creative and production staffers can log onto the site and view the proofs on their computer screens.

The viewing monitor has long been the weak link in the remote proofing chain. The ability to proof remotely has been around for about a decade, but if the monitor wasn’t calibrated precisely, the colors couldn’t be viewed accurately. To resolve that dilemma, the Remote Director software includes a one-step calibration process in which each client is prompted to verify that their monitor is calibrated to the specifications of the job. If the monitor is out of calibration, Remote Director can automatically calibrate the display to ensure color accuracy.

The Remote Director software is free to download, says Dan Caldwell, cofounder of Integrated Color Solutions. The user pays $10 per click to make alterations.

For Pottery Barn, Remote Director is a money saver. According to Ide, hard proofs can cost more than $100 each, and that’s not including the expedited-delivery fees to send and receive the proofs. “We see Remote Director as the next step in realizing the promise of digital color — of going from camera to press with as few steps as possible, and with the best reproduction possible,” Ide says.

Remote Director is hardly the only remote proofing system available. Others include Matchprint Virtual Proofing System, used by outdoor gear marketer Cabela’s, among others, which was released in July by Westport, CT-based Kodak Polychrome Graphics, and Sherpa 44M, which Wilmington, DE-based printer AGFA released in October.

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