Here at Hammock we’re always looking for ways to improve a magazine’s workflow, and we’re keen to use the latest technologies toward that goal. As part of that emphasis, we’ve moved most of our clients to virtual proofing of design and ad pages, an approval process that’s a big improvement over the traditional proof approval process. It’s not only a faster, more convenient and money-saving practice to look at pages on a screen, but the quality of digital proofs has become just as good as that of hard, analog proofs.

“Virtual proofing has really gotten to the point where what you see is what you get,” says Patrick Burns, Hammock’s production coordinator.
Some of the reasons we find virtual proofing, as part of an all-digital workflow process, so great:

  1. Quality isn’t sacrificed in the digital environment. If a computer monitor is calibrated correctly to match printer specifications, there will be no surprises from the virtual proof to the printed piece.
  2. Virtual proofs are cheaper than hard proofs. No materials need to be handled and no charges are tallied for overnight deliveries.
  3. It saves time for the client, publisher and printer. Digital files can be checked and approved in minutes; hard copy proofs take much longer to be distributed and then approved.
  4. More and more printers are moving to an all-digital environment. “Most printers don’t even look at hard proofs anymore,” Patrick says. “They request high-res proofs instead.”
  5. No matter where they are, whether in New York City or rural Iowa, all parties in a virtual proofing process look at the same images. If everyone is looking at the identical virtual page, all will have a realistic idea of what the final printed piece will look like.
  6. Color management is much more precise. Color profiles can be set up to only display the colors that a press can manufacture as well as replicate the grade of paper on which the piece is printed.

Of course, there are a few concerns when moving to virtual proofs. It’s essential for publishers to keep machines calibrated correctly so that all settings and colors match a printer’s calibrations. Production gurus like Patrick keep up to speed with printers’ requests and tweak monitors for any slight variable. But once an airtight process is in place, virtual is the way to go!