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 PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?

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Sandman

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PostSubject: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:40 am

A few months back some people have urged me to migrate to PDF/X-4. But I'm quite happy with our current PDF/X-1a (Certified PDF) workflow since we've been travelling this route for more than 4 years now without any major setbacks. Recently, I've been hearing more success stories by using the new standards.

So I've researched quite a bit study just to know the benefits of this new ISO standard for digital delivery. According to ka-Ernie Baron, PDF/X-4 is based on PDF/X-3 and unlike PDF/X 1a and 3 where transparencies are flattened. PDF/X-4 keeps the transparencies. It can also handle color managed data...whereas PDF/X-1a is strictly CMYK, Spot or Grayscale.

I also read that starting from Indesign CS3 there is already a PDF preset to PDF/X-4. Which means it is very easy to create one. But before we continue on the topic. Let's talk about the RIP naman.

For the uninitiated (like me), the older RIPs handle PDFs (PDF/X-1a or PDF/X-3) by converting the PDF objects to PostScript before it starts to render the files (converts pixels to dots on film or plate). On the other hand, the newer RIPs that is based on the new Adobe PDF Print Engine (APPE) allows the RIPs to accept PDF/X-4 files without converting the elements to PostScript. Therefore, keeping the transparencies and layers, etc.

Ok....PDF/X-4 ka nga. Tanong....kaya bang i-print ito ng printer mo sa lumang RIP nila? hehehe Twisted Evil

What if your printer's RIP is not using an APPE? That means they will not be able to handle the unflattened layers and transparencies in your PDF/X-4 files. affraid

What's the point of sending a complicated file that would allow RGB images, ICC-based photos, etc if you're printer can't handle it? And for what? Gaganda ba ng todo-todo ang print na galing PDF/X-4 as compared to PDF/X-1a?

Para sa akin....knowing yung scenario natin sa Pinas....dapat iwasan ng graphic designers magpadala ng PDF/X-4 sa printer. For two reasons: most printers have operators with low, or no knowledge of PDF/X and advanced color management; and secondly, most printers will not just drop their older (but working) RIP just to keep up with the trend. Mahal kaya ang RIP!

Anyway, kung mapilit...eh siguraduhin muna ng artist na ang RIP ng printer nila ay based on APPE and dapat yung printer meron din Color Server or In-RIP separation function ang RIP....to handle non-CMYK files. Para sa akin mas maigi pa ang PDF/X-1a. Mas simple...mas mabuti. Walang hassle.

Alex? Ton? Billy? Anyone? Any violent reactions? hehehe.


Last edited by larrysison on Sat Jan 17, 2009 3:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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billy

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:17 pm

Using the pdf/x-4 is a good option in sending the file for to service bureau or service provider for digital printing. As you have said only those RIP equiped with Adobe PDF engine. I have browse the Adobe site acouple of days ago and only few have this engine, to name a few, they are AGFA APogee, XANTE, KPG for NEXpress and recently, I heard that GMG had already incorporated it aside from PS level 3.

Crreating a PDFX-4, you have to consider the RGB, CMYK, Grayscale, and device dependent colors like LAB and 16 bit too. There are RIPS that can handle transparency but try to examine result between non APPE and APPE. What I mean is, there are RIPs that has its own proprietary to handle transparency.

16bit is also a big deal, imagine how good is the transition of your gradients.
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:39 pm

pdf/x-4 is for printing press that have Adobe PDF Print Engine.

If your system does not uses APPE, pdf/x-4 is not for you. PDF/x-4 makes pre-press work simpler.

As front-end application becoming more friendly with layers and transparencies, artists are becoming more happy with it and sometimes making them "trigger happy". Thus, we see jobs done in Illy, PS, Indy with a lot of transparencies. So soon you will ask an APPE based RIP.

Larry, if you have future CTP installlation, I suggest that bundled it with APPE RIP.

So simple lang, kung ang system mo ay gumagamit ng APPE, go pdf/x-4. If not, then stay with your current workflow, otherwise kuha ka lang sakit ng ulo.


Alex
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:42 pm

'Yung mga digital press mag-benefit ng husto sa PDF/x-4.
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Sandman

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:53 pm

Thanks, guys. Will keep that in mind. Btw, I heard that the Harlequin can also handle transparencies kahit hindi based on APPE ang technology nila. I will try to write them para malaman namin anong version ng HQ ang kayang mag handle ng PDF/X-4. Will post it as soon as I get their answer. Thanks once again.

Hey Billy, san ka na ngayon?
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:19 pm

Larry,

On the second thought, kung ang current system mo ay ps level 3, i think that printer will have no problem dealing with pdf/x-4.

Alex
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billy

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:38 am

larrysison wrote:
Thanks, guys. Will keep that in mind. Btw, I heard that the Harlequin can also handle transparencies kahit hindi based on APPE ang technology nila. I will try to write them para malaman namin anong version ng HQ ang kayang mag handle ng PDF/X-4. Will post it as soon as I get their answer. Thanks once again.


It is true Sir Larry, Global Graphics's Harlequin version Genesis have other way of handling transparecies. The only thing we do not know is the difference of handling or flattening. PS level on the other hand can also handle partly depending on how many transparencies inside the document. But as far as result is concern, the one that has an APPE has a better result of flattening.
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Sandman

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:12 am

How ironic. Not so long before I was obviously siding with PDF/X-1a over PDF/X-4. Now I'm forced to eat my own words.

This week alone we were visited by 2 publishers from a neighboring country who want their newspapers printed on 2 different media: light-weight coated (LWC) for the cover and center pages; and standard newsprint for the inside pages.

Both customers have sent us their PDFs with ICC-based or device-independent elements. Furthermore, the files contain RGB and CMYK images.

One publisher sent their files with an embedded Output Intent suitable for newspaper printing. That's fine since most of the pages are going to be printed on standard newsprint anyway. But what about the 4 cover pages and the other 4 pages at the center....it should be printed on web coated paper?

If I leave their files untouched and simply make a plate out of it....then our cover and center pages will appear very pale on LWC and also with a very small gamut.

The other customer naman used US Web Coated on all their pages. So kabaliktaran. Magse-setoff naman kami sa inside pages kasi newsprint ang papel. Arrrrrgggghhh!!!!

I realized that the only way we could meet our customers' expectations is to consider migrating to either PDF/X-3 or PDF/X-4 workflow. To add, we also need to acquire a Color Server capable of transforming files from one source space to another via Device Link (dynamic).

Doing so will allow us to print the cover and center pages according to ISO 12647-2, and the inside pages according to ISO 12647-3. In the meantime we have to do all the necessary conversions manually using pdftoolbox4 with Device Link.

It's a good thing I'm blessed to work with 2 of my Filipino colleagues here (3rd guy to arrive soon) who are very knowledgeable in color management.

Hope we could acquire a color server soon. I've previously used Asura from OneVision and will try now Alwan CMYK Optimizer. Yun nga lang di na makatarungan ang presyo ng color server. Mga nasa range ng 6,000 - 10,000 Euros. Wow!
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:56 pm

Larry,

Kahit na pdf/x-4 pa workflow, makakatanggap ka pa rin ng ganyang klaseng job. Ganun din, you will ask your client also in the next visit to follow your workflow.

Anyway, I look on pdf/x-4 a must in jobs with full of intricacies-layers and too many transparencies. Safer kasi kita mo lahat ng elemento with live transparencies. Kapag nag-flatten na, alam natin kung mali o hindi. Hindi katulad ng pdf/x1-a, minsan may nagrereklamo sa simpleng linya na nakaoverprint halimbawa sa ibang kulay, gugulatin ka na lang ng kliyente at sasabihin sa 'yo na mali kulay ng linya o kaya bakit nawala linya.

Using pdf/x-4 without APPE would be a lot of work but safer. Although some PS3 can process pdf/x-4 in native format, it was not bulletproof. So without APPE, kailangan may pdf normalizer o kaya tirahin lahat sa Acrobat 9 Pro and yes the "make ready" would also become pdf/x1-a.

Just my thoughts, master.

Alex
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:14 pm

Larry,

Naisip ko lang.

Hindi ba pwede ang device link na system base sa RIP nyo? 'Di ba magkakasama naman yung mga pang coated na pages sa isang plate, so parang pwede dapat i-call 'yung device link kapag nagprocess na 'yung pdfrenderer ng RIP o kaya 'yung pdf optimizer (di ba pwede sa Asura?).

Alex
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Sandman

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:28 am

Mentor,

Kung gagamitin mo ang OneVision's Asura or Sicuriq pro pang RIP ng pahina...then it makes sense to do the color conversions there na rin.

But we already have 3 RIPs : 2 Harlequins v6+ and 1 Apogee X v3. The HQs are mainly used for newspaper production while the Apogee X does commercial jobs. If ever we get management to buy us a color server then it has to work for both systems para sulit.

Ergo, the transformation (gamut mapping, device link, ink limiting, preflight, auto fix, flattening, etc.) shall be done as a separate process prior to rasterization. After the transformation sa color server eh automatic ililipat ngayon yung PDFs sa respective hot folders na pang HQ and pang Apogee....depende sa job.

Okay sana ang Asura....humahataw pare. Pero you will have to renew your license every year. Medyo di namin nagustuhan yung ganitong money-making idea.

Larry
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Wed Feb 04, 2009 5:24 pm

Larry,

Apogee X v3, wala ba pdf render 'yan na pwede device link? Ayaw mo upgrade na lang sa ApogeeX 4 kaysa color server para APPE na and mukhang pede from ApogeeX 4 pdf Render balik Harlequin if certain jobs needed to be?

Hula-hula ko lang.

Alex
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Sandman

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:21 am

Yo, Alex. Okay yung sinasabi mo and yes...kaya lahat yan ng Apogee X4. Mahal ang pa-upgrade to the latest version men. Meron din DeviceLink function ang bagong Apogee X pero saan ko kukunin ang DeviceLink profile ko? Di naman provided yun eh kasi you will have to create your own.

Pwede naman kami gumawa ng DeviceLink profiles using ProfileMaker Pro pero we still need to purchase the license of its DeviceLink calculation function para makapag-create kami for different sets (i.e. Fogra39 to IFRA26, SWOP to IFRA26, Gracol to Fogra39, Fogra39 to ISOwebcoated, etc.). Matrabaho ito kasi you will need to calculate sa bawat combinasyon . Mga 2,000 Euros din yata ang halaga ng license.

Ang ibang color server kasi meron nang integrated DeviceLink profiles so di mo na kailangan pang mag-calculate to make your own DeviceLink profiles.

Hayaan mo pagusapan natin ito...........pag andito ka na. farao
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:30 pm

Ok doki. Medyo nagulat lang ako na mukhang ang daming press profile na ginagamit dyan.

'Yung ApogeeX 4, di ba may profiler na kasama? Colortune yata. 'Yung Profilemaker Pro mukhang 'di maganda ang labas kapag ang TICTACTOE Very Happy ay below 250 ayon sa mga nabasa ko.

BTW, I'm suggesting ApogeeX 4 kasi APPE kasi you're thinking to go pdf/x-4. Nabasa ko somewhere na other than application that have APPE, the rest are not fully tested to process pdf/x-4 which means na pwede magkaroon ng problema sa flattening on the fly.

Sana magkaroon ng shootout ang mga software vendors, hehehe.

And oh, looking forward on it, for the meantime i am enjoying myself learning new things.

Alex
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Sandman

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:42 pm

Alex, let's put it this way....an APPE-based system is always "good to have". But to be honest, we are obviously not going to replace our system just to be able to keep the transparencies. I strongly feel that we won't really see a HUGE difference in quality if the job is flattened or not. But customers are more critical on your color-matching abilities.

This is where we want to channel our efforts into which explains why we're opting to switch to either PDF/X-3 or -4. This will give us some room to maneuver when we need to print on different types of media and also on different types of printing processes.

ColorTune? hehehe. That is so '90s! Are you serious? I hope not.

Regarding ProfileMaker on low TAC jobs....the problem here is not the CMS.....rather the paper. Usually, jobs with low TAC are printed on very thin paper stock....like 45-60 gsm. Alex, subukan mo munang gamitin ang full function ng ProfileMaker....then I assure you babawiin mo sinabi mo.

Cheers!
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:27 pm

Yes, it's colortune 5.0, but I maybe wrong on its capability.

Kita mo na ba marketing paper ng Agfa about ApogeeX 4? It's interesting, isang buong workflow. Kaya medyo naisip ko na baka yung hinahanap mo sa color server ay makita mo rin sa ApogeeX 4.

About Profilemaker, pre, 'yung lang ay ayon sa mga nabasa ko, hehehe, so hearsay.

Alex
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Sandman

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:07 pm

Alex, ang ginagamit namin dito pdfToolbox 4 with DeviceLink. Hanep pare...pero manual conversion ka nga lang. Meron din siyang built in na imposition software, preflight, etc.

Ang hinahanap natin ay parang ganitong system na all in one....pero automated via Hot Folders para ang cycle time natin maiksi. Please check out pdfToolbox 4 Server. Madaming papasok na bagong jobs this year and yung bagong client natin mga Kano. Medyo critical talaga sila sa quality and consistency.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against an APPE-based system lalo na sa latest version ng Apogee X4.

Gusto ko lang kasi kung kukuha tayo ng bagong investment eh madaming pwedeng gumamit. Pag color server kasi pwedeng gamitin ng graphic artists, ng prepress for newspaper and commercial productions din.

In the event mag-crash ang RIP mo sa commercial or sa newspaper, pwede pa rin gamitin ng ibang tao ang color server kasi stand-alone nga siya.
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:58 pm

Ah, ok. So color server. Mukhang matinding color server hanap mo. 'Di ba usually ang color server hati-hati rin. Iba ang pang-designers at press. Sensya na pre, outdated na tayo e.

Question pre, hindi ka ba nakaka-encounter sa pdf/x1-a sa overprints, especially 'yung ginawa sa Illustrator then copy and paste sa Indesign. Halimabawa, logo na ginawa sa Illy tapos ilagay sa Indesign with background, makikita mo sa Indesign ok then pag-PDF na to PFD/x1-a, 'yun na, nagmixed na 'yung foreground color sa background color. Minsan kahit na ipa-knockout ko sa Indesign, ganun pa rin ang labas.

Alex
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Sandman

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Thu Feb 05, 2009 7:59 pm

So far, wala pa kaming na-experience na ganyan. Are you sure it's a valid PDF/X-1a? Meron kasing misconception diyan pare.

Sa mga nakausap ko na ibang tao, they think na if they use the PDF/X preset in Indesign and Illustrator it will give them a PDF/X-1a file. Oftentimes, this is not enough.

We still need to process the PDFs a bit further in Acrobat Pro, with or withhout 3rd party plugins para maka-generate tayo ng isang valid PDF/X-1a or PDF/X-3 file. During these verification and conversion stage in Acrobat Pro or Enfocus, most of the problems are detected and automatically corrected na din.

Anyway, going back to this overprinting issues. Have you tried placing the logo from Illustrator as PDF/X-1a? Meaning, i-place mo sa Indesign yung PDF/X-1a file na galing Illustrator. Tapos PDF/X-1a mo ulit yung InDesign pag tapos mo na ang layout mo.

Meron kami dito font issues. Certified PDF/X ang file. Pagdating sa Imposition, madaming fonts naging iba't-ibang characters. Meron asterisk, square, etc.

Usually, these problems are already solved once you upgrade your Acrobat Pro and Enfocus PitStop to a higher version.
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:41 pm

Larry,

Yep, ganun nga ang solusyon na pinagawa ko sa artist. Either i-pdf nya from illustrator or save as nya as illy eps PS2 checked.

I guess flattening issue 'to sa Indesign.

'Yung font problem, na-encounter ko 'yan kapag import ang pdf/x1-a sa Pagemaker (alam mo na). Nayari nga ako minsan, 'di ko na check ang neg, kinabukasan may mga asterisk at symbols 'yung text. Kaya 'yun balik eps.

Ang sistema ko kasi sa kliyente ngayon, setup ako ng joboptions pang Acrobat base on pdf/x1-a minus output intent, trim and bleed, and color settings (leave color unchanged). And I asked them to turn off all color settings except PS. Ayaw ko na i-mess up nila 'yung color settings baka magkaroon ng re-separation. Pero setup ko color settings ng Photoshop nila. With that, I ask them to make sure all colored pix are in cmyk. And ask them to use Export PDF instead of print to adobe pdf. Pero kapag Pagemaker, print to PDF kapag Acrobat 6 or higher.

Then pagdating sa akin, kapag impose ko sa Indy 'di ko na i-pdfx1-a pero kapag i-print ko from Acrobat, i preflight ko to pdf/x1-a.

Ano tingin mo sa flow ko?

Alex
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Sandman

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:10 pm

Alex,

Instead of going PDF/X-1a per se, why not go with PDF/X-Plus. It's a subset of -1a but with more specific requirements. You can use the recommended job options settings provided by the Ghent PDF Workgroup.

They have different flavors like if you want to distill a job intended for commercial sheetfed CMYK use the Sheet CMYK job options. Kung gusto mo naman na meron spot...then make sure you use the Sheet CMYK plus spot job options, pag pang newspaper you can use WebCMYKnews job options.

Tip ko lang...it's better NOT to use their ready made job options. Rather, download their documentation for that particular job options set that you like and then re-create your job options manually so that you can specify your own Output Intent (ISONewspaper26v4, ISOCoated v2, etc).

After creating this PDF/X-Plus job options you can send this via email to your clients. Voila! They can "call" this job options settings from their Adobe Indy and Illy when they want to make a PDF. Less work....less mistakes.

Now, once you received their files created from these settings, use the specific preflight profile in Acrobat Pro. Meron silang PDF/X-verifier dun according to the Ghent PDF Workgroup (i.e. Sheet CMYK, WebCMYK, etc.).

Sheet CMYK accepts multiple pages but the PDFs should have the necessary Page Boxes (Trim, Bleed, Media). Web CMYK News naman will fail multiple pages and will make the Page Boxes equal.

Impose your job and depending on your RIP's PS Level send the job to the RIP as PDF or PS. Here, wala nang color conversion na kailangan except your Calibration Curves sa RIP mo.

My thoughts only.

Larry
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:37 pm

Larry,

Thanks. I will look at Ghent.

BTW, I just reviewed Adobe's guide to transparency. Mukhang 'yung problem ko dun sa overprints ay 'yung pag-spcify ng color sa Illy. The artist might be selecting spot color. Spot color when converted to cmyk tends to mess up sa pag-flattened kaya nagmi-mix up sa bacground color 'yung foreground artwork.

I'm going to look at it tomorrow when I visit the client.

Thanks again, pre.

Alex
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Sandman

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:21 am

Alex,

Just in case pare, paki-check mo na din ang Overprint Preview settings ng Acrobat ng cliente mo. There are 2 ways to set this and both have to be enabled. First, go to Acrobat Preferences/Page Display/ and check Overprint Preview. Next, enable the overprint setting sa Advanced/Print Production/Overprint Preview.

Kung naka-off kasi ang isa dito...makikita nila sa Acrobat nila na okay naman ang artwork. Pero kung naka-ON pareho, duon pa lang sa kanila makikita na nila na magbe-blend ang artwork sa background color.

Marami kasi sa atin ang alam lang na Overprint Preview ay yung nasa Print Production lang and not sa Preferences. Na-biktima ako niyan dati. hehehe.

Larry
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Sandman

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:54 am

Lex, naka-schedule i-upgrade ang Arkitex dito pero na-hold due to more pressing issues sa Commercial production. Meron kasing bagong cliente na mas malandi pa sa horse. Boss decided to prioritize our commercial needs and wants to upgrade our current Apogee X to Apogee Prepress (v.5).....with Sublima. Switch tayo sa hybrid. Also we will try to implement this year PDF/A for archiving.

Once again, tama ka na naman mentor! mwah! mwah! Salamat sa input mo ulit.
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Alex Dulay



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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:01 pm

Larry,

That's great. Nakakainip na tuloy, hehehe.

BTW, current version of Preps is PDF 1.3, right? So 'yung Apogee's imposition na gagamitin?
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Sandman

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PostSubject: Re: PDF/X-4: Why should I use it?   Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:38 pm

Lex, current PDF version coming from our Preps is 1.4. We're not sure kung impo ng Apogee ang gagamitin once we've upgraded kasi sanay na mga tao sa Preps.

Magkaibang workstation ang Imposition and Rendering. Katulad ng nabanggit ko it's safer this way para kung mag-crash ang isang workstation, pwede pa rin magtrabaho yung isa.
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