GAMUT: Idealliance Printing & Packaging Podcast

59: The State of Graphic Arts Standards Developments—Part I

April 14, 2020 Idealliance Season 1 Episode 59
GAMUT: Idealliance Printing & Packaging Podcast
59: The State of Graphic Arts Standards Developments—Part I
Show Notes Transcript

Ray Cheydleur, Printing and Imaging Product Portfolio Manager, X-Rite PANTONE®, discusses the current state of specifications and standards like:

  • Near-neutral or G7®
  • ISO 12647-2
  • CxF/X4 (ISO 17972-4)
  • ECG
  • The IT8.7/5 characterization chart. 


Part I of our discussion covers standards development of G7®, ISO 12647-2, ECG, and why it matters to the global print and packaging supply chain.

Cheydleur is also the Chair of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (USTAG) to ISO Technical Committee 130 (ISO TC130) that develops standards for the graphic arts industry, Chairman of ANSI/CGATS and Vice-Chair of the International Color Consortium (ICC).

This Gamut podcast is Part I of a two-part discussion to update and explain the current state of specification and standards development.

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This episode of the GAMUT Printing & Packaging podcast is brought you by Kodak. Kodak is a global technology company focused on print and advanced materials & chemicals. We provide industry-leading hardware, software, consumables and services primarily to customers in commercial print, packaging, publishing, manufacturing and entertainment.

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Jeff Collins:   0:04
So here's the question. In the print and packaging supply chain, how do we deliver new ideas and innovative practices to continually improve your profit, your brand and your quality? Welcome to the GAMUT podcast, and I am your host, Jeff Collins, director of Print Technologies for Idealliance. We are a non-profit global think tank serving the graphic communications industry with 12 offices strategically located around the world to better support our membership. You can support the GAMUT podcast and content like this by becoming a member of Idealliance by going to www.idealliance.org.

Jeff Collins:   0:44
Today's episode is sponsored by Kodak. Kodak is a global technology company focused on print and advanced materials and chemicals. They provide industry leading hardware, software, consumables and services primarily to customers in commercial print, packaging, publishing, manufacturing and entertainment. 

Jeff Collins:   1:05
On today's podcast, we have Ray Cheydleur. He's the printing and imaging product portfolio manager at X-Rite. And over the years, Ray has worked in many roles at X-Rite, from front line support to working with its largest OEM customers, integrating X-Rite solutions with theirs. And Ray is also the chair of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (USTAG) to the ISO committee TC130. ISO's TC130 developed standards for the graphic arts industry, and Ray is also the chairman of ANSI/CGATS and the Vice Chairman of the International Color Consortium or ICC. 

Jeff Collins:   1:47
Today's GAMUT podcast is part one of a two-part discussion with Ray to update and explain the current state of specifications and standards development within the industry. 

Jeff Collins:   2:00
Hey, Ray, thanks for joining us today on the GAMUT podcast. Great to have you on. How are you?

Ray Cheydleur:   2:06
Thanks, Jeff. It's really great to talk to you and it's always a lot of fun to have a chance to have some discussion back and forth with you.

Jeff Collins:   2:13
Yeah, absolutely. And we've been trying to get together to do and coordinate this podcast to talk about standards and specifications and really update our listeners. And this is your area of expertise. So there's no one better to update our listeners on what's happening within standards and specifications and what we have to look forward to coming down the road here in the future. So let's get started by telling our listeners a little bit about your background. I started working with you over a decade ago, probably almost 20 years. But I believe I first met you at Koenig and Bauer around 2002-2003. And we've worked together on the Print Properties and Colorimetric Counsel in the early years of G7 and development of specifications around that. So let's go ahead and hear about your background and how you got involved in the high level area of specifications and ISO standards.

Ray Cheydleur:   3:16
Yeah, so a long time ago in one of my former lives, I was a photographer and I made the switch from analog to digital photography. And then I was actually asked to work with printers on how to deliver the right files to printers to go do stuff, right? So that was like my first introduction to the fact that there may have been standardized file formats, but delivering the right stuff to get reproduced was a challenge, right? And then I moved into full digital work as a back end printer for Eastman Kodak Company doing fulfillment for digital imaging in a special project there, and we were actually setting up a couple of different labs across the world and trying to create standardization before there were things like ICC profiles and things like GRACoL and all those kind of things. So that again sort of led into that desire to have better standards to be able to interchange files with. So then when I moved to X-Rite, you know, my boss at the time said, I think you should go to this meeting here 'cause it's really important to talk about, you know, and understand, standards and so forth. That just sucked me right into that path because it was going right to my need to, you know, get a better way to interchange information.

Jeff Collins:   4:37
So, Ray, over the last several years, what specification, or standard, or area of improvement in quality really stands out above the rest?

Ray Cheydleur:   4:49
Well, there's a lot of new things going on right now, but if we look back a couple of years, some of the areas that we see a big impact in the graphic arts, you know, one of them was the introduction of M1 as a measuring condition to solve a very specific problem that the graphic arts had where new papers and news and proofing and new kinds of papers that were being used in the press room, just mismatched and so proofing didn't work and press room was not as standardized or as controllable as before. That heralded in a bunch of new work, right? And then things that were to aid communication were that process. So, you know, that's the history of little pieces changing how tightly light booths were specified. So they had one... it would be wide specification, and it wasn't changed, the specification instead was just tightened up. But that tightening, you know, made a big difference in the way things looked inside the light booth. Viewing and measuring conditions both, right, 'cause you need those to match. That's one of the challenges whenever we introduce a standard, is understanding that a standard rarely sits alone. Most of the time the standards are part of a workflow, and so it may mean that you need to adjust things on either side of that—make it work—which is often why standards take so long. Because we're actually not working on a standard, we're working on a series of things or, you know, working with folks like Idealliance, right, where we're trying to get... here's a standard and here's how it should be rolled out in specifications, right? Because the specifications tend to be more nuts and bolts on how you actually implement a standard.

Jeff Collins:   6:36
And what contribution does the Idealliance Print Properties and Colorimetric Council provide to the development or solving some of these problems like M1 and use in practical application? You know, on the plant floor?

Ray Cheydleur:   6:54
It's huge, I mean, because, you know, one of the nice things about the members of, you know, for the PPC is that they are in press rooms all the time, and then you have folks like me who represent manufacturers who are working behind the scenes and working with our customers. And so you get a lot of real world input into the problems that people are facing, and then enough broad-based support to try and do things. So, an interesting example of that would be things like the new IT8.7/5 target, which is really born out of the Idealliance 1617 target, which was really born out of the need for people to have a single target that included the IT8.7/4 and, you know, the patch values that were in the P2P target, or at least, you know, the counts four and five of that, so you could run a single target that allows you to go do G7, and consequently also do profiling, and with the additional near neutral gave the additional benefit of actually driving a better profile because they have more near neutral patches, right? So that combination of stuff. But that's work from Idealliance, and it didn't immediately fall into, Oh, let's make this a standard. It's like, by having it work through Ideaalliance and the Print Properties, it allowed for people to test and to see if it worked, and to see what the implications were. And so a lot of work went in there to make that happen. Idealliance, and then we brought it forward in CGATS, and now it's from, you know, CGATS—which is the US Standards organization,—now we're moving it up into ISO. So it tends to go that path where we have stuff from real world moved into standards, and then if it's a US standard, we move it into ISO, so the rest of world can benefit.

Jeff Collins:   8:45
And before we get too far in depth, and to the specific ISO specifications—or, excuse me—the ISO standards, or regional specifications, can you give our listeners a little idea of how the different groups work and what their roles are? So, for instance, some of the listeners may have heard of CGATS, and they may have heard of TC130 and ISO, or these working groups, and they hear things like G7, TR015, or SWOP, or GRACoL, and it may be a little confusing to people that aren't in-depth into ISO, as you yourself are.

Ray Cheydleur:   9:27
Yeah, maybe too far in-depth, is what you're trying to say. Yeah. It's a lot of words—a letter salad, right?

Jeff Collins:   9:34
Yeah. One of the things that, you know, sometimes, maybe we take for granted... but I know that in other industries—and I talk to people that work in different aspects in business and in manufacturing for different industries that—if I talk to them, I say, yeah, I'm involved in, you know, working with specifications and standards and ISO and Lean and dot, dot, dot, many of them that are in the quality management field or maybe a subject matter expert, they have a very good understanding of ISO relating to, you know, their manufacturing in their industry, but sometimes in print, if you start talking about ISO specs and standards and things like CGATS, most printers don't understand what we're talking about.

Ray Cheydleur:   10:31
Yeah, it is definitely confusing, right? So to start from the standards perspective first, CGATS, which is the Committee for Graphic Arts Technical Standards, is essentially the American part of the graphic arts standards setting business. Right? So things that many printers have heard of, like CGATS.5 or something like that, you know, are the things that that organization of which I'm a chair does, and that process built things like the original IT8.7/3 target or the IT8.7/4 target. So, you know, those are the ones that are trying to address particular issues that we've seen in the US, that our members who are people from the printing, publishing and converting area, are recognizing these things that they'd like to get a standardization around. I mean, right now, even some more esoteric things are going on in there to try and make sure that people understand how some of the standards were developed.

Jeff Collins:   11:42
Understood. So that's great for CGATS. And then we have TC130. And what is their role?

Ray Cheydleur:   11:52
So TC130? You mentioned the fact that many people look at ISO, and maybe at their shop as ISO 9000, ISO 9001 certified, right? So they think of ISO in those terms. And ISO has many, many different technical committees. And so technical committee 130 is specifically to address the things in graphic arts. So right now, just in TC130—so just in the graphic arts area—there are 101 published standards for the graphic arts. And right now we're working on 33 standards that are either new, or, more often, revisions, because every standard gets looked at every 3 to 5 years to see whether it's still useful or whether it needs to be updated, or whether we're no longer doing that and we should discontinue that standard.

Jeff Collins:   12:43
Got it, got it. So that brings us back to what we started talking about. And that's the IT8.7/5 and you mentioned that that was born out of the IT8.7/4. And the problem that it was trying to solve is to have a chart that can capture the near neutral scales that are present for a P2P51. Some of us that may be listening don't know what a P2P51 is—it's a target that's used as the main tool, the main chart, for G7 calibration or verification. And so now the TC1617 does that as well, so you don't need to replace the P2P51; you can use both. But if you were going to pick one target that could do all things, the TC1617 can do it with the one run, right?

Ray Cheydleur:   13:39
It's exactly the case, but the challenge is, when it's the TC1617, if you're an Idealliance member, that turns the pages and you say great, I can go do that. But it tends to be a little bit different because in certain parts of the world, specifications are great. But they follow specifications only if they're based on a standard. So by having an IT8.7/5 you know, an official US standard or—more importantly, in some cases—having an ISO standard, even though they're all exactly the same, it says that for those countries where that traceability to a standard is important, as soon as it becomes standard, it becomes usable.

Jeff Collins:   14:23
I see. I see.

Ray Cheydleur:   14:24
And before that, it can be used, but it doesn't have the same weight. And so that's one reason why moving from specification or standard for some parts of the world is so important.

Jeff Collins:   14:34
So that makes sense. And I just want to clarify that we were talking about the TC1617 and that was the name of the chart that was in development within the Print Properties and Colorimetric Council of IdealIiance. And now it is called or termed the IT8.7/5 replacing the older IT8.7/4. So, Ray, you've been involved in another very important specifications, which eventually became a standard that you worked on directly at X-Rite called CxF.

Ray Cheydleur:   15:09
Yes, CxF is an interesting animal, right? I mean, you can go back to what I said at the start. You know, exchanging information is really important and so CxF is a format to go through color exchange. And just in that same way there was a CxF1 which had the basis on this idea of using XML to do this and make it machine readable. But it was a challenge because they tried to make it very light-weight. And then we went to CxF2, which was very big and very broad and very hard to implement because of that and then it got to CxF3. And all of this happened with inside my company, inside of X-Rite. So we iterated this with our customers to try and get this to a point where it really facilitated color exchange. And once it was to the point where it was really working well and working across different industries and different parts of the workflow, that's when we said, this is important, but... it's great if we can talk to our own pieces of software but we really need to open this up and make it something for the world. And X-Rite has a history of doing that. We worked with the original status density standards and things like that. And so, in the same way, we took CxF and brought it to ISO, where it has now more morphed into CxF/X and really has four different documents that talk about using it in different parts of the workflow.

Jeff Collins:   16:34
And so, explain to some of the listeners what the advantage of using CxF is, compared to maybe some other measurement format.

Ray Cheydleur:   16:47
Yes. So there were, perhaps historically, a lot of proprietary measurement formats that were text-based, and then the most standardized was things that were encoded in—they're still text-based, but a much more formal text base—that in the US was originally in CGATS.5. That was ASCII text, which meant it was great, was easy to read, easy to alter and easy to be wrong. So the challenge then, was to try to have something that, as we automate our workflows that are... easy to be machine readable, human readable as well, but machine readable and to be checked by those systems to make sure that all the information necessary is there. And so, by using XML, you know—the basis that virtually everything is these days that we're doing for interchange—CxF created that automation piece to go do that. And just in an interesting aside, when I was working on CxF I said, well, this is great, but we should have a converter for all those ASCII files out there that were done in CGATS.5 or CGATS 17 format. And after we identified 28 variants from different manufacturers that all claimed that they were directly compliant to those—and none of them were the same—we said, well, maybe a converter is tougher to do than we thought. So we did one. But I bet you there's 30 more versions out there that we never ran into.

Jeff Collins:   18:21
Reminds me of another format, JDF. Not gonna go there. But to move forward, so CxF, very, very important and definitely an innovation and improvement from what we used to deal with. What are some of the other things that you see and specifications and standards that are almost the line of improvement? And whether they're almost a standard or an ISO standard, or they're still under development. So we have things like expanded color gamut and textiles, and, you know, a lot of new things happening out in the color management, color communication world.

Ray Cheydleur:   19:02
It's interesting you just mentioned two that are both hot in my mental topic list and also have some interrelation as well. So expanded color gamut—you know, we've talked about end color, so ICC profiles beyond four colors, for a long time, and there were various attempts at standardizing things like that in the past. But it's been pretty clear over the last few years that we had settled on at least one process for expanded color gamut printing, which would be, you know, the standard CMYK+OGV. So orange, green, and violet. In fact, I don't know, 2-3 years ago, our company Pantone put a visual guide for that because it was being so popular. But the challenge was, you know, if you want to go characterize your CMYK press, you're gonna take one of those standardized targets and go do that because you can bring it into all these different software packages and do stuff with it. There was no standardized target for ECG printing, right? And part of that is because ECG is a lot harder than CMYK. So everybody who is approaching solving that problem had some different input that they needed. So this is a case where Idealliance really took the ball but didn't just try and hold it internally. But they really tried to gather all the experts in the industry worldwide and say, what do you guys need if we want to create a single target? Right? So you know, let's look at all the targets you guys have and let's see what is common between them. And then let's see what's different. What is really needed? And so that's not a little task. But it was led by Idealliance, and they did a great job of trying to get down to a reasonable target. And so they have come up with a target now that's four letter-sized pages, so you can read it with something like our i1iO. Which, you know, makes the process of building, or using the targets much simpler, but even four pages is a lot for some kind of printing devices. So there's also the alternate to use this—a portion—of those four pages, so you know, one or two pages could build an ECG profile as well.

Jeff Collins:   21:21
And currently, the state of ECG is really customized depending on the workflow that you're operating, you could possibly be using Esko or TMG or Kodak. There are several solutions that are out there on the market—ColorLogic... But pretty much everyone has their own secret—well, not secret, but their own method of getting the same objective.

Ray Cheydleur:   21:48
It's absolutely the case, right, and that's still okay, right? It's still okay. If you're a Esko user or using our i1 profiler and you want to use the logic that was built in there, that's fine. But the challenge is, if you're running press runs, it's often that you want to bring a target that could be used in multiple places and certainly from a standards and specifications stuff. We really love it when you have the same target, because it allows us to see how things run in different places. And what are those kind of things? I mean, so that's huge. And so by having this target, it really allows for a lot more knowledge and better user experience in going to go characterize the seven color press.

Jeff Collins:   22:32
And from a brand or a print buyer point of view, when I'm working with a variety of different printers, it also makes it easier on my side to do verification and do observation. And that way I'm not getting a variety of different data from different solutions. It's just, there's no way to manage something like that.

Ray Cheydleur:   22:53
Yeah, it's an interesting challenge, and I think this is the next challenge in this process, is right now we have the multiple choices, and it'll be interesting to see where the shakeout happens between using the one-page format and the four-page format and whether we can get the right guidelines around when it's best practices to go one way or the other. You know, that will be the next challenge here. But that's exactly this kind of work, right? We've got the target now. Now we can go back and get real world information about implementation of that. I mean, there's some work in ISO right now about expanded color gamut printing. But it isn't using this target yet. It's more the high level look at the process. But then this is the logical extension of that work as it goes down. So that work right now is more in terms of a technical reporter, a technical specification, not a standard, to inform the rest of the world about what's going on in expanded color gamut. And, you know, this target would be a natural follow-on to say, the IT8.7/5, which will have an ISO equivalent, and then, you know, either do this step-by-step either through CGATS to ISO or directly to ISO.

Jeff Collins:   24:10
So when do you think that we'll have an ECG standard? You know, CMYK+OGV similar to ISO 12647-2? I'm sure there's some challenges between now and when that happens.

Ray Cheydleur:   24:25
Oh, I think that takes better eyeglasses than I have. I mean, it becomes challenging, right, because the process is there. But remember that 12647-2 is really a sort of process control standard. And as such, as you well know, we're moving a lot of the process control from traditional process control metrics, to color imagery. And so I think in many ways, the place where ECG may evolve is into what I would call the next generation of ISO standards, which are more digitally focused, but include analog, and may pass by the 12647 series and move right into what is a new series called 15311.

Jeff Collins:   25:20
Ray, you've played a major role in persuading for the adoption of near neutral or G7 (that's, really the brand), but near neutral into ISO 12647-2. And you've been a major part of pushing for that adoption.

Ray Cheydleur:   25:43
Right? I mean, one of the things that we've seen in many ways, is that as we move forward, and certainly as G7 and near neutral has really helped a lot of printers around the world get their processes under better control and to get better looking results across a series of different kinds of materials. They had a better appearance, you know, common appearance, if you will, or however phrase you want to do that. But to get this better look that it was... what we realized, is that 12647-2, while really good for one process didn't explain this new process. And even though you may have had good results that had similar output at the end, there was no way to show this was. And if we dial back just for a second what I said earlier in the podcast about the fact that some places, until it's and ISO standard, can't contractually use a process, right? This was being pushed by people who said, give us G7 and ISO so that we can adopt that, because we know it's better than what we're doing. But contractually, we can't do that. So by bringing it into 12647-2. This is... the folks who are doing this... you know, the ability to point to a standard that shows the value of the near neutral method, but it doesn't take away from anybody else who is already using the existing version of... that, are in 12647-2. But even then, even for those, we're fixing some other things, because paper keeps changing and so forth. So, you know, all parts of the standard are being looked at, but the big significant add to it will be this edition of the near neutral. So that's pretty exciting news.

Jeff Collins:   27:37
And near neutral, for some of you that are in the G7 world, near neutral is a term that's used in place of G7.

Ray Cheydleur:   27:46
Yeah, G7 is a branded name, right? So when we move to ISO, we've got to find a different way to express things that are trademarked.

Jeff Collins:   27:56
I mean, G7 was released quite some time ago, and near neutral. This has been out for a considerable number of years, and (I can edit this out if you don't want to have this in here), but what took so long?

Ray Cheydleur:   28:10
I think, first of all, remember that no matter how long something has existed, that there's an evolution, right? So it's an evolution because one of the challenges and standards—this is actually what I always talk about with standards—people go, how come standards take so long? And then as soon as you implement a standard, it's like, where did these guys come up with this? They're bringing this out of nowhere, right? And it's because... you and I have been looking at G7 for years. There are a whole group of people who haven't looked at G7 until the last two or three years, right? And so this is the evolution of the process. Because once we make a standard, we don't want to come back two years from now and go, huh, now, that's not what we meant. No, because that drives people crazy, right? So it's the "slow and steady wins the race" kind of thing, right? By bringing G7 in... we've had other changes, right? So you look at the changes in GRACoL, or the changes in some of the other specified printing stuff, because we introduced M1 measurement, right? So that changed some things that go on there. So all those pieces work in concert to say, at this point in time, this seems like something that the world can agree on, that is an improvement for graphic arts. And it is that challenge. We, here, may have said, I knew that! What's taking the world so long? But it really is a world agreement, and that is one of the challenges, is we need to get that level of agreement so that when we talk about an ISO standard, everyone in the world can say, Yeah, I can do that. That makes sense to make. So that takes a little bit of time sometimes.

Jeff Collins:   29:50
Yeah, Ray, wonderfully explained. I appreciate that explanation, and this is why we wanted to have you on. I'm so happy to hear that we've made tremendous progress in this really critical area of the supply chain. And look, we'll have part two next week. So stay tuned, listeners. Next week we have Ray on back again, and he is going to talk about additional progress that has been made in the area of specifications and standards, and iccMAX is another topic. So stay tuned to next week and Ray, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us today.

Ray Cheydleur:   30:32
It's always a lot of fun to  have a chance to have some discussion back and forth with you.

Jeff Collins:   30:37
Thanks for listening to the GAMUT podcast. If you have ideas, suggestions or would like to join us or even sponsor a future podcast, simply email me at [email protected] That's [email protected], take care and have a productive day.