In this episode of the GAMUT Podcast from Idealliance, Don Carli, co-founder and President of Nima Hunter eloquently discusses the future of color management by first describing the beginning of innovative solutions like stochastic screening and expanded gamut technology. Don also shares the key findings of the research study, “Discovering a New World of Color and Appearance Management Solutions.”
Don Carli has been a management consultant and senior advisor to advertisers, publishers, and Fortune 1000 brands, including Adobe, Agfa, Dupont, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Kodak, Reed Business Information, Time Incorporated, The Economist, and Xerox. Don is also a Senior Research Fellow with the nonprofit Institute for Sustainable Communication (ISC) where he directs The Sustainable Advertising Partnership and other programs addressing advertising, marketing, corporate responsibility, sustainability, and enterprise communication.
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What's the question: "How can we serve innovative voices, smart ideas, and the latest technology to improve brand identity, product consistency, and profitability, and the print and packaging supply chain?" Welcome to the Idealliance GAMUT podcast. I am your host. Jeff Collins Idealliance is a nonprofit association and we serve the global supply chain for brands, print and packaging with 12 offices located around the world. If you are interested in becoming a member of Idealliance, you can join us by visiting our www.idealliance .org. On today's GAMUT podcast . We are speaking with Don Carli from Nima Hunter incorporated. NimaHunter helps business leaders and marketing executives deploy and develop robust strategies for business transformation and sustainable growth. And Don has been a management consultant and senior advisor to advertisers, publishers and fortune 1000 brands, including Adobe Agfa, DuPont, HP, IBM, Kodak, Reed Business Information, Time Inc, and on and on. He is also a senior research fellow with the non-profit Institute for sustainable communication or IFC . And today we have Don on to talk about a study called discovering a new word of color and appearance management solutions. And this study was conducted by Premier, the former research unit of AP Tech, and they commissioned Nima Hunter to provide its members with credible baseline metrics and projectable consensus forecasts of vendor, product opinions, expert opinions, prepress customer opinions, and end-user opinions vary a lot of opinions there. And it's related to the adoption and the use of new color and appearance management software, as well as new hardware over the period of from 2017 to 2022, the scope of the study was limited to markets in the U S and commercial print and plant packaging and wide format inkjet for color management solutions, ICC profiles, as well as prepress file preparation. So we're very excited to hear what Don has to say about the future of color management and color measurement for the print industry, as well as outside of the print industry, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to part two of our discussion with Don Carli. And if you missed part one of our discussion, make sure you check that out. That's the gamut podcast, episode 69, discovering the future of color part one. And today we're going to pick up where we left off talking about a new solution for ICC color management or appearance management. And that is ICC max , and that is now a published ICC standard 20677. So, Don, I guess the question is, you know, right now we only have that. I know of one solution Onyx , that has implemented ICC max and we have many, many other solution providers for ICC based color management solutions like profiling software or digital front ends. You know, we have a PPE from Adobe. What is impeding the adoption essentially? What's the slow down? Why isn't it ?Don Carli:
Well , it's , it's the classic chicken or the egg problem that we had with the, you know, the proceeding generations of color management. We can remember it, it took a decade for ICC color management to gain a foothold for many, many, many years. It existed, but no one used it. And then people used it and used it badly. And, you know, as, as we started to see successes and the development of consulting and training and certification of how the technology could be applied together with improvements in the underlying standard itself, it became what it is today used by approximately half of the market for commercial printing purposes with reasonably good success. It works as long as you work within its constraints and you don't expect more of it than it was designed to deliver.Jeff Collins:
It's understanding that the capability of the product .Don Carli:
Exactly. So, you know, overall, we made a set of recommendations in this study. The first was, there was very low awareness of what appearance management meant versus color management. They are different appearance management includes color management it's, but it's more expansive, more, it includes more , uh, aspects of human visual perception than color management does. So it's a super set of color management and there was a very limited understanding of metamerism. Most couldn't give you a definition if you asked for it and couldn't present examples of all of the various forms of metamerism that frustrate them. They, they know it when they see it, but they don't know what to call it. So, you know, just naming things, being able to call things by common names is an important first step in the creation of a market. The category is not well-defined and the category has to be marketed, communicated to people so that they not only understand what the category is, but what the potential benefits of solutions based on the standard can be and why those benefits matter to them. So what's needed at this stage in the evolution of this category is marketing above brand, not brand specific, but above brand. And I'll use the analogy of what took place with the development of digital printing. When at, you know, in the early nineties, there was printing, there wasn't any category called digital printing. When you brought a doc , you color 40 to Drupa in 1995, people didn't call it a press , called it a copier. They called it a copier, maybe a copier on steroids, but a copier. So there was copying and there was printing. Now that's kind of like saying, I want a digital press when there is no such category. So people had to invest in marketing, Xerox invested tens of millions of dollars a year for five years, running organizing events called docu world, which were not about Xerox technology. They were about the category of digital printing. There were about the benefits of print on demand and distribute in print and personalized print. They were about the benefits to the brands. They were about the benefits to designers and creative professionals. They were about the benefits that digital printing, which they kept reinforcing and kept repeating, could deliver that traditional offset lithography and flexography and reviewer and letterpress could not. So those marketing efforts that are collectively carried out by associations, like Idealliance and AP tech are very important, but they require commitments, both financial and , um, you know, in terms of personnel and to create the right experiences for brand owners, for print service providers, to understand the benefits of what this standard will enable up the potential, it has to solve real problems that current solutions, whether they are proprietary or based on the existing ICC V4 standard can not so well said . The next thing is it's it's necessary within the product organizations of companies, whether it be Pantone or whether it be data, color, or X-Rite, or the hundreds of other companies that make color and appearance measurement devices, or software for the transformation of measurements, into some application solution to give them the, justification that a significant market exists and that the individuals who will be researching and then making the decisions to purchase and implement those solutions are sufficient number and purchasing power to justify the investment in product development and product marketing.Jeff Collins:
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Well, the members of ICC have been working on the standard for, for over five years now, and it's a process. It takes time because they want to make sure that this is first of all, a consensus process. It's not proprietary, it's consensus process, it's open to public review. Um, and, and that it's, it's applicable to a broad set of application context and markets. You're familiar with Adobe and Pantone and X-Rite - they are actively involved in the development of the standard I was in Munich, at the ICC , meeting , where the evolution of the standard was being discussed and worked on by a group of over a hundred color management experts, product development, product managers, et cetera, at FOGRA, which you know, is, is very significantly invested in the future of ICC max as well as appearance management. The European union has several projects on appearance management and appearance rendering that are funded to the tune of tens of millions of Euros a year to develop applications and to develop technologies. So that work is undergoing more so in Europe than in the United States, to be honest, at least what's visible. There are a lot of proprietary efforts underway , that may not have been announced, but work on solutions that build on this standard are under development by most of the major , companies , in that we're familiar with today. Now, the question is how do we get them to bring those solutions to market in order to do that? I believe there's going to have to be a new level of collaboration among, and between the brands on marketing of the category and of the benefits of the category, developing explainer videos, infographics, webinars, podcasts, white papers, case studies that bring the business, the environmental, the social, and the aesthetic benefits of standards-based ICC, max color, and appearance management solutions to light. And again, it's an educational problem market education investment. In fact, if I'm a product manager and I've got 50% market penetration for an existing product, ICC Mac ICC before based, and I have to put a budget forward for next year, where am I going to spend my money in product development and marketing product marketing? Do I put my money into an ICC max solution or into my ICC V4 solution? I've got a dollar to spend, where do I put my dollar? So if I'm conservative, I say, well, I know this market, there's still 50% of the market available, or at least maybe conservatively 25%. I'm going to max that out before I put any money into the new thing, right? Others will say, you know what? I think that first mover advantage in color and appearance management is going to be more important to us, both tactically and strategically, we might take a little bit of a hit in near term revenue, but long-term the market, the lifetime value market potential of appearance technology far exceeds the lifetime market value of solutions based on ICC before, especially if I believe I'm oriented toward applications where the pain points for metamerism and , and things like fluorescence and pearlescent and iridescence and other surface effects are a greater source of frustration or costs in the market. So that's the tussle we're going to see now. And I do believe that intelligent brands are going to realize that in the early stages of this market, it'll be better for them to collaborate and work together to promote the category because the rising tide will lift all of their boats. You know, every, when there's two shoe stores in the mall, everybody sells more shoes. We need to have the market first, understand the category, use , use, articulate the category. So when they search, they have a problem metamerism. They don't call it that things don't match. What shows up in the search is metabolism, problem, definition, category, solution, appearance management, or ICC max , and then comes the product. And for each of the products in that category for that particular problem, there are going to be a set of features. Features may differ for each feature. There may be benefits, but do the benefits delivered or promised meet the needs I have? Now I can start to make a decision about which of the standards-based solutions I'm going to put together in a solution to solve my problem, or to address the opportunity I perceive. So I think one of the things that our industry has to do at this stage is recognize that there's a market beyond printing the commercial graphic arts that is already investing tens of millions of dollars a year in R and D on spectral and specular appearance measurement. When we did the research, one of the first things they asked was how many companies make devices for measuring spectral or specular data. And I asked the experts how many they were aware of. And I was given a list of about a dozen right through my research identified over 250.Jeff Collins:
That's amazing within the print industry, thinking about the different manufacturers or special devices and sensors, I can only think of a few right off the top of my head. Xrite, Techkon, Barbieri Konica Sensing and I know there's a few others. Then your study revealed quite a different picture outside of our industry. Can you name just a few of the other manufacturers for these types of devices?Don Carli:
We could spend the next hour , but couple just a few Admesy, Agilent, Aligned Vision, AMD, Angstrom Sun Technologies, Analytik Jena, Anton Paar, Applied Vision, Apogee Instruments Argyle Technologyare dial technology. Artemis VisionArtimus, Avian, Avanti, AVT, Baldwin, even Barbierie. Yes. You know that, so that's the A's . If I go to the SS , you know, we've got SI Phototonics, Sugito, Salutron, Scangrip, Schmidt Haensch, Siconic, Sensapart, Sensotech instruments, Senz instruments, Sheen Instruments Shenzhen Wave Optoelectronics, Shimadzu, SparkFun, Spiroptic, SpecMetrix, Spectralign, SpectrCal, Spectrocology, Spectral Devices, Spectralinges, Spectral Evolutions, Spectral Products, Spectro Ametek Surface Opticsut...it goes on and on.Jeff Collins:
Well, now I did ask the question and I got more than I bargained for at Don there's tremendous improvements in this technology, the sensors spectral sensors in particular getting smaller and smaller. So it broadens the application for the average, Joe, that has a cell phone, for example, talk to me about some of those improvements.Don Carli:
They are now reduced to chip scale chips. So there are several companies that now make chip scale spectral and spectrum spectral and specular measurement chips that are a few dollars, a piece that are the same size as the camera dye . In most smartphones, there are already several Android smartphones that incorporate these spectral sensors.Jeff Collins:
So we have improvements as far as size and cost of the special devices or sensors or technology. And then of course, we have the improvement to the ICC specification to help solve the problems. How do we bring all that together to help solve the term you coined appearance management or color management?Don Carli:
Appearance management has been a thing for over a decade. It's just that we didn't have a standard for appearance management. In many cases we didn't have the technological resources available to make it affordable. So now, because of the tremendous investment in hyperspectral imaging, that's been undertaken in areas for remote sensing and security and surveillance. We have R and D into the sensing technology that the graphic arts industry can and should take advantage of. We shouldn't try to reinvent the wheel just as you know, the consumer market for inkjet, largely funded the R and D that's made industrial inkjet possible. The and D that industrial applications of hyperspectral imaging have made are going to make applications in commercial printing and in packaging and labels in industrial textile printing surface printing for things like countertops and wallpaper and flooring affordable, and widespread combined that with advances in machine, vision, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, and you now start to see how we'll be able to apply these technologies to create more faithful renderings of what people have in mind. And on that front, the technologies for physically and standards for physically based rendering have also been advancing dramatically. The technologies for lighting and displays have been advancing tremendously. So this new standard for appearance management is really at a perfect point for its broad adoption, not only within printing industry applications, but broadly in an array of markets in healthcare, in security and remote sensing, a whole array of industrial applications where the same problem exists. And that's to define what we see very well using, using a standard approach to measuring spectral and specular data and effecting transformations that can render intent more faithfully, not just for color, but for the other attributes of appearance,Jeff Collins:
Don. Fantastic. And on that note, we'll go ahead and conclude part two of our podcast. And if you're interested in the study that we're talking about today, you can get that from AP tech or the association for print technologies, just visit their website. The study is called discovering a new world of color and appearance management solutions. Thanks for listening to the gamut podcast. If you have ideas, suggestions, or would like to join us or even sponsor future podcasts, simply kfields @ idealliance .org , take care and have a productive day.