FlightCheck Review with
Adobe InDesign Designer, Scott Citron
Owner / Creative Director at Scott Citron Design &
Adobe Certified Instructor at AdobePowerHour.com
Shares His Experience Of Markzware’s Stand-Alone Preflight App
FlightCheck Review By An InDesign Designer
In this article, Adobe InDesign Designer, Scott Citron, CEO / Creative Director at Scott Citron Design and Adobe Certified Instructor at AdobePowerHour.com, shares his experience with using Markzware’s preflight application, FlightCheck.
Video: FlightCheck user interview with
Adobe InDesign designer Scott Citron
During this interview, Creative Cloud Layout and Solutions Expert, Scott Citron, a Graphic Designer,
reviews software, which helps users to preview, preflight, report, and package desktop publishing files,
including fonts, images, colors, and other document elements, on macOS.
INTRODUCING SCOTT CITRON
David Dilling: Scott’s an avid Markzware FlightCheck user of preflighting and he has a rich background. Before we jump into your workflows, who you are, what you know, what you do. How did you end up where you are?
Scott Citron: My dad was an advertising person in the apparel business. And, so, I also had kind of an advertising / graphic design sensibility that I got from him.
In early ’93, I spent a year in Berlin, working on a television series. It showed all over the world. I came back to Santa Monica, California, and a friend of mine that was getting into desktop publishing worked for a comic book company. They were converting to digital. And he had all this software and he knew a lot about this emerging technology.
I bought a Mac and a monitor. And I started to use Illustrator and PageMaker. And Illustrator just blew my mind, because it was so fast. And PageMaker, I learned along the way, because I needed to learn some way to make Publications.
And I struggled with Photoshop because, at the time, the computers were very slow, and Photoshop didn’t even have layers, then. And it only had one Undo. I got really into this, doing design work on a computer, and eventually, it turned into kind of a little business.
I got another TV job, in ’97, in New York. I worked on a couple of shows and was doing some design work. I was working in QuarkXPress for a publisher, in Greenwich Village, and I got this thing called InDesign.
Some people at Adobe heard about me through this publisher that I was doing a book for. A publisher and these three women showed up at our apartment and they said, “Okay. Show us what you know.”
And it was like a piano recital. I showed them some stuff in InDesign, and they went, “Well, you’re pretty good with this! We’re planning a big push and we need somebody to teach InDesign, and showcase it, and demo it. Would you be interested?”
And I started doing this stuff, and InDesign exploded. Everybody wanted InDesign. We formed a New York InDesign User Group. Preflight started to come into play and there was a lot of controversy.
FINDING PRINT PROBLEMS WITH FLIGHTCHECK
David Dilling: Oh, yeah, everything was about hairlines or problems, all kinds of stuff.
Scott Citron: It didn’t have any built-in pre-flight and, so, FlightCheck was, really, pretty much the only game in town. When FlightCheck opened, the eagle would fly through and (screech). I kept doing training and design. I worked primarily in InDesign and Illustrator and, then suddenly, I love Photoshop and all these things that needed to be checked before they went to the printer.
I still use it, in concert with the built-in Preflight in InDesign. They both have their pluses and minuses, but if I need a really robust preflight, I usually tend to go to FlightCheck and use that.
The interface is much improved. It’s a lot of information, but it’s nicely organized, it’s nicely designed, it’s easy to use. I mean, it’s really great. It’s a fantastic tool and, for people that really need to know that kind of information and access it easily, I don’t know really anything else.
David Dilling: It can look inside the files, lickety-split, and tell you what’s going on.
Scott Citron: Most designers don’t know much about preflight, if anything. That’s part of the problem: Designers just want to make pretty pictures. Well, ultimately, somebody has to be able to print those pretty pictures. And you don’t want to get the printer calling you and saying, “The font is missing,” or “There’s a PMS color in here, or extra plate, or whatever.” So, this is what FlightCheck does.
David Dilling: There’s now a preview, which is pretty great. With a PDF, it actually shows you where the problem is and highlights it.
Scott Citron: And it’s fast! It’s really fast.
David Dilling: That was something else people want.
Scott Citron: Oh, it’s very sophisticated, now. I mean, it’s come a long way. I was very much aware of Markzware in the early days of InDesign, because Markzware was the only company that had a plug-in that converted QuarkXPress documents to InDesign. And that was huge.
QuarkXPress doesn’t resemble what it used to. InDesign forced Quark to step up to the plate. But, unfortunately, for them, InDesign is part of a larger thing, called Adobe. With Adobe, you get all of these other (Creative Cloud) products that talk to each other and work very nicely together.
I know that you also have an app that converts Acrobat PDFs to InDesign. I always do it in Illustrator and it’s somewhat painful. And it’s usually just a one-page document. It’s not a big deal, but if you had a multi-page PDF and you needed to work on it and to be able to convert it to an InDesign document, that’s brilliant.
Scott Citron: I know Markzware has carved a pretty interesting niche for itself, in design.
David Dilling: Do you remember the first time using FlightCheck?
Scott Citron: The first time I used it, it must have been 30 years ago.
David Dilling: I used to tell people turn off all your Ground Controls and, then, only turn on the three to five things that you really need to check. How do you set up your Ground Controls?
Scott Citron: I customized it a little bit, but not too much. The basic default setup, mostly, works great. I rarely have to change it. Just make sure the fonts are there and make sure that there’s not a Pantone.
I just had a project, recently, where I had a registration problem. There was an ad in a magazine that I’m working on and the ad, apparently, had registration black in it, and the printer kicked it back.
It was a PDF. I wouldn’t have known that. Otherwise, you look at a PDF, you open it in Acrobat, and it looks fine. And, frankly, Acrobat’s production tools, which are very robust, are also confusing.
David Dilling: The beauty of FlightCheck is it’s just a stand-alone. So, you can drop anything on it and get what you can.
Scott Citron: Right. FlightCheck found the registration black in the ad, in the PDF.
David Dilling: How do you preflight a job and how would FlightCheck fit in?
Scott Citron: In general, I use the built-in InDesign Preflight, but that is only as good as the profile that you build.
David Dilling: But there are limited checks in InDesign’s, so you can’t …
Scott Citron: Right. And you have to tell it what to look for. It doesn’t know that spot colors are bad. So, usually what I’ll do is use the built-in Preflight in InDesign and, if I still have a suspicion, or if I want a second opinion, that’s when I’ll open it in FlightCheck.
PREFLIGHTING ILLUSTRATOR & OTHER FILE FORMATS
And, if FlightCheck gives me a 97% or 98% (score), or whatever, then, I’m satisfied, I’m happy. I know that I can convert to PDF from there, if I want to. I can export as various other file formats, TIFFs, and JPEGs, and PNGs, and all that. And it is very fast! I mean, something that I really appreciate is that it’s such a pleasure to use.
David Dilling: I think a lot of people do that, nowadays. That’s a very good point. And another way a lot of people use it is just as, before they even open it in InDesign or Illustrator, whatever it is, they just drop it on FlightCheck and just get a look at what they’re up against.
Scott Citron: Right. And Illustrator doesn’t really have preflight. So, to check Illustrator files. And Illustrator used to not have packaging. It does add value, but FlightCheck also does packaging, which is great.
FLIGHTCHECK SAVES PRINT JOBS
David Dilling: Do you have a story about FlightCheck preflight saving the day?
Scott Citron: A couple of weeks ago, I sent the files to the printer. And a couple of the pages kicked back, because of these ads. One of them had a spot color in the definition, although it wasn’t used. So, I had to convert that to CMYK. And, then, I had this registration black problem from an ad that came from a client. So, there you go.
David Dilling: Are there any problems that you often see?
Scott Citron: Missing fonts, … InDesign is pretty good about flagging stuff like that. When you make a PDF out of InDesign, it will tell you if there’s overset text or a missing font. It will cover basic problems that someone might run into.
When you have something that’s a little bit different, if you’re using a spot color as a varnish plate or something like that, these kinds of things are a little more tricky and are where the problems turn up. I also work in a complete RGB workflow, too. I don’t convert any anything to CMYK, except on output.
Surprisingly, I ran into somebody, just recently, who was still doing CMYK conversion and I said, “Just leave it in RGB. It’s easier. The files are smaller. You can do more with an RGB file in Photoshop. With CMYK, you can’t. There are a lot of filters and things don’t work.”
David Dilling: I remember we had this PowerPoint of “The 10 Most Common Preflight Problems,” from GATF, some American organization, Graphic Arts Technical Foundation. If you look at those problems, today, they’re almost exactly the same: missing font is now going to be non-embedded, low res, but it’s all the same type of stuff.
Scott Citron: Yeah, low-res images. Yeah, people say, “I got this off the internet. Can I use it?” Well, maybe, maybe not. And that’s just a question of education. Part of the problem is that people aren’t formally educated.
David Dilling: You’ve done a lot of different things, Scott.
Scott Citron: Yeah, I’ve written a couple (of books) for Adobe. I co-wrote an Illustrator book with a friend of mine who’s now an Adobe employee. And, then, I ran the InDesign User Group in New York City, for over 10 years.
David Dilling: We fix bad InDesign files with our IDMarkz program. And our engineers can often fix things even Adobe can’t fix. He made this huge book and it became corrupt, because it everything was embedded.
Scott Citron: I learned to use most Adobe products through a series of books that Adobe Press still publishes, called, “Classroom in a Book,” a series of books on each application. And they update it, quite often. And that’s how I learned Illustrator, and PageMaker, and InDesign, and Photoshop. So, I highly recommend that series.
Everybody wants it, now. YouTube is great, because you can get it, but you’re only going to get it in drips. So, it’s very important to know what you’re doing and spend some time, learning it correctly, and you will be rewarded for your efforts.
David Dilling: Would you recommend FlightCheck to other potential users?
Scott Citron: Oh, for sure, yeah. For someone like me, who’s a freelance person that works in a one-man shop, I have to be confident that the file that I’m handing over is problem-free.
David Dilling: So should everyone. Even in the larger studios, they should take the extra insurance, in making sure that what they’re sending, or what they’re getting in, for advertising.
Scott Citron: Take advantage of the built-in preflight in InDesign. If you need something more industrial strength, then, FlightCheck is the only way to go.
David Dilling: Right. Thank you. Where can people learn more about what you do, Scott?
Scott Citron: I have a very old website, which I’m sorry about. I’m the shoemaker without shoes.
David Dilling: You’re like the printer who doesn’t have business cards.
Scott Citron: But I do have another website called AdobePowerHour.com, which is a website that was set up as a way to get people to teach people. You could see who I am, what I teach, what I do, and you can book time with me.
I could teach you a ton of stuff, in just one hour. You can pay for classes, you can schedule classes, you can do all this stuff, online. And there’s a bunch of examples of my work and stuff, there, as well.
David Dilling: Many times I get tips from trainers like you, who cut out all the flack that would take me maybe years, to figure out.
Scott Citron: There’s a lot of misinformation, out there, and there’s a lot to know. It’s a constant job, just to keep up with all these programs. If you’re an expert in InDesign, and Photoshop, and illustrator, and God knows what else, it’s a battle.
David Dilling: I’ll put a link to your LinkedIn, Scott. You have a lot of great information, there, and I really appreciate your time.
Scott Citron: I’m happy to do it.
David Dilling: Alright. Get approved. Get Content. Be Creative. markzware.com
More About FlightCheck
You can learn more about Markzware’s preflight application on the FlightCheck page, where you can also purchase this powerful and multi-featured prepress software for creative desktop publishing workflows. To receive the latest Markzware industry and product news, join our Mailing List. Also, feel free to follow Markzware on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media sites. Thank you.
Adobe InDesign Designer, Scott Citron, Scott Citron Design, On Preflight App: FlightCheck Review