FlightCheck Review by
Professor Emeritus of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Harvey R. Levenson, Ph. D. & Principal at HR Levenson,
Shares His Experience In Using Markzware’s
Graphic Design Document Analyzer, FlightCheck
Who Is Harvey And What Do You Do?
Cal Poly has one of largest and best-known graphic communication programs with over 33,000 square feet of laboratories and some of the most modern technologies in the industry, both traditional and digital. The department was founded in 1946.
Prior to my position at Cal Poly, I was chair of the Graphics, Design, and Communication department at La Roche University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Prior to that, I worked in graphic arts research at the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF), also in Pittsburgh, where I was Associate Director of Technical Services.
And, before that, I worked in the printing and advertising industry, in New York City, as an art director for an advertising agency, and in art and copy preparation for a commercial lithographer.
I presently have an expert witness practice for the printing and graphic arts industry, focusing on intellectual property, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and technology. My website is:
What Is Your Definition Of Preflighting?
A process by which specifications are identified and inspections made, along with any needed adjustments. In other words, checking and verifying various image elements, to ensure that they meet specific requirements and standards.
Preflight is a term that comes out of the airline industry. The term preflighting was first used for the printing industry by Chuck Weger, an industry consultant in 1990, who thought that Postscript files should be checked for errors before using them, thereby saving printers time and money in completing printing jobs.
In the airline industry, it represents a process by which inspections are made, and any appropriate adjustments, prior to airlines taking off. It’s a process that helps ensure no problems or issues once the airline takes off. This is because, for airlines, one error after takeoff can lead to catastrophe.
Importance Of Preflighting For Printers
Let me break into it this way: Markzware serves the printing and related industries. And printing is often looked at as a necessary evil.
What this means is that print buyers, advertisers, marketers, and other content creators often need printing, but hate to pay for it. When something is considered a necessary evil, you want it at the lowest price, at the highest quality, and as quickly as possible.
Printing Industry Anecdote That Goes Way Back
Rotary Printing Press used by Hippolyte Marinoni in France, 1890
A customer walks into a printing company and wants a job done for, say, 10,000 four-color brochures, folded, bound, and delivered. So the representative of the print company asks the customer, “By when you do you want this?”
The customer replies, “What do you mean by ‘When do I want this?’ I want it today! If I needed it tomorrow, I’d come in tomorrow! If I wanted it next week, I’d come in next week!”
This is the longtime demeanor of print buyers. Obviously, this is an exaggeration, but it makes the point that they want their jobs done at the highest quality, at the lowest price, and as quickly as possible. Preflighting actually helps to make it happen.
Difference Between Profit And Loss On A Printing Job
Commercial printing is traditionally a low-profit-margin industry. Going backwards, due to errors in the printing process and its preparations, means having to re-do steps in the process. This could mean the difference between profit and loss on a printing job.
Markzware has solved this problem, by emulating the airline industry, in creating inspections and adjustments to make sure that all required steps are followed and making sure that the printer does not have to go backwards, in creating printing that meets customer requirements for price, quality, and delivery.
Video: Professor on Preflighting in Print and Design –
Harvey Levenson, Ph. D.
FlightCheck advocate, Dr. Harvey Levenson, Cal Poly professor and printing industry expert,
discusses the importance of quality assurance for print and graphic design professionals. He shares
real-life examples of how problems can ruin a print job, without proper preflight checks.
Importance Of Preflighting In The Print Workflow
Preflighting Starts With Creatives
• Understanding RGB – CMYK color conversions
• Selecting fonts that the printer can handle
• Using direction of image elements to prevent ting and banding
• And handling other document aspects, to ensure best print results
FlightCheck’s Inspector Panel Provides Details On File Elements
FlightCheck Inspector (Dark Mode)
Lists Potential Print Problems
Detected During A Document Preflight
Top Prepress Problems
In designing for printing, there are quite a few problems that can occur that impact the quality of the final printed product and the efficiency with which the final product is produced. The top main prepress problems include:
• Missing fonts
• Missing images
• Files in the wrong place
• Files and folders that have been renamed
• Files not packaged with the job. Images have to be linked with the job. Otherwise, printers will not be able to print them properly.
The potential for these problems have to be checked and overcome, even before a job is started. FlightCheck helps to stop these problems from occurring.
Other Potential Prepress Problems
• Improperly embedded images
• Screen and print fonts that are not the same (The type of fonts used in the workflow must be the same.)
• Inaccurate overprint knockouts
• Color on the screen not matching the original artwork
• Color changes when colors are overlapped
FlightCheck, Markzware’s stand-alone preflighting application,
helps users to analyze graphic design documents, to catch errors before printing
Critical Preflight Checkpoints
• Correct borders and registration
• RGB and CMYK colors. If you input RGB colors into a CMYK workflow, colors can print incorrectly on the final product. One rule is to not use RGB colors in a CMYK workflow.
• Making sure that color matches the contents of your design
• There can also be problems with effective image resolution. If you enlarge an image with improper resolution, “pixelization” can occur.
• There are issues of scanning resolution that must be dealt with, making sure the scanning lines per inch is proper for printing.
• Problems can occur with the ink coverage. If the coverage is too great in any area, it may bleed through certain paper. Total 100% ink coverage is 400%. However, maybe 320% would provide more efficient use of ink for certain papers. Perhaps 320% should be divided between cyan, magenta, yellow, and black or, perhaps, different percentages for each of the colors, for better ink coverage.
• Improper ink trapping can cause printing problems. The percentage of ink used for each color can impact trapping. Trapping also has another meaning in printing: the placement of one image right up against another, so they perfectly abut. Preflighting can check for this.
This all starts in the design phase with the “creative.” Printers should look at the “ground controls” or preflight profiles in the software. You can see all of the problems and check for them via preflighting. Markzware’s website provides more information on the issues that pre-flighting helps to deal with.
Why Preflighting Is Such A Great Tool For
Printing & Graphic Communication Education
We’ve been teaching preflighting at Cal Poly, ever since the concept became a reality. Our professors are versed in every important application for printing and imaging, traditional and electronic. And the pedagogical press for teaching at Cal Poly is “learning by doing.” And it works.
Our graduates are uniquely prepared to enter the workforce with minimal training on printing or other graphic communication processes. This is not to say that other schools do not prepare their students in this way.
However, what we do at Cal Poly exemplifies how preflighting is such a great process for preparing students to be ready to contribute to their employers ASAP, because preflighting impacts every step in the printing workflow, from design to printing. If students enter the industry with such knowledge, they become an immediate asset to their companies.
Do You Have Any Preflight Stories Or Print Disasters
That Could Have Been Avoided, By Preflighting?
I have numerous, so let me address your question this way: Over the years, before and after entering education, I’ve done an enormous amount of consulting.
I’d estimate that I’ve assisted over 250 printing companies in the US and around the world with the types of problems that preflighting is meant to prevent. I’ve emphasized to those printers the importance of preventive maintenance, as opposed to remedial maintenance.
Preventive maintenance is meant to take steps to prevent problems from occurring. Remedial maintenance is what is needed after a problem has occurred and is costly and wasteful in time and materials for the printer. In my view, preflighting is the ultimate preventive maintenance tool.
Some of the most important areas to control has to do with paper and being able to print properly on different types of substrates. This is because paper is the most expensive disposable commodity used in printing, sometimes representing between 30% and 50% of the cost of printing. Paper waste, due to poor printing and reruns, is a major cause of losing money on printing jobs.
Another area is the entire issue of quality control. It’s amazing how many printing companies do not have quality control departments or strategies. Actually, one can say that FlightCheck is a quality control department.
How Do Preflight Companies “Stay (Or Go) Green”
And Protect The Environment?
Today, most anything in the printing industry that can prevent waste helps protect the environment, from saving paper to less chemical or volatile solvents emitted to the atmosphere to less waste that goes to landfills. This and more helps protect the environment. Preflighting helps complete printed jobs with less waste and less atmospheric pollution, while using fewer consumables.
Would You Recommend Preflighting For Users And How?
Certainly, I would and I do. The best way to convince companies to use preflighting is by sharing real life stories of success of lower costs and, therefore, higher profits, higher quality, faster delivery times, and more satisfied customers.
Appreciation For Print Information & Support
Markzware wishes to express gratitude to you, Professor Emeritus Levenson, for participating in this interview and for providing genuinely helpful information and resources to support print-related businesses. Thank you for fully engaging.
Readers who want to learn more about Markzware’s preflight application can check out the FlightCheck page. For the latest updates on FlightCheck and other Markzware news, be sure to join our Mailing List and follow Markzware on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media sites.
Graphic Design Document Analyzer: FlightCheck Review by Harvey Levenson, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo