Prepress Preflight for Book Printing: FlightCheck Review by Terri Wright Design

Prepress Preflight for Book Printing: FlightCheck Review by Terri Wright Design

In this Markzware video, David Dilling interviews Terri Wright, production designer, Terri Wright Design. Here, Terri shares her experience with FlightCheck pre press software, Markzware’s preflight solution for printing and publishing:

During this video interview with David Dilling, Terri Wright of Terri Wright Design gives print production design tips and her impressions of the Markzware FlightCheck app to preflight print files. With this prepress application, graphic designers, creative professionals, and printers can check Adobe and other pre-press files, before the files are printed.

Here is the transcript for the video:
DAVID: That’s how easy and important it is to FlightCheck or preflight with Markzware‘s FlightCheck. Drop a file on the FlightCheck icon and you’ll get a full report on what potentially is wrong in the file. FlightCheck will preflight native Quark, InDesign, Word, FreeHand type files, as well as the resulting PDF files or image files, as well. (FlightCheck eagle screeches)

As you see here, you get a full report. The first screen is an overview, there, If you have potential problems, and why that’s a problem, quite obvious in many cases. And in the other main window, you get full details on the file. And what we’re going to do now is call in a FlightCheck user, Terri Wright, and talk to her about how she uses FlightCheck.

Hi, everybody! David Dilling for Markzware, and, today, we have, on the Skype, Terri Wright from Santa Barbara, California. I would say sunny California, but she just told me it’s been raining and windy over there, so, but most of the time sunny California. And Terri is a production designer, and graphic designer, and many other things, and she’s also a FlightCheck user. So, let’s throw it right over to Terri and get a little bit of background on who Terri is and what she does. Terri, Hi. How are you?

TERRI: Hi, David. I’m Terri Wright and I’m a freelance book designer and production designer, for many clients, but one of my largest clients is Serbin Creative, where I’m working today, and my specialty is books. And, here, we produce several different advertising directories, which are large publications, and I have one to show you, here, this one.

DAVID: Oh, wow!

TERRI: Well, it’s the Directory of Illustration. It’s, on the average, about 600 pages of advertising from different artists and, then, we have the Medical Illustration source book, which is a slightly smaller publication, about 175 pages, featuring different animators and illustrators, and in the medical sciences and natural science.

And, then, we also have some photography books, which I don’t have a copy of, here, but those are AtEdge Photography. And I do all the pre-flight work for all, for the books. I check every page of every file and, so, as you can see, we have hundreds of them, and we get files from all different kinds of artists and all different formats. So, it keeps me busy.

DAVID: Yeah, we’ll jump into that, in a second. And you also have your own freelance company, as well.

TERRI: Yes, I do, ah-hah, Terri Wright Design, and I work for major textbook publishers and private individuals who want to produce books and other publishing companies.

DAVID: Awesome. Okay, great, Terri. Maybe you could tell us a bit more about, like, before we jump into FlightCheck specifically, about the daily workflow, the stuff, the software you use, and that type of stuff.

TERRI: Well, I use the Adobe Creative Suite and, for design work, I use mostly InDesign and then, Photoshop and Illustrator. I also do dabble a tiny bit in Premiere Pro and some other things, but, by no means proficient at those.

Mostly, my workhorse is InDesign and, when I’m designing, of course, that’s a different function than pre-press work, but here, at Serbin Creative, my workflow is mostly in the area of pre-press. So, I’m taking files from various artists and, on a daily basis, I receive the file. I download it from our server. And the first thing I do is I run it through FlightCheck.

DAVID: Awesome.

TERRI: I mean, the very first thing I want to find out what kind of file it is, what software they were using, what version of software, whether or not it meets all of our standards and, of course, I set up my Ground Controls, so that I know what our printer wants, and so we don’t, for instance, take any images that are below 270 dpi we ask for 350 so I try to make sure everything is at least 350, if possible.

Otherwise, I’ll fudge a little bit but, without FlightCheck, I wouldn’t be able to tell if there is a low-res image very easily, without opening everything and looking at all the links. And so, when I run it through FlightCheck, I make a ripped FlightCheck report, and I make a laser print out of each ad, and I attach it to the FlightCheck report.

And then, I have – I don’t know if you can see – I have bins of dockets over here for every ad, they have their own file folder and their own laser reports that include FlightCheck. And my… the other printer where I send it, they love me because they say, “Wow! Not everybody does FlightCheck and we know your files are going to be in good condition, when we receive them.”

DAVID: Awesome. That is really incredible. So, for every ad that comes in, you run a pre-flight and a soft proof?

TERRI: Yes, I do, mm-hmm.

DAVID: Very good.

TERRI: And, yeah. So, then I have to… I send the laser copy and FlightCheck report to the printer, along with my pagination and sequence, so that they can you know put everything together and usually I mean I might get one or two things that go by, hardly anything, really. Most everything is in good condition, because I preflighted it and solved all the problems.

DAVID: Yeah, you did the legwork. Yeah, yeah. You’re saving potential huge problems down the line, as you probably know. I mean, if something goes to print, some book, like you just showed us has major problems, well that’s a costly issue.

TERRI: Well, one of the biggest issues, too, when you’re doing books, is that you have to reserve the press time, and you buy all of your paper and everything, ahead of time. And, in order to get it out on time, you can’t afford to lose time, by sending files that are incorrect.

DAVID: Right.

TERRI: So, I make sure everything’s fine and, hopefully, when they get it, they have very little issues and then, I don’t have to have a problem in my schedule.

DAVID: Right, yeah. And what are you sending? Are you sending the printer a PDF file or are you sending the source InDesign file?

TERRI: Alright, when I send my files off to the printer, it includes various versions of different kinds of file formats, and PDFs, InDesign native files, Photoshop files, those are primarily the ones. Illustrator, a lot of illustrator files with links, fonts, and everything.

DAVID: Yeah, and that’s where FlightCheck really excels, is it goes deep also into those files. So, you can catch issues deep within embedded Illustrator files and stuff like that.

TERRI: Right. I just got an email from a client, yesterday, that I wrote to and said, “Thanks for submitting your ad, but we have 5 images on your page that were low res.”

And I was able to use FlightCheck, to actually open up that image, and make a little screen capture, and show them which one it was. And I include a little screen capture of the FlightCheck report, to show which font is missing or whatever, and send it to them. And then, they can exactly know what to replace.

DAVID: Awesome! Very good use of the FlightCheck. Very, very cool. Okay, so you’re sending the printer an InDesign file with everything packaged. You’re not sending a PDF file.

TERRI: They make the PDF. I don’t make a PDF file of it, but someone sends me an InDesign file. But people send me…

DAVID: Right.

TERRI: … PDFs or Photoshop files or InDesign, yes. Right. So, I send the native InDesign file …

DAVID: With all the links.

TERRI: … and all the fonts and links.

DAVID: Right. And then, what’s next?

TERRI: And then, I get a proof. Pardon me?

DAVID: Oh, sorry. Then, you get a proof back.

TERRI: Yeah. Then, I get it approved and I have to send all the proofs off to each client. And each client, then, approves or disapproves, or if they want a color adjustment, or whatever. And I have to handle all of that and send it back.

DAVID: Wow!

TERRI: And then, I do FlightCheck on second proofs and third proofs and all the way through.

DAVID: Goodness, gracious! Yeah, that’s a whole work. Is that book, like, by once a year, once every two years?

TERRI: Once a year. Yeah. Both of these directories are done once a year and this particular production takes me from May through August, to finish, and from start to finish. And this one, here, takes from February to May.

DAVID: Sure, yeah. You’re keeping busy, that’s for sure.

TERRI: Yeah.

DAVID: Okay, that was one of the other questions you actually answered. You’re answering all of the questions I had. This is great! The file formats you get in, I guess you’re getting in, like you said, I guess from A-to-Z, PDFs, InDesign files, even you’re getting in, maybe, Word files, I guess.

TERRI: Yeah, occasionally, but not too often. The only time I’ll get a Word file or loose images is if I’m actually designing the ad and, in which case, I request things from the artist. And, then, I have to then find out whether those meet the requirements that I need, in order to design the page.

And, in those cases, I will do a PDF, when I’m finished, because that’s the preferred format and more and more, I am getting PDFs. This is one thing I do like about FlightCheck is that I’m able to have a Ground Control for PDFs and for native files. So, it switches back and forth,…

DAVID: Right.

TERRI: …in which case, I don’t have to preset it, every single time.

DAVID: No. Exactly. It does it automatically. And you can even go into the advanced preferences and set up specific Ground Controls for every single file type. So, for illustrator, you can have a different set of Ground Controls.

And, for those listening, Ground Controls are like the pre-flight profiles or things you want to check for and it comes with the standard set. So, in the beginning, it’s easy to get started and all that, but then, so that if you drop a Photoshop file, it can open up a specific Ground Controls just for Photoshop files.

TERRI: And that’s very interesting, because I haven’t used that and and I’d like to try that.

DAVID: Well, I’ll show the people right now and you’ll see this. Terri can’t see my screen but, in FlightCheck, and here are the Ground Controls Terri’s talking about these all, and you check on or off (FlightCheck eagle screeches) what you want to check for. Maybe Terri hears the (FlightCheck eagle screeches) eagle screeching. (FlightCheck eagle screeches)

TERRI: Yeah, that’s a familiar sound.

DAVID: Yeah, and what did I want to show? Oh, yeah, under FlightCheck Preferences and then, under Preferences, you’ll see advanced and, under advanced, you can see Auto pre-flight detection is on. And if I hit Customize, we get this, which is where you can add in specific object classes which are file types, as you can see here.

And I can, say, choose for, let’s say, FreeHand file. You probably don’t get any more FreeHand, so that’s maybe a bad example. Let’s say FrameMaker, which, who knows, you might get and you can choose and set up a specific set of Ground Controls for that type of file format. So, that, whenever you drop a FrameMaker file on FlightCheck, it would automatically switch to Ground Controls to a specific set of Ground Controls you want to check for, anyway. Okay, back to Terri. Sorry, Terri.

TERRI: Fantastic! Let me just see. I said I’m going to start using that right away, because one of the things that I have in Illustrator that is always something I have to check is whether the overprint fill is unchecked. And I need to make sure that that isn’t unchecked, because, otherwise, things disappear.

When I see send it to the printer, and they send me a proof back, things disappear. And so, in Illustrator, I get a lot of Illustrator files. So, that’s one thing I do check all the time and, of course, spot colors, and other things…

DAVID: Yeah.

TERRI: … that I have to check for.

DAVID: Right. Okay, cool! How did you learn about Markzware?

TERRI: I don’t know.

DAVID: You’re obviously an experienced user, but…

TERRI: I probably… it’s been about 10 years. So, I’m thinking I probably found out about it, working with a pre-prep house that was using FlightCheck, probably for a local client, here, I’m trying… I’m thinking he might have been, like, Islands magazine, or something, many years ago.

And I’d like to pick up on the newest technologies. So, yeah, that is my thing I love about FlightCheck is that it has, so far, been keeping up with all of the versions of Adobe Creative Suite.

DAVID: Oh, yeah.

TERRI: Yeah. And when we…

DAVID: Yeah, and we do Quark files, yeah.

TERRI: I was doing Quark, but we don’t do too many Quark files, anymore.

DAVID: Right, right, yeah, well, thanks to the Markzware engineers. They work tirelessly to get all these formats and interesting new features that InDesign might bring out and make sure people can pre-flight and check them. Well, you already kind of covered this, but what are the four or five most common preflight problems you’re coming across?

TERRI: Hmm. Well, I’ll say RGB files versus CMYK. That’s a large one. A low res, low resolution, those things absolutely have to be fixed. The spot colors. I can’t have spot colors, because everything is CMYK.

DAVID: Yeah.

TERRI: Sometimes, people have their files skewed. You know, where it’s out of skew?

DAVID: Yeah.

TERRI: Where it’s not a hundred percent by a hundred percent?

DAVID: Right.

TERRI: And I don’t… we don’t prefer that.

DAVID: Yeah.

TERRI: So, I asked for that to be fixed, because, sometimes, it looks distorted.

DAVID: Sure.

TERRI: I think those are probably on the top of the list.

DAVID: And you’re getting a lot of Illustrator files and are fonts a big issue or… ?

TERRI: Oh, yeah, fonts. I should have mentioned fonts, right up front.

DAVID: Yeah.

TERRI: Fonts are one of the biggest issues.

DAVID: Try to block that out, right?

TERRI: Right. No, fonts are a big problem, …

DAVID: Yeah.

TERRI: … because people, if they don’t send me their fonts, I can’t use their file, at all, because, in my machine, when using FlightCheck, I don’t have any fonts loaded.

DAVID: Yeah.

TERRI: I use Suitcase, but I just put in the client files, fonts, and, in Suitcase, activate it, and then, check it. When that one’s done, I delete it. And so, I don’t keep anything native on my machine, so that I know exactly what’s in the client’s files. The one thing I do have on my machine, though, is different versions of Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, and all.

DAVID: Yeah.

TERRI: So, if somebody comes in with a really ancient legacy version, and I’m not getting what I want off of their screen proof, I compare a screen proof to the file and, then, I go back and open the version, but I wouldn’t know what version, if I didn’t see it in FlightCheck.

DAVID: Right. Wow!

TERRI: FlightCheck will tell me the version of it, and, so, that’s an important factor.

DAVID: Oh, it sure is. Awesome! Yeah, you’re really going in deep into the files. That’s excellent. Do you use any other preflight tools?

TERRI: Hmm, not really. I mean, FlightCheck is really my primary one. I mean, really, it’s so easy to use. If I set the Ground Controls properly and I know that I’ve tested them, then, all I have to do is drop the file on there and wait for the eagle to screech. And, if he does, then, I have to go back.

DAVID: And InDesign has…

TERRI: But I do love it, when…

DAVID: InDesign also has like a preflight built in. Do you ever use that, at all, or… ?

TERRI: Oh, sometimes, I use… I’ll, sometimes, if I find I’m not getting what I want out of FlightCheck, on a very rare occasion, I will use like InDesign pre-flight, or I use Acrobat pre-flight. We require our clients to submit Acrobat files in Fogra 39 profile and, if it isn’t that profile, then, when I open it in Acrobat, I can convert it…

DAVID: Right.

TERRI: … to that profile. And I don’t bother sending an Acrobat file back to the client. I just use that. But I will very often use Acrobat to see what’s a matter with a PDF, if it’s not coming up properly off of FlightCheck. I always check it in FlightCheck, first.

DAVID: Right, yeah. That’s what we recommend for people as well. That’s the best. I call it the best way to use FlightCheck is, as soon as something comes in, drop it on FlightCheck. And just, like you do, actually perfectly, print a report, or a save a report.

TERRI: Right.

DAVID: And then, you have like a legal document of what came in. You haven’t opened it in Illustrator or Acrobat. You just checked it and got a report and that’s what you have, and then, you can go further with it.

TERRI: Right. I never copy over, or save over, the client’s original file and I do exactly that. The first thing I do is drop it on FlightCheck.

DAVID: Yeah. Awesome.

TERRI: And I can just get a picture window, immediately, whether the file is going to pass or not. And then, I start problem solving.

DAVID: Yeah. I can imagine your days are probably… and one day is never the same, I guess, for you.

TERRI: No.

DAVID: Let’s see. Yeah. I think you’ve probably already answered that, but do you have any particular FlightCheck stories, where FlightCheck really stood out for you and really saved the day? I guess it’s saving the day quite a bit for you, because of how you’re using it properly, but anything that particularly sticks out?

TERRI: Well, in the book world, you make reservations with the printer and they’re large projects. You can’t be late, so I guess you could say, every day is saved by FlightCheck, because I, in the end, save time.

I can, right away, write a letter back to the client and say that such and such is missing or wrong but, in a few cases, where I haven’t had time to really do the problem solving and, especially since we have some clients who will send in 50 pages or more from one place. I’ve been able to run it through FlightCheck and just send the report to the printer and just say, “Here. You take it from here.” So, that has saved me time.

DAVID: Yeah. Awesome. Okay. And, Terri, would you recommend FlightCheck for other people out there, potentially thinking about preflighting with FlightCheck?

TERRI: Oh, absolutely! I think it’s the number one software to use. It’s very easy and it might take a little bit to set up but, once you have it set up and you know your parameters, it can be your best friend.

DAVID: Yeah.

TERRI: I rely on it!

DAVID: Awesome.

TERRI: Yeah.

DAVID: No, it really can be fantastic. Do you have anything you’d like to see in FlightCheck, in the future? Any new features or functions or… ?

TERRI: Well, I would really like to see FlightCheck keep up with this, continue to keep up with the standards of Adobe Creative Suite, because everything’s going that direction. And also with Apple changing things on their machines. I use a Mac just to continue to be compatible.

DAVID: Right. Yeah, that’s a good, good tip! Excellent! Well, Terri, I really appreciate it. It was really fun, interviewing you and seeing the job folders, and the actual way you’re using FlightCheck, and the books you’re actually producing. It’s really neat!

What I’m going to do now is show people, here, about your web pages and your contact information. Let me see where that is. So, this is SerbinCreative.com and here you can see the Directory of Illustration. That’s one of the titles you said you were working on, correct?

TERRI: Yes, that’s the biggest one I work on. Yeah, it comes up once a year. It’s about a 600-page publication.

DAVID: Wow!

TERRI: And, in that, we, maybe, have 700 artists. Well, more than that, but files I’m receiving from probably 700 people, because some of them are half page ads. But it’s quite a bit of work.

DAVID: Amazing. Yeah, well, it’s a very nice web page, as well. We just had a peak at that. And, then, down here, is the Medical Illustration source book, which you’re also working on. And these are some amazing graphics and illustrations, all these microorganisms and blood vessels and all kinds of stuff, the brain. So, this must be really interesting to work with and you’re preflighting all of these images, all this imagery, I guess.

TERRI: Yeah.

DAVID: Amazing, amazing. And, okay, so that’s more information on Serbin Creative. You can click there, and I’ll put the links in the description, down below. Yeah, sorry. Did you want to say something, Terri? Terri, are you there? Oh, there, you are.

TERRI: And, so,… Oh, yeah. And what I was saying is a lot of animators only send RGB files. And, so, I have to either convert it to CMYK or send it back.

DAVID: Right.

TERRI: And thank goodness for FlightCheck, with that!

DAVID: You can quickly see it, because, yeah.

TERRI: Yeah.

DAVID: Right away. You probably have a copy-and-paste text you send to these people?

TERRI: I do.

DAVID: Yeah, I would, too. Oh, unbelievable. Okay, so, that’s Serbin Creative.com. Terri also has her own, like she mentioned, freelance business. TerriWright.com. Terri Wright Design is the name of the company and, there, she also has some very interesting books she works with, all kinds of mathematics and psychology books. And what do you do there, again? You’re basically laying out the books?

TERRI: I’m doing the actual design work, for covers and interior layouts. And I do some production work but, mostly, it’s design and concept design for layout, for covers and interiors, and for college textbooks. And, then, I also do e-books, and animation for e-books, and other kinds of collateral material for publications, which is like brochures and pamphlets, and that kind of thing.

DAVID: Right. Awesome. Also, a nice webpage. And, just for folks that are interested,… Oops. I’ve got a bunch of messages open, here. Oops. This is Terri, over on LinkedIn. And I will try to connect with her, now, to see if Terri could accept.

TERRI: Okay.

DAVID: And, there you are.

TERRI: Sure, David.

DAVID: Yeah, there you can see all about what she’s done, and what she’s doing now, and, in any event, Terri, I’ll switch back to Skype, here. Anything else you want to say, before we sign off here or add in?

TERRI: No, I just want to actually thank you for all your tech support, because, in addition to having a great product, you have managed to get back to us, to me, when I’ve needed it, and it’s usually on a tight schedule. So, I submit through the website, the support ticket, and I get a response, quickly, and it’s been very helpful.

DAVID: Well, that’s good to hear. That’s one of the things that Markzware actually prides itself on and are happy with it. The support is really important, with preflighting and FlightCheck and even our other tools, like PDF to InDesign or Quark to InDesign.

TERRI: People need fast answers, nowadays, because the customers are demanding fast answers, so…

DAVID: Your customers are.

TERRI: Right. Actually, I have used the Q2ID. That one, because we had a whole magazine that needed to be converted from Quark to InDesign. And, so, that came in wonderfully handy.

DAVID: Yeah, click, and get a coffee, and it’s done. And have you ever heard of our PDF to InDesign converter? Have you seen that one?

TERRI: No, I have not. I haven’t looked into it.

DAVID: That might be very interesting for you, for those complicated multi-page PDFs that you want to or need to re-create in InDesign, …

TERRI: Mm-hmm.

DAVID: … you can now convert it from PDF right into InDesign.

TERRI: Oh, that sounds fantastic! I actually might use that.

DAVID: Yeah. Yeah, it’s very, very interesting.

TERRI: Okay. Well, that’s good to know that Markzware has new products coming out all the time.

DAVID: Yeah. Thank you. We sure do. Thanks. And it looks like it’s getting sunny back there. Can you see out the window in Santa Barbara, or is it still raining?

TERRI: No, there’s no more rain. We’re still having a little wind, but I think that’s due to subside, by tomorrow, so looking forward to getting back out on the ocean real quick.

DAVID: Yeah, you like to sail, I heard. I could imagine, yeah.

TERRI: Right, yeah, so…

DAVID: Awesome! Well,…

TERRI: That’s what I do in my spare time to get my head free of all of these technical details.

DAVID: That’s right. Well, without FlightCheck, you’d have a lot less sailing time, right? So,…

TERRI: Right.

DAVID: “Use FlightCheck. You can sail more.”

TERRI: Yeah.

DAVID: Terri, thank you very much.

TERRI: Okay. Thanks, David.

DAVID: Yeah, take care.

TERRI: Alright. Ah-huh. Bye.

You can purchase the FlightCheck macOS app for preflighting, via the FlightCheck product page.
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