Markzware interviewed Alaina Shull, Adobe InDesign user at Edward Don & Company/Don.com, long-time FlightCheck user. Alaina tells how they gain graphic design and print production knowledge, produce product catalogs, preflight via FlightCheck stand-alone app (not InDesign’s built-in preflight) before printing PDFs, and prevented catalog print-run ruin from placed PDFs in InDesign. Preflighting via the multi-award winning FlightCheck application helps keep marketing & design team players stay on the same technical page. Enjoy the interview and learn more about FlightCheck for preflighting and collecting InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, QuarkXPress, individual image files, the resulting PDF exports, and more:
DAVID: Let’s see, here. Here we go. Hi, everybody! Today, we’re gonna interview Alaina Shull. I think I got that right. We’ll hear from Alaina from Don.com. Love that domain name. And they’re apparently a non-food company, but, you know, we’ll hear that from Alaina, here, in a moment. Well, actually, we’ll throw it over to her, right now. Alaina, how are you doing?
ALAINA: I’m great. How about yourself?
DAVID: Very good, very good. You’re in near Chicago, I guess, eh?
ALAINA: Yep. Snowing, again.
DAVID: Oh, my gosh! And it was cold this year, over there.
ALAINA: Oh, so cold, That polar vortex really did a number on the area, I’ll tell you that.
DAVID: Wow! Yeah, okay. Well, we’ll jump into, you know, you’re a FlightCheck user and your company uses FlightCheck. Maybe you can tell us a bit more about what Don does, Don.com.
ALAINA: We are restaurant equipment distributors, any sort of hotels or hospitality industries. So, yeah, it’s pretty cool.
DAVID: Okay, so you sell, like, all kinds of equipment for the food industry.
ALAINA: Yep, exactly.
DAVID: Cool. And you, maybe a little bit of background about yourself. Well, you know, you’re a graphic designer. How long have you been doing this? That type of thing.
ALAINA: I’m actually relatively new to the company. I’ve been here, for about three years. I do have a graphic design background. So, I have recently been promoted. I think, about this time last year, I was promoted to our Marketing Database Administrator. So, I’m kind of on the catalog production side of things. So, I prepare for all of our catalogs for print, and they’re actually letting me design some now, too. So, that’s pretty cool.
DAVID: Wow! Yeah, yeah.
ALAINA: So, I came a long way from being a temp, originally, my first year, here, so…
DAVID: Oh, that’s awesome! Yeah, it’s always nice to see people get rewarded for sticking around and working hard.
ALAINA: Oh, exactly.
DAVID: Well, did you know just to cut to that real quick I’ll cut back to the web page. I noticed there’s a section… What I notice, down here, under Publications, on your site, a whole bunch of really cool artwork and the layouts here. I just clicked on the one that got my attention, a nice hamburger, there. And, yeah, these are some really in-depth layouts here. This is the kind of stuff you’re producing?
ALAINA: Yep. Yep, that’s what we do we do, all the landing pages and flyers, all the slider things going across the screens. Yep, we, our marketing team, handles all that.
DAVID: Wow! Is this… That was obviously your online, but you’re also making print catalogs?
ALAINA: Yes. Yes, we are.
DAVID: Right. And maybe, before we dive into FlightCheck, because, now, I obviously know more about why you’re probably using FlightCheck, but what are some of the tools you use in your workflow? I mean, how many, what kind of applications are you using, like InDesign, Photoshop?
ALAINA: Yes, we use, you know, mostly all the Adobe stuff. So, we have InDesign, Photoshop, we use Illustrator, a lot. Yeah, those are, like, kind of our three big ones that we really work with.
DAVID: Right. And are you getting artwork in from outside sources, as well, or is it mainly internally?
ALAINA: Yes, we do get a lot of our, well, not a lot, but, like, mostly the individual images we will get from all of our suppliers and stuff they should be supplying us with. You know, good high-res images. And a lot of our glamour stuff, we will either take in-house, or for our current adviser that I am closing at the moment and getting ready to send that all out to the printer, we rent out, like, this big studio space, because there’s these huge elaborate, like, photos that we end up, you know, coming up with. So, you know we do a lot of that stuff, you know.
DAVID: Wow! Yeah, yeah. So, that’s pretty clear. And do you use various printers or do you have, like, one print source, or…?
ALAINA: We have one person that we go through for printing, for the most part, but he works for two separate companies. But, you know, we send it, like, through this guy and, you know, depending on the size of the book, it’ll either go to one place or it’ll go to the other place.
DAVID: Yeah, he knows how to… Right. He knows what to do. Very, very good.
DAVID: Okay. Do you know how you guys found out about Markzware and FlightCheck?
ALAINA: You know what? That, I am not particularly sure. When I came on board to our marketing team, this is what they told me to use.
DAVID: It was there. Yeah.
ALAINA: Yeah, so, I kind of learned a bit about it and learned how to use it, and you know.
ALAINA: It’s been good to me, so far.
DAVID: Yeah, well, I could imagine. It must be really useful, having a stand-alone preflight tool, when you’re just getting started, to help you learn and sort of work through.
ALAINA: Yeah, it really helps on, you know, letting me know what to look for.
ALAINA: When it comes to getting these things ready for print.
DAVID: Yeah, the invisible things, and the things hidden that we can’t see with our eyes, so quickly. So, wow! That’s really good.
DAVID: Well, pre-flight. Why? I mean, it might seem obvious to us, but why do you guys preflight?
ALAINA: We pre-flight, you know. It helps us get an accurate look at our documents and, you know, what we’ll be sending out to the printer. And it helps us look at any specific errors that there may be. I use FlightCheck, mostly, to look at the images and the quality of the images, before they go to the printer, to see if there’s anything that’s out of whack, or skewed funny, or, you know, CPI is too low. So, we got to res that up.
And it’s been very helpful, so far. It shows us a lot of things that InDesign…, because InDesign has a pre-flight tab that I like to look at. It’ll show me errors, when it comes to images, as well as, you know, font or text but I like to use, you know, FlightCheck, because it, you know, shows me more of the image size of things, which is mostly what people are going to be looking at, in the end.
DAVID: Right. And, so, I’m like, that’s one of my next questions, “Do you use any other pre-flight tools?” But FlightCheck, for instance, will go deep into images. So, if you have an EPS, with embedded images, even within that image, and with fonts used within the EPS, you know, FlightCheck will see that for you and show you, if it’s missing a font or whatever, where InDesign won’t. So, this is very good.
ALAINA: Yeah, yeah. It’s more into the thing and it also allows you to look at everything in the document, all at one time, too.
ALAINA: So, I really enjoy that, instead of having to, like, piece together everything.
DAVID: Right. So, you get FlightCheck, you get the nice report, instead of just going through, bit by bit, in the InDesign. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Do… You mentioned you have InDesign. Do you use any other preflight tools that you might use besides InDesign and FlightCheck?
ALAINA: No, this is pretty much the only one that we use, so…
DAVID: Do you output the PDF? Obviously you do, but I mean, before, for the print jobs. Are you sending high-res PDFs to the printer?
ALAINA: Yes, yes. There’s… We have a specific formatted sort of PDF that we use, to send off to the printer. So it’s cropped out, with our bleeds, and, you know, just, yeah, all the crop marks, and just very, very high res, so…
DAVID: Right. Yeah. So, I already asked you, “How do you use FlightCheck?” I think that’s pretty clear. Well, maybe I can ask more, one more little detail about how you use FlightCheck. You said you’re primarily using it on images. Are you using it on individual images, or are you just checking the overall InDesign file, at a certain point, or both?
ALAINA: Well, kind of what I do is I take our InDesign file and I drag it onto our FlightCheck icon. And it pulls up all of the images that are in that
ALAINA: So, I could pretty much just check everything, at one time, and just kind of scroll through and see if there’s anything that’s kind of out of whack.
DAVID: Right. Okay, so, you’re checking, actually, the InDesign file and you’re looking at the images, within there.
ALAINA: Right. Yeah. Yes, I do that, prior to making the PDF and, yeah, so then, we can just go ahead and fix those images right away.
DAVID: Right. What do you like best about FlightCheck? Is there one or two things that stick out, in your mind?
ALAINA: Mm-hmm. I think I just really like that it really points out the errors and gives you, like, the exact location of where, you know, the image can be found and, you know, kind of pretty much what’s wrong with it. So, you know, it just gives you, like, a general idea of, like, “Hey, you know, this is too low res,” or, you know, it’s fine resolution, but it’s been, you know, stretched out too far, so you need to either find a better image or, you know, fix the current one that is in the document, right now.” Yeah. So, that’s something that I really do enjoy about it.
DAVID: That broke up a little bit, but Alaina was saying that, in summary, she likes that FlightCheck sort of makes it nice and easy, to get the pre-flight check done and, in relatively simple English, not real technical stuff that’s hard for us to understand. Do you have any recent real-life stories about how FlightCheck saved the day or interesting things you might have found through FlightCheck?
ALAINA: Actually, yes, there is something very interesting that kind of helped our entire team learn, at one time, because we, actually, we didn’t really have any idea that this was a thing, because we don’t often put PDFs in our InDesign documents for catalogs. So, for this specific, we came out with a new… a brand new concept. It’s called Shift. So, it’s kind of like a trends magazine, to go along with the industry and, you know, what’s popular in the industry right now, and everything like that, so, we got a lot of ads coming in from suppliers.
So, I want to put in one about like my normal closing routine, you know, stretching everything out for the bleeds, and, you know, I took the document dropped it in FlightCheck, but, because of the PDFs in the document, it took the PDF and broke it up into each individual little element that is in the PDF. And I almost freaked out, because everything on the screen was red.
So, I’m like, “Oh, my God! What’s wrong with this document?” And I was pulling over the other designers that have, like, tons more experience. And I do and I’m like, “Did I break it? Like, what’s wrong with it?” And he kind of looked further into it, and we’re like. “Everything has the same image name.” And I’m like, “Well, maybe this is coming from the same image.”
So, we discussed it with the guy that does our printing for us and, you know, he checked the documents and everything he was, like, “Oh, no, it’s fine.” What FlightCheck was doing was it was pulling apart just all of the elements and, now, we know how to process a PDF. So, we’re like, “Oh, okay. So, this is totally normal. And it’s just letting us know the resolution of everything that goes in it.”
ALAINA: So, I mean, we all kind of learned it, now. So, you know, the next time we go through all the PDF stuff, you know, we know what to look for and we’ll be like, “Oh, okay. It’s cool. So, this is how this works.”
DAVID: Yeah, cool. Nice story.
ALAINA: So, this was a good learning experience for the team, as a whole.
DAVID: Yeah, well, I think that’s what you mentioned before, earlier, and that’s what I know a lot of people use FlightCheck for is like an educational thing, amongst the team, just like you said.
DAVID: Keeps everybody on the same line, the same wavelength, so to speak.
ALAINA: Yeah, yeah, pretty much. So, I mean, it was nice to see people that have been at this for, you know, 10, 15 years or so,
like, still learning more about, you know, what we do.
DAVID: Yeah, cool. So, it’s… Would you recommend FlightCheck, for other graphic designers out there?
ALAINA: Oh, absolutely, especially if, you know, you’re doing catalog production or any sort of printing stuff, yeah, I would definitely recommend it. It shows you a more in-depth view of, you know, your documents and, like, shows you things that that other pre-flight things that come with, like, InDesign and such, doesn’t show you.
DAVID: Right. Oh, yeah, lastly, I just want to show folks. I don’t know if you probably can’t see, but Markzware also has a tool called PDF2DTP, which will convert PDF files. So, you can actually, like you had that problem with the PDFs,…
DAVID: You can actually, then, take a PDF, because what InDesign does, it’ll place PDFs, page by page. It won’t actually convert everything into a layout. You know what I mean?
DAVID: It’ll just be like an image, like you saw. Like, I just have this PDF here I just downloaded from your website. I can, then, take that, and it will convert that 32-page PDF back into InDesign, with all the elements, there, the images, the font, live text, etc. So, I’m just letting it run on the screen here, so people can see.
ALAINA: Yeah, I was kind of looking, or when I was kind of learning more about, like, what you guys have. I did see that as, you know, one of the programs. And I thought that would be interesting to bring into our daily routine of, yeah, just catalog production, because I think that it would make it a little bit easier, when it came to, or comes to, the PDFs and, like, dropping those into a file.
DAVID: Yeah, it’s just like, sometimes, you have PDFs and you don’t know where the source files are, anymore. And, like, now, I’m showing on the screen that exact PDF with the hamburger is now, right here, in my CC 2019. And the fonts are pink, because I don’t have the fonts, of course,
but you would probably have those and you can swap them out. But you see all the images are there. And I can go in and actually move the pretzel thing around and it’s just like it’s just a normal layout, again, so…
Yeah, just to show folks how FlightCheck works, you just click Open. You can, then, take any type of file. I’ll take an InDesign file, like Alaina is using. Where is it? Here. Here’s a CC 2017 file and FlightCheck will preflight the entire document, get all elements, checking all elements, fonts, images, etc. And the Eagle’s running through, right now. (FlightCheck eagle screeches) There, we go. And this is the first screen you get an overview.
ALAINA: I know that sound.
DAVID: Yeah. You know that sound, huh? Some say that it sounds like a sick seagull, but it’s our eagle, you know?
ALAINA: Oh, yeah.
DAVID: Right. So, here, you see all the different problems with this particular file, scaled images, and low res stuff. See, over here. And this is what Alaina is talking about. You go in and get real particular information on images, like, oh there’s a GIF file. I want to swap that out, because that’s maybe okay for online use, but, for printing, we don’t want GIFs, most likely not, anyway. So, yeah. So, here, Alaina is on LinkedIn, so, if you guys want to connect with Alaina, I don’t know, if Alaina’s always looking for connections, but this is her…
ALAINA: Oh, absolutely.
DAVID: LinkedIn thing, and I’ll, actually, connect with her, right now, as well, or try to, at least. And you know she works at Don.com, like we just said. And that’s over here. This is Don.com’s website, and you can see, down below the publications, all the great stuff they’re creating, the great layouts. Alaina, thank you very much.
ALAINA: Oh, yeah. Thank you for having me.
DAVID: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for sharing your experiences with other potential or existing FlightCheck users.
ALAINA: Yeah, absolutely, not a problem.
DAVID: Alright. Take care. I know, stay warm, out there.
DAVID: Alright. Let me know.
ALAINA: I’ll try.
DAVID: Cool. Try FlightCheck over on markzware.com today, and see why Alaina and Don.com love it so much. Get everybody on the same page, preflight and package. Now, out with CC 2019 support, Markzware‘s FlightCheck.
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