Desktop publishing is a wonderful thing for those who need to create paper publications (and some of our best friends are desktop publishers :-)). However, desktop publishing has had major troubles with color, partly because color is complicated and there are a number of ways of representing it. Color is hard to transfer to hard copy because you can either use a relatively poor quality color printer or produce separations (a sheet for each color that the printer can then work from). Additional problems creep in when you try to match Pantone colors (the standard in printing) with what you see on the screen while designing. Even color calibrators such as the ones Radius and SuperMac put out can’t get around the fact that a luminescent screen inherently appears different than a flat piece of paper.
Much of the confusion may soon disappear, thanks to Kodak. The company has come out with a proposed standard for handling device-independent color, which an impressive lineup of companies support. The lineup includes industry leaders such as Apple, IBM, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard, Aldus, AutoDesk, NeXT, and Sun Microsystems. If nothing else, everyone seems to be supporting it, which goes a long way in standard-making.
The heart of the proposed standard is something called PhotoYCC (don’t ask why, I don’t know what it stands for). PhotoYCC is a set of specifications that determine how colors are interchanged and minimizing the amount of computation needed to manipulate color images. Adobe’s support of PhotoYCC in PostScript Level 2 should speed its acceptance in the graphics world. Ideally, Kodak wants PhotoYCC to be the standard for color imaging across all sorts of devices, from color printers to electronic photographic equipment to high definition television.
It’s too early to tell whether or not the massive backing Kodak is receiving from the computer industry will be enough to standardize PhotoYCC, but it certainly has a good shot. The only problem we foresee is that a lot of work is currently being done on video and image compression, and that work may not necessarily be compatible with what Kodak is proposing. Our friends in desktop publishing will be happy as clams if Kodak’s claims are borne out – they’ve gotten used to tearing their collective hair out over accurate desktop color.
Adam C. Engst — TidBITS Editor
InfoWorld — 29-Oct-90, Vol. 12, #44, pg. 1
MacWEEK — 30-Oct-90, Vol. 4, #37, pg. 1