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The File Won't RIP!

(May 2007) posted on Tue May 22, 2007

The interaction between image files and your RIP system can leave your clients impressed or your prepress staff distressed. Mandel explains how you can improve the relations between these two critical elements of digital imaging.



We did everything the prepress department wanted: got new Macs, up-to-date software, and more. We even upgraded to a T-1 line so our clients can get us files in 15 minutes instead of the 20 minutes it took when we used DSL. Now we’re set. In comes a hot job from a huge, new client. Wait, what do you mean the file won’t RIP?!?

 

Welcome to the world of prepress technology—and the increase in grey hairs and blood pressure that sometimes come with it. The truth is that keeping the RIP humming is a matter of building experience and knowledge, staying current with technology, and developing a safety net of people to assist with problematic issues. Let’s explore how these factors come together to build a reliable process.

Experience

The raster image processor, or RIP, translates information from a file or document into a format that the output device can un-derstand and use to do its thing. Why is the RIP so worthy of attention? Because it’s often the culprit when the wheels come off. And when a RIP won’t process a file the way we expect it to, the reason generally won’t be related to our prepress technicians or equipment vendors but will stem from the clients’ files themselves and the way they are understood by the RIP. Learning to identify what aspects of client files may choke up the process is crucial to keeping production moving.

The variables associated with files designed for digital printing are almost endless. The first few that come to mind are the software used to create the files, the formats they’re save in, the fonts used, and the way the data are compressed. The RIP itself can be a variable. If we take one file and pass it through a few different RIPs, the results may be different each time (my next column will focus on this issue).


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