The big upheaval in prepress—more accurately called pre-media—is creating content for multi-channel production. While successful print operations have their pre-print workflows in order, bringing different media platforms into the mix is fraught with challenge, considering industry standards are not yet commonplace, and the relative difficulty of managing distribution to several media platforms simultaneously.
IDEAlliance‘s global community of graphic arts participants, with members on both the supplier and vendor side, is working with its industry partners to develop specifications for mobile, Web, and video-based content creation, development, and distribution. To that end, the group, which develops best practices for print and electronic media, launched its OpenEFT initiative in April, engaging publishers, digital newsstands, and technology partners in the development of Version 1.0 of the OpenEFT Format, announced October 1.
The release, the first step in creating standards for the cross media environment, is reported as the first open format specification for the exchange and rendering of interactive magazines on tablets and mobile devices. OpenEFT will be featured at two upcoming events in New York City; at the Createasphere Digital Asset Management Conference on October 7-8 and at the IDEAlliance PRIMEX East Conference on October 9.
“Unlike the print world that has worked with a number of industry-established standards to communicate—for example, JDF and JMF—the new digital media have far too many standards,” notes Graham Blanks, director Business Operations North America, Dalim Software, which offers software solutions for the creation, production, and management of cross-media content.
“There are too many media steps, distribution channels, and file formats, and it seems that every job requires a different set of them,” adds Blanks. “Until these industries agree on how to share files, it is going to be a complicated workflow to start and manage projects.”
Moving Away from Linear
IDEAlliance is also promoting its take on the requirements of moving from a traditional linear workflow, the norm in print-based distribution, to an Integrated Media Workflow (IMW) model, which is designed to efficiently produce output to a wide variety of channels from a single workflow.
“The central core of the Integrated Media Workflow concept is a centralized ‘hub’ of content,’ explains Steve Bonoff, executive vice president of IDEAlliance. “There are a lot of technical ramifications for determining a content strategy and then creating a hub, which, in essence, is an asset management center.”
IDEAlliance unveiled the Integrated Media Workflow at PRINT 13 in September.
In the world of print, the process moves somewhat seamlessly (in theory, anyway) from capturing and creating the content, to editing and producing (i.e.: printing) the product, to finishing and distribution. No matter the trials and tribulations of print production, the content is moving toward being output to a single distribution channel—print.
Needless to say, that isn’t the case in a cross-media platform, and any printer looking to make an investment in this area has to consider the steps necessary to get it to the final distribution point. “Cross media,” says Bonoff, “requires a dynamic set of actions for effective integration of the media production process.”
It’s in the Clouds
An integrated media workflow takes full advantage of remote cloud-based services, not only to enhance the workflow, but also to bring customers into the process at any stage, something that the Millennial generation in particular finds appealing. This group likes being part of the process, and more and more often they are going to be your contact point.
Cloud integration is absolutely critical moving forward in a B2B environment, notes Dave Minnick, director, Web2Print Solutions Group, EFI.