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ViewSign review

9 Mar 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
97.75
(£85 ex VAT)

A useful additional tool for Eye-One Pro or Display2 owners to verify the accuracy of their monitors.

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Specifications

Colour management has come from being a black art that simply scares people to something we all know is sensible and desirable, even if we don't all use it.

It is, sadly, still a bit of a black art, but ViewSign, from Bodoni Systems, is designed to make colour management and, crucially, accountability easier to check and control.

Tools such as the Eye-One Pro and Display2 are used to create profiles for monitors, providing information about the device's abilities for use by colour management systems. ViewSign goes one step further than monitor profiling software: it compares what a display can show against a specific print profile and then produces a certificate that can be embedded as a digital signature layer in a PDF or produced as a detailed listing of the display's matches and misses.

This can then be used during proofing to assure the recipient - whether client, prepress specialist or printer - that the PDF was viewed on a display that was working to a defined, measured standard, and it shows how accurately it can render the characteristics of the selected output device.

The ViewSign software requires an Eye-One Pro or Display2 to work, and you'll need to calibrate and profile your display separately, too; this utility is strictly for measuring and certifying a display's performance, not documenting it in an ICC profile. Keep using your existing profiling software for that task.

Although the details of how it works aren't for the faint of heart, the process of using ViewSign is pleasingly simple. First, calibrate your Eye-One device by placing it on an opaque surface. ViewSign can then zero its settings accurately and prepare to measure the display. Next, select a proof target from the list of ISO-standard print profiles (five are supplied and more can be downloaded from eci.org). Finally, place the Eye-One on the screen and the software behaves like any standard profiling utility, showing a succession of precise tones and hues to evaluate how they're actually rendered by the display.

Once finished, rather than saving the information in a profile as normal, ViewSign can embed a summary as a new non-printing layer in any PDF you choose. It can also make a separate PDF that contains full Lab colour details of each measured colour and the Lab and CMYK reference colour details as well. Switching between different proof targets resets your measurements so you must start again each time, but this ensures you always work with the freshest possible results.

In practice, we can testify to the necessity of having a well-calibrated and accurately profiled monitor in the first place. This software won't help if your screen is out of whack or your profile is too old. Or, to be more accurate, it will help, but only by reporting, calmly and coldly, precisely how bad your screen is at rendering colours accurately.

Neither does the software attempt to verify that the PDF it certifies has actually been shown on the display in question, which could be a bit of a weak point if you needed to use it to back you up in a complaint about output quality. However, when used with care and in conjunction with X-Rite's profiling software and Eye-One hardware, ViewSign has a useful role to play.

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