Technical Reports


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ICC profiles: are we better off without them?

Beretta, Giordano B.; Dispoto, Gary J.; Hoarau, Eric; Lin, I-Jong; Zeng, Jun
HP Laboratories


Keyword(s): printing, digital printing, commercial printing, commercial print automation, workflow

Abstract: Before ICC profiles, a device-independent page description document would encode all color in a device independent CIE space like CIELAB. When the document was to be printed, the press person would measure a target and create a color transformation from the CIE coordinates to device coordinates. For office and consumer color printers, the color transformation for a standard paper would be hardwired in the printer driver or the printer firmware. This procedure had two disadvantages: the color transformations required deep expertise to produce and were hard to manage (the latter making them hard to share), and the image data was transformed twice (from input device to colorimetric and then to output device coordinates) introducing discretization errors twice. The first problem was solved with the ICC profile standard, and the last problem was solved by storing original the device dependent coordinates in the document, together with an input ICC profile, so the color management system could first collapse the two profiles and then perform a single color transformation. Unfortunately, there is a wide variety in the quality of ICC profiles. Even worse, the real nightmare is that quite frequently the incorrect ICC profiles are embedded in page description documents or the color management systems apply the wrong profiles. For consumer and office printers, the solution is to forgo ICC profiles and reduce everything to the single sRGB color space, so only one profile is required. However, the sRGB quality is insufficient for print solution providers. How can a modern print workflow solve the ICC profile nightmare?

7 Pages

Additional Publication Information: To be presented at Color Imaging XVI: Displaying, Hardcopy, Processing, and Applications, San Francisco, 7866-26 (2011)

External Posting Date: October 6, 2010 [Fulltext]. Approved for External Publication
Internal Posting Date: October 6, 2010 [Fulltext]

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