Digital print rocks in Kodak photo book

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Four-color digital printing stars along with rock 'n' roll icons such as Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley and Pearl Jam in a book of photographs taken by renowned photographer Neal Preston and printed using Kodak's NexPress 2500 digital production color press and NexGlosser glossing unit.

The 116-page book commemorates gallery shows in New York and Los Angeles showcasing Mr. Preston's work. However, it also was conceived as a tool for illustrating Kodak's digital printing capabilities.

"This was an interesting opportunity to go into commercial photography and show that NexPress can capture the quality of detail of this type of imagery," said Greg Gresock, director of worldwide product marketing for Kodak's Graphic Communications Group, Rochester, NY.

Because many of the photos of rock legends were taken over decades on black-and-white and color film, it was important that the digital press be able to render gradations of gray, vivid color, detail and a certain "edginess," Mr. Gresock said.
Direct marketers increasingly look for a similar level of high-quality four-color and five-color digital printing, he said.

"In any form of direct marketing, you're trying to capture the attention of the would-be customer," he said. Combining great imagery and a special feature like a glossy finish, which the Preston book has, lets marketers create attention-getting catalogs that encourage recipients to open them.

The use of clear ink to create gloss also produces a robust printed piece that is protected in the mail, Mr. Gresock said.

The Los Angeles show opened to the public Nov. 11 at the Morrison Hotel Gallery and ended Dec. 5. The New York show took place in May at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in SoHo. Along with being handed out at both shows, the book was mailed to music industry executives and photographers as an invitation to the Los Angeles opening night reception. All profits from the evening's sales of Mr. Preston's prints benefit a new recovery program for wounded U.S. military personnel, Stevie Nicks Soldier's Angel Foundation.

The New York book varied slightly from the Los Angeles book in that it had four different covers. Kodak wanted to show that "with digital, you don't have to confine yourself to just one," Mr. Gresock said.

This is the first time that Kodak has reached out directly to the graphic communications community with information about its digital printing capabilities, he said.

"We've been promoting to printers, now we're reaching the creators," he said. In addition to bringing awareness of Kodak's capabilities to this audience, the company hoped to learn from the experience as well.

"We didn't engage in this to be a producer of books," he said. "We did it to know what it takes to produce a book of this quality, what works well and what doesn't."
Assembly of the book was simple, Mr. Gresock said. Kodak was able to look through Mr. Preston's catalog of images on the screen without ever making a proof, eliminating many steps and saving time.

The question that did arise was whether to finish the book manually or automatically, since the NexPress system can do only saddle stitching and the decision already had been made to perfect-bind the book. Kodak decided to manually feed the pages into its CP Borg perforator, rotator, folder and perfect binder machine, which then automatically finished the books.

"There's a lot of hype around fully automated systems," Mr. Gresock said. "For something like this, a combination of the NexPress and offline worked perfectly."
The book has become a great sales tool, he said, as Kodak uses it in conversations with the press and the creative community in addition to prospective clients.

The relationship with Mr. Preston, who also does movie photography, has helped the company uncover a potential new market for digital printing. Mr. Gresock explained that during the filming of a movie, still photographs usually are taken and a photo album is created at the finish of the film. When the budget is there, the book is created using offset printing, but usually it's done in a more ad-hoc manner.

"You could create a more professional, complete photo book for every movie that is assembled by the photographer using digital printing," he said.

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