This chapter presents the findings of a series of cross-continental, cross-research-centre ethnographic studies of Xerox customer print shops and design agencies. This was undertaken to examine the technical challenge of reproducing colour consistently across different devices (such as digital cameras, computer screens, and printers), and how that challenge is differently addressed by professionals involved on one side in the creation of colour documents (designers), and on the other side their (re)production (digital printers).
The studies were prompted by Xerox Voice of Customer (VOC) feedback that indicated that while our digital production presses are capable of excellent colour quality, achieving it can require extended effort in document preparation and printer adjustments. Given that the major competitive advantage of digital print technology is the ability to print short-run and on-demand at an affordable cost and with a quick turn-around, any excess time and labour involved in achieving acceptable print quality is perceived as a problem.
While the VOC complaint was clear, the reasons behind it were less so. Professional printers have at their disposal hardware and software tools which should, in theory, allow users to manage the issue of colour consistency across devices in a digital production print workflow. These tools rely on the industry-standard technical system of Color Management. Color Management (CM), was developed by The International Color Consortium (ICC), to enable translation between different colour spaces and colour devices (monitors, printers, etc.).