Celebrating five years with special covers

Condé Nast believes perfection is the measure of a true pressroom, and the publishing group goes through great lengths to ensure this happens. Amit Navarange, production director at Condé Nast India unravels the process for the five covers during the fifth anniversary. An exclusive case-study.

30 May 2013 | By PrintWeek India

More than five years ago, when Condé Nast started its operations with Condé Nast India (CNI) with the launch of Vogue the challenges were: There was very good investment happening in India for printing and binding equipment. 
Still, there was a need to explore and exploit the full potential of the technology to meet international quality standards. Awareness was not in proportion to investments.

                  Meeting the high standards required for Vogue (CNI’s 1st title in India) meant a thorough study of key production aspects including the creation of standard operating procedures, which could be used as on-the-job reference as well as training of manpower. Hand-holding the team was important not only to make them understand the workflow but also to prove and make them believe that results as per ISO 12647-2 were achievable. Till a few years back, printing establishments felt the need for standardisation, but due to ack of awareness, they created in-house standards to suit their own and their customers’ requirements. As such there were no universally recognised standards. This created a lot of confusion and conflict between the creative teams, printers and the publishers, as everyone was referring to and following their own best practices.
Today, the scenario has changed rapidly and we can see more and more repro and printing establishments following international standards, but initially it was a challenge to make the creative advertising agencies, repro houses, printing presses to agree to and follow standardised technical specifications for file creation, proofing and printing to achieve a desired result.
Pricing policy
Condé Nast’s approach to price-points and amount paid to the printers was different from the prevailing print and publishing industry norms in India. It was worked around the requirements and demands of the job with a clear focus on quality. A fair pricing to our printer partners supported them to go that extra mile to use the right kind of raw material, machine consumables and follow preventive machine maintenance protocols. Maintenance is usually compromised under normal circumstances in an effort to get more out of the machine hours.    
Condé Nast’s tech audits
Condé Nast publications insist on following the ISO 12647-2 standards for offset printing. Condé Nast doesn’t rely on third party tech audits and certification. This is particularly for print firms in the Indian context. This is because we understand that there is a huge diversity of jobs with varying paper grades that are run on the same machine. Also pricing for low-end jobs compel the printers to use inks and chemicals which may not comply to ISO standards. I feel, Indian printers face a big challenge to maintain the machine (especially web offset) to be able to comply to ISO-12647-2 all the time. Hence, getting a one-time certificate and annual validation doesn’t help in the long run. Having said that, Condé Nast expects a bigger effort from the printers to regularly verify that they maintain the machine so as to achieve results complying to ISO standards whenever they print for Condé Nast every month.  
Condé Nast’s partnership with Comart
It has been a fantastic association with Comart since the launch of our first magazine – Vogue
Comart was extremely pro-active in setting up colour management protocols for Condé Nast – thanks to Fred Poonawala and his colour management team, which is headed by Dr Rashid Mistry.
At Comart we had created a dedicated, secure set-up for the repro work of Condé Nast magazines. 
The set-up was complete with a dedicated, colour managed workflow and proofing solution from GMG – Epson (with a back-up). It has a controlled access so that only authorised personnel can access the department to maintain strict confidentiality of our content.
Having a dedicated workforce ensures that the team only works on our magazines and is trained, oriented according to our workflow and requirements. This helps in better understanding of our standard colour correction / retouching requirements and best understanding of our very specific colour correction briefs on important sections of the magazines. Since we have magazines related to fashion, lifestyle, travel, architecture and home décor, every magazine has its own set of requirements which is only best produced when we have a well-trained dedicated resource.
Condé Nast’s relationship with Manipal Technologies
Manipal Technologies have invested in right machinery for producing high quality demanding commercial publications. Our experience with team Manipal is very good when it comes to adhering to technical SOPs and the close monitoring and supervision of multiple technical parameters during the production process. This ensures consistent and predictable quality. 
Condé Nast and its paper partners
For our magazines, for the inside pages – we use paper from Sappi Mills – Galerie fine gloss for Vogue and Architectural Digest and Novapress gloss from Stora Enso for GQ and Condé Nast Traveller. For our covers we use either Magno Star or Lumi Art Paper. 
These papers are top-of-the-line in the commercial publishing segment. Inside pages are printed on 80 gsm. It’s indeed a joy to print on these premium papers and the internationally acclaimed quality of these paper brands ensure trouble-free and rich plus vibrant printing. We can easily print images using a screen-ruling of 175 – with complete and clean tonal range even on high-speed web machines. We have zero complaints (technical as well as order servicing) with both our major paper suppliers. 
Due to higher gsm of paper used (80gsm), we can’t avail the duty benefits which are available for 70 gsm and below. We pay a high price for the type of paper we use so as to ensure that we maintain the same look and feel of our international editions (mostly European) Also it underlines our quality statement, differentiates and places our magazines in a ‘premium’ category.
Comment from the ad-clients on the job you had done…
The immense advertising response to all our brands and almost zero complaints for production from the advertisers in the last five years bear testimony to our efforts. Many of the advertisers have appreciated our ‘helping hand approach’ when it comes to understanding our non-negotiable mechanical and technical specifications for files and GMG-Epson colour contract proofs. We have also conducted short colour management sessions. This enables our client’s creative agencies to understand and implement colour management and file creation processes to achieve a predictable colour quality for their creatives.
Amit navarange’s five mantras

Amit Navarange’s five mantras which ensures better design and superior colour reproduction
1 Right technical tools and knowledge.
2 Conde Nast’s ‘One team’ approach: For advertisements we are one team with our client and their creative agency. We ensure  that the client’s expectations are well read by us and passed on to the repro house and further to the printer. 
3 The language of communication is clear and simple – files and proofs based on internationally valid technical specifications, nothing less. To achieve this, our team is committed to go all out.
4 For editorial pages – we are one team with our art director, photographers and repro house to ensure quality colour correction, re-touching and proofing within the scope of our tried and tested technical workflows which ensures ‘no surprises later’ post production.
5 Immense dedication and attention: We have received ready-made knowledge about print standardisation. We have to take pains to learn, pursue, persuade and implement to get the right results.