Hong Kong Day Two

Blognosticator Head

On my outings on Sunday in Hong Kong I had a chance to take the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbor to Hong Kong Island where my friend John Seymour and I had lunch. The weather was tempestuous, and we watched sailboat racers in the channel for a while, impressed by their ability to navigate in the strong winds without capsizing.


The ketch Rona, a wooden-hull sailboat, tacks in a stiff wind in Victoria Channel. In the background stand the high rise towers of Hong Kong Island.

The foul weather was a side effect of the terrible cyclone that hit the Philippines two days earlier. Though it rained a bit and strong winds blew in Hong Kong, the weather was nice enough; John and I enjoyed our outing.

I stopped along the southernmost tip of Kowloon to make a hand-held panorama with my iPhone, and then I took one with my Canon DSLR. I have my GigaPan rig with me, but the weather needs to get a little better before I will commit to making a GigaPan photo here.

Victoria Harbor pano 01

Hong Kong from Kowloon. It was a busy day in the harbor, with cruise ships, pleasure boats, sailboat races, and many commercial ferry boats plying the waters. Click on the image to see it at twice this resolution.

We finished the day with dinner with our hosts, the Advanced Printing Technology Centre (APTEC) and the International Color Consortium (ICC).

On Monday morning, the group headed out for two plant tours – the first of which was to Toppan Printing Company, Hong Kong. Toppan is the largest commercial printer in the region; they have the plant in Hong Kong, and two more in nearby provinces of Mainland China. In Hong Kong they produce scores of local magazines, commercial printing for the local community, and a large number of perfect bound and casebound books for North America.

Toppan Printing group

This is the ICC/APTEC group in front of Toppan’s beautiful Hong Kong printing plant. On the right end is Ben, the manager of prepress operations for the plant.

Toppan has five web presses – all Komoris, several sheet-fed presses – Mitsubishi and Heidelberg, and an impressive bindery with saddle-stitching, perfect-binding, and Smyth-sewn binding (case bound) equipment to handle nearly any type of finishing operation needed.

In the prepress department at Toppan we had a chance to meet the manager of that department, and to learn about the firm’s application of color management, quality control, and preflight. They make nearly 1,000 printing plates every day on a row of Kodak Magnum Trendsetters. They make scores of paper proofs on Epson and Hewlett-Packard wide format ink-jet printers, and three Xerox printers, all of them running with Kodak’s Prinergy work flow software.

In the heart of the prepress department is the Color Lab, a room that conforms to ISO 3664, with neutral gray walls, floors, and counter tops. The room features two Macintosh computers, each with an Eizo LCD display, and a JUST Normlicht console viewing booth. In this room they can practice practical soft proofing, where their display and a printed page can be shown to appear the same. This is the second room of its type that I have ever seen, and the on-screen proof we saw today was amazingly accurate.

Toppan color room

Here, Ben explains how soft proofing is done in the Color Lab at Toppan Printing. Each of the two displays in the room can show a virtual color proof, and the booth in the center can be used for a comparison to the actual printing.

Color Room

The full view of the Color Lab at Toppan Printing.

I am teaching color management this quarter, and I have told my students about the ISO 3664 standard and about viewing rooms like this one. In both locations, despite more corporate-sounding names like “color lab,” the prepress managers referred to them as “the cave.” Though this room looks nothing like a cave, it is clear that spaces designed for accurate color viewing are not entirely pleasant work places. On the walls of the room was nothing other than the neutral paint. The rest of the plant was decorated with poster art from around the world. I find it ironic that the room where poster art is produced cannot have any on the walls, as such art would violate the room’s adherence to the specification.


About Brian Lawler

Brian Lawler is an Emeritus Professor of Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and was a Guest Professor at Hochschule München from September, 2021 to September, 2022. He writes about graphic arts processes and technologies for various industry publications, and on his blog, The Blognosticator.
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