Color Management System

A set of computer programs or utilities that are used to ensure color calibration by accurately translating from one color space to another. Color management systems ensure consistent color throughout the prepress processes by calibrating the color relationships among the scanners, monitors, printers, imagesetters, and other devices in the chain from input to output, usually by creating a device profile for each device. There are three primary aspects of a color management system:

'Device Profiles'. Device profiles utilize CIE color space values to represent the gamut of colors that can be scanned, displayed, and printed by any of the devices in the system.

'Converters'. CMS conversion methods convert each device's device-dependent color space (which can be either RGB, CMY, or CMYK) to the device-independent CIE color space values.

'Previews'. Software utilities allow for the on-screen previewing of how colors will appear when output from a particular device.

As of this writing, there are currently available four color management systems: Kodak CMS, EfiColor, Agfa FotoFlow, and the Pantone Open Color Environment. The drawback to all of these systems (save Pantone's) is that they need to operate from within a specific application, rather than the operating system. Although the number of applications that support a CMS is increasing, the lack of direct operating system integration limits the efficacy of a CMS. A partial solution to this is Apple's ColorSync, a system extension that aims to extend the range of one of the above-mentioned systems at the operating system level. Many vendors are now creating their CMS utilities to plug in to ColorSync. Version 2.0 of ColorSync was a major breakthrough in CMS technology, especially in its use of a standard format for device profiles. Essentially, it allows color image files (either TIFF or EPS format files) to be "tagged" with a description of the color space the file uses and the source of that color data. A number of different vendors—such as Adobe, Agfa, EFI, Kodak, and Pantone—have announced support for the ColorSync 2.0 device profile format.

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