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Images Served to Order

(November 2003) posted on Tue Nov 18, 2003

A new kind of asset manager delivers the right image at the right time

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By Jake Widman

The restrictions can benefit a production workflow in other ways, too. Lundberg cites the instance of a newspaper that has rules for the size, resolution, and other characteristics of an image submitted by a photographer. Without an image server, if a photo was submitted the wrong way, people at the paper would have to spend time fixing it. But with the Graphics Server, the photographer can choose the conversion options before the submission, and the paper can be guaranteed of getting the image the way they want it. "We didn't anticipate the whole preflighting capability," says Lundberg.

Web to print

The real impetus behind the development of image servers has come from the online world. According to a TrueSpectra (maker of the TrueSpectra Image Server) presentation from last September, images comprise 50% of Web traffic today.

Many of those are just static images, of course. But think of the newspaper and magazine sites that have thumbnails of news photos that you can click on to get an enlarged version. Think of the number of online retail catalog sites that offer the same thing--and in different colors, too! There's the red sweater--and then the same sweater in pink, blue, teal, aqua, coral. Those are all separate images. The attraction of not having to store all those images on the server but rather to create and deliver them to order makes online retail an obvious customer for image servers"?what Bigoness describes as "the low-hanging fruit." It's a good category, he says, for early adoption of image server technology, and he says MediaRich has several customers in that area.

But, Bigoness continues, Equilibrium realized that Web imagery was too narrow a focus for MediaRich. "Once you've done one zoom and pan, you've done them all," he says. With the kind of image transformation technology in Debabelizer, they realized it was possible to do more than just the relatively few tasks needed for online catalogs. With the right features, image servers could work in the print world as well, and they're beginning to migrate in that direction. Scene7, Equilibrium, and Adobe are among the first image server vendors to offer print-oriented features; there are several other Web-oriented image servers out there, and you can bet some of them will follow.