Summit Direct-to-Plate, Film, Print & Mechanical Specifications

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Film Specifications

Note: Many CMYK projects now bypass the film stage and go "Direct-to-Plate"

Please see Designer's Top 10 Check-List

If going to film (and not direct-to-plate) CD Folder/Tray & Cassette Insert film must be 150 line screen right reading, negative, emulsion side down, typically at 2550 dpi and include registration marks (and individual CMYK names & color bars on each of the 4 film sheets where applicable). All colored panels must be set up as CMYK files (not RGB) and must be provided with proper color keys.

Allow 1/8" bleed on all sides, and never place any item or type that can't bleed-off closer than 1/8" from top, bottom or either edge of finish trimmed size. Indicate all fold, perforation and crop marks in margins just outside bleed areas.

Even if your cover will print "direct-to-plate" you will still require CD or tape imprint films from a reputable film service bureau. Films must be right reading, positive, emulsion side up at 2550dpi using a 100 line screen with elliptical dots for any images that include halftones.

For CD, DVD, Cassette & Video labeling or imprinting, we prefer to do the layout and any films because of the very tight tolerances on tape shells. If you intend to supply your own files or films, be certain you fully understand the technical requirements.

Please see FAQ (frequently asked questions) on our main page for a discussion of the use of UPC barcodes, the MAPL symbol and copyright concerns etc.

Be sure to include your CATALOGUE NUMBER and MADE IN CANADA on all cover and CD/Tape imprint graphics.

Explanation of Terms For Process Color. 4 Color & CMYK

For Process color CMYK film: C = Cyan, M = Magenta, Y = Yellow & K = Black.

When you see cover printing described as 4/0, 4/1 or 4/4 here's what it means:
4/0 is full color (CMYK) on the front with no printing on the back or reverse side.
4/1 is full color (CMYK) on the front with black printing on the back or reverse side.
This is the standard configuration for all Summit cassette inserts and CD Folders.
4/4 is full color (CMYK) on the front and full color on the back or reverse side.
This is an option for CD folder/tray cards as well as cassette inserts but adds cost.

If there is to be printing on the back of any colored panel, it must also show crop & fold/perf. marks. (especially spine position on cassettes) Mark the top edge or each item "TOP" in the margin, just above bleed area as we have done on our Summit layout sheet. Mark page numbers below each panel in the margin, outside image areas.

Computer Platforms (Mac & PC) Downloading or Printing Summit Layout Templates
Download Mac Designer Templates
MAC: If you are using a Mac you can download the applicable CD or DVD Layout sheet(s) as a Quark document. Just click on download link above Call if you have questions or require specuial templates and Summit will email these to you. You may also download a PDF layout for use with Photoshop, In-Design or Illustrator .
Download PC Designer Templates
PC: If you are using an IBM/PC compatible computer, you can download our Photoshop templates by clicking on the link above, download our PDF templates, or just print the html layout sheet and create your own template using measurement information provided.
Regardless of which platform you use to create cover art (Mac or PC), you need to know that even the very most expensive monitors can rarely be trusted to accurately indicate finished colors. For accuracy, believe your Process color chart not the monitor!   Scans and color panels that look one way on screen may actually be TOTALLY different when printed. To avoid disappointment follow these two basic rules.

Rule #1: Shoot all digital images at your camera's highest resolution and convert to 300dpi at final cropped size.

Rule #2: create all color panels and type, for cover printing in the CMYK mode (not PMS/Pantone or RGB) and then instead of believing what you see on the screen, create colors using percentages from a CMYK color chart such as the "Pantone Process Color System Guide" (not to be confused with a PMS Pantone color Chart). This will avoid unpleasant surprises when the job comes back from press. Note: make sure you convert all colors and images to CMYK before saving your final layout.   Note: Colors for Disc imprints are are not CMYK but are Pantone PMS format.

Preferred Software
Please See Designers Top 10 Check-List
MAC: Summit Sound uses all popular Mac based graphics software including, QuarkXPress, Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop. The easiest method is to convert your finished layout to Printable PDF at 300dpi with all text embedded and we will print from your PDF files - OR your complete working files may be supplied for output on CDR or uploaded to our FTP site (call or email for FTP info)...If supplying your working files, be sure to include all fonts and images (scans, clip art, logos etc.) that you have used in your layout. If in doubt about any scanned image, scan it to size (properly cropped) at 300dpi in Photoshop and save as an EPS or TIF file Saving drawings & type (converted to curves) as Adobe Illustrator files ("Vector" format) is also a good way to ensure the most compatibility at final output, but this leaves us less options to make corrections if required. *After saving a layout in QuarkXPress use the "collect for output" command in Quark 5-7 (or a utility such as Extensis - Collect Pro for earlier versions of Quark) to ensure that all fonts and images used are included with your file. If using In-Design please note this when sending files, flatten all layers, embed text and convert to 300dpi printable PDF.

PC: If sending IBM/PC files, 1. Photoshop or In-Design* converted to CMYK, "flattened" with text embedded and all images at 300dpi. 2. In Illustrator, make sure to convert all type to curves and save final files "flattened" as AI (Adobe Illustrator which is a "vector" format). 3. Acrobat "printable" PDF in CMYK at 300dpi also with text embedded. 4. Corel Draw (must be version 6 or higher to be usable) files should use only "Artistic text" then convert type to curves, next convert ALL spot colors to process and export the entire file as an Adobe Illustrator (AI) file, to avoid lengthy and thus expensive "rip" times and font incompatibilities.*If using In-Design please note this when sending files, flatten all layers, embed text and convert to 300dpi printable PDF.

When in doubt, call us BEFORE you do something you may later regret!  

Shopping For Professional Design Services

Your cover is VERY important, and like it or not, the contents will be pre-judged by what people see on the outside. A poor looking cover can scare potential customers away from a great product inside.

Few people who own a PC and a copy of "Corel Draw" are trained as graphic artists, and even fewer have any experience with CMYK output for high-end offset printing.

When shopping for a "professional" graphic designer, the first question to ask is what platform they work on. Our experience has shown that doing your design on a Mac will ensure the best results with a minimum of complications pre-press.

Most high-end printers as well as photo & film service bureaus are very cautious about IBM /PC files unless they are 300 dpi printable PDF's with all text and images embedded.

Summit "In-House" Creative & Graphic Design Services

Please see Summit Design link

Summit Sound has been providing complete in-house creative and graphic design services since we opened in 1974. We have created many hundreds of album covers for CD, Cassette, Records and even good old 8 track tapes back in the 70's. Since we do this kind of work every day, we know what to do and how to avoid problems. Another advantage to using Summit is that when we are doing everything we are completely responsible for the final outcome. This is in sharp contrast to situations where several parties are involved and when something goes wrong, everyone starts blaming the other guy for the problem.  

Options Regarding Submission of Design Files and/or Film

There are really 3 ideal (MAC) options for submission of files/film to Summit, plus a fourth that we have found quite satisfactory for IBM/PC files:
1.) Let us do everything including art, type, scans, and then you can approve a color laser proof or a PDF before we go "direct-to-plate' to press.
2.) Hire a local graphics firm, (ideally using Macs) have them supply final files to Summit (following our specs.) and you can approve a PDF version before it goes direct-to-plate to press.
3.) Have your scans done by a good service bureau on a drum scanner, create all your colors in CMYK using a color percentage matching chart and then supply final files to Summit (following our specs.) and you can approve a PDF version before it goes direct-to-plate to press.
4.) Supply PC files exported as 300dpi printable PDF's converted to CMYK, "flattened" with all text embedded. Let us take your files direct-to-plate and do your film output for your disc imprint,. We'll send you a PDF for approval before going to press. If using In-Design please note this when sending files, flatten all layers, embed text and convert to 300dpi printable PDF.  
Other options can get complicated, so if one of the above 4 options won't work for you,,. it may be best to discuss this with us before sending your files.  

Printing Options

To avoid problems, we prefer to handle all cover printing along with your CD or DVD duplication or replication. The most critical items are CD folder/trays which must be PERFECTLY sized and printed on very specific stock even with the stock grain turned in the correct direction etc. to allow for automated packaging. If you plan to have your covers printed elsewhere (not recommended), call Summit BEFORE you go to press... we can provide proper specifications and save you a lot of grief! While it is technically possible for you to take your film to another printer and provide us finished printed CD or DVD graphics for "standard-run" product, it is unlikely that you can match our quality or pricing for full color printing due to the volume of work we do. If you are doing small quantities of color CD graphics or cassette inserts, we can also produce these in ANY quantity at competitive prices. If someone else is doing your "short-run" CD or DVD inserts do all your art using the exact specifications from our Summit layout sheets (see Download) and make sure you supply the finished graphics to us trimmed to size & scored or pre-folded. Again if you have questions, call us first so there are no surprises!  

Ensuring The Best Process Color

If you have never worked with Process (CMYK) color before, it can all seem quite complicated. If you are not sure you are up to the challenge, this really is not a sign of weakness. You can save yourself a great deal of heartache by turning this task over to someone who truly knows what they are doing.   Lots of people use computers, but VERY few really know how to create good CMYK files for process color printing. Unfortunately there are still very few PC based designers with the experience to do good CMYK work. If you are paying someone else to provide this service, get quotes in writing and ask to see commercially printed samples of their process color work before you commit to anything.   Summit Sound Inc. will gladly quote in writing and provide samples upon request. We try our best to take the mystery out of this entire process, but if you still have questions, please ask!

Summit Sound provides a free consultation service on your cover design and can recommend the proper route to take (along with cost estimates) to ensure a professional finished product.

If you have any questions call us toll free at 1 800 403-9755 or e-mail to:
Summit Sound Inc, 184 McAndrews Rd. POB 333, Westport, ON K0G 1X0.