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AE, Workflow Trap Tickets & Images

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C2V:
Odd title but I wasn't sure what to call it.

Since starting at my new workplace and using Esko Automation Engine 14.1 (currently installed) I noticed that clients would supply us .ai files with images (on transparent backgrounds) linked in [.tiff, .psd, .jpg(ugh)] the issue I have is when I run these files through our trap ticket  it always omits trapping the images to the background.

It gets worse when the .psd files have drop shadow layers in them.
Usually I end up just setting a clipping path around the image (and not the drop shadow) then going into the file, duplicating the image, and relinking the top most image to my clipping path applied image. (basically sandwiching the images ontop of one another, with he original image and its drop shadow in tact) 

Is this method risky?  totally crazy?  ... seems to work and beats  sandwiching 3+ images to get one that will trap in esko: just the shadow.psd / middle image with clipping path applied.psd / top most image with clipping path applied.psd ))

One particular graphics house does not use clipping paths (well I'm sure they do when creating this knockout) and instead creates a white ko behind the image that is contracted about 4pixels, then sets their main images to darken, thus creating a trap.. tho one thats more difficult to edit if the need arises]
I have used this method as well but finding the right pixel contraction to use on the images so you do not get too much or too little trap is tough as it tends to vary on the overall images size.
4 pixels on a tiny image 1x1 inch is too much but seems ok on an image thats 3x3 inch

I ran through some requested help cases which the old prepress operator had submitted to Esko support.
In one he mentioned that the images in his files were not trapping to the process background / pantone background in his files.

The help desk had assisted him and then closed his case.  Unfortunately they do not leave good notes on what the resolution of the case was.
I can tell by what is in the notes that they had told him:

Esko Support:
"The transparent bkgd does not provide any pixels to extend in order to create the trap.
The only way I could get it to Trap was to increase the Trap amount for the images and the trap direction for the spot to go into the image.
It is a file issue, if there is not data (transparent pixels around the image) then there is nothing to spread into the spot color. It would be better to actually have a tight clipping mask around it."

Which lead me to always having to create a tight clipping mask around the images in the files supplied to us (by almost every customer, and we have many)
Normally, not a huge issue but when certain customers supply 10 to 30 files with 2 to 4 different images in each it can take hours and hours of extra time spent creating a close clipping mask (1200%to 1600% zoom level) around the art for Esko to then realize there is a path/edge and trap the file/images properly.
Without this path Esko will not trap the image(s) to the background.

I have tried setting the ticket to how the support suggested and it does not work. 
I have set the trap to 1pt just to see and it fails to trap.

So is there any way to get images to trap to process or pantone backgrounds without having to spend extra time creating clipping paths in photoshop?

I have suggested to the artists (and it is within our spec sheet) that this step needs to be done on their end. (haha)  quick selection tool and/or lasso tool...beyond sloppy (or just not done at all as it takes too much time...."go figure"
Of course, when we try to charge them for this extra time it's an issue
(one which we end up on the losing side of)

If i send the files back nothing would ever get done file wise as it occurs with 90% of our customers.

Sorry turned into a bit of a rant there at the end : )

Thanks,
C2V

david:
weirdness....
the reason I say that, Esko has always trapped images to anything. As far as I know, I think they were the only ones years ago that would trap a 4 color image. I have used Esko since V9 (command line interface) but never got a chance to use Automation Engine (owner didn't want to upgrade $$$). But, I would assume it works the same as the other versions as far as trapping is concerned.

If you have a 4 color image on top of a colored background that has 2 or more shared colors (image has magenta, background has magenta, etc), then there is no trapping needed as it is welded color at this point. No chance of mis-register showing white due to the colors touching (i.e. "welded).
Esko should trap a 4 color image to a pms background, it either will spread the pms into the image or it should generate a mask, place the image into the mask and set it to overprint for traps. We used this function quite a bit.

If you have a service contract with Esko I would think you can place a call and get one of their engineers to set you up. They can usually dial in and check it out for you.

Are you are importing the .ai file or making a pdf file to import?

DigiCorn:
Do the raster images contain at least 3 of the primary colors (C, M, Y or K?) I have always been taught than when dealing with raster images if two raster pieces contain at least 3 pieces, trapping is not necessary because there is enough color in common. Then again, I can see where it depends on what the images actually are. If your images are 4-c and sitting atop a single color or Pantone, then yes, a trap is necessary,.

I only have experience using the i-cut suite, so all I've really done with it is create dielines or imposed and output files for digital printing. You may be able to manually or create a false trap in AI prior to import to Esko.

Tracy:
Does a "good image" on a spot background trap?
Like you say it may be the way the customer is putting their images in illy.

andyfest:
We have never had issues with that using Esko’s Nexus. We see lots of psds that use transparent backgrounds and drop shadows too with no issue. I wonder what they did differently with AE.

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