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Digital Link Gateway.

New York Daily News uses a high-speed, high-volume image processing system developed by a company party owned by the newspaper's co-publishers

The New York Daily News is a black-and-white newspaper with a fast, growing photo archive holding approximately four million digital images, more than a half-million of them in color

To efficiently scan its large library of prints and each roll of color negative film shot every day by every photographer and make all photos readily available, the paper relies upon a system developed by another business run by its co-publisher and chief executive, Fred Drasner.

Created by the merger of two companies in 1987 and subsequent acquisitions, Applied Graphics Technologies operates a nationwide network of graphic communications services ranging from consultation and design to production and satellite transmission for commercial work, publications and advertising agencies.

Together, Drasner and News chairman and co-publisher Mortimer Zuckerman form one of several AGT investor groups. Though the two were said to have no day-to-day involvement, another of their publishing interest, US News & World Report, is an AGT business partner to the extent that it explores new technologies and beta tests AGT systems.

A year ago AGT created a Digital Imaging Division to develop and market products that store, manipulate and retrieve images for prepress, multimedia publishing and other markets.

Headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., with R&D offices in Boulder, Colo., the new division is headed by Scott Brownstein, who led Eastman Kodak's development of the Photo CD system, and is staffed by almost 20 other former Kodak personnel working on Photo CD.

At AGT, the team pursued its work with the same technology to create a system - the Digital Link Gateway - suited to the high-volume, fast-turn-around needs of newspaper and magazine publishers.

Unveiled last October, the Gateway essentially drops the CD from Photo CD prior to the need to write a disk. Scanned images can be immediately stored on an image server and accessed within 30 seconds from networked workstations. Selection, correction and production of images can be accomplished before they are copied to optical media.

"We use . . . Kodak writable CDs, as opposed to the Photo CDs," said AGT corporate vice president Murray Oles, distinguishing between Kodak disks that can record images in Photo CD format and Photo CD disks that can only be used on Photo CD players.

System components are a Kodak 35mm film scanner, Digital Link image server, image editing workstation and CD-ROM archiving system and Macintosh for Adobe Photoshop image editing and color proofing - all on a Microsoft Windows NT network.

AGT said its Digital Link Gateway will also take input from a wirephoto receiver and output to prepress production systems.

At 200-250 images per hour, the Kodak scanner and the scanning workstation are fast enough to allow several hundred Daily News images to be processed every day. If the procedure is fast, the actual scanning time is even faster - about five minutes for a 36-exposure roll, according to AGT.

At that speed, it is easier to scan everything first and make on-screen deletions and selections for publication or for later or other use.

Annotations can be attached to image files for later use in caption writing. Photographers' names and assignments also are entered by the scanner operator.

The archive application goes beyond standard NAA/IPTC header information by retaining other support information and final captions, which travel with the image file.

The photo editing station offers thumbnail previews of retrieved and sorted images and allows comparison of a selected image with alternative shots. Close-up side-by-side display of two pictures allows photo editors to better compare image quality and content, down to individual pixels.

Oles said the process is "as fast as you can do it with a loupe in your hand, going back and forth across chromes on a light table."

The system uses SuperMac Pressmatch monitors, said Oles, that feature the sort of color-calibrated high-definition screens used for retouching.

The images are retrieved from the image server's large-volume disk array, to which scanned files are immediately transferred via proprietary AGT interface.

Recording selected images on CDs for archival storage can be set up as a background function.

The Photo Editor application allows work on image files within Photo CD format. AGT said it tries to provide very fast image-manipulation capabilities by working directly within Kodak's YCC image pack.

In contrast to the Kodak Photo CD system, the Gateway dispenses with the CD itself until editing and production stages are complete.

In Photo CD, according to Oles, a scanned image is passed to a buffer. When the next image is scanned the first image is immediately written to disk. Viewing or working on the first image, he said, requires that it be called up from a disk reader.

"They're trying to sell you disks," said Oles. "It takes about a half hour to write a full disk and then it takes quite a while to retrieve images off the disk. In that time you could lose deadlines."

Oles said the Digital Link Gateway was specified to connect to the AP Leafserver to bring wirephotos onto the Windows NT network as 1OOOx15OO-dpi TIFF images with standard NAA/IPTC headers and was similarly expected to support Reuters digital wirephotos.

"I can't say that every newspaper would want to use our system," said Oles, "because it's not an inexpensive system. But the applications we are developing really are targeted to the workflow within a newspaper."

AGT's ISO authoring application is a result of its development team's earlier "responsibility for much of the standard development for multisession CD-ROM archiving and authoring," said Oles.

Able to drive CD-ROM writers with a network Windows NT driver, the system enables writing in real time without recourse to premastering. It is not necessary to first collect all data, then write it to disk in a single stream, according to Oles. The arrangement, he continued, means that users are no longer limited to writing only once to a disk after collecting image data and premastering. The system creates space on a disk for an appendable directory.

"What it means is, you can create a CD-ROM disk much like any other disk in the way you write to it," said Oles.
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Title Annotation:Applied Graphics Technologies, Digital Imaging Division, digital imaging system
Author:Rosenberg, Jim
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Date:Jun 25, 1994
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