Interview with Professor Robert Eller

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Professor Robert Eller has taught at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) since 2011. Currently he teaches classes in gravure and flexography and digital print processes; however, before coming to RIT he was an executive at ExxonMobil for 30 years. He was responsible for the partnership between ExxonMobil and Esko, a software company specializing in reprographics. This software would become the industry standard for reprographics for flexography.

Kristian Bonds-Davis, a third year Media Arts and Technology student, recently interviewed Professor Eller about the Esko software and how this software has revolutionized the flexographic printing industry.

Listen to a segment of the interview. A transcript of this segement is provided below.

Examples of Esko Software


Concepts of Esko Software

Reprographics involves optimizing a design file for printability as well as optimizing workflow. Repro then transforms that same design file into a plate ready file. These processes are designed with efficiency in mind.

Esko Software Suite is designed to be both efficient and cost effective, allowing for color calibration and realistic proofing of print objects. For example, with Esko a flat InDesign file of a shrink-label for a bottle can be previewed in the Esko Studio program as a 3D label shrunk to fit a bottle.

Why Companies Use Esko for Proofing

The Esko Software Suite is integrated into Adobe Creative Suites, allowing files made in Adobe software to be previewed in Esko. Additionally, there are three major reasons why Esko software appeals to companies:

  1. The ability to find and fix issues with design files
  2. The ability to make a design file printable
  3. The ability to add automation in processing files

Interview transcribed

Eller: So the first motivation for the Esko software was to be able to find and fix the problems that occur with design files. Then the second motivation was to make those files printable which means to color manage them, color separate them and screen them.

This is the full scope of the Esko software. It has editors that pre-flight and fix design files and are able to do some things around color management and some things around screen. It has imaging that – when I say “some things” for example some things would be if I’m taking a picture and that picture is of me and you. Most of you is pretty saturated color. My shirt, my pants, my tie pretty saturated colors.

My hair used to be pretty saturated color and it’s now turning gray. But the worst part is I don’t have as much of it as I used to. And so I have this receding hairline. And if we were photographed together in the sun I would have a lot of glare off of my forehead.

And when you print that you need to be able to print very very light highlights because it’s really just shades of white that we’re printing.

Maybe I want to screen that with one type of screen and screen a different object with a different type of screen so there can be better color saturation. Choosing which objects should be screened with different kinds of screens, that’s done in the editor.

But the actual job of implementing color management and implementing screen, ripping the image so i can make plates out of it, that’s done in imaging software. I’m processing a couple – I’m pretty big converter and I’ve got a pretty good size plant and I’m processing 50 or 60 jobs a day.

Want to do that with an army of people? Want to pay a half a dozen people – let’s say a cost of a company of around $80,000 a year? Now they don’t get that in their pocket, there are also medical benefits and other stuff built into it.

But you know you want to pay a half million dollars a year for those people?

Student: No.

Eller: That’s another piece of what motivated Esko. Was to be able to have automation and very productive workflows so that I can contain my costs.

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