Stockholm, Sweden, July 26 th , 2006– Frontline Systems, the leading independent vendor of photolab workflow software, today announced that its systems are now installed at 200 independent photolabs in Europe, North America, Asia and Africa. This represents more than a doubling of Frontline's installed base in the last 12 months, indicating a dramatic ramp in the adoption rate of independent lab workflow technology, and a break with the past pattern of closed, proprietary systems for labs.
This software, which runs on standard Windows XP systems, allows an unprecedented degree of automation, labor savings, and high quality output. In addition to the cost savings and increased productivity, installing Frontline results in freedom to choose a mix of scanner and photo printer vendors for a given site, creating efficiencies in equipment and consumables. “From the moment we put in Frontline, we were able to chart our own course to profitability and growth” said George Champagne, CEO of ABAR in Providence, Rhode Island . “Before that time, it almost seemed like we were stuck with whatever the big equipment vendors wanted us to do, whether it made sense for our business or not”.
1. Supports all minilab equipment and printers
From the first release of Frontline 1.0 four years ago, the company's philosophy has been consistent – the goal is to bring the business of the independent photo processor into the 21 st century with new product offerings and market share growth. Frontline 1.0 worked only with Fuji Frontier minilab hardware, and in late 2004 Frontline 2.0 added support for Noritsu and Durst printers as well as any output device supported by a Windows print driver. Frontline 3.0, launched in early 2006, added support for Agfa and Kis-PhotoMe minilabs as well as several other large format photo printers, making it possible for nearly any combination of lab hardware from different vendors to be operated as a seamless unit. This is a tremendous advantage over proprietary minilab systems, which cannot be extended by adding scanners and printers from other hardware vendors.
2. Integrated auto-correction and ICC calibration
Frontline 3.0 integrates state-of-the-art image auto correction (ACC) so that the vast majority of images, including those submitted from digital media, can be processed in a hands-off fashion. Frontline also seamlessly integrates ICC color transformation, so that a routine profiling of the scanner, display and printer devices results in accurate, locked-in color end to end throughout the system. This is a second major differentiator from the proprietary workflows of the minilab vendors themselves, which are built around proprietary color management schemes which do not extend to third party software and hardware. It also allows labs to select their paper consumables from a variety of sources, since new printer/paper combinations can be ICC profiled rather than relying on existing vendor profiles.
3. Fluid, powerful ColorStation image adjustment tool
The third major breakthrough in Frontline 3.0 is its new ColorStation image adjustment software, a client-server tool that can be run on multiple workstations within the lab. ColorStation functions in a pass-through mode, where the images being processed remain on the Frontline server. The workstation user can easily scroll between the images in a selected job, preview image quality and ACC and ICC effects on the image, and if necessary apply further manual corrections such as high, mid, and low-lone color adjustments in each color segment as well as onscreen cropping. Adjustments and crops can be saved and applied across multiple images with ease. Because ColorStation adjustments are easily extended to a full batch of images through its intuitive interface, very high levels of productivity can be reached with almost no operator training.
4. Multiple input sources including kiosks and web applications
Frontline's final breakthrough is the way the system now supports a wide range of inputs of digital files. Today's labs are having to find ways to diversify, by extending their sources of business and ways to obtain images from their clients. Frontline 3.0 uses the industry-standard XML command language, as well as translators for many types of kiosk and Web ordering systems, to allow the system's automated workflow to be driven by the widest range of input sources in addition to minilab scanners. Three optional Web modules – FrontWeb Express (for consumer orders), FrontWeb Design (for greeting cards and other templated products), and FrontWeb Prefix (for web-driven large format orders) are being offered as options for simplifying the input workflow from the Web to Frontline. These modules can be integrated with existing Web sites to provide robust back-end ordering functions in a way that the lab controls directly. Third party applications have also been successfully tested with Frontline 3.0, and others can easily be integrated with the system's extensible architecture. This type of open-ended input capability makes Frontline a perfect match for emerging Internet fulfillment labs, or for smaller labs using multiple Web services to bring in additional orders.