Hearst Magazines, Japan implement Claro and realize a 60% reduction in manual image correction

Hearst Women’s Publishing Company publishes periodical fashion magazines including the world’s leading titles; ELLE JAPAN, 25ans, MEN’S CLUB and many more. Hearst are committed to providing a comprehensive, high quality, content strategy across mobile, web and print channels, realizing the brand value to the market.

The company publishes thirteen periodical magazines and around 3000 images are used in the magazines each month. All image correction and optimization was manually completed in Hearst’s production department using Photoshop. With the enormous number of images to process, Mr. Koizumi started investigating a method to maximize the production efficiency.

“Prior to the introduction of Claro, other vendor’s automatic image optimization solutions were examined, but problems in the finished quality and processing speed, as well as functionality limitations such as the inability to process PSD files led us to dismiss these software applications.” details Mr. Koizumi.

Against this research, Hearst discovered Claro, a bulk image processing solution proposed by VPJ, and implemented the solution for an introductory study. “When I actually used the Claro system in the trial period, it was simple and easy to use, there were no issues with the quality and processing speed and Claro processes PSD files – even those with layers and masks.” Claro was popular and embraced by the entire production department. Once the trial was complete, Mr Koizumi said “I want Claro now!”

Operation Method

Hearst had already implemented the online editing system, WoodWing Enterprise – also proposed by VPJ – and required interaction between the two systems.

“WoodWing Enterprise is the core for all editing, production and progress management of magazine publishing at Hearst. With the integration of editing processes into the online workflow (from data entry by photographers, to simultaneous editing for designers and writers and real time progress management of editors) we have succeeded in greatly improving work efficiency within our company.”

“Claro strengthens this efficiency drive, realizing further productivity improvements in the publishing workflow of Hearst.”

Hearst’s Claro implementation is a server based, automating image processing via hot folders. By simply dropping the image into a hot folder, predetermined analysis and processing is carried out, the image optimized and delivered to the necessary location.

The production manager who oversees image correction, transfers the image from WoodWing Enterprise to the title specific Claro hotfolder where the toning process is initiated. Hearst have created around 30 title specific toning channels in Claro, each with the titles’ own unique image requirements. Once Claro has completed its analysis and optimization, a skilled Photoshop operator reviews the image and, if necessary, will add final adjustments to the image before delivering the file back to WoodWing Enterprise.

Mr. Koizumi further states “Claro is very useful because it can compare the original image side by side with the corrected image by working in conjunction with Photoshop. It is very useful when changing the transparency of an image to be able to compare the before and after images within Claro.”

Introduction effect

“With the introduction of Claro, we have been able to dramatically improve the efficiency of the image correction process. Until now, all image correction was completed manually. Using Claro has reduced the manual processing by 60%.” Mr. Koizumi declares.

This was the exact requirement that Hearst had specified for the successful introduction and deployment of an automated image processing solution – reduce the manual operations and improve the overall efficiency of the department.

“In magazine production there are many different types of image; certain images will be classed as critical and will simply have basic toning applied by Claro. The remainder of the image optimization must be completed manually due to subjective artistic requirements. However, as the majority of images can be entirely processed by Claro, more time is available to work on such critical images and this leads to an overall quality improvement in the magazines.” observes Mr. Yamamoto-Sama.

He continues “Now we have had Claro integrated for some months we want to look forward and realize yet greater efficiencies by completely automating the image transfer between WoodWing Enterprise and Claro, removing the need for an operator to be involved. Both applications can perform in a lights out environment and this will be our next step.”