Who and What is FLAAR?updated NOVEMBER 2001
FLAAR REPORTSWho and What is FLAAR2FLAAR’s officeMuseum of MayanTextile on campusMuseum of MayanArt on campusLoading one of ourevaluation unitsFLAAR specializes in research, evaluation, and education relative tophotography, scanning, and digital printing. Within these fi elds we coverprimarily high-end professional digital imaging.FLAAR has facilities in Latin America, Germany, and naturally in theUSA. FLAAR is incorporated in the State of Rhode Island with businessoffi ces registered in the State of Missouri and the State of Ohio.FLAAR-Latin AmericaFLAAR began several decades ago as a non-profi t research institutededicated to professional photography of art and architectural history.During the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s our art photography projectswere primarily in museums throughout Mexico, Belize, Honduras, ElSalvador, and Guatemala. When we received a quarter of a milliondollars in grants in 1996 to encourage our transition from traditional fi lmbaseddarkroom photography to scanning, digital storage, and digitalprinting we continued our long affi liation with the Popol Vuh Museum ofpre-Columbian Mayan antiquities in Guatemala.By 1998 the leading large format digital camera company, BetterLight,asked Nicholas Hellmuth to be beta-tester for its innovative tri-linearscanning camera system for museum photography. As a result, theworld’s fi rst digital circumferential rollout photography of ancient Mayanfunerary vases was initiated by FLAAR at the Popol Vuh Museum inGuatemala on the campus of the Francisco Marroquin University.As the FLAAR program in digital imaging continued to grow, theVice-Rector of the university asked FLAAR to set up a more formalprogram of advanced digital imaging on their campus. As an enticementthe university offered to provide a professional staff as well as amplespace in a brand new building.So today, although FLAAR is headquartered at Bowling Green StateUniversity in Ohio, we have an office at the Francisco MarroquinUniversity in Guatemala. The FLAAR offi ces and evaluation facilitythere fulfi ll multiple functions.First, most of the web sites of the FLAAR Information Network aredesigned and maintained at the Francisco Marroquin University.Although 80% of the FLAAR web sites are hosted in the USA or Canada,the graphic designers and web designers are in the FLAAR-LatinAmerica offi ce.Second, our help center for readers worldwide is maintainedat the Francisco Marroquin University. Readers from over42 countries depend on FLAAR for information on largeformat scanning, digital photography, and inkjet printing.Five staff members are trained to answer every singleemail that arrives.Third, the distribution of the 50 various FLAAR Reports
FLAAR REPORTSWho and What is FLAAR3Photo quality fromHP 1055HP 1055 ad HP 800psin evaluation lab.Epson 7500 printingwith Mac platfomNew computer labis handled at the university. The reports are written by Dr. NicholasHellmuth and other FLAAR editors at trade shows in the USA andGermany, but these reports are designed at the university in Guatemala.All the reports are sent to eager readers in the US and around theworld from there.Fourth, FLAAR evaluates scanners, laser printers and wide formatinkjet printers at the same facility. Epson USA sent a model 7500 printerthere; Hewlett-Packard sent a DesignJet 1055cm and a DesignJet800ps. Our aging Encad NovaJet Pro 36, provided by Encad six yearsago, is still with FLAAR, albeit somewhat overtaken by the higher dpiand faster printers from other companies. Heidelberg (Germany) hassent two scanners, and we are considering adding a ColorSpan printerto the evaluation facility here as well.Fifth, the staff here also makes visits to sign shops, repro shops, prepress companies and to other users of digital imaging equipment togather “actual-factual end-user” experiences to add to the FLAARReport series.Sixth, FLAAR staff receive training from pertinent companies at theirheadquarters so we can better understand the people as well as theproducts. Thus MacDermid ColorSpan provided a scholarship fortwo FLAAR personnel to receive intensive training on the ColorSpanprinters in Minneapolis. Hewlett-Packard has provided training at theirworldwide corporate headquarters of large format printing division inBarcelona, Spain. At present we are negotiating with other companiesto receive their training.Seventh, FLAAR is initiating training in digital input (scanning and digitalphotography). Whereas printing companies strive for optimal output,few brochures admit the reality: if you feed a large format printer a lousyimage as input, all you get is a large format reproduction of a bad scanor an inadequate digital photograph. Ironically the best place to seebad images is at trade shows, specifi cally in the booths of the leadingmanufacturers of large format inkjet printers.Hence FLAAR together with the Francisco Marroquin University isalready preparing courses on digital photography and high qualityscanning. The university is considering constructing ideal model studiosof digital input: a digital portrait studio (single-shot and CMOS studiocameras), a digital reprographic studio (digital copy stand systems),a digital photography studio (tri-linear scanning backs on large formatcameras), and a digital scanning studio (fl atbed scanners).We envision these studios side by side associated with a computerlab for students. This same computer lab can also serve as a teachingfacility via distance learning worldwide. As always, the physical locationin Latin America is immaterial. With the Internet our virtual studio and allFLAAR information is available 24 hours a day across the USA, acrossEurope, and around the world.
FLAAR REPORTSWho and What is FLAAR4Panorama on locationInstalling our RIPWeb designer gettingtrained at BGSUFLAAR’s directorNicholas Hellmuth atTechnova IndiaWhen fi nished, these studios will be broadcast over the Internet with aweb-cam system. This means that all the studio photography lightingtripods, tripod heads, cameras, scan backs, and the computers andmonitors which run this equipment will be seen in the 42 countriesworldwide where FLAAR Information Network is read.A community college wrote us recently asking what we recommendedthat they buy. We have noted that such institutions tend to buy whatthey see already in place at other universities. Hence the creation ofa model Macintosh computer facility will provide a long-range returnon investment in the growing arena of inkjet printing and advanceddigital photography.The digital studios and web-cam system will come on line overthe next two years, but already you can see the results of the fi rstsix activities of the FLAAR Latin American facility on our web site,www.ctpid.ufm.edu.gt.Although FLAAR has a facility in Latin America, we serve the USA,Canada, Europe, and the rest of the world from there. The staff ofFLAAR-Latin America rotates with the staff of FLAAR-USA so thatkey personnel get an opportunity to experience the projects on-goingat all the main offi ces.Furthermore, if your company is interested in reaching the Spanishspeakingworld, then the FLAAR web sites are a good choice. All ourweb designers and staff are native Spanish speakers and it would beeasy to broadcast specifi c portions of our hardware or software reviewsfor markets in Spanish-speaking portions of the USA, for Mexico,Central America, and/or South America as well as Spain itself.FLAAR-IndiaFLAAR licenses all its web site content and all 50 reports to TechNovaIndia for distribution in this part of the world. Dr. Hellmuth has visitedMumbai to research wide format inkjet printing usage customs inIndia.TechNova India is the leading source for inkjet media as well asmaterials for traditional offset and other kinds of printing.India is a rather large potential market, especially for such basics asscanners and the computers with monitors to run them.FLAAR-EuropeSince leading RIP software is developed in Germany, Belgium, France,or England, since the leading trade shows such as Photokina, CeBIT,and DRUPA are in Germany, and since the FLAAR director, Dr.Hellmuth, is of German descent, it is logical that FLAAR has a presencein Germany. Actually, the FLAAR director received his Ph.D. in art
FLAAR REPORTSWho and What is FLAAR5Andrea David FLAAR’spartner in Germanyhistory from Karl-Franzens-Universitaet in Graz, Austria, has residedtwo years in Zurich, Switzlerland, and his partner for the last sevenyears is a German lawyer, Andrea David.FLAAR does evaluations for BESTColor RIP software of Krefeld,Germany. We have also evaluated desktop flatbed scanners forHeidelberg.FLAAR owns the web domain names with dot.de (German) domainsfor large format inkjet printers, for laser printers, and for large formatdigital cameras. If your company wishes your products to reach marketsin Germany, Switzerland, or Austria, then the FLAAR InformationNetwork is a good choice. Currently these German language websites are only placeholders; they will expand as soon as we receiveappropriate sponsorship.New FLAAR’s buildingat Bowling Green StateUniversityColorSpan DisplayMaker XII arriving atBGSU campusPanoramic printsintended for an ExhibitFLAAR-USAFLAAR is a US corporation registered with theIRS as a non-profit research and educationalinstitution since the 1960’s. Originally incorporatedin the State of Rhode Island (while NicholasHellmuth was at Brown University receiving hisMA degree) the business offi ce is in St Louis(Dr. Hellmuth is still Research Associate atWashington University of St Louis) with itsprincipal offi ce on the campus of Bowling GreenState University of Ohio (BGSU).BGSU offers many advantages through the faculty of its College ofTechnology. Professor Charles Spontelli has his MA degree fromRochester Institute of Technology. His specialty is color management;thus he is an ideal partner for large format inkjet printing, particularlyfor RIP software and proofi ng.Joe Catalano is the head of the Center for Applied Technology. HisMBA is from the University of Chicago with additional MBA programsfrom Harvard’s prestigious Business School. FLAAR functions asthe Large Format Digital Imaging Division with Dr. Hellmuth as itsDirector, under the Center for Applied Technology. The departmentchairperson and Dean of Technology are both additional reasons forthe FLAAR presence at BGSU.BGSU provides space for the increasing number of large format inkjetprinters that continue to arrive. Currently RIP software and scanners arebeing evaluated by Professor Spontelli. A future program will evaluateinks and media, however, we do not intend to become entangled in theheadaches of ink longevity claims until acceptable testing standardshave been established.
FLAAR REPORTSWho and What is FLAAR6HP 5000 printing in differentmediasEquipment reviewed atthe evaluation center.Cruse scannerPreparing the filesbefore printning in theDisplayMaker XII.Color copiers and testing of toner for B+W copiers and laser printersare other endeavors that FLAAR-at-BGSU is expanding into asopportunities arise.Training is a major goal for FLAAR-at-BGSU. We recognize that whenpeople are trained on a particular platform, scanner, printer, or media,that this will tend to be the hardware, software and consumables thatthey will recommend when they return to their own companies.Although FLAAR itself is over 30 years old, we are a recent arrival onthe campus at BGSU. However as we expand our facilities here, onegoal is to develop a training lab with 20 to 30 computer workstations fortraining in digital imaging. The intended audience are not just BGSUstudents, but much more the target is via web-based training. Theaudience are personnel in museums, in-house graphics departments,pre press, photographers, artists interested in fi ne art giclee printing,sign shops needing to make the transition from vinyl cutting to wideformat inkjet, and screen printers who need to do their screen masterswith inkjet printers and/or who wish to supplant their screen printingequipment with inkjet printers.Since most of the campus equipment is primarily Windows-PCcomputers from Dell, that is one option for the new lab, especiallysince Dell is very interested in situating its new 2 GHz workstations inthe large format inkjet and digital photography marketplace. AlthoughFLAAR itself has previously been primarily a Mac-oriented facility, thefaster speed and lower prices of PCs are very tempting, especiallywhen the next generation of SCSI hard drives will be available later thisyear. Next season FLAAR will be adding evaluations of computer workstations and monitors. The results will be featured in the FLAAR reportson RIPs since you need powerful computers as a RIP print server. Ournext coverage area will be which computers can best handle input vialarge format digital cameras (such as PhaseOne, BetterLight, JOBO,etc) and prepress scanners such as the Cruse system, CreoScitexEverSmart, etc. The question is quite simple, can a PC or a Mac betterhandle the 400 MB images that these input devices produce?144,000 people a year come to FLAAR to inquire which make andmodel of large format printer, scanner, or professional digital camerato purchase. This implies that probably about 100,000 of these peoplewill also upgrade their computer systems to handle the requirementsof large format digital imaging. FLAAR routinely prints photos 36“wide by 14 feet long. With our ColorSpan printer, you can printyour photographs 72 inches wide by as many yards as you wishto. That requires lots of computer horsepower to image those largescanned or digital photographs. FLAAR’s assessments of computers,monitors, and associated digital imaging software will influence asubstantial and growing market. Inkjet printers in general and wideformat printers in particular are still a growing market despite themomentary economic stalling.
FLAAR REPORTSWho and What is FLAAR7Cruse scanner’stesting texturesLamination equipmentat BGSUMuseum Exhibit we presentedat an ArcheologicalSymposiumBGSU review editorsattending an informattivemeetingA further advantage of FLAAR-at-BGSU is its location within the US.Ohio is an industrial state serving the steel mills of nearby Indiana aswell as the automobile manufacturing plants of Detroit. FurthermoreOhio is the center of a billion-dollar printing industry. Detroit is less thantwo hours away from BGSU; Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus,and Toledo are all nearby. The students of Visual CommunicationsTechnology complete co-op jobs and may subsequently receiveemployment at these printing companies. This means that the upcominggeneration of decision-makers in the principal printing companies of thistri-state area will be trained on the specifi c scanners, digital cameras,wide format printers, software, and the computer platforms that FLAARselects. CreoScitex and other companies recognize the potential of thissituation and provide equipment for the FLAAR facilities at BGSU inorder to facilitate the students being exposed to the capabilities of theirbrand of digital imaging hardware and software.FLAAR-elsewhereWe anticipate licensing our web site content and reports to otherlanguage and cultural areas of the world.Trade magazines and other industry forums in the USA have approachedFLAAR to license our reports. If we receive an offer that is of interest wewould consider such an alliance as long as the independent nature ofour reviews and evaluations is protected. FLAAR is successful becausewe are not beholden to sponsors and we do not accept advertisements.Because we have no advertisers, then no advertiser can attempt topressure us to include their PR photos or their PR releases. When aproduct has capable features, we need to fi nd out about these favorableattributes ourselves in our own evaluation facilities as well as see theequipment providing a solution to actual sign shops, repro shops, quickprint shop, pre press company, photo lab, museum, fi ne art gicleestudio, or in-house graphics department.Over the coming years FLAAR reports will have increased impact onthe buying habits of corporations (in-house graphics departments),federal, state, city, and county governments, educational institutions,pre press, sign shops, quick-print shops, photographers/photo labs,and fi ne art giclee studios.Potential ExpansionOther universities and community colleges in the US have expressedinterest in a relationship with FLAAR. In Guatemala we already havea consortium of several universities, so a similar consortium in the USwould be of potential interest. After all, digital imaging encompassesa wide range of input (scanning, digital photography), preparation (theimaging aspect), the output (a wide range of technologies, all constantlychanging), and finishing (trimming, lamination, and preservationwhen necessary). Thus there is potential for an equally wide rangeof participating museums, community colleges, universities, as wellas industry associations.
FLAAR REPORTSWho and What is FLAAR8FLAAR’s senior editorDr. Hellmuth reviewingColorSpan’s qualityAnswering inquiriesfrom around the worldFLAAR will eventually forge an alliance with a museum or universityin Germany, Austria, or Switzerland since Europe is obviously a majormarket for digital imaging hardware and software. The fact that Dr.Hellmuth can lecture in German, Spanish and English assists thispattern of worldwide growth.SummaryFLAAR is dedicated to public education on large format digitalimaging. Evaluations, reviews, and publications are endeavors thatare appropriate at a university. BGSU is especially interested insetting the standards with which equipment can be judged on a fairand repeatable basis.Every item of hardware and software is pictured and described on aweb site within the FLAAR Information Network. Pertinent equipment isfeatured in one or more of the 50 volumes of FLAAR Reports on largeformat digital imaging. All together this makes FLAAR the equivalent ofthe “Consumer Reports” of digital imaging.An average of 144,000 people per year come to a single FLAARinformation web site to ask for recommendations on what to buy. Thismeans more people come to a FLAAR web site than come to mostcompany’s booth at a trade show. Besides, FLAAR is independent,we actually use the equipment or software we write about. In otherinstances our editors will contact other end-users to fi nd out how theirexperiences are with each item of hardware or software. Thus ourrecommendations are based entirely on how well equipment functionsfor a real end-user in actual daily workflow in their business. Inaddition we sift through information gathered at trade shows acrossthe USA and in Germany.But our largest source of information is actually from our own readers.We glean tidbits from the now over 7,000 emails who have come tous from sign shops, pre press bureaus, quick print shops, museums,other universities, in-house graphics departments and so on. Theseactual-factual end-user reports form the backbone of all FLAARreviews.As a result of the obvious care that FLAAR puts into researching itsreports, our users are wildly enthusiastic about the FLAAR system ofinformation and consulting. Besides, it is all free.Adobe Acrobat PDF software means that FLAAR can send a full-colorbrochure with comparative evaluations on any product to any individualend-user, company, university, or government agency across theUSA and around the world.FLAAR editors attendingPrint 01 Tradeshow