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Press time is the most expensive part of print media. The main objective of proofing is to produce either a soft or hard copy of what the final product will look like on press. Hard-copy proofing usually involves ink-jet printing or other technologies (i.e. Laminate Proof) to produce high-quality one-off copies of the production artwork. Soft proofing usually involves highly color accurate wide-gamut computer displays.
"The printed proof is a dispassionate simulation of the ultimate output - a CMYK press sheet. The mission of a proofing system is to create accurate predictions, not pretty pictures. In the best conditions the proofing process will actually try to emulate the effects of the printing press through color management and screening techniques, which can be quite challenging because proofing devices may behave and operate quite differently from press devices.