thelab (www.thelabnyc.com), a creative advertising and production partner headquartered in Brooklyn, NY with offices in Los Angeles, CA and Orlando, FL, is a hard-working and full-service partner, delivering quality service and solutions for clients and agency partners. The agency solves creative problems as a multi-disciplinary collective with strong production capabilities as its backbone. Their designers, editors, writers, artists, technologists, strategists, and dreamers collaborate to make cool stuff. thelab has direct relationships with retail clients and agencies. They do everything, from print and online (including websites and e-commerce), to national advertising, ecommerce to in-store collateral/POS materials—including an inhouse photo studio.
The company is a very long-time DALIM TWIST production workflow user, but also a seven-year user of DALIM ES, to help with collaboration and the review cycles.
Along the way, since 2004 their reseller, IO Integration, has been instrumental in the implementation of DALIM solutions. “They have been our integrator since we installed DALIM TWIST back in 2004. IO Integration always responds quickly. We have had a long relationship with them, and we really consider them a partner, not just a vendor,” says Steve Ting.
It’s really enlightening to see how DALIM ES and DALIM TWIST continue to deliver to the efficient operation of thelab.
DALIM TWIST workflows morph with more production demands
thelab uses DALIM TWIST for all of their print production work—any pages needed for final print ready output, as well as many other forms of final output. One of the primary purposes of DALIM TWIST is to preflight files, from both outside agencies as well as the inhouse creative department, and make sure everything is technically correct for output—for example, color profiles and resolution. DALIM TWIST produces everything for thelab—for output to the press as well as lo-res files for client approvals.
“When files arrive we do the initial preflighting in the file creation tool. We still rely on DALIM TWIST to preflight at the end of the process, to make sure that the files are print ready. Many times the more technical details get missed, like the exact color profile or the resolution of images in the layout,” notes David Tschida, thelab studio manager. “If something turns red or purple in the layout from preflighting, we know we missed it.
“When we need to send proofs, sometimes we need them scaled a certain amount, and the client wants to see the amount of scaling marked on the proof,” adds Tschida. “DALIM TWIST automates the scaling of proofing files and produces slugs on the bottom to show the scaled percentage.
thelab also needed a platform to output JPG files along with the required PDF files—for client approval or online use. Sometimes DALIM TWIST outputs different crops of PDF files. “Some clients don’t like to see the slug or trim boxes. It confuses them,” explains Tschida.
We have two clients for whom we use many aspects of DALIM TWIST to service them,” explains Tschida. “They require many different things for every one of their projects. For one client, we do a lot of POS work. They need many different scaled proofs and have lots of requirements about the information in the slugs and what they see. They also require many different types of output, like PDFs and different cropped jpgs. I am not sure we would be able to do all of their work and meet their deadlines without DALIM TWIST.”
DALIM TWIST now does a lot more things for thelab beyond getting files ready for output. for example, it helps their photo studio. Sometimes studio operators have asked for automated help to do tasks that would save time. thelab has also added branches or new workflows to create other things.
I like the convenience of DALIM TWIST. We can drop files into it, forget about it, and it does everything without needing to babysit the jobs—and it always works very consistently. You always know what you are going to get. We can drop it and forget it,” comments Tschida. “It’s also easy to create and edit workflows. I am a big fan of the graphic interface of the workflow editor. It’s an intuitive way to build a DALIMTWIST workflow. It visually shows the workflows the same way that I imagine them.
“DALIM TWIST made our department more efficient,” reports Tschida. “We can handle a much greater volume of work with the confidence that the quality will be there. It takes away redundant tasks.”
Using DALIM ES to deliver online proofs and provide collaborative review cycles
While thelab had been using DALIM TWIST for years, they did not have an automated approvalsystem, which caused problems at times. thelab was typically sending manual email messages with attached PDF files for approvals—or anything possible to get approval from a client.
It made sense for them to look at its sister product, DALIM ES.
Of course, we knew about DALIM SOFTWARE, including the flexibility and how their solutions worked,” recalls Steven Ting, director of IT at thelab. “We knew they create tools for different tasks.”
thelab has been using DALIM ES to automatically deliver email notifications for reviews and approvals. “With automation, DALIM ES has helped us with its hands-off approach,” states Ting. “There is not as much chasing down approvals, and notifications are automatic. Using DALIM TWIST to produce consistent PDF’s and DALIM ES for approval, we can fulfill production requests and approvals in a matter of minutes as opposed to hours—or even days.”
For example, thelab has built a number of workflows representing different regions for its largest client. The jobs have different filenames that direct the workflows to different regions—and different review cycles. DALIM TWIST has already been used for production. Now they can approve the content, through DALIM ES, as well.
“The primary reason we secured one of our new clients was that we had an approval system like DALIM ES. They picked us because we sold them on our online approval automation system,” reveals Ting.
I like the flexibility of the back end of DALIM ES. Whatever you think of doing, the tools are there,” expresses Ting. “We’re not locked into any one thing. A good integrator is essential to using the right tools to build a workflow. If it is not working the way you want, you can see it and try something else.
“Besides the approval process, we were also interested in the DAM aspect of DALIM ES,” mentions Ting. “Approved files are kept, and thelab does hold historical files in DALIM ES that clients can access, if desired.”
A seamless transfer during the pandemic
With DALIM ES, the best news is that there has been no change in how things have been done during the pandemic. “We were running the whole time,” says Ting. “It’s been seamless. People just upload files at home.”
DALIM TWIST has always been smooth, and it’s been a seamless transition for working at home because it is browser based. We did not have to scramble to find a solution,” adds Tschida.
While thelab has no specific future plans for DALIM ES and DALIM TWIST, they are still aware of their capabilities. “For any specific requirement a customer might have, they are always in our back pocket. DALIM ES is powerful and flexible. It can do as little or as much as you want. All you need is a good grasp of the capabilities,” affirm both Steve and Dave. “DALIM TWIST and DALIM ES are powerful automation tools not really constrained by anything but your own ideas. It can even do things for you that would not strictly be considered as production tasks. It does everything.”