Prior to Xinet®, Athleta did not have a digital asset management (DAM) system. Files might be sent between Athleta’s creative group and a third party prepress house multiple times for any single project. Once a catalog was completed, the files were then archived on DVDs and returned to Athleta for storage. The company saw that this was inefficient and that it would be far more cost effective to bring their prepress operations in-house. Additionally, Athleta determined that by bringing prepress in-house, they would be able to achieve large cost savings, more flexibility with the production schedule, and retain more control over the entire process.
When Athleta began to look at installing a DAM system, they needed to ensure that whatever system they selected would work with the company’s unique workflow from start to finish. Within their workflow, effective color management is an important component of Athleta’s catalog production. Xinet proved to be the right fit and Athleta installed the WebNative product in September 2008.
The prepress department at Athleta was the first to benefit from the WebNative system. The team quickly found they were able to search for and locate images much more efficiently. The system was then rolled out to Athleta’s creative team, which sends Adobe InDesign files and layouts to the prepress department, as well as the web team who also works with the images after the catalog is complete.
“Xinet is a big help for us in the prepress department because we are now able to find the images we need very quickly. Our file search is fantastic; I love having the ability to copy and paste a file name into my browser without having to search through a lot of files like I would have if I were just looking through the file system,” said Bret Linford, prepress manager at Athleta.
Within an Athleta catalog there are typically two types of photos – “lifestyle” shots of models wearing the clothes and accessories, and “laydown” shots, which are two-dimensional photos of the products. The laydown photos are shot locally so they can be quickly uploaded to the server almost as soon as they come off the photographer’s camera. With the lifestyle shots, which are done on location, the photographer’s assistant uses Xinet Uploader to put the images on the server from anywhere in the world. Previously, Athleta would have waited weeks to see final images.
The prepress and creative teams now have more time to work on these images for the catalog, whether it’s color correction or layout preparation. Being able to drag and drop FPOs into the InDesign layout for the designers to work on while still having them linked to the high-resolution images has also been a huge benefit for the company. “Our first photo session after installing the Xinet system went really well. We were able to go into WebNative Venture and build the way we want to put metadata into it. For example, when we were done with a particular image we could just tag it with an approved tag. It was really helpful. We haven’t used Xinet’s system to its full potential yet, but we have seen cost and time savings immediately,” said Linford.