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Why use iccMAX profiles?

ICC recommends profiles made according to the v4 specification for most workflows, as it supports consistent results in today's open and cross-platform color management systems.

To achieve this consistency, it was necessary to define a fixed Profile Connection Space, so that the data to which a profile is assigned is always interpreted in the same way. The PCS was chosen to be based on the CIE 1931 Observer and D50 illuminant. Data that has a different colorimetric interpretation - i.e. different illuminants and observers - must be transformed into the ICC PCS by chromatic adaptation.

In the 20+ years since the first ICC specification, many new needs have emerged that cannot be addressed by a fixed colorimetric PCS. ICC has addressed these by introducing a powerful and highly flexible extension to v4, known as iccMAX. As well as flexibility in the connection space, iccMAX incorporates many new data types (including high-precision integer and floating point), the ability to actually program the conversion within the profile, and many other new features.

Benefits that users will see with iccMAX include:

  • The ability to use spectral data
  • The ability to use different illuminants and observers without the need for chromatic adaptation
  • The ability to encode complex transforms, including functional transforms, in the profile
  • Better handling of spot colours
  • Compatibility with v4 profiles
  • More support for total colour appearance, including texture and gloss
  • Better applicability to a wide range of industries, including medical imaging, motion picture, fine art, package printing and photography

An example that illustrates the limitations of v4 and the extended functionality of iccMAX is a modern package design. Incorporating many different inks, including metallics and fluorescent, together with fine surface texture and gloss varnish or laminate, the preview in a v4 system is limited to a single viewing condition of light source and viewing angle, and cannot predict how the non-process colours will overprint. Using iccMAX, it is now possible to fully predict the final appearance of the package under different light sources and viewing angles, making it possible for a developer to build a realistic 3D previewing system.

  • iccMAX provides value to end users by providing a framework to process images in a way that was not possible with ICC v4, and hence to use a range of well-established tools instead of having custom tools developed from scratch. Example profiles that address many current real-world problems, and tools to create and use the new profiles, are freely available in the iccMAX reference implementation, and vendors will build on these to provide turn-key solutions for a wide range of needs.

  • iccMAX provides value to developers by giving them a comprehensive suite of code, examples and tools in the reference implementation, which makes it possible to solve real-world problem in a highly efficient way. The reference code, and applications and profiles generated through its use, are free to distribute under open source license.