Tue, Nov

Building bridges

Sabine K McNeill is a German computer scientist who used to diagnose software at CERN - the European Centre for Nuclear Research - in Geneva. In 1981 she came to London and is now forging strategic partnerships to develop her innovative software methods for re-visualising images. Here’s what she has to say about the concept she’s exploring. Could it dovetail with your offering?

“There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” That’s what Leonard Cohen sang. The crack between electronic red, green and blue (RGB) and printed cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) is the way that numbers are treated in mathematics. There is a fundamental difference between producing numbers for these two kinds of colour sets: one is based on the chemistry between colour pigments and materials; the other on the physics of light in the materials of electronic displays such as computers, TV and phones. So far, there are no conversion algorithms between the two systems. But there are possibilities for building bridges between the two - and that’s what I’m working on - ‘Digital Colour Brightness’ (see notes:1) in ‘TrueColour 3D’ (2)

My ‘experiment’ consists of using prototype software that embodies my own mathematical concepts and testing it with meaningful data - ‘meaningful’ being to prove the usefulness of my concepts.

Let’s start with mathematics - which is more than theory. It attempts to ‘model’ physical realities. But Einstein said: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
Metrology - the science of measuring - always caters for uncertainties and probabilities. In contrast, our Smart Knowledge Engine (4) delivers pixel accuracy (5)

By way of screenshots, this article demonstrates that, and how the numbers that representPantone colours along CMYK can be translated into the numbers that show RGB in electronics, while the Wikipedia entry on the CMYK colour model (6) claims that there is no simple or general conversion formula. My question is: would you want to use our software to help characterise, standardise and translate (7) the colour gamut (8) or spectrum (9)?

The answers could be collated into new ‘digi-tone landscapes’ that combine ‘paper Pantones’ with other colour charts (10). There is already a list of reference tools (11) compiled by the International Colour Consortium (12).

We developed Digital Colour Brightness (13) in True Colour 3D (14) as a new way of visualising the numerical representations of digital images. This means we can compare colours visually and we see the ‘numerical inversion’ of white becoming black and black becoming white.

The numerical comparisons are useful for experts first and the operators supervising automated processes later.

By visualising the numerical representation of digital images we have produced a new kind of digital yardstick for colours, and also for what they represent.

As a large-format printers perhaps you want to think about how this invention could become useful to you. I was particularly attracted to the possibility of exhibition spaces with large displays.


  • outside - large displays show videos (18) of moving objects in True Colour 3D
    • Logos of the exhibitors
    • Profiles of speaker photos
    • Colour matrices of RGB and CMYK
  • inside - visitors pass through ‘colour portals’
    • They are immersed by light in particular colours and they choose their ‘comfort factor’
    • They take away ‘memorable output’ either as 2D or 3D printout or both;
    • Statistics about preferred colours add input to the ‘colour of the year’ (19)

Here are the colours of the years 2000 - 2014 taken from the Wikipedia page - re-visualised ‘normally’ and ‘numerically inverted’:

You will come up with your own ideas for making use of the newly found aspects of turning images into True Colour 3D, with Pixel Accuracy and Digital Colour Brightness as a bridge between electronic RGB and paper based CMYK.

Meanwhile, you are invited to visit our Smart Knowledge Engine (20) as work in progress. You can also visit Smart Knowledge Space (21) as the description with galleries of screenshots. Or else email me on sabine.mcneill@3d-metrics.com

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