I remember my stepfather telling me about National Geographic magazine moving the pyramids closer together for a picture. 'They used a Scitex machine,' he said, in a way that indicated this was a significant achievement, although I couldn't tell from his tone of voice if it was for the better or the worse. I also had no idea what a Scitex machine was. It has been 17 years now since National Geographic committed that famous faux pas. Back then, when the Scitex system was used to perform this Photoshop-like feat, it was such an esoteric piece of equipment that people called it a Scitex machine. Now this sort of manipulation is something almost anyone can understand and many can do at home. Scitex, an Israeli company which makes pre-press equipment, scanners included, fell on much harder times recently. A disastrous dalliance with digital video equipment manufacturing finally ended last year when the company sold that division. Last year saw a steady increase in profits for the company. Erez Meltzer, corporate vice-president of global operations for Scitex, recently visited Hong Kong with other Israeli business leaders. Scitex recently made much of its mainland expansion and Mr Meltzer was extremely optimistic about Scitex's future in the region. The company opened its first office in Beijing. 'We have been in China since 1994,' Mr Meltzer said. But like many other companies, Scitex has found Shanghai to be an equally, if not more, attractive market and has opened an office there. As Mr Meltzer puts it: 'The graphic arts industry is booming in Shanghai.' Alon Lumbroso, managing director of Scitex Asia, emphasised the importance of the mainland within the Asia-Pacific market. 'We are selling now in China more than in every other country in Asia,' Mr Lumbroso said. As many other pre-press suppliers are finding, the mainland industry is not quite as modern as elsewhere. 'The market is about 10 years behind the rest of the world,' Mr Lumbroso said. While the world is moving to less-expensive, flatbed scanners, the notion that flatbeds can provide high-quality images has not yet caught on the mainland. Despite this, Mr Lumbroso was confident China would soon catch up. 'It will be in China in five years from now,' he said. Although things are looking up for the pre-press equipment manufacturer, the playing field is not quite as level as it was. The merger of Scitex rivals Linotype Hell with Heidelberg has created a pre-press giant with a vast array of products and deep pockets. 'We view it as a challenge and an opportunity, not a threat,' Mr Meltzer said. Interestingly, in a city where many press operators complain that the SAR's lack of space hinders the adoption of digital pre-press workflows, Mr Meltzer felt Hong Kong - along with Singapore - would be excellent markets for the company's new product, Vio. Vio is a service recently launched as a joint venture with British Telecommunications which allows printers and clients to exchange information on jobs digitally over a high-speed, private network. 'Here companies are trying to work with overseas clients and for that they need a communications solution,' Mr Lumbroso said. Mr Meltzer feels the SAR printing industry's ties with both overseas clients and mainland-based printing plants could make Vio an attractive product. As Mr Meltzer put it: 'It's a very powerful tool.'