VIDEO DISPLAY CALIBRATION
What is the art of video calibration?
Do you enjoy listening to distorted music? The answer is obviously not! Would you believe that the majority of TVs/projectors that come out of the factory are tuned to project a distorted picture. Why?
Why don’t audio and video manufacturers calibrate their equipment at the factory?
There are three reasons; cost, location and marketing. First, it would be cost prohibitive for manufacturers to try to calibrate each piece of equipment on the assembly line (2-5 hours). Secondly, your home theatre components and video display need to be fine-tuned based on your viewing and listening environment and your preferences. And finally, nearly all video displays are set up at the factory with settings for “showroom” lighting conditions to make them “catch your eye” compared with all the other TVs on the floor. Since very few people have ever seen a properly calibrated TV in a showroom or home environment, they accept what TVs look like with their “out of the box” settings when they get it home.
What does video display “calibration” really mean?
Video calibration is the art of correcting your monitor, video projector, television to a known and measurable standard. The Australian television system is based on video standards for capturing, broadcasting and reproducing the images you see. Television cameras and post-production TV monitors in studios are very carefully calibrated to produce accurate and consistent colours based on these standards. Most consumer TVs have controls (some more advanced than others) that can be adjusted to adhere to these colour standards to produce more accurate and detailed images as the director intended. This will process will guarantee you are more precise, not overly-saturated and accurate picture. The picture will seem more natural and more real-world than what is currently being portrayed.
How long does it take to do an in-home calibration?
We offer three levels of calibration with various options for audio and video. Typically, it takes 1 to 2 hours for most basic calibrations and 5 or more hours for advanced or custom calibrations. Home theatre set-up and adjustment work can be done at any time of day. Most work is done on an hourly rate.
What time of day and lighting conditions are the best to calibrate and view my TV?
If your viewing room has effective light controls (drapes, blinds, curtains) or you have the ultimate ‘man/woman cave’ dedicated home theatre room, then your video display can be calibrated whenever it is most convenient for you. For a sunny living space without light control, the deciding factor is what time of day you typically watch TV or view movies. Day and night settings can be created, but all video displays will look their best when light can be controlled so that it does not cause reflections to appear on your TV’s screen.
Can any kind of TV be fine-tuned or calibrated, even an older analog direct view or rear projection TV?
Yes, all well-designed analog and digital video displays can be calibrated. In fact, many of the direct view CRT displays and most of the rear projection or older ‘big screen’ TVs can be made to look amazingly better by a professional calibration. The current crop of digital TVs all have good calibration controls that allow for fine adjustment.
Will I really benefit from having a professional calibration when various test DVDs/Blu-Rays are available?
While test discs are great for learning about audio and video calibration, there are several factors that make a professional calibration worthwhile. First and foremost is being able to use a reference quality video pattern generator to directly feed your TV with test signals. Many disc players do not output completely accurate signals and this can have a big impact on “do it yourself” calibrations. Secondly, it is nearly impossible for someone to accurately measure, interpret and adjust the colour temperature and gamma of a video display without the proper test equipment, knowledge, training and experience. Colour gamut measurement and adjusting of colour primaries and secondaries via colour management systems found in some advanced displays require even more sophisticated colour analysis equipment and software. Finally, it’s a time consuming, highly technical and iterative process that most people find more interesting to watch than do themselves.
Does my TV and home theatre really need to have 50 to 100 hours of “run time” or “break-in period” before it is calibrated?
Yes! It’s a good idea for two reasons. First, consumer electronics are most prone to premature failure in the first 100 hours of operation. After that, they are usually very reliable and will last a long time if you keep them clean, well ventilated and use a good power conditioner to protect them from lightning strikes and power surges. Secondly, most equipment does go through a “break-in” period where the various electronic components “drift” initially and then finally settle into their long-term operating state. “Run time” affects colour temperature and black level in video displays and the sound quality in speakers and surround sound receivers. Calibrating a home theatre system or a video display after it has had time to break-in also ensures that your calibration will last longer.
How long will a calibration last and will my home theatre and/or TV ever need to be re-calibrated again?
It depends on how much you use your system and what type of video display you own. Most video displays ought to be checked every year or two to see if the colour temperature and other adjustments are still accurate. Lamp-based video displays such as front and rear projectors should be checked once a year and usually require re-calibration when a new lamp is installed to maintain peak light output and performance.
How do we calibrate?
Depending on the level of complexity of the procedure, we use a variety of tools ranging from calibration discs through to software enabled procedures running on a laptop linked to various pieces of hardware. We use SpectraCal's Calman video calibration software linked to Murideo pattern generator X-Rite/SpectraCal C6 colorimeter.
Support Technology provides 3 levels of calibration.
Includes basic calibration
Overall light output
Scan resolution and sharpness
Colour and tint
Includes all of level 1 plus
Colour management system settings
Include levels one and two, plus
Calibrating ancillary video equipment attached to the primary display
Support Technology is ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) certified. We are the only Level III certified calibrators in Australia. What this means is that we have the skill sets to fine-tune the latest generation of television sets, projectors, monitors and various video wall technologies that are starting to appear in the marketplace.