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Professional Calibration?


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#1 of 59 Modena

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Posted November 25 2002 - 08:06 AM

I keep reading about new televisions that come out, and almost all say that after they have been professionally calibrated that the picture is much, much better. What exactly is involved in this process and why can't "regular" people do this? I think that if I knew what to do, I could do it, but I just don't know what is involved and if there are special tools needed.

#2 of 59 Gregg Loewen

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Posted November 25 2002 - 11:49 PM

you can do most of a calibration yourself. Grayscale work requires a color analyzer and most likely a high def signal generator. BTW, I didnt think I was really that competant until after I had done about 30 calibrations (there is a huge learning curve - and now after Ive done 250 calibrations I think I am still on the curve).

Best of luck, if you have specific questions feel free to ask them.

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#3 of 59 Michael TLV

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Posted November 26 2002 - 02:39 AM

Greetings

Aside from the equipment, the rest of calibration work is not that different or difficult compared to you doing an oil change on your car.

In that vein, we can all do our own oil changes and it isn't that difficult, but you know what, time is more valuable to some people than what it costs to do the work. I'd much rather pay a good shop $40 to do it right and I am done in 15 minutes.

I do it myself and it takes me 1 to 2 hours and I get all grungy ... and filthy.

If you are a DIY'er, you can do most of it if you research it. Not that hard. All it costs is your time.

People that hire professional calibrators value their time more than the cost of calibration. Add to that the fear factor. Risk aversion. Don't want to do it wrong, because gawd knows there are plenty of stories out there of people diving in head first without any forethought and thoroughly wrecking their tvs ...

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#4 of 59 Bob McElfresh

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Posted November 26 2002 - 03:25 AM

Most people dont know how to set the brightness/contrast/tint controls on their existing tube TV's. It takes a setup DVD about 30 minutes to 'teach' you how to do this.

Now take a HDTV that has somewhere upwards of 50 different things to tweek. Things like multi-point convergence, Scan Velocity Modulation, color balance, etc. Often, changing one adjustment can have a dramatic effect on the other. You need to understand the concepts behind many of the settings to know how to do them in the proper order.

And many of these settings are "hidden" from the owner behind codes that only service people are given to keep people from messing up their TV's.

Then add the complexity that the better displays have independent sets of adjustments for each input.


My Advice: go out and pick up a copy of the AVIA setup DVD. It has a tutorial on the basic TV controls and includes test-patterns & colored filters to help you set these. Just make sure to WRITE DOWN the existing numbers before you fiddle to let you return the settings to their previous value.

Then if you want to learn more, contact the ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) to see if they can recommend books/classes for the more advanced concepts.

Hope this helps.

#5 of 59 MichaelFusick

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Posted November 26 2002 - 03:28 AM

My .02$,

I have been roaming these types of forums for some time now.

I have actively tried to increase my overall RPTV knowledge along the way, and thoroughly tweaked many RPTV's along the way as well.

I know am just begining to learn that there is alot more to learn, and that the quest may never end.

The experience that MichaelTLV or Gregg brings with them and the knowledge they have accumulated is not somthing that can be duplicated or had easily.

Even with the willingness to devote 10+ hours a week for more than a few months...you would never come close.

Assuming you have a job that pays minum wage, paying for a calibration as opposed to doing it yourself is a great idea with better end results.

Only time I would reccomend doing it yourself is if you don't mind the time and the effort it takes to learn and do. As in my case, I just happen to love it...so it works out great.

Most people don't share my same level of willingness and effort to do it right though...


#6 of 59 Modena

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Posted November 26 2002 - 03:46 AM

Thanks for the input. The only reason I have had some confusion with calibration is that I get frustrated that I might go buy a $3000 television set, $300 stand, DVD player, cables, etc. and then on top of that I have to pay someone $300 bucks just to get everything to look good. I don't make a lot of money, and doing things myself like building and tweaking computers is a lot more gratifying and smart then buying from a high end company who charges too much, like Voodoo. So I think I will just by the AVIA dvd and see how things work, although why manufactuers don't address this problem originally still frustrates me.

#7 of 59 Michael TLV

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Posted November 26 2002 - 04:02 AM

Greetings

If they did, your TV would cost a lot more than it does now.

Much of this must be done in your home after the TV has settled down. Not something that can be done on the assembly line.

Given the amount of work it takes to calibrate most sets, which is 4 to 6 hours ... the manufacturer would have to send a tech to your home and build in 6 hours of added tech wages ... say $75/hr and we are back at a $450 hit on top of the TV's price.

Quite frankly, this is a price that 99.9% of consumers would rather not have to pay for their TV. The TV as it is OOTB is ... "good enough" in their eyes.

So why make 99.9% of the people pay for something that only 0.1% care about?

Answer is ... they don't. Thus the need for outside help.

The role of the calibrator is really not that much different than that of the shop that hot rods a car. You buy your car from the lot ... it is stock ... want max performance ... see the after market guys ...

Regards
Michael @ The Laser Video Experience
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Lion A/V Consultants Network - TLVEXP.com


#8 of 59 MichaelFusick

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Posted November 26 2002 - 04:05 AM

Yes, You are correct.

My guess,
A $1599 panny and about $400 to MichealTLV or Gregg and it would look better than a $2500-$3500 stock: Sony/Tosh/Mits/JVC/Hits/RCA...ect...

Sharper DVD picture.
better focus and geometry
No red push assuming they brought thier wire cutters
No glare or glare screen.

Much better colors and D6500K too...

Who knows they might even lenstripe it for you...


#9 of 59 Modena

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Posted November 26 2002 - 04:31 AM

Last question, does calibration void the stock warranty in any way?

#10 of 59 MichaelFusick

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Posted November 26 2002 - 04:44 AM

Not really.

Unless your stupid enough to tell on yourself you'll be ok.


#11 of 59 jeff lam

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Posted November 26 2002 - 04:46 AM

Thing about doing it yourself in the instruments used. I would love to do it myself and learn while doing it but I don't have the thousands of dollars to spend on the tools needed. How much are those color analyzers and high def signal generators anyway. I was hearing in the neighborhood of $3-5K for each. Is this right Michael/Gregg?

#12 of 59 Michael TLV

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Posted November 26 2002 - 05:02 AM

Greetings

Calibration is not very invasive on the television. You can pretty much undo all that you do ... although why would you?

Short of one gluing things into the TV ... the TV's are never physically modified to operate outside of their spec.

Kind of like the car dealer trying to cancel your warranty because you used the jiffy lube instead of the shop's. They have to prove that you and your actions caused the problem.

In the end, you will win and warranty work will prevail ... but do you need months of aggravation bickering with the manufacturer?

So keep quiet ... don't mention it ... and save yourself the headache.

Equipment costs for analyzers is from $1500 to $25000 or more.

Signal generators cost $1000 to $2000.

Regards
Michael @ The Laser Video Experience
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#13 of 59 Matt_Bradley

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Posted November 26 2002 - 05:49 AM

Do all HDTVs require calibration (both CRT and RP)? Are LCDs an exception? How about projectors, is there any type of calibration needed on those as well?

#14 of 59 Bryce Miner

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Posted November 26 2002 - 06:51 AM

Yes, all display devices need calibration to get the maximum performance for your room environment.

#15 of 59 MichaelFusick

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Posted November 27 2002 - 02:33 AM

Plasma, CRT, RPTV, DLP, LCD, they all benifit from a proper greyscale- since colors are much, much better

RPTV's benifit most from other tweaks...


#16 of 59 Brendan M.

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Posted November 27 2002 - 05:54 AM

I can relate to the poster's frustration. I recently spent around $1000 on a nice 32" flatscreen (price includes service, delivery, cables, etc...) and I was much dismayed when I discovered that the set didn't look all that great because it was overly bright with heavy color saturation. Being a DIY type of guy, I bought an AVIA disc and found my way into the service menu and tweaked everything that I could, but discovered that the main thing I needed to have done (gray scale calibration) is out of my reach without some expensive equipment to do it properly.

I was truly angry to find out that I spent so much money on a set, then to discover that in order to make it really look and perform the way it should it would require me to spend another $300 bucks to get it 'calibrated' That's crap. People who buy tv's over the $600-700 range are the ones who expect the best quality picture. Therefore, those tv's should come with some type of 'calibration service plan' built in that includes having a tech come out and do the basic grayscale and color adjustments. Sure it would add to the costs of the high-end sets, but at least the people buying those sets would know that they are getting what they paid for.

So now I'm stuck playing around in the service menu myself, with a less than ideal picture, and yes, I'm kinda bitter about it.Posted Image

#17 of 59 Modena

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Posted November 27 2002 - 06:11 AM

I asked a question about professional calibration and got some other answers from before that were extremely helpful, and also made me think a little more. A couple of follow ups:

1. Let's assume that there is a vast difference in picture quality from "stock" to calibrated. Now let's take the professional calibrator and ask them the margin of difference of settings between each television set for a particular model. Now let's assume that this margin of difference is 15%. Why the hell wouldn't the manufacturer say, "Ok, these televisions seem to run best at these settings over what we are sending out. This is what we observe from our analysis of calibrators, so we'll set at (blank) so they leave the factory in peak condition favorable for most environments." I realize it may cost more, but wouldn't that pay off if overall that model and brand were "vastly" improved in picture quality over their competitors who were not optimized at the factory? And if this was realized by the competitors, wouldn't this become a more common place routine that would benefit the consumer? It's like when navigation first came out on cars, only a few had it and it was expensive as shit, now it's standard on some models.

2. A comment was made about how they compared calibration to buying an automobile from the factory so it appeals to all, and if they want a faster one, they can go to the aftermarket. The problem is that manufactuers realized this and have adapted tremendously to that particular trend. When you go and buy almost any type of automobile, they provide you with different options of performance, i.e. V-6 Mustang, GT Mustang, Boss Mustang, 390HP Cobra Mustang. The comparision that should be made here is this: When you purchase a television set in the upper echelon to automobiles in the upper echelon, the "upgrade it yourself" motto is dropped. You don't go buy a 360 Modena and say, "Well if I want to race it I need to upgrade it myself." No. You originally go to Ferrari and buy the 360 Challenge, and then the 360GT if need be. And why all this? Cause nobody knows Ferrari's better than Ferrari. Why Mistubishi, Hitachi, Sony, etc. don't know their equiptment better than a single person with some equiptment makes no sense. They drop millions into research and development, why not drop a little more so get things right?

It just doesn't make any sense to me from a buisness standpoint. But in the end, I guess I'm going to have to get my 36"XBR done so there is no use complaining.

#18 of 59 Brendan M.

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Posted November 27 2002 - 06:27 AM

It is my understanding that the reason why the televisions are not set to their 'optimum settings' when they are sold is twofold:

1) A properly calibrated set tends to look darker than one fresh out of the box. Manufacturers want their sets to attract people's attention in the store and say 'wow, that looks great'. Most people are attracted to brightness and when comparing two sets will say that the brighter one is nicer (I fell for this myself). Most sets are displayed in warehouse-type department stores under ultra-bright florescent lighting, and so in order to make their sets look good, the manufacturers will pump up the brightness and color temperature and generally do everything they can to make their set attract more attention than the other brands. Unfortunately, the settings that make the tv look good in the store are not the settings that make it look good in your home.

2) Every set is different. Even among sets made by the same manufacturer, the settings required for optimum display are sometimes separated by a surprising margin. Also, calibrating a set properly takes into account the setting that the tv is in. Each viewing room is different, with different levels of light and viewing distances, so in order to get a set properly calibrated it requires looking at it while it is in the proper viewing area.

which is why I still say that a 'calibration service plan' should be included with high end sets. Have a tech come out and make the basic adjustments after a month or two as part of the cost for the set.

#19 of 59 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted November 27 2002 - 08:08 AM

Hi, I'm also in the market for a new TV although my budget is in the <$2K range.

Anyway, I've been noticing a trend in TVs over the last decade or so. Seems to me that manufacturers are sort of addressing this issue by very gradually building more and more user level adjustments into their TVs to allow more optimal picture quality even though they still fall far short of professionally calibrated quality.

In the old days, most makers didn't offer user adjustments like color temperature, or SVM toggle, or various other settings that essentially reduce the "showroom display effects". When I bought my 32" Toshiba back in '97, I don't recall seeing any other makers offering color temperature settings on affordably priced TVs, except maybe Sony. Heck! The recent RP Panny's are even offering color matrix adjustment at the user level now!

Granted, these user level adjustments (and even the hidden service level adjustments) don't come close to optimal quality, but they are there and seem to be growing and improving a little year after year. And maybe, for the average targeted consumer, such user adjustments are good enough.

Yeah, I do agree though that they should build the cost of ISF calibration into the high end sets. I would be upset too if my $3K TV doesn't look as good as a well calibrated $2K set...

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#20 of 59 Michael TLV

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Posted November 27 2002 - 09:49 AM

Greetings

The difference from "stock" to calibrated depends heavily on:

- the person on the assembly line putting the set together,
- the mode of transport,
- the weather,
- the care of the product at the company warehouse,
- the guys putting it on the truck to ship to your home,
- the condition of the roadway to your home,
- the type of truck they drive,
- the guys bringing it into the house
- where you want it to go in the house ...up/down/all around ...

It all factors in to create a vast range of what "Stock" means. It could very well mean you could have a TV operating at 50% or 90%.

A calibration package would still be able to take any of these sets to their full potential in the same amount of time. Problem is how to market such a package ... because even at the higher price points, most people still don't care about what calibration will get them. Often the mentality is simply that they can spend their way into a superior image by paying more money on hardware. The value of calibration is still seen as being worth "$0." It's not a "thing" ... a material good you can buy ... it is a "service."

It is no surprise that even a "lowly" Panasonic 47" 16:9 RPTV when fully tweaked out, will continually outperform any RPTV on the market OOTB no matter the cost ... be it $4k ... $5K.

As with cars ... even if you buy that special car ... you can still take it to a specialist to make it perform even better. There are these ultra specialists all over the world where people of "influence" send their cars to.

(These people live in a world that most of us could not even begin to imagine ...)

Regards
Michael @ The Laser Video Experience
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