ISF Technicians and Calibrations

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Randy Tomlinson, Jul 31, 2001.

  1. Randy Tomlinson

    Randy Tomlinson Auditioning

    Jul 29, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Somehow I stumbled across the thread (from last spring) about the "incompetent" ISF tech that was "outdone" by Michael. There were some interesting comments and viewpoints in that thread.
    As an ISF technician, I just wanted to comment on the attitude I sometimes saw which basically said "anybody can do the standard ISF stuff except for color temp." Well, that's the whole key. Setting color temp requires some very expensive equipment that most people would find beyond their budget for home use. A few years ago, the Phillips color analyzer cost $10,000. The Photoresearch still costs over $10,000. Sencore sells theirs for about $3000 but you'll have to buy a laptop to use it. Some of these are not accurate from day one and others (like the Phillips) need regular recalibration. (I happen to know someone with a Photoresearch so I'm able to keep mine calibrated with that.) Add the cost of ISF training and travel/lodging to get it and you end up with quite a high price tag that will take a long time to recoup.
    When TV's were simple, the standard ISF fee was probably about right considering the cost outlay of doing it, but with HD, TV's have become MUCH more complex and (to make matters worse) change every 12 months or less. Often the tech will spend hours on a job figuring out what this or that manufacturer did in this model (which will change in a few months). Sometimes there are obstacles that the tech can't overcome due to lack of available information. I ran into this on a Panasonic TAU set and one of Panasonic's top technical people couldn't get the answer for me. Even if SOMEONE has the answers, you'll often end up making repeat trips (at no additional cost) for problem sets to try them. Believe me, it's often hard to make any money at this. (fortuntely, it's not my primary job)
    I've pretty much decided to specialize in 2 or 3 sets so I can attempt to know "all there is to know" about them. In this way, I can do quickly do the tweeks that really matter without charging extra. If you're doing your own, of course, you're "specializing" in that set and can spend unlimited time learning about it, but do-it-yourselfers that make a mess (SO easy to do) then scream "WARRANTY" are the reason manufacturers are making it difficult or impossible for ANYONE to get the necessary plus desirable information to fully calibrate. (which is part of the current ISF problem)
    The solution to this problem (which Mitsubishi MAY be doing soon) is perhaps multiple service menus where an easily accessible one (but still slightly hidden) has only the adjustments necessary for a reasonable calibration while critical adjustments are kept more secret. This might make them more willing to share information.
    I read all the "tricks" Michael (who's quite good) talks about in Keohi and try most of them on my own (Toshiba) HDTV, but some of these haven't improved the picture. I spent an entire afternoon reducing the screen trimpots to various levels then compensating in the service menu hoping for a sharper picture. Not only was the picture not sharper, getting a perfect grayscale became impossible. I began increasing the screens in small increments but only after I approached the original factory setting (which I'd measured with the light meter) was perfect grayscale tracking possible again. Maybe this would help some sets, but it didn't help mine so I'd certainly not spend hours on a customer's set for such a questionable and time consuming exercise. Some of these things are like "opening a big can of worms."
    So guys, ease up on the ISF Techs. We don't live at your house so we've got to do a good job on what we're actually supposed to do and get out in a reasonable amount of time for the ISF standard fee to be even slightly profitable for us.
    [Edited last by Randy Tomlinson on July 31, 2001 at 10:18 AM]
  2. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

    Mar 16, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Calgary, Alberta
    Real Name:
    Michael Chen
    Greetings Randy
    E-mail me on the Panny problem. I might be able to help you there in a couple of weeks time.
    There is another misconception out there and it is somewhat similar to the acting profession. We see and hear about them all the time and think ... what a life ... $$$$ and more $$$$ ... they must all live like that. I don't think so.
    Most are the starving artist variety ...
    And so it goes with ISF calibrations as well. JS once mentioned that the top calibrators in the field can make $1200 a day doing this.
    Well ... on the face of it, it looks juicy ... but then you learn that there are only five of these people out there ... and that the other 1895 of 1900 ISF certified people don't make anything near this amount. Heck they are lucky if they see $250-500 a month for doing this.
    Oh yes ... forgot to mention that $1200 a day is great, but it is usually connected to 7 to 14 to 21 days without any income from calibration. Suddenly, $1200 is not so hot.
    Michael @ The Laser Video Experience
  3. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Oct 31, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Crap! Now I have to beg for my old job back... [​IMG]
    Seriously, you guys all are professionals and do the best you can with the flawed settings that manufacturers insist on giving us. I had no misconceptions that you are all Richie Rich's just doing 2 sets ever week day for $800 (thus earning $16K a month) and living the good life.
    I appreciate and applaud your efforts in learning as much about consumer displays as you can and helping those of us who want near-reference quality at home achieve it with the sets we can afford.
    Keep on keepin' on!
    My dealer of choice (especially if you live in So-Cal, I highly recommend them):
  4. John Morton

    John Morton Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 11, 2001
    Likes Received:
    If I've learned anything it's that there's a far bit of difference between my 150+ hours of "tweaking" my set and what a knowlegeable and experienced ISF tech would do durring a "calibration"!!!!!
    I second Carlo's remarks, especially to you Michael, not only for your calibration expertise, but especially for the fact that you're willing to share information!!!!!

Share This Page