Michael TLV calibrates my PT-47WX49

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Carlo Medina, Oct 19, 2001.

  1. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be able to retain the services of Michael Chen, aka Michael_TLV. I was 1/2 way through his 30 calibration So-Cal tour.
    Michael arrived at 3 and finished calibrating about 7:30. We then waited for my girlfriend before going out to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. But enough with the pleasantries, here's what you want to know:
    The Preparation
    My set was AVIA calibrated for color, tint, brightness, contrast, sharpness and overscan. No other tinkering occurred because I recently had an A-Board swapped and didn't feel like recreating my old tweaks before Michael arrived.
    I made sure to watch the TV all morning before he arrived, viewing material that I was intimately familiar with, and noting the flaws. I know there are flaws because I often take the DVDs up to my PC, hooked up to a monitor that has a 6500K setting. I noted that in dark scenes, most browns (especially fleshtones) had a bit of dark green tinge to it.
    What Michael_TLV Did
    The first thing Michael did was disable the SVM via disconnecting the wires, and go into a special menu to greatly reduce the EE that the set has built in (this he had to do without me watching for fear that Panny may change the codes if it became public knowledge).
    Then he did the electronic and manual focus, which was a mess before he began. The center could be focused on all the colors but as you looked towards the corners the grids became a blurry mess. He found that the electronic and manual focus had a dependent relationship that he could tweak to obtain a fairly sharp focus both on the center and on the edges. Without looking at material, just seeing how he adjusted each color and gun using the grid display built into the set, I knew this would make a big difference in the result. What had previously been blurry lines that I tried to converge in the service menu were considerably tightened up.
    Next Michael did gray scale calibration. He explained that gray scale is not 2 dimensional, but rather 3 dimensional. And that 6500K is not a line on a graph, but a plane. There are many 6500K points, you can be at 6500K but be "too green" or too much of another color. As you know, there is a point that is the industry standard, marked as D6500K (there's an A6500K, B6500K) etc.
    So even though my readings weren't off the charts (I think everything was under 10,000K) they were waaaaayyyyy to green on his color analyzer. Off the charts type of green. He also explained that different contrast settings affect the linearity of the gray scale a set achieved, too high or low will yield more of a bell curve while a certain value may yield a flatter result across the low and high windows. Needless to say he tested different contrast values and obtained the most linear grayscale from my set. He also took readings across the screen and found the gray scale to be mostly uniform but a little higher on the left. Very minor lens striping yielded a uniform result across the screen.
    Finally he did color accuracy--because you can't have accurate color without accurate gray scale first. You know the drill, using a bevy of patterns he adjusted my service menu color, R-Y_A, B-Y_G, color and tint values so that they were centered on my user settings. Then he did brightness and contrast for both my interlaced and progressive signals. Since my TV handles progressive signals differently, he made changes on my RP91 for color and tint so that I could have accurate color on interlaced, and then switching to progressive would let the player compensate for the quirk in the way my TV handled progressive. He also showed me that I have to reduce brightness by -10 on progressive since that's another quirk of how my PT-47 handles progressive vs. interlaced signals.
    I'm sure I missed some things he did, but this is the gist of it.
    The Results / Test Viewing
    Okay, I'm stingy with money. I don't have a lot of it. But let's just say that after demoing scenes from Fifth Element SuperBit, Shawshank, Episode I, Godfather, Braveheart, Bring it On (a great test for color in the opening cheerleading scene), and a few other movies...I literally jumped out of my chair and started writing the check to him. That's the easiest $400 check I've ever written. The proof was in the pudding.
    What was different? Everything. If you've only AVIA's or VE'd your set, you've done a lot of good. But you're still nowhere near where a good ISF calibrator can get you. I know that now.
    The focus adjustments made everything on the image tighter. I truly felt that I was watching an HDTV, even with only DVD material!
    Color accuracy was spot on. No more greenish browns, especially in shadow detail. More shadow detail in general. Accurate fleshtones.
    Gray scale made a huge difference as well. No longer were there glaring whites that made you squint on a dark background.
    SVM/EE disabling made an enormous difference on hard, bright to dark edges. Opening credits on Oh Brother and Shawshank no longer crawled or shimmered, they were rock-solid stable. Some titles that had EE effects were now free of them (or greatly reduced), being a product of the TV rather than the source. Still others (TPM) showed EE which now proves to me the source is to blame and not my monitor.
    The Recommendation
    If you have an HD or HD ready RPTV, get it ISF'd by someone who is highly regarded. Michael, Bob McJimsey, Louis Carliner, you know the names. Search here, The Spot, AVS, and you'll see who's done good work. If you've spent $2000-$7000 on your set, what's another $400 to squeeze every last ounce of performance out of it? "Night and day" seems to trite and contrived a term to describe the difference I am seeing. Now I know when I buy my next TV, I'm going to try my best to fly Michael into town do that set as well.
    Sure, there are some that say "X" brand runs better out of the box than "Y" brand and thus doesn't need ISF calibration. But let me say that NOTHING at the local Best Buy or Ken Cranes, not a Mits, not a Tosh, not another Panny or Hitachi, runs close to what I am now seeing out of my BOTTOM OF THE LINE PT-47. Imagine how good those more expensive sets could look? You owe it to yourself to get this service done. I am now a believer in a good ISF calibration.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  2. Dwight Amato

    Dwight Amato Stunt Coordinator

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    Damn you! I just got my set 3 days ago, and while I love it (and I made the changes listed on Brett's page) I was and am expecting much more. I will definately get my set ISF'd someday in the future, but I will have to live with it like it is for the next few months.
    Congrats!
     
  3. Richard_Huntington

    Richard_Huntington Stunt Coordinator

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    I am printing this out for my wife, who is against RPTV's because you need to spend money on them after buying. Your post is very well written and incredibly descriptive. Thank you.
    I am hoping I can somehow coax my wife into allowing me to replace my 36" KV26 WEGA with a 50"+ Sony, Toshiba or Panasonic HDTV this Christmas.
    God Bless You! [​IMG]
    ------------------
    "My wife actually prefers widescreen"
     
  4. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    You're welcome Richard.
    I didn't want to sound like such a cheerleader, and normally I'm a reserved "look before you leap" kind of guy, and I take things with many grains of salt...
    But the magic (and that's almost what it is) that Michael worked on my set was nearly unbelievable. And yet I saw it happen in front of my eyes. I looked behind the curtain, saw the man, and still believe in the Wizard, so to speak.
    For many years I was a direct view guy, I did not like RPTVs. But they are getting so good now, the HD-ready and HD sets anyway, that there really is no excuse not to buy one if you can afford it.
     
  5. Brian Mello

    Brian Mello Stunt Coordinator

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    Congrats Carlo!
    I wish I had more time to spend watching Michael but my 2 year old wouldn't allow that! [​IMG] I also had him calibrate my other Componet Input for HD sources. Now I am so spoiled watching HD & DVD I hate to go back to SD material like ESPN.
     
  6. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Brian,
    Unfortunately I am not HD capable yet. But after seeing how good DVD looks on my set, I'm going to look into DishNetwork in the coming year.
     
  7. Robert P. Jones

    Robert P. Jones Second Unit

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    Mr. Huntington -
    You might approach the wife situation from this point of view, which I have shared many times on forums like this and to customers in general:
    "Would you buy a Lamborghini without factoring in Tune-ups? Or Dealer Prep?"
    That's all this is, this calibration process. You have an extremely high performance medium here, capable of greatness. It would be a crime not to have the fullest potential pulled out of it by NOT calibrating it.
    I would have said "ISF calibrating" it, but having done the ISF training myself last year, I can tell you that most of the ISF graduates know absolutely nothing about geometry and convergence, nor the Cantilever Technique, nor about optics cleaning, and how critical that is to keeping your set looking better than new indefinitely... Very, very few ISF grads know 1/5 of what Michael Chen knows. They know greyscale and scanrates and bandwidth, and User centers for User controls. That's what ISF teaches, and primarily to HT retailers and installers. I was the ONLY calibrator in my training of 25, and also the ONLY repair servicer. Believe it or not, half a dozen of the participants were actually simply afficianados, who just couldn't stay away from their habit...
    But they don't know fullservice/fullscale calibrations. Michael is a member of a very select - and very small, numbering around 15 coast to coast, if the Net and HT forums are to be any indication - number of self-taught individuals, who ARE qualified to make your set sing.
    ALL RPTVs experience serious amounts of drift during the first 100 hours. Even more suffer from being initally tweaked by overworked and underpaid factory workers, to whom the highest of precision is NOT their orientation, nor their priority. Their orientation is to see how many sets they can get out per day.
    After all, you get what you pay for. If ALL RPTV buyers were as discriminating as those who request ISF calibrations, maybe they'd consider packaging them in with the sale, to be done 100 hours after delivery. Which would of course make the overall price of ALL RPTVs be higher.
    The fact is, 80% of buyers are so starstruck by progressive scanning and line doubling that they don't care about the fine points. That's why you guys have to be doing the buying of the fine points on your own, and why I also have to be doing hours worth of fine tweaking on my own set, before even I can enjoy it. Calibration is the only way to wring the last ounce of high resolution out of your high res. device, but the massively lowered price points that most of you - and I, I got mine at onecall.com on closeout - bought (y)our new RPTVs at, this year and last year, were made possible by those 80% who don't know the difference.
    So pay up PART of the difference between the prices of this year and 2 years ago, and be happy. It's still cheaper than early adopting ever is, which was 4 years ago.
    That said, I just purchased a brand new 65" Panny from last year, so I could retain the 720p - and Lord am I glad I did, rather than buying this year, where they've disco'd 720p, electing to do like all the others do, and downconvert 720p to 480p, ruining it - and despite the need for serious geometry and convergence issues, and the whites being way overly strong in their blues, I gotta say that the factory focussing couldn't be beat. I didn't even need to employ the Cantilever Technique - I could tell from seeing scanlines clearly at 10' that I would not need to; and now, after serious time spent remedying those aforementioned other problems, I sit and study the grain of the film CSI is shot on, every week, plus the incredible suspension of disbelief offered by Alias... The HD is incredible, due not in small measure to the exceptionally linear convergence system of the Panny.
    I am VERY happy with my recent purchase, and fully calibrated, it can't be beat, as far as I am concerned.
    Mr Bob
    ------------------
    Robert P. Jones
    Image Perfection
    San Francisco Bay Area, USA
    [email protected]
    510-278-4247
    www.imageperfection.com
     
  8. Richard_Huntington

    Richard_Huntington Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert, I live in Stamford CT. Are there any ISF techs that have the abilities of a Michael TLV, who can do work here in CT? I don't want a low end ISF guy to come on in. I want one of the best, if I can convince my wife to let me go HDTV.
    I once called some local ISF certified people and found I knew more than they did about certain things. That frightened me. [​IMG]
    ------------------
    "My wife actually prefers widescreen"
     
  9. errol

    errol Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Richard,
    The elite video specialists/calibrators like Mr Bob (Robert Jones), Michael TLV, and Louis Carliner do calibration tours all across the country.
    I'm sure eventually one of them will make it your way. If one is not planned now, you or someone interested could always mobilize one.
    Thanks,
    Errol
    ------------------
    Keohi HDTV
    Your Friendly HDTV Tips Site
     
  10. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Hey Carlo...congrats on the ISF [​IMG]
    This in on my list of things to get done, someday. Although I am very happy with all the tweaking I have done myself on my Mits, I know an ISF will help.
    Maybe Santa will bring some extra green [​IMG]
    Peace Out~ [​IMG]
    ------------------
    http://home.earthlink.net/~peregrinefalcon
     
  11. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Ron, since you've done a mechanical and electrical focus yourself (IIRC, we talked a while ago about this), I think you could probably find someone locally to do the grey scale tracking for cheaper than a full calibration--especially since Michael's SoCal tour is over. Since I didn't do the focus adjustments that made just as big a difference as the other stuff. And once you get the grey scale tamed you can do the color yourself. But be sure to do the color last, after grey scale.
     
  12. MattGuyOR

    MattGuyOR Stunt Coordinator

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    Anyway Robert or Michael can calibrate a TV up in Oregon? [​IMG] I don't have it yet, but want the best working on it when I do.
     
  13. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I can't speak for Robert, but generally Michael requires some sort of tour...unless you want to incur all of the costs of flying him out to your place and back to Canada.
    Check out www.hometheaterspot.com -- that's the forum he is associated with, and there usually is a place where people can get together and try to get a tour for your region organized.
     

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