Newbie question about calibration discs

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Doug J, Mar 24, 2004.

  1. Doug J

    Doug J Auditioning

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    I've done a lot of research about calibration discs and have heard how wonderful they are, but what specifically do they allow you to do? On the video side of things, I keep hearing how they include "test patterns" to help dial in the picture, but what kind of test patterns specifically do they include and how do the test patterns help you adjust things? I'm new at this stuff, but when it comes to adjusting things on a TV there are some pretty basic adjustments; contrast, brightness, color, tone, etc. So it seems to me that with so few areas to adjust how can it be so hard to play around with these until things look good. I've heard some mention of service menus on various tv's that allow you to fine tune things even more, but I would have no clue how to get into this service menu. I guess I'm just skeptical by nature and always have my doubts about things until I'm shown otherwise. Maybe these discs are simply made to get your equipment back to reference standards... then I could maybe see the need for it. But people have different opinions on what looks or sounds good, and may prefer things different from the reference point.

    On the audio side, I know there are probably many more tweaks that can be made so I can justify the need for the disc. Each speaker has to be adjusted for volume, time delay, etc. using test tones, and the sub has to dialed in as well.

    What I'm curious about is what specifically these discs allow you to do. On that note, what disc would be best for me being a newcomer? I'm an engineer by profession so I'm pretty technical and don't necessarily need the one that's most user-friendly, but probably don't need the one that's the most in-depth because I am new to all of this.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Avia and Video Essentials give you several things.

    First, there is a tutorial that explain the real meaning of brightness, contrast, sharpness video settings. Then it throws up test-patterns while a voice instructs you what to look at while changing your settings. Some of the adjustments involve you looking through a included blue or red filter. You are instructed to adjust things until parts of the pattern appear/disappear.

    There is white test-pattern that you can use to adust a bias-light behind your television to match.

    There is a tutorial on speaker-leveling telling you how to use your SPL meter, how to set it up and then it provides test-tones that rotate through your speakers so you can adjust things.

    There are also several other test-patterns included on both disks that are NOT covered by a tutorial, but they each have their use in some aspect of video calibration. But it takes more than a soft-voice tutorial to explain what to look for and what to do to fix things. But these are nice to have if you want to dive-into video technology.

    I still think Avia is the best disk out, but the new Digital Video Essentials has a lot of fans. There is also some cheaper disks like the Sound and Vision setup disk for about $20.

    My advice: just get one and spend a quiet evening going through the tutorials and making the adjustments. You CAN watch the disk anytime, but for any video calibration it is suggested:

    - you go through your television and write-down all the current values for things like brightness/contrast/sharpness/color temperature/color balance/etc. This is so you can get back to the original setup if necessary.

    - you turn on the display for 30 minutes prior to making adjustments.

    - you do all your adjusments at the time-of-day you would normally watch DVD's. (The ambient light in the room has an effect on how you see things.)

    You might also do a search in the Display fourm for "Digital Video Essentials" as there was a lot of discusson on this disk when it came out.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  4. Jonny K

    Jonny K Second Unit

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    Well, I have "Avia". The disc has two parts to it, first there's a discussion about home theater that is (in my opinion) for newbies. They really don't tell you too much detail in this section.

    The other section is tests and calibration stuff, and in this regard MOST of these tests are over my head. I only use the basic ones, and I think those are pretty good for the most part. Each test has a written description of it that you can read to learn what it does and how it's used. And whatever you want to test - you name it - there'll be a test for it on this disc. When calibrating my set, I simply go to the basic calibration section of the disc where a nice voice guides me through all the steps to configure brightness/color/sharpness, etc using selected test patterns. It's pretty handy, since each test is specifically designed to target only that thing you're going to tweak. If you were to try and calibrate your TV without a calibration disc, you *may* find it more difficult. Of course, if you know what you're doing, then you may be ok...but for a guy like me, I like the disc.

    In regards to audio, there are also a lot of audio tests, but these are less critical if you ask me since it's possible to easily burn a CD with the proper test tones on it and calibrate that way. In fact, to calibrate for speaker phase (and even picture) you can probably use the "THX Optimizer" found on many modern DVDs, although it won't be as easy or accurate. [​IMG]
     
  5. Doug J

    Doug J Auditioning

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    wow, quick responses. Thanks to everyone for the info. I may just stick with the sound and vision disc because I have a feeling I'll only be making basic adjustments, and it's supposed to be the most recent release, correct? But knowing my need to always want things better, I might be better off going for a more robust disc with more test patterns. thanks again, and keep the input coming.
     
  6. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    It is almost impossible to accurately calibrate a display without test patterns, and I don't know any professionals who would torture themselves by trying to setup a display without test patterns. I won't say it's impossible, or that test patterns and tools are *always* the way to go, but the more experienced folk know what they are doing, and when things might need to be set a little bit more subjectively. But when proper settings are within just one or two clicks on many of the adjustments, there is no way to get things spot on without test patterns. Maybe if you know what some video clip is supposed to look like, you can get things pretty close, but it is a lot easier with patterns.
     

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