We calibrate your tv because it matters that you see the world as intended.  
 

Who and what we are about.

Masterpiece Calibration Ltd, founded August 2007 and certified by isf (Imaging Science Foundation) to perform video system calibration on your visual display systems.

Based in Cristchurch New Zealand we cover the whole of New Zealand traveling to where we are needed.

What is Calibration?

Video Calibration is balancing the visual display to match the reference standards more accurately. The result in image reproduction to your perception is a greater sense of depth of field, 3D effect and sense of belief from the image.

Surely the factory sets them to be right?

Well, yes and no.

They set then right to sell on the show room floor.

Basically when you are browsing the showroom looking for your new DTVs you naturally head to the biggest brightest bad boy on the floor. Then our partners take our arms and lead us to the affordable range and so we pick out the brightest one of that bunch.

In the end our choice is science based, naturally we pick out the object that sticks out to us. If all the sets were calibrated they would all look the same, so how could you choose? That is why they are factory set to levels that sell, not to what is technically accurate. Although some new models have special modes that are more accurate out of the box, however you don't often find TV's set to these modes on the showroom floor.

So how far are they out from being accurate?

That is a hard one to answer, it really depends on core build quality and brand look. Have you ever noticed how some showroom pictures look very red or the white is blue? The next time you are in the show room look closer. You will see shades of blue, red and green in various degrees.

So what is accurate?

For NZ, the reference for video is based on the older PAL (576i) signal and HD rec709 (720~1080) signals. These references are based upon points in the colour space we see and which is known as the Standard Viewer Colour Space. CIE 1931 colourspace

What happens when the DTV is accurate?

Well you gain maximum value out of your purchase, this can be quite a considerable amount of money. You get the picture you thought you bought. Plasma panels can last longer setup correctly, this is because driving high gamma, high contrast levels for long periods will shorten the life of this equipment.

Finally the most important reasons, you see more detail, the colours are accurate to what the film maker created and intended you to see. Usually the detail you gain is in the upper and lower end of the image. Shadow details are seen which were lost before, snow goes from being just a white scene to seeing details within the snow.

I think I can do this by eye, why should I get someone in?

Yes you can try this at home. (Don't blame me if it busts though.) Firstly, if you don't understand what the control does, it's best to leave it alone. This is especially true of service menus which some people love to dabble in without knowing what does what. You could try doing it by eye, or by using someone elseís settings they have used, as posted on many forums around the web. The first issue with using the eye is that we need a good reference.

Our eyes actually can be very good at balancing, but if you use a poor source the result is only as good as that.

Basically this is the main problem. We contrast and chromatically adapt to the world we see, our Tv and visual displays don't. So that is some of the issues with referencing using your eyes and using DVD movies as a source.

What about settings people post?

Using anyone elseís settings "may" or "may not work". I would hazard a guess as "may not work" as being more likely. For those settings to work you would need exactly the same equipment for the whole video chain. Then you have equipment variance of typically 10% tolerance throughout the video chain(even of the same brand and model) and you have a viewable difference before you even start.

Where can we get reference material?

There is DVDs in PAL and HD reference material, called Digital Video Essentials and HDbasics by Joe Kane Productions.
This will help you in two ways.

1. You will understand your basic controls better. The calibration DVDs do an exellent job of explaining how to set Brightness, Contrast, Colour and Tint.

2. They give you reference colours and material to work with. You also find sound system reference material.

Ok some cons of these DVDs.

Setting contrast with the method described within calibration DVDs on a non phosphor display will leave you scratching your head. The blooming discribed only happens on CRT based TVs. It doesn't really work on Plasmas either even though they are a phosphor design. The filters you are supplied with were originally developed around CRT phosphors. The issue with this is that the light spectrums of CRT, Plasma, LCD, LED and DLP are totally different between the various types and if the spectrums don't match it is highly likely you will have visual errors.

Now you could go the DIY step and get a colour meter and software.
For some this is a worthwhile pursuit. But it can be expensive, the meters start at $300~$400 for cheap tristimulas probes and up to $2,500~$10,000 for professional level photospectometers. Actually the top level measurement probes reach from $10,000 up to $30,000 with little change. Add to this software, (accurate software) from several hundred up to $5,000. Next you need a video generator so you can isolate the video chain, start at $6,000 and go up...Ok my point is, if you start down the road of calibration equipment your accuracy can only be as good as the gear you reference to. It is very much a field of get what you pay for. But do you really want to spend $15,000 to calibrate your $5,000 Projector or Plasma? Probably not, and your wife will be thinking separation... But without being frightened off by the pricing of equipment that a professional would use you can do a modest calibration with DVE PAL/HD at a modest price(cheap actually). Obviously as long as you understand the limitations with newer digital video equipment, the PAL(576i) and HDrec709 reference material is valid reference material.

What does a Calibrator do?

Simply, help you get what you thought you paid for already. That does sound negative, but you have to also understand you can't really blame the manufactures as it is very difficult to get high quality and accuracy at an affordable cost to the public. So when equipment is also made at a cost, compromises are made, all of which usually impacts quality. So the old saying "you get what you pay for" rings true here, to a degree. However every so often a great piece of gear comes onto the market and so one has to keep your eyes open to take advantage of these jumps in hit power for buck.

So what makes a piece of audio visual equipment good from a calibrators view point?

Accuracy, the picture and nothing but the picture.

Accuracy is really about the RGB decoders firstly; they must be as close as possible to reference out of the box. This is where the difference really is between well designed tvs and cheap tvs. Usually the thought out design allows you to reposition the decoders by CMS(colour management system) and the cheaper end don't, following this there is a series of parameters that all need to be adjustable.
Unfortunately when the average user is hunting for their next purchase they rarely look at whether the unit can be calibrated well.

What would you look for in a digital television so it can be calibrated?

Adjustment ability,
Brightness,
Contrast,
Colour,
Tint,
Advanced menus with individual Red, Green and Blue controls,
Gamma controls,
CMS, colour management controls,(On some units these are useless, some control the primary locations)

Several manufactures actually have ISFccc systems on their top end systems and another C3 management. The C3 management requires very specific tools to interact, but without them the C3 can be disabled and done manually. These are locked out from the user, not because the user couldn't adjust them, but because you really need the tools to adjust them.

Now I have to make some statements about controls in general. The controls actually confuse most users as they are commonly counter intuitive of their true function.

Take Brightness as a control. The majority of users believe this sets how bright the picture is. One could believe this by its descriptive name.

Actually Brightness sets the dark level, or black point.

Next is Contrast, well this really sets the dynamic range or brightness level.

So as you can see naming can cause you to set the controls incorrectly. Manufactures could do better here to name the controls correctly, actually some do name these and many more controls differently to add confusion to the user. Now if the semi informed user is confused, imagine how your partner feels.

Most units have some basics as a bare minimum.


Brightness
Contrast
Colour
Tint (Older PAL TV didnít have tint function)

Setting these correctly requires reference material used in the conditions the unit will be viewed in. Setting them correctly can commonly yield 10~20% improvement in picture contrast ratio and colour saturation. Colour can be too strong or over saturated as much as under saturated.

Colour and Tint can be hard to get right, but when you can get it right you know it. How? Skin tones, which we reference to when ever we view images. This is where the decoders come into play, the source image is usually shot according to reference points. The colour of Red, Green, Blue in PAL and HiDef have fixed reference points in the colour gamut. If your decoders are incorrect you will struggle to get accurate colour true to what it was captured as.

Again you need accurate reference material to set these correctly or in balance if thatís the compromise.

To get an accurate grey scale, which is a function of the balance of Red, Green and Blue you need deeper controls other than the front end user controls. Usually listed as advanced or something similar, these need to allow adjustment of each primary colour and hopefully gamma as well. The gamma tracking is actually quite important; when gamma is tracking correctly the image can yield quite large gains in visual detail.

If the baseline primaries are accurate out of the box with these advanced controls you can get the display to reference levels which will yield the most accurate representation of the original material.

So in the end what do you get?

You will see more detail throughout your dynamic range, especially in darker and lighter areas of the image. People will look more natural, skin tones will look true to life.
The picture will look how it was meant to be, how the director saw it.
Real broadcasts will look natural, grass will look real.

For years we have been viewing images away from the true natural images we should be watching, in fact it has been like this for so long it does actually requires time to adjust to accurate images. Now with the new high definition displays there is no excuse for you not to pursue accuracy. You really see the difference.

Like the transition from VHS to DVD, you can't go back easily. DVD(PAL) to HD DVD, Blueray and HD broadcasts is as much a jump in perceptual performance. Calibration can deliver another level that you can really get used too. In fact once you view calibrated displays you struggle to watch anything but.

Our home entertainment has never been better, and there is nothing wrong with adusting your display to the best that it can deliver.

Regards

Nigel

Masterpiece Calibration Ltd