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Setting Up HD Monitors

Setting Up HD Monitors

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Published by Keremcan Karabatak

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Published by: Keremcan Karabatak on Apr 29, 2009
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04/02/2014

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Setting Up HD Monitors as a StandardReference
The Technique: The underlying principle is to be able to adjust a HD monitor in a consistentand repeatable way to provide a standard reference, especially as the ambient light falling onthe screen changes as the viewing environment changes. Having a consistent reference helpsyou to reliably assess the image for color rendition, lighting continuity, judging effects,exposure and so on. The human visual system is highly adaptable, and without a consistentframe of reference, almost anything can look "normal" to the unaided eye.The Procedure: You will find the following controls to adjust the display on most monitors:PHASE, CONTRAST, BRIGHTNESS, and CHROMA. The Phase adjustment is notapplicable to digital, so there is no need to concern ourselves with this particular function.Setting up a HD monitor as a standard reference, requires that you adjust these three keycontrols: (1) Contrast, (2) Brightness, and (3) Chroma. Here is a brief outline of the steps foradjusting a monitor, and they will be described in more detail below:First, send SMPTE Bars from the High Definition camcorder so they display on the monitor.Or with several models, you can also generate the color bars from within the monitor itself.Then adjust:1. CONTRAST - Use The White Field (most subjective)2. BRIGHTNESS - Use The Black Pluge3. CHROMA - Use The Two Outside Bars (after selecting Blue only)
 
When you turn on the SMPTE bars, they will look like this image above on yourmonitor screen. Now locate the controls for CONTRAST, BRIGHTNESS, andCHROMA (they maybe on an external remote control unit that plugs into themonitor). If you look directly below (or nearby) each of these knobs, you willusually find a corresponding two-position, push switch, probably marked "Auto"and "Manual". The "Auto" position, applies a standard reference signal, which hasbeen set up during the alignment of the monitor by a technician i.e. Auto = Preset.And as the name suggests, the manual position allows for user adjustment of theContrast, Brightness, and Chroma.If the preset has been configured properly, it provides a good starting point forfurther adjustment. If for any reason you can't fine tune your monitor for theparticular viewing conditions, then rely on the Preset value. If set up properly, theywill be pretty close (especially the Contrast and the Chroma settings). If you findyour settings vary greatly from the presets, then this may indicate you are mis-adjusting the monitor because you are getting too far removed from the baseline.The Contrast is the hardest adjustment to set up by eye, as the correct level is very,very subjective. Be strongly guided by the Preset value for the Contrast, inparticular. Adjusting the Brightness and Chroma by eye, is comparatively easy andprecise.
 
(1) O.K. firstly the hardest one, adjusting the CONTRAST. You adjust this usingthe white box at the bottom left of the color bars screen (under the yellow, cyanvertical bars). You need to get this box (outlined here in red) to look nicely white,but not blooming too much (...I told you it was subjective). For the novice, it isprobably several steps lower than what you think is the best level.Technicians set
 
this up by using a little probe that they hold over this white box to measure itsintensity. I've also been told you can set it with a spot meter ...... it needs to be setto
35 foot candles
. If in doubt, leave this setting at the preset level which ought tobe pretty close anyway, or at least closer than what you can achieve by eye.
 
(2) To adjust the BRIGHTNESS, you use what they call the Black Pluge. This isthe little black box at the bottom right of the color bars screen (under the red andblue vertical bars). This box is outlined here in red. Inside the box are 3 verticalblack bars, the left one is -3dB, the middle one 0dB, and the right one +3dB. Sothey are all hovering around your black baseline, which (remember) is always zerowith digital (and not a 7.5 IRE black pedestal from the old analog days). So youadjust the Brightness control to find the precise point where the left bar (-3dB) justdisappears. This means your black baseline at 0dB looks black to your eye (and notmilky or crushed) in the particular ambient-light viewing conditions. Thisadjustment is pretty easy and precise (thank goodness). In practice, it is theBrightness that you really need to keep tweaking throughout the shooting day, asyou move the monitor from from one set up to the next. The Brightness adjustment,in particular, is greatly influenced by the amount of ambient light falling on thescreen.
 

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