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Display Calibration

Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users

The Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

Page 1 of 26

Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users

Table of Contents
Table of Contents Acknowledgments Foreword DISCLAIMER Introduction to Color How we see: Divorcing Biology from Physics Measuring Color: the ABCs of XYZ CIE Luv: Perceptual Uniformity Delta E Twice as Nice Debunking Color Saturation Gamma and Grayscale Tracking: Why we are here Display Gamma: Love the One Youre With Calculating Gamma IRE vs. Percent Stimulus: Stopping the Insanity! References: Where to go to get More Information The Basics of Calibrating a Display Beyond Good and Evil: What to do with Brightness and Contrast Changing a Primarys Brightness Changing Contrast: Clip Happens Run Forest, Run: Iterating Through Measurements Run 2, or How to Screw Up Your Display in One Easy Step Seven the Hard Way: A Happy Intermediate Point Color and Tint: the Forgotten Stepchildren Wrapping-up APPENDIX: Accessing xyY Data 2 3 3 4 5 5 6 7 7 8 8 9 9 9 10 11 11 12 13 16 17 20 23 24 25

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users

Acknowledgments
I would like to thank my wife Robin for her patience and perseverance as I get deeper and deeper into the home theater hobby. I would also like to thank Kevin Shank for his help in providing me pointers when I became stuck. Finally, much of this is based on the work of giants in the field of colorimetry and video like Charles Poynton, Bruce Lindbloom and Guy Kuo. A special thanks also to the folks at Colorvision for providing me with some great toys to use to make this guide possible.

Foreword
Most home theater displays, be they direct-view (CRT, LCD or Plasma), rear-projection (CRT, LCD or DLP) or front projection (CRT, LCD, DLP or LCOS), are set from the factory to compete well on busy, and brightly lit, sales floors. As a result, what looks good at the local Mega Mart probably looks quite a bit different at home, and most assuredly looks different from what a programs director, editor or production engineer saw in the studio. This disparity has led for many home theater enthusiasts to want to have their displays calibrated to the same standards the studios use. In the past, this has usually meant hiring a technician, frequently certified by the Imaging Sciences Foundation (ISF). The technicians would bring many expensive pieces of equipment to take measurements and then would make adjustments to the displays controls, frequently using a service menu that is unavailable to ordinary end consumers. While this process produces the best results, it is frequently unappealing to many enthusiasts for a variety of reasons: cost of the service, availability of a technician, desire to do it oneself, or even too high of a churn rate in displays! (The author must admit to having gone through twelve (12!) projectors in a two year period before settling on the Optoma H77 he currently has). The net impact of these things is that many people seem to want to be able to calibrate their displays (e.g., TV, flat screen, projector) themselves. Until recently, an affordable tool to do this existed only for the CRT crowd using Colorvisions Spyder series of colorimeters. With the release of the SpyderTV and Spyder2PRO Studio version 2.0, such a tool is now available to owners of displays outside the CRT crowd. However, there is a catch. To calibrate a display fully requires a basic understanding of several concepts like gamma, color balance and delta E. It can also require some sophisticated arithmetic1 to calculate all of the data one needs to understand what adjustments to make. Finally, it requires people to know which controls affect which measurements in order to make the display look better.

The authors engineer friends are quick to point out that if a problem does not involve either integrals, preferably multi-variate ones, or derivatives, preferably partial ones, then it is not really math. The user is free to decide for him or herself whether this is the case.

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users The purpose of this guide is to walk you through some basics on colorimetry and to illustrate how you can use those concepts to calibrate a display. Depending upon what the manufacturer of your TV2 decided to include in the TVs user-accessible menus, you may or may not have access to all of the controls mentioned in this guide. If you are willing to accept the risk that you may make your TV inoperable3, there are places like AVSForum.com where you can get the access codes that allow you to make changes to your TVs service menu controls.

DISCLAIMER
The author, Bill Blackwell, is not responsible for any damage done to your TV as a result of following this guide. From a legal standpoint, this guide is to be used for information purposes only, and as the late night television infomercials say, it is not certified by certified psychics! Making changes to your TVs service menu involves assuming a certain amount of risk. If you are unwilling to accept this risk, then dont do it!

For purposes of this guide, TV refers to any type of display, be it a CRT tube televisions, video projectors, plasma display panels or LCDs. 3 Seriously! You can really screw it up if you arent careful!

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users

Introduction to Color
The purpose of this guide is to help you to calibrate your display to represent more accurately colors the way that content authors intended them to be represented. Do not worry if terms like colorimeter are unfamiliar to you. This guide is intended for the interested and diligent hobbyist to get up and running as quickly as possible so that he or she can get back to watching movies, sports, television shows or whatever interests you. However, understanding how to improve color does require you to gain some background on what, exactly, color is. To that end, you should read this section if you are unfamiliar with how people see color

How we see: Divorcing Biology from Physics


Many people will remember the colors of the physical spectrum from a High School (secondary school) or University physics class. In such classes, students are taught the mnemonic ROYGBIV for Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. These colors represent different ranges within the visible spectrum, and each color is distinct from the others in terms of wavelength and frequency. While this model works great for astronomers studying the absorption spectra of stars, studying human stars through a telescope is generally a fast ticket to a restraining order. Instead, biology has a different idea of how to handle the visible spectrum, and it is quite a bit different from what the physicists use. In the human eye, there are sensors called rods and cones that are what actually respond to light with neural impulses. Rods and cones can be subdivided into four different functions. Three different types of cones are responsible for what we see as red, green and blue. The fourth type of sensor in the eye, rods, provides humans with their night vision. Where the biology really leaves the physics behind is in how these sensors respond to the visible spectrum. Instead of being broad-based sensors like what you might expect from the ROYGBIV model, the sensors in our eyes essentially respond to a range of wavelengths much like a band pass filter would. That is, there is a peak where the individual sensor is most sensitive, and then sensitivity falls off rapidly for longer and shorter wavelengths. As a result, what we see as one color is actually an amalgamation of wavelengths: The color green peaks at around 550 nm, and dominates how humans sense illumination. The color blue peaks at around 440 nm. Interestingly, we are least sensitive to blue intensity, but are more sensitive to color deviations in blue than in either green or red. The color red is actually bi-modal (two humps in its sensitivity distribution) with the main peak at around 600 nm, and a smaller peak at around 440 nm. Collectively, Red, Green and Blue are considered the primary colors in an emissive color model4 because they correlate directly with the cones in our eyes. The secondary colors are combinations of two of the three primaries: Cyan is a combination of Blue and Green. Magenta is a combination of Red and Blue.
4

see Poyntons Color FAQ for more information on emissive vs. absorptive color systems

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users Yellow is a combination of Red and Green.

What we perceive as white light is actually all of these primaries combined in a defined proportion of Red, Green and Blue. Also, what we see as white is actually relative the human eye adapts to its environments and perceives as white the maximum intensity to which it is currently sensitized. This is why white can be redefined by various standards settings bodies based upon their needs. The implication of this is that what we perceive as black is actually the result of no light being produced, and the color gray actually contains the same mix of red, green and blue just at a lower intensity level than the current reference white! For most displays, the colors of the primaries are relatively fixed by the manufacturer (e.g., phosphor colors for CRTs, dichroic filter colors for digital displays). There can be some latitude here by making adjustments to a displays primary color matrix, but this is a super advanced adjustment. On the other hand, the secondary colors can be adjusted just by changing the mix of the constituent primary colors. But more on that later

Measuring Color: the ABCs of XYZ


Because everybody is slightly different, and each of us probably sees colors in slightly different ways, the CIE (Commission Internationale de lEclairage, the international body responsible for the measurement of color) established a theoretical model called the standard observer in order to provide analytical consistency to how colors are measured. As a result, they also established three baseline measures of color that align with the three sensors in the human eye: X, Y, and Z (the capitals matter, by the way!): X corresponds with the intensity of light perceived (spectral power distribution or SPD) by the red cones, Y corresponds with the intensity of light (SPD) perceived by the green cones, and Z corresponds to the intensity of light (SPD) perceived by the blue cones. The X, Y and Z values are typically presented in either a range (loosely) of 0.0 to 100 (Y is maximized at 100), or they are scaled down (normalized) to 0.0 to 1.0 (again, loosely). There is a linkage between XYZ and traditional RGB that is dependent upon the individual color space being used for RGB presentation. In other words, think of XYZ as the raw data and RGB as the finished product (technically, RGB is linear, and XYZ is not). While Red, Green and Blue must be added in proportion to create our sensation of the amount of light present, only Y affects our sensation of light in XYZ nomenclature. While XYZ are the basic color measurements, the CIE also developed a Cartesian system for presenting color information independently of its intensity (the CIE Chromaticity Diagram). There is a defined algorithm for converting XYZ data into xy coordinates. However, one needs to have the Y data as well to have a complete specification of color. The Spyder software (TV or PRO) will give you xyY data, which can easily be transformed into other color coordinate systems.

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users The most commonly used version of this two dimensional coordinate system is the one developed in 1931. On the CIE Chromaticity Diagram, the primary colors and the white point are presented as points with x and y values (the lower case matters, and it is definitely confusing while one is first learning this subject!). For North American and European displays, the standard white point is known as D65, which corresponds to a coordinate location of xy(0.313, 0.329). However, the coordinates of the individual primary values vary from one specification to another. North America and Europe have three color standards for use in home theater and video applications: ITU-R Recommendation BT.709 (Rec. 709) the standard for both North American and European high definition television, ITU-R Recommendation BT.601 (Rec. 601) and SMPTE-C the standard for NTSC 480i/60Hz standard definition television (SMPTE-C has supplanted Rec. 601), and PAL/SECAM the standard defined by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) for 576i/50Hz standard definition television.

CIE Luv: Perceptual Uniformity


One major criticism of the 1931 CIE Chromaticity diagram is that the distance between points on the plane can be more or less noticeable to the average viewer. For this reason, the CIE updated the 1931 specification with two new, perceptually uniform coordinate systems. These systems, CIE Luv and CIE Lab, are much more useful in talking about changes in measurements of color. A full description of these systems is beyond this manual. However, what is important is that these systems form the basis of measuring color error.

Delta E Twice as Nice


Color error is measured using two different measures, E* (pronounced delta E, and written as DE or dE) and C* (pronounced delta C, and written as DC or dC). While Delta E* and Delta C* can be based off of either the CIE Luv or CIE Lab coordinate systems, their meanings are constant. They measure the error away from a reference for a particular color. For Delta E*, this includes the grayscale error (Delta L*) as well as the error in hue (Delta C*). Because of the way that the references are crafted, Delta C* still contains a fair bit of influence from grayscale issues. As a result, the author advises people to adhere to using the more common Delta E* measurement. Unfortunately, the original specification for Delta E* was not as perceptually uniform as its authors had intended (see www.brucelindbloom.com for an illustration of this). As a result, Delta E* was updated in 1994 to a new computation method. While much improved, the textile industry (CMC) was dissatisfied with the result and created its own version. Since this last version is not widely used in the home theater industry, the author recommends using either or both of the 1976 or 1994 versions of Delta E*. You should have as your goal to get your TVs Delta E* under four (4) using any measure of dE (a dE of 4 is considered the limit of normal perceptibility, but this does not always hold true).

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users

Debunking Color Saturation


One concept that people frequently use to describe colors is how saturated they are. Usually when they say this, people typically mean how rich and vibrant the colors are. Few people use this term correctly, since it generally requires measurement to determine fine gradations of saturation. Saturation is a term to describe how pure a color is. In other words, it measures how free each of the TVs primary colors are from the effects of the other primaries. The major factors that influence a TVs ability to present a saturated image are the accuracy of its primaries and its instantaneous contrast (the ANSI contrast ratio is one method of measuring instantaneous contrast). In your home, ambient light will most likely dictate how much instantaneous contrast a display is capable of producing (think light reflecting from walls washing out details in the image). This environmental factor makes comparing color saturation across environments somewhat difficult, especially when people are comparing moving images and not test patterns. Despite this environmental influence, there is a way to use the CIE Chromaticity diagram to eyeball whether your displays primaries are undersaturated, saturated, or oversaturated versus the standard. If the displays primary color is inside the triangle, then that primary is undersaturated. If the displays primary is right on the defined point, then it is saturated. If it is outside the triangle, then it is oversaturated/ One final note on saturation: there are two color coordinate systems (HSL and HSV) that use saturation as a coordinate. An interested reader should consult some of the references at the end of this section for links to learning about these coordinate systems.

Gamma and Grayscale Tracking: Why we are here


The final piece to the puzzle is gamma (). As discussed earlier, the eye sees grayscale by the variations in light striking the retina versus a reference white. However, the eyes response to light is non-linear. In fact, the eyes response to light is logarithmic, much like the ears response to sound pressure. As a result of this logarithmic sensitivity, the eye must receive increasing amounts of light actually to perceive the increase. The curves that represent the eyes response to light are named after the exponent used in the curve, gamma, and are called gamma or degamma curves, depending upon context. From your perspective, this difference is largely irrelevant. Your TVs gamma controls how much light it emits to a given signal level. In times past, this was largely controlled by the phosphors in the CRTs. Interestingly enough, these phosphors had a natural gamma of 2.5, which closely approximates the eyes own response function. However, with the advent of digital video and digital displays, this 2.5 gamma can no longer be taken for granted. In fact, the ITU and EBU standards have harmonized on a gamma of 2.2 (with a linear tail) for all major video standards (HD, NTSC, PAL and SECAM). There is additional correction 2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved Page 8 of 26

Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users applied at the camera to maintain an overall system gamma of 2.5, but this is beyond the scope of this guide.

Display Gamma: Love the One Youre With


Given the importance of grayscale tracking to overall image fidelity, it is unfortunate that so many manufacturers engineer their gamma curves away from standards in order to compete better on showroom floors. The most frequent abuse is to crush whites, or overdrive the topend so that the TV cannot put out enough additional white to show differences in shades of white (think snow banks that have no visible details). Another common issue is to crush blacks, or to flatten out the bottom end so that details are lost in dark scenes that should otherwise be visible (shadow details, think monster movies where you cannot see the monster sneaking up behind the clueless teenagers). Both crushed whites and crushed blacks are highly undesirable in a TV, but there are many TVs on the market that do this. What is worse, they do it in a fashion that might not be apparent until after you cannot return the TV and get a better one. Users whose TVs have multiple gamma options will need to assess each one to find the best match to the established standards. The easiest way to find out which gamma option to use is to find a reputable review for your TV and look at the published grayscale tracking curves. Does the display have any odd inflection points at the top or bottom end? Is the gamma coefficient too high (>2.6 for North American uses, in the authors opinion)? Is it too low (<2.0)? Is the curve smooth? If there are any oddities, then as the song says, If you cant be with the gamma you love, love the gamma youre with. Or at least something like that!

Calculating Gamma
Because gamma is an exponent, it can be easily solved for using logarithms on a point basis. However, to come up with a gamma that best describes the entire gamma curve of a display requires some tradeoffs. Some tools use multiple different measures of gamma to gauge a general agreement on what the gamma is. Other tools do not. When you are selecting a calibration tool, be sure that you are comfortable with how it calculates gamma since proper grayscale tracking is one of the two most important outcomes of calibrating your TV (the other is proper skin tones). If you do not know which tool to use, ask a professional!

IRE vs. Percent Stimulus: Stopping the Insanity!


One final note to close this section that closely relates to gamma and grayscale tracking: You will frequently hear the concept of IRE and Percent Stimulus used interchangeably. This is mostly harmless for Japanese and European displays, or displays connected to PCs. However, strictly speaking, IRE is a measure of voltage (1 IRE = 1/140th of a volt mostly!). Where IRE becomes truly abused is when people refer to the amount of light generated by a display as IRE. Light should be referred to in a standard unit (typically Lux or Foot-Lamberts), and never in IRE!

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users Strictly speaking, NTSC-based displays (both high definition and standard definition) use a 7.5 IRE pedestal (or set-up) for black. In other words, the TV will produce its black level when it sees a signal of 7.5 IRE (~54mV). This makes the common practice of equating IRE levels to percent stimulus very confusing (e.g., is 10IRE 10% or 2.7%?). Both Joe Kane Productions Digital Video Essentials (DVE) and Ovation Multimedias AVIA Guide to Home Theater (AVIA) assume the presence of set-up in their North American (NTSC) editions. When calibrating a display, it is important to know whether your display has, and test patterns assume, the presence of set-up. Non-North American users will need to change the setup toggle for HDTV calibrations. To avoid confusion, users should refer to IRE only when talking about analog signal levels or test patterns authored to produce those signal levels.

References: Where to go to get More Information


As has been mentioned previously, this section is designed to give a hobbyist enough knowledge to understand what is being measured by the colorimeter. In some cases, simplifications are used to get past truly overwhelming concepts. Interested readers should consult the following sources for more information: Charles Poyntons website, which includes the excellent Gamma FAQ, Color FAQ, and A Guided Tour of Colorspace: www.poynton.com. Bruce Lindbloom maintains a site that has some excellent examples of the issues in Delta E* and explanations of many colorimetry calculations: www.brucelindbloom.com. Finally, truly interested users should purchase Charles Poyntons book: Digital Video and HDTV Algorithms and Interfaces for a thorough explanation of these concepts. Now, with the background out of the way, lets actually walk through the authors calibration of an Optoma H77 DLP front projector

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users

The Basics of Calibrating a Display


Finally! What is hopefully the good stuff. Having waded through the background on color science, we finally get to how to use it. One warning before we get too far into this topic: there is a tremendous amount of variability between individual TVs. What will be covered here is not the end-all/be-all definitive word on calibrating displays. Instead, it is meant to give you an understanding of the basics: identifying problem areas and correcting them. If you are interested in a more detailed discussion, good places to go are HT-oriented forums like AVS Forum (www.avsforum.com). Finally, you should go through a basic calibration first using a test disc like AVIA or the SpyderTV wizard prior to doing a detailed calibration. While the overarching goal for calibrating a display is to eliminate, as much as possible, any color error from the defined standards, it is hard to do this directly and explicitly. Instead, users should keep the following points in mind: Primary colors should be balanced, regardless of color temperature. Gamma curves should be as smooth as possible, without any lumps or inflection points. The white point and color temperature should be as close to D65 and 6504K as possible (within rounding error). Contrast should be maximized to give as much dynamic range as possible to the image. Note: A common method to calculate color temperature, McCamys N, will equate the D65 white point with a 6504K color temperature only using the SDTV standards. The HDTV standard produces a slightly lower (warmer) color temperature for D65. If you are within 200K of 6504K, then you are doing fairly well on the color temperature measure!

Beyond Good and Evil: What to do with Brightness and Contrast


Many home theater TVs have a bewildering array of controls that allow the user to do everything from control the shape of the gamma curve to editing the color decoder to altering how the analog to digital converters work. Other displays only give users access to basic controls like brightness, contrast, and if they are really lucky, tint and hue. While the plethora of possible controls is beyond the scope of this guide, users should have a thorough understanding two of the most common: brightness and contrast. Simply put, brightness controls the base amount of illumination the TV emits when it is supposed to be showing black. Contrast, on the other hand, controls how much brighter the display is when it shows white. When calibrating a display, the idea is to minimize the brightness, without crushing blacks (making dark details indistinguishable), and to maximize contrast, without crushing whites (making bright, highlight details indistinguishable).
Control Brightness Contrast Synonyms Black Level, Offset, Bias, Cut White level, Picture, Gain, Drive Used to Calibrate: Low level color balance High level color balance, Gamma

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users The limiting factor on how low brightness can be set is the amount of ambient light (or light floor) there is in your viewing environment. If it is set too low, then low light level details (shadow details) will be lost. If it is set too high, then scenes that are supposed to appear black will, instead, appear gray. Since the human eye views grayscale in relation to the surrounding light, in so long as the display has enough contrast between black and white, color performance will not suffer too much if the viewing environment has some light. The key is setting up your TV for your desired viewing conditions, and then learning to tolerate deviations during suboptimal times (e.g., if you watch with a lamp on, then calibrate your TV with that lamp on). Of course, settings memories in the display help a lot here!
Light Output

Total Potential Illumination

Contrast

Brightness

% Stimulus Figure 1. Brightness and Contrast work together to control illumination.

For CRT-based TVs, its ability to increase contrast can be dramatically impacted by the quality of its high voltage power supply (HVPS). If the power supply is weak, then as contrast increases, the set has trouble maintaining linearity in images. In other words, straight lines bend. A Needle Pulse pattern is good for diagnosing this type of issue. Something else for CRT owners to be aware of is blooming (the dot getting to be too large). Both AVIA and DVE do an excellent job of helping diagnose these issues. As a starting point for calibrating a display, users should either use the wizard included with the SpyderTV package, or run through the brightness and contrast chapters of his or her favorite test disc (like the ones included with AVIA or DVE).

Changing a Primarys Brightness


As with the master brightness control, each primary color should have its own brightness control. Such controls are frequently called by their synonyms: offset, bias or cut. On an idealized display, these controls affect the entire range of stimulus. That is, if the brightness is increased to add 0.2 lumens of light to black (hence the origin of the synonym black level), then 2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved Page 12 of 26

Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users it will also add 0.2 lumens of light to white, if the display has enough headroom to do so without clipping. The converse is also true, though most lamp-based (digital) displays have a minimum black level based on the on/off contrast ratio for the display. Light Maximum Light Output Output

20%

80%

% Stim

Figure 2. Changing brightness affects the light level across the range of stimuli, but it is the primary method of adjusting color balance at low stimulus (light) levels.

If one primary is consistently too high or too low throughout the grayscale, then brightness can be changed without too much concern for the impact on the primarys contrast setting (unless it begins to clip, q.v.). In my initial set of measurements of my H77, blue clearly had an excess of brightness, despite a strong dip at low stimulus levels.
RGB Level Tracking 160% 140% 120% 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 0% 20% 40% Percent Stimulation 60% 80% 100%
Red Tracking Green Tracking Blue Tracking

Figure 3. Despite weakness at low stimulus levels, the Blue primary clearly has too much brightness throughout the grayscale.

Changing Contrast: Clip Happens


Once a primarys brightness has been set, it is time to tweak the contrast setting. On an idealized display, the contrast can be thought of as controlling the slope of the illumination curve (yes,

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users similar to gamma, but not quite). It does this by raising or lowering the amount of illumination produced at the white point, and at every point in between.
Light Output
Maximum Light Output

A change in contrast should have a much smaller impact on low-level color balance than at higher levels

20%

80%

% Stim

Figure 4. Primary contrast is the dominant control for color balance at high signal levels.

When changing contrast, the first effect you are looking for is whether or not one of the primaries is clipping, or running out of light output. Recognizing this is pretty easy, and if your display exhibits this, then you need to 1) reduce the contrast of the clipped primary until it no longer clips, and 2) reduce the contrast of the other colors to bring them into balance. The Gamma and RGB Level Tracking charts become invaluable when trying to identify clipped primaries.
Gamma
1.00 Target Actual 0.80 Red Green Blue 0.60
Luminance Target Gamma = 2.22 Actual Gamma = 2.77

0.40

0.20

0.00 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Percent Stimulation

Figure 5. The inflection point in red indicates that this display is near the maximum amount of red it can produce.

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users Because green dominates the grayscale, if we just looked at the overall gamma plot, we might miss issues with the blue and red primaries. However, if your tool allows it, then you want to look at the gamma curves for the individual primaries, as well. They will identify where inflection points may be occurring with the individual primaries. For lamp-based displays (e.g., digital front and rear projectors) using high pressure bulbs, as opposed to Xenon bulbs, the color that tends to clip first is red (see below). In the above chart, the red primary has a clear inflection point in its gamma curve at 90% stimulus, indicating that it cannot produce as much red light as is required for that amount of light. Whether this results from a feature introduced by the manufacturer or that the lamp is running out of light is unknown from this chart. Unfortunately, unless the user knows what gamma to use (like from other users or a well-written product review), each gamma should be checked to see which one gives the best (smoothest, most standards-compliant) curve. In Greg Rogers review of the Optoma H79 in the magazine Widescreen Review, he indicated that TV Gamma 1 provided the best curve. In checking my unit, I noticed that I was mistakenly using Film Gamma 1. Thus, I need to change to the recommended gamma curve and re-measure.
Gamma
1.00 Target Actual Red Green Blue 0.60
Luminance

0.80

0.40

0.20

0.00 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Pe rce nt Stimulation

Figure 6. Changing the gamma option to the recommended value eliminates the odd inflection point in the red primary. Red is still clearly clipping at 100% signal levels, though.

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users
With the gamma curve now on the right option, I will not have to worry about trying to correct the inflection point in the middle of the grayscale. However, the projector still runs out of red fairly dramatically at the high end. To correct this, either a filter must be used to color correct the projectors output, and/or I have to change the contrast for each of the primaries (brightness impacts the low-level mix the greatest, and contrast impacts the high level color mix the greatest).
RGB Level Tracking 160% 140% 120% 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 0% 20% 40% Percent Stimulation RGB Level Tracking 180% 160% 140% 120% 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 0% 20% 40% Percent Stimulation 60% 80% 100%
Red Tracking Green Tracking Blue Tracking Red Tracking Green Tracking Blue Tracking

60%

80%

100%

Figure 7. Changing the gamma curve option eliminated the hitch in red (top is before, bottom is after).

The odd hitch between 50% and 60% stimulus that was there with my projectors initial gamma setting would probably be somewhat unsettling for you if you saw it on your TV. Not only was it measurable, but it was visible (mid-tones were off). Notice that red is more than 20% too low at 60% stimulation in the top chart. A strong red filter might help here (e.g., CC20R), but the shape of the irregularity would be hard to eliminate given most controls that are available to users. Of course, there may be other error involved as well (e.g., it may be a sensor error, it may be a measurement technique error, or it may be a problem with the machine itself).

Run Forest, Run: Iterating Through Measurements


Once you have determined what your limiting color is and you have found the right gamma curve, it is time to go through the trial-and-error process on making the changes. Some lucky users will have access to your TVs service menu that gives you control over the master adjustments for each primary. If you have access to that menu, then you may want to start there. However, it begs a reminder: messing around in the service menu can really screw up your TV. You have been warned!

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users
Grayscale Control Master Contrast Red Contrast Green Contrast Blue Contrast Master Brightness Red Brightness Green Brightness Blue Brightness Run 1 15 146 133 134 -3 119 113 113 Run 2 15 146 133 134 -3 119 113 113 Run 3 15 160 133 134 -3 113 113 113 Run 4 15 130 120 120 -3 109 113 113 Run 5 15 137 115 115 -3 114 109 109 Run 6 15 137 117 116 -3 112 110 109 Run 7 15 135 114 112 -3 111 109 108

Figure 8. Dialing-in the grayscale requires balancing changes to both brightness (low end) and contrast (high end).

Note: The master brightness and contrast were never changed once set initially.
It took seven measurement runs for me to get to what I would consider to be a decent calibration for the DVI input on my H77. Notice that I am making changes to both brightness and contrast for the individual primaries!

Run 2, or How to Screw Up Your Display in One Easy Step


A good rule for people new to their displays service menu: if you do not understand a control, do not touch it. Period. One example of this is playing with controls like the Color Wheel Index (or CWI) or the DLP Brightness and Contrast controls. The latter controls affect the DLP itself and how it responds to signals from the projectors firmware. However, as Emeril Lagasse might say, I wanted to kick it up a notch to see if this was a shortcut to making my red a little brighter (for advanced users, I wanted to make the wheel timings a tad more aggressive). To that end, I increased the red contrast by 10% (from 50 to 55) and decreased red brightness from 50 to 49). The results were very interesting:

CCT looks pretty good for such a quick change:


Coordinated Color Temperature 10,000 9,000
Color Temperature (K)

8,000 7,000
6504K

6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 0% 20% 40% 60% Percent Stimulation 80% 100%

Figure 9. Coordinated Color Temperature (CCT) closely matched 6500K.

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users However, the RGB levels are all over the map:
RGB Level Tracking 105% 104% 103% 102% 101% 100% 99% 98% 97% 96% 95% 94% 0% 20% 40% Percent Stimulation 60% 80% 100%
Red Tracking Green Tracking Blue Tracking

Figure 10. The RGB Levels chart indicates that a change in the DLP Brightness and Contrast affected ALL colors, not just the red primary.

And there is very definitely a problem in grayscale land:


Gamma
1.00 Target Actual 0.80 Red Green Blue 0.60
Luminance

0.40

0.20

0.00 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Percent Stimulation

Figure 11. Note the impact on blue and green between 80% and 90%.

Fortunately, setting the values back to their original levels cured these problems. It looks like there is not cheap-and-easy fix for what ails this projector. Also note that this pretty clearly demonstrates that only looking at one chart as an indicator of performance can leave some pretty significant errors undetected. 2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved Page 18 of 26

Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users
Run 3
180% 160% 140% 120% 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 0% 20% 40% Percent Stimulation 60% 80% 100%
Red Tracking Green Tracking Blue Tracking

RGB Level Tracking

Lowering red brightness did not open up as much red contrast as I had hoped.

Run 4
140% 120% 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 0% 20% 40%

RGB Level Tracking

Red Tracking Green Tracking Blue Tracking

60% Percent Stimulation

80%

100%

Crashing the red contrast made the primary responses nice and flat, but I lost too much contrast at the high end..

Run 5
250% 200%

RGB Level Tracking

150%

100%
Red Tracking

50%

Green Tracking Blue Tracking

0% 0% 20% 40% Percent Stimulation 60% 80% 100%

Contrast for red was increased several clicks, but a minor amount of clipping is evident at 100%.

Run 6
200% 180% 160% 140% 120% 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 0% 20% 40%

RGB Level Tracking

Red Tracking Green Tracking Blue Tracking

60% Percent Stimulation

80%

100%

Zeroing in: There is Still some clipping in red after dropping its brightness a bit; and I also made minor changes to the blue/green contrast and brightness to balance these a bit better.
Figure 12. The RGB Level Tracking graphs show progress from measurement run to measurement run.

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

Page 19 of 26

Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users

Seven the Hard Way: A Happy Intermediate Point


After iterating through several measurement runs to get a feel for how the H77 responded to measurement changes, I finally achieved what would be a good intermediate point for a calibration. In other words, a stopping point where the colors are noticeably better, and I can go to bed satisfied that I had made some real progress. Given the difficulty in calibrating the H77, this represented about three hours worth of work!

Gamma continues to be smooth, with just a hint of run-out in red


Gamma
1.00 Target Actual 0.80 Red Green Blue 0.60
Luminance Target Gamma = 2.22 Actual Gamma = 2.92

0.40

0.20

0.00 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Percent Stimulation

Figure 13. The gamma value of 2.9 is noticeably different from the standard 2.2.

but the RGB levels are within 10% from 40% upwards!
RGB Level Tracking 200% 180% 160% 140% 120% 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 0% 20% 40% Percent Stimulation 60% 80% 100%
Red Tracking Green Tracking Blue Tracking

Figure 14. A good goal for RGB level tracking is to have all colors within 10% from 20% upwards. The red primary is still a little excessive at 20%, requiring a further decrease in red brightness.

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

Page 20 of 26

Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users Also, my yellow is no longer too green; it is instead finally mostly yellow.
CIE Chromaticity
Rec. 709 coordinates
0.800

Reference Measured
0.700

0.600

0.500

0.400

C
0.300

0.200

M
0.100

0.000 0.000

0.100

0.200

0.300

0.400

0.500

0.600

0.700

x
Figure 15. Most primary and secondary colors are very close to the Rec 709 standard. Red is oversaturated by the manufacturers design, causing both the red primary and magenta secondary to be incorrect.

Primaries & Secondaries Rec. 709 coordinates White Red Green Blue Cyan (B+G) Magenta (B+R) Yellow (R+G)

E* 4.11 13.79 5.55 3.82 1.64 13.41 3.33

Figure 16. Correcting for gamma, only red and magenta show significant color error.

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

Page 21 of 26

Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users Once gamma error is factored out, the overall dE numbers look pretty good!:

Delta E

DE* (1994) DE* (1976)

Delta E

DE* (1994) DE* (1976)

100% 100%

Before
90% 90%

After

80%

80%

70%

70%

60%

60%

50%

50%

40%

40%

30%

30%

20%

20%

10%

10%

10

15

20

10

Figure 17. The chart on the left represents color error that includes gamma error, and the chart on the right excludes gamma error. The goal: less than 4 using either measure.

So, where does this leave me? I have much better coloration than I did before, but at the cost of about 500 points of contrast ratio (~2350:1 ~1850:1). In order to get gamma under control, the contrast ratio will have to come down further. Future changes that now can be made: Adjusting the red brightness down even more. A few more clicks downwards on red brightness should have the balance correct at the low end.

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users
Increasing red contrast, but just a hair. This will really only work if lowering the red brightness frees up headroom in red to allow the contrast increase to be meaningful. Otherwise, I will have to be satisfied with the slight dip at 100%. Finally, gamma needs to be brought within tolerance. The easiest way to do this will be to tweak the master contrast control down a tick or two at a time. However, it is not guaranteed that this wont affect each primary differently, thus throwing off the hardearned color balance!

The net result: I expect that the final calibration will come in at around 1500:1, which is not bad for a bulb with over 500 hours on it (bulbs decrease brightness with age, so I have had to increase the brightness to compensate at the low end; the loss of light at the top-end also hurts the overall ratio). However, this is far from the specified 3500:1 contrast ratio of the projector itself. Am I happy? You bet. Theodens beard in Lord of the Rings no longer looks like it has an algae infestation. Skin tones in movies are good, and people no longer look like walking zombies. Finally, snow is finally white, and is no longer a sort of icy blue. As for the loss of contrast ratio, you should note that on/off contrast is just that: a ratio. In my far-from-light-controlled living room, I have to have the brightness set much higher than if someone had a dedicated theater (e.g., a halving of the light output at the low end would double the calibrated contrast ratio). However, an elevated black level is the price I pay for Wife Approval Factor (WAF), and the ability to sit down with my wife and enjoy a movie away from the noisy local Cineplex.

Color and Tint: the Forgotten Stepchildren


So far, this guide has assumed that you have done a basic calibration using a test disc or the SpyderTV wizard. However, these discs walk you through making changes to controls like Color and Tint that we have not covered here until now. The preferred method of calibrating a digital display is to use a digital input like DVI or HDMI to establish a baseline calibration (use the service menu here if you want). However, very few TVs give you access to the Color and Tint controls when they are fed a digital signal. Instead, when you are ready to calibrate analog signals (e.g., component), you will need to validate your Color and Tint settings before touching the primary brightness and contrast controls. What these controls do: Color this can be thought of as changing the balance between red and green on the y axis. Tint this can be thought of as changing the balance on the x-axis (between red/green and blue). To set color and tint properly, you will need color gamut measurements and a lot of patience, or a set of filters and a test disc like AVIA or DVE, or a tool like the SpyderTV. If you are going the filter route and your favorite test disc does not include them, check your local camera store for red, green and blue filters if you do not want to buy a copy of AVIA or DVE.

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

Page 23 of 26

Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users

Wrapping-up
For my H77, the user menu brightness and contrast controls are input signal dependent. What this means is that my projector stores settings based upon the input chosen and the signal fed to the projector. This is actually quite a handy feature, since it means that the projector can be calibrated independently for almost all of my source equipment (e.g., DVD changer fed via component, DVHS deck fed via component (HD), HTPC fed via DVI, and HD Tivo fed via component). The problem is that calibrating this many inputs, well, requires calibrating that many inputs! This means time!! The good news is that since I started by calibrating my master RGB gains and biases in the service menu to the HD (Rec 709) standard, I just need to make minor tweaks to get the calibration correct. This is the real benefit of messing with a menu that can really screw up your TV (is this message clear yet?). So, where are we? The net impact is that my projectors color balance is much, much better. In fact, in previous viewings, the Lord of the Rings had a very distinctly green cast to it since it used many vibrant yellows and golds. Now, yellow and gold look like yellow and gold. There is still a bit of an overemphasized green to the movie, but this was present in the theatrical release as well. Basically, I like what I see a lot better and so does my wife. Hopefully, you will have similar success. Best of luck!

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

Page 24 of 26

Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users

APPENDIX: Accessing xyY Data


If you own the SpyderTV, you will need to enable the support mode to access the xyY data needed to perform a detailed calibration. To do this: 1. Right click on your desktop, and select New Shortcut from the context menu. 2. In the Create Shortcut dialog box, click Browse and navigate to where the SpyderTV executable was installed on your computer. The default is C:\Program Files\SpyderTV\SpyderTV.exe.

3. After the path to the executable, and outside the quotations, add the /support switch:

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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Display Calibration
Guide to Basic Display Calibration for New Users
4. Click Next and enter a name for the shortcut (e.g., SpyderTV Support), and then click Finish to finish creating the shortcut. 5. Double-clicking on the new shortcut will open the SpyderTV with the support window enabled. 6. Change the default Reading Time from 4 seconds to 9 to get better low-light accuracy.

7. When you need to take a reading, just click Single Reading, wait a bit for the sensor to take the measurement, and then copy the data into the appropriate cells in the tool. For Spyder2PRO Studio owners, you can get the xyY data from the colorimeter window by selecting the Tools Colorimeter menu option.

Figure 18. The Spyder2PRO Colorimeter tool provides extensive colorimetry data.

2005, Bill Blackwell, All Rights Reserved

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