This thread will be a DIY display calibrations walk through/how-to using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software. Before we get started I think it's best if we discuss/describe/define our goal or at least what should be our goal in calibrating our display. Rather than put my own words and keyboard to work on this I'm just going to quote the folks at CinemaQuest which is located here. I really don't think that anyone states it better than Alan Brown does and I would be doing him a disservice by attempting to do so without acknowledging his article, so here it is:
Items NeededWhat is Video Display Calibration?
The foundational and primary goal of display calibration is image fidelity (faithfulness to the original program). Video is a mass communication medium. The objective of any communication medium is to convey an original message as accurately and completely as possible. Any alteration of the message becomes a distortion of the original intent. Example: the parlor game where a circle of people pass a whispered message, delivered to the first person in the circle, then whispered to the next, on around the circle, and finally the last person announces what he thinks the message was. Invariably, each person alters the message slightly until the final recipient announces a garbled version that typically bears little resemblance to the original.
The video industry is governed and guided by standards, engineering guidelines, and recommended practices, defined by organizations such as: the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), etc. These standards and practices are intended to encourage and preserve: signal, equipment, and program accuracy, integrity, unity, consistency, and repeatability, all along the chain from program production, through post-production, to exhibition/broadcast/tape/DVD/etc., and finally to the audience (consumer). If at any step along this path, industry standards are deviated from, the program can become diSt0rtEddd.
Video displays used by program professionals are designed, manufactured and calibrated to tightly adhere to industry standards. They include in their design certain features that allow technicians to adjust them periodically (sometimes each day), using reference test signals, to insure picture accuracy. Such professional video monitors cost up to tens of thousands of dollars for relatively small sized screens. They must perform reliably for years, sometimes operating around the clock.
Consumer displays typically are designed, manufactured and adjusted at the factory to appeal to focus groups and the uninformed masses. Few consumers have ever seen a reference picture displayed on a calibrated broadcast or post-production monitor. Therefore, consumers are left to guess what their TV picture is supposed to look like.
Consumer TVs and projectors cost far less than professional displays. Manufacturers often cut corners to reduce costs in order to compete with one another in the marketplace. They also adjust their products at the factory to attract attention to their TVs on a show floor alongside samples of their competitors' wares. This could be compared to straining one's voice in a shouting match. Such over-accentuated pictures may dazzle the casual shopper but are not representative of correct pictures for regular viewing in the home. Video industry standards and practices are regularly deviated from and ignored by manufacturers. Fortunately, most consumer displays include adjustment features that allow someone who knows what they're doing to make the picture behave closer to proper standards.
Display calibration is simply making adjustments to the video device in order to achieve a more accurate picture. The artists who produce video programs want their intended audience to see what they saw on their calibrated professional monitors. Uncalibrated consumer displays cannot convey faithfully what the program originator intended. A distorted picture is the result. Artistic integrity is lost. Distortion reduces the value of any program and prevents the owner of the equipment from fully enjoying the capabilities of the display device they have purchased. The picture may be "watchable" and even enjoyable to an individual viewer- up to a point. Most consumers are never aware just how much better their programs can look if they were able to experience the picture the originator of the program envisioned.
Some consumers may actually prefer a distorted picture. For more discriminating viewers, there are resources available that help bring correct imaging into their home. Professional results can be obtained from consumer display devices with the right understanding, skills and tools. Reference test signals and simple tutorial programs have become available on DVD for many years to help the consumer make some picture adjustments. These programs are limited, however. The most complete resource for optimizing consumer displays is available in the form of professional calibration services. Such services can be performed by consumers, but only after much study, investment in technical instruments, suitable aptitude, and perseverance. Hiring a trained professional is much less daunting to the average display owner.
In any case, the display owner must keep in mind that the goal of calibration is not to achieve any individual's preconceived notion of what a "good" image should look like. The originator of a given video program is the one responsible for determining how the image is supposed to appear. The goal of calibration is to make the display behave as much like a professional monitor as possible. Ideally, the display should serve as a neutral and accurate communicator of the video signals delivered for the viewer. Only then can artistic integrity, display accuracy, and image fidelity be completely enjoyed. In the end, it's really all about correctly communicating the art.
To start with, what you will need in order to get started will be a meter (either a colorimeter or a spectroradiometer/spectrophotometer), a computer (preferably a laptop for it's portability), a disc with the calibration patterns and the CalMAN software package from SpectraCal.
Meters range anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to well over $20,000. For our purposes, we'll stick to the cheaper tristimulus colorimeters. They are called tristimulus because they have three filters (red, green, and blue) that they use in order to measure the light hitting them. In the past, these filters were not very durable and subject to early breakdown when exposed to high humidity, sunlight, high temperatures, and or a combination of any or all of these. Some of these meters were early Spyder and i1Display 2 meters. This is the reason why we recommend storing your meter in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. It's also helpful to keep it in an airtight case or even a Ziploc bag with a desiccant pack. If you are buying a meter for the first time and you want to get a colorimeter, we highly recommend getting a new one. You never know how old a used meter is or whether it has drifted out of calibration over that time. SpectraCal sells several affordable meters including the M2 for $195, the i1Display Pro OEM for $295, and the DTP-94 for $395. They also sell the C6 and the Chroma 5 for $695. If you want the more accurate spectroradiometer, your options are the Colormunki for $599 or an i1Pro for $1029. There are bundles that include the CalMAN software available at a discounted price. For instance, an i1Display 2 (not available separately) with CalMAN is $249.
You also will need a computer, preferably a laptop for it's portability. It will have to have Microsoft Windows installed on it and Microsoft.NET framework version 3.5 or later. The Microsoft.NET framework should be installed before you install CalMAN. It's available here at the SpectraCal site. They are working on a Mac version but I have no timeline for that at this moment.
A disc with the patterns can be downloaded at SpectraCal's site. Here is the link. They are at the bottom of this page. Another option is to purchase the Get Gray disc. It is available for a small donation of $25 here. If you buy one of the packages (software + meter) from SpectraCal, they include a burned copy of the Get Gray disc. If you bought a copy of DVE HD Basics, the grayscale patterns are available on that disc.
CalMAN is available form SpectraCal. Cost will vary depending upon if your buying the software alone or if you're buying one of the packages - meter + software. The CalMAN thread here is kept up to date (within a day or two or three) of the newest versions and includes the link to download the software. When you get to the SpectraCal page be advised that you have to enter an email address. And you usually get an email from SpectraCal within a few minutes of submitting the form.
Now that you have everything you need, let's get everything set up!
The first thing you should do is to turn your display on. I've never seen a hard fast rule for this but I always like to let my displays warm up for at least a couple of hours. It would also be a good idea to set up your meter at this time as well if you are using it on anything but front projection. A lot of colorimeters are temperature sensitive - meaning that there readings will fluctuate as they warm up. Once they are at a stable temp they tend to give stable readings. Regarding the C6/i1Display Pro, they are not temperature sensitive and do not need to be warmed up with the display.
Setup for Plasma, LCD, LCD/LED
If your placing your meter on your display and it doesn't sit flush, you can use the blue painter's tape to help hold it in place. Just be sure to only adhere the tape to the bezel of your display. When I use tape on my flat panels with my Chroma 5, the tape is only adhered to the sides of the bezel and the back of the display. The new C6 and the OEM/retail i1Display Pro can be used with a tripod mount to get close to the display. I've heard that they don't actually have to be touching the display. But it's always been my thought that if you're going to be within a couple of inches of the display, you might as well put it flush. You'll also want there to be as little ambient light as possible. I use a 6 foot square of black velvet in my living room when calibrating my LED/LCD. I tape it to the top back side and drape it over the front leaving enough room to read the displays menu system. Most, if not all, colorimeters have a felt type of padding on them so that they won't harm the display. The Chroma5 comes with suction cups as well but I do not advise using them as they may harm the display's glass. Use the felt attachment.
Setup for Front Projection
You will need a tripod for this and some sort of holder for your meter. Some meters have this included with them, some don't. For those that don't, I've used something like this device with an i1Display2 in the past and it worked well. You just use it upside down and use the flexible legs to hold the meter.
Direct from Projector
As far as setting up the meter for optimal readings, I prefer to use a diffusor to get the readings directly from the projector itself. This is ideal if you are certain that your screen is a neutral material. Color neutrality means that all colors are reflected back the same as they come from the projector. If you're not sure, ask. I've tested a lot of screen materials over the last several years and chances are I will know if it's close to neutral or not. Make sure you use a diffusor that comes with your meter and never point the meter directly at the projector without it in place! You can ruin your sensor this way! Set the meter up on a tripod facing the projector a few feet in front of the screen. I find it easiest to put up a 100% White pattern and take note of the shadow cast by the meter to make sure it's set up properly. You can also bring up the luminance screen (see bottom of post #2) within CalMAN and get continuous readings. Adjust the meter until the luminance reads at the highest point.
Direct from Screen
If you are unsure whether or not your screen material is neutral or not, setup your meter to get readings directly off of the screen. Again, setup the meter using a tripod. There is no need for a diffusor when getting readings this way so make sure that you have removed it. Setup the meter/tripod as close as you can get to the screen and adjust it so that the meter is at an angle facing upwards. This will keep the meter's shadow that it casts out of it's optics. Bring up the luminance screen in CalMAN (bottom of post #2 below) and adjust the meter until the luminance is reading the highest point.
Setting up CalMAN
The DIY version of CalMAN includes several workflows. A workflow is kind of like a template. You load the workflow for what best suits you and your display. Unfortunately, some of the workflows available will not be applicable to you. For instance, if you don't own a DVDO Duo, an eeColor or a Radiance, those workflows are useless to you. And yet they are included and will open up with the DIY version. Other workflows, such as the JVC, will act like they are opening up only to tell you at the end that your not licensed for reports. It's best if you just stick to the reports that are there for you. They are Introduction, Standard_DDC, and QuickView_DDC. Before going any further, it's probably best if you load up and go through the Introduction workflow. It will go over a lot of what I'm going to cover here - the user interface, tabs, workflows, creating workflows, etc.
Now that you have finished the Introduction workflow, it's time to get started. Open the left side tab labeled Workflow. With that open, click on the blue folder. A dialog box will pop up and list a bunch of workflows. Scroll down and open the workflow labeled "Standard_DDC". They are listed alphabetically.
With the Standard workflow open there is a little bit of housekeeping to do before we are ready to calibrate. Hopefully your meter is already plugged in and your version of Windows has loaded the appropriate driver for it. If for some reason it hasn't and you cannot find a driver on your hard drive for your meter, you can download the drivers from SpectraCal at the 'Drivers and Resources' download page located here.
You should now be greeted with the home or welcome screen - first thumbnail on the left. On the right hand tabs click on the settings tab. This should open up the right hand tabs and there should be a list of items - Meter Settings, Meter Initialization, Source Settings, Display Control, Options, Miscellaneous, License, and Logging. Let's go over each of these so that you have a better understanding of what they are.
Meter Settings: This is where you will select your meter and the mode that you will be using it. Hopefully your meter is already listed. If not, you'll want to click on the search button. A box will then open and list a bunch of different advanced meter. Just ignore all the meters it has listed, verify that the 'Com Port' is set to auto and click on the search button again. CalMAN should then find your meter and have it listed under 'Meter'. If it failed to find it again there are a couple of things that could be wrong. I've found that sometimes, especially when changing meters while CalMAN is open, that CalMAN won't always see the new meter. This doesn't happen that often and should never happen to you, but it's usually fixed by closing and re-opening CalMAN. The other thing that could be wrong is that the driver for your meter did not load or isn't installed. See the link two paragraphs above for a download location for drivers.
Once your meter is selected you want to select the mode that is applicable to your display - LCD Direct for LCDs, Plasma for plasmas and so on. If you don't know which mode to select post your question here and someone will help you out.
At the bottom there is an Advanced check box. It is unchecked and for our purposes you can leave it unchecked. It contains the low light handler - which is used along with meters that don't handle the lower gray scale well - and meter profiling, which isn't considered diy video calibration by us, and the hot key dialog. None of those are necessary for our purposes at this point. Depending upon your meter the Low Light Handler may be something that you will need to use in the future. But for now just leave the box unchecked.
Some meters require a dark reading to initialize themselves every 15 minutes or so - i1Display 2, i1Pro, Hubble/OTC-1000, etc. If your meter requires initialization, this dialog box will be active and you would click the initialize button on the bottom to accomplish this task. There is another way to do this though and it's a bit quicker in my view. In the upper left of the program you will see your meter listed with a round circle next to it. If you just initialized your meter, this circle will be green with a number in it. The number is the amount of time, in minutes, you have left until you have to reinitialize your meter. If you didn't initialize your meter yet, it will be red. It will turn red when its time to re-initialize as well. To initialize your meter, all you have to do is click on that circle at any time and it will open up the Meter Initialization tab. If your meter doesn't require initialization, it will say so here as it does in the thumbnail to the right.
Source Settings refer to where you are getting your pattern images from to calibrate your display. For the DIY'er this should be set to 'Optical player or video generator (manual control)'. The advanced options box should be unchecked. Those options deal with pattern generators and should be left alone.
Unless you own a Duo, Radiance, eeColor or one of the various displays that have direct control, this option should be left alone as well. It's probably important to note here that if you do own one of the displays listed, that does not give you the option of enabling this and utilizing it. Direct display calibration or automated calibration requires an additional license. It should look as it does in the thumbnail to the left.
There are several things that we will need to look at under options. The first being the Gamut Target and the Gamma Formula. These should be defaulted at their proper settings - D65,Rec 709 and Power respectively. Unless you are in Europe or another country that utilizes PAL (Phase Alternating Line), leave these alone. To the right of the Gamma Formula is the Gamma Target Exponent. It is defaulted at 2.2. This can be changed to 2.4 for a dark theater room using a projector. Generally, it can be set anywhere from 2.2-2.5.
Next up are the grayscale options. Here you can select which patterns you'd like to use for checking and adjusting your grayscale. For instance, if you're using a meter that doesn't read that well at the lower percentages, you should set this at 9 Step 20-100%. I use that setting for all of my meters as they're not that fast or accurate, in my opinion, at 0 and 10%. If you are using a C6 or a i1Display Pro, you can set this to 10 Step 10-100%. Underneath this selection is a check box labeled 'Gray Scale Window Field'. If you are calibrating a plasma or a CRT, leave the box checked (default). LCD, LED/LCD, DLP, and front projection you can uncheck that box. Plasmas have something called a Auto Brightness Limiter or ABL that limits the brightness of a full screen white image. That is why you want to use the window patterns with a plasma. Underneath this you will see something called 'Screen Offset'. This is something that can be utilized in front projection. You would take a reading of your screen (requires a spectroradiometer) and then enter the values in the boxes. You can then calibrate your projector directly - pointing the meter at the projector instead of at the screen. This requires the use of a diffusor - built into the C6/i1Display Pro and comes with other meters. Unless you have a spectroradiometer and took a measurement of your projector screen, leave this unchecked.
Next down the list is Gamut Options. Leave the Stimulus level set at 75%. If you only have 100% patterns you can change it to 100%. Just make sure that whatever level you change it to you use the same white pattern. To the right there is the Window Field box again and the same rule applies here - plasma and CRT - leave it checked. Anything else you can uncheck the box. Leave the White Reference box checked as that is how it will calculate the proper levels for your primaries and secondaries.
Finally, in the lower box, labeled 'Levels Options', leave this on the default - Video (16-235).
Under Misc. Options you can select the Units Standard (fL - foot lamberts or cdm - nits) and the stimulus (percent, IRE-NTSC, IRE-PAL or bits). You can choose whatever unit standard that you are more comfortable with. As for the stimulus, leave it at percent. Underneath these there are 3 check boxes. The first is Pattern Change Prompts. This creates a prompt for you to change the pattern on your display before you take the next measurement - ie if you just measured 20% a popup window will tell you to change to the 30% pattern. Then there is an Auto Advance box and a Pattern Sense box. Leave those unchecked.
Under 3rd party compatibility just leave it at the defaults. Make sure US Standard is selected under the keyboard option and that the enable keyboard shortcuts box is checked.
For the Interactive target, this is were you would select the dE (Delta Error) formula you wish to use and what the target should be - if you select a value of 2.5 then CalMAN will autocal to a dE of 2.5 or less according to the formula you selected. Since this is DIY and that would be an additional cost, we won't worry about this right now.
This is where you enter your license information. Copy your license key from the email you received from SpectraCal and past it in the New License box. Then click on the 'Add New License' button.
This is something that you should just leave alone. Logs are kept on errors by default but the rest are unchecked. If you are having issues of any kind, the support folks at SpectraCal may ask you to enable more logs and email these to them in order to help you solve your problems.
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