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Jeff Murray, formerly with Sencore, now President of SpectrCal Sales, Inc. has been touring the US, giving one day classes for Professionals (8 hours) and a shorter class for enthusiasts. They have been demonstrating the new version 4 of CalMAN software, as well as the new DVDO Duo processor, the VideoEQ processor, the Lumagen Radiance processor, the Quantum signal generator and HDMI tester, and other products that they sell as well as providing calibration training with hands on time with various displays, probes, and processors.

I attended the class in Tampa and will be putting together notes on some of the content and products and posting here, but will likely not have time to do so for a couple of weeks. If anyone has any questions about any of these products or the new software, I will be happy to answer them.

Generally, the class is rather ambitious for one day, hitting the high points and focusing on questions as needed for the audience needs. Those attending were a surprising mix of professionals from a number of industries that use video displays, as well as home theater techs and calibrators. Jeff's delivery and preparation were average, IME, not having the personality of someone like Joel Silver of ISF, but he does have a great deal of experience with lots of different products and test equipment, and provides a broader view of the available equipment and its best application. Overall, I found it a useful day, mostly by being able to try out some processors that I had not previously calibrated with. The calibration and video science content was nothing new, but was likely useful for many of the attendees.

I have been a Beta tester of the version 4 software, but frankly had not used it since one of the very early Beta releases. I had some issues with it and never got any response to my comments from anyone at SpectraCal, and have been busy with other matters, so I never returned to it. It is a VERY ambitous program. It is also VERY good and will do so much that no other program will do that I have to say I was impressed. I was not impressed with a few bugs, but we were not using the final release for the class, but a late release candidate. I presume that they have most of those worked out. SpectraCal has obviously devoted a great deal of programming effort into this version, and the result is going to dominate the business. The ability to automate calibration and work interactively with direct interfaces to the various processors (this is implemented now) and displays (coming, but I understand the Panasonic interface is very close) results in greater accuracy in very short periods of time with the right equipment. The smoothness of the integration for using multiple probes profiled to one another to take advantage of their inherent strengths will make this practice quite the norm for many calibrators who simply have not done so in the past.

More to come on the software and the processors...
 

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I'm signed up for the September class in Minneapolis. :T And I too experienced some of the early bugs in the early beta releases. I rarely got any of the beta versions to run. And when I did they were very limited. I am encouraged that they've released the final version though.

My biggest issue with v4 though is backward compatibility. None of the saved files from previous versions are compatible with v4. That's a game breaker for me. I have a lot of screen/paint/calibration data saved that I want to be able access. And I can't do that with v4. I have it installed but I have yet to try the released version. I'm waiting for v4.1 to have, what I consider, a major fix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was not aware of data incompatability. That is a real problem if they have not fixed it.
 

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I'm unsure if they're taking it seriously or not. I would hope so. My guess would be that a pro calibrator would like to be able to bring up a previous calibration of the same set in one program. Right now you have to hang on to v3.7 in order to view the old data.

I put up a request at their forum for this to be included. I'll go check on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It really is a well thought out program. There were a few things that did not work in the version that we used, but Jeff says that they are fixed in the released version. I would be very surprised if that is not functional. We have to be able to access and use old data.
 

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After further review, the importer did nothing more than import my name, address, etc. It did not import my data. And apparently that was all it was designed to do.

I'll be sticking with 3.7 for a spell longer I guess. :rolleyesno:
 

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I finally got to sit down and actually work with version 4 for awhile on Friday evening. Profiling a meter has become a dream. You can profile a meter simultaneously with your spectro. It did burp a couple times. But I'm pretty sure it was the USB ports because I switched to a powered hub and the burps never surfaced again. I'm going to play with it some more to try and determine how the data is tied to the workflow. I'll have to create some custom workflows and get a lot of readings. May take some time.

One thing that I really do like about version 4 is that it's a lot easier on the eyes. Calibrating a projector usually involves a dark room. And the old bright layout did cause some eye strain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I still have not had time to work with it, and likely will not for another couple of weeks. Last week I was out at scout camp with the boys all week, this week will be catching up, then next week we have the NESDA convention and training in Nashville most of the week.

I will be interested to get your feedback on the class, mech. It is very ambitious, trying to get so much into one day.
 

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The remaining dates on this tour are:

Philadelphia, PA – July 30
New York, NY - Aug. 3
Boston, MA – Aug. 6
Pittsburgh, PA – Aug. 10
Cleveland, OH – Aug. 13
Toronto, ON – Aug. 17
Detroit, MI – Aug. 20
Cincinnati, OH – Aug. 24
Chicago, IL – Aug. 27
Milwaukee, WI – Aug. 31
Minneapolis, MN – Sept. 2
Sioux Falls, SD – Sept. 3

There is an 8am - 5pm hands-on session for the Pros, and an introductory 3 hr evening session from 6-9 pm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
louerhardt, are you affiliated with Spectracal?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you for the information, Lou. I hope some of our users will find it useful and choose to take the class. We look forward to your contributions to the forum. I noted that you have a rental deal on some meters that enthusiasts may find useful. Which ones do you do that for and does the into session get someone to the point where they would be able to DIY a calibration? I think lots of our users are going to fall into the category that you deal with at Spectracal and I would like to expand our offerings in this area for them.
 

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Thank you for the warm welcome! To answer your question, currently we are just experimenting with the rental program on the ColorMunki. We're trying to emphasize the importance and benefits of meter profiling. For those that don't have a spectrophotometer, this is a great way to transfer that accuracy over to your tristimulus meter(s). For those using the new software version, this is as simple as selecting your target and reference meters in the dropdown boxes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I see. So someone who has a less expensive meter could rent it, profile their meter to the CM, and perhaps get better results on sets that require a spectrophotometer?
 

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Exactly. Essentially the spectro meter creates a profile looking at the spectral characteristics of your specific display. That information is used as a reference and then transfered to your tristimulus meter. You then get the best of both worlds: Increased accuracy from the Spectro, Increased low light sensitivity and measurement speed from the Tristim.

We do the same procedure using a $30k Spectroradiometer as a reference to add profiles on our meters before they ship. In our case, we're using reference displays in our labs that have been found to behave with typical spectral characteristics for a given technology (LCD, LED, CRT, etc). In the users' cases, they can now do this on their own display(s). This is very helpful since displays will slightly vary with their unique spectral characteristics, even when comparing among the same technology.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Are you considering a rental program that includes a limited time use of the software and meter? It seems to me that many may want to DIY a calibration and not invest in the equipment and software for a one time use.
 

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Good question! We don't really have a way to rent the software, since the calibrator is purchasing a key. In those cases (for a one-time calibration) we would be happy to recommend a nearby CalMAN Professional to assist you. There are very accurate and powerful tools available to pros, and many of the ISF calibrators are offering fairly robust calibrations for about $300 or so. That varies slightly by area and on your specific needs.

For the DIY folk, we DO also offer some very nice entry-level packages for a bit less than that. Even if you are new to calibrating, you can easily remain budget-conscientious and still have access to all the support channels we have available. It is also worthy of mention that as displays age and change, so does their performance. Thus, annual or semi-annual recalibrations are often recommended to maintain optimum performance. This is another definite advantage (economically speaking) for the do-it-yourselfer.
 

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I will be interested to get your feedback on the class, mech. It is very ambitious, trying to get so much into one day.
Will do Len. The class was full and due to my lousy yahoo email account, I didn't verify my registration until yesterday. Steve Jackson helped me get into the course. :T

I was actually shocked at the response from the professional side. I really didn't think it would fill up but it did rather quickly. Steve tells me there's not as much enthusiasm for the Enthusiast course though. It may be canceled if there aren't more sign-ups. So if there are any calibration enthusiasts out there near Minneapolis, I'd recommend going just so you can understand the process better. I'd bet you can learn more in this short 3 hour course than you can browsing the internet. I guess I shouldn't say 'more', but you'll get the info you need quicker. If anyone is interested they can sign up here.

I've used version 4 a couple times so far and I like what I see. But I haven't put it through the paces like I did with version 3. I really need to get through the tutorials so that I can create some custom layouts.
 
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