Best Screen Calibration Methods?

MadMaverick wrote on 5/18/2016, 4:51 AM
The idea that hours of meticulous color correcting may have been wasted due to your screen not being properly calibrated makes me wanna pull my hair out. Of course, when others view your content, you can't help what settings they have on their display... but it'd be nice to get an accurate display on my own monitor.

So what do you guys recommend? What is the easiest/cheapest method of tackling this problem? I've heard of expensive programs, but is there perhaps a monitor that you can purchase that comes pre-programmed with the proper display settings?

...or is this ultimately an "in the eye of the beholder" kinda thing?

What brought this to my attention was a post I made a while back about editing on two monitors. People brought up how it's difficult to get your displays to match. I'm only really interested in having ONE display that is properly calibrated. I figure that as long as your screen that is displaying your video is properly calibrated, than it doesn't really matter if the other ones match.


musicvid10 wrote on 5/18/2016, 7:11 AM
The hardware solution is called a "Spyder," and they are expensive.
The free software solutions (Calibrize, Adobe Gamma) work, but only in the hands of experienced color techs. It's ridiculously easy to mess up screen gamma because people don't really know what they are seeing.

wwjd wrote on 5/18/2016, 7:57 AM
poor man's calibrations:

AVSHD709 (personal free fave)

I bought DVE Digital Video Essentials on DVD and Blu-Ray, and they work even better: Setup the TV, then setup the monitor to look the same (yes, there are a hundred things wrong with this method, but if the ultimate goal is to look good on your destination screen...)
Ultimately, I went with a color checker device like the Spyder
DiDequ wrote on 5/18/2016, 9:43 AM
DisplayCal is another freeware, but as mentioned by musicvid10, you have to know what you are doing.
Color management is all but simple.
You can buy for example a spyder pro express, and use it with this software to calibrate all your monitors. The spyder express software will only apply resulting calibration on ONE monitor !
riredale wrote on 5/18/2016, 2:27 PM
Setting gamma and black level is trivial; for color calibration you need a tool that sits in front of the screen.

Here is a simple chart that can be used to set gamma and black level. It comes from a dated but valid and very interesting website from a guy named Norman Koren.

For color, there are lots of different tools, most of which are a bit pricey. Years ago I bought a "Pantone HueyPro" which was pretty inexpensive (can't remember how much) and it was fascinating to watch it in action. I don't use it now, figuring that once was good enough for a long while.
DrLumen wrote on 5/18/2016, 4:43 PM
I use a color pic that was included in CorelDraw way back when. It has a picture of a girl, RGB and grayscale color ramps and color bars. I hold it to the screen and compare it to the electronic version that was also included and adjust the monitor to get as close as possible.

I have also found it useful when having graphics printed (ie Walgreens) to get an idea of how their printers are calibrated and then adjust my graphics accordingly.

I'm not going to say it is a valid or desirable option but it works for me.

intel i-4790k / Asus Z97 Pro / 32GB Crucial RAM / Nvidia GTX 560Ti / 500GB Samsung SSD / 256 GB Samsung SSD / 2-WDC 4TB Black HDD's / 2-WDC 1TB HDD's / 2-HP 23" Monitors / Various MIDI gear, controllers and audio interfaces

wwaag wrote on 5/18/2016, 7:35 PM
A new Spyder costs between $125 to $190 on Amazon. Only you can answer whether its worth the price. If you have a decent monitor, they are usually calibrated before leaving the factory, although drift can occur. Depending on your audience, it may not make any difference. Today, people use desktops, laptops, TVs, tablets, phones, etc. with great variation in their ability to accurately display video. In fact, I suspect that most consumer displays actually don't aim for color accuracy, but rather how to make it more "appealing" with overly saturated, vivid colors. I have 4 HD TV's at home and they are all different. If your audience is the general public, then striving for color accuracy may indeed be a fools errand. Usually, there are lots of complaints about content, but rarely color unless it's really way off. OTOH, if you just want to be sure or if you're a bit obsessive, get a Spyder--I use one.

ushere wrote on 5/18/2016, 9:01 PM
+1 spyder

though i used to simply use my colorite card and an on screen display of it and simply eyeball.
VidMus wrote on 5/18/2016, 10:23 PM
I just bought the Spyder Pro on sale from B&H for $119.99.

I am supposed to get it next Tuesday, May 24. I will reply and let you know what my results are.

MadMaverick wrote on 5/19/2016, 4:49 AM
Thanks for the info guys. I wonder which version of the Spyder I should purchase?

Also, is it easy to use? I'm reading about there being several settings, and fear that I may just be opening up a whole other can of worms.

musicvid10 wrote on 5/19/2016, 7:13 AM
There is a rather steep learning curve involved if one does not already know color science.
Put an ad on craigslist and rent someone with a Spyder and experience.
As with cars, it's not worth purchasing expensive test equipment if you only own one or two vehicles.

That said it is extremely important to have a properly calibrated monitor if one is at all serious editing. But the mistake most hobbyists make is stopping there. Your masterpiece will look far different on a teevee, cheap laptop, tablet, or phone. I will take clips to a big box store to preview on as many devices as possible before settling on a final "look."

wwaag wrote on 5/19/2016, 12:15 PM
There is a rather steep learning curve involved if one does not already know color science.

Perhaps this is true for the newer high end models, but for the version I've been using for a few years now, it's really pretty simple. Just hang the Spyder on the monitor and start the program which guides you through all of the steps. Once completed, a new color profile is created which is then automatically loaded when you load Windows. Recently, I've only used it to confirm my Dell U2412M monitors were correctly calibrated when delivered--which they were.

But the mistake most hobbyists make is stopping there. Your masterpiece will look far different on a teevee, cheap laptop, tablet, or phone. I will take clips to a big box store to preview on as many devices as possible before settling on a final "look."

This seems to be the crux of the issue. Because of such differences, you inevitably end up with a compromise which is optimized for no one, which is probably OK since it's really not that important for most viewers in the first place.

Accurate monitor calibration is an absolute necessity in the photography world where prints are still being produced. For video aimed at the consumer, I'm not so sure.

musicvid10 wrote on 5/19/2016, 1:16 PM
I would agree, except suspending education in the shadow of entropy is repulsive to me.

JohnnyRoy wrote on 5/19/2016, 5:04 PM
+1 Spyder

Your eyes have no clue what color white is. Your brain will trick you into thinking the color on the sides of this forum are white. Hold a piece of white paper next to it and suddenly it doesn't look that white anymore.

You can only accurately calibrate a monitor with a hardware calibrator. Anything less is just a guess because your brain will perceive what makes sense, not what actually exists.

Do you really want to calibrate your monitor with your eyes when they will tell you that A and B are not the same color in the image below:

hint: they are the same!

VidMus wrote on 5/19/2016, 6:32 PM
@ JohnnyRoy

A and B look the same to me. The paper cannot look white in my room because the light is way too warm for it to do so.

My computer room is also my bedroom and the light is such that I can turn it on in the middle of the night without blasting my eyes with too much light. There is still plenty of light when I am working at the computer.

I do know that our brains can have a huge affect on what we see which is why I can have a terrible time finding things. I can be looking at the item I am looking for and not notice that it is right there.

There was a time when I was looking at my kitchen table and my mind showed it to me as being 100% clear of any items. Then all of a sudden an item literally dissolved in and was there. There was nothing spooky about the item itself. My mind simply started gradually showing me what was actually there. I have a spooky mind. LOL! And the older I get, the more spooky my mind gets.

When I was writing my book it was so obvious that one cannot proof-read their own book. As long as one knows what it is suppose to say, they will most likely NOT see what it is actually saying. It can take many, many views of it to finally see the error. And usually not until another person shows the error to me.

Maybe it is a good thing that our video cameras are not as smart as our visual systems are.

A lot of interesting things can be said on this subject.

Oh and by the way, there is our hearing system which can profoundly affect what we hear. Or, what we think we hear.

aboammar wrote on 5/19/2016, 6:43 PM

That is intersting, I see A very dark gray, and B very light gray :)

HP Z1 AIO Workstation G3

OS: Windows 10 Pro 64bit

Display: 23.6" UHD 4K

CPU: Xeon E3-1270 v5  quad-core @ 3.60GHz, 8MB cache, up to 4GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology

GPU: nVidia Quadro M2000M 4GB

RAM: 32GB DDR4 2133MHz ECC memory

System Drive: 1TB M.2 (2500MB/s)

Working Drive: 1TB M.2 (2500MB/s)

Storage Drive: 3GB SSD (500MB/s)

Video: Vegas Pro 16 Suite / DaVinci Resolve 16 Studio

Audio: PreSonus Studio One Pro 4

Graphics: CorelDraw Technical Suite 2018 / Xara Designer Pro X

Image Editing: Corel PhotoPaint 2018 / Corel PaintShop Pro X9 Ultimate / PHASEONE Capture One Pro 11

3D Graphics: Maxon Cinema 4D Studio 10



MadMaverick wrote on 5/20/2016, 1:53 AM
Which version of Spyder do you use wwaag? I guess I should get that one.

I wish all displays were accurately calibrated in the first place.
DiDequ wrote on 5/20/2016, 7:54 AM
The spyder sensor is the same - only the spyder software changes.
If you only have one monitor connected on your computer -> Spyder express is OK
If 2 monitors are connected : spyder express + displaycal OR
If 2 monitors are connected : spyder pro or elite and you can forget displaycal
Barry W. Hull wrote on 5/20/2016, 3:48 PM
The problem with this forum is that it keeps reminding me how stoopid I am, and then exposes me to more stuff I need to buy.
astar wrote on 5/20/2016, 4:14 PM
Calman is true pro grade, but the x-rite, Spyder, colormunki would all better than nothing at all or using test patterns by eye.
wwaag wrote on 5/20/2016, 7:34 PM
Which version of Spyder do you use wwaag?

I am still using the original Spyder 2 colorimeter. I was unaware that the freeware "displaycal" would work with this relatively old piece of hardware. Spyder is now up to version 5. I have no idea what the hardware differences between the different colorimeters, except the newer versions take into account ambient lighting. I would suspect they are improved, but how much, I have no idea. You might do a search. You can still get these older ones on E-bay for $20 or $30, so this would be a really cheap way to go if money is an issue. In any case, I'll give "displaycal" a go with the Spyder 2 to see how it works. Even though the version of the original software only worked with a single monitor, it was pretty easy to switch the main window to each monitor, do a calibration, save the profile, and then load the two profiles when windows started.

MadMaverick wrote on 5/21/2016, 1:12 AM
Sounds like the price is right for me. Let me know how displaycal works with your Spyder 2 wwaag. I wonder if using displaycal would enable you to take ambient light into account?

Speaking of which, what type of lighting environment is ideal for color correcting? It seems like I recall people color correcting in dimly lit rooms in documentary's and behind the scenes featurettes. Should it be as dark as possible in the room? I usually just have a lamp on in my room.

Aside from proper screen calibration, is there really any right or wrong way to color correct? It seems like an "in the eye of the beholder" kinda thing.

Lastly, will Spyder work on calibrating Televisions?
wwaag wrote on 5/22/2016, 2:20 PM
Let me know how displaycal works with your Spyder 2 wwaag.

DisplayCal works very well with my old Spyder 2. The only hiccup was obtaining the Spyder 2 firmware. You can find it online or extract it from the original CD that was shipped with Spyder 2. It is indeed very complex, but there is a Quick Start Guide that will enable you to do an initial calibration using the default settings. I found an online YT tutorial that was also helpful. The one really nice feature is that you can do initial settings with your monitor controls for desired Luminance and RGB values which I presume gets you in the "ballpark" for a proper calibration. The calibration itself takes a very long time--a couple of hours--even longer for increased precision and a large number of patches. You can then load that profile and set is as your default. For me at least, I confirmed what I had found earlier--that my Dell U2412M monitors were calibrated reasonably well "out of the box".

I wonder if using displaycal would enable you to take ambient light into account?

Yes, there is an option for that, but you need a colorimeter that measures ambient lighting. From what I gather, Spyder 3 and above have such a capability. However, it seems useful only if you have an environment where the lighting changes--for example, in a room with a window where outside light varies. From what I've read, if the lighting in your environment is constant, then it seems that there is no need for such a capability.

Lastly, will Spyder work on calibrating Televisions?

Only if you use them as an external monitor. There are versions specifically designed for standalone TVs that make use of a DVD for presenting the color patches.

Having done this, I guess I would recommend just buying the latest PRO version or get at least a Spyder 3 that has provisions for ambient lighting and also wide gamut color spaces since the Spyder 2 seems limited to sRGB.

For anyone else, I'm curious as to what luminance levels you use when doing your calibration? I'm using 140 cd/m2, but this may be too high. Recommendations?

musicvid10 wrote on 5/22/2016, 5:45 PM
I wasnt aware that spyder 2 would work on anything later than XP.
I've got one in a box somewhere.

wwaag wrote on 5/23/2016, 5:03 PM

It does work on win 7 64bit using displaycal without issue. If you want to use the original software you will need to download version 2_2.3.5 which supplies 64 bit drivers. Apparently, it works OK for some, not for others. II have two systems. On my old system, it installed and ran OK. On my editing system (the one with displaycal installed), I could not get it to work, although it may have if I uninstalled the displaycal drivers. The displaycal software appears to be so much better, so I didn't bother. If you find your old spyder 2 and need some assistance installing displaycal, send me a PM.