THX Certified Calibration Workshop: For The Skills - AVS Forum
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Old 08-08-2014, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
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THX Certified Calibration Workshop: For The Skills



Display calibration is both an art and a science, requiring specialized knowledge and tools. The THX Certified Calibration Workshop imparts that knowledge in three intense days.

It's been seven months since I took the THX Certified Calibration Workshop right after CES 2014 in Las Vegas. Now, properly calibrated color is an obsession of mine. As a professional photographer, I've worked with color for over two decades, and I was certainly familiar with color and grayscale calibration. However, I didn't possess the holistic understanding of calibration that I do now—the workshop cemented my knowledge of the topic.

Taking the THX workshop requires a significant investment in time and money, so if you just want to learn how to calibrate your own TV, it's not necessarily the right approach—there are other ways to learn calibration that cost thousands of dollars less. The workshop is a significant financial investment that can form the foundation of a career.

The next THX Certified Calibration Workshop takes place in Denver and coincides with CEDIA 2014. Specifically, the THX Video Level 1 class is Wednesday September 10 (offered as a part of the CEDIA trade show) and the Level 2 class takes place immediately after the show, on Sunday and Monday, Sept 14 and 15.

Here's a recap of my experience at the THX workshop.

My THX Video Calibration immersion lasted three days. Day one was taken up by the Level 1 workshop, a brutal exercise in rapid learning capped by a hands-on calibration. When you attend the Level 1 workshop and pass an exam, you earn the status of "THX Certified Professional."

Days two and three were devoted to the Level 2 workshop. The class shrank by a few members, which made the student/gear/instructor ratio even more favorable than it was on day one. That's a good thing, because both days of Level 2 training involved a lot of hands-on practice.


Zed works on an LG OLED HDTV

The technical side of TV calibration is approachable enough to grasp in three days, as long as you are reasonably tech savvy. The process is a bit complicated, and it does require some math, but ultimately you can become proficient at calibrating TVs in a matter of weeks—not years. However, calibration is also an art—it requires a good eye for color. TVs vary from one to the next in myriad ways. Two TVs from the same product line will not necessarily look identical to each other when using the same settings—to achieve a picture that is as accurate as possible requires individual calibration of each display device.

During breakfast on day three, an analogy popped into my head that illustrates what calibration is all about: Declining to calibrate a TV is essentially like buying new tires for your car, but declining to have them balanced. Thanks to various factors, including how the tire mounts to the rim as well as wear-and-tear, it is impossible to make tires that are always perfectly balanced. The same thing goes for TVs—it's simply not possible to mass-produce TVs that are perfectly calibrated from the factory.

The techniques I learned in the Level 1 and 2 workshops helped me get a better picture on the various display devices that I own and review. Self-education was not enough compared to the knowledge I gained from the THX workshop.

During days two and three, I worked on or observed students working on Samsung, Toshiba, LG, Panasonic, and Vizio televisions, which included plasma, LED, and OLED models. I also worked on several projectors, including models from Epson, JVC, and Marantz as well as a huge LED-lit Runco with an anamorphic lens. THX provided a wide variety of measurement gear and a laptop computer for each workstation. We primarily used Chromapure software, but we also had access to CalMan. The broad array of equipment on hand was an invaluable part of the whole experience.


We had access to a wide variety of gear

To be granted full THX video certification, workshop students must take an online test and submit the results of 10 calibrations. Some calibrations are performed during the class, but others must be accomplished afterward, which means you must have access to the necessary equipment and software—another significant expense more appropriate for aspiring professionals than casual hobbyists. To prepare for the test, THX instructor Gregg Loewen recommends viewing the video series by Michael Chen, who helped create the THX class. It's not enough to simply attend the workshops—you must demonstrate a working knowledge of the concepts and techniques. That's what makes the THX certification meaningful.


The workshop is over, time to pack up

Now, when I'm dealing with people in the TV industry and the discussion turns to displays and image quality, I mention that I'm THX certified before making any critical comments. Thanks to the credibility conferred by THX certification, I have their attention. That alone makes the workshop worthwhile.

If you are interested in attending the THX Certified Calibration Workshop at CEDIA 2014, there's still time to sign up; just click here to find out more.

Full disclosure: I did not have to pay to attend the THX Certified Calibration workshop. I attended as a member of the press, and I agreed to write a review of the experience. That said, I think the workshop is well worth the price of admission if you are a professional looking to upgrade your knowledge and credentials. If you are into calibration as a pastime, it might be worth considering less-expensive options, such as Michael Chen's video series, before taking the THX plunge. On the other hand, if you've got the time, money, and passion for calibration as part of your home-theater hobby, it's a great way to take a deep dive into the nitty gritty of video performance.

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Last edited by imagic; 08-08-2014 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 08-08-2014, 07:24 AM
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Nice write up. However, your tire analogy is flawed. Tires come out of the tire factory balanced. However, the wheels they are mounted on vary enough to require balancing for a ride with the least vibration. As your wheels and tires age with use, balancing is required due to tire wear and such things as curb damage to the wheels etc.

There is absolutely no reason with respect to panel displays that the display couldn't be automatically calibrated at the factory. In home calibration by the user for contrast and brightness for room conditions.

For projectors, there is a need which can't be pre calibrated. basically the unknown screen size, screen material, and room conditions. Most screen materials shift the colors slightly and anal compulsion with colors requires that they be corrected.

There are very few calibrators out there that aren't starving due to a lack of business. A few do very well however, NO ONE should take the course because they think their future relies on being a professional calibrator. If you love HT displays etc and you can afford it, take the course, its a lot of fun Its work, but its fun, just like great sex is often hard work but great fun.

I hope you are learning Mark. My analogy is a valid one and clearly grabs the attention of your mainly male readership.

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Old 08-08-2014, 07:35 AM
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the link at the end with the name "click here to find out more" is not right.

this is all about calibrating screen with there own CMS and not with a eecolor lut box or something like that?
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Old 08-08-2014, 07:39 AM
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A word of warning. A lot of material is presented and things happen fast over the three days. A student needs at least a basic knowledge of display calibration or he'll be unable to keep up. I had a couple years of experience before I went through certification training and it helped immensely. A couple of my classmates did not have this advantage and they struggled.
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Old 08-08-2014, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

To be granted full THX video certification, workshop students must take an online test and submit the results of 10 calibrations. Some calibrations are performed during the class, but others must be accomplished afterward, which means you must have access to the necessary equipment and software—another significant expense more appropriate for aspiring professionals than casual hobbyists. To prepare for the test, THX instructor Gregg Loewen recommends viewing the video series by Michael Chen, who helped create the THX class. It's not enough to simply attend the workshops—you must demonstrate a working knowledge of the concepts and techniques. That's what makes the THX certification meaningful.
Michael Chen calibrated my TV last month! I frequent his site often, good guy!
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Old 08-08-2014, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mightyhuhn View Post
the link at the end with the name "click here to find out more" is not right.

this is all about calibrating screen with there own CMS and not with a eecolor lut box or something like that?
Thank you... fixed

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Old 08-08-2014, 08:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mark haflich View Post
Nice write up. However, your tire analogy is flawed. Tires come out of the tire factory balanced. However, the wheels they are mounted on vary enough to require balancing for a ride with the least vibration. As your wheels and tires age with useT balancing is required due to tire wear and such things as curb damage to the wheels etc.

there is absolutely no reason with respect to panel displays that the display couldn't be automatically calibrated at the factory. In home calibration by the user for contrast and brightness for room conditions.

For projectors, there is a need which can't be pre calibrated. basically the unknown screen size, screen material, and room conditions. Most screen materials shift the colors slightly and anal compulsion with colors requires that they be corrected.

There are very few calibrators out there that aren't starving due to a lack of business. A few do very well however, NO ONE should take the course because they think their future relies on being a professional calibrator. If you love HT displays etc and you can afford it, take the course, its a lot of fun Its work, but its fun, just like great sex is often hard work but great fun.

I hope you are learning Mark. My analogy is a valid one and clearly grabs the attention of your mainly male readership.
I spruced up the tire analogy, I get what you are saying there.

Also, I bought a Dell monitor that was factory calibrated and when I measured it, sure enough it was already accurate. So, I also agree that it could be done. However, it isn't done... and as it stands variations in components make proper calibration an elusive goal without the use of software and measurement devices, wouldn't you agree?

Finally, when it comes to pro display calibrations, the market is rather small. It's a better proposition if you work for a dealer/installer/integrator and you want to improve your skill set. I certainly don't recommend getting the certification with the thought that you'll hang a shingle and somehow tap into an undiscovered demand for calibration.

Find out more about Mark Henninger at www.imagicdigital.com

Last edited by imagic; 08-08-2014 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 08-08-2014, 08:39 AM
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Greetings

"The marketing of a TV set has absolutely nothing to do with presenting accurate images. It has everything to do with selling more TVs."

The sad truth and fact is that calibrated TVs do not sell ... on any showroom floor ... unless every TV on that floor is also set up correctly. (But the displays are coming from the factory with proper modes that are getting closer and closer to being "calibrated" from the factory. The sets in 2014 are vastly more accurate out of the box than those 10 years ago. Assuming the end user knows which of the many picture presets actually represent that calibrated state. (99.9% of the people out there don't so having a perfectly calibrated TV from the factory doesn't really matter.) Of course all this is covered in the class too.

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Old 08-08-2014, 09:25 AM
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Mark,

Thanks for the writeup! I am hoping to do a THX 3 day course someday. The issue is location, as I am near Philly and I don't know if there will ever be one closely. If there was a course within driving distance, I would make the investment. Travel that far is hard for me now with young kids. I do plan on investing in access to Michael Chen's online video series though.
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Old 08-08-2014, 11:19 AM
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Nice thread.
good pics.
good info

Loving D65
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Old 08-08-2014, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mightyhuhn View Post
the link at the end with the name "click here to find out more" is not right.

this is all about calibrating screen with there own CMS and not with a eecolor lut box or something like that?
You could calibrate using the cuts and gains which all displays have and the display's CMS.. Alternatively you could use the CMS etc in a Lumagen, for example the Sony VPL-vw1000/1100ES does not have a CMS. Using LUT boxes is relatively new and now calibrating software works with them as well.

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Old 08-08-2014, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post
I spruced up the tire analogy, I get what you are saying there.

Also, I bought a Dell monitor that was facotry calibrated, and when I measured it, sure enough it was already accurate. So, I also agree that it could be done. However, it isn't done/// and as it stands variations in components make proper calibration an elusive goal without the use of software and measurement devices, wouldn't you agree?

Finally, when it comes to pro display calibrations, the market is rather small. It's a better proposition if you work for a dealer/installer/integrator and you want to improve your skill set. I certainly don't recommend getting the certification with the thought that you'll hang a shingle and somehow tap into an undiscovered demand for calibration.
Of course I agree, but to do it as well as a well versed and experienced calibrator requires a pretty significant investment in a measuring probe. Cheaper probes when the probe is itself first calibrated do an acceptable job for all but the low end.

That said, my basic problem with calibration is that even if done spot on it doesn't mean you will see the colors as the colorist and the director perceive them. Often one's eyes have yellowing cataracts and different sensitivity to colors. the idea is commonality of the display's colors, unfortunately it to me means little to obsess given our individual eyes.

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Old 08-08-2014, 04:31 PM
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I will pass.

I would much rather put my money in hardware.

I understand why you guys that want to make some money doing calibrations would need a shingle (THZ, ISF).

But in reality as far as how good you are, the shingle means very little. After all most "pro" calibrators use the same meters as a DYI'er, and in some case inferior software.
Don't forget this type of certification, cost a lot of money. And in the end you get THX certified.

There are big advancements for calibration software and TV's, so even DIY'ers can calibrate as good if not better than a guy that has been to a THX or ISF class.

ss
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Old 08-08-2014, 05:05 PM - Thread Starter
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I will pass.

I would much rather put my money in hardware.

I understand why you guys that want to make some money doing calibrations would need a shingle (THZ, ISF).

But in reality as far as how good you are, the shingle means very little. After all most "pro" calibrators use the same meters as a DYI'er, and in some case inferior software.
Don't forget this type of certification, cost a lot of money. And in the end you get THX certified.

There are big advancements for calibration software and TV's, so even DIY'ers can calibrate as good if not better than a guy that has been to a THX or ISF class.

ss
You won't find me arguing against what DIYers can achieve!

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