How Viewing Environment Conditions Can Corrupt Or Enhance Your Calibration - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 108 Old 05-18-2007, 08:08 PM - Thread Starter
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The world's most perfect calibration instrument cannot measure how our brain interprets what our eyes see. Some attempts have been made to emulate how humans perceive light but science has yet to produce an instrument which tells the whole story.

SMPTE's human factors work resulted in their Recommended Practices document RP166-1995: "Critical Viewing Conditions For Evaluation Of Color Television Pictures." This is the work from which D65 bias lighting is taken. The document actually devotes much more attention to color perception than eyestrain. Here are some links that dramatically demonstrate how ambient lighting and surrounding surface colors in the room can cause us to think we see better black levels, enhanced contrast, and/or perceive distorted colors that aren't really in the image.

http://www.echalk.co.uk/amusements/O.../illusions.htm (Note particularly the "Colour perception" and "Colour perception 2" demonstrations.)

http://www.lottolab.org/articles/illusionsoflight.asp (Note particularly the "Brightness illusions" and "Colour illusions")

Professional monitor environments (where critical image analysis is conducted for mastering video programs) use tightly controlled lighting and neutral colored surfaces surrounding the display. The demonstrations above make very clear the importance of incorporating similar room conditions, if image fidelity is desired. This material also makes abundantly clear how destructive to image fidelity the Philips 'Ambilight' colored light features and similar gimmicky fads really are.

Human visual perception is seldom sufficiently understood when consumer display systems (and even many professional ones) are designed and implemented. Since our human vision is so adaptive, we can think we perceive a "natural looking" image but actually don't, if viewing environment conditions are incorrect. The demonstration material at the links above should provide considerable practical reinforcement for folks who have a hard time being persuaded by imaging science theory alone, or even the decades of proven imaging industry professional practice.

If you think there is some trick being used in the online images, try printing out the colored demonstration patterns and making your own paper masks. You will see that the only "trick" involved is being provided by your own brain. This is why even a perfectly aligned display device can indeed look different than a calibration report says. Conflicting viewing environment conditions, such as the wrong lighting or colored room surfaces within the observer's field of view, will ALWAYS distort how a video image appears to the viewer. No calibration instrument can measure this function of the brain. It's simply a perceptual issue.

If a consumer cares about achieving the same "look" of a video program in their home that the mastering technician enjoyed, calibrate the display, and emulate the viewing environment conditions professionals consider best practices. I like to think of this extra effort as fidelity insurance.

Here's a white paper discussing these issues and how they can be incorporated into designing good viewing systems: http://www.cinemaquestinc.com/ive.htm .

Best regards and beautiful pictures,
G. Alan Brown, President
CinemaQuest, Inc.
A Lion AV Consultants Affiliate

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post #2 of 108 Old 05-19-2007, 06:57 AM
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Truly amazing demonstrations! They really show the importance of the viewing environment. I put together a simple mask for the top and bottom of my screen for my front projector. I just wrapped styrofoam with black felt and velcroed it to the screen. It makes a big difference.

I am getting ready to put up fabric in my theater room. Right now I have linacoustic (black)on the walls. I would guess that using a neutral gray color would be more appropriate than a deep red or other color. It seems like a lot of people try to create a room that has more impact with the lights on than off.

Anyway, thanks for the demos.

-Greg
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post #3 of 108 Old 05-20-2007, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Angryht,

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I would guess that using a neutral gray color would be more appropriate than a deep red or other color.

I don't think you're "guessing," but instead arriving at a logical conclusion, founded upon your understanding of simple imaging science principles. However, front projection environments have unique characteristics, different from free standing and direct view type displays. Dark, nearly neutral colors can be OK for front projection theaters. Vivid colors should be avoided, except as minimal accents. It's essential to keep in mind that light can bounce back to the screen from room surfaces, thereby contaminating the image being projected.

It's also important to understand that what is "more appropriate" depends upon your design goals for the system. This section of the forum is dedicated to display calibration. I'm inclined to assume that anyone reading this section is primarily interested in image fidelity and display accuracy. To achieve those interests requires that we follow certain rules, the same rules followed by program producers.

Motion imaging industry standards organizations, such as SMPTE, set the rules. Compromises must be weighed against design priorities. If image fidelity is the top priority, room decor must follow imaging science, rather than aesthetic preference. Providing a flat black ceiling in a front projection theater is a good example. Black ceilings are usually not a hot item to interior decorators.

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It seems like a lot of people try to create a room that has more impact with the lights on than off.

You're right, a lot of people do. A lot of people are oblivious to the term 'image fidelity,' including some system designers. Such people have every right to use whatever design priorities they consider "more appropriate" for their lifestyle and how they plan to use the room. Many homeowners want to show off the room with all the lights on more than they want image fidelity when the display is used. Such consumers typically don't take an interest in display calibration.

If image fidelity is most important, don't base your plans for a dedicated theater design upon magazine photos or anyone's opinion. The foundation of reference display system design must be imaging science. Award winning home theaters are usually judged by how the room looks in photographs, with all the lights on, rather than how the system performs. Be clear about your priorities, keeping in mind that any element in the system design which diminishes picture and sound fidelity reduces the value realized from the equipment, the programming purchased, and the time devoted to their use.
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post #4 of 108 Old 05-20-2007, 04:22 PM
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I've been in several public theaters and a couple of private home theaters with the lights on that had Burgundy or blue curtains, white ceilings and multicolored floors. with all the lights off except the screen it was impossible to tell that they were any color but black. with the lights on they were aesthetically pleasing and with the lights off PQ was just as pleasing to my eyes.

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post #5 of 108 Old 05-20-2007, 05:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Image fidelity has nothing to do with pleasing the audience's eyes and everything to do with preserving what pleased the program producer's eyes. It's all about the art. The consequences of a white ceiling in a front projection theater include compromised contrast and diminished color saturation.
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post #6 of 108 Old 05-20-2007, 08:58 PM
 
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I love reading George's posts and his demand for accuracy, it gives me constantly renwed faith in humankind!
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post #7 of 108 Old 05-21-2007, 03:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

I love reading George's posts and his demand for accuracy, it gives me constantly renwed faith in humankind!

And I'm learning just how stealthily the wrong "visual acoustics" can diminish the viewing experience. Watching the same movie under morning daylight conditions and then in evening daylight conditions may actually alter the emotional experience one has with the movie. No wonder my narrow-minded friend saw no value in calibration of his dad's TV's user controls. Still, I think he needs to see something that few people get to see, and is kinda hard to arrange: An identical model of his TV - properly calibrated - sitting next to his factory adjusted set.

It makes me want to repaint the walls behind my TV and behind my couch a nice medium shade of gray....


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post #8 of 108 Old 05-23-2007, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
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People have been inquiring about where to get the SMPTE RP166-1995 document mentioned above. This technical reference is available from the Society Motion Picture and Television Engineers directly at: http://store.smpte.org/product-p/rp%20166-1995.htm .

Half the cost can be saved by getting the Widescreen Review back issue of their special edition titled, 'Imaging Science Theatre 2000' from 1998, which includes a reprint of the document,with SMPTE's permission: http://cinemaquestinc.com/isf-mag.htm . This special edition of around 400 pages also includes much more detail about display viewing environment conditions and imaging science principles. It should be in the library of anyone serious about ultimate video quality and display standards.
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post #9 of 108 Old 05-25-2007, 09:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:


No wonder my narrow-minded friend saw no value in calibration of his dad's TV's user controls. Still, I think he needs to see something that few people get to see, and is kinda hard to arrange: An identical model of his TV - properly calibrated - sitting next to his factory adjusted set.

Don't be too hard on your friend. We all have narrow and broad mindedness, just on different subjects. Each of us are entitled to our own set of priorities and preferences. I constantly endeavor to guard against dogmatism. Image fidelity is simply not a top priority for many people. My intent is to educate and confront wrong information, misunderstanding, and confusing industry practice, by using reference standards, imaging science, logic and reason.

We all come from the factory with differing aptitudes, preferences, inclinations and talents. Some people will never be persuaded, even by demostrations and logic. They just don't 'get it' and never will. Concentrate on those who express an interest in what you have to offer. Your capacity for persuasion has limits, and those limits are often times totally outside your control.

Best regards and beautiful pictures,
G. Alan Brown, President
CinemaQuest, Inc.

"Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"
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post #10 of 108 Old 05-28-2007, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
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It makes me want to repaint the walls behind my TV and behind my couch a nice medium shade of gray....

Many folks are put off by the thought that their room could end up looking like a battleship, with medium gray walls. For self-contained video displays, only the area surrounding the TV (within your field of view while watching the screen) needs to be neutral colored. White is also neutral. Neutral colored patterns, wall hangings, and/or textures can be incorporated to add interest.

The wall opposite the TV does not have to be gray either. SMPTE's recommendations also allow for nearly-neutral colors to be used elsewhere in the room.
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post #11 of 108 Old 05-29-2007, 03:57 AM
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Nice thread George!

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post #12 of 108 Old 05-29-2007, 10:07 AM
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Thanks for the links GeorgeAB, very enlightening.

And I can now better understand what you mean about a yellow wall (or in my case yellow/gold pattern wallpaper) behind a plasma being bad for viewing.

I have seen the light (pun intended), & plan on utilizing a light-to-medium gray paint to the brick wall behind the plasma of our most recently purchased home.

Does a black bezel around a plasma create problems? Would it be better if it was gray as well? [I'm not suggesting to change my plasma, just curious].
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post #13 of 108 Old 05-29-2007, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Black is usually very neutral. I personally find the high gloss black frames a distraction, since they act like mirrors. The early digital TVs had silver or gray frames and cabinets to call less attention to the poor black levels on the screen. This has improved over the years and manufacturers are more confident about surrounding the image with a black border. If I had a gloss black frame I would cover it with black Duvetyne tape.
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post #14 of 108 Old 05-30-2007, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
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The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has labs near me in Boulder, CO. They have assigned one of their physicists to evaluate methods to help professionals and consumers select the right flat panel display for a given application. One very big factor that was considered is the impact the display's environment has upon the picture. NIST provides a nifty tutorial on their web site to illustrate how different flat panel display types handle various viewing environment challenges. Here's the link to the tutorial: http://www.fpdl.nist.gov/tips.html . It features a PDF slide show that you can save in a file. Many of the images are very good examples of the kinds of interferance to picture quality that poor viewing conditions can present.

Here's a link to a recent article in the Rocky Mountain News featuring an interview with the man who runs this department at NIST's Boulder labs: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drm...558486,00.html . This newspaper article will only be available for a limited time.
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post #15 of 108 Old 06-01-2007, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
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The newspaper article link above was defective. I have repaired it. Sorry!
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post #16 of 108 Old 06-08-2007, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's another reference for calibrators and hobbyists interested in professional documentation of international standards for display viewing environment theory and practice.

ITU-R BT.710-4 "Subjective Assessment Methods For Image Quality In High-Definition Television,"

To order via Word document or PDF download: http://www.itu.int/rec/R-REC-BT.710-4-199811-I/en

Best regards and beautiful pictures,
Alan Brown, President
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"Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"
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post #17 of 108 Old 06-15-2007, 08:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's a recent article that looks at the effects of ambient lighting upon color perception and contrast in flat panel TV environments: 'Illumination and Displays: Color Appearance of a Display Changes Under Various Illumination Conditions'

http://spie.org/x13920.xml?highlight=x2408

The article is from SPIE: an international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light (formerly: The International Society for Optical Engineering). There are plenty of interesting links on their web site for more data on electronic display viewing environments and human visual perception.
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post #18 of 108 Old 08-06-2007, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angryht View Post

Truly amazing demonstrations! They really show the importance of the viewing environment. I put together a simple mask for the top and bottom of my screen for my front projector. I just wrapped styrofoam with black felt and velcroed it to the screen. It makes a big difference.

Absolutely agree.
When my clients ask me what is the best color for their Home Theater with front projector, my answer is: Flat black everywhere but screen. (Just for dedicated HT not a play room with pool or other toys)
They look at me with big skepticism.
I explain, make demonstrations and they are still not convinced. The only black HT I know was in my house I just sold.
Did I persuade even one client so far? No!
(however recently one decided to go with charcoal carpet and gray walls and ceiling).

Quote:


I am getting ready to put up fabric in my theater room. Right now I have linacoustic (black)on the walls. .

My advice: If this is dedicated HT - stay with black.

Quote:


It seems like a lot of people try to create a room that has more impact with the lights on than off.

That's right and this trend is stimulated by media. Look at samples or suggestions in Audio Video Interiors and other related to audio video magazines.

Zygmunt
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post #19 of 108 Old 08-06-2007, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strutter View Post

I've been in several public theaters and a couple of private home theaters with the lights on that had Burgundy or blue curtains, white ceilings and multicolored floors. with all the lights off except the screen it was impossible to tell that they were any color but black.

It is possible only when there is no light from the screen. During bright scenes you can definitely see all details, colors etc around you. Light reflected from walls, ceiling and other objects goes back to screen changing picture. Links presented by Alan are the best proof.
If you want fidelity - burgundy walls are not an option.

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post #20 of 108 Old 08-06-2007, 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zygmunt View Post

That's right and this trend is stimulated by media. Look at samples or suggestions in Audio Video Interiors and other related to audio video magazines.

Excellent point. I think it's great to have a room to show off the interior decoration skills of the owners, but I think more emphasis needs to taken when the lights are off. That said, however, not everybody wants a 'bat cave' environment to watch movies, but they should!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zygmunt View Post

The only black HT I know was in my house I just sold.

Any pics? Did you use fabric (GOM) or paint? Just looking for ideas (oh yeah, and motivation - kind of tough for me to focus on aesthetics when trying to get sound and picture fidelilty correct).

-Greg
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post #21 of 108 Old 08-06-2007, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angryht View Post

Excellent point. I think it's great to have a room to show off the interior decoration skills of the owners,

They have a lot of places to do so: Dining, living, family room, kitchen etc.
Quote:
but I think more emphasis needs to taken when the lights are off. That said, however, not everybody wants a 'bat cave' environment to watch movies, but they should!

I had problem with my wife in the beginning, but I said that in this one room I decide about décor. Some times later after we saw several movies, she said that I was right, that picture and sound are MUCH better than before.

Quote:
Any pics? Did you use fabric (GOM) or paint?

Sorry, no pics. It is very difficult to make pictures when everything is flat black. (maybe this is the reason we don't see black HT in magazines) I used fabric on walls, carpet on the floor and black 2x2 panels on the ceiling. Door inside, baseboard and trim was painted.
Quote:
Just looking for ideas (oh yeah, and motivation - kind of tough for me to focus on aesthetics when trying to get sound and picture fidelilty correct).

Send me e-mail so we can discuss it over e-mail.

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post #22 of 108 Old 08-06-2007, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's a neat trick for folks who balk at the bat cave concept. Use darker shades of gray, rather than black, especially on the front and side walls. Illuminate the neutral gray portions with soffited or baffled colored lights. The lights will turn the gray portions of the room any color you want. This gives unlimited color choices for the designer to use when the lights are on in the room. Darker shades of gray are very nearly as effective as flat black during the showing of the movie.

More colored light options are appearing on a regular basis with LED arrays. In fact, the red/green/blue arrays can be controlled electronically to produce just about any color in the spectrum. Conventional white lights can be added for times when the room must be navigated in or for cleaning.

The LED arrays would offer automated color schemes that could be changed with mood or theme. How about green, prior to showing 'The Matrix' films. Blue could be used prior to 'The Terminator.' Red would be appropriate prior to a Dracula flick. The options are only limited to the owner's imagination.

Best regards and beautiful pictures,
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CinemaQuest, Inc.

"Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"
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post #23 of 108 Old 08-21-2007, 10:07 AM
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Concerning back lighting, does it make a difference how far from the edges of the set the lighting extends?

For example, if you could back light just a 1' area around the set, would that work as well as say an area 5' around the set?

tia

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post #24 of 108 Old 08-21-2007, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
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I expect one foot is still sufficient to provide the intended benefits. This may limit the benefit at wide horizontal viewing angles for other seating locations (depends on whether the TV cabinet is very deep).
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post #25 of 108 Old 08-21-2007, 10:23 AM
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Gotta it, thx George.

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post #26 of 108 Old 09-21-2007, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Here are two linked articles discussing display viewing environment principles at the new public ISF Forum site:
http://www.isfforum.com/FAQs/view/IS...ortant/33.html
http://www.isfforum.com/index.php?op...d=51&Itemid=48

Best regards and beautiful pictures,
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post #27 of 108 Old 09-21-2007, 09:27 AM
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Excellent resources. Thanks, George.

-Greg
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post #28 of 108 Old 09-25-2007, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
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The second link listed above is temporarily non-functional due to some updates and edits being done by the isfforum.com admin. I'll let this thread know when the article link is working again.
Here's a temporary replacement for that link: http://cinemaquestinc.com/ive.htm . It's a white paper with the same info, just more technical in format.
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post #29 of 108 Old 10-16-2007, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
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The link in post 26 has been repaired.
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post #30 of 108 Old 12-01-2007, 11:23 AM
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I just got my ideallume backlights and installed them. I haven´t yet calibrated the backlights but I dimmed them down pretty much all I could. I only have a 32" and I still get tons of backlight. Gonna get DVE to try and calibrate it a bit.

So far for sure it´s different but can´t say yet if it´s for better then for worse lol. Feels like the image somewhat feels brighter then before due to the backlight which I thought would be the other way around? I feel the need to reduce the brightness on the television however my Sony 32 inch bravia is a SPVA panel and tend to loose details in the blacks so will see how that turn out.

I also use the tv as computer monitor so it being better for the eyes is a big plus if it turns to be true lol.

However how important is it to have the right colour on the background. I am not absolutely crazy about image quality if I get 90 % of the benefit I am a happy camper... The wall is kind of a very light blue colour so not optimum I guess if I read the manual correctly. Though it´s not all that far from grey after all. It´s not that clean too with cables and stuff but don´t think that matters that much. 2 ideallumes is more then enough for my 32" it seems

As for colours I think you can adjust the colour rating on your tv? Should I set it to 6500 too if it isn´t already not sure...
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