"Steaming Rat," or "Rich's Method For Achieving A More Realistic Image... - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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OLED Technology and Flat Panels General > "Steaming Rat," or "Rich's Method For Achieving A More Realistic Image...
Nori's Avatar Nori 04:55 PM 06-17-2003

Let us know how how the CEDIA seminar will add to what you know already.

I am curious to know when you say 6500K low and high IRE, what do you mean exactly? You can calibrate a screen to output one kelvin setting, say 6500K. Anything less would naturally fall off a bit, but not by much. If you correct for low IRE, the high will look cooler, and vice versa.

The first thing I checked on my Plasma when I got it was how R-G-B push was, and whether my whites and black were clean of any color tint. Color temp is important, but at such high temperatures, 6500 to 7000K is really a marginal difference that only trained eyes can see (even then it can be challenging).



Jim Boden's Avatar Jim Boden 09:30 AM 06-18-2003

Getting grey scale right involves adjusting each IRE level from about 10IRE up to 100IRE in 10IRE increments. Increments can be set finer with ColorFacts, but I haven’t tried it. Adjustments between IRE levels affect each other, so you have to go back and forth to get each level close to 6500K. Eventually, each level can be adjusted to be very close to 6500K, which is the goal. It’s finicky and time-consuming, but the end result is well worth it.

ISF pro’s do this, plus they also have signal generators and other equipment for more accurate calibrations. For example, I don’t have a test signal generator, so I can’t calibrate my high definition source on input 2. When I’m at the seminar, I’m going to find out what’s involved in getting such equipment. I’m hoping it can be rented, which would be the ideal situation for people like me.
R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 01:18 PM 06-18-2003

Thanks, I appreciate your comments. This has been an incredibly long thread and I wouldn't expect anyone to wade through it all.

As I had explained earlier, the detail loss in both the darker areas and light areas of my screen shots, such as Peter's collar in the shot your reference, is almost entirely due to the problems of photographing the display, and not the display. My digital camera does not have the dynamic range to capture all the dark and high-light detail, so that's why it seems lost in the pictures. I always had to expose to get the "gist" of the picture, making sure the most important mid-range details were accurate for the screen shot.

But those details are there on my real plasma image. In direct comparison between my settings, vs my ISF'd settings (and AVIA settings) there is in fact more detail within the darker areas with my settings.
jnug's Avatar jnug 08:51 PM 06-18-2003
This is my second plasma display. My first was a Pio 503CMX that I had professionally calibrated by Cliff Plavin. I currently have a Fujitsu P50. I have a few other components that will be added to the system so there is no sense in having the display calibrated just yet even though I now have enough time on it.

The comment from your original post that I have the most empathy for relates to saturation. I had initially dialed back on the saturation some right at the start just because the colors where so obviously over-saturated. However, once I had about 300 hours on the display and decided that it was time to really dial it in as best I could with Avia, Video Essentials, naked eye et al, I was amazed at how far I had to dial back the color saturation before I could get rid of the radioactive glow on everything.

I still intend having Cliff come in. He is a great guy and I admire his opinion and his expertise. I used your method to fine tune (again as much as one can), looking for the most natural and pleasing to me rendition that I could achieve. However regardless of what Cliff does when I have him in to calibrate I am sure that I will allocate some memory slots to "the steaming rat" as I do like the way the panel is performing.

Additionally, I use the "fine" mode for my display so I can make other adjustments. Once I am happy with color I rarely see any need to change it and virtually all of my memory settings are devoted to options that control black level, brightness, luminescence and some contrast.
_Michaelangelo_'s Avatar _Michaelangelo_ 10:48 AM 06-23-2003
Hey Rich

I finally picked up (original) Nutty Professor, and had some time to watch it. (Yes, I'll be providing time stamps soon-ish, just need to fine-tune 1 or 2 of the screenshot's times. :))

I'm curious as to why the sweater in your ISF screenshots show up as blue? :confused: You do know that the color is supposed to be purple*, right? Why doesn't your calibration destroying the accuracy of your other colors? i.e. I'd still like to know how you got such a rich green -- the grass in Spiderman "Peter Waving" looks awesome.

Here's something you'll find interesting: I almost can't stand watching my Plasma on the Avia calibrated settings, after hand-tweaking the display via your method!~ I only "align" the tint / hue with it now. I use Baraka, and Matrix, to check black levels. Spiderman, to check red, green, and flesh tones. And one or two other DVDs.

* I loaded the DVD into my computer, and did a screen capture to look at the individual RGB pixel composition**.

** I'm thinking of burning a special calibration DVD that would show selected scenes, since I'm always swapping DVDs like crazy, testing out new settings. I'll be composing a list of scenes that have become my "standard test images" probably about in a month or two. (Too busy building a new uber gaming box :) I also want to include "pure color" test images, so people can verify that their calibration is correct, and that my DVD screenshots are accurate.

R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 01:21 PM 06-23-2003

Yes, I'm very aware the dude's sweater is actually purple. It's purple on my plasma - being the same shade of purple on both the ISF settings and my own. But in the screen shots it came out blue, which illustrates why I've said "forget trying to adjudge the color in the screen shots - it's off somewhat." It's basically a discrepency between the white balance settings of my camera and the display. Even with experimentation I never did come up with a white balance camera setting that matched perfectly (maybe I need Nori on this one). I did try to adjust for some of my original shots, so some of them match better. But I did no color adjustments for the Nutty Professor.

On the other hand, the Peter Parker shot you mention actually looks very close to the real plasma image, save for a slightly more pinkish cast.

"I almost can't stand watching my Plasma on the Avia calibrated settings,.."

I know what you mean...it's hard when you get used to a more "real" look to go back to what you now perceive as a "fake" look. But I do also enjoy some of my "film-like" picture settings as well, depending on my mood and the DVD.
jlager's Avatar jlager 12:21 AM 08-17-2003
Originally posted by R Harkness


For those unfamiliar with the term, my layman’s interpretation is that it loosely describes the fact that most displays are set to slightly “zoom in†on the picture. Source material often varies in exact size – different cable channels for instance can send a slightly larger or smaller image, or be
Regarding Overscan I first noticed this after having it explained by a sales-person here in Japan. Especially SONY overscan their 50" set a lot in order to make it look bigger when viewed side-by-side with other 50"-inchers. Marketing trick.

Regarding the calibration methods in the post I really like them. I believe that the eye is the ultimate judge. Simple numbers rarely tell the whole story. I especially like the part about making clothes look like fabric and not glowing patches...

I will sure to try out your methods when I eventually get myself a Pio 434...

R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 10:41 AM 08-17-2003

I've found the "rat" method to work quite well on pretty much any type of display, although it seems to help plasma the most.
SethS's Avatar SethS 10:08 AM 09-03-2003
Mmmm, rat. You have made some great points Rich, and I am sure their are many thankful people that read you post. I would like to add, that while you have continued to work on your set after an ISF calibration, that certainly doesn't discount it. It is commendable that you are continuing in your quest. I think that the biggest benefit that you receive from an ISF calibration is tracking the flatest grayscale your set is capable of. This is where you need the equipment and training. There are other aspects as well, but with this, you are starting with a neutral palette. Most of the adjustments you are making can be subjective, so it is great that you are seeking perfection to your eyes. You can turn down the color until it's black and white, or turn it up until it's a bloody mess, your color temperature won't change. So you got what you really needed from the calibration, from there, you take it to your perception of reality. You can't be wrong if you like it. I have an installer that has been wanting me to teach him how to calibrate. With the right equipment, I know he could nail the grayscale perfectly. But, he is color blind, so the picture would look fine to him, but the customer would certainly do better themselves. Your method of setting the color control is good, I always reduce it to black and white, and then I "paint the picture". Unfortunately this can sometimes lead to other problems if the color decoder is not accurate. In these cases, if you adjust the color setting until the red saturation looks accurate, you may at the same time introduce other adverse effects, usually a jaundiced look to the skin. It is hard to tell, when you are looking a photo of a TV image, but all the pictures looked like they were a tad in that direction. I have taken many digital screen shots, and the colors never remained accurate, so I assume that yours is probably fine.
As to the Directors intent, you appear to have more experience with this on the theatrical level than do I. But I have had some experience here, as my small city has had more films shot here than I can count, so yes I have been an extra in many movies, and I spent most of the time watching the director. I thought it was cool that, for instance on Lost Boys, he would look at every seen on a CRT monitor for staging and imagery (I can only assume that was what it was for). At any rate, for myself, I don't hold film as the ultimate medium, I prefer reality, like you. Of course I feel a nostalgia for it, but anything that has it's own attributes, stands in the way of accuracy.
R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 12:59 PM 09-03-2003
Great points Seth!

(And yes, you're right, the color is the least accurate part of my screen shots. I started off correcting the color to exactly match my display, but that got exhausting and I gave up).

My experiences have simply led me to take a peek beyond the AV "common wisdom" to see what's there...and report what I see:-)

One reason I've written about my calibration is for interests sake, to offer an alternative voice. Almost every thing I'd ever read in regards to calibration amounted to the same message: Try as you might, your display will never reach it's potential - look it's best - unless you've employed at an AVIA, or VE calibration disk, or best yet had a Pro do your display. It just seems to go almost entirely unquestioned that once a Pro has dialed your display, you've reached the pinnacle of image quality. Whenever someone raises their hand to say "Uh, I don't find the calibrated image as convincing as my settings...." They are typically dismissed with: "Oh, then you don't know what a good image is, or you just like inaccurate images."
I've just been trying to high-light the fact that accuracy to the source is one issue, "image quality" - how believable an image appears - can be considered another. So many people have tied the notion of image quality to NTSC standards of accuracy, that it seems they cannot consider image quality as existing outside of those specs.

Plasmas are a good example. When I was researching my TV purchase common AV wisdom kept repeating that plasma image quality was "not there yet...not in league with CRTs of any stripe." CRTs were able to jump through all the CRT-based NTSC calibration hoops, which bolstered the assertion that CRT was therefore, obviously, better. When I first saw the Panasonic 3UY plasma - the first plasma with truly good black levels and lack of motion smear - I had never seen such a gorgeous, realistic image from a "TV" in my life. I thought: "Hold on here. I've got as critical an eye as any other videophile and this is the most convincing image I've seen. Time to stop swallowing specs arguments and examine what it is that plasma is doing so well that impresses me so much."

The same issues applied when I actually had the plasma ISF calibrated. I'd swallowed the idea that ISF calibration was THE way to maximize perceived image quality. When that didn't happen it forced me to examine why (and I've explored the issue quite a bit more, since).

My Panasonic plasma has pretty deep blacks for plasma - just deep enough to look quite satisfying to me, or at least not detract or wash out the image. Still, my ISF guy showed me via test patterns how it lost information at the very end of the gray scale. For him, this invalidates the plasma as being "reference quality" and puts it as an inferior device to a CRT tube set. Emphasis on NTSC standards and perfection of the gray scale apparently leaves many ISF guys immune to the charms of plasma's other strengths. Sure a Sony XBR tube set is going to get the lowest black levels better than my plasma. But I've never, ever seen a CRT tube set create images as jaw-droppingly "there" and real as my plasma does every day. The problem is the other technical strengths of plasma, and their very pertinent subjective effects, seem to go unrecognized in much of the AV industry. For instance, in discussing CRT RPTVs vs plasma, a typical refrain from the RPTV aficionados is: "Yeah, plasmas are brighter, but that's all." There is no acknowledgment of what "brighter" means to an image, or emmissive vs reflective (RPTV/FP) images and their subjective effects. What if "brighter," in the context perfectly even, emmissive display like plasma, really does confer substantial qualities to an image that a reflected RPTV technology does not? For me, RPTV images look like light projected at me through a film strip (borrowed that description). But good plasma images can look solid, there, real in a way I've never seen from RPTV. But, because it can be pointed out that a CRT RPTV will better track the lowest gray scale, such benefits of plasma tend to remain un-inspected, or dismissed as non-essential to image quality.

I've been trying to Highlight that, as in both the issues with plasma and ISF calibration, accuracy to NTSC standards (and to the original source) is one thing, but that evaluation of "image quality" can occur outside the bounds of those objective standards. And when they are, there are some valuable observations to be made.

Thanks again.
Jim Boden's Avatar Jim Boden 02:21 PM 09-03-2003

I've calibrated my plasma and my neighbours Sony 57" HD RPTV. While I'm not an "ISF" person, I do have the proper equipment and have taken a CEDIA seminar, which is similar to the ISF course. I share your opinion about colour levels. I find that using the traditional “looking through the coloured filters†technique creates highly saturated colours which should be backed off a bit. The saturation varies by program source, so sometimes it looks just about right and others, it's too saturated. I guess that’s why your technique makes sense.

You only affect grey scale by adjusting brightness and/or contrast from the levels used during calibration. Adjusting colour or tint has no effect on grey scale, so you don’t “invalidate†the grey scale calibration unless you play with brightness or contrast.
Andrzej's Avatar Andrzej 02:37 PM 09-03-2003
Jim and Rich,
As I recall some time ago Jim offered his calibration equipment and expertise to calibrate Rich's Panny. Several members of this forum expressed their interest in the eventual results of this encounter. Have you guys had a chance to do it?

Jim Boden's Avatar Jim Boden 02:50 PM 09-03-2003

I did make the offer but I think Rich was waiting for a visit from Mark Hunter of Milori. He offered to drop by when he was in town, but I don't recall when that was. I'm sure Rich will give us an update.:)
R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 04:39 PM 09-03-2003
I tried getting in touch with Mark a couple times afterward with no luck. I assume he's been busy.

Jim, I'll be PMing you tonight.
spongebob's Avatar spongebob 05:38 PM 09-03-2003

Did you end up using the 6500° ntsc color temp. setting (ISF)? Or do you prefer the picture a little cooler? (Medium on Sony's)

R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 09:29 PM 09-03-2003

For a feeling of realism, I seem to "buy" a slightly cooler picture. To me D6500 can give me the "everyone's basking in a sunlamp" impression. But I can appreciate D6500 for some movies, as it does translate the warmth of film.
jnug's Avatar jnug 09:51 PM 09-03-2003
In using the term "everyone basking in a sunlamp" should I interpret that as a too bright representation of the image or are you describing some other facet of the presentation?
R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 10:07 PM 09-03-2003

No, not too bright. It's more the shade and intensity of the color. I mean that people's skin take on a lush, over-warm rosy glow, like they are being illuminated by one of those brown-colored tanning lamps placed too close to their face.
SethS's Avatar SethS 10:09 PM 09-03-2003
Rich, that is the one thing that I do stand by is proper color temp. That is what everything is based off of. 6500K is not the color of sunlight, but of a brightly lit cloudy day. 5400K is more like the basking sun temp. That is what you would calibrate a set to for black and white movies, or a computer monitor for graphics work. Most people do agree that it is somehow too orangeish, however, that is just because we have trained our eyes to the preset smurf vision the TV manufacturers like to provide.

About Mark, yes, he has been very busy. They have been working tirelessly on their new software releases, and it is hot. I am an engineering consultant for Milori, and I have been the one doing their beta testing. All I can say is, I am a convert, I now use the ColorFacts equipment and software exclusively. They are attempting to get their new website up tonight as well, as they have to fly to CEDIA in the morning. For you tweakers, I would recommend checking out their new loaner program. 30 day's of non stop tweaking, gotta love it.

Rich, did you actually change the color temp?

Do you know where it rests now?
R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 10:28 PM 09-03-2003

Yes, I'm familiar with the rational for D6500K.

My frame of reference isn't so much the cooler color temp of the typical factory settings (although that could be part of it). My reference is "reality" when I'm doing my calibrating. I compare what objects on screen look like to real objects, and real people in my room. (In all manner of lighting - interior and daylight). For whatever reason, a slightly higher temperature (and a decrease in color saturation) most closely matches real objects as I perceive them, which makes the plasma image appear "real" to me. On my ISF settings I very rarely gain the impression of looking at a believable, real-looking on screen image, whereas on my settings I routinely feel that way. I was looking forward to perceiving more color detail after an ISF calibration - even more variation than what I'd gotten from my own settings. Strangely, I got less...the ISF settings seem to have a consistent warm cast that slightly homogenizes the image.

I certainly haven't closed the book on ISF calibrations. Perhaps my display would have looked a bit different if a different tech had calibrated the display. I reserve the right to be shown wrong, change my mind, and come crying back about what an idiot I am :-) But in my investigations so far, I've noticed much of the same effect from other ISF'd displays I've played with. I still find I like to tweak the picture toward my tastes.

BTW, I don't have my print-out handy, but I think my color temp tends to hover around D7000 or so.
spongebob's Avatar spongebob 10:52 PM 09-03-2003
Originally posted by R Harkness

For a feeling of realism, I seem to "buy" a slightly cooler picture. To me D6500 can give me the "everyone's basking in a sunlamp" impression. But I can appreciate D6500 for some movies, as it does translate the warmth of film.
Thanks, Rich

I can only stand ntsc 6500 on the best of transfers. Usually older (technicolor) movies from the 60's or so (Mad, Mad World, Good Neighbor Sam. etc) These look so luscious on movie mode, no vsm, 6500° ntsc, I wouldn't even consider watching them any other way. I have found that at 6500°, color saturation is most critical and always best very subdued and life-like. I have always been the guy turning down the colr in stores and at friends/family houses, preaching that "people should look like people, not cartoon characters"

For OTA, cable, or DTV stuff, I usually have to use Medium color temp. because ntsc 6500 is *not* forgiving at all.


R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 10:58 PM 09-03-2003
Agreed. At least on my set, D6500 makes most NTSC images look wretched...really off and sour. Some color desaturation and a higher color temp seems to cure this.

I also enjoy D6500 on the older movies, vs the newer movies, for that nostalgic film look.
SethS's Avatar SethS 10:04 AM 09-04-2003
I can respect that.
I still hold the possibility that your picture could be made to look right to you, and still maintain the proper color temp. The main reason I feel it is so important, is because of the whole transfer process being based on that as the referrence for white.
And of course, as we talked about earlier, you can really change the look of the image without changing color temp. I think it is possible that you are dealing with a little red push, and you are doing what is necessary to produce a good image. None the less, I agree that your image has excellent detail. Me likey.
kweezr's Avatar kweezr 05:38 PM 01-02-2004
One more feather in the steaming rat's hat....

Had a Comcast tech out today to install HD cable box, after hooking
everything up we fired up the Panny 5uy....he ran through the analog
channels 1st, all he said was "WOW...your analog looks better than most,
even better than the ones I've seen professional installed" then he went
onto the HD channels, I changed the Panny picture settings from Standard
(for SD) to Dynamic(for DVD) and he was trully impressed with the way the
images had that 3D look.

He asked where I learnt how to calibrate the plasma, told him about this
forum and the steaming rat, he was suprised at the results I achieved.

Thanks Rich!
Paul Bigelow's Avatar Paul Bigelow 08:38 PM 01-02-2004
The "rat" lives on for another year!

It's remarkable how good a well adjusted set looks. To bad the manufacturers think the general public doesn't notice or doesn't care. Instead they try to force us to decide between a bunch of juiced-up, inaccurate images.

The looks one gets in a mainstream B&M shop when one tries to run DVE or Avia through its paces are pretty amazing: "What on earth is he looking at?"
R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 10:03 PM 01-02-2004

That kind of feedback sure is gratifying.

An AVIA or VE calibration is great, but the "rat" method is more about developing your eye - thinking like a photographer or cinematographer in regards to how picture settings affect various attributes of the image. Looking at charts on a calibration DVD doesn't quite give the same "oh, I get it" understanding as does adjusting a real movie image.

I'm glad you are happy with the results you've achieved.
gary cornell's Avatar gary cornell 10:32 PM 01-02-2004
On my Toshiba Satellite laptop your pictures with faces look pinkish. Is this the way they appear for everybody?
R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 10:50 PM 01-02-2004

It depends just how pink (or red) you mean. My digital camera has a slight red push. My screen shots came out a little more red than the real plasma images. However, on my computer monitor, which is calibrated pretty well, the red push is not too bad.
spike4's Avatar spike4 11:56 PM 01-02-2004
I have notced more on some, less on others a red push also at times on faces, and adjust if I am watching a whole movie. However, and Rich maybe you can enlighten a little more on this, I have seen many movies being filmed and the makeup on the actors in person does give them a reddish push, but never seen before, by me, on any set until I got my plasma. Is it that we are seeing the actors more as they looked as they filmed? Some with more makeup, some with less? I know it's almost never present when viewing a sporting event and there's a closeup of a player, who obviously isn't made up.
Charles Goldman's Avatar Charles Goldman 10:31 PM 02-12-2004
It's amazing how quickly threads like this get burried on this forum. My intent with this response is to bring it forward again. Then I will bookmark it!
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