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Got Plasma? Fix your Brightness Setting

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
Despite what most of us have learned from countless calibration discs and instructions via the forum and other online sources, the way we have been told to setup brightness is completely wrong.

Before you flame, read.

If you have been setting brightness by using, say, DVE BD, going to the pluge pattern and dialing down brightness just to the point when the black background blends with the below black bar, then your brightness is much too high for blu-disc playback. If you have been using this forum's AVS brightness pattern, setting your tv to display bar "17", then your brightness is also too high for video play back. Just because your HDTV's sourceless black doesn't dither, that doesn't mean it is inline with the blu-disc playback video black thats in the actual video. The letterbox bars do not matter.

What baffles me is the misinformation that is flowing through this forum, and all over the internet.

How did this begin?

Take any movie you own that shows video black in a scene. If you have setup your brightness incorrectly as instructed above, you will see a ton of dithering. If the set is dithering, but there is no detail, the brightness is wrong. Want to be sure? Turn your brightness up to 100, see how video black is now gray, with no details?


DVE BD is the best disc to fix your brightness with. Use the grayscale ramp and smooth gradation pattern to set black level up correctly as follows:

See the white dots on the ends of the smooth grayscale patterns? Get up close to the screen. If you have set brightness up incorrectly, as I mentioned above, you will see that dithering continues past the white dot markers, indicating that your black level is set to high. This will be the case if you setup your tv to display the "17" flashing bar, or the 2% above video black in the pluge pattern (depending on the disc you used). Setting your brightness up this way is wrong.

Lower the brightness until the dithering/gradation just begins after the white markers. Those markers exist to show you where video black is. Your brightness is now setup correct.

Return to the movie you tested with to see that your set is displaying video black correctly, without dithering.

This works on all blu-ray discs I have tested. About 10 of them currently.


The big question is why is everyone instructing people to set their brightness way to high to begin with?? I think the trouble lies in people not understanding that (for example) the 2% above black bar in the DVE pluge pattern should be just visible, with your nose up to the tv, not extremely visible, as a 10% above black bar should be.

If any calibrator wants to explain why this is so, please do, as I love a good debate.

Suggest test discs:

Troy Blu-Ray (night scene with brad pit in his tent)
Harry Potter OotP (Harry and friends confront lucius malfoy near end)

Both movies have plenty of video black displayed within the film itself.
post #2 of 42
How about using a test image with 0 black? I usually set the brightness until the 0 black stops dithering.

For example:

http://i.pbase.com/o4/78/287278/1/91...esteps0255.jpg

The leftmost bar is 0 black out of the 0-255 grayscale. It should be logical that you want your brightness setting set right to the point where going lower doesn't affect this section, and going even one notch higher introduces dither, meaning that there is some information the plasma is trying to display in this area. For example, my combination of settings on my 65ST30 has it where 56 in brightness is right where 0 black becomes as black as it gets, 55 or lower looks exactly the same as 56, and 57 and up adds dither/starts going gray. So I don't see how going higher than 56 would be ideal as that means all my darkest blacks would have dither, and I don't see how going under 56 benefits 0 black, since it won't be darker than it already is, and will just start crushing the black values above 0.

My trick on LCDs was to set my TV to 4:3 mode while displaying an image with 0 black, and matching the brightness right to the point where it matches the black bars, no lower (going lower is just crushing blacks), not higher (going higher and the 0 black starts turning gray). On all the LCDs I tested, the 4:3 black bars (meaning the TV's 4:3 setting, not 4:3 content) always showed the darkest the TV can get. I can't do this with plasmas because the 4:3 bars are gray, but dither looks to be a good way to see where 0 black becomes the blackest possible, because there is zero dither.

Obviously have to make sure that on both Plasma and LCD your settings are to where you are truly displaying 0-255, and not 16-235 and whatnot.

That's just how I've done it, and it's served me well. I assume that as long as Blu-Ray player in use is displaying 0-255 correctly, my way is working right.
post #3 of 42
@TS
Sorry, but you must have a mistake with your AVS709-disc.

And: Of course the cinemascopebars count.
post #4 of 42
It was my understanding that a lot of BD transfers don't actually adhere to video black, they blow it out. How are you determining which are proper test sources and which are just poorly transferred/mastered? I suspect this may be a bit of what you're observing.
post #5 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orta View Post

It was my understanding that a lot of BD transfers don't actually adhere to video black, they blow it out. How are you determining which are proper test sources and which are just poorly transferred/mastered? I suspect this may be a bit of what you're observing.

This. Some discs show dithering in video black areas while other discs do not. (for example the opening sequence in Harry Potter and the Deathly hallows 1 disc, when Voldermont is at the table with all his followers) In this scene you can notice dancing green pixels in this scene. I toss in another disc and there is absolutely no dithering visible anywhere.

If I'm wrong I'm willing to try another method if your method is correct. I'll wait for other more experienced posters to give an opinion. BTW, what about those of us who don't have the DVE disc? (I only have the AVS HD 709 disc and the Spears and Munsil)

I have about 45 blu's and the video black levels can vary.
post #6 of 42
This seems like a reasonable concern for someone who wants to see detail in dark scenes when it is there in the program material. Is it reasonable to believe that a good professional calibration gets the brightness set properly, assuming the panel has the capability? And will that setting necessarily change over time as the panel ages? If brightness decreases in all plasmas over time ( I know, a long time ) doesn't that suggest the need to reset the brightness every year or so during the life of the panel?

Wes
post #7 of 42
I would think that the difference between getting the 'dancing pixels' of a barely above black or not would even go back into the digital domain; either the digital is telling the pixels to 'fire' or not. As such I would guess that the threshold would not be affected by aging. I would guess contrast is the setting that would need to be increased over time to keep the pixels outputting the same amount of light when they are 'on'.
post #8 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven Crimson View Post

I assume that as long as Blu-Ray player in use is displaying 0-255 correctly, my way is working right.

Where in the Blu-Ray spec does it state that Blu-Ray uses PC values (0-255) instead of industry-standard video values (16-235)??
post #9 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairchild99 View Post

In this scene you can notice dancing green pixels in this scene.

I would have thought, you have a LG plasma, but your profile says otherwise.
post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by cavu View Post

Where in the Blu-Ray spec does it state that Blu-Ray uses PC values (0-255) instead of industry-standard video values (16-235)??

I don't know. I assumed that 16-235 was a DVD thing, and newer content utilized 0-255. Please correct my assumption if I'm wrong. All I know is that my PS3 does display 0-255 correctly, and so I calibrate my displays based off that. I'm a gamer first, movie watcher second.

I have watched Blu-Rays, there have been plenty of scenes that have shown blacks with no dithering, so I assumed either it's showing real zero black, or the content is being forced to go down to 0 black. Either way, it doesn't LOOK off, so I'm content with my way of doing it.

I don't even use a calibration disc, and mainly care about blacks being as black as the display allows, while preserving all the shadow detail it can possibly have. The most recent displays have had a pretty good preset that doesn't need much tweaking outside of the brightness setting (like my ST30 being pretty accurate on the Cinema setting). It certainly looks good enough not to miss some minor color inaccuracy as long as the brightness is correct.
post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven Crimson View Post

Please correct my assumption if I'm wrong.

You are wrong.
post #12 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turrican4D View Post
I would have thought, you have a LG plasma, but your profile says otherwise.
No this is on my Panny S2. I have my set calibrated with a Display2 meter + HCFR and the picture looks great. The dancing pixels (particularly green) show up during some dark scenes in some movies I've found. It might just be the way the disc was mastered (I notice it clearly in Harry Potter 7) But my brightness is set correct per the AVS HD 709 disc as well as verified with the S&M disc.
post #13 of 42
Digital displays can't show near black video "correctly", or as well as a CRT. All plasmas will dither.

larry
post #14 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairchild99 View Post

No this is on my Panny S2. I have my set calibrated with a Display2 meter + HCFR and the picture looks great. The dancing pixels (particularly green) show up during some dark scenes in some movies I've found. It might just be the way the disc was mastered (I notice it clearly in Harry Potter 7) But my brightness is set correct per the AVS HD 709 disc as well as verified with the S&M disc.

This is my exact point.

After testing several blu-ray movies, they all seem to have video black dither, as if the brightness setting is too high. Lowering brightness until the video black in the blu ray no longer dithers has no effect on dark detail, besides making it darker, but still very visible.

So, although I have a deep respect for all the work that is done with these discs, including the disc provided on this site, it simply doesn't work right.

I still have not found a blu-ray in my huge collection that adheres to the brightness settings recommended with the instructions provided with the all the test discs.

As I originally mentioned, the DVE BD grayscale ramp pattern proves the method is simply not working, regardless of mixed sources. Strangely, video black dithers on the smooth grayscale ramp (as indicated by the white markers) when using that pattern. However, if one uses the background of the pluge pattern, it does not dither. To get brightness correct, I have to use the grayscale ramp with white markers. The setting is dramatically different, about 10 clicks on all my Panasonic plasmas.
post #15 of 42
As I said, it may be because some discs are mastered differently? Some discs show dithering while others do not. Easiest way to test if your set is dithering is to pop in a blu-ray movie and go to the end credits. There should generally be no dithering in the black area of the credits, but SOME discs will dither here.

This is why I'll just go with the tried and true calibration discs until a pro chimes in here and says otherwise. I'd rather do this than set my Brightness/black level too low and then have loss of detail and black crush.
post #16 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairchild99 View Post

As I said, it may be because some discs are mastered differently? Some discs show dithering while others do not. Easiest way to test if your set is dithering is to pop in a blu-ray movie and go to the end credits. There should generally be no dithering in the black area of the credits, but SOME discs will dither here.

This is why I'll just go with the tried and true calibration discs until a pro chimes in here and says otherwise. I'd rather do this than set my Brightness/black level too low and then have loss of detail and black crush.

Just curious. Are you guys making these adjustments on the TV or are you also using the settings on the Blu-Ray player?


Ian
post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by redwolf4k View Post

As I originally mentioned, the DVE BD grayscale ramp pattern proves the method is simply not working, regardless of mixed sources. Strangely, video black dithers on the smooth grayscale ramp (as indicated by the white markers) when using that pattern. However, if one uses the background of the pluge pattern, it does not dither. To get brightness correct, I have to use the grayscale ramp with white markers. The setting is dramatically different, about 10 clicks on all my Panasonic plasmas.

OMG, welcome crushed blacks!

Sorry, but you're wrong. Besides, the white markers on the DVE greyramppattern are in the wrong place.

I hve plenty of Blu-ray-Discs, which have their black at "16", where it belongs, but some discs are mastered wrong and have their black at 17, 18 or even 19.

@fairchild
Call yourself lucky, that you don't know the ugly near black PWM-noise of LG-plasmas. Panasonics noise down there is very very fine in comparison.
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by mailiang View Post

Just curious. Are you guys making these adjustments on the TV or are you also using the settings on the Blu-Ray player?


Ian

My Blu-ray player doesn't allow you to change the brightness setting on the fly or anything. It has an auto setting which I have disabled. So I do my brightness changes only on my TV.

@Turrican4D
Do you perhaps have a link to a picture somewhere that I can see this? Is this something that looks similair to edge bleeding on LCD's?
post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairchild99 View Post

My Blu-ray player doesn't allow you to change the brightness setting on the fly or anything. It has an auto setting which I have disabled. So I do my brightness changes only on my TV.



My Panny BMD85 has an advanced user mode which along with brightness settings also offers gamma control, contrast, sharpness, color temp etc. It makes it a lot easier to customize your Blu-Ray settings.


Ian
post #20 of 42
Interesting concept.
post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by mailiang View Post



My Panny BMD85 has an advanced user mode which along with brightness settings also offers gamma control, contrast, sharpness, color temp etc. It makes it a lot easier to customize your Blu-Ray settings.


Ian

Mine is a cheapo Philips BDP3020, so I wasn't expecting much. The picture is still pretty good so I've been happy with it. I originally went with it a while back because I wanted an affordable Blu-ray player that also played back DIVX/XVID encoded files and I was using a Philips DVD player which worked great, and this is the best I found.
post #22 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by JukeBox360 View Post

Interesting concept.


Indeed! So what's all the fuss about?


Ian
post #23 of 42
You guys who are getting dithering is it in the black bars as well? Yes the letterbox bars matter....its actually part of the picture itself that takes up data on the disc.
post #24 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by MASKOAA View Post

You guys who are getting dithering is it in the black bars as well? Yes the letterbox bars matter....its actually part of the picture itself that takes up data on the disc.

Not me personally. With black level set correctly with the AVS HD 709, my plasma never shows dithering in the black bars. As previously said, some discs exhibit dithering in the actual movie during dark scenes and sometimes during the end credits, but never on the letterbox bars.
post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairchild99 View Post

Not me personally. With black level set correctly with the AVS HD 709, my plasma never shows dithering in the black bars. As previously said, some discs exhibit dithering in the actual movie during dark scenes and sometimes during the end credits, but never on the letterbox bars.

Then thats just a crappy transfer or what the director intended. The bars are always at the lowest black level.

Aliens has a extremely washed out look IMO compared to the original Alien.
post #26 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MASKOAA View Post

You guys who are getting dithering is it in the black bars as well? Yes the letterbox bars matter....its actually part of the picture itself that takes up data on the disc.

No, I never had any dithering within the black bars, just within the blacks in the movies. Thats good to know though.
post #27 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairchild99 View Post

Not me personally. With black level set correctly with the AVS HD 709, my plasma never shows dithering in the black bars. As previously said, some discs exhibit dithering in the actual movie during dark scenes and sometimes during the end credits, but never on the letterbox bars.

I know two movies, that are mastered that bad, that black (letterbox bars) are not at 16-> "Black Death" and "Solomon Kane".
post #28 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turrican4D View Post
I know two movies, that are mastered that bad
Whoopdeedoo.

So you're gonna miscalibrate your system for two movies out of thousands?
post #29 of 42
I've seen people do worse for so little...
post #30 of 42
Thread Starter 
Well, the brightness is still wrong on all of my blu rays, not just a select few.

When watching the tutorial on how to set black level, Joe Kane says to make the 2% above video black bar disappear, and then increase brightness until it just appears. He then explains you should barely be able to see the 2% above video black bar, it should be "hard to see against the black background". ( after doing this and checking the grayscale ramp, it aligns with the grayscale markers as previously mentioned) He then goes to explain if you can clearly see a bright 2% above video black and 4% above video black bar, but the background (video black) is still black, then the set is coming out of black to quickly, and is not representing how a CRT would reproduce black levels.

The latter however, which is the AVS disc instructions say different. These two approaches yield totally different settings. One displays video black correctly in blu rays discs on all my sets, and the other has them dither, on every single blu-ray I own. The end credits with black background may not dither heavily, but it does dither some when you approach the tv.

Why decrease the contrast ratio and increase the noise of your set when there is no perceivable gain in detail when watching film? Perhaps the smooth gradation grayscale ramps better align with how the circuits in a tv set display film?
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