or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Display Devices › Flat Panels General and OLED Technology › "Steaming Rat," or "Rich's Method For Achieving A More Realistic Image...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

"Steaming Rat," or "Rich's Method For Achieving A More Realistic Image...  

post #1 of 226
Thread Starter 
Fellow Plasmites,

While trekking in Northern Thailand, my wife and I were guided by a singularly quixotic, jolly Thai man who always took the adventurous route. Instead of using a bridge to cross over water, he’d have us jump off bridge. Are there any crocodiles in this river? Let’s wade through and see. How will that giant rat taste if we catch it and spice it nicely? No more guessing needed: that night our Thai guide presented us with Steaming Hot Rat for dinner. Sensing our trepidation as he loaded greasy, grisle-laden rat chunks into our bowl, he grinned and stated as he always did before a dubious adventure: “Never try, never know.â€

And you know what? That rat was pretty good.

I hereby present the AV version of “Steaming Rat,†or “Rich’s potentially dubious version of calibrating your plasma.†For I am aware that many knowledgeable AV enthusiasts, particularly members of the Imaging Science Foundation [ISF} school, may look upon this method as the great chef Escoffier would have looked upon a bowl of steaming rat: “strictly last resort.â€

But ever since I created my plasma screen-shots gallery, I’ve been inundated via forum discussions, PMs and emails asking about my picture settings, and how to calibrate for a life-like image.
I feel totally awkward answering because we all have different tastes, and most AV forum denizens know what they like and how to achieve it on their display…no help needed from a meathead like me. However, seeing as the questions keep coming, and since we like to exchange information that might lead to the coolest picture we can get out of these things, I figure what the heck, here’s my 2 cents.. Instead of posting picture settings, which are pretty much useless for a host of good technical and subjective reasons, I’ll outline my approach to adjusting for the most convincing image possible. Will the results please you, or end up looking like Steaming Rat? Never try, never know…

THE GOAL

As a life-long movie fanatic and member of the film industry, I love rich, smooth film-like images as much as the next Home Theater fanatic. Several of my saved picture settings, including those calibrated by a professional ISF technician, produce such a look whenever I want it. However, I also find myself enamoured by the truly realistic images of which plasma seems particularly capable. I love the window effect. When the objects and people on screen look uncannily as they do in real life, as opposed to how they’d look only in a movie theater, I find the effect particularly thrilling

To my surprise, it was neither the use of the AVIA disc nor the efforts of an ISF technician that brought forth the most realistic images from my plasma. It was simply my own eyeballed attempts to bring the picture toward something believable. This actually makes some sense, as even the calibration rendered by an ISF technician does not have the goal per se of “creating a real-looking picture.†It is instead goal number one for an ISF technician to bring the performance of your display in line with NTSC imaging standards. A smoother, more realistic image is often the happy by-product of a display calibrated to NTSC standards, especially compared to most artificial-looking factory settings. But the essential idea of such calibration is that a movie image should look the same on my display as it looks on your display, as it looked on the original broadcast monitors used for transferring the image. Whereas my goal is strictly that of realism: picture settings that are specifically created to my taste, in a way that best fools MY own eyes in to believing the image. So, one might say instead of an “objective†approach I often rely on a “subjective†approach.

Of course this approach relies in no small part upon the owner’s ability to identify and calibrate for those qualities he finds realistic.
For my part, I’ve been kind of obsessed about investigating real Vs reproduced (in both audio and video). When viewing a well-transferred outdoor scene, I’d look out my window and back to the plasma, asking myself “what is different about the look of scenery on the plasma Vs how it appears in real life?†Then I’d fiddle with picture settings. On screen, Peter Parker in Spider Man lifts his hand into a close up. I lift up my own hand: “What is the essential difference between how my hand looks, Vs how his looks on the screen?†I’d fiddle again with picture settings, observing which changes made the texture of his hand look more convincingly “skin-like†Vs film or video-like. And so on.

Eventually I identified those aspects of the image on screen that most consistently looked artificial to me. After all this fiddling I now find, there is amazingly little disconnect when I look from the plasma image to real objects nearby. And when watching movies I am often struck with the feeling “This is what these people and places really look like…more like I’m watching the events through the camera lens itself, before they were transferred to the artificial medium of film.†And it’s not simply my plasma. I’ve found this method quickly improves the realism of any display I’ve demoed. (Again, to my perception).

So, in the "Steaming Rat" method, we are looking for an image with the least artificial cues; the least “electronic-looking,†most believable images possible. Let’s try tweaking your display so that your reaction to a movie image is not “My, what a rich, fine-looking, film-like image.†Instead it should be: “Holy crap, it looks like that actor is right in front of me, everything looks inherently right or real.â€

Here’s what has worked best for me. A completely unoriginal approach, which is essentially the very method most of us used before we bought AVIA or started flipping through the phone book looking for local ISF technicians.

Cont'd...
post #2 of 226
Thread Starter 
THE METHOD

I’m not going to get into hue, tint, and color temperature and all that. If you want to be assured that your set is “right†in those areas, use the AVIA or VE disc, or higher a pro. I’ll just be using the basic adjustment parameters of any set: White level (often called the “Contrast†or “Picture†control in many menus), Black level (often confusingly called the “brightness†control), Sharpness control, and Color level. (I’ll also get to adjusting over-scan at the end, which can have a distinct effect picture quality). I’ll be using screen shots from my plasma gallery as examples. If you are going to give any of this a whirl, I encourage you to continually reference how real objects look – say in your room or out your window, Vs what you are seeing on-screen.

ADJUSTING COLOR LEVEL:

What I find to be an artificial cue in almost all images I encounter in the Home Theater world is over-rich color. I’m not talking only about garish factory settings featured in most show-room displays. I’ve seen quite a few professionally calibrated displays, including my own, that still struck me as looking like the equivalent of a Hagan-Daz world.

On CRTs when the color is cranked up we know it produces unnatural “blooming, where color bleeds and blurs into adjacent phosphors. Plasmas don’t have the same blooming problem per se, but turning up the color can have much the same subjective effect – it makes objects look like they are glowing. People like vibrant, colorful images; I understand. But if you look around you at the real world, on the whole color does not leap out at you with neon-sign-like vibrancy. Most real objects don’t “glow†as if they themselves are light sources. Real life, compared to video images, looks more plain, more matter of fact, colors included. It’s like photographic prints: glossy prints contain an artificial, overlaying element that artificially enhances the image, whereas real life strikes me as more plain, like a non-reflective mat print.
My approach is to use the over-all “Color†control to start notching back the color level, in order to slightly desaturate the image. Among the effects this has, I find these three the most important:

1. People’s faces start to look less over-saturated, less “movie poster-like,†and more normal looking. Same with clothes. If someone is wearing a red or other deep hued jacket, it no longer stands out like a neon sign, grabbing my attention in an artificial way. It just looks “red,†not RED!

2. This is a big one for me: That electronic “glow†to the image begins to fade as I start desaturating the color. Get a real-looking close up of an actor on one of your DVDs. Start with your color at “0†(which is pretty much were my ISF guy left mine).
Start dialing down the color a click at a time, and see how the image of his skin subtly becomes less “radiated†or flatter and smoother – more matter-of-fact, like you are looking at real skin Vs skin made up of glowing pixels. You can see this more clearly by comparing your own skin, or looking at someone in your family, and comparing to the image. Once the color is dialed just right, the people on screen look less "glowy,†more like real people. For me, the adjustment can be this critical: One click down can make the difference between “glowing image†Vs “non glowing image.†(I suppose we are doing the equivalent of turning a glossy print into a mat print). At just the right setting, you’ll better see the texture of people’s skin, you may notice the fine powder of make-up on a woman, instead of her simply looking flush from it’s coloring. Clothes no longer “radiate†color, but instead look like fabric, and you become more aware of the texture of the clothes. It’s not necessarily about true increases in textural detail, but you are playing with how your brain directs its attention at the image…if you see where I’m coming from.

3. Desaturating the color has the effect of slightly increasing perceived sharpness. In the case of CRTs, having the color turned up too high causes true bleeding of the color onto adjacent phosphors, blurring the image. So, properly adjusting color on a CRT objectively affects the clarity of the image. Plasmas don’t “bloom†per se, but having the color dialed up produces much the same subjective effect as a blooming CRT – people and objects look over-rich and less defined. As I understand it, our eyes see more detail in black and white images. Perhaps this is part of the explanation why desaturating the color tends to make it look a little sharper. Try it and see if it has this effect for you.

Of course de-saturating the color too much can make the image, and actors in particular, look unnaturally pale. Also, you’ll notice that when you notch the color UP it increases the color depth, color detail and the dimensionality of the image. You have to find the balance that looks right to your eyes. Generally I find if skin tones look convincing, the image usually remains quite dimensional as well. And lest you think an image adjusted this way might look “dull,†it looks anything but. It still looks rich and vibrant, but in a realistic way. On your typical shot of, say a butterfly close-up in Hi-Def the reaction is not: “Wow, this display has amazing color,†it’s instead “Wow, that BUTTERFLY is beautiful.†The sensation is looking at the object as it really is not how your display is interpreting and enhancing that object.

This color effect is probably the most fragile concept to illustrate via a screen-shot. However, take a look at these images. If your computer monitor is reasonably calibrated, you should get this “matter-of-fact†realism to the images. The sense that my digital camera was photographing not a TV, not a movie poster, but real people, with normal, natural skin:

Screen Shot Of Willy Wonka Kid

Peter Parker Waving

Bruce Willis Waking Up - Fifth Element
Bruce Willis’ face is naturally red in this “wake-up†scene. But it’s a great shot for dialing the “not glowing but real-skin†effect, especially looking at his shoulders.

FWIW, On my Panasonic plasma, my color control tends to ride between –1 and –4.

BLACK LEVELS

The deeper, darker you can get black levels, the smoother, more noise-free and best of all, the richer and more dimensional the image becomes. I’ll take a DVD scene or shot that has a good range of shadow detail, right down into pitch black. I just want as deep blacks as possible, without loosing significant detail in the dark areas.
Increasing the black level (turning down brightness) makes the image pop out in a more three-dimensional manner. But push it too far, loose too much shadow detail, and dark areas start to look like black holes on your screen.

My screen shots are actually good for illustrating problems with black and highlight detail. Shadow and highlight detail plainly visible on my plasma was lost in many screen-shots. But as an example how I’d adjust an image for black level, look at this Green Goblin Shot from Spider Man:

Green Goblin Screen Shot

I would dial down the black level, making it deeper, until the Goblin image popped realistically out of my screen. Then I’d take stock: are the dark areas too dark? The screen within the Goblin’s mouth area should have detail. In fact you can see William Dafoe’s mouth right through the screen with a properly calibrated image. Shadings around the shoulders should be smooth, not blocky. In real life detail rarely drops off a cliff into blackness, so my eye picks up those areas that appear unnaturally, black-hole-like dark. Now, the problem is that many DVD images actually DO have no detail in the shadows, and in fact the Panny plasma can loose a bit of detail in the darkest areas itself. If I perceive too-black shadow areas, I’ll adjust the black level up just until the image evens out, and those blackened areas no longer stand out and catch my eye. So it’s not strictly about loosing or gaining detail within the black areas. It’s about creating an image that TRICKs your eyes into feeling they are seeing a proper level of contrast…so they don’t go noticing defects. Get enough contrast to make the image realistically dimensional and rich, but not enough to make it look artificially contrasty. Sometimes when adjusting black level I will not concentrated only on the dark areas, I’ll just take in the whole image and watch how it becomes over-all more or less convincing with changes in brightness (black level).

Here's another example of black levels in play during a normal, well-lit scene. Again, the boy from the Willy Wonka DVD:

Screen Shot Of Willy Wonka Kid

Adjusting the black level downward will increase the realism and vividness of the boy’s dark hair, and the boy’s face over-all. But some small areas of his hair DO fall into little or no detail. You’ll start to get the “tiny patches of black whole†effect in his hair - particularly the patch of hair in front of his left ear (screen right for the viewer). If I notice this, I’ll notch the black levels up a tad; evening things out to were my eyes don’t notice the too-black areas.


CONTRAST

Same thing applies here. I want my image to have a realistic dynamic range, to mimic the brilliance of real life (whereas my ISF’d image appeared too flat and dim to convince). But I don't want it pushed into artificial territory. (I should also mention that, since my family watches tons of NTSC, my contrast settings are almost all the way down for those signals. The contrast for the DVD / HD image may be higher, but proportionally the display spends most of it’s time in a life-span-saving low contrast mode). And I don’t need my contrast levels cranked for this effect. They sit around – 14 on my S-Video input for movies.

When the sun is highlighting an object, I like it to have a realistic brilliance, but not into artificial or eyestrain territory. Again, “real†not artificial. I’d start at the contrast setting of “0†and work downward (“0†will inevitably look too hot, especially in a darkened viewing environment). I observe those objects that are catching my eye in an artificial manner. Someone is wearing a white shirt? Is it blazing like a flashlight? Like a light source? I adjust until it gains the impression of fabric. But maybe the highlights along that white shirt have no detail…there is none even on the DVD transfer, those details just blew out. Well, does my eye pick this up?
Too bright highlights on objects will start to look detached from the object, as if they are light sources themselves and not an object reflecting light. If this is so, I’ll notch down the contrast until the high-lights “attach†to the object – say the white shirt of a metal object.†I adjust contrast until my eye is not distracted by the artificial looking highlights.

Look at this shot from the Fifth Element.

Fifth Element Dude

Check out the man’s forehead. On my plasma there is detail in that bright area on his forehead, but my digital camera blew out those details. If in fact this DVD image looked like this on my plasma, I’d make sure I wasn’t distracted by the fake patch of nothing on his forehead, by notching down the contrast (bright area), evening out the tones in his face until the high-light looked like a natural intensity for light reflecting off skin. At that point it the lack of detail in the highlight area does not call attention to itself. Again, there may be problems in any image – I just don’t want them to stop my eye, or grab my attention.

But I always want to try and retain as realistic a level of contrast as possible. A plasma image with good dynamic range has a realistic “surprise†or “pop†about it. You’ll probably notice changes in weather on-screen more, and lighting conditions have a more natural variation. Cloudy days look right, but sunlight streaming through a window looks properly brilliant and “realâ€

ADJUSTING SHARPNESS.

I’ve found adjusting the sharpness on plasmas to be less egregious than on CRTs, which tend to look grainier and more card-board-cut-out-like more quickly with sharpness adjustments.

I want the image to look realistically sharp and clear. Real life, depending on your eye-site, has an absolute sharpness…just not artificially so. Take a good DVD image and if it does not look realistically sharp, try notching up the sharpness control, while keeping an eye on increasing grain and ringing (white outlines around objects, brought about by the sharpness control). It may bring about such artifacts, especially visible if you get closer to your screen. But if increased grain or ringing is not visible, or distracting AT YOUR VIEWING DISTANCE and the picture has gained a more realistic sharpness, then that is the point. Also, if your DVD player has a sharpness control, test it against that of your display. In my case, I find the sharpness control of my DVD player looks a little more natural than the plasma’s control.

I’ve found my S-Video image to be so precise and clear that I rarely need the sharpness control. But, I’m not afraid to use it when needed. Forget test patterns: fool your eye.

DIE OVERSCAN, DIE ! !!

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 shifted slightly left, right, up, down on your screen. On a screen with zero Overscan you’d see these miss-centered images, and often notice the edge of the cable image has intruded onto your screen.
Slightly zooming in on the picture makes sure even mis-adjusted signals fill the screen.

But zoom in on any picture, as Overscan does, and you soften it. If you can reduce over-scan on your plasma image, especially if you can eliminate it, you’ll be squeezing MORE image information on to your screen, making for a sharper, denser, more convincing-looking image. Use the appropriate AVIA test pattern for adjusting the size of the image, and use your plasma’s horizontal / vertical size and position controls to squeeze the image until it just fits onto your screen. In my case, my Panny’s component signal had little overscan to adjust, but my S-Video input had significant over-scan. Once I’d adjusted my S-Video signal, squeezing all of it onto the screen, the image was sharper and more convincing than my component signal.
Especially if you own a Panny plasma, adjust overscan on the S-Video input (and if possible, the Component input), play a DVD and see which input looks better. BTW, you can do a quick ‘n dirty overscan adjustment by putting on a 1:85:1 aspect ratio DVD, such as Spider Man. A DVD of that aspect ratio is the essentially the same shape as the typical 16:9 plasma. If you adjust the edges of the image to perfectly fit within your screen you should notice an increase in sharpness and the sculptural, dimensional palpability of the image. (Geometry may not be perfect, but you’ll get the idea).

And there we are. We’ve calibrated for the look of “REALISM.†You should have a subtly, but distinctly more believable image. The best source material should produce images that are sharp, realistically vibrant, naturally even and smooth with normal looking people on screen. Your plasma should appear less like a glowing display and more like something you are looking “through†to real objects.

If anyone actually tries this, I’d appreciate some feedback: whether positive or negative.

Cheers,
post #3 of 226
Random thought:

It might help in your screenshot gallery to have some pictures with higher resolution. A lower resolution than the native one of your panel can hardly show what it truly looks like...
post #4 of 226
Yet ANOTHER Rich classic to be filed away! Great job buddy! It's scary how close your adjustment techniques and mine are....scary! Almost every approach you've used is what I've used over the years with plasmas and other TVs. Yes, this is heresy in the ISF world, but as you indicated quite clearly, the ISF objectives are totally different than ours. They each have their own purpose. To me though there is nothing like striving for a "real world look".
post #5 of 226
Quote:
Originally posted by Namlemez
Random thought:

It might help in your screenshot gallery to have some pictures with higher resolution. A lower resolution than the native one of your panel can hardly show what it truly looks like...
The problem is not so much resolution with posting these pictures, but rather the dynamic values (or lack thereof) of the digital camera. Current digital cameras are simply far too limited in dynamic range to capture the nuances of a plasma's image.
post #6 of 226
That was a brilliant treatise, Rich.

But I am not going to be eating rat anytime soon.

mark
post #7 of 226
Brilliant as always Rich.

Maybe add a disclaimer to your post- Remember one's preference negates the Director's intent. Sometimes a persons face/skin tone is meant to be a little Red or a hue of a different color. Thus the established "D6500" Standard.

We have gotten numerous "newbies" lately.

Dave
post #8 of 226
Rich you are amazing in your dedication to what you want in a display.I only wish you owned a Pioneer plasma since the pq is very different with a whole other set of things to work with.
It seems on the Pioneer the colors are really popping at the same time that flesh tones are really natural.You also cant do anything with overscan because the adjustments are not there and sharpness controls just don't effect the picture no matter if they go up or down.
Don't get me wrong I love my 433 but like everyone else I'm searching for the perfect setting that I want to live with.I would love you to take a crack at a Pioneer unit and report what you did.I'm going to try your method as soon as I get off the computer.When are you going to start traveling around the country calibrating sets with no equipment but your eyes and access to a picture window?
post #9 of 226
Rich,

You've been nominated as.....
http://www.ironfans.com/img/title/kaga3title.gif

The Iron Chef......of Plasmas
post #10 of 226
Its amazing that anyone would devote so much of one's time for the benefit of strangers. I appreciate your work.
post #11 of 226
Rich,

You have gone and done it again.....outstanding....you are the "gas" in my plasma (and that's a good thing).

Excellent, Bravo, Encore.


I give that post a 10 out of 10 smilies.

:cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool:

However, as a newbie I would have no clue to search for "steaming rat". Maybe you could change the thread heading?

Just my .02. Once again OUTSTANDING!!!!
post #12 of 226
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much guys.

I'm so glad, and completely surprised that someone - anyone - got anything out of it, given that I'd figured it was the biggest, steaming pile of crap I've ever posted. What I mean is that, although everything I wrote is true for how I approach things, I wasn't convinced it would resonate for anyone else.

But as you guys know I'm somewhat passionate about all this, and perhaps that carries the day. Obviously the adjustments are very, very basic. But a clear vision or goal for the results really seems to make the difference.

Dave,

Yes, I did have it in mind to add the disclaimer you mention, but in my haste to move from "The Goal" to "The Method" I forgot. It's not an "accuracy to the source material" approach, as you mention, and newbies should know that.
(I'll add it).

Still, as a musician who has recorded original music, and a (previously struggling) film-maker who has directed and edited, I find the "Artist's Intent" argument interesting. For instance, nobody was ever going to hear the R+B music as we heard it in the studio. It would be played on crappy stereos, great stereos, car stereos, boom boxes etc. If we made our music strong enough, the intent would show through no matter where it was played. As long as it got the listener's head bobbing and foot tapping, it fulfilled our "intention." And it did so on all those systems.

To a degree it's the same in the film world. Given the variety of ways people have watched movies: on crappy VHS, on DVD, on crappy TVs, on great TVs, on a 16mm projector in a library or film school, on properly calibrated projection systems, and most often on out-of-spec theater projection systems with old bulbs....it would seem that a perfect facsimile of the original answer print has been as rare as hen's teeth. And if a director's intent was that tied to knowing, for instance, that actor's jacket was exactly, precisely THAT shade of yellow, then we've all been missing out, all along on 95 percent of the movies we've experienced in our lives.
I submit that viewing an image on, say, a little wide-screen tube set, no matter how accurately calibrated, is such a gross divergence from seeing it projected in a theater that it dwarfs the matter of slight hue adjustments. That goes for how viewing a movie on any number of different types of display CHANGES the experience. Which display does the director INTEND for the viewer to watch his movie on? Which seat in the theater? Third row? Last row? Back left...they all affect the experience. When I was writing films, I always imagined them to be experienced by a large audience ina the movie theater, as I suspect most film-maker's do. In that respect (had I actually got a full feature made), anyone watching it on their couch in their home theater would be missing my intent.

Believe me, I understand and sympathize with the rational for consistent standards, as promulgated by the Imaging Science Foundation. But I sometimes think the "directors intent" is a house of cards when examined. I think the vast majority of the director's intent is met by any viewer who becomes involved in the drama and atmosphere of the film, no matter how they are viewing it. And, like music, an artist will accept that the audience often brings their own approach to the experience...will meet the art on terms that work for themselves. Above all, I know from the many directors I work with, their over-riding intent is simply that you liked the flick, so they can make another one. I can't say I've figured this out...I'm on both sides of the fence, so the artist's intent is a constant source of rumination.

Nonetheless, the disclaimer will go up soon :-)
post #13 of 226
[quote]Originally posted by R Harkness


....it would seem that a perfect facsimile of the original answer print has been as rare as hen's teeth.

hehe. OK. This is a really cool and offbeat visual analogy. Just didn't want anyone to miss this gem.

Great post BTW!:p
post #14 of 226
Well I tried it last night for sd cable which was a chore.So much comes in with so many variables it was almost impossible.I ended up with Larry king talking heads and cranked down the color that was originally calibrated using Avia.Seems Avia on a Pioneer(or at least as my eyes dealt with the calibration) gives a very hot color tone.Its not unpleasent but its also not natural.
It seems to me that dropping color in a pioneer does the opposite of the Panny in that the pq doesn't get sharper but softer.I also dropped contrast a bit but blacks stayed the way Avia calibrated them.

It a different look and one I'm not sure of yet with limited viewing time I had.I'm so used to the knock you out feeling of the color from a Pioneer that this will take getting used to.Tonight Ill try doing this to my DVD component source while I view The sopranos DVD that I'm familiar with.Ill report back on the results.The reason i went with a Pio instead of the panny was the color and brightness I kept seeing in stores next to the washed out look of the poorly set up panny.I learned to love the Pio because of the look so this all may not play out for me.I do love your screen shots so I do know what I'm trying to get to but it may not be possible on a Pioneer unit.
post #15 of 226
"I find the "Artist's Intent" argument interesting"

As I posted in the speaker forum once, I played the saxophone for years... and I was thinking about the detail that the audiophile guys search for and it made me think:

Dreamaster records a tune, takes the CD to a friends house and
says:

"OH MY GA your system SUCKS, I so intended for there to be more
treble in the 8k range. Take it back to the store please."

I am searching for that lifelike 'sound.' But that's another story for another thread. Anyway, I agree with you that people get wrapped up trying to exactly replicate the 'source' or the 'theatre experience'. Part if it though, is man kinds eternal lust for something 'better'. Kind of a constant goal setting.

I enjoyed your post very much.

Dreamaster
post #16 of 226
Quote:
Originally posted by mattg3
It a different look and one I'm not sure of yet with limited viewing time I had.I'm so used to the knock you out feeling of the color from a Pioneer that this will take getting used to.Tonight Ill try doing this to my DVD component source while I view The sopranos DVD that I'm familiar with.Ill report back on the results.The reason i went with a Pio instead of the panny was the color and brightness I kept seeing in stores next to the washed out look of the poorly set up panny.I learned to love the Pio because of the look so this all may not play out for me.I do love your screen shots so I do know what I'm trying to get to but it may not be possible on a Pioneer unit.

Matt, I find your struggles fascinating as the one and only
time I've seen the 'window effect' was on a Pioneer Elite at
Ultimate Electronics. In fact, I had said nothing and my wife
said "wow it looks like I'm a looking through a window."

I turned to her and smiled and she grabbed my arm and said "NOO!!!
We can't afford it."

Man was I laughing hard on the inside.

Dreamaster
post #17 of 226
Yes,Dreamaster maybe I already have what I want yet this experiment will at least make me realize it or drive me insane on the quest.
post #18 of 226
Quote:
Originally posted by mattg3
Yes,Dreamaster maybe I already have what I want yet this experiment will at least make me realize it or drive me insane on the quest.
I wouldn't worry about making the picture look more realistic. Just make it look the way you want it to look. I've always preferred the Pioneer's color presentation at or near default settings.

- David
post #19 of 226
Thread Starter 
Matt,

That's interesting that the Pio appears softer when you reduce color. That would be a first for me, but in fact I never tried it with a Pioneer plasma (I've only really fiddled with black level and contrast on those units).

Maybe it will be different with DVDs (?).

I don't admonish anyone to search for a more realistic image if they already find themselves satisfied with their picture. I'd view the steaming rat approach as a fun little exercise, just to see what happens.

Remember: What I was trying to get across is that it's subjective. It's about identifying what appears realistic to you, not to me. You might find it helpful, as I do, to occasionally reference real objects and people to get the "vibe" you are going for.

Last night my wife and I were watching The Bachelor (goodness help us).
We were watching on what was essentially the ISF'd settings, which had the color at "0" (or was it +1, can't remember). The signal looked blaringly fake - like the people were under sun-lamps. I had to crank down the color significantly. When I did so I sort of glanced over to my wife to note what looks real, and adjusted accordingly. Four seconds later grass no longer looked like astro turf, people no longer glowed, and the sense we were looking at real people, vs cartoon people was much enhanced.
Of course the source was mostly to blame, but that doesn't change the point of all this.

Some may be more satisfied with the added color depth with the color left higher. As I said, when you view your DVD tonight, look at a close up of an actor and notch down your color a click at a time to see if the glowing person effect is reduced. Also, note the textures of people's clothing to see if it becomes more "plain" and textural, vs "Knock-out colorful."

I did these adjustments on a HD CRT I recently auditioned (for my Dad), and found they worked beautifully there too. Really, it boils down to adjusting for your taste.
post #20 of 226
Rich:

Do you have different settings saved depending on the source, or do you just constantly retweak with everything you watch? Does the Panny allows you to save setting by source? I ask, because when I get my plasma I'd like to spend considerable time tweaking initially, but then once I like the picture just essentially forget about it.

- David
post #21 of 226
Quote:
Originally posted by davidw
Rich:

Does the Panny allows you to save setting by source? I ask, because when I get my plasma I'd like to spend considerable time tweaking initially, but then once I like the picture just essentially forget about it.

- David
Yeah, it remembers the position by input. i.e. component, s-video, or PC, plus there you can tweak each video setting "Cinema, Dynamic, Standard, Auto" seperately.

I use (tweaked) standard when watching "life" films like Gladiator, and "Auto" when watching "dark sci-fi" like The Matrix.

Cheers
post #22 of 226
Thread Starter 
davidw,

Yes, I have different settings saved for NTSC, Hi-Def and DVD.

In fact, I found long ago that once I'd found settings I like I could leave them for the most part. So no, I'm definitely not tweaking for everything I watch. If however I notice a DVD has particularly bad black levels or something, I'll do a quick adjustment. Sometimes I just play with my settings to try things out, but the settings often stay the same for a long time (weeks, months).

I don't really watch much TV so don't find myself compelled to tweak regular broadcast very often. Unless, like last night I was going to be watching an entire show...then I tweaked the picture just for that show.
post #23 of 226
Quote:
Originally posted by R Harkness

Peter Parker Waving
In case anyone wants the timestamp so you have the *exact* frame to compare against:

Spiderman
Chapter 1, 0:05:02.15

Cheers
post #24 of 226
Quote:
Originally posted by R Harkness
DIE OVERSCAN, DIE ! !!

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 shifted slightly left, right, up, down on your screen. On a screen with zero Overscan you’d see these miss-centered images, and often notice the edge of the cable image has intruded onto your screen.
Slightly zooming in on the picture makes sure even mis-adjusted signals fill the screen.

But zoom in on any picture, as Overscan does, and you soften it. If you can reduce over-scan on your plasma image, especially if you can eliminate it, you’ll be squeezing MORE image information on to your screen, making for a sharper, denser, more convincing-looking image. Use the appropriate AVIA test pattern for adjusting the size of the image, and use your plasma’s horizontal / vertical size and position controls to squeeze the image until it just fits onto your screen. In my case, my Panny’s component signal had little overscan to adjust, but my S-Video input had significant over-scan. Once I’d adjusted my S-Video signal, squeezing all of it onto the screen, the image was sharper and more convincing than my component signal.
Especially if you own a Panny plasma, adjust overscan on the S-Video input (and if possible, the Component input), play a DVD and see which input looks better. BTW, you can do a quick ‘n dirty overscan adjustment by putting on a 1:85:1 aspect ratio DVD, such as Spider Man. A DVD of that aspect ratio is the essentially the same shape as the typical 16:9 plasma. If you adjust the edges of the image to perfectly fit within your screen you should notice an increase in sharpness and the sculptural, dimensional palpability of the image. (Geometry may not be perfect, but you’ll get the idea).

And there we are. We’ve calibrated for the look of “REALISM.†You should have a subtly, but distinctly more believable image. The best source material should produce images that are sharp, realistically vibrant, naturally even and smooth with normal looking people on screen. Your plasma should appear less like a glowing display and more like something you are looking “through†to real objects.

If anyone actually tries this, I’d appreciate some feedback: whether positive or negative.

Cheers,
I don't mean to hi-jack Rich's excellent thread, but anyone adjusting their overscan & position, will want to read my mini-guide.

Therad: Are you seeing the FULL image you paid for!?
Subtitle: "Michaelangelo's Image Size and Position Calibrating Made Easy"
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=257933

Rich, I'll be providing feedback once my RP-91 and Nordost Super S-Video arrives at the end of the week.

Cheers
post #25 of 226
Well I just finished the Harkness calibration(I think this whole process needs to be called something)on my DVD input on the 433 watching a Sopranos DVD and I'm very excited about the results.I started with color level and noticed the carnival colors were replaced by vibrant but natural tones.I was using the Avia calibration before this so everything I did started from the Avia settings Ive been using.

Color fell to a -8 and contrast a -4 with brightness going up +1(The picture of the hair over the boys ear is what I based this on and yes I needed to see a bit more detail in my blacks and this really worked.I'm now left with a very exciting more 3d picture with better blacks and everyone looking real instead of like actors in heavy makeup.The picture is not washed out and it retains that bright color the Pioneer features but its not overwhelming and you start watching the story rather than the pq.

Yesterday I tried this process with sd cable which was a mistake since each channel is different and ads explode off the screen with overly processed qualityand its almost impossible to get a handle on it.I said the pioneer got softer as color level dropped but I found with DVD this is not the case and it did indeed get sharper.I went back to check my sd cable tonight and tweak it a bit.I think you may have to change settings on SD cable to match what you watch but DVD settings are a keeper.

My one conclusion from this is, Avia tends to really add a lot more higher colors to a plasma display than are needed.This may be just because the disc is not really set up for digital or HD or for that matter the capabilities of a plasma.Perhaps the promised digital Avia disc that is in the works will change all that. Thanks Rich for two nights of fun and now I can go and look at all my DVDs again under the new Harkness calibration mode.
post #26 of 226
Quote:
Originally posted by R Harkness

Green Goblin Screen Shot
Ack, forgot there was one more Spiderman screenshot !

DVD: Spiderman
Green Goblin Fire Shot
Chapter 23, 1:25:02.2

Enjoy !
post #27 of 226
Quote:
Originally posted by R Harkness
Bruce Willis Waking Up - Fifth Element
Bruce Willis’ face is naturally red in this “wake-up†scene. But it’s a great shot for dialing the “not glowing but real-skin†effect, especially looking at his shoulders.
DVD: The Fifth Element (Superbit)
Subject: Willis Waking Up
Chapter: 5, 0:17:16.6

And NO, I don't have a timestamp fetish! :)

I feel that I should mentions some caveats when using screenshot to match your colors on your Plasma. (Feel free to disagree)
- The contrast in Rich's screenshot is a tad too high. (No offense Rich!)
- Interestingly enogh, the extreme dithering and quantization errors / banding you see in the doors and walls makes this frame a *very* good torture test for brightness on Plasmas! Too high, and the muted off-yellow blurs together, too low and the artifacts are even more pronounced. (The almost dark scene in the Matrix, when Morpheous offers Neo the choice between the Red and Blue pill is another great image. I'll post more on this when I do my cable shootout.)

If you want your image to have a little more "punch", IMHO, you will want to use another image* for flesh color consistency & calibration since this image only has a few hues. But that is more a matter of a personal taste then anything.

That said, Rich's notes about the skin shouldn't be ignored -- it is a good test for subtle human skin coloring. You will want to "add" this frame to your "reference calibration images."

A good find Rich !

* Personally, I used Chapter 27 of Gladiator for flesh tones and color vibrancy. Specifically 2:25:15.3
post #28 of 226
Rich,

What's your gamma set to? It looks like your images are around 2.5? I've tried 2.2, but it looks a little too washed out for some reason.

Of the three, which one did you like the best? 2.0, 2.2, or 2.5 ?

Cheers
post #29 of 226
I heard the next Survivor installment will involve many steamed rats being eaten... Or was that Fear Factor?
post #30 of 226
Thread Starter 
mattg3,

I'm really glad you enjoyed the results. It will be interesting to see which settings you end up preferring over the longer haul. If you are like me, after a while the settings of store displays will look even weirder than they did before.

_Michaelangelo_ wrote:

"- The contrast in Rich's screenshot is a tad too high. (No offense Rich!) "

None taken whatsoever. Thanks again for the time stamps (I do, do promise to get them onto my site). In regards to the contrast, I suspect you have the impression it's too high because the screen-shots themselves, vs how my actual plasma is set. My camera could not capture the full range of detail on the plasma, so it lost some detail in the blacks and the high-lights generally blew out, loosing detail - hence looking like contrast turned too high. All the detail that *is there,* though, among the mid-tones is representative of how the plasma looks.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
This thread is locked  
AVS › AVS Forum › Display Devices › Flat Panels General and OLED Technology › "Steaming Rat," or "Rich's Method For Achieving A More Realistic Image...