Great thread idea, Cam! I think the shootouts are fun, but I personally don't base a purchasing decision on them. I spend considerable time viewing the displays I'm considering on my own. A reading of posts following any shootout will show those owners whose display did not win, find 100 reasons why the shootout was a joke, poorly conducted and obviously biased. OTOH, those owners whose display did win, find 100 reasons why the shootout was the most incredibly precise, scientifically derived session ever, in the history of mankind. Most of us are guilty at one time or another of being in one camp or the other.
With that said, in the interest of the credibility of results, I firmly believe shootouts should be a blindfolded affair as attendees, both enthusiast & professionals, can be and are biased. Anyone doubting this is just kidding themselves.
I also believe that judging should be done by both enthusiasts & professionals and have no trouble with the results being blended. However we really need to define what is meant by 'professional'. I think Vincent made some excellent points about this in his post in another thread. A professional 'colorist' does not necessarily have a great eye for motion, gaming criteria or a variety of other PQ aspects.
I also see absolutely no reason why enthusiasts can't judge color when there is a known accurate color monitor at the shootout.
These shootouts are not an easy affair to put together and Robert from VE and Vincent and their teams should both be congratulated for their continuing efforts to raise the bar on these events.