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Recommended DVD calibration disk?

628 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Bob Pariseau
I'm interested in getting a calibration DVD for my plasma. People have recommended the Digital Video Essential DVD.

From reading the reviews online a lot of people are complaining about how the DVE DVD is:

1) Extremely hard to navigate through the parts of the DVD

2) Doesn't really walk you through how to use the calibration screens it does provides

3) Doesn't give you enough information about plasma calibration screens

Are these bad reviews and comments just from a bunch of non-techie whiners, or is there a better calibration DVD someone could recommend?

I am looking for something easy that will give me some basic calibration screens, instructions on what to adjust on each screen, and what I should be trying to achieve on each screen... simple enough, eh?!

Oh... and what are all the comments about using the Monster, Inc DVD to calibrate your plasma? How is this done?!!

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Avia usually comes out with a higher ranking with more test patterns. I also had some trouble navigating with Avia, but I don't think the glitches are not as bad as Video Essential.

I think the Monsters Inc. you're refering to is the THX Optimiser that can be found in the setup menu on the Star wars DVD's and Pirates of the Carribean as Well.

It's a basic sound and colour test pattern.
I like AVIA for periodic adjustments since its easier to go direct to the list of test patterns and they are the most extensive in my opinion.
just recalibrated my speakers. tried Video essenetials first. menus impossible to navigate. Avia is much easier to use and has more audio and video material.
I use Avia.

I think DVE has a few more test images that are targeted at professional evaluators/calibrators. It's harder to navigate but not so awful that it's unusable.

From the standpoint of user level calibration of the DVD player / Display combo, the only such test I've found on DVE that I miss because it is not on Avia is a simple test for determining whether "Blacker than Black" data is being passed properly. For that I use the "THX" image in any of the commercial DVDs that include a "THX Optimizer" collection of tests.

Avia and DVE are more accurate for setting levels than any "THX Optimizer" that might be on any of your current movie DVDs. So I would not recommend using any such "optimizer" as a substitute for Avia or DVE.

As far as explanations go, I find the explanations on Avia are perfectly adequate for folks calibrating analog (CRT-based) displays, but really don't focus enough on the differences for folks calibrating digital displays such as plasmas or when using digital video connections such as HDMI. The key differences being what to look for when setting white levels and sharpness. However there are plenty of threads here that talk about how to use Avia for plasmas.

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Thanks for everyone's feedback. It sounds overall that Avia may be a bit eaier to use.

I am concerned with the comments on how it really doesn't focus on plasma calibration. Is there another DVD that is focused on plasma calibration? There are so many additional video settings with the plasma, it seems like you really couldn't do a great calibration without hitting all the additional graphic settings like black extenstions, RGB levels, gamma correction ...etc.

If the Avia and DVE just focus on basic contrast and brightness, they would seem rather inadequate for really calibrating a plasma.


Those extra controls exist on other types of TVs as well. That's not the "difference" for using such DVDs with plasmas. Calibration DVDs intended for normal users don't go into dealing with those other controls (such as gamma) a lot because (1) they are difficult to explain, and (2) you can easily get into trouble tweaking those without a measurement device to double check what you are doing. That's why some TVs hide those extra controls away in "service" menus.

Here's an example of the type of difference I'm talking about: When setting white levels with the Contrast control you generally want to crank up Contrast so that whites don't look gray. However you don't want to crank it up so far that you lose white details. The narration on Avia concentrates on the specific symptoms that will show up in a CRT-based display when you are overdriving the whites -- blooming or spreading of the beam which cause fuzzy smeared areas in bright whites and inadequate power supplies which cause geometry problems in the image when high white levels are displayed. Checking for the first signs of such problems will enable you to set an upper limit on how you might set Contrast. Plasmas, however, are not subject to either such problem and so you'll never see what Avia is telling you to look for. With plasmas the thing you want to watch out for as an upper limit on Contrast is "thresholding" or loss of the ability to distinguish near white from pure white. The Avia narration makes only a brief mention of how to use the moving off-white bars to check for that.

If you really want to try tweaking the more exotic controls, you should first gain experience with how the image can be improved or damaged using the regular controls -- i.e., train your eye to know what a properly calibrated image looks like using the regular controls. Then do some studying as to what those other controls actually do.

Ovation, publishers of Avia, also publish a much more expensive version called Avia Pro which is targeted at professional calibrators. It comes with a thick manual of explanations. There's a thread in the Power Buys forum which includes some excerpts from that manual if you'd like to get a feel for the complexity of that sort of stuff.

But most home calibrators are not going to feel comfortable futzing with things like Gamma levels.

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I use the Avia, DVE, and Sound and Vision discs. Each has patterns the other does not. They're all fun to use, IMHO.

I wonder when the next round of consumer-level DVD pattern discs are going to be released? At this point, Avia could use a little facelift and incorporate a few more deinterlacing tests.
I have the DVE disk. There are several patterns in the reference section that I don't know how to use. Can anybody who is familiar with this disk point me to a source of info that would explain how to use some of them? I'm especially interested in how to use the motion patterns. Thanks.
So which DVD would you recommend for panny plasma calibration?!
Im have both and AVIA is just easier to use.The DVE is probably a little to complicated for me.I'm not saying its better because I don't know but I know AVIA is easier. J.H.
I just bought DVE at lunch..... and on the back and in inside it mentions that there are versions for NTSC, PAL, and HDTV.....

Just making sure, but I have the NTSC version and that should be fine on my Zenith ED Plasma, right ?

Also... i just hooked this Zenith up on Saturday... my friend who helped me brought over a DVD he got in the late 90's for his old RPTV..... it was the pre cursor to DVE... called just "Video Essentials"

I quickly ran through it the other day but I'm still not thrilled w/ my picture.... do you think that b/c the test patterns i was using weren't designed for digital that that could have something to do w/ it ????
No. It's much more likely you didn't understand the best way to use the Video Essentials test patterns. Even basic user level calibration takes some practice and plasmas are more finicky than conventional TVs -- more likely to look bad if the settings are incorrect.

For example, setting white levels and black levels can not be done independently. They effect each other. You need to cycle several times to hone in on a sweet spot setting that works for both of them.

In addition, you need to be careful to turn off "features" on your display *OR* your DVD player that will fight you during calibration. "Features" that automatically adjust colors (particularly flesh tones) or light levels according to what is being displayed are the worst offenders here.

Finally, there is no such thing as one, proper calibrated level. Changing source devices, changing outputs/inputs used by a given source device, even changing apparently unrelated settings such as resolution may require adjustments to the calibrated levels.

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