Basic Calibration for your LCD, Plasma or Projector

Munkey

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I’m finding it shocking to see how many people are spending thousands of pounds of their hard earned cash on fancy LCD and Plasma TV’s and then not bothering to set them up properly. I recently went to a friends house and he has just invested in a new Pioneer plasma which is a fantastic TV. The OTB (out of the box) colours were pretty decent but nothing compared to what the TV was capable of one a simple grayscale calibration had been done using the DVE (Digital Video Essentials) disc. So since I’m almost on 1000 posts I thought I’d try and contribute something useful to the DW community by hopefully getting some of you guys a better picture from your existing setup.

Basic guide to calibrating your LCD T V or Plasma using HD Test Patterns
Firstly you’ll need to grab a copy of DVE Essentials from the usual places. Then just follow the simple instructions below on how to setup your TV for its best brightness and contrast settings. This isn’t an extensive guide but rather one just to introduce you to the world of a calibrated picture. I’ve taken the best bits from various guides and stuck them together hopefully in an easy to follow format. This is not my own work but bits taken from AV Forums and other useful calibration sites.

Contrast & Brightness – Normal Video Level
s
In Title 13, Chapter 2 of DVE, navigate to the SMPTE RP-133 test pattern. This pattern can be used to set contrast and brightness. To adjust the black level you adjust the brightness control. To adjust the white level you adjust the contrast control. The contrast level should be adjusted so that the inner 100% white box has a darker square just visible within it. The brightness level should be adjusted so the inner 0% black box has a lighter square just visible within it. Toggle between the two settings until you can get the boxes appearing exactly as they should be.

Contrast White Levels
Go to Title 12, Chapter 14. The pattern consists of vertical bars ranging from white to black and vice versa. Take a close look at the upper half of the pattern. We are interested in the white bar with the dots in it. Try and adjust the contrast so that the white bar with the dots is different to the white bar just to the left of it. Both will initially look the same but with some tinkering you can get the two bars to be distinguishable from one another.

Brightness and Black Levels

Go to Title 12, Chapter 13. The pattern consists of 3 black bars either side of a 20% gray box. We are going to use this pattern to set the basic black levels by making all the black bars appear on screen at once. We need to adjust the brightness levels until we can get the TV to look as black as possible. If you can see moving pixels around the blacker than black bar you need to adjust the brightness level down until the pixels are no longer visible.

Go to Title 12, Chapter 14. We are interested in the lower half of the screen. Take a close look at the black bar with the dots in it. Adjust the brightness until you can distinguish between the black bar with the dots and the bar just to the left of it.

Adjusting Contrast Levels

Go to Title 13, Chapter 2. Adjust contrast so the inner 100% white box has a darker square just visible within it.
Bright White Levels
Go to Title 12, Chapter 14. We need to adjust the contrast so the upper white bar with dots is just distinguishable from the white bar to the left of it.
Legal Video Range
Go to Title 7, Chapter 2. We need to adjust the brightness so that the outer black bar matches the colour of the background and the inner 2% black bar is just visible.
Pure Black Levels
Go to Tile 12, Chapter 13. Adjust the brightness levels until all three bars become visible. Once this is done go to Title 12, Chapter 14. Adjust the brightness so the lower black bar with dots is just distinguishable from the black bar to the left of it.

Adjusting sharpness

Download the attached crossbar test pattern. Look at the centre of the test patter. If you can see a white halo in the middle of the screen you have too much sharpness in your picture. If you can see a halo type effect on the lines your picture is too sharp. Just reduce the sharpness until the halo effect is gone.

If you guys want me to upload the images above for you I can do so. All you would then need to do is display them in full screen mode on your TV screen, but you would be missing out on the rest of the discs abilities to further calibrate your TV set.

For those of you that are watching your content off a HTPC I would really recommend that you check out the following article for colour correction. It is a bit technical but the end results are excellent and well worth the hard work put into it. Novices this article is not for you, stick with the DVE basic calibration.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=912720


Any questions on the above feel free to ask!
 
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pops1a

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Hi, I've got a panasonic 42 inch plasma. it's not full hd. How can I set it so that when I'm watching footy the the picture is smoother. what would be the best setting for all round viewing
 

Munkey

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Thanks for the sticky Devilfish :Biggrin2:

@pops1a - Dont worry about your TV being half HD. If your Panny is part of the PWD range it is quality. You dont need 1080p unless you are going for a screen bigger than at least 50". I watch content on my 720P on a 84" screen and its fantastic. 720P and 1080P = No difference IMO and I have done blind side by side tests with 1080p and 720p units.

For watching football you'll need to reduce motion judder as it can haunt some TV's. Have you run the crossbar pattern to minimise blurring? It will make your picture sharper and reduce the halo effect for all of the players.

I'd run the DVE tests for adjusting contrast levels as most TV's run oversaturated colours out of the box. Let me know if you need any help with the DVE disc or if you need any of the test patterns as single files.
 

pops1a

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Thanks munkey for the reassurance. Does that mean the main difference with full hd 1080 is the settings and software? to be honest I have no idea how to go about improving the picture. I've read a thread that talks about dve, it sounds like you need some sort of software to carry out the task. Will this mean I would have to connect the TV to a PC ? Can you give me some very basic instructions and clues as to how and where I can get the stuff needed might be. I would like to get the best picture from my plasma. Any help would be greatly appreiated.
 

Munkey

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The best way to improve picture is at source. Investing in a good cable box or Freeview tuner is a good start. If you want the best possible picture for MOTD then I recommend a good Freeview tuner (depending on where you live) as it gives a better picture than my cable tuner. If you have SKY you can upgrade to Sky HD but that is too expensive IMO.

What equipment do you have and is your only goal to improve the picture when watching football?
 

pops1a

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I use a sagem dbox2. I would like to have all round improvement in quality not just footy. I live in Bradford west yorkshire t*lew*st area.
 

Munkey

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Does your plasma have a VGA or DVI connector at the back?
Do you have a laptop?
Do you have a DVD player?

It looks like a basic calibration using the DVE disc or test patterns could be the logical thing to do. Personally I was not happy with the picture of the Dbox2 when watching foorball. Freeview gave a much much better picture as does the Dreambox.

Firstly try calibration but it seems the Dbox2 is a little underpowered to provide a great picture on plasma.
 

HappyH

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Cheers Munkey, had a wee tweak with this today & it seems to have improved the picture quality 'a wee bit' according to my missus. Took a wee while sussing out how to get to the test images but that was a combination of unfamiliarity with my dvd player & the fact I'm a muppet.
Thanks again.
 

pops1a

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I don't know what DVI or VGA are. I've looked at the instructions and it shows HDMI, AV1, AV2 scart, PC and video connections. I have a laptop and DVD player without a remote. The TV has built in freeview as you are most likely aware.
 
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Munkey

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Hey no problem HappyH.

pops1a - Since you have a dvd player please have a go at the DVE calibibration disc first. It should really improve the picture a fair amount.

Also you might want to connect an external aerial to your TV to check out the Freeview reception compared to your Dbox2. If you dont have a external aerial on your roof try an internal one. I found the Freeview picture to be generally much better than the Dbox2 especially for football.

If you dont want to buy the DVE disc or cant source a copy you can always run test patterns from your laptop to your TV using a VGA cable. Here is the type of cable you will need.

h**p://www.ebuyer.com/product/35360/show_product_reviews

I can upload some test patterns for you if you want, but the DVE disc is much better as it has numerous patterns for a full calibration.
 

pops1a

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Hi munkey
I have an external aerial connected to the TV and receive freeview, but I watch all the sly sports channels and movies. Where can I get a DVE disc from, preferably free.
 

Munkey

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Hi munkey
I have an external aerial connected to the TV and receive freeview, but I watch all the sly sports channels and movies. Where can I get a DVE disc from, preferably free.
I just checked the newsgroups and its available LOL. Do a search for DVE or Digital Video Essentials. The disc is around 9GB so you'll need to burn it onto a dual layered disc instead of a normal dvd disc. It should take an evening to download with a standard 2MB connection.

If you dont want to burn it onto a disc you can play it directly off your laptop onto your telly but you will need that VGA cable I mentioned earlier and a program such as VLC media player to display the test images.
 

pops1a

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I'm wondering which would be cheaper, buy the disc or VGA cable as my laptop is about 8 years old and doesn't have a writer or enough disc space to down load it.
 

shaun127

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you can hire the disk from some of teh dvd hire companies mate, try block busters
 

pops1a

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Thanks m8. is it just a matter of playing the DVD and it automatacally does the calibration or is it quite involved?
 

pops1a

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As a complete novice should I attempt a calibration or leave it be because I don't want to f**k-up the settings and then not get a picture at all.
 

Munkey

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Shaun127 - its not that difficult at all mate. I'm sure everyone on this forum is capable of a basic calibration, after all we all managed to get our cable boxes working properly :proud:

pops1a - you really cant screw your TV up at all so I wouldn't worry about that. If you dont want to spend the money and aren't a newsgroup member you can always download it off a torrent. I just checked and its available now. You would need to burn the disc though so a dvd writer is essential as well as a dual layer blank dvd disc. You could also just flick channels late at night until you come across some test patterns like the ones below and have a go at adjusting the colours yourself.
 

HappyH

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As a complete novice should I attempt a calibration or leave it be because I don't want to f**k-up the settings and then not get a picture at all.
Just to add to Munkey's post, you're adjusting contrast / sharpness / brightness etc. If your tv's got a 'reset to default' option you're safe to mess with them. If it hasn't, take a wee note of the settings as is, e.g. contrast at 61 before you adjust then you can always put them back if you're not happy.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained mate.
Good luck, HH.
 
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