Calibrating A TV Is Not Optional!

What's the first thing you do when you get into a new car? Smell the "new car" smell? Check out all the knobs and switches? Grab the steering wheel like a Jensen Button wannabe? We've probably all been guilty of those. These days the first thing I do is adjust the seat, that way I can get an idea of what it's really going to be like to drive.

The reason for seat adjusters is obvious; car manufacturers have no idea what shape you are. They make the seat move (sometimes in unfathomable ways) so that their cars can accommodate all manner of human sizes, shapes and forms. In the world of the home cinema professional, TV manufactures do exactly the same with the front panel controls like Brightness, Contrast, Colour and Sharpness.

TVs and projectors end up in some funny old places and many of those places are far from ideal. The average living room isn’t designed for good home cinema layout and compromises have to be made. Add in sunlight through the windows and the rather “adventurous” colour schemes some interior decorators seem to favor and the poor TV can end up fighting against swathes of multicolored light in the room.

It’s for this reason manufacturers allow us to adjust the calibration of their sets, so the picture displayed has the best chance of looking accurate in a wide range of conditions. As audio video professionals it’s our job to make sure the TV works on every level. That every input is connected and receiving signal, that the chosen control system functions properly and that the set is portraying the most accurate picture it can. That means calibration.

Calibration starts with the basic “front panel” controls like Brightness, Contrast etc. but also goes deeper. Correctly setting Grey Scale tracking and Colour Points will reap huge improvements in TV performance but it’s a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. Modern TVs can deliver amazing picture quality when properly set-up but can be really lackluster if this vital step is missed.

If you fit high quality video displays get yourself on an in-depth, specialist video course like ISF (from the Imaging Science Foundation) and learn to do it properly. Your customers systems will look better and your reputation as a audio video professional will be greatly enhanced.

Alternatively, try driving your car with the seat in completely the wrong position…

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