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Broadcast Monitor for Color Correction vs Affordable Alternatives
  • Here's a question that I think many in the video and indie-filmmaking community don't have a straightforward and analytical answer to....:

    QUESTION===> If your video / film content is not aimed at TV distribution but only for the web and also film-festivals, how crucial is it to have a broadcast monitor for color correction? Are there good, affordable (less than $1,500 or abouts) alternatives to a professional broadcast monitor that give nearly as good results in color critical work? Is there a good source of info on this?

    What about a monitor like this: http://www.necdisplay.com/p/desktop-monitors/pa271w-bk

    (Although even that is a bit pricey...)

  • 14 Replies sorted by
  • You can use any IPS based calibrated monitor, prefarably with hood (look at ones made by Cinematics)

    If you want to be extremely cheap you can use calibration sensor and any good LG TV (all of them have 10 point calibration, and most use 10bit IPS panels).

  • But what do you loose by not using a broadcast monitor for color correction and instead using an IPS based calibrated monitor?

    Also, are there recommended tools for calibrating IPS monitors?

  • If you want to professionally make color correction you need really good monitor. May be second hand.

    But good IPS monitors are not very hard to get in USA.

  • @qwerty123 The NEC MultiSync PA271W in your link is the monitor I use, calibrated by Spyder 3. It was well worth the price and setup time.

  • I guess I want to know this: if you have someone who knows how to color correct almost up to professional levels, what difference is there between what he/she can do with a broadcast quality monitor versus a less than broadcast monitor? (What do you get by having a broadcast monitor versus a less than broadcast monitor?)

  • The crucial thing is the color calibration. If your monitor is not displaying accurate colors, it doesn't matter how talented you are, your grade will be off. The Broadcast Legal requirement is just a technical detail. When needed, I use the broadcast filter in After Effects Color Finesse as a routine part of color correction.

  • I've worked in high end post houses and in small closets. When I do low budget projects, obviously you can't go out and splurge for an NEC or EIZO for one project. For my last film, I rented one and calibrated it, then switched to my LCD HDTV monitor and calibrated it. I matched them best as I could and remembered the offset values. The most important thing is to have a solid reference to compare your monitor settings to so you know if it leans towards blue or green, to compensate.

    I used the Matrox MXO which works great but is expensive. The setup of the Matrox is pretty much the same process as you would use setting up an HDTV with one of those $50.00 setup DVD's. For a cheap setup, find any THX DVD movie and they provide a setup video in the main menu. That will get you close enough for proofing a rendered movie on DVD/Bluray. Many of my students (who have no money) color correct on their computers calibrated with Spyder Pro and then burn DVD's to watch on calibrated HDTV monitors. Not ideal, but you do what you have to do. Besides, some festivals just screen DVD's.

    If you get into a festival, you can always go to the theater a few days beforehand and project a few minutes of your film. I always do this if I can because, for all the time worrying about getting things just right, you will find that not all theaters and projectors are set up precisely. You take notes, go back home and do a final adjustment. Hope this helps-

  • I guess as long as there is only one person on one machine working on a project it is less important to have a 100 % perfect screen. Sure you should calibrate and sure it should be IPS and high gamut. But the last 5 % (3D LUT in hardware..) that cost you 95 % of the money do not count in here, since only you will be watching it and if the different clips match each other at your screen it will most likely match on others as well. Might have a little different look, tint, whatever, but human eye adapts to this anyways. So for low budget film making better put some money in actors and light.

    However, the moment you add a second machine this changes completly. Then you will need to meet industry standards, otherwise clips will not match, and you will be grading back and forth all the time.

  • All I can say is, the Dell U2311h is fantastic.

  • Thanks all! Some helpful thoughts are being put forth here.

    @LPowell Surely there must be more that separates high end LCD IPS monitors from professional HD "broadcast" monitors than simply the "broadcast legal requirement" (I mean even broadcast monitors allow you to see things over the legal requirement, no? Otherwise, that would "suck"!). What more are you getting for your money if you go with, say, a Flanders Scientific like this: http://www.flandersscientific.com/index/pg89055

    @Lincoln11 So you use the Matrox with an HDTV (plasma?)... I know you said you rented a broadcast HD to test it against... and that's a good idea! I've seen some stuff about Matrox used with Apple Cinema Displays getting quite close to broadcast monitors (like here: http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/matrox-mxo-broadcast-monitoring-on-a-desktop-monitor ). Can you say specifically which Matrox and which HDTV? Why not a Matrox with an IPS computer monitor? And what's the downside of either approach? That as your monitor ages, you might be off somewhat (and will have to rent again)?

    @Meierhans Why does it change the moment you add a second machine, if both monitors are calibrated to be identical?

  • Have you ever tried to calibrate two cheap monitors of different model to really match? Its not big fun, depending on type you also run into banding problems. The more expensive models can load the LUT in hardware, so banding is less a problem.

  • @qwerty123 I'm not familiar with the Flanders monitor you linked, but it looks like it has built-in waveform scopes which would be handy for live monitoring use. For use on a post-production workstation, those features are already provided by your color correction suite.

    The great things about the NEC PA271W are its high resolution, programmable 14-bit 3D LUT's, and bundled SpectraView calibration software. For what you get it's well worth the investment.

  • @qwerty123 Can you say specifically which Matrox and which HDTV? Why not a Matrox with an IPS computer monitor? And what's the downside of either approach? That as your monitor ages, you might be off somewhat (and will have to rent again)?

    I use the original Matrox MXO with DVI interface. I did use a rented IPS monitor as I said. I was contemplating buying the HP LP2475w but I just didn't want to lay out the cash and it had some edge performace issues. I teach at a university, so I can hop over to the Barco and check it out there. The monitor I used was just a 32" Samsung PAVV. There is no downside to an IPS, that's what the MXO was built for, so that you could use an affordable IPS and get a SDI or DVI output for color correction. All monitors age, all monitors have different color characteristics. In the post houses where I timed my negative back in NY, Sony's were blue, Ikegami's were green, Shibasoku's were...you get my point. It's never going to look exactly the way it looked in the 500.00 an hour room.

    The point is, in a non-professional ($) setup you must compensate on some level which requires extra work. You're in a good spot here, there's a huge range of working people with different ideas.

  • If your GH2 footage is not at too high a bitrate, you could do worse than stick an SD card into a Panasonic Viera monitor; they use the Venus rendering engine as used in the camera. But when it comes to HDMI input to the same monitor, I don't know how that would work.