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Old May 19th, 2011, 09:59 AM   #1
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HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

My company is in the midst of upgrading our SD (DV NTSC) production workflow into HD (XDCAM EX) and I'm more or less in charge of coordinating it.

Some info about our current editing station setup:

Premiere CS3 running on Windows 7 machines with core i7 870 chips, 16GB DDR3 ram, GeForce GTX465 graphics running two 1280x1024 monitors; then we ingest/monitor a DV NTSC stream via JVC BR-DV6000 decks to old SD Sony Trinitron monitors

We bought and are getting ready to update to CS 5.5, but we need to figure out the external monitoring situation/upgrade. But unfortunately we do not have the fund to go out and buy PMW-EX30 decks and Trimaster HD production monitors; the larger part of our entire upgrade is purchasing the actual production gear (camera, etc), so I'm trying to figure out the most economical upgrade for the editing stations. Obviously I want to get the most accurate monitoring as possible, but at the same time we don't produce broadcast-quality programming, so the editors don't need insanely nice screens.

My initial thought was to get some sort of I/O card or device to basically replace the DV decks, but only use it for monitoring purposes: the Black Magic Intensity Pro cards seem like a good option. As far as the monitor itself, I figure that a decent computer monitor with either 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 resolution should work just fine. Seeing as how the Intensity card only runs an HDMI output though, I just need to pick a monitor with HDMI: but there seem to be way too many options and I don't know what I should be looking for exactly.

Besides deciding on a monitor though, I just had the thought that the Intensity cards might not be necessary at all, and that we could get away with just buying another cheap graphics card that would solely be used for monitoring via Premiere... I assume pretty much any card would be able to output a 1080p stream without a problem, right? I wanted to ask someone else's opinion about it though, to see if the Intensity card would perform any better than just another graphics card, like if one would lag more or not work with Premiere, etc. Also, what would be a good choice for the monitor?

Thanks!
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Old May 19th, 2011, 10:46 AM   #2
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Re: HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

Rob,

Fortunately Premiere CS5 allows for accurate monitoring via the graphics card, so your thought about eliminating the Blackmagic card is correct. If you want to maintain your dual monitor setup, then adding another card for output to video monitor is the way to go. Or, just use your current card and have one monitor for NLE and the other being the video monitor. In my previous setup, I used a 24" computer monitor for NLE and then a second video monitor for color correction. You didn't mention your budget for the monitor so I'll suggest two models. On the professional side, Sony makes an entry level monitor that should work well for your purposes.

Sony LMD-2110W 21.5" Professional LCD Monitor LMD-2110W B&H

The next step down would be a consumer HDTV like this.

Samsung LN22D450 22" LCD HDTV LN22D450G1FXZA B&H Photo
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Old May 19th, 2011, 05:26 PM   #3
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Re: HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

Hi Brian and Rob.

Let me start with Brian first :)

I agree with you about not really needing an I/O card with Premiere, but I totally disagree on the monitor choices. For one, Sony makes very poor quality 'Pro' desktop LCDs (excluding their 7-9" field monitors which are gorgeous). In addition, I wouldn't use any HDTV for grading purposes and I will never use or recommend any Samsung after my 32" and 46" LCDs developed major problems within 16 months of owning them. With the 46", the problem was due to incapable capacitors. Go to youtube and search 'Samsung' and 'capacitors' and you find tons of videos showing how to replace them because Samsung wouldn't issue a recall for a widespread and known problem. Ok...my venting is over about Samsung.

Personally, I use a Quadro FX3800 connected via DisplayPort to an Eizo CG243W and DVI to a Dell 23" Ultrasharp (U2311). With the Quadro and DisplayPort, I get a true 10bit signal sent to my 10bit Eizo, and Premiere Pro CS5 is 10bit capable; so, this setup is a great alternative to an I/O card. My setup is expensive but I get a very high quality 24" LCD that doubles as a regular computer monitor and as an excellent grading monitor.

Before I go on to my recommendations, I need to clarify that you will need a nvidia CUDA/MPE capable card for anything being displayed from Premiere Pro.

For a low budget, I recommend the new ASUS ProArt PA246Q 24" Monitor (I would just get 2 of them per workstation and not use the old low res LCDs). From the reviews, it is probably the best <$500 LCD. However, it has a couple issues - one of which is very important to me: its color and brightness uniformity are not very good, which is EXPECTED of a $400-500 LCD. One of the reasons the $2400 Eizo CG243W and other Eizo's are so expensive is excellent uniformity across the screen. With this ASUS, color varies 20% from one side to the other.

If you don't already own a calibrator, then a SpyderElite or X-rite i1 is a must.

My next step up would be a $270 Dell 23" LCD and a 22"-24" Eizo FlexScan or a 24" NEC or 27" NEC

I installed an entire office with these 23" Dell LCDs and they look great. Or get the $180 21" LCD.

21" Dell Professional P2211H 21.5 inch Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor Details
23" Dell Professional P2311H 23 inch Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor Details
Eizo FlexScan S2243FS-BK 22" LCD Computer S2243WFS-BK B&H

Eizo FlexScan S2433WH-BK 24.1" LCD Computer S2433WH-BK B&H

NEC MultiSync PA241W-BK 24" Widescreen LCD PA241W-BK B&H

NEC MultiSync PA271W-BK 27" Widescreen LCD PA271W-BK B&H

On a side note, having larger high-res LCDs do help speed up working, especially if you use a Wacom tablet (I have the Intuos4 Large).
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Old May 20th, 2011, 08:47 AM   #4
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Re: HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

If the final output will be blueray disc viewed on an hdtv do we want to grade on a computer monitor?
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Old May 20th, 2011, 12:04 PM   #5
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Re: HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Chau View Post
If the final output will be blueray disc viewed on an hdtv do we want to grade on a computer monitor?
Look at the specs for the Eizo. It supports Rec. 709. So this is one of the few computer monitors that can be used for grading.
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Old May 20th, 2011, 12:48 PM   #6
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Re: HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

Thanks that's good info to know. However, the Eizo is way over my budget.

Steve, I know you said you didn't like the $900 Sony LMD, or any HDTV, but if you can't afford to go over $1,000 what is the best choice to color grade footage that has a final output for Blu-ray HDTV ?
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 05:27 PM   #7
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Re: HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

Hi Ron,

For $1000, I'd go with the ASUS 24", Dell 23" and SpyderElite and use the ASUS as the grading monitor.

In After Effects, I use the Color Finesse plug-in with its full interface and this allows me to send the current image full-screen to my Eizo while making adjustments in the interface on the Dell. In Premiere, the same thing can be done by setting the playback monitor to my Eizo while Premiere's interface is on the Dell.

About using an HDTV for grading: the way I see it, $1000 HDTVs are like $200 computer LCDs - some produce a decent image, some use wacky image adjustments to make the image 'appear' better, some look downright awful - the variance between HDTVs is so great that I don't trust any of them but high-end plasmas that have been professionally calibrated (which costs $200+ every 6 months). Consumer HDTVs are designed to look as good as possible, not as accurate as possible. Personally, I have performed my own non-scientific calibration to my Samsung 46" LCD and no matter what I do, the image looks like crap when the image is a person in front of a bright background like a window. The person's face is much darker than the actual video being sent to the tv as I checked the online version versus what my DVR recorded (my latest reference is the tv show White Collar where people are in front of large office windows all the time). I believe what I am seeing is the TV's dynamic contrast kicking in to make the image look 'better'. No matter what its called, the tv is designed to do this and it cannot be disabled.
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 06:39 PM   #8
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Re: HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

Steve how can i set the asus to mimic an hdtv? I think hdtvs and computer monitors have different colorspace, rec 709 ?
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Old May 24th, 2011, 03:49 PM   #9
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Re: HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

Steve,

I respect your opinion in regards to your monitor preferences, but I disagree with you on your assessment of the Sony LMD series. I've owned an LMD series monitor and was quite impressed with its performance. It matched almost perfectly with my professional CRT. These monitors are in regular use in production houses worldwide, and are factory calibrated to track almost perfectly with an ideal CRT response. For under a $1,000 this monitor would be more than sufficient for Rob and Ron's purposes. The main advantages of this monitor compared to some of the computer monitor's you suggested is that it doesn't need to be calibrated with a separate device, it will not lose its calibration if used in the field, it has blue only, underscan, etc.. Which in my opinion makes it much more versatile. Also, it's much more reasonably priced than an Eizo or similar.

And although not ideal, I only recommended the Samsung as an example of a budget solution. The original post did not specify a budget so I provided a couple of different options. The quality of consumer HDTV's varies widely and this is where doing research into different model's comes into play. I've used consumer HDTV's in the past and with the right calibration, they can look quite good.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 09:31 PM   #10
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Re: HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

Thanks for the info everyone.

My CS 5.5 workstation is still being built, so I am going to try out my small HDTV to see how well it works. I can always take the next step.

I do need to upgrade my computer monitor, so the Asus is still a possibility.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 10:01 PM   #11
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Re: HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

Hi Brian,

My experience with the LMD is both my comparing at my local Abel Cine versus other LCDs and what I have heard from many many others. The comments from other people have been extremely critical. Having said that, it is crucial to test something this expensive before you buy.

FYI, all monitors must be calibrated every few months. No LCD remains exactly like it was from the factory. Also, Blue only and calibrating to Bars is good for field use only. For grading, you still need a monitor calibrated to Rec 709 for HD, 601 for SD among others. A great benefit of the Eizo and other monitors (Dreamcolor) is hardware calibration where the settings are stored within the monitor in addition to storing 3D LUTs internally. So, the monitor can be connected to any device and use its stored calibrations.

Also, the ASUS and a few others are 10bit displays and use 12bit or higher processing.

And for field use, you are looking at another $500-600 to get an HD-SDI signal into that monitor. It also doesn't have a screen protector like other monitors designed for field use and screen protection is very important. The first thing I did when I got my Panasonic 1710 is install its screen protector.

EDIT: I asked around to see if anyone I know has used this Sony and its apparently becoming popular due to its image quality and its great price. I am going to ask my local dealer to get one in so I can compare it to the Panny 1710 and my Eizo. For me, it could be a great producer/director monitor while I use my 1710w for critical evaluation. Thanks Brian for the info about it. FYI, I would be using the HDMI out from my nanoFlash to get the signal into this Sony and HD-SDI out into my 1710w (from an EX3).

Last edited by Steve Kalle; May 25th, 2011 at 05:20 PM.
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Old May 28th, 2011, 09:19 AM   #12
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Re: HD external monitor options - upgrading from SD

Hi Steve,

If you are able to do a side by side comparison of the Sony with your Panasonic and Eizo please let me know how it compares. I'm curious to get your opinion on how it looks against monitors that are pretty much reference standards. Perhaps the criticism that exists was based on the previous generation of the Sony. This new model is 1080p and 10bit. If shooters/graders are strictly working with 709 it should be a good budget solution. Of course the advantage of your Eizo is that it has the ability to conform to other colorspaces as well such as AdobeRGB or sRGB, which makes it useful if one does still work as well.
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