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Old January 25th, 2010, 11:14 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Toronto Canada
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Low Cost Monitoring for First Light

I am a non-professional user of Premier Pro CS4 and PHD. I have started working with First Light and think it has a much better interface for color correction than PP. I particularly find the histogram function useful for controlling levels but you still need a good monitor or you run the risk of creating really bad pictures. For most non-commercial users, a professional monitor and interface are out of the question for cost reasons. I have a configuration that some users might find acceptable that can provide a low cost means of getting closer to professional monitor results.

I have a dual HDMI output graphics card (ATI 4800 series). The primary HDMI output goes to a regular computer monitor (native 1920 by 1200) through an HDMI/DVI connection. The second HDMI output goes to an HDTV (native 1920 by 1080). The two monitors are configured in the Windows Extended desktop mode. This is pretty much standard stuff but the next step gets interesting.

Photographers are faced with the same color monitor management problem as videographers. You can purchase color calibration software and hardware that uses a sensor to measure the output of the monitor and bring it into calibration through a combination of monitor adjustments and an ICC profile that loads into the graphics card. Several companies offer a product to perform monitor calibration; I happen to use a Datacolor Spyder. The software/hardware packages are not very expensive - think something around $300. The Spyder software has several presets for diffferent TV standards that allow the user to get the color temperature close to 6500K with correct gamma and black/white levels. The calibration/profiling process should be repeated at intervals to compensate for aging of the display.

First Light will put a full screen version of the adjustment window on the calibrated monitor but this doesn't happen until you load a clip into the Clip Library. I run First Light and PPCS4 on my machine at the same time and switch back and forth. Check the Automatic Sync box in the Clip Library panel and FL will automatically show the clip you are using in PP as long as you have all the project clips in the FL library.

You will have to spend some time learning about color, profiles and similar topics. You don't want to have your 'reference monitor' in a bright room with strong colors. You can start with the manufacturers' sites as these have useful information. You have to remember that the calibrated monitor must be used for judging color. Use the regular monitor for all the other editing functions.

Good luck,
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