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Old December 25th, 2010, 09:38 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2003
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hardware for Color?

Hi everyone,

I've looked through pages of posts (both here and in the Monitor forum), and I'm still a bit fuzzy about what is exactly needed. So I thought I would post here (since this is the Mac place), and see what I could find out.

With in the month I'll be buying an 8 core MacPro. Eventually I hope to run a 2 monitor setup, something along the lines of 27 inch each. Looking at some of the Dell Ultra Sharp monitors, or something of the like.

I understand the importance of a good calibrated monitor for color correction. But where I am fuzzy is what I need to connect that monitor to, so that it receives the proper signal to that monitor? I'm eventually getting the Quadro 4000 video card, for use with PP CS5. I really want to learn how to use Color, and be able to output quality work. Do I need an I/O pci card? Will something like a high end Quadro card put out the correct signal for color correction?

I'm just hoping someone could give me an explanation on this subject? I've looked into the higher end LCDs, but unfortunately they are out of my range, but a 22 Eizo is in my range, I just need to know/understand how I need to connect it to my computer so that it gets what it needs.

Thanks for the info,
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Old December 26th, 2010, 02:28 AM   #2
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For broadcast work, you basically need a well calibrated monitor set up to receive a Rec.709 signal, something feeding it that signal (typical an IO card such as an AJA Kona card or Blackmagic Decklink), ideally some fast storage and the gruntiest ATI card you can get your hands on might help (the NVIDIA cards are very good at a whole lot of things, but unfortunately the driver support and how it interacts with Color is better on ATI. This may change in the future, and the advantages in Color may not outweigh the advantages of getting access to the Mercury Playback in CS5 for your workflow, so this is really just the situation as it is now in regards to Color - a grunty NVIDIA is still going to help you out in Color as well sticking to your Quadro plan is a good idea.)

Unless you are monitoring out of either a component break out from an IO card or an SDI output sending a proper REC.709 signal than you will not have a complete chain that replicates what is in most other broadcast environments, making it very difficult to calibrate your system... NVIDIA does make an SDI daughter board for the Quadro series cards, unfortunately Apple does not support it in any way (and has yet to make any move towards doing so as far as I am aware) which really means your only option is a dedicated video output card. I use the Kona LHe at work, the Kona 3 comes highly recommended for future proofing right up into 2K resolutions if you think you may be doing film style finishing.

However, one of the increasing realities is that Color correction, and broadcast environments, often do not have this complete change either, so it's not like you can't work without this stuff, you just can't work for some clients potentially, or you can't guarantee your work for broadcast compliance...

Another reality is this - Both Rec.601 (SD Color space) and Rec.709 (HD Color space) are defined based upon the gamut of colors achievable in either SD or HD CRTs - but NO CONSUMER owns an HD CRT - and very few broadcast outfits (only very large facilities) own Grade 1 HD CRT's for color work. This means that if you are working on HD stuff, the most cost effective workflow is to grade of a well calibrated SD CRT broadcast monitor (which you may be able to find for a reasonable price) and a Plasma monitor (because decent Plasmas generally have a much better gamut than LCD's) - while also knowing how to read your scopes. Again, you probably won't have external vector scopes because you are saving cost, so you will be judging off the internal software scopes in color.

So, if you can find a decent broadcast Plasma that you can feed a component signal to, and a decent broadcast monitor, and you can feed them a signal both at the same time

eg. a Kona card outputting HD to the plasma across component (because unless you have a professional plasma screen it won't take SDI), and a downconverted SD signal to the SD monitor via SDI (or if you monitor doesn't have an SDI card, with a third party SDI - Component converter like a Black Magic Mini Converter or Redbyte Decimator)

If you can't get a broadcast SD Monitor, than finding a high quality old CRT (like a Sony Trinitron) and a decent highish end plasma will get you in the ball park - you can use software settings and scopes to check for issues regarding legal color space, so all that really matters for your monitoring purposes is that you are in the ball park for the majority of home users, and the above two will mostly cover it.

What doesn't work, is using computer monitors without something in the chain (like a look up table, or some third party hardware) to convert the signal into a Rec.709 color space. And even then there are additional differences between televisions and computer screens (whether they be LCD/Plasma and CRT) that means that you will not be monitoring in an environment that is too accurate.

If for price reasons none of the above is an option, then my only suggestion would be find a friendly person with a setup like above, and set up your computer system and monitors side by side and calibrate your screen and set up as best you can to match them from a wide variety of footage.

This isn't a good method, especially eye balling it, but I have done it a scenario where a friend needed to grade on his laptop and there was no way he could use any other gear for the job because of location/time/cost requirements. By doing a side by side set up we got him close enough that he was happy about the look of things for his purposes, we also saw just how far out of whack with a Rec.709 color space is compared to how consumer computer screens are often set up.
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Old December 26th, 2010, 07:29 AM   #3
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Location: Nashville TN
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Thank you for taking the time, and explaining all this to me. That really is the best explanation I've come across yet.

There is definitely a lot to this, and will take a bit of figuring out. The reason I'm looking into this (besides personal interest), is I have some friends who have a band, and they are going on tour, and are filming a travel channel style reality show (kind of a No Reservations meets Making the Band sort of thing). Of course this is a zero budget sort of thing, and they've asked me to help out. So I've been looking into what I would need to color correct for TV. Eventually I would like to get a good setup, for doing this sort of thing, but I don't know that its going to happen within the next 60 to 90 days.

Thanks again for all the information
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