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Old June 25th, 2014, 11:37 AM   #1
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Please help this Graphic Designer out! :S

I didn't know where else to go on the internet, but here. If there is another place I should be directing my question, please refer me– otherwise, I have no other resources in this matter. I needed some video savvy people to help me out with a dilemma I'm having at work.

I am in no way shape or form trained in video. I know nothing regarding video platforms, quality, grading, color calibration and any other fancy term used in the video industry. What I am is a print designer. I have some understanding of matching color to paper, but by all means I am no expert in video color. To really be an expert in color and be able to match it across different mediums, that's a whole other beast.

I work for a large church. It's my first full-time job and I've been working there a little over 2 years. Over the last 6 months, the church underwent major renovations and they found the capital to install a very expensive LED wall across their sanctuary where they display elaborate visuals during their services in the form of video or still graphics.

They have a media department consisting of one guy that handles the equipment and some girl assisting him. They handle everything for broadcasting there. One other guy and myself make up the graphic design team and we make all of the print materials for the church and their events. Because we are the go-to people about how graphics should look, they come to us graphic designers to create the still visuals for the LED wall. There's only one problem...


The colors are blown out, oversaturated or too dark. The whites can't be white. I have to make them a 50% grey in my file instead of white otherwise it is so bright, it blows out the image on camera. The guy that manages the wall keeps blaming it back on us reason why the colors are not matching. I disagree. I think there is something they can help us with, but they won't. Leads me to think they just don't know how to manage that new equipment and there is something on their end (with all those fancy dials and buttons in their control room), that they are not setting correctly.

I am not claiming to know more than them, but I think I know enough to say that we are both using displays that although they may not necessarily be calibrated the same, they are still RGB monitors (our computers vs. their LED wall). And colors may differ, but they shouldn't differ so much that it looks like a completely different graphic!

We have no friend or alibi in this matter. The media guy is being pretentious and arrogant. Talking to us designers as if it is our job to know this. I have to run up and down like a lunatic between the control room and the sanctuary where the LED wall is located to test and retest the graphic over and over again trying to get them to look halfway decent. I am at a loss and I don't know what to do. I am not trained on this.

The way I've been working is designing a graphic in Photoshop in RGB mode, exporting this as a .JPG and the media people upload it to the LED system. I just want to make sure that there's nothing I could be doing differently before I tell these people I give up. I'm sure there's a bunch of technical stuff that needs to be adjusted, I just don't know what! Does this have anything to do with color profiles in Photoshop?!

I've been exporting this as Working RGB – sRGB IEC61966–2.1. There's a bunch of other settings I'm not sure about.

This is a sample of what we are looking at on stage. This isn't my camera, this is actually what the graphic looks like in person:

There has be an easier way to fix this rather than have me adjusting individual colors every time I test!

Help! :(

Last edited by Amie Bade; June 25th, 2014 at 12:07 PM.
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Old June 25th, 2014, 02:48 PM   #2
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Re: Please help this Graphic Designer out! :S

Hi Amie,

I understand where you are coming from. I haven't actually shot this type of LED display, but my first guess is that the video camera is white balanced and exposed for the room lighting, so that people and objects are the right color, but the LED wall is in effect an entirely different light source of its own and that is why the colors look funky.

Different light sources have different "color temperatures" measured in Kelvin. The human eye compensates for this so that white always looks white, for instance when going from indoor lighting to outdoors sunlight. The video camera is dumb though and needs to be told what white is in a given setting for a point of reference (when not using "Auto WB" mode) and will have different WB settings available for different types of light sources.

If part of a scene is lit by two different kinds of light, say incandescent AND flourescent, you can only WB the camera for one of them and the other part will then have odd color casts. People might be blue or orange.

So while I can't suggest a fix, hopefully this gives you a starting point.

Good luck
Jeff Pulera
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Old June 25th, 2014, 05:39 PM   #3
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Re: Please help this Graphic Designer out! :S

In this case it's not the camera that is the issue...

TO paraphrase the the question:
"how does one make "print" graphics translate to "display" graphics?

In print you're used to CYMK or colors added over a white background... Displays are basically the opposite, being RGB in varying degrees of brightness from a "black" screen. That's an over simplification, but you get the gist. Pretty much two entirely different colorspaces!

THEN you've got the joy of different displays having different properties... and usually lots of "adjustments" that can really foul up the image output... a LOT, in really bad ways...

Having just fought with a cheap 4K TV re purposed as a monitor to get acceptable color, contrast, and brightness... It can be a challenge. Factory settings were so "hot" it was insane - had to pull the backlight down to 30% just to make it usable, and pull other settings back to reduce the typical "oversaturated consumer TV look". Couldn't even calibrate it with stock settings.... had to "eyeball" it into the general vicinity first!

Do you have ANY calibration devices available (Spyder, Eye one, Huey)? Using the "mark 1 eyeball calibration method" is NOT workable, for the reason stated in the above post - the eye "adjusts" so you NEVER are seeing what you THINK you're seeing! This is why they have calibration methods, ranging from very basic ones that I've seen on some older CD's, to very expensive options...

Before you go ANY farther, look into a calibration device - you should be able to find something under $200 that will do - they aren't that expensive, and to solve this problem, are likely the fastest way. You want to find one that can be used on your computer, and then hopefully on the LED wall which I'm going to guess has some computer control?

The goal is to get a common ground for the two displays, it will likely be "close", not "perfect", but that's better than you have now...

If that's not an option, there are likely various "sample" images that could be used to try to do it by eyeball - but color and image quality can be very tricky to balance between two "screens". It CAN be done, or at least "close enough", if you've got a decent grasp of display technology, but I'm getting the distinct feeling that isn't in the cards... the team needs to be on the same "page" to get this dialed in...

There is at least one section of DVi dedicated to displays, so you may find more useful info and help there. I can only speak to experience with cheap calibration devices/software being one of the handier things I've ever used!
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Old June 26th, 2014, 07:50 PM   #4
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Re: Please help this Graphic Designer out! :S


I'm a designer myself and I think I would take a different approach on this one: Show them how the image displays correctly on the screen of their computer.

From then on it's up to them to ensure that their LED wall displays it correctly. Any complaints get directed back to this point, and on to the video wall crew.

Your job is done.


PS. For bonus points, make it an image of a hungry child left in poverty or something, due to the exorbitant amount of money spent on the display wall. Something with Jesus looking on from the background (wondering what on earth they were thinking) would be perfectly cromulent.
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Old July 2nd, 2014, 04:14 PM   #5
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Re: Please help this Graphic Designer out! :S

Hi Amie...............

I'm with Andrew & Dave on this. Beg, borrow or even buy a proper calibration system and get your own screen(s) right, or as "right" as they can be got. As noted, the MK I eyeball is about as much use as an ash tray on a motorcycle for this function.

Once your screen(s) are "right", whip up your graphics, as funky as you like and then boot the ball firmly into the video wall techs long grass and tell him to sort his systems so they look as good on his as they do on yours.That should be an interesting exercise as it sounds as if every screen in the wall has been set to standard consumer showroom "shock and awe" mode.

Your diplomacy when dealing with arrogant ignorance may well be sorely tried, a small prayer may be the order of the day.


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Old July 3rd, 2014, 06:20 PM   #6
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Re: Please help this Graphic Designer out! :S

Amie - welcome aboard. There are some really good resources here and hopefully they can help with the problem. Not only does this sound like a technical nightmare, it also sounds like a workplace nightmare.

Just to keep the thread current, here is another thought. Get the make and model number of the problem screen then contact the manufacturer's tech rep about this situation. Try to avoid letting them know where the problem is so the screen video people don't get wind that you're communicating with someone in their area. The turf war is already bad enough!

Just an idea.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 10:43 AM   #7
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Re: Please help this Graphic Designer out! :S

My thinking on this is that your camera does not have the dynamic range to be able to cope with the bright light the screen is sending out direct to the camera and the ambient light which likely is of much lower brightness coming to the camera reflected from the subjects in the auditorium.

For you to be able to do better with your present resources is probably an unreasonable expectation. Like with weddings, the client needs to face a simple fact. You can have a live event or a media production but not both without one or the other being of compromised quality.

You may be able to remedy this a little by leaving the auditorium lights at their brightest upon the lecturers, choir, etc., also winding back the brightness of the display screen. If you can see subjects in the auditorium lit directly and brighter by the spill from the display screen itself, that is fairly good sign the screen is simply too bright for your camera.

You may be unlikely to receive assistance as the lighting changed may require money spent on additional lighting for the to bring the subject up to the brightness of the display. The whole ambience of the event will be degraded for the live audience/participants which may not be acceptable to your leaders.

This may not be technically practical anyway with your image becoming alike to the worst techniques of early TV episodic sitcoms.

If your cameras are locked off, switched from view to view and not roving, then you may be able to do a cheat with a mattebox, two pieces of clear filter glass and a small patch of ND lighting gel carefully crafted to obscure the display screen only, trapped between the two glass panels. You may have to tolerate a soft dark border around the screen in your camera image but aesthetically it should be an improvement over what you have now. For this to be fitted in a standard mattbox filter holder, you would need two thin pieces of glass.

I imagine you might need to lose 6 stops of brightness from the screen. This may mean up to three layers of ND.3 lighting gel.

The downside of this technique is that excessive rim or backlighting causing an unpleasant halo effect, may then occur if your big screen is behind the stage or speaking platform.

It is an old but simple and effective technique from earlier film days, largely supplanted by chroma key and blue screen technology.

Wait for a few more competent people than I to add their opinions before trying any of this suggestion.

Last edited by Bob Hart; July 5th, 2014 at 11:04 AM. Reason: error
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Old July 6th, 2014, 04:00 AM   #8
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Re: Please help this Graphic Designer out! :S

On the other hand, has Amie even been back to read the comments?

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Old July 9th, 2014, 10:57 AM   #9
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Re: Please help this Graphic Designer out! :S

Maybe Amie has had it with the rest of the flock and moved on, or simply has not replied.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 03:18 PM   #10
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Re: Please help this Graphic Designer out! :S

Youngsters these days. (sigh) No staying power.

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