Calibrating your Home Theatre to have a perfect picture is hard, and most of the test patterns out there require a blue filter, and a good eye and when you are done the image may still not look the way you want. So I put together a set of Perceptual Calibration Images. These images are geared towards normal people who want to make their picture look better with out having to delve in to the Maintenance Mode on their Television. These patterns work with LCD, DLP, Plasma, CRT, and Lcos TV’s, so no matter what type of display you should be able to benefit.
In Most cases the First step will be to install picasa. (from the button below)
View the images from the install folder on your PC. Most of the time your PC will be better calibrated than your TV, so become familiar with what the slides look like on it first. Next copy the files on to a USB Memory Stick so that you can use them on your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. You can calibrate Most DVD players by burning the images to CD and playing them in the DVD player.
Next write down all of the settings your TV Currently has. If you screw up your picture you will want to put them back.
Each of the “Slates” has a specific purpose.
The Girls on the slates are there to do more than just look pretty. Since you are mostly going to watch things with people, you want skin tones to look good. Your black levels could be amazing, but if Madonna looks green and Oprah looks red, then your experience will be sub-optimal.
Slate One Aspect Ratio and Overscan:
There are days that I think that the reason there are so many Obese people in the world is that we watch so much TV that was shot 4:3 in 16:9 that we think our favorite celebrities are 33% wider than they really are. This slate has 3 “circles” the Middle one should be round. If the one above it is round your display is two narrow, and you need to put it in “wide screen mode” If the Bottom circle is round your screen is two wide, and need to be put in “Pillar Box” mode. (if you have this, something is likely very wrong with your setup because there shouldn’t be a scenario where this happens).
Overscan is a trick to make your TV look bigger than it really is. On many displays there will be less than 1% overscan and you will be able to see white all the way around the image. at 5% overscan you likely won’t miss anything from most content. A 5% overscan you should see just a thin line of white around the image. Ideally the amount of white would be the same on all edges. If you can’t see any of the Cyan colored border than you have more than 10% overscan. In many games and some movies you will not be able to see all of the action. To fix overscan on some displays you can switch from Zoom Mode to Full Mode, on other displays you may need to change from TV mode to PC Mode. If you see the white border and then have black beyond that your Display is UnderScanning, which means the picture is not as big as it could be.
Slate Two Brightness and Contrast:
This Slate will help you determine if your current settings are close, and which way you need to go to improve them. Look at the image in the Center of the “Brady” grid. That is your current setting. Look at each of the images around the outside of the grid. Determine which image looks best. You can then adjust your settings to based on the text on the image. If the best looking setting is “Brightness +20” then your brightness will need to be adjusted. These patterns assume settings are -128 through +128, if your TV uses 0 through 10 then you obviously can adjust +20, instead you would adjust brightness up some amount, until the image looked better. If the image that looks best is either of the images that say Gamma then you will have to adjust both Brightness and Contrast. Move each of these settings slowly paying close attention to which images look best so you know if you have gone too far.
Slate Three Tint and Saturation:
Following the same directions as the previous slide, adjust for tint and saturation. This time the images right and left of center are the same as the center image, but because some TV’s tend to be a bit green on the right side, 3 copies of the image allow you to make sure that you are picking the best choice for the entire screen
Slate Four Sharpness:
This slate is entitle Sharpness and Black Level, but we are going to focus on Sharpness, but often the two are related. If your screen is set to bright then your whites may “Bleed”. So watching that your black level is in check will help to make sure that your image is sharp, not just dark. When your Sharpness is set correctly you should not have any “saran wrap” effect on the black edge of the circle. if your sharpness is set to high you will get a bright white edge next to the black edge. If it is set too low then you will have a slightly gray border to the circle.
Slate Five White and Black Levels:
Not all Displays support changing this, but if yours does it may be called “Picture Level” , “Black Level” , or “Depth” ideally you want to be able to see the Pleats in the girls skirt, and the folds in her shirt. The Negative image helps you know where to look for these details. If you can’t see the Pleats then your black level is set too dark, and if you can’t see the folds in her shirt then your white level is set to bright. If you can’t get both white and dark totally perfect that is ok, not all TV’s have enough contrast to support getting both perfect, In that case settle for a little less detail in the black.
Slate Six the Mirror Image:
This slate is where we see that all of the settings are looking good. I have highlighted in green some details that you should be able to see if your display is correctly calibrated. The pinstripes on the Priests pants, the divide between two tiles, the border between the girl’s high heeled shoe, the silhouette of the girl through her magenta dress. Assuming you have your display set correctly you should be able to see all of these.
Slate Seven Color Ramp:
This slate is almost exclusively to make you sad. Which is why I included the busty girl and Super Dog. The Colors on this slide should be a perfectly smooth gradient, but they won’t be on anything but a highend CRT, so marvel at the Banding on this slide. You can use this slide to play with your various levels once you have “mastered” the art of tuning a display. It will let you tune all of your colors and levels at once, but requires more of an “eye” than the other slates.
To get the Commercial Version of the Slates:
These slates are free for private home use by the person doing the calibration. If you are interested in distributing these slates, using them in your workplace, or bundling them with your product you can contact me via the comments. If you just wish to purchase a copy for your business use you can purchase them below