Optimize Your HD Home Theater
Now Free for Personal Use at Home. Get these images as a free download!
Want to make your Home Theatre look it’s best? You could pay to have Best Buy, or Circuit City do it, but it would run you over $100 and be good for 3-6 months. Instead learn to do it yourself for free. These images are designed to give you results that exceed what most professionals would be able to achieve, and because you own them you can calibrate your display when ever you need to.
Other Commercial formats available on request. h.264 ts, Mpeg2 ts, WMV along with specific test case solution.
These Slates are provided free for home private use. If you need versions for use in your business, or for redistibution you can contact me through this site and I’d be happy to quote you a version for your use.
Let’s start with determining that your display is in the right aspect ratio, and that you aren’t losing too much of the image to overscan.
This image should appear on the screen, the Yellow circle should appear Round, as should the Orange/Yellow gradient Circle. 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.
You should Ideally see white around the entire image, but it should not have a negative impact if you can see Cyan (pale blue) around the entire screen. If you can’t see the Cyan, your display has more than 10% overscan and you may not see all of the Heads Up Display (HUD) in games, or may miss subtitles, and other information presented at the edge of the screen.
There are 8 sets of colored bars on the image. They will allow you to check that the image is centered and that it is not “tilted”. Identify the color that is on edge of the screen and make sure that at each of the points on that edge the same color is shown, and that on opposite edges the same color is shown.
Some but not all display’s allow you to adjust center, and fewer will allow you to adjust geometry such as tilt. If you image is not square and you have a projection display it may be possible for a technician to adjust the projector inside the display, on an LCD, or Plasma there should never be a geometry problem.
Eyeballing the display to get it close to start:
The Blue filter glasses (available from UnityElectronics.com ) will get you zeroed in on the right settings, but to minimize the amount of time that we have to spend wearing the silly looking things, and to make sure that our starting settings are reasonable, we are going to do a sanity check using patterns that are good for eye-balling. Start with the Tint/Saturation slide. The Three Images in the middle row are the same. Determine if the image looks closer to life like more red, or more green using the top row. Then, adjust the saturation using the bottom row.
The numbers on the Images represent the difference from neutral on a scale of -128 to positive 128, they provide some reference as to how much your need to adjust saturation and tint, but your display may use a different scale.
On some Display’s Tint will be called Hue, and Saturation called Color.
Using the Brightness Contrast Image perform adjustments for brightness and contrast. There are two additional images labeled “gamma” these images are use full in telling if both brightness and contrast need to be adjusted. If brightness is low, and contrast is high the Gamma .8 will look better than the Center image. If Brightness is high and contrast is low the Gamma 1.2 will look better than the center image.
Putting it to the test:
The White and Black Levels Image allows you to verify that you are neither “crushing” the blacks nor the whites. The negative image allows you to verify that any detail you can see in the blacks can also be seen in the whites. Assuming you used the previous step to get close to correct, you should likely now only be crushing the blacks, or the whites, but to make sure, note the brightness and contrast levels you chose in the previous step, then looking at the image look for details that fade in and out of visibility as you run the levels up and down a few steps from what you had chosen. Pick the setting that allows you to see the most steps on the white and black gradient, and shows the most details in the girls shirt and skirt.
Time to put on those Sapphire Glasses
First the easiest of the Slates using the glasses, this slate with the Blue Filter Glasses (available from UnityElectronics.com but you have to call ) on should appear as three identical bluish gray girls. And the color ramp should be the same in the black and white, as the red and white version. If the red or the green is brighter than the other adjust your hue/tint to compensate.
Moving on to the next slide…If everything is calibrated correctly when you put on the Blue Filter glasses you will not see the word “Fail”, and those two colored rectangles will be the same shade of gray as the boxes below them. If they aren’t don’t worry. It is unlikely you were going to eye-ball perfection. To get this slide to be perfect may be beyond the capability of your display, but we are going to use it to help get it much closer.
First look at the Green and Orange/Peach box. With your glasses on this box should be a solid gray. If it isn’t adjust the Hue/tint until it is an even color across the image. When this is done your hue should be correct, at this brightness and saturation level.
Every time you make an adjustment to brightness, contrast, saturation, or tint the other variables will change a bit, so we are going to bounce between this slide and the next one a few times.
This Slide will help you set the Saturation. As you get the saturation level close the three bars will fade to the same gray as the background.
Flip between these two slides until as many of the steps on the colored gradient next to the word fail match the gray box above them. Most displays are not capable of getting all of these to match, and many displays will require using the advanced settings menus or service menus of the display to get these to perfect. If the word Fail disappears from the first slide, and the three gradients disappear from the second slide your display is very near perfectly calibrated, and the minor differences that could be obtained would often go un-noticed in anything but a controlled lighting environment.
Adjusting your Sharpness:
Sharpness varies per display. Some displays you will always want the sharpest setting, while other displays will apply a sharpening filter when you get paste a certain level. This slide will help you determine the ideal setting. The circle with the gradient should be a smooth ramp from black to white, surrounded by a sharp single line circle. If the edge is blurry sharpen the image, if the line is doubled, or has a bright white edge next to the black edge, reduce the sharpness. Also pay close attention to the girls shirt. As you adjust the sharpness you may see folds in her shirt appear and disappear, or get strange white edges.
If your Display is not 1080p you are going to get varying results with the next two images.
If you are using a digital projector, you may see all manner of strange artifacts from digital key stoning in both of these images. Don’t Panic just know that there is little that can be done to fix them other than place the projector so that is centered on the images and square to the screen.
The ideal scenario is that with the first image all of the lines in the tile pattern in the upper left will be of the same “weight” meaning they are the same level of darkness, and they are the same thickness. The Large Grayish section should be an alternating checkerboard of cyan and magenta if viewed up close. On a 720p display this may be any number of patterns but ideally should be cyan and magenta, not Gray. On a 1080i display this may flicker a lot, but should be blue and cyan pixels only. The bottom left has what looks like a tire tread pattern this should be a smooth repeat with not jagged breaks, or horizontal, or vertical lines.
The next image should be an array of squares with in squares. All the squares should be the same weight, and should all be square. If the squares are not centered, or are not all the same weight then your scalar is not particularly good.
Last bits of Sanity check:
If you have followed the steps above there is no reason to believe your Display is not properly calibrated. However a few quick checks to make sure you are getting all that you can, and that you can appreciate the improvements to your display.
The Mirror Image Slate features an image and its mirror. I have highlighted some spots in green that are subtle things that you should be able to see in the mirror of the image. The pinstripes on the priests pants, the silhouette of the girls figure through her dress, and the space between to tiles in the floor.
Lastly the color ramp. Very few digital displays are capable of displaying all colors accurately, so you are likely going to see some banding in this last image. If your display was perfect you’d not have any thing but smooth gradient, so to make you feel better about how no matter how much you spent that there will be some banding I have included Wonder-Pup and a beautiful girl, to make you feel better.
I hope these Calibration Slates have vastly improved your viewing experience, expect that you should re-calibrate your display every 300 hours of viewing, or anytime you change the bulb, or experience a power failure.