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Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.

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Gabriel Bergeron
Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 6, 2012 at 9:40:16 pm

Hi guys,

I did a lot of reading and research to help me build an affordable grading system. (hardware wise)
But I must say the more and more I read the more I got confused.
Why? OK, first here's my plan.

Get a 10bit external display with ISFccc menus (plasma/LCD HD television. in my mind much better than a computer screen under $1500), a Xrite Display 3 colorimeter, a Blackmagic interface (was leaning towards the Intensity but it's only YUV 422? Need REC709) + build hackintosh.

My budget reality doesn't allow me to go beyond this and we'd have to work with that.

Now, I said I got confused because I got often discouraged by posts here and on other forums that would say it's a bad idea to build a system like I'm thinking of building and calibrate it myself.
Here are the main stuff that are giving me trouble:

1. Apprently trying to calibrate a plasma as a reference monitor wouldn't work well because it would need constant recalibration (why?) and I would need to generate a custom LUT for the display (why?) which I can't with Xrite display3 and Calman/Chromapure combo (true?).
2. I've read that plasma have drifting problems / change luminosity depending of the bright area displayed. So should I go with an LCD then? But blacks not as good... I heard of people using LG 10bit ISFccc LCD HD displays, In my mind plasmas were always the way to go but I hear more concerns about them than LCDs.
3. I understand a high-end reference monitor and a professional calibration would be ideal but getting a plasma/LCD TV and calibrating yourself, is it such a crime? I understand I won't get the accuracy of high-end grading suites and there might be some slight variations but in my mind these should be negligible, no? How could they be so dramatic?

Understand that I'm not grading the next Spider-Man. The goal is to get as close as possible. Will I be way off? Or 96% there?

That's the main thing for now.
Thanks for your input!


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Sascha Haber
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 7, 2012 at 11:36:34 am

Hello,

besides the fact that this should be in the other forum, 95% is getting you far.
Some thoughts:
1. I would not do a Hackintosh, I would go PC or wait a week for the new MacPros.
2. You are right about the Plasmas, the a jumpy , burn in, drift and you need to babysit them a lot.
3. You are right about the LCD, they are affordable, easy to calibrate and suck in black level.
4. The Intensity will only get you half way, I would suggest an Ultra Studio, or Extreme. Dont forget the card also handles audio out
5. What do you plan to charge ? As a freelancer, working on other peoples system you can charge between 400 and 1000. They will charge double or triple that to their clients.
If you plan to do it cheaper, in the long run you harm the industry, hurt your bank account and spoil the client.
If you charge a good price, you can afford a proper Screen.
But if you are only doing viral stuff that ends up on youtube, any screen will do.
Oh, and plan to buy a second system with an UltraScope...the internal scopes will not make you happy, and it looks sooo much better on the table :)

A slice of color...

DaVinci 8.2.1 OSX 10.7.2
MacPro 5.1 2x2,4 24GB
RAID0 8TB
GTX 470 / Quadro 4000
Extreme 3D+

ICA Instructor
http://www.icolorist.com/Sascha.html


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Gabriel Bergeron
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 7, 2012 at 2:20:09 pm

Hi Sascha,

Thanks for your answer

2+3. What would you suggest then? LCD or plasma?
I hear a lot of people say plasma all the way but the babysitting makes me weary.
Any LCD to recommend for better blacks?
Am I right in my thinking that a plasma/LCD TV is a better choice for reference monitor in the sub-$1000-$1500 vs. a computer monitor.

4. Why is the Intensity getting me halfway there? Color space? What else?
How about a decklink studio? I'm opened to other companies as well.

5. Don't worry, I won't be hurting the industry or myself. The plan for the first year is to learn the ropes doing low budget short film/videoclips. I did lots of training already but not a lot of projects. Get the work out there and then further the client base (and upgrade the system + my fees as well).

• What about the subject of creating a custom LUT for the reference monitor? I don't quite understand why would I need a LUT for it. I won't be able to generate it with the Xrite display 3 right?


p.s. sorry about not posting in correct forum


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stig olsen
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 7, 2012 at 2:55:05 pm

Hi,

Its a lot of threads about all those topics.
Stay away from LCD, and check out the Panasonic BT300-series.


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Gabriel Bergeron
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 7, 2012 at 3:13:13 pm

Yes there are. And I searched a lot and read enormously before posting.
I couldn't find answers to my specific questions.

And also since I read so much, I couldn't find a definitive answer for my monitor.
You say stay away from LCD, but this thread mentions some nice LCD options (the samsung) but it's 2 years old. http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/223/19327

And also since the monitor is to be used as a reference monitor, I'll have floating white points with a plasma which seems like a dealbreaker.


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stig olsen
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 7, 2012 at 3:39:00 pm

There are no perfect options, unless you are willing to pay more. I recommend Pan BT300, or OLED PVM for middle end.


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Joseph Owens
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 7, 2012 at 4:44:04 pm

[Gabriel Bergeron] "I'll have floating white points with a plasma which seems like a dealbreaker."

Speaking of things that float.

You are looking for a reference monitor. No consumer monitor, whether it is intended to be a home entertainment display or a PC user interface is equipped to show the truth -- they are all trying desperately to show the image as "good" as it can possibly be. Most professional colorists bring home a new *TVset* and the first thing they do is shut everything off. All the enhancers, improvements, contrast compensation... makes one wonder what we do for a living if you have to do all that fixing as an end user. (When I still see 4x3 stretched out to fill a widescreen -- yeesh!)

What you are proposing to do is to fold up a newspaper to make a boat to sail across the Sheep Meadow pond. Its an investment, I suppose, in your didactic experience. Good! But its only going to last a short period of time before you start realizing that "that's not the way it was when I left that scene". Haul out the probe. Again. It obviously won't *do* if you want to go shark fishing in the Indian Ocean. As the good sheriff said, "We're going to need a bigger boat." And you're thinking I'm Robert Shaw.... making an unpleasant noise at the town meeting....?

Check out some of Flanders' economy models. If you can't afford the (2461)Grade 1 model, the 2140/2340W are still great values -- built in scopes, audio disembedding, every input known to man -- you will spend almost as much building a Mousetrap (*tm Ideal Toys/Hasbro) to convert the image six-ways-from-Sunday to get it to -what is still- the wrong display.

jPo

You mean "Old Ben"? Ben Kenobi?


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Gabriel Bergeron
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 7, 2012 at 6:49:42 pm

Guys, I understand where you come from, that you're pros and you can't go halfway into this stuff. And I agree with you. But I'm not a pro yet. I'm trying to build something that will allow me to practice and practice in order to become a pro. Please take this in consideration.

Next year or in two years when this will be getting really serious and I'll feel it's the time to become a pro and charge accordingly, I'll get a Flanders and upgrade my gear.

The goal now: get as accurate as possible with a display under $800
My budget realities can't be changed.


For now, I'm asking your help with this, even if it might not be the ideal pro solution. But it will be perfect for me for the next 2 years.

I simply want to know what if I shall go the LCD or plasma route, and if so which model would best serve my needs. If plasma's white floating point is truly a deal breaker, then which LCD models should I look into?

Can you help me?
I also have unresolved questions in the above posts.

Peace!


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Sascha Haber
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 8, 2012 at 6:35:43 am

Sorry we could not assist you to your full satisfaction ;)

A slice of color...

DaVinci 8.2.1 OSX 10.7.2
MacPro 5.1 2x2,4 24GB
RAID0 8TB
GTX 470 / Quadro 4000
Extreme 3D+

ICA Instructor
http://www.icolorist.com/Sascha.html


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David Mclaren
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 8, 2012 at 10:24:27 am

Your asking guys how make a ford drive like a race car. News its not a race car its a ford.

1 You shouldn't use a domestic monitor for your grade monitor it will drive you nuts and the clients.

2. You will never raise your rates once your in the industry!! Why would your clients ever pay more than they did last year just because you want new gear ....WRONG.

3. The only thing you have in this Industry is your name you get a name for the guy who tries to grade on the directors home TV. Your done forget it you have no more career.

4. There is only one chance in this game do it right or don't do it. Not saying this to be mean but these are the realities of the industry don't waste your money on all the other stuff.


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Gabriel Bergeron
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 8, 2012 at 2:19:37 pm

Did I not make myself clear when I said the plan was to practice and practice the first 1-2 years and THEN get after clients. I won't be a pro in the first 1-2 years, so I won't have real clients. I'll grade friends projects and I'll help out some people with their short films and stuff like that.

So your methodology is to get your training, then buy expensive equipment, then that's it you're a pro?
I'm sorry but that's not how it works for me. Although I've had great training, I feel I need at least a 12-18 months window to learn the craft through and through by doing small projects.

I'm trying to do it right. I see too many people jumping right in after their training and it's way too soon in my opinion. Sometimes it will hurt them.
I'd expect you to support that and help me out to find the best budget solution for my first 1-2 years practice window.

Instead, you're just kicking me in the face.

I'm still very opened to some people getting what I'm saying help me out.

cheers


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Kevin Cannon
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 8, 2012 at 3:59:16 pm

Hi Gabriel,

I think you'll be able to experiment and learn the software with just about any display. You might be looking at an inaccurate image, but learning the layout and tools it won't make a huge difference.

Discovering what you think is pleasing/seamless/expressive does require an accurate and consistent display, and I don't think anybody has figured out a solution in your price range. My recommendation however, would be to look for a used HP dream color (HP LP2480zx). I like as an entry-level monitor for these reasons:

- While not the most stable, you can get a fairly inexpensive calibration probe and HP's software that will allow you to easily put it into Rec. 709 in a very short time.
- It doesn't suffer from the power management of consumer plasmas.
- It's a 10-bit display and Rec. 709 gamut so it represents HD material very well.

It has a high black level like most LCDs, but comparable to a FSI 2461-w. It also is picky in that it only takes RGB true-progressive signals, and so you might need an AJA HDP2 converter to work with certain output signals. You can find a lot more info on that elsewhere on COW.

I've tested it in a dark room along with a DCI projector and FSI 2461w, and the image holds its own.

However, I've also returned 5 in a row where the panel died or didn't meet my expectations. HP basically never supported it, and they're no longer selling it. But if you find a used one at that price, it might be the closest to solving your dilemma.

KC

Prehistoric Digital


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Robert Houllahan
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 8, 2012 at 6:04:20 pm

I would second the Dream-Color and a HD-Link Display port as a bare bones least expensive "real" calibrated display. You can use the HP software an probe to get it close in 709 and then think about the new Light-Space for calibration only or Cal-Man "DI" or "Post" and a newer X-Rite probe as a next step.

-Rob-

Robert Houllahan
Director / Colorist
Cinelab Inc.
http://www.cinelab.com

MAHC-PRO 6-Core 3X GTX285 20Tb SAS Wave Panel Panny 11UK SDI Plasma. Light-Space CMS + Hubble


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Paul Provost
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 9, 2012 at 3:43:22 am

Practicing on a non broadcast monitor is almost pointless as you really can't see what you are doing and how adjustments react. Even an old CRT you can get for cheap is better. I have a Sony Pvm 20L5/1 you can have cheap. Component hd


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Timo Teravainen
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 9, 2012 at 6:40:57 pm

For display, my advice is to get a Panasonic Plasma, VT 30 series (or i guess VT 50 are the new ones), 42" is big enough. Even GT or G-series will do for training if you cant afford VT 30/50. Then get Calman DIY software and X-rite probe and learn to use them. For monitor output card, Ultrastudio SDI is cheap and great if you have USB 3 on you mobo. Not sure if it works on hackintosh. Why do you want to build hackintosh? PC resolve is less hassle, and lots of fun when you put in a GTX 580!


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Gabriel Bergeron
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 11, 2012 at 4:46:21 pm

Hi guys, thanks for your answers.

I had been looking at the dreamcolor but the fact that it's no longer manufactured and the monitor has known inconsistencies, it seemed like too much of a risk.

re: Panny plasmas. Why would the VT and GT series do but not the ST? Because of the limited color management options of the model?

Also wouldn't I get pretty close with a Panny plasma (any models) calibrated with a scope and good software + BM HDlink for 3D LUT generation to compensate for the remaining differences?


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Chad Cooper
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 11, 2012 at 7:15:30 pm

How about the Panny 42pf20 or 30 with an ultra studio sdi and hdlink, and eventually upgrading to a bt300?


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Timo Teravainen
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 12, 2012 at 9:13:47 pm

[Gabriel Bergeron] "Why would the VT and GT series do but not the ST? Because of the limited color management options of the model?"

Yes, the VT has best color management options. With GT not so good, and i don't know about the ST. G-series is just GT without 3D.


[Gabriel Bergeron] "Also wouldn't I get pretty close with a Panny plasma (any models) calibrated with a scope and good software + BM HDlink for 3D LUT generation to compensate for the remaining differences?"

I suggest you get a probe. Xrite i1 is not so expensive. Also Calman software is good, you can propably get a bundle with a probe and software from Spectracal. I don't see much use for the HDlink. If you just want to practice, dial on the THX mode of the Panny and get on with it!

When you want accuracy and REC709, the next step would be LUT-generation with software like Lightspace CMS, and a probe, and to use that LUT inside Resolve.


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Gabriel Bergeron
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 12, 2012 at 10:37:03 pm

Hi Timo,
Yes when I said a scope I meant probe/colorimeter, sorry for the confusion.
The HDlink would have served as a cheap LUT-generator like you mentioned at the end of your post. But I now see I wouldn't need an HDlink at all since you can run the LUT within Resolve as a display LUT.

Why would I need Lightspace to create that LUT though? Couldn't I do that with Calman or other software?
Perhaps you mentioned Lightspace because it will be the more accurate solution?


re: chad. yes I'm exploring all these options. thanks.


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Timo Teravainen
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 14, 2012 at 6:46:07 pm

[Gabriel Bergeron] "Why would I need Lightspace to create that LUT though? Couldn't I do that with Calman or other software?
Perhaps you mentioned Lightspace because it will be the more accurate solution?"


You won't be able to create a LUT with Calman software. You run test images from Blueray player/DVD/Image generator, use the probe to meter the display with the test images, do adjustments to the display itself, meter again.. until you are close enough. That's why it's good to have a display with advanced colour management.

Software like Cinespace runs DPX sequences of color frames and, using a probe, builds a LUT that can be used inside Resolve. I haven't done that myself, so I can't really go into details..


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Alexander Verkholyak
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 23, 2012 at 11:35:06 am

Hi to all! Someone using Panasonic TH-42PF30 as grading monitor? How it's fit for grading?







<><


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Gabriel Bergeron
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 26, 2012 at 6:33:31 pm

Depends on who you ask... ;)
Apprently this is a good starting point, but not a true reference monitor.

Depends also with what hardware you use it with.
I've seen post houses using those types of monitors but with a $8000 Davio box.


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Alexander Verkholyak
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 26, 2012 at 7:20:49 pm

Thank You, Gabriel.
My friend finally decided to buy Panasonic BT300 =)







<><


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Gabriel Bergeron
Re: Building grading system: What the pros say, low budget realities & true accuracy you can get.
on Jun 26, 2012 at 6:34:45 pm

I had forgotten to thank you for your last post Timo.

I appreciate it and hopefully this thread can help others as well.


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