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How can I use Spyder 3 Elite for Color Correction?

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Mike Silverman
How can I use Spyder 3 Elite for Color Correction?
on Jan 15, 2012 at 1:03:41 am

I now know that Spyder 3 is far from ideal for color correcting video footage. Unfortunately, I was told by the folks who manufacture Spyder 3 that the Spyder system works great for video editing. After spending much time trying to calibrate my computer monitors with it (and researching people's opinions of it on here) I've realized that this is not a good solution for color correction.

Right now I own the product, cannot return it, but I do not have the money to buy anything else right now.

I'm editing on a 2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo iMac with Final Cut Studio 2. I am in the process of learning Avid Media Composer 6 which is installed on my Macbook Pro 2.2 GHz i7 Quad Core. Connected to the Macbook Pro is an HP 2509b 25" LCD Computer Monitor.

I have used the Spyder 3 Elite to calibrate all of the screens. I have no idea if any of them are even close to being correctly calibrated, but I do know that video footage looks very different on all of them.

I own a very small production company that I started last year and the videos I create for clients either go directly on the web, onto DVD, or onto public access TV.

So I would like some help from someone who has used the Spyder 3 on a computer display and achieved somewhat decent results when color correcting footage. If you have, can you help me understand how to go about using the product and achieving results that are acceptable?

I've talked to the company that created Spyder 3 and they were less than helpful, so I'm hoping that someone on here can guide me in calibrating my displays. What I would like is to at least have a temporary solution until I can afford something better.

Thanks so much,

Mike S

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Roman Belov
Re: How can I use Spyder 3 Elite for Color Correction?
on Jan 15, 2012 at 8:17:04 am

Hello Mike!
Some time ago I used to calibrate my monitors with Spyder 3 too. Spyder can make proper ICC profile to you. ICC profile is standard for characteristic of your display. But, in fact, there are big problems with video color correction and ICC standard. Simply because no color correction software can use this ICC profile.
The best solution for me was to take this ICC profile (created with Spyder) and convert it to 3D calibration LUT and use it with apple color. You can make it via cinema-algs service . It's one of the cheapest solution for consistent color for video correction.

Best wishes, Roman

Creative Programming for Cinema

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Matt Lyon
Re: How can I use Spyder 3 Elite for Color Correction?
on Jan 17, 2012 at 2:01:21 am

Hi Mike, on my last job I played around with the Spyder to calibrate our edit suite computer monitors. As you've probably read on other threads, you really need a video break out box and broadcast monitor in order to do color correction. The Spyder didn't magically make our computer monitors suitable for broadcast grading.

Your monitors will probably never really match, btw.

On this particular animated show, we weren't grading in my edit suite, but I wanted the computer monitors to match the compositing workstations as much as possible, for when the lead artists came in to look at footage (color approvals were done on another workstation). The artists all calibrated their displays to sRGB.

The problem with Final Cut 7 is that it applies a display gamma multiplier to the viewer and canvas, since it assumes that your monitors will be calibrate at 1.8 gamma. So the program darkens the image in order to achieve a net viewing gamma of 2.2.

So you have to select a gamma of 1.8 in the spyder advanced settings, in order to achieve somewhat near 2.2 gamma in FCP.

The sRGB are actually a good starting point for calibrating computer monitors, since the white points match rec709 (the HD video standard). IIRC, you can set the Spyder to use the sRGB white points as its targets. Your color temp should be 6500 and your screen luminance will depend on your viewing environment. 80 cdm2 would be suitable for a cave like setting, and 120 would be more appropriate for a bright, office like-lighting situation.

Oh, and set your gamma correction in FCP to "accurate" in the preferences, not "approximate."

So after doing all this fiddling in our edit suit, the head lighter still thought the picture looked like crap! (Too contrasty and too saturated were her main comments) What are you gonna do? So I wouldn't say we achieved any kind of calibration that was broadcast quality, but the color temperature was generally correct and the contrast of the image was in the ballpark in the sense that we weren't losing any shadow detail.

You have to bear in mind that fundamentally computer displays and video monitors have different color gamuts, so colors you might be able to render on you computer displays won't necessarily translate to video.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to put my screens next to a proper HD broadcast display for comparison's sake, but I did look at some downconverts on an older SD broadcast monitor and the results were similar: the video display showed much more muted colors and softer contrast.

I wouldn't consider my test definitive at all, but I thought I'd share, in case you find this helpful.

Of course, all this goes out the window when you start talking about AVID. I have no idea how it handles color.


Matt Lyon

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Mike Silverman
Re: How can I use Spyder 3 Elite for Color Correction?
on Jan 17, 2012 at 2:19:18 am

Thanks so much for that information. I'm hoping that in the next 6-8 months I can afford a better solution than the Spyder 3 for doing color correction. However, until I can do that, your advice may be a really good temporary solution for me. Since beginning my production company, I've been trying to make the most of the equipment that I have until I can make the necessary upgrades.

I appreciate you taking the time to respond,


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