Display Setup for Newbies
Because we didn't review this model, I can't provide any specific settings, but there are several good setup discs available. For newbies such as yourself, I generally recommend Disney's WOW (World of Wonder), which is available on Blu-ray or DVD. It includes lots of tutorials about home theater as well as specific instructions on how to set the basic picture controlsBrightness, Contrast, Color, Tint, and Sharpness. Once you feel comfortable at the beginner level, there are many more advanced setup and evaluation patterns. Audio signals are also provided to help set up your sound system.
The colors used in standard-definition DVDs are very slightly different than high-def Blu-rays, but the Brightness and Contrast settings are the same, and in my opinion, those are the most important controls to set correctly, leaving the Color and Tint controls in their default settings. Even so, setting the Color and Tint controls on an HDTV using the DVD won't be very far off anyway. The Sharpness pattern on the DVD won't be as finely detailed as it is on the Blu-ray, but it will still let you see if the Sharpness setting is causing excessive edge enhancement; in most cases, the best setting for Sharpness is its minimum value.
Another popular Blu-ray is Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics from Joe Kane Productions. It includes many setup and evaluation images and clips, and it also provides audio signals to set up your sound system. An explanation of each item can be found in the included booklet and on the screen, and there is some tutorial material on the basics of high-def video and calibration, but it's a bit more advanced than a beginner might be comfortable with.
I really like the High Definition Benchmark Blu-ray from Spears & Munsil, which has some of my favorite test patterns for setting the basic picture controls. It also includes many patterns and short clips intended to let you see how well a display performs various video-processing tasks such as deinterlacing and scaling. Each image is explained in the accompanying booklet and in a pop-up window on the screen, but there are no beginner tutorials, making this disc more appropriate for experienced users.
Yet another option is found on many THX-certified DVDs, including the Indiana Jones boxed set and some Pixar movies, such as Toy Story. Called THX Optimizer, it provides several video patterns and audio signals to help set up your system. Each item starts with a brief explanation of how to use it, but some of the explanations and tests themselves are inadequate.
For example, the image used to set the display's contrast control is a 100% white box on a black background, and the instructions read, "For this test, adjust your Contrast/Picture control on your television so the white box is bright, but not to the point of blooming. You should still be able to see the horizontal scan lines produced by the television." Newbies won't know what "blooming" is, and modern digital displays do not exhibit horizontal scan lines like the picture-tube TVs of yesteryear. Plus, the image has no "above-white" region to determine if the contrast control is set too high.
Another example is the instructions to use the color bars, which read, "Adjust the Tint/Phase control so that the cyan and magenta bars are truly cyan and magenta in color. The two blue squares at the bottom left should also be shades of blue." How are most consumers supposed to know what true cyan and magenta are supposed to look like, much less what the shades of blue are supposed to be?
It goes on to say, "Next, adjust the Color/Intensity control so that the red bar is bright red but not blooming or bleeding." Not very precise, that's for sure. There's a note about using a blue filter, which can be obtained from the THX website along with instructions on how to use it with the color bars.
There is also a Blu-ray version of THX Optimizer, but it can be found only on Terminator 2 Skynet Edition and the THX Calibrator Disc, which is not available to the public. The pattern for setting contrast is much better than the SD versionit has above-white regions so you can see if the whites are being clippedand the other patterns are generally better as well. I wish this version was more widely available.
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