Color calibrating your HDTV

If you own a PS3, chances are that you also own Casino Royale (either because you got the movie from SterKinekor for free like I, or you bought it). Like many Sony titles, this Blu-ray title includes test-patterns – you just type in “7669” and OK on the main-screen and will then be able to skip through a number of test-patterns. (BTW: 7669=SONY).

Most high-definition TVs sold in shops have high-contrast levels and vivid-color settings, which are not natural. Ever since I got the Sony Bravia KLV-46X300A, I wanted to achieve D65 picture settings – in essence getting a neutral grayscale that puts the “color of white” just where it belongs, at the chromaticity known as D65. D65 is sometimes (slightly erroneously) identified with the D6500 or 6500K “color temperature,” but whatever it’s called, the accuracy of a TV’s white point is important. All colors are in effect computed from four anchor points: the white point and the three primaries. So if the white point is wrong, all the computations are wrong.

The ultimate goal is to adjust the three primary colors to produce whites and grays as close to perfect as can be achieved at every level along the available brightness scale from near-black dark grays on up to near-white light grays, and finally to so-called “reference white.”

Take a look at a screenshot from Die Hard 4.0 (blu-ray) – you will notice D65 settings in the 1st, 3rd and 5th block (2nd/4th are the factory default settings) of the image below:

If you’re not used to D65 images, you may find the picture too yellow / red at first glance. This is because most of us are used to the 9300k colour temperature on most computer monitors, and have been conditioned to think that these whites are the real “white” (when they in fact look brighter due to their cooler colour temp). All I can say is that D65 is the standard adopted by movie makers and broadcast studios, which means that you should calibrate your television to D65 if you wish to see the colours in a movie reproduced as the director intended.

What I suggest is to persevere with the above settings for 3 days to 1 week to get used to D65, and then revert to the out-of-the-box settings, at which point hopefully you’ll realise how artificial the colours were before calibration.

For the PS3 I turned off all noise-reductions and corrections and enhances (such as MPEG, edge, detail). For standard definition TV (DSTV) I left all D65 customisations the same but turned on the DRC enhancements (switched to DRC Mode 1, changed DRC palette reality to 20 and DRC palette clarity to 100)