Display calibration is an essential consideration for creative professionals using any kind of displays in their post-production workflow. If you’re making creative choices based on what you’re seeing in front of you, you want to know that what you’re looking at is an accurate image. You also want to be confident in the accuracy of your display, should the client look over and ask: “Is this monitor calibrated correctly?” or if they complain that it” looks different” on their own monitor. Fortunately, most high-end computer monitors and OLED TVs can be calibrated with professional software, and maintain calibration over time and across the whole of the panel (uniformity).
In the video above, Tyler Pruitt, Portrait Display’s ‘technical evangelist’, provides a great overview of what calibration is, how it works and why you need it. So if this is all new to you, it’s well worth a watch. In this post, I’ll cover two different ways to calibrate your OLED TV.
The first is by eye using the on-board controls and picture settings and the second is with professional software and hardware, which both the 2018 and 2019 LG OLED TVs support. Also, be sure to regularly run firmware updates on your OLED TV to ensure you’re working from the latest version, although these can sometimes introduce problems of their own.
The Best Settings without Professional Calibration
Out of the box, the LG 55″ E8 OLED TV comes with a variety of very solid picture profiles to choose from, which will have been calibrated at the factory. These include:
•ISF Expert (Bright Room and Dark Room)
If you want to read LG’s official definition for each of the terms in the Picture Settings menu, what these settings actually do and their recommended settings based on different viewing environments, check out this article.
Here’s what it has to say about the Backlight / OLED Light:
“Controls the level of screen brightness by adjusting the backlight. The closer to 100 the brighter.
For those who have their TV in a dark room or basement, this setting won’t need to be terribly high. For those in brighter rooms, more backlight intensity will be desired. Try to avoid making this adjustment while the sun is shining directly on the screen, as this will result in an unnaturally high setting.
Instead, make your adjustments when the room light is at its average for when you watch, and pick a program or movie scene with a lot of white in it, a daylight scene on a snow-covered mountain, for example. If after watching the scene for 10 minutes you begin to squint, the backlight is too strong.”
In this section of the post, I’ll break down some of the other settings that you might want to explore to get the best out of your OLED, even without further professional calibration.
To start us off, in the video above Daniel from RTings.com talks you through how to connect your TV correctly to both source and audio devices, as well as how to set it up correctly, including when connecting to a PC.
If you want to replicate these settings yourself, for both SDR and HDR content, you should read this detailed article on the LG C8 settings on RTings.com.
This largely involves turning most of the pre-processing settings to ‘off’, which is also a good foundation for later professional calibration anyway.
For SDR content, settings you might want to turn off under Picture Settings include:
•Sharpness – 0
•Tint – 0
•Expert Settings > Dynamic Contrast
•Expert Settings > Super Resolution
•Picture Options > Noise Reduction
•Picture Options > MPEG Noise Reduction
•Picture Options > Motion Eye Care
Settings you might want to leave on are:
•Colour Gamut – Auto
•OLED Light – 19/20 for 100 nits
There are also some useful settings you might want to leave on, such as the Pixel Refresher, Screen Shift and Logo Luminance Adjustment (low) under the OLED Panel Settings Menu, which will help to prevent image retention related issues. Although you might want to turn the Logo Luminance Adjustment to off when using the monitor for grading in certain situations, otherwise it will automatically dim your static client logos, etc. As a quick aside, if you want to understand when to use Gamma 2.2 and when to use Gamma 2.4, check out the section on ‘grading to a standard’ in this post on Colour Management for Video Editors and the quote and full article from Mixing Light colourist Patrick Inhofer.
In my own personal testing, I preferred the ISF Expert (Dark Room) picture mode with all of the noise reduction and motion smoothing options turned off. It’s also worth testing out the various white balance options to see which you prefer, especially if you don’t calibrate the unit using a colorimeter.
If you’re watching older content such as SD DVDs and low-res TV, you might want to turn Noise Reduction and MPEG Noise Reduction to low for a better looking image.
RTings also have a very detailed review of the LG E8 OLED, including calibration results out of the box and after professional calibration which is well worth reading here.
You can read more about RTings.com’s tests and why they matter in this detailed article on colour accuracy.
How Professional Calibration Works and Why You Need It
Professional calibration requires three things to work:
1. Software/hardware to generate the correct colour and test patterns
2. Hardware probe to measure the light coming from the screen
3. Software to compare the signal sent with the light measured
The idea being that you can then create a Look Up Table (LUT) to sit in between your input and your output to make sure that the colour represented onscreen are as accurate as they can be.
If you want to calibrate your OLED TV to get the best out of it, LG’s partnership with Portrait Display’s CalMAN Home software makes that easier and more affordable.
As of 2018, the LG OLED line up has direct access to the 1D and 3D LUTs (33 point LUT with 12 bit precision) that calibrate the panel which also removes the need to insert a hardware 3D LUT box between the source and the monitor.
The 2019 line up of OLED TVs now includes a pattern generator built in, which removes the need to purchase a separate hardware generator, further reducing the cost of professional calibration.
Also in further extending their partnership with Portrait Displays, CalMAN Home, a $145 version of their software (which normally costs $1,995 for the full suite) will be released in April, 2019.
So in 2019, all you will need to calibrate your own OLED TV to a professional standard will be $145 for calibration software, providing both SDR and HDR manual calibration and AutoCal functionality, and an affordable colorimeter, such as the X-Rite i1 Display Pro which costs about $260/£170.
This a huge benefit to anyone who cares about viewing colour accurate images, whether in a professional or personal context.
You can read through a full list of all the displays that will be supported by CalMAN Home, including those from Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and LG, as well as a complete list of supported measurement devices, in this official PDF.
Note that CalMAN software is Windows only, but I am curious to know if it will run on Bootcamp on a Mac?
It’s also worth mentioning that you can also use DaVinci Resolve as a free pattern generator too, with the added benefit that it is providing patterns generated along the same video signal path as your grade will be (instead of an external hardware box).
In one of the Mixing Light ‘Mail-bag’ episodes, co-founding colourist Dan Moran mentioned that he’d heard of less uniformity issues on the 55″ displays, compared to the 65″ or 77″ displays. So if that tidbit is to be believed, it might be worth sticking with a smaller size screen too.
VIDEO EMBED – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYMmIZDv-6E
In this screencast tutorial from Portrait Display’s Tyler Pruitt, you can get a deeply technical, guided walkthrough of using CalMAN on a 2018 LG OLED, to perform SDR AutoCal calibration.
One consideration to factor into your thinking is that of using more than one monitor in your grading environment.
Now, most colourists have one monitor situated close to them for their colour grading software interface (GUI) and another monitor for seeing their correctly calibrated image. This is usually a smaller, more expensive broadcast monitor off to the side where both they and the client can see it, who is most often sat behind them.
The colour grading suite might also then have a much larger ‘client display’ mounted on the wall, to view the images at scale and on a display more common to the end user. (Unless you’re watching all your movies on a broadcast display?)
The introduction of multiple reference points can cause confusion if they don’t look the same. Is the image correct on the broadcast monitor, but the client likes the look of it better on the ‘client monitor’?
Any discrepancies will cause confusion and potentially sow a lack of trust in the client’s mind about you and your professional capabilities.
To get around this issue and the fact that different human beings visual systems perceive things in different ways is a technique called perceptual matching.
The idea is to sit all the displays next to each other and based on the collective opinion of several creative professionals, tweak their calibrations so that they match each other as closely as possible and in such a way that everyone agrees they look the same.
Of course, if you just have one big monitor in your suite as the reference point, then this issue goes away!