What I Came Home To

I’ve been out of the country, presenting at the SuperMeet, dashing about the UK having meetings and doing training, and then finally crossing the channel into France for a much-needed vacation in Saint-Malo and Paris. More on all that later.

For now, I’m rather pleased that I’ve finally gotten my new Panasonic 55′ VT30 series plasma delivered to my Saint Paul suite. Everything is now mounted, hooked up, and working. In fact, I’m so pleased with myself that I wanted to show off with the following photo.

Gray monitor surround, D65 backlighting, scopes and UI comfortably placed, and my new-ish DaVinci Resolve control surface dominating all available desk space. It’s a grading suite, all right.

To use a blatantly nerdish analogy, building out a new suite is like a Jedi assembling his/her own lightsaber. It’s always a custom job, you always try to make the new one better then the last one, and you’ll likely be doing much of the work yourself. This go-around, I’ve built a really comfortable, utterly professional suite that I’ll be very happy to work in for the foreseeable future. It’ll also serve me well as a color laboratory for my various other writing, training, and consulting projects, and will be a nice hub for controlling remote-grading Resolve gigs, should that come up.

I was a bit concerned that the 55″ display would be too big for the space, but it’s turned out to be perfect. My current room is too small to make projection practical, but factoring in the viewing distance, this is virtually a projection experience for myself and two clients as is. It’s probably worth mentioning that my initial impressions of the VT30 series displays are very favorable; they’re thin, relatively light (for a plasma), and the THX color mode should make lots of home theater afficionados quite happy. I’ve yet to calibrate it fully (via a LUT loaded into the HDLink Pro that’s converting the HD-SDI to HDMI), so I’ll likely have more to say once I’ve gone through that process, but so far I’m really liking what I’m seeing.


Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
What's New in DaVinci Resolve 15: Covering every new feature in Resolve 15 from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve Tutorials: Far ranging DaVinci Resolve instruction from Ripple Training.

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23 thoughts on “What I Came Home To

  1. Hey Alexis,

    Nice setup. I just wanted to ask what scopes you’re running? Are they through a FSI monitor?

  2. Very similar setup to mine except my 42″ Cine-Tal, and I haven’t got an external scopes, yet. I also wonder what kind of scopes you have there. They don’t look Ultra Scopes, or are they?

  3. I use Harris Videotek VTM 4100 rasterizer scopes. While there are many fine software-based products out there, I bought my HD Harris scopes before they were available. At this point, I like the composite/component gamut display on the Harris, as well as the stand-alone nature of the scopes. It sits on my desk and runs without any fuss, and is completely real-time with a dedicated control panel UI.

  4. Dreaming of a place like that some day. =o)
    I’m a relatively new colorist and am starting to look in to color control panels. The only thing is… I know so little about them!
    How do they improve the work of a grader, what is important to think of when purchasing your first color control panel, and where can I find more information about the panels “glossary”, like soft knobs and all that colorists talk about.
    Perhaps this is something you can write about in your blog?
    Cheers!
    //Tine

  5. I’m using a similar setup with the HDLink (although my screen is quite a bit smaller 🙁 ). I’d like to know how you create the LUT for the HDLink. Thanks.

  6. I am curious too how to get a proper rec.709 for my hdlink/extreme3D combo to go out to my client plasma and also a confidence monitor at my desk? Besides the light behind the monitor is there any other 65k lighting?

    thanks for the pics awesome stuff!

  7. In terms of the LUT that is – would be great if that was how my monitors all synced to rec.709

  8. That’s a good idea, Tinefis, I’ll add that to my growing to-do list. In a nutshell, though, control panels for grading serve three main purposes. 1) They’re more comfortable to use for adjusting 20 different parameters then using a mouse. Wrist strain can be an issue when manipulating onscreen sliders over and over and over all day, a control panel is a major ergonomic win, if you have it at an appropriate height. 2) It can be faster to manipulate when you’ve gotten used to it. Again, you’re simultaneously adjusting many different parameters for each shot, sometimes spending as little as 20 seconds on a shot, and having dedicated knobs and controls is faster then mousing around multiple tabs in an onscreen GUI. 3) Dedicated interface controls. The trackballs are ideally suited for three-channel color rebalancing, and rings are ideally suited for making the kind of three-parameter contrast adjustments that most color correction applications use. There are many more reasons why control panels are handy, and fortunately there are more options now then ever before, at prices that are ridiculously low compared to five years ago.

  9. Hi Alexis!
    Thanks for sharing the picture, and information.

    I just purchased a VT30 also! Can’t wait to watch a movie on it.

    Can you point me to any links about how to connect this to a macbook Pro, to do color grading until I can get a BM HDLINK?

    I don’t understand how this will be calibrated by someone, and then will I have to re-calibrate with a color profile from OSX?

    Apologies for the questions, but if you have links I could read, that would be greatly appreciated.

    Have searched profusely on reduser, and google.

  10. hello sir,nice setup… i have bought a new panasonic th-p50vt30d thx certified 3d plasma with reference from your colour correction handy book.
    to work with resolve for projection, actually wen i put it on thx mode, it’s looks very dull picture, the actual footage is very bright and good contrast on my grading monitor, does the factory settng thx mode works for accurate color, pls i need to know how should i setting up that plasma for perfect colour and brightness contrast .

  11. The THX mode will look dull compared to the factory default color setting (which is considerably more vivid). My experience is that the THX primaries seem to be pretty on top of Rec 709, as they should be, but that the gamma tracking benefits from further calibration. For calibration, right now I’m using a Klein K-10 color probe in conjunction with Lightspace CMS (color management software) to analyze the monitor and generate a calibration LUT that I apply using an HDLink HD-SDI to HDMI convertor, and the results are excellent. Your other, cheaper option is to find a THX certified monitor calibrator in your area, and have that person do the job with their equipment.

    I’ve been working long term on an article about this, but I’m still ironing out some details before I publish it. Keep your eyes on this blog, I’ll try and get to it in the next couple of months.

  12. Hi Richard, I realize this is a really late reply, but I’ve been meaning to (and putting off) writing a blog article on this topic that I was planning on linking you to, but it’s not yet gotten finished.

    For maximum color fidelity, you really need a clear path from your video output to a Y’CbCr compatible video interface such as HDMI. Connecting your computer to the monitor via HDI will not be suitable, as the signal conversion will introduce errors that you don’t want for video monitoring.

    I connect my DeckLink card to my VT30 using an HDLink, and the signal path works well. For calibrating my VT30 Panasonic plasma, right now I’m using a Klein K-10 color probe in conjunction with Lightspace CMS (color management software) to analyze the monitor and generate a calibration LUT that I apply using an HDLink HD-SDI to HDMI convertor, and the results are excellent.

    However, it’s cheaper for more occasional calibration to hire a THX certified calibrator to do the calibration for you with their probe and software.

  13. hello sir,
    thanks for the information, you are right the thx plasma is the very best option for
    client reference,
    the thx displays gives accurate display quality,presently i have adjusted my thx plasma with my hp dream color monitor reference, it’s really good, but anyway i ‘ll calibrate this display with hd link and xrite i1 probe, with an expert, is it ok with do i1 pro. or can i do with the klein k-10, here in india thx services are not available . thanks for ur Valuable information.

  14. Have you found any problems with HDLink (LUT distortion as reported on Lightspace forum).Did you have any issues with ABL (Automated Brightness Level ) control kicking in? Could you please describe in more details calibration process you are using for Panasonic 55VT30

  15. I have indeed reproduced the issue found by Steve Shaw. It’s very specific, and very subtle, and I’m still looking into how much of an issue it is on my particular display, which is why I hadn’t replied to your question earlier.

  16. We are looking at upgrading our displays here, and there are many things to weigh.

    For one, Steve Shaw also says FSI monitors are “not impressive” and “not accurate”. I wonder, is that true? What do you think? At some point, 100% accuracy is impossible, and we have to live with compromises one way or another. That or spend more than $15 000 on a monitor.

    Plasma has the advantage fo better contrast, huge size, and being the kind of television many cinephiles will also watch our material on at home (if for broadcast), so they will see the same ABL we do if we grade on it. How subtle is ABL? I think it is very subtle indeed – do you agree?

    The only thing that worries me is that ABL screws with the 3D luts we created to calibrate- and that in the end they are inaccurate – that would leave us with plasmas that are in actual fact uncalibrated despite our efforts with Lightspace, and that is worrisome indeed.

    When you do full screen slides, is the calibration still correct in terms of gamut/color? If it is then I would say ABL is no big deal. If it is not correct then I need a drink right now.

  17. In response to both your question, and the thread you’ve opened up on the Cow, I’m writing a gigantic blog article that I need to do a bit of fact checking on before I release. Give me a few days.

  18. hi Alexis
    i m working on resolve but i dont know how i calibrate Apple desplay monitor with Panasonic 55′ VT30 can u help me out
    Could you please describe in more details calibration process you are using for Panasonic 55VT30 step by step
    thanks

  19. I just wrote a blog article about this, sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you but I’ve almost published the article so many times, but kept putting off because of new developments. Check my second to most recent article for an answer to this…

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