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5 Easy Steps Towards Video Nirvana

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Clients always ask my opinion on what tweeks are the biggest bang for the buck. There are 5 things that a person can easily do to make a much television much more easily watched and none of them require extensive training or expertise. I will address each of the tweeks below (in no particular order).

1.  Letterbox mattes

I found the miracle of mattes approximately 3 years while still owning my good old analog Pioneer 62" 4x3 projector. On a large 4x3 set a 2.35 ratio movie appears quite small when compared to the relatively large letterbox bars. When viewing in a darkened room, the letterbox bars are never actually black as their color turns with the predominant color of the movie. If you are watching a screen that is mainly green your bars will have a green hue, if watching a red screen your bars will have a red hue. The intensity of the bars will also vary as a scene's brightness changes. Quite simply, the changing of the bar's color and brightness is very distracting on the eyes. Once I made my mattes, I found I would never watch a flick without them. NEVER! The good news, 16x 9 sets arrived on the market, now instead of dealing with several aspect ratios (1.78 and 2.35) there is basically only one aspect ratio being 2.35. Making mattes will only take a couple of hours of time and the procedure is well documented on Keohi. If you don't have the time or don't want to put in the effort just give your local craft store a call and tell them you want 2 pieces of black (or gray or whatever) foam core board that are x by y inches in height and width. You will be about $30 bucks lighter but also a little closer to video nirvana.

2.  Accurate convergence

It might be hard to believe but some clients whose homes I go to have never done any convergence work. I am not talking about service level convergence and geometry tweeking, I am talking about the basic user level convergence. Taking the time to touch up your convergence is essential to achieving the sharpest picture possible. Make sure you have had the set on for at least 30 minutes prior to starting. If you have the knowledge to do service level convergence by all means do it. If not, simply go into your setup menu and start to get those lines converged. When completed the convergence lines should all be white. If the lines have red or blue shadows then the red or blue gun is out of alignment at that spot. Take the time to align correctly and your picture will look much crisper and film like.

3.  6500K Back light

When viewing your television in a darkened room you may develop eyestrain, this is because you do not have any depth perception. By simply placing a 6500K light behind your TV you will create a separation between the television and the background and your eyestrain will be reduced. If you find that the light is too strong simply place some tin foil strips over portions of the light to reduce the light output. If you decide to get fancy with your back light you can hook it into an X-10 system for remote capability or plug it into a switched outlet on your receiver.

4. 60 minutes of time with Avia

High on my list of tweeking is taking the time to properly set up your front panel controls. These controls consist of brightness (black level), contrast (white level), color, tint, and sharpness. Just put in Avia (or Video Essentials) and hit the play button. You will be on your way to a 45 minute lesson on video calibration. During the presentation you will be prompted to pause and set up your own controls. It is relatively easy to do and your picture will much improved after your investment of $25 and less than 1 hour of time. Please keep in mind that this will only set up your DVD input, cable, and HD are usually not effected and have to be done separately.

5.  Removal of the protective screen

This is the number one tweek to get a high spousal approval rating. I wont go into how to remove (or restack) a protective screen as Keohi has this well covered but I will say most spouses find the picture unwatchable during daylight hours. This is because of the reflective glare from the screen. They might be listening to the program but really they are not watching it. Once the protective screen is removed so is the glare and then the television is much easier viewed during day light hours. This also carries over to night time viewing. Even in a controlled environment, there is almost always some light the room. Whether it is from a popcorn machine, reading light, or remote control. This stray light will reflect off of the screen and back into your line of sight causing you to be distracted from the flick. Here are a couple of pictures that a client took to demonstate the before and after effect on his Sony XBR RPTV.

See for yourself!
One Step Closer To
Video Nirvana