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ISF Seminar Review by Mr Bob

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Mr Bob reports on the seminar he attended:

"That's right, I finally took the plunge. It happened at Runco in Hayward, just across the Bay from me, I couldn't stay away. I don't have time to go into it right now, as far as details, but let me just mention some fine points.

Brightness setting is room-light-level dependent. That's one of the first things they covered, because greyscale -- their spelling, not mine, and I like theirs better -- changes with the designated/calibrated levels of background darks and foreground brights. Ideal viewing should be calibrated for, in terms of Brightness/background darks, but daylight/non-controlled light situations should be earmarked also, on your user settings. You can't just throw up the pluge pattern and come up with the correct background darks level, it's just not that simple.

Use VE for greyscale. Avia is flawed on that parameter. VE has its own website, BTW, and is SO much easier to use once you've been guided by that I haven't studied it yet, but they have.

Use Avia for geometry. VE is flawed on that parameter, you can't get the top and bottom vs. side to side brackets to match the roundness of the circle on the circlehatch grid. Avia's cirlehatch grids, on the other hand, work perfectly on both 4x3 and 16x9.

Avia has been added to ISF's arsenel, now supplementing VE, which used to be their staple. As a matter of fact, they gave out a free brand new AVIA disc to each of the participants, plus a free set of R, G, and B filters for it, in addition to the filters it already comes with. These are magnificent filters, also. They are as long as the VE filter - 6" or so - but each is encased as if it were a slide - mounted the same way as a slide is, but much longer than any typical slide. This allows for both eyes to be used when looking at the color bars or the color decoder pattern. They also gave out a free D6500K flourescent lamp they suggest using as a backlight for your RPTV.

Don't expect DVD to ever look as good as OTA HD. It simply doesn't have the bandwidth, something Joel Silver and Jim Burns talked about constantly. ISF is no longer dedicated to the "look and feel of 35mm film" anymore, BTW. OTA HD has the capacity to actually look BETTER than film.

Greyscale is not "6500 degrees Kelvin", tho we will continue to call it that in the field. It is actually called 6500 Kelvins, grammatically, and is actually 2 specific coordinates on the Minolta chromaticity graph/chart, from 1931. Joel has a $7K highly directional handheld unit that looks like an old super eight movie camera that does nothing but give you the 2 coordinates. Joel knows this instrument so well, he can look at the numerical coordinates it is displaying and tell you exactly which color of the red, green or blue needs tweaking, and in what direction.

D6500K is not totally neutral grey. It starts with neutral energy, but then adds just a little blue, to become neutral to the eye. Completely neutral light energy is sepia toned. Rods and cones in our eyes were also discussed, which is where we get red, green and blue as our primary colors.

Joel was not how I had pictured him, from phone conversations. He actually looks like Starsky -- or was it Hutch? The dark haired one. Very debonair in a dark on dark suit, conveying world class experience and presentation, with a true war story for every point he wanted to make. He had everything down, too -- all those things I had to go to these forums to learn, they teach it every day, plus lots of fine points I never saw on any of these fora. He talks fast, but it is just the right speed to go straight into your consciousness, just like Tony Robbins does.

It was all guys. Don't know why -- women, who are naturally artistic and perfectionistic, could do fantastic calibrations, with no worries about heavy lifting.

And these guys came from EVERYWHERE! Sacramento, South Dakota, Arizona, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan, 2 from Vancouver, just to name a few locations -- and they were mostly Home Theater dealers, rather than techs.  I don't think there was one other guy there who was simply a tech/calibrationist, like me.   And Joel's presentation was primarily centered on educating the dealers, so they can serve their clientele to the utmost, and be as complete about that service to their customers as this point in the evolution of home theater requires, for the most state of the art performance available, of their systems in the customers' homes. Some of the guys there were not techs, nor calibrationists, nor dealers -- they were simply afficianados, who wanted to learn as much as they could about the genre. Joel made the point that some guys become dealers -- at 40% off retail -- just so they can afford their habit!

Not to mention that the crew was also from far away, and jokes flew among them fast and furious, since they spend so much of their time together on the road. Joel is from Florida, Jim Burns is from Chicago, and Jim Doolittle is from Boston.

Jim Doolittle is the resident ISF imager/calibrationist who master tweaked the $35K Runco projector so finely that it looked better than film. OTA HD can do that, tho DVD doesn't have the capacity to, at 480p.

One of the points they made is that NTSC is a frozen medium, while HD will be variable, depending on what is sent out, and how. 480p, 1080i, 720p -- all sorts of different formats will be out there, and receving source units will also be able to adapt to them.

Jim Burns knows ALL the ins and outs of OTA HD, including how to get it in challenging areas, and we who paid extra for the 3rd day were treated to what amounted to virtually private consultations from both Jims, both of whom had depth to spare in their knowledge of our hobbies, which are of course their crafts. I felt privileged to have the opportunity to be exposed to the level of precision and excellence embraced by all 3 of the ISF gurus present for our training.

All in all, it was well worth what I paid for it, and I'll probably do it again in a few years, just to get updated in the technology, which as we all know is changing drastically all the time in our genre."