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Anyone tried SMART calibration on their projector?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Buying & Building' started by jrwood, Jul 23, 2002.

  1. jrwood

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  2. gwbailey

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    I've been wondering about that too...
    Also, how does it compare against an ISF tweak?

    You're right though..they're pretty good pics!;)
     
  3. greggz

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    Thank you for the compliment on my screen shots. I think I can take a stab at explaining how SMART improves the 10HT/11HT.

    The light bulb that is used in the 10HT/11HT is not a pure white light. It runs out of light in the red spectrum before it runs out of light in green and blue spectrums. For this reason the projector cannot be driven to it’s full potential and still maintain color balance.

    When a Sony ships from the factory, the “low” temp setting on the projector is, in theory, set to as close to D65 as the factory is willing to put forth the effort achieve. (Sony does not use a default setting, but calibrates each projector individually). But still, the green and blue output settings must be set fairly low due to the above mentioned bulb issue.

    The use of the red CC (color compensating) filter in the SMART tweak helps to cut down the excess green and blue inherent in the bulb’s light output and makes the colors behave in a more 1:1:1 ratio. Once you get the colors to behave, you can increase the green and blue output of the projector. This expands the projectors contrast range and helps to reveal shadow details that would normally be lost.

    When you SMART a projector you first do a baseline readings run. Using the projector’s low color temp setting, you cycle thru the ten IRE screens on the AVIA disc and take measurements. That becomes the baseline and the return goal for the SMART process.

    Next SMART will recommend what filter to add (30R or 40R). You put the filter on the projector and create a custom color temp. You do another measurement run thru the ten IRE screens with the filter in place. The SMART spreadsheet will calculate how much the picture’s color temp deviates from the original color temp it measured. It then tells you to increase the blue and green output settings accordingly. You keep repeating this process until SMART gets the color temperature back to the initial readings. It takes about 4 to 6 passes to get back to the factory’s low color temp. Along the way SMART also makes some recommendations about the contrast and brightness if necessary. The process also tries to get your projector to as closely follow a gamma curve of 2.5.

    When I did the SMART process, my projector’s measured contrast ratio out of the box was 270:1. After the SMART process it measured 490:1.

    The key thing to understand about the SMART process is that it works on the assumption that the projectors low color temp is close to D65, and works to get the custom color temp back to those reading after the filter is applied. An ISF calibration doesn’t make any assumptions about the projector’s default color temperature settings and attempts to adjust the projector based on the actual reading’s from more sophisticated (read expensive) instruments.

    Hope that helps.

    Gregg
     
  4. derekduvalle

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    I too have calibrated my Sony VPL-VW10ht using the S.M.A.R.T. Calibration system and am very pleased with the results. Before calibration my pictures looked very green, but are now nigh-on perfect.

    I purchased a complete kit from Steve Smallcombe, (Photocell assembly, software, calibration filters and CCR filter) although I have since replaced the purchased CCR 30 filter with one I made myself. The filter material was purchased via mail order from a company in Wales. www.formatt.co.uk

    Also check out Steve's homepage. www.smartavtweaks.com
    and www.detailsource.com , on how to build a photocell holder.



    Well worth the money.
     
  5. gwbailey

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    Gordon?

    Thanks greggz,

    Are you using a DVD player or a H.T.P.C with your 11HT?;)
     
  6. Dick Scratcher

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    Gregg,

    Congratulations on a very succinct explanation. Just one thing though, the 'assumption' that the low temp setting is close to D65 is a bit of a gamble since in actuality the chances of that being the case is going to be fairly slim. All that tweaking would result in a corrected setting (with filter) that approximated to the original setting which in all likelihood would be wrong anyway.

    ISF makes no judgement on the existing setup and instead samples the temperature setting from scratch from which corrections can be made to produce a setting that is reference. It would seem to me that if you choose to go the SMART route then you would benefit more from ISF first since there would be no 'assumption' as to how close you are to D65.

    I have seen first hand what ISF can do and have to admit that it was money well spent considering the improvements it made, not just in colour fidelity but also in brightness, contrast and that indefinable 3D quality that you get. I have a CC40R filter coming soon and will be looking to ISF again to improve the picture even more.
     
  7. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    The SMART calibration sounds very plausible. I am going to be going to Dirks to go over his projector once the CC filter is on. I'm going to read read read all about SMART and together we'll go through it and re-calibration.

    It should be interesting afternoon/day.

    No doubt Dirk will let you know how we get on!

    Gordon
     
  8. GearHead

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    I was curious about SMART calibration for my own projector (TW100) and read all the info about it on Steve Smallcombe's web-site. It appears to work (in the main) by pushing up the brightness of the individual red, green and blue outputs to the maximum level possible whilst still retaining the correct balance.

    Before investing in SMART I thought I'd do a little experiment to see if there was any 'headroom' available on any of the colours. I'm using a HTPC so I knocked up a punishing gray-scale pattern as my windows background (28 levels of gray with 2% steps at each end of the scale). I started by calibrating the white level and black level to this gray-scale. Then I went into projector setup menu where I could adjust individual gains on each of the red, green and blue panels. If there was any headroom to be had I should have been able to increase the gains to get an image that becomes increasingly brighter than the reference image as you move along the gray-scale. I can use the projectors video setting memories to make quick A/B comparisons.

    To my mind I was unable to get a brighter 'white', infact increasing the gains very quickly resulted in crushing the last two bars of the gray scale.

    I'm not quite sure what the conclusion is but it appears to be that this projector is already at or very near the maximum brightness possible and that SMART calibration won't yield any benefits.

    Allan
     
  9. gwbailey

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    Well I for one look forward to reading about the results...;)
     
  10. greggz

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    Hi Graham, I'm using a Sony 500V (interlaced) DVD player and running the 11HT in DRCx4 mode, but I hope to switch to a Panasonic RP82 very soon. Not sure if I will run the RP82 in interlaced or progressive mode yet.

    Hi Dick, Agreed. I was only trying to explain how SMART works and not advocate it over ISF calibration. SMART is a fairly inexpensive approach to a better picture, but not guaranteed to be the best possible picture. If you are going to pay to have a projector ISF'd, I'd bypass the SMART process and just add the CC filter and then let the ISF tech calibrate from that point.

    Gregg
     
  11. greggz

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    Hi Allan,

    For the 10HT that was the approach (some times also referred to as "Munsilization" after Don Munsil who came up with the approach"). For the 11HT the recommended method is to NOT change the red setting from the factory setting but to only adjust the green and blue once the filter is applied.

    Oh, and one other thing. Dont assume that since the red filter works for the Sony it works for all projectors. Remember the filter is correcting a deficiency in the bulb and different projectors use different metals for the bulbs. For example, I think the Sharp 9000 can be improved with a magenta filter. I remember seeing another projector respond well to a blue filter.

    Gregg
     
  12. GearHead

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    Gregg,

    If the red level is unchanged then how do you achieve an overall increase in brightness and still retain the correct colour balance ?

    [Edit: yeah, no worries, I realise now how this is done. However, for SMART to work, even with a filter, it assumes there is some headroom. In the case of the Sony its on the green and blue panels. My feeling is that the bulb in my projector is very neutral and I'm already getting the max from all three colours]

    Allan
     
  13. greggz

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    Hi Allan,

    I believe I understand you to have answered your own question, but I will add one clarifying point for others reading this. SMART helps you improve or increase the projector's CONTRAST ratio (the difference between the brightest and the darkest the projector can display) and not the overall brightness. In fact you pay a "brightness" penalty in adding the filter of about a 10% reduction in the lumen output of the projector. Most of this is due to the first order reflection of the light off of the filter.

    Gregg
     
  14. The Spaniard

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    Sorry guys, but I am now thoroughly confused! I have just had a new Sony ht11 and want to get the best picture. Is smart better than ISF, cheaper than ISF? How much is smart? How do you attach the filters and do they look horrible? - My projector is hanging above my head in my lounge!

    I have looked at Steve's SMART site and even the explanation for idiots confuses me!

    Is there anyone in the midlands that has done either and likes to share advice!!!

    Cheers.
     
  15. greggz

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    Hi Gary,

    For pricing information, check out the SMART store at Enhanced HT

    http://www.enhancedht.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=EHT&Category_Code=S

    There is a bundled kit (which is what I bought) or you can buy only the individual items and build some of the stuff yourself.

    I'm not sure how things are packaged outside of the US, but here in the US there is a particular brand of sour cream (Daisy) whose plastic lid is exactly the same size as the lens cap for the 10HT/11HT. If you don’t buy the pre-made CC filter assembly, you can buy a resin CC filter (comes as a 4"x4" square), cut it down to a circle, cut out the center of the sour cream lid and spray paint it flat black, and then mount the filter using the black sour cream lid. Once mounted, no one will ever notice the filter unless you point it out.

    Now to try and clear up the distinction between SMART and ISF.

    There are really 3 different things being discussed here. First is the red CC filter tweak to correct a deficiency in light output of the Sony projectors. Problem is, once you apply this filter, your colors are all out of whack and you need some way to re-adjust your colors. Just eyeballing it wont do.

    Second is SMART. SMART is the combination of using an inexpensive detector and some software that Steve Smallcombe wrote (in MS Excel) to measure and instruct you on how to re-adjust your colors to get back to the low color temperature that the factory set on your projector (hopefully D65). (It also does some calculations to help improve your gray scale tracking too)

    Third is ISF. An ISF technician uses much more sophisticated equipment (i.e. a $1,500 meter as opposed to a $2.50 photocell) to measure the ACTUAL color temperature of your projector and make adjustments (remember, SMART is just measuring RELATIVE to the factory default).

    An ISF technician can better explain the range of their services and pricing than I can, but basically I think you pay by the service (gray scale, color temp, geometry, etc…), by the input. So say for example an ISF technician charges $100 to calibrate gray scale. Your Sony has a RGB, RGBHV, composite, and S-video connections. It would be $400 to have your projector gray scale calibrated on all 4 inputs. Then if you want the color calibrated it would be an additional charge, again on per input basis. So a visit from an ISF technician can run you as little as a couple hundred dollars up to a thousand or more. Again, an ISF technician can better explain their fee for services schedule.

    All of this being said, your 11HT will never reach its full potential unless you apply a red CC filter to it. Once you have applied the filter, it is up to you as to how much you want to spend to re-adjust the colors (ISF or SMART). The best possible picture will be the 11HT with the red CC filter and ISF calibration. If you are not willing to spend the money for ISF calibration, then SMART is the next best thing. Plus with SMART, you can re-calibrate as often as you like (new bulb, aged bulb over time, etc..). With an ISF technician you will pay every time they visit.

    Hope that helps clear things up.

    Gregg
     
  16. The Spaniard

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    Thanks Gregg,
    You should start writing manuals because I now think I know a little bit more than I did before! It seems that a red filter is required anyway and these custom made to fit the Sony vw11 appear to be about £42 plus shipping. Are these available in the UK for cheaper? The other debate is whether or not I need the 30 or the 40 filter. In almost every circumstance it is advised that the 40 is the best for the vw11.....except if you have a grey screen and want the brightest picture possible. Guess what; I have the dalite high contrast da - mat grey screen with a gain of 0.8 so I could do with a little more help!

    I dont think I will be fannying about with SMART, I haven't got the patience but I have contacted Gordon and will hopefully be arranging a visit sometime soon.

    Cheers!:devil:
     
  17. greggz

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    Hi Gary,

    I would check with a well-stocked online UK photography superstore to see if they carry resin CCR filters. Resin is the preferred filter composition because gel filters are too optically inconsistent and glass filters are too hard to cut. Optiflex makes the filters that Steve sells. They are 4"x4" (which I believe translates to 100mm x 100mm). Here in the US they sell online for approx $39.

    I am projecting on a 110" (2.8m) diagonal 1.3 gain white screen. I bought the CC40 filter. Running the projector with Cinema Black ON (800 lumen mode), I felt that the picture didn't have enough "punch" to it for my personal taste. I have since switched to Cinema Black OFF (1,000 lumen mode). I am much happier with the brighter picture. On a gray low-gain screen you will probably want the 30R filter and you may end up having to run in 1,000-lumen mode too. Really depends on how bright a picture you like.

    I recently purchased a 30R filter but have yet to find the opportunity to try it. I'd prefer to get back to running in 800-lumen mode because it would prolong my bulb's life. I don’t know if I will prefer the 30R to the 40R, but, to me, it was worth $39 to try given that a new bulb is $400.

    As far as SMART goes, it does appear daunting on the surface, but it is really not that hard to do. It is a little time consuming. It takes about 60 to 90 minutes to get setup and go thru the entire process. And, as a bonus, once you have done it, everything on Steve's website makes much more sense. ;)

    Gregg
     
  18. jrwood

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    You could try one of the Jessops stores, I remember when I went into a few of their shops in Birmingham that they had some colour correcting filters but I cant remember which ones they had. I was after the HOYA HMC FL-D filter at the time so did'nt pay much attention to the various CC filters they had.
     
  19. Pip_UK

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    Greg,

    Have just ordered the Avia disc for the 11HT. As my pj is in the lounge the walls are very light. Gordon recommended darkening the walls but I am reluctant to do this as I like a light airy feel in the lounge. Would it be a waste of time trying to calibrate with SMART with light cream walls?

    The contrast omn your screen shots is far in excess of mine!

    Pip
     
  20. greggz

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    Hi Pip,

    When you SMART calibrate, you point the photocell detector at the projector and not the screen. My projector is ceiling mounted, so when calibrated I set the detecor on top of a 6 foot tall ladder placed 6 feet away from the face of the lens.

    With regard to the photos, the camera took creative license making the blacks look blacker than the are in reality, but you can definitley expect to see an improvemnt with a CC filter/SMART'd projector over a stock 11HT.

    Gregg
     
  21. zcaps57

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    Hi, folks.

    I've calibrated my 11HT with SMART back in March.
    And yes, it's well worth the money/effort. :)

    It's a bit of time consuming process. But once you're through it, it makes big improvement.

    BTW, I have a question which is not related to SMART. :(
    As you know, there're 4 input modes in 11HT.
    Component
    DTV YPbPr
    DTV GBR
    Computer.

    When I feed my 11HT 1080i HD source from my D-VHS player, input mode has to be set as DTV YPbPr.
    But for 480i/p DVD sources, both modes Component, and DTV YPbPr works.

    I've asked this question number of times in different forums, but no one seemed to know the answer.
    Does anyone know the difference in those two modes ?
    I mean which mode are we supposed to select for interlaced ot progressive DVD source ? :confused:
    or should I ask if 480p progressive signal falls in DTV specifications ? :confused:

    My DVD player is SONY DVP-S9000ES running in progressive mode.
    (sometimes I let the 11HT do deinterlacing, but mostly the 9000ES does the job. :) )
     
  22. greggz

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    Hi Eric,

    I don’t know why, but I have seen on other forums where 10HT users say that they get a better picture when using a progressive source (wont work right for interlaced) to set the input as "DTV YPbPr" as opposed to component. I assume that the same would hold true for the 11HT. I haven’t been able to try it yet because my new progressive DVD player (RP82) appears backordered until the first week of August.

    Gregg
     
  23. zcaps57

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    Thanks for the reply, Greg. :)

    I see.
    I wonder how the internal digital processing differs from component to DTV YPbPr mode.

    Anyway, are you the Gregg from AVS ?
    If you are, I've read numerous posts of yours mainly in digital projector forum and audio/hifi forum, and they've been very informative and helpful! :D
     
  24. greggz

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    Hi Eric (or should I say ShePearl ;) ),

    Guilty. I am greggz on all of the forums. I'm afraid I'm not creative enough to come up with anything more unique.
     
  25. Pip_UK

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    Gregg,I have an 11ht-but as yet have not bought the c.c.filter.

    What interests me,is that you mention NOT to change the red from factory default-are you talking about the red gain setting in the low custom setting?

    Or the red setting in the custom 1 ?

    I remember initially reading that the red had to be set at 255 to maximise red?(though my red is not set to this-)

    I would be interested in knowing your custom settings-though I realise it will differ on mine it would give me an idea % wise of how you see the variance from r.g.b.
    Thanks,
    Doug

    p.s.GREAT PICS!;)
     
  27. greggz

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    Hi Doug,

    I'm talking about the red setting for Custom 1. After you take your initial readings WITHOUT the CC filter in place you then start to make your Custom 1 color temp by setting red equal to what it is for the Low temp and the green and blue are set based on the SMART spreadsheets recommendation. You then repeat the metering/recording/calculating process several more times until you get the green and blue just right.

    The strategy of setting the red at or near 255 really applied more to the 10HT than the 11HT, and Steve appears to be now advising that cranking the red may not be the best approach. I don’t recall exactly what he said about it, but a search or two over on AVS would quickly turn up his current advice on the topic.

    Much of the stuff that has been written on forums applied to SMARTing the 10HT. The 11HT appears to have some special circuitry the attempts to "improve" the black levels despite changes that you make to the gains and biases. In fact, I believe Steve recommends ignoring the SMART spreadsheet's suggestions on bias changes because the 11HT overrides them. Steve says that it would be in our best interest to be able to disable this auto-black-leveling that the 11HT is doing, but so far he has not found a way to bypass it.

    I know based on some postings that I've seen by Steve that he is working on some additional changes to the SMART program to better tweak the 11HT. At one point he was requesting that people who SMART'd the 11HT's send him their completed spreadsheets because he was working on some new algorithms.

    With regard to my settings, from the factory my red was 185 and my blue and green were in the 130's. After calibrating, my red was, of course, still 185 but my blue and green were now around 220-230.
     
  28. Guest

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    Gregg,Are the settings you mention with filter applied?

    Thanks,
    Doug
     
  29. greggz

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    Yes, that was with a CC40R filter applied.
     
  30. GearHead

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    Why do you need SMART ?

    Couldn't you just put the filter on then adjust the gains on Blue and Green until you got back to seeing gray on a grayscale ?

    Allan
     

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