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Is Avia really worth it? I wonder...

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by sainthalo, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. sainthalo

    sainthalo
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    Is Avia really worth it? I wonder...

    A cheaper set up method and also fantastic is the XP Media Center setup wizard which seems to be very professional and does the trick. Personally on my Sanyo I stored Media Center setup on User 1 profile and ROnes setup on User 2 profile. Rones setup is better. I may try and mix 1 and 2 for the next profile but am very happy just following the tips on the forums for setup.
     
  2. Peter Parker

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    I think any test disk that allows the setting of white and black levels (and more) is definitely worth it. Don't you have to buy a PC with MC on because you can't buy it seperatley? If that's still the case, that makes it a very expensive test disk. :)

    I've not seen the MC set-up wizard - what does it allow you to do exactly?

    Gary.
     
  3. theritz

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    I don't..... the answer is yes (that or DVE).

    Apart from the fact that either test disc can be used to calibrate from a dvd player ( hcpc users (myself included) are a tiny minority compared to the number of people who would benefit from doing a "tune-up" to their display device), MC is reported to be very fussy to install as an OEM piece of software (and only recently available in that form). For hcpc use I prefer to combine the software which I feel offers the best performance/utility value, as opposed to having Uncle Bill or his minions do it for me.

    S.
     
  4. sainthalo

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    Hi guys, the XP Media Center is certainly thorough. It took me about 25 minutes to work my way through it (i should probably do it again more thoroughly tbh). It will calibrate various displays including front projectors and contains videos in a pool hall and various images and basically tells you adjust settings until you can/cant see something etc. I havent seen Avia but im guessing its similar but "techy" - MCE is very much designed for anyone to use so is very user friendly but probably not anything like as extensive as Avia. I agree it is quite expensive for XP MCE (see possible solution below) but anyone with a HCPC should think strongly about running media center - it is very impressive with a PJ and I am constantly getting oohs from people who ask what software is this. I installed it on my new XC-Cube pc and had no problems whatsoever. Just for info there is a 30 day trial version of MCE which Microsoft provided free - this contains the calibration for a projector - you may wish to call MS UK to see if they still issue trials of this and hopefully they will post it out to you.
     
  5. Peter Parker

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    Does MC use the video overlay to setup the projector?

    X-Lobby and Meedio already exist as front ends for the PC and do a similar thing apart fro the calibration. I think X-Lobby is free though.

    As it is, Avia seems better for most people as you don't have to install MC and Avia (or DVE) can be moved from DVD player to HTPC etc, and isn't stuck on the PC.

    Gary.
     
  6. Tempest

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    To be honest, I have Avia and now I'm thinking for my projector anyway, it's useless.

    It may be the way I'm using it, but let me explain.

    Taking two modes from my projector, "NORMAL" and "DYNAMIC"

    Using Avia, I can choose Dynamic, and everything looks great, I can set the black and white bars, brightness/contrast etc, and get it all dead on.

    I play a movie, and bright areas are blown away and all detail is gone, as the dynamic picture blows it all away.

    I can then choose normal mode and it looks just as accurate in Avia, but now, all the details in the DVD movie can be seen.

    So, under either setting AVIA is saying, everything's spot on.
    But playing a REAL movie, everything is obviously not !!!

    I now have one scene from Bugs Life I use for seeing how far the brightness level can go without loosing detail.
    Also I have one scene from Gladiator, which also has lots of fine detail which get's washed away when settings go too high.
    This is irrespective of what Avia tells me.
    Hey I'm going to be using my projector to watch movies, not watch Avia

    It may help (with my projector) that with everything set at normal, it all seems virtually dead on.
    Doing anything to the standard default "Normal" settings appears to make things worse.
    Rerhaps with a CRT projector it may be a different story?
     
  7. Peter Parker

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    Dynamic is probably adjusting the colours and gamma setting - I had a similar thing with the NEC HT1000. Using the 'Black detail' or 'Dynamic' would crush either the black detail or the white detail. For the image to be more linear and keep it's detail throughout, the normal mode was the only one that would work correctly so I didn't use the others.

    The other thing that may be making a difference is if the disk is PAL or NTSC. Avia will set the black level for NTSC, but PAL has a different black level, so you'll need Digital Video Essentials for that - unless your DVD player has a 0ire option for NTSC, or you're using an HTPC which uses vga and doesn't convert the signal into a tv standard.

    PAL uses 0mv (0ire) for black, and 0.714mv for white. NTSC uses 0.53mv for black (7.5ire), and 0.714mv for white. Setting a projector to rely on one for it's black level means it will be wrong for the other - unless you make the player output black the same for both (0mv), or the projector has memories that can store both settings.

    Gary.
     
  8. Gordon @ Convergent AV

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    Gary,

    The Windows media centre patterns are basically realworld versions of AVIA moving bars etc. They were deeloped in conjunction with microsoft and Joel Silver of ISF. They are specifically for MCE PC's....and therefore if you don't have a PC with that OS you need......AVIA....or such a test disc.

    Gordon
     
  9. Peter Parker

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  10. Peter Parker

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  11. Tempest

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    Many thanks, am taking a look now.

    Sorry for the bumb questions.

    But in english :)

    What does crushing the whites and blacks actually mean ?
     
  12. Gordon @ Convergent AV

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    It would mean that instead of graduations of light levels in brightest scenes being visible they would all be crushed to the same light output level Ths would result in lack of fine details in bright scenes. The same for dark parts.

    Changing gamma is changing the light output of the device relative to the incoming signal level. Our display systems are designed around an overall gamma of 2.2 This mimics the response of CRT TV's. That's what the system was designed to work with. Low gamma figures usually make images look washed out. S shaped gamma curves tend to crush dark and bright detail.

    DLP and Plasma can sort of amplify low level noise. Selective gamma adjustment may help mitigate these issues at the expense of a less accurate image.

    Gordon
     
  13. Peter Parker

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    No bumb questions - we all have to start somewhere. :)

    Imagine you have 100 visible levels going from black to white going through grey. You should be able to see all 100 of those individual strips, but if the the first three black strips look the same, then you are 'crushing' blacks. The same can happen at the white end - some strips of white may all look the same, so the whites are being crushed.

    If you look at the thread 'setting white and black levels', you will see an ire pattern:

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=11052

    There you can see all the levels, but if the black and/or white level are set incorrectly, they can put some of the dark greys to black, and light greys to white. When that happens you're missing picture information, or crushin detail.

    There's also a simulated image from Troy where the cloud detail is 'crushed' and the blacks are crushed in one image from Last Flight of the Osiris.

    Hope that helps. :)

    Gary.
     
  14. Peter Parker

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    Hi Gordon,

    Is there a test disk that will allow us to choose settings on a pj to achieve a gamma of 2.2?

    Gary.
     
  15. Tempest

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    Thanks.............

    Just to make 100% sure I've got this right.

    So if you are looking at ye'olde standard grey bar pattern.

    You should see white at one end and black at the other.

    If the 1st few blocks are ALL white, meaning the whites are too high, then that's the white being crushed?

    If also on the black end, rather than not being able to see only the last black, you actually can't se the last few black blocks, then the black is being crushed?

    Yes?
     
  16. Tempest

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    Thanks.......... Looks like I guessed right then :)

    I think I'm right in saying however (correct me if I'm wrong) that it's no good using computer graphics (pictures from your PC to your projector like the one on that link) to set it up with.

    As Computer graphics, and the output from a DVD are not the same.

    Or is that wrong, and I can use static computer images to set the projector up being driven from a PC ?
     
  17. Peter Parker

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    You're absolutely right.

    The range for a PC is digital levels 0 to 256, but video uses 16 to 235. So, if you want to use Avia on the PC, you just run it through a software player like PowerDVD or WinDVD which should use video levels and not PC levels. The video area of a software player is called the 'overlay' because it's on top of windows and not part of it.

    When I did some screen caps of Avia, they looked fine in the overlay, but whites and blacks were crushed, I had to make the differences overly obvious in the player so that when captured and displayed in my PCs paint program, you could see the black and white level details.

    Gary.
     
  18. Gordon @ Convergent AV

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    Bingo..

    I do not believe there are patterns you can use to confirm gamma is correct throughout the range......Needs to be measured.

    Gordon
     
  19. Peter Parker

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    Thanks Gordon.

    I take it we need a meter to measure it and plot it on a graph, or use Colorfacts etc to do it for us?

    Tempest - another can of worms is that the output from some (all?) graphics cards may only be 0 to 700mv, whereas tv transmissions use 714mv for peak white, so some compromise may have to be made somewhere. Something else that needs looking into. lol. :)

    ary.
     
  20. Tempest

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    Enough is enough already :suicide:

    :D

    I'm gonna check now with avia , but I'm thinking there's more to this than meets the eye.
     
  21. Gordon @ Convergent AV

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    Yes Garry you need light meter and calculator or software like that provided by Progressve labs, Senocre and Milori.

    Gordon
     
  22. Peter Parker

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    Tempest,

    I use Avia with my HTPC and it seems to work fine using the needle pulse tests to set the white and black levels. I can't say that I notice anything wrong in the image, and Jeff (RTFM) does the same (that's where I got the tip from). :)

    Gordon,

    Thanks. :)

    Gary.
     
  23. Tempest

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    Right then........ I have returned from a hour or more of messing (ahem, Sorry, I mean precision adjusting) my settings with AVIA again :)

    The ones I find most useful are probably the ones you are talking about.

    When you adjust your brightness and contrast with the two (just visible) black bars moving side to side, and the white bars moving side to side.

    On both accounts setting it, so the fainter of the two bars almost dissapears and it only just fractionally visable.

    Thats the black and white pretty much done and dusted I feel.

    Now then...... Something to ponder.

    With my projector in NORMAL mode I do this setup and I'm pretty much at default mid settings to get these moving bars correct (as above)

    Then I changed to DYNAMIC mode and did the same setting.
    All fine, but the CONTRAST slider had to go to the minimum position to get the white just right, and it is JUST right.

    So, in THEORY I have my projector set with the white and black moving bars correct in both NORMAL and DYNAMIC.

    So, viewing a DVD and flipping between these two modes should now produce virtually the same image yes?................ NO.... !

    Changing to Dynamic, really gives the image a kick up the butt!
    It is like it's changing the colour temperature.

    On Normal, whites are a tad on the dull side, a bit warm I guess.
    On Dynamic, they are much whiter, more a bluey white.

    Now I have set Dynamic correct those bars, I'm not paying a high price to get the picture brighter like this.
    On a test area in Gladiator, In a small (sky out the window scene) the clouds are a fraction harder to make out the shapes in, but it's not all overpowered to the point all the detail is gone.

    With Dynamic left at default setting, then yes the whites are OTT and you loose detail, but Avia, has allowed me to pull back this white level.

    I still don't know what Dynamic is actually doing, as if the black and white bars are all fine in Avia, and you end up with a brighter picture, then what's wrong with that ?

    Sharpness is best left at Zero, or just 1 notch up, anything more and you get white edges to the black lined in Avia.

    As far as the colour levels and looking thru the sheets of plastic. Well, I find that dam hard to judge, they look about right, so I'm just leaving them where they are, all at default setting.
     
  24. Peter Parker

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    I think dynamic is adjusting the gamma curve.

    As far as i can tell, gamma is just the luminence at each given ire level, so what Dynamic might be doing, is increasing the luminence at the higher ire levels, and if it's increasing the overall contrast and/or the colour saturation, red will be deficient so that's why you're getting a bluer image - blue is quite often the colour that runs out last because the lamp produces more blue and green than red.

    By adjusting the brightness and contrast using Avia you're preventing white crush so regaining some lost detail. Is Gladiator also NTSC?

    Sounds like you've gotten the hang of setting up your levels and have an image you're happy with as well. :)

    Gary.
     
  25. Tempest

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    No, Gladiator is PAL.

    Yes, well it's all very hard to say just what is RIGHT and what's not.

    To me, most of the settings on the AE200 seem very RED, only the normal seems fairly neutral and the Dynamic seems more Blue.

    But this in really only noticable when you flick from one setting to the other.
    The problem seems to be ( I feel) the human eyes/brain is very good a quickly getting used to anything.

    Yeah, it may look blue, or red, but after some time watching it, it looks ok, it's not until you flip to the other setting, you think sheesh, that's different.

    I'd like to check my Colour balance as I can obviously adjust the RGB levels seperatly as I'm driving it from a PC via a VGA lead.

    Setting the colour levels is very subtle, and the sliders don't give exactly dramatic changes from one extream to the other.

    I'd say Dynamic is actually like 9300K on my monitor and normal is more like 6500K colour temperatures. Most monitors seem to be toward the 9300K blueish white side, rather than the redder warmer white side.

    It's just that, on screen, when you have something like snow and ice, the more blueish white seems crisper than the warmer white.

    It's probably wrong, just what my mind tells me.

    I'll have to wait for an expert (hint hint) to pop over and tell me how bad it really is :)
     
  26. Peter Parker

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    I tend to agree with much of what you say. The eye is pretty good at seeing differences, but can also be fooled as well, as we have a poor memory of colour without a reference, hence why you get used to a setting until you flick back and see the difference.

    The main thing is being happy with the image you have, and no obvious anomolies that attract attention to themselves.

    Decided on a screen yet? :)

    Gary.
     
  27. rscott4563

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    If your using Avia (NTSC) for setup and then watching a Pal movie your not going to be getting a proper setup as NTSC & Pal differ and so the way you set them up on your display will be different. What you need if you watch Pal material is a Pal setup disc such as DVE.

    Cheers

    Ryan
     
  28. Tempest

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    Yes, I'm watching PAL DVD's.
    To be honest, I'm only really adjusting the Blacks and whites extream ends using the brightness and contrast controls. The sharpness has to stay where it is, aparty from fiddling with the colour balance a bit (which only gives subtle changes) there's not much else left to do.

    As it's really only the white and black ends I'm setting (so I'm not loosing detail at either end) will PAL differ to NTSC for this? Or is is mainly the colour balance that this affects?
     
  29. Tempest

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    Cheers for the comments.

    I may have a fiddle with the colours tonight (when it's dark again!!)

    Only question I have in my mind at the moment is, if the image is a tad towards the bluey whites, whether I should reduce the blue, or bring up the red and green to compensate instead.

    I find this the most difficult to set up.

    In Aria they give you 3 colours bands (Red, Greeb, Blue) on a mid grey background and say that 0% of each colour should match the background grey when you are looking thru the filter.
    To be honest I find this part almost impossible to judge.

    Looking thru the filters, I see outlines around the coloured bar boxes, which make it very hard to judge how it blends into the grey.
    Sure, I can see the boxes at the top are lighter than the background, and the boxes at the bottom darker, but say, 2 or 3 either side of the 0% mid point all all pretty much the same, due to a shadowy box which (as I said) makes it difficult to judge an exact invisible blend between colour and grey.

    Any advice appreciated on this one.

    Not decided on the screen yet.
    Actually changing to DYNAMIC mode has upped my whites to a nice bright white level, rather than the dull (warm?) white that NORMAL gave me, so I'm pretty happy at the moment. I would still be interested in looking at screens though.
    ;)
     
  30. Peter Parker

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    Ryan,

    You're absolutely right, except Tempest is using an HTPC which doesn't have setup as it's using VGA output, so the black and white level voltages will be the same for both PAL and NTSC - it's not using tv transmission standards. He can use any test disk for the purpose of setting his brightness and contrast.

    The only issue here might be that the peak white level from the graphics card may only be 700mv and not 714mv that PAL and NTSC use. It will convert digital 16 (black) to 0mv for both PAL and NTSC disks though.

    Gary.
     

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