ISF, do you know and would you?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Buying & Building' started by Gordon @ Convergent AV, Dec 3, 2000.

  1. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    I am considering attending ISF training early next year. It's my intention to invest in a colour analyser at around the same time.

    Once I am sure that I can offer a high enough quality of service I intend to offer ISF calibration to front projection device owners. I imagine the units I will be specialising in would be Sony LCD s , Seleco CRT's and any s/h crt's I come across (NEC and Sony so far).

    I would be expecting to visit certain parts of the country all at one time. I.E. Several folk in the midlands could share travel costs and perhaps get a discount if they got enough like minded folk to have their units done. Just a few ideas of how to reduce costs to you guys!

    Before shelling out the substantial amounts required for this little venture I'd be very interested to get some feedback on whether anyone here would be up interested in such a service.

    Rather than reply to the board I'd be grateful if you could just email direct at [email protected] good and bad comments please.

    Blade, if you feel this is advertising please delete it.

    Gordon


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  2. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Hi Gordon

    For the un-initiated, what's ISF?
     
  3. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    As there are very few companies in the UK offering a calibration service for domestic/enthusiast level display devices I agree with you that in principle its an area that could well do with some development.

    However I'm not convinced that the ISF training courses you mention are all that high end. In fact most of the topics they cover are the sort of procedures I'd expect a "proper" TV engineer or installer to already be familiar with. ie: geometry , gamma , colour temp tracking.

    I accept that equipment like the colour analyser is hard to come by for the average joe in the street but in practise its a fairly straight forward device to use . I'd be interested in knowing why you feel its necessary for yourself to go to these courses. If its purely to become familiar with some of the calibration issues in
    certain types and makes of hardware rather than find them out by trial and error all well and good. If it is to actually become familiar with calibration theory and practise then I'd have to say there are other possibly better ways to swot up on this. Namely discovering the theory for yourself (although I admit the ISF seminars may be useful as a jumping off point: depending on cost!). I'd have more faith in an Imaging Science engineering course (night school or Open Uni perhaps?)

    My opinion in this matter is mainly based (possibly wrongly) on the feedback I've had from US based ISF certified calibrators (don't ask me who they were I forget) who although seem familiar with the specifics
    of given bits of kit have a fairly dogmatic approach to the practical issues but not a huge amount of understanding of the theory. (most of them seem to rely on optical comparators?? rather than colour analysers which again is less than ideal)

    I'm also a bit of a calibration nut (sad but true) although my activities are restricted to geometry/whitepoint blackpoint and colour temp (have access to a colour analyser). I used to cal monitors for high end filmwork and thought it would be interesting to apply the same techniques to domestic equipment (conclusion: its well worth it!).

    Don't get me wrong I think the ISF are worthy enough in their aims (Joe Kane certainly has his head screwed on)but little of what I've seen of their organisation strikes me as particularly impossible to figure out for yourself using available texts: Charles Poyntons work is a good example.

    Something else we need is for forums like HCC and the other mags to highlight the benefits of correct calibration with "real" engineering practice rather than their frankly idiosyncratic approach to all matters
    technical and theory driven.

    This this could even instigate getting the manufacturers to properly calibrate the units in the first place!
     
  4. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Mr D: I am completely sceptical of the ISF course itself as well. You can read my past postings about their courses and my chats with ISF techs on the AVscience web site.

    My intention is to learn by "doing" along with reading. I'm going to try and tag along with a trained (several years) ISF tech and watch, try and learn for a week. I already have an offer from some good guys in Canada who do the same ranges of projectors as we have available in this country. I thought I'd do that then go see the ISF.

    The need to attend the ISF course is really just to gain some form of acreditation (is that a word?) that folk may have heard of.

    You are quite right in that there are ISF and ISF guys. Attending a seminar doesn't mean you can do it. I intend to make sure I CAN do it though....

    This venture will be off my own bat, not funded by StereoStereo. Watch this space....

    Gordon
     
  5. GaryG

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    Gordon

    Given your previous help with my projector issues I would welcome the opportunity to have an 'expert' set-up my system. Although you asked for email replies I suspect that most people (myself included) would like a 'ball-park' figure of the costs involved.

    Something like LetsBuyIt.com perhaps? So we would have an idea of how many people in an area need to club together to make the thing work.

    [This message has been edited by GaryG (edited 04-12-2000).]
     
  6. Arthur.S

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    Hi Gordon,
    This is along the lines of a conversation I had with Chris Frost, when he visited me to re-setup my projector. Chris clearly felt that people in this country valued expertise of the type you talk about very lowly, & wouldn't pay for it. I'm of the opinion that, if an enthusiast like this BB members can see a definite improvement in their system, then they will pay. How much of course is the big question. When I was looking for someone to re-setup my 310, the fees suggested were between £400 & £700. For about 2 hours work, (In actual fact it took Chris nearer 3 hrs...but he's a perfectionist isn't he?) I consider that a rip off. I do understand the problem though. If someone is going to travel down to my house in Kent from say Birmingham, then that may be the only call he'll manage to get done in that day. Therefore, your idea of waiting for enough (non-urgent) calls to accumulate in a general area, could be a winner! This already happens in a lot of service industries, so why not HC?
    Anyway, best of luck to you if you decide to go ahead.

    Arthur.

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  7. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Guys,

    The costs are as yet unknown. The ISF have a suggested hourly rate I believe. It is in US dollars and is obviously only relative to the American standard of living.

    £400-£700 seems quite obscene to me for three hours work. StereoStereo charge around £500-£600 for my time to set up our customers CRT's. That is for an entire day plus the following touch up a month later. What can I say, I'm slow!

    I would expect that colour and greyscale should only take a couple of hours. Full geometry and convergence though will take substantially longer but I would be expecting that to be OK to start with.

    Once I've got an idea of how long these things take and what's involved I'll be able to give better ideas of costs. Sorry I can't be more specific just yet.

    Gordon




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  8. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    The Imaging Science Foundation: Here's some text taken from their web site....

    "The ISF has four basic roles in this industry:
    1. Consulting with manufacturers regarding product development.

    The ISF conducts private seminars and product evaluations. Clients include Bose, Electrohome, Faroudja, Hughes/JVC, Krell, Marantz, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Philips, Runco, Sharp, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, Yamaha, and others.

    2. Dealer training.

    We conduct approximately 6 seminars per year for retail dealers to help them understand the parameters of what makes good video. Training includes hands-on experience in video calibration. The ISF expects our dealers to stress good pictures and superior service in their respective marketplaces.

    3. Media communications through editorial copy and ad placement.

    We are presently running ad copy promoting picture quality in Audio Video Interiors, Home Theater, Stereophile's Guide to Home Theater, and Robb Report. Joel Silver and Jim Burns contribute editorial copy through feature stories.

    4. ISF licensing.

    We endorse products we feel contribute to "High Fidelity Video" through a formal licensing program. At present, licensees include Da-Lite Screen Company, Extron Electronics, Krell Industries, Inc., Madrigal Audio Laboratories, Monster Cable Products, Inc., and Stewart Filmscreen Corporation.



    Goals of the ISF Education Process Are To:
    1. Outline display specifications, the well defined rules for translating an electronic signal into a viewable image.

    2. Discuss design considerations for choosing CRT’s, LCD’s or DLP’s in implementing these rules.

    3. Discuss possible options in obtaining the most accurate reproduction of the incoming signal, and the effect of room environment on picture quality.

    4. Look at external signal processing, such as scalers, line doublers and quadruplers.

    5. Explain and demonstrate calibration procedures.

    6. Examine the need for periodic maintenance.

    7. Look at specific display requirements for other electronic imaging systems, such as computer displays and telemedicine.

    8. Support ISF dealers who bring high quality images to consumer electronics.

    9. Help our dealers implement High Definition television"


    What it means to the customer is a dealer who has a greater understanding of the workings of display devices and how to calibrate them correctly for the task they are being used for.

    Generally this would mean learning how to use test equipment to set up colour and greyscale correctly as well as the usual geometry and convergence stuff.

    In the US ISF techs tend to specialise in certain fields. ie Rear projection or normal Tube TV etc. It is extremely rare for any display devices to be correctly calibrated and even with good test discs like Video Essentials it's not possible to completely set things up as they should be. For that you need test equipment and training.

    There are those who feel the expense fo this calibration is well worth it, just as there are those who feel that the performance increase achieved has been negligable.

    You can find out more at
    www.imagingscience.com

    Gordon


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  9. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Thanks for the explanation.

    Are you thinking of investing in the equipment on a personal basis or is it a service provided by Stereo Stereo? Presumeably, there would be a difference in cost to the end-user if it was on a personal basis.

    [This message has been edited by GaryG (edited 04-12-2000).]
     
  10. charles

    charles
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    Gordon,i think your idea an excellent one-all that i would add,is that you not restrict yourself productwise-i think my projector is well set-up+ i have calibrated using the thx optimode on the terminator 2 dvd-but i am sure you could probably improve on what i have done-but could you?..the improvement achieved has got to be honestly noticable to be a viable proposition...moneywise,few will pay 500 pounds for an almost imperceptible improvement...BUT..if you had the confidence to say to me-that whatever my picture quality,you could improve on it-i would pay 50 pounds per hour..
    But i guess you wouldnt know if you could improve until you saw the picture?...so then,would you come to London and take a chance that maybe you couldnt improve?...would you offer a policy whereby after tweaking if the customer was not satisfied-you would redo?

    As you know,picture quality is subjective...but nevertheless it is an idea that i would try if you would...
     
  11. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    Well it depends on what your criteria are. I certainly think colour temp is a useful thing to cal properly but then I colour grade motion picture film for a living. I don't actually expect a domestic display to have "perfect" geometry or convergence. (I've only seen a 40grand hi-def colour timing monitor that was actually there and that still needed calibrating) However the issue here is time.

    Every display out there can be improved if you spend a bit of time on it which is what they don't do at the factory.

    You have to understand what the improvements mean before you are really going to notice an improvement. I see plenty of posts with people identifying a problem on their TV and others replying saying their set is fine (how often are they just not seeing it! 100Hz TVs a case in point) or proclaiming s-video better than RGB because its "sharper".

    Its horses for courses really. If you think its worthwhile it is. If you wouldn't know a decent picture if it bit you on the bum then you are probably going to feel ripped off.

    Geometry is about the most obvious improvement. The others can be described as subtle to a lot of people but glaringly obvious if you know what the way a video image should behave. Its about getting the max amount of real correct info from the image.

    I'll post some general tips about why and what to do to get the best out of a TV from the user controls. This might spark of some interest about how a video image should look.
     

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