Monitoring Broadcast Video Output

For the most accurate monitoring of broadcast programs, Color ouputs standard and high definition video using supported third-party video interfaces. The drivers installed for the interface you have determine what resolutions, bit depths, and frame rates are available for outputting to an external monitor.

To turn on external video monitoring
  • Choose an option from the Video Output pop-up menu, in the User Prefs tab of the Setup room.

To turn off external video monitoring
  • Choose Disabled from the Video Output pop-up menu, in the User Prefs tab of the Setup room.

For more information about monitoring, see:

Mixing and Matching Program and Viewing Resolutions

Ideally, you should monitor your program at its native resolution (in other words, the resolution of its source media). However, Color will do its best to output the video at whatever resolution is set in the Video Output pop-up menu of the User Prefs tab. If the Video Output pop-up menu is set to a different resolution than the currently selected Resolution Preset, then Color will automatically scale the image up or down as necessary to fit the image to the display size.

Bit Depth and Monitoring

The working bit depth can have a significant impact on the quality of your monitored image. The monitored bit depth depends on three factors:

  • The bit depth of the source media

  • The bit depth selected in the Video Output pop-up menu

  • The bit depth selected in the Internal Pixel Format pop-up menu

Other than specifying or choosing the initial shooting or transfer format, the bit depth of the source media on disk is predetermined (usually 8-bit, 10-bit, or 10-bit log). Since low bit depths can be prone to banding and other artifacts during the color correction process (especially when gradients are involved), it’s usually advantageous to process the video at a higher bit depth than that of the original source media (secondary corrections and vignettes can especially benefit).

Color will process and output your video at whatever bit depth you select. However, most broadcast video interfaces max out at 10-bit resolution. For maximum quality while monitoring, you should set the Internal Pixel Format to the highest bit depth you want to work at and make sure the Video Output pop-up menu is set to a 10-bit option.

Note: Video noise and film grain often minimize the types of artifacts caused by color correction operations at low bit depths, so the advantages of working at higher bit depths are not always obvious to the naked eye.

Monitoring at high bit depths is processor-intensive, however, and can reduce your real-time performance. For this reason, you also have the option of lowering the bit depth while you work and then raising it when you’re ready to render the project’s final output.

For more information about the monitoring options available in the User Prefs tab, see Playback, Processing, and Output Settings.

Choose Your Monitor Carefully

It’s important to choose a monitor that’s appropriate to the critical evaluation of the type of image you’ll be grading. At the high end of the display spectrum, you can choose from CRT-based displays, a new generation of flat-panel LCD-based displays, and high-end video projectors utilizing a variety of technologies.

You should choose carefully based on your budget and needs, but important characteristics for critical color evaluation include:

  • Compatibility with the video formats you’ll be monitoring

  • Compatibility with the video signal you’ll be monitoring, such as Y′PBPR, SDI, HD-SDI, or HDMI

  • Suitable black levels (in other words, solid black doesn’t look like gray)

  • A wide contrast range

  • Appropriate brightness

  • User-selectable color temperature

  • Adherence to the Rec. 601 (SD) or 709 (HD) color space standards as appropriate

  • Proper gamma (also defined by Rec. 709)

  • Controls suitable for professional calibration and adjustment

Note: For all these reasons, consumer televisions and displays are not typically appropriate for professional work, although they can be valuable for previewing how your program might look in an average living room.

Set Up Your Viewing Environment Carefully

The environment in which you view your monitor also has a significant impact on your ability to properly evaluate the image.

  • There should be no direct light spilling on the front of your monitor.

  • Ambient room lighting should be subdued and indirect, and there should be no direct light sources within your field of view.

  • Ambient room lighting should match the color temperature of your monitor (6500K in North and South America and Europe, and 9300K in Asia).

  • There should be indirect lighting behind the viewing monitor that’s between 10–25% of the brightness of the installed monitor set to display pure white.

  • The ideal viewing distance for a given monitor is approximately five times the vertical height of its screen.

  • The color of the room within your working field of vision should be a neutral gray.

These precautions will help to prevent eye fatigue and inadvertent color biasing while you work and will also maximize the image quality you’ll perceive on your display.

Calibrate Your Monitor Regularly

Make sure you calibrate your monitor regularly. For maximum precision, some monitors have integrated probes for automatic calibration. Otherwise, you can use third-party probes and calibration software to make the same measurements. In a purely broadcast setting, you can also rely on the standard color bars procedure you are used to.

For more information on adjusting a monitor using color bars, see Calibrating Your Monitor.

Adjust the Color Interface for Your Monitoring Environment

The Color interface is deliberately darkened in order to reduce the amount of light spill on your desktop. If you want to subdue the interface even further, the UI Saturation setting in the User Prefs tab of the Setup room lets you lower the saturation of most of the controls in the Primary In, Secondaries, and Primary Out rooms, as well as the color displayed by the video scopes.