Calibrating your display for video capture.

Last updated on 9 years ago
Before capturing any video from external sources such as game consoles, you should first make sure your capture device can capture accurately. But before we can do that, we need to make sure that what we are seeing on the display device (monitor / tv) is correct. I will try to write a short tutorial on how to achieve this. While by no means perfect, it will hopefully give a more pleasing result.

To calibrate out screens we can use a hardware display calibrator such as the Spyder 4 Pro which allows you to setup up your screen and have the device make a suitable monitor profile for windows. The cost is a bit prohibitive so we will go with the free solution which will work well enough and hopefully provide you with a much better image than you started with. Unless you have a good monitor which comes nicely calibrated out of the box, but these are rare unless paying for a pro screen.

1. First off, reset your monitor to factory default settings. Set the colour type to Normal or 6500K (warm). Some whites can blend when set to cool, it all depends on screen quality really.

2. Load up this very useful website which will have lots of useful info and test screens. There are many other similar sites, but this one will work perfectly well for our needs.

3. Click on the Contrast test and you will see a page with coloured bars. (image is example only. Use the site for best results)

Now on the monitor, you should raise the contrast setting until the colour blocks on the end of the white block start to merge into one. when this happens back off until they are separate blocks even if only a slight difference, it is enough.

You may notice the coloured bars have merged into one block. if you can back of the contrast a little to fix this, then do. But if you have to back off to much that the blacks start to merge into one block, then lower the Colour setting on your screen until the coloured show distinct differences and not merged into a big block.

After this is done, you can now be sure you are seeing all the different variances in colour that the source is putting out.

4.Now onto the brightness test. Click on the black level test (use the site image here is for illustration only)

What you want to do here is raise or lower the brightness setting of your screen to be able to just barely see all the black squares. the first black square is different to the background so the moment you can just see the first black square pop from the background, that is probably out brightness point. next try the White test. if brightness is to high it could wipeout the bottom row of this test. so bring it down as best you can until you can just about see the last set of squares.

5. Now back to the contrast test. check again that the colours are not being crushed together and adjust contrast again if needed. Then check again the brightness tests to see if any more tweaking is needed.

6. The site offers more tests if you want to further calibrate your screen. The tests we have done should provide a more accurate image than you started with and allow us to now calibrate the capture device.

Yours eyes maybe burning at this point and look like you are staring at the sun, but that is ok for the moment.

7. The PS3 will be used in the example here, but you can maybe use a pc or other browser capable device. I would start off with the PS3 set to RGB Limited if capturing from hdmi as not all tv's and especially capture devices are designed to see Full RGB and your blacks and colours will be crushed.

8. Load up the PS3 browser and again go to Run all the above tests as we did before but viewing it through your capture device. We already have out monitor set correctly, so if the tests are showing any crushing problems you will need to make the changes in the capture hardware or software settings.

9. Once you have nice settings on the capture device. write down these settings for future reference. You can now change your monitor settings if you wish as the capture wont be affected. No matter how it looks on the screen, the capture will be perfect for later encoding and submitting.

10. A special note regarding in game brightness settings. usually the defaults are perfectly fine but sometimes can appear too dark. The general rule is to leave this alone and capture what the game says is normal. But as long as your display and capture is properly calibrated so that you know what the game is putting out and what you are seeing is 100% correct, then you can adjust the brightness bar for a more accurate/pleasing result. it wont usually require more than 1 or 2 notches though and is about finding the games lowest black point.

Just as an example of the difference between calibrated and non calibrated settings, I will repost this example from the bully thread made sometime ago. I may add more examples later. (Un-calibrated -> Calibrated) (ntsc <-> pal versions)
Here's another nice site, this one for calibrating the monitor you already have:
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