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September 2015

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Page 26 of 51 25 POST SEPTEMBER 2015 hat's the point of color calibrating displays when the home viewing world has no calibration standards? "If we don't know what perfect is, we'll never know how imperfect we are," says Michael Cioni, president of Light Iron and a philosophical thinker. "An uncalibrated consumer TV will be closer to reality if we start with a calibration. Flawlessness limits the variations of imperfection. By knowing what is absolute, we can try to get as close to that as possible on all other display devices." Here's a look at how Cioni — as well as industry pros Lenny Mastrandrea of Nice Shoes, Paul Korver of Cinelicious, John Stevens of MTI Film, and Jason Fotter of FuseFX — weigh-in on the subject. LIGHT IRON Hollywood's Light Iron, a Panavision Company (, does col- or for about 50 features and 10 television series annually, estimates Cioni. Although color grading at the high-end feature level generally entails projection systems, "every movie works its way down to TV and the Web, so we use monitors [to recreate] viewing conditions in broadcast and broadband," he says. The facility has two Dolby PRM-4200 HD professional reference monitors, two Sony BVM-X300 4K LCD panels and a Panasonic LH310 4K monitor in its color suites and QC rooms. In addition, Cioni built a Quality Assurance (QA) room, fondly called "The Best Buy Room" by clients, which sports six different consumer displays. "They range from $500 to $2,500 models — LCDs, LEDs, plasmas — from all manufacturers," he says. "We also route phone and iPad displays in there." The QA room "introduces the real- ity of what happens to content when distributors like Time Warner get hold of it," Cioni explains. "It's our worst nightmare to deliver a job and months later get a call from a major creative who says they're watching it at home and it doesn't look at all like it should. You know you've done nothing wrong, and that it's probably the display device. Displays in the rest of the world are rarely calibrated." Cioni has been pleased with the Dolby HD monitors, which he calls "wonderfully textured and high-precision displays." But about half of Light Iron's business is now 4K and UHD, so investing in 4K monitors has been a necessity. He believes the Sony BVM-X300 4K monitor is "the new benchmark for where professional reference displays will go. It's the best image ever put on a display. When Sony debuted the X300, it totally reestablished their dominance in the monitor market." At Light Iron, the same display may be used to view content in three or four different display profiles, so proper cali- bration to every color space is vital. "We switch from 2D to 3D color space, from P3 to [Rec.] 709. Now with HDR we're starting to display with 2020 and PQ profiles," Cioni says. Light Iron's in-house engineering staff performs color calibration on a frequent schedule using a Photo Research PR-670 SpectraScan Colorimeter. "We use the same tool for projection and home TVs," Cioni says. "Between all our rooms and multiple sessions, every day at least one display is calibrated in the facility. We always calibrate at the start of a project then often re-affirm in the middle of the job or the start of a week. We have logs in each room detailing the date the displays were last calibrated, the targets of the calibration, and the person who performed the analysis." Light Iron's colorists also have been trained to calibrate their displays. "Colorists need to understand why we do things a certain way," Cioni explains. "It's better if they know exactly what's going on behind the technology curtain. And if a client ever has any doubts about the images they are seeing, an informed col- orist is confident about saying, 'I checked it myself.'" Light Iron also provides on-set tech support for productions. "When Light Iron acts as the finishing house, we assume responsibility for on-set display calibration using our Outpost Mobile Systems and will also calibrate an independent DIT's personal display," says Cioni. "Otherwise, you run the risk of something being wrong and no one realizing it until some months later." Light Iron typically supplies Sony OLED monitors for on-set applications. "We calibrate them at the beginning of the project, then it's up to the DIT to check them and do QC throughout the shoot," he says. Light Iron's New York facility also calibrates the cutting room monitors it supplies to editors. "If there ever were a cornerstone in the house of post production, I would say it has to be calibration," Cioni declares. "Calibration brings confidence to facilities that aim to create perfect images while simultaneously bringing confidence to the filmmakers who captured them." NICE SHOES Five identical color suites at New York City's Nice Shoes ( boast Sony OLED PVM-A250 reference monitors for colorists and 58-inch moni- tors, calibrated to match the OLEDs, for clients. Flame suites are outfitted with the Sony OLED displays, too. Color calibration is done monthly by Nice Shoes' technicians. Colorists check the displays daily, however, and if they spot any problems, help is quickly at hand to resolve them. "The OLEDs are very stable and really don't fluctuate," says Nice Shoes' head of color, Lenny Mastrandrea. "But we have one of the most robust engineer- ing teams in the industry. Knowing that they're on-hand to support us, really allows for us to be confident as artists." BY CHRISTINE BUNISH Light Iron's QA room. (Inset) Colorist Ian Vertovec performs calibration. W

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