Adjusting a Video Monitor


We all watch TV and use computers without much thought about how the screens are adjusted for brightness and color.  When shooting or editing video, however, having a properly adjusted picture is critical to evaluating and controlling the picture.

While shooting, a monitor displays a likeness of what the camera is capturing, which is not necessarily identical to what the camera is actually capturing to tape or disk.  The color, shadow detail, contrast, or overall brightness shown by the monitor may or may not match what the camera is actually capturing due to the type and quality of the monitor and the way it is adjusted.  The problem here seeing is believing —- concept that’s hard-wired into our brains.  Whether the monitor is correct or not, we tend to believe what it shows. We’ll be tempted to make exposure decisions based on what we see on the monitor, and often make the mistake of giving credence to LDC (Liquid Crystal Display) viewfinders or flip-out screens, only to later discover on a proper CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) picture monitor that the image looks markedly different.   Plasma screens are flat panel displays that use tiny red, green and blue pixels filled with a rare gas that gives off light when excited with electricity (similar to fluorescent light). Plasma screens can be very large, with a wide viewing angle.  They have good contrast, color, and black levels.  They tend to be heavier that LCDs.  DLPs (Digital Light Processing) displays use millions of microscopic mirrors to direct light through colored filters.  The mirrors switch on and off thousands of times a second.  DLP monitors and projectors are capable of excellent color, contrast, and resolution and can support fully digital connections with no analog conversation necessary.

Computer monitors are designed to show the output of a laptop or desktop computer and may be connected to the computer with an analog VGA cable, a digital DVI cable (Digital Video Interface), or a digital HDMI cable (High Definition Multimedia Interface, a successor to DVI, add an example from Figure 5-14 on page 203) You may be using a computer monitor as part of a nonlinear editing system.  Computer monitors typically operate in RGB color space (see above Pg 200).  If you’re producing something that will seen only a cell phones, iPods, or computer monitors, such are a Flash version or Internet-only MPEG video, then a computer monitors can serve as a picture reference.  However, if you’re doing something for broadcast or distribution in video, a computer monitor should not be used as a picture reference.  Even if the computer monitor is very good, broadcast video will usually look flat (low contrast) and dark on a RGB monito (See Fig 5-8 pg 190).  Both the color values and the gamma are wrong for video.  (See Fig. 5-8 pg 190). Other aspects of the picture may be off as well.

Instead, you should use a professional video monitor.  A video monitor should have analog inputs for component for component video (Y’PBPR),


Time Code

The idea of timecode is simple: to assign a number to every frame of picture or sound.  Timecode is a running 24-hour “clock” that counts hours, minutes, seconds, and frames (see Fig. 1-17 pg. 23)