For video professionals it’s important to view your final product the way in the same way that your intended audience will be viewing it. This means watching your final product on an external broadcast montitor or HD screen.
For NTSC broadcast television engineers use SMPTE color bars that have become a standard for calibrating their equipment. Since all broadcasters use the same color bars, this will ensure that your production will be sent out the same way to all the various networks.
Color Bars are also useful is you are projecting your final product at a trade show. You can use the Color Bars at the front of your project to calibrate the projector.
Here are the important steps to remember when using and calibrating your equipment to color bars.......
#1 Make sure you have SMPTE color bars at the front of your sequence.
For Final Cut Pro users, you can find SMPTE bars by navigating to the generators menu.
*Special note for Avid Media Composer Users: You can find SMPTE color bars in your program files / Avid Media Composer / Supporting Files / Test_Patterns. Make sure you import the color as with 601 SD color mapping, otherwise your color bars will be inaccurate.
#3 Make sure you’ve calibrated any external monitors while watching you final product to make sure you’re happy with how the rest of the world will be watching video.
When calibrating an external monitor it will help if your broadcast monitor has a ‘blue-gun’ setting. Typically, only your high-end broadcast monitors will have this setting. If your external monitors doesn’t have this setting, don’t worry, you can still get relatively close using the grayscale or monochrome settings to set the correct calibration.
I originally intended to write the steps required to calibrating an NTSC or HD monitor to SMPTE color bars. However, it turns out there are already some great resources, that go through all the great detail.
Steps to Calibrating an HD Monitor with HD Color Bars
Calibrating an NTSC CRT monitor (blue gun mode)
Calibrating NSTC CRT monitor (without blue gun mode)
Keep in mind, that color bars are really designed for broadcasters to that everyone sends out the signal the same way. Don't count on your actual audience to calibrating their television screens to color bars.
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