Xbox 360 Video Calibration question (HDMI)

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#1 Posted by donalbane (16370 posts) -

So I got the 360 slim, and am now using HDMI (actually HDMI and DVI via an adapter. Works great.) So my questions are:

  1. What do you set the reference level to? Expanded looks darker, but is that necessarily a good thing? The MS site says that's the best one if your TV can handle it, but what's the criterea for 'handling it'?
  2. What color mode do you use for HDMI? I have it on Auto at the moment. What do you set it to and why?
  3. When calibrating, I have two discs... the Bungie Calibration disc from Halo 3 Legendary, and Digital Video Essentials (DVE) which is made more with DVDs and movies in mind. DVE makes everything look darker than the Bungie version? Is it better to go with the Bungie disc, as it is made for games, to use the more professional and in depth calibration disc, or do a happy medium setting?

I'd really appreciate the feedback. Till now I've been using the 360's VGA cable because I didn't have an HDMI output on my old 360, and my component inputs were all filled up.

#2 Posted by lockjaw333 (1741 posts) -
1. If you are using HDMI, you're going to want to select "Standard". This settings has to do with the grayscale setting for the particular source. Without getting too into detail here, VGA uses a full grayscale where a value of 0 is black, so "Expanded" is the proper setting. HDMI works off of typical video black, which would be a value of 16. Again I don't want to get too in depth, but you can sort of see what this means if you switch between the two settings when using HDMI and VGA. In short, use "Standard" 2. When you say "color mode", I'm assuming you mean the settings in the Xbox 360's Display Settings. If you have an LCD tv you have an RGB display device, so you should use the "RGB" setting. Leaving it an AUTO is fine too, since the Xbox 360 uses RGB by default (which matches your display device). 3. For videophiles (including myself), DVE is more often than not considered the calibraton DVD of choice. The Bungie calibrator works fine too (I tested it and got similar settings to what I did with DVE), although DVE will allow you to hone in on the correct Brightness (black level) setting with its excellent pluge patterns. Assuming you're using the Xbox 360 to run either calibrator, you should come out with similar values, although I would definitely recommend DVE over the Bungie calibrator. The Bungie calibrator is working off of the same standards for setting brightness, contrast, and color saturation/tint, so it shouldnt do a bad job either. The most important advice I can give you if swtiching from VGA to HDMI is to make you disable Sharpness and Edge Enhancement. These functions are unavailable (grayed out) with VGA, and they are artificial enhancements that are unecessary, especially with high definition 1080p content like games. Also, make sure you are getting 1:1 pixel mapping. If your TV has a "just scan" option or "pixel to pixel" or whatever, use that instead of 16:9.
#3 Posted by YoungSinatra25 (4314 posts) -
It all depends on the Tv...
#4 Posted by lockjaw333 (1741 posts) -
Actually, its not dependent on the TV. It has everything to do with your grayscale settings. If you have a Samsung LCD, using HDMI with HDMI Black Level set to "Low", you'd want to use the "Standard" setting on your Xbox 360. If HDMI Black Level is set to "High", you want to use "Expanded". This thread does a pretty good job of explaining it: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=988390
#5 Posted by GTR12 (9962 posts) -

Buy a calibration disc and put it in the xbox and calibrate. Inexpensive and easy to understand.

#6 Posted by WiiRocks66 (3488 posts) -
[QUOTE="lockjaw333"]Actually, its not dependent on the TV. It has everything to do with your grayscale settings. If you have a Samsung LCD, using HDMI with HDMI Black Level set to "Low", you'd want to use the "Standard" setting on your Xbox 360. If HDMI Black Level is set to "High", you want to use "Expanded". This thread does a pretty good job of explaining it: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=988390

What if I have an LG?
#7 Posted by UnnDunn (3509 posts) -

With regard to Color Mode, in general Auto is the best choice. This will cause the Xbox 360 to output RGB for games and downloaded videos, and YCC for DVD movies. In the relatively-uncommon case that your TV prefers one or the other, you can of course force it. All flat-panel TVs will convert YCC to RGB internally before display, but some TVs do a bad job of it, in which case RGB may be the better option.

#8 Posted by lockjaw333 (1741 posts) -

With regard to Color Mode, in general Auto is the best choice. This will cause the Xbox 360 to output RGB for games and downloaded videos, and YCC for DVD movies. In the relatively-uncommon case that your TV prefers one or the other, you can of course force it. All flat-panel TVs will convert YCC to RGB internally before display, but some TVs do a bad job of it, in which case RGB may be the better option.

UnnDunn
Correct.
#9 Posted by lockjaw333 (1741 posts) -
[QUOTE="lockjaw333"]Actually, its not dependent on the TV. It has everything to do with your grayscale settings. If you have a Samsung LCD, using HDMI with HDMI Black Level set to "Low", you'd want to use the "Standard" setting on your Xbox 360. If HDMI Black Level is set to "High", you want to use "Expanded". This thread does a pretty good job of explaining it: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=988390WiiRocks66
What if I have an LG?

I'm not familiar with LG TVs, but the language should be similar. There should be a setting like HDMI black level somewhere in your settings.
#10 Posted by donalbane (16370 posts) -

Buy a calibration disc and put it in the xbox and calibrate. Inexpensive and easy to understand.

GTR12
You didn't read the original post. I have 2 of them. (3 if you count the THX calibrator on my Star Wars DVD.)
#11 Posted by donalbane (16370 posts) -
1. If you are using HDMI, you're going to want to select "Standard". This settings has to do with the grayscale setting for the particular source. Without getting too into detail here, VGA uses a full grayscale where a value of 0 is black, so "Expanded" is the proper setting. HDMI works off of typical video black, which would be a value of 16. Again I don't want to get too in depth, but you can sort of see what this means if you switch between the two settings when using HDMI and VGA. In short, use "Standard" 2. When you say "color mode", I'm assuming you mean the settings in the Xbox 360's Display Settings. If you have an LCD tv you have an RGB display device, so you should use the "RGB" setting. Leaving it an AUTO is fine too, since the Xbox 360 uses RGB by default (which matches your display device). 3. For videophiles (including myself), DVE is more often than not considered the calibraton DVD of choice. The Bungie calibrator works fine too (I tested it and got similar settings to what I did with DVE), although DVE will allow you to hone in on the correct Brightness (black level) setting with its excellent pluge patterns. Assuming you're using the Xbox 360 to run either calibrator, you should come out with similar values, although I would definitely recommend DVE over the Bungie calibrator. The Bungie calibrator is working off of the same standards for setting brightness, contrast, and color saturation/tint, so it shouldnt do a bad job either. The most important advice I can give you if swtiching from VGA to HDMI is to make you disable Sharpness and Edge Enhancement. These functions are unavailable (grayed out) with VGA, and they are artificial enhancements that are unecessary, especially with high definition 1080p content like games. Also, make sure you are getting 1:1 pixel mapping. If your TV has a "just scan" option or "pixel to pixel" or whatever, use that instead of 16:9.lockjaw333
I really appreciate the detailed answer. My problem is that when I calibrate black levels correctly and load up some games (Killzone 2 on PS3, for instance), under the brightness/gamma adjusmtment settings in the game, the reference pattern (A dark grey helghast symbol) is totally invisible at any gamma level. So I have to adjust brightness up a notch or two. It seems that games. MGS4 has a grey scale pattern that shows some black clipping that DVE didn't have issues with. So I compromised. Honestly, I think it looks best with the brightness slighly above what DVE suggests. Are there 2 ideal settings? (One for games and one for movies?) That seems to be the case in my situation. Maybe I'll keep tinkering and find a setting that satisfied both DVE and the in game brightness references.
#12 Posted by lockjaw333 (1741 posts) -
The Brightness value you are getting with DVE (where below black material is just being clipped) should be the correct value for your set. There are a few reasons why you would have trouble resolving shadow detail (like the slight above-black patterns on video game brightness checks), but its probably due to improper gamma. Again without getting too complicated, gamma is sort of how quickly the TV "accelerates" from dark to light, so if your TV has improper gamma, it could be rising out of black too slowly, causing some black crush, which would make it hard to decipher details in near-black areas. I know exactly what you mean, I had the same issues after calibrating with DVE (the origami pattern against the black background in the Heavy Rain test pattern comes to mind). You can either sacrifice a little shadow detail for lower blacks (keep the Brightness the same), or raise the Brightness a bit in order to resolve the near-black detail. Also if your TV has a Gamma setting, you can try to adjust it to better resolve shadow detail (+ Gamma, or a lower value, would be the direction you want to go), but this could desaturate colors and cause issues in the higher intensity material- in short its hard to adjust Gamma meaningfully if you don't have the proper equipment. I myself took the same route as you, raising Brightness slightly to accommodate. It could also be an issue with the game itself, as there are no real "standards" used in game development (a point of much debate throughout the internet- should they be using standards??). I would just make sure you are happy with the picture and can see everything you want to see, so if raising the Brightness slightly does the trick, you arent really doing anything bad by doing that. Hope that helps :)
#13 Posted by donalbane (16370 posts) -

The Brightness value you are getting with DVE (where below black material is just being clipped) should be the correct value for your set. There are a few reasons why you would have trouble resolving shadow detail (like the slight above-black patterns on video game brightness checks), but its probably due to improper gamma. Again without getting too complicated, gamma is sort of how quickly the TV "accelerates" from dark to light, so if your TV has improper gamma, it could be rising out of black too slowly, causing some black crush, which would make it hard to decipher details in near-black areas. I know exactly what you mean, I had the same issues after calibrating with DVE (the origami pattern against the black background in the Heavy Rain test pattern comes to mind). You can either sacrifice a little shadow detail for lower blacks (keep the Brightness the same), or raise the Brightness a bit in order to resolve the near-black detail. Also if your TV has a Gamma setting, you can try to adjust it to better resolve shadow detail (+ Gamma, or a lower value, would be the direction you want to go), but this could desaturate colors and cause issues in the higher intensity material- in short its hard to adjust Gamma meaningfully if you don't have the proper equipment. I myself took the same route as you, raising Brightness slightly to accommodate. It could also be an issue with the game itself, as there are no real "standards" used in game development (a point of much debate throughout the internet- should they be using standards??). I would just make sure you are happy with the picture and can see everything you want to see, so if raising the Brightness slightly does the trick, you arent really doing anything bad by doing that. Hope that helps :)lockjaw333

Sadly I have no gamma adjustment on my Westinghouse, but it's nice to know I'm not alone with my black crush issue. You've been extremely helpful, Lockjaw. I've noticed that the ideal brightness settings for games = 47, and movies = 45. Perhaps I'll leave it at 46 until I create a remote control macro that adjusts between the two modes (I have a Harmony remote so that would be not too hard.) I'll be getting a Panasonic 3D plasma next year, though, and I'm sure that will have all the calibration fixin's.

I feel really nerdy saying this, but I can't wait to get that new TV home and calibrate the hell out of it lol.