A few months ago, a good friend of the Tao, Tom Parish, turned me on to what SpectraCal has been doing to offer an affordable Testing system. After further research, it turned out Tom had given me excellent advice.
SpectraCal has re-priced each of the three Display Testing components
to meet the specific need of an affordable, reliable system to answer the question:
Is it time to re-calibrate my reference monitor?
Let's break down SpectraCal's solution:
1. The Meter: SpectraCal's C6 Color Analyzer
The C6 meter was a two-year collaboration between X-Rite and SpectraCal to create a very accurate sub-$1,000 meter solution. Priced just under $700US, it can profile 10-bit displays at much higher precision than consumer meters and at a reasonable price. This meter does the job we need it to do.
(Aside: You can read more about this analyzer here. Also read
how it compares to the consumer X-Rite i1Display analyzer here.)
Meters are only one part of our 3-part Testing Formula. Hardware Pattern Generators, the next ingredient, are very expensive!
Aware of this problem, SpectraCal recently released a solution that is very very cool...
2. VirtualForge: A SOFTWARE Pattern Generator
Radically reducing the cost of this ingredient in our Formula, SpectraCal recently released Virtual Forge for Mac. It's a $500 Mac-based software product replacing SpectraCal's own $4,000 hardware pattern generator, the VideoForge. That's an 85% price reduction!
wrote this quick blog post about VirtualForge on the Tao's sister site, MixingLight.com)
From SpectraCal's website: "Connect the VirtualForge app to CalMAN video calibration software over the network and the right pattern will automatically appear on screen when you need it. This is the perfect tool for any broadcast, production, or post-production professional who needs to check, evaluate, calibrate, and/or profile their facility's monitors and projectors."
All you need is a Mac that can output SDI
(add an AJA T-Tap or BlackMagic UltraStudio for Thunderbolt on a laptop) and you've got yourself an affordable, professional pattern generator at a price never seen for these devices.
3. CalMAN Color Checker: Testing Software (for peace of mind)
An affordable Meter and Pattern Generator aren't enough if the software to analyze this data is several thousands of dollars.
And since we're leaving the calibration to professionals, we don't need to overpay for calibration software... we just want to pay for software that can tell us if our displays are accurate (or not).
Guess what? SpectraCal has us covered with a 'lite' version of their CalMAN line of calibration software, named CalMAN Color Checker.
Standalone, CalMAN Color Checker is a $400 solution that doesn't offer any calibration features but DOES test and let us know if our displays are in need of calibration.