GetGray is a hobbyist produced home theater calibration DVD. You can only buy it through internet download, as it’s a VIDEO_TS folder you burn to a DVD-R. As implied by the title, the DVD’s primary purpose is to track your digital display device’s underlying gray scale with the aid of a color measuring device like the Colorvision Spyder2 or Gretag Macbeth Eye One Pro.
GetGray has some caveats. First, it can only be used (by itself, without the aid of additional calibration discs like Avia Guide to Home Theater and Digital Video Essentials) with digital displays like LCD, DLP, LCOS, etc. It does not have the proper test screens to evaluate CRT displays (tube TVs and old and/or high-end front projectors) like needle pulse and blooming patterns. Second, since The DVD is an internet download it cannot include any color filters for primary color evaluation. The disc’s author assumes you already own a calibration disc with the included filters and even offers a photography supply to buy your own filter. Animated de-interlacing tests are the last big omission (I never like these de-interlacing torture tests, they just reveal your DVD player’s short comings, making you feel bad about your investment while your very likely not going to see any of the defects in real entertainment only viewing). (Plus, many times it is the source DVD’s fault. Last week we rented curb your enthusiasm and it has massive distracting jaggies in all the backgrounds, I believe a short coming of the source video resolution.) (Despite this aversion to these 3:2-2:2-bad-edit-low-frame-rate-anime-euro-PAL revealing test DVDs, I check the "Special Interest" shelf every time I’m in a video store for the HQV Benchmark DVD.) Oh and no audio evaluations except for a Tron Master Control-like face for lip-synch control.
GetGray‘s main drive is to create a disc that is easy to navigate when compared to both Avia and DVE (Avia‘s navigation is adequate but its gray patterns have slight color casts; DVE navigation is terrible: it makes you use the Title button on your DVD remote, torture). Get Gray has two levels of menus: big categories (Brightness and Contrast, Grayscale) and their logical test pattern groups (5% Gray Ramp, 20/80% Gray Windows). Highlight the menu item to drop into the test pattern loop, press Next Chapter and Last Chapter Skip to move within the loop and hit menu to drop back to the main navigation. Simple.
This simplicity allowed me to calibrate my Sanyo PLV-Z3 over and over again until 2:30 in the morning Sunday night (I can’t get rid of a green/yellow cast in the 90% and 100% gray windows, I’ll be back at it again tonight, I know the correct setting combo for flat grayscale and high contrast is hidden in the projector) with very few button presses on my universal remote. I found the following test signals super useful and convenient:
- 5% Gray Ramp: This test pattern is great for setting your contrast and brightness, just adjust each until the third to last bar from each end blends into the last two bars. This chart will also give you a good idea of what your display device’s grayscale controls (like RGB GAin and Offset in the Sanyo Z3) alter.
- 20/80% Gray Windows: Use these high-low gray window loops to quickly adjust the grayscale controls. You’ll be flipping between the two often tweaking the grayscale to perfection.
- 10% Gray Windows: After getting your RGB grayscale in the ballpark with the 20/80 windows, sample each 10% increment—from 0–100%—and enter them into AVS Forum member Radar’s Colorimeter spread sheet to track your D65 gray target across your 2.2 target gamma.
GetGray includes brief instructions covering each of the included signals plus some advice on calibrating and additional sources for blue filters and supplemental test discs.
Whether you’re new or experienced to calibration the following instruction manuals contain great tutorials/overviews of the process for the hobbyist or professional (with or without the software): Accucal, Smart III, Colorfacts 6 (PDF direct download).
If you own a digital front projector and have a Spyder2 or Eye One Pro you should definitely buy GetGray. It costs an affordable $25 which guarantees upgrades to all 1.0 patches (current version is 1.1 NTSC, PAL is in late beta). Show your support for the calibration hobbyist little guy and get an accurate and easy calibration too.