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This is a review about Huey, an inexpensive ($89.00 US) monitor calibration device by Pantone.

When it comes to lighting and texturing, I believe that a well calibrated monitor is a requirement. Otherwise, any effort to balance lights and color is more or less a shot in the dark.

I've worked in the e-Learning and multimedia industry as both a designer and project manager for 13 years and I know that when everybody have differently calibrated monitors, it is very difficult for a team of artists to work on the same project. One artist would produce darker graphics while the next one would produce brighter graphics because each artist would see different colors on theyr own monitors.

In those times Macintosh monitors all had the same very specific color settings and so it was the computer of choice for doing graphics work because at least this guaranteed that everybody was more or less seeing the same colors and contrasts on their screen. But when we entered a PC system in the loop, all hell broke loose.

In the PC world, there is no such thing as a standardized monitor setting. Monitors are just not calibrated by default. And in those days, there was no affordable devices that could allow to calibrate the PC monitors. Several of those cheapest monitors just couldn't be calibrated anyway. Ther exist several gamma charts that will allow some form of calibration but nothing very precise. With experience, though, one can get a well enough calibrated monitor. But for the inexperienced, this calibration thing looks more like black magic.

BTW, today Macintosh computers are more or less in the same situations as the PC concerning color calibration since Apple let go with enforced software / hardware monitor calibration with OSX several years ago.

Thanks to Pantone, we now have an inexpensive and automatic solution in the form of the Huey. I just bought one and installed it today. This little device is pluged in a USB port and is first used to analyse the colorimetry of the monitor and later, sits on the desk, picking the ambiant color in the room and readjusts the monitor calibration on the fly. Really neat.

I installed the Huey on my laptop where I have a secondary high quality Benq 21" LCD monitor connected. Since the primary laptop screen is a cheap isotropic LCD screen, I have no hope of getting it calibrated.

I had to resort to some dual monitor setup tricks to get the Huey to calibrate the secondary monitor because the Huey will only display the test colorimetry procedure on the primary monitor. I just turned dual monitor OFF for a while and used the Fn-monitor key to switch the display to the secondary monitor instead on to the laptop screen. There I could perform the colorimetric calibration.

Once this procedure was completed, I could turn the monitor setings back to its dual configuration. When I checked in the MS Color Monitoring control pannel applet, I could see that it is using the Huey profile for the Benq monitor. When I change lighting condition in my workroom, I can see that both monitors are being readjusted though. But I don't really care for the laptop screen calibration. What I really care is the secondary monitor calibration. And this is working great.

I would recomment this little device to anyone serious about color.

For a more detailed step-by-step review of the procedure of using the Huey as well as appraisal, see this page at Northlight Images.
Nice info - thanks Yves.

I also need a new monitor. I am currently using 19" CRT and was considering a LCD - but I was concerned about calibration. Sounds like this Huey handles that.

Should I stick with a CRT? or do you find your Benq (not famuiliar with it) consistent enough?

Actually I'm not familiar with what's happening with monitors (pricing, availability, quality) at all today, crt or otherwise. E.g. Any advice on what should I look for in LCD quality?

My cats would be thrilled - more room for them to walk behind and probably knock over (Hmmm...I wonder...Does the Huey take into account density of cat hair on the screen?)
QUOTE(NancyGormezano @ Nov 9 2006, 01:12 PM) *

Should I stick with a CRT? or do you find your Benq (not famuiliar with it) consistent enough?
My Benq LCD is the best monitor I had to date. I will not go back to CRT. I've got a lot of CRTs (I have 7 monitor surrounding me in my work room) that are slowly dying and I will replace them with LCD eventually.

Actually I'm not familiar with what's happening with monitors (pricing, availability, quality) at all today, crt or otherwise. E.g. Any advice on what should I look for in LCD quality?
I will come back on thsi with more technical info. There are new LCD technologies that are cool.

My cats would be thrilled - more room for them to walk behind and probably knock over (Hmmm...I wonder...Does the Huey take into account density of cat hair on the screen?)
Actually yes. Sort of. The Huey comes with a set of moist towels in sealed envelopes so you can clean your monitor face and a micro-chamois to dry it up.
I just ordered mine.. we'll see how it works. Thanks for the info Yves, I've been looking for a colorimeter under $100.00 for years now and couldn't find one worth the money. If pantones making it, you know its good.

We'll see how it goes.
I've got mine on the way too!
Now how do we get images created on our calibrated monitors to look good on the majority of user's monitors that are not calibrated?

My one experience with making images on a monitor that was gamma correct resulted in images that were too dark for almost everyone else.
I see problems coming up when posting lighting- and texturing-wips & setups. As there's no "final" art director the discussion will easily drift to "hmm.. it's to dark" or "the colors are to saturated" while on the other side they say "no, you just don't see the right colors" and "before argueing: is your monitor calibrated?!".

QUOTE(robcat2075 @ Nov 10 2006, 12:19 AM) *

Now how do we get images created on our calibrated monitors to look good on the majority of user's monitors that are not calibrated?

This is an important issue. Trying to produce images that will look the same on everyone elses monitor is obviously unsolvable. And that is not the point.

The point is without a common ground from which images can be compared by the people producing the content, discussions about color, contrast, darkness or brightness of images never ends and are never conclusive. Obviously, there is little point discussing color issues between ourselves, if we all have widely varying color settings on our monitors. And to complexify the issue further, contrary to a studio situation where I could just walk to your workstation to see what you actually see, in an on-line team situation, there is no way I can see what you see. The only way to resolve this issue is to have a common ground for monitor calibration. Then we can discuss color issues.

We are not going to discuss color issues with the end viewer. It is the responsibility of each end viewer to ensure that their monitor suits them. Note I didn't write it is their responsibility to have a calibrated monitor. What I mean, is if someone is using a non calibrated monitor, and sees our images too dark, then there is a good chance that this person will also see all images displayed on this monitor, too dark. We cannot control what the end viewer sees but at least we can control what we see.

Apart from that, there exist a standard for producing color for display on monitor. This standard is called sRGB. It is essentially a slightly corrected monitor. A non gamma corrected monitor have a gamma of around 2.5 and the sRGB assumes a gamma of 2.2. Photos produced from digital cameras are sRGB compliant which means they are ready to be displayed almost correctly on a non-gamma corrected monitor. In other word, the current standard is no monitor calibration. If we want to comply to that, we should also correct our images with a gamma of 2.2 or whatever we decide will look good on a non-corrected monitor. That is entirely our choice. But even there, we need to have a common ground from which to judge.

Not too surprisingly, the default "Web and Photos" setting of the Huey is precisely for a gamma of 2.2.
QUOTE(DeeJay @ Nov 10 2006, 12:47 AM) *

"hmm.. it's to dark" or "the colors are to saturated" while on the other side they say "no, you just don't see the right colors" and "before argueing: is your monitor calibrated?!".

Exactly. Let's put it this way: If I have a calibrated monitor and I'm happy with the color balance in my image and you come to me and tell me it is too dark and you don't have a calibrated monitor. How can I decide? After all, I know I can count on my monitor. I know what I see but I have no idea what you see.
I have been looking into color calibration and the more I look, the more my head spins.

There are a number of good cheap calibrators - the Pantone is just one of them.

The huge problem is that all colorometers are just relative units - they cannot accurately set any monitor without some kind of reference calibration.

If you have many monitors of the same kind, they can calibrate them all so they are behaving the same.

They can also help accurately calibrating Gamma, since that is a purely relative measurement.

Here is the problem. You have three different kinds of monitors all set to produce 100% red on the screens. Lets say they have been calibrated somehow so each one is emitting exactly the same red light energy.

If you measure the amount of red using a colorometer, it might give a reading of , say, 1.0 for monitor 1, 0.9 for monitor 2 and 0.8 for monitor three. Is the colorometer faulty? - no this is how it should work. Each monitor uses slightly different wavelength red, and a colorometer is meant to give a different reading for each different red frequency.

So how are colorometers used professionally? Usually this way. First you buy a whole stack of exactly the same kind of monitors for your company. Then every six months or so, you send a monitor and your colorimeter to a color lab who has a whole lot of massively expensive gear like acurate spectrometer photometers and so on. They will produce a calibration matrix that will correct your colorometer with that one type of monitor. The matrix cannot be just calibrating the R, G and B chanels by themselves - they also have to determine what color tone the monitor produces when, say you mix 50% red and 50% green and 0% blue. You cannot know the color until it is measured.

Once you have this calibration matrix, the colorometer can now calibrate with great accuracy, that one type of monitor.

This is a common way many big animation studios work (some probably even have their own color labs with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of light measuring gear).

Using a colorometer without specific calibration for the models of monitors you are using could produce good results (you could be lucky) or it could produce worse results then the factory calibration would have produced. If you use the cheap colorometers to calibrate six different types of monitors, you will almost certainly end up with six monitors that do not quite match in color.

Why I am saying this is that if you rely on a cheap calibrator, it might make you think your screen colors are correct when they are not. You might end up being "that studio that produces all that stuff with the green tint".

As I said, Gamma is a different issue, and cheap colorometers are capable of ensuring your work has correct tonal variation.

So what is the solution?

This is the best solution I can think of for the moment. If you know a place with a calibrated monitor, take your laptop there and after giving the laptop half an hor to warm up, put it beside the calibrated monitor and adjust your notebook's color purely by eye ( not by any measuring devices) till your notebook's white exactly matches the calibrated monitors white. Your eye is not that bad at seeing the tone differences in white in a side-by-side comparison.

Now back at home/work, line up each different model of monitor that needs calibration and adjust them until the white color on each of them exacty matches the white color of your notebook.

When this is done, measure the colorimeter reading of each monitor and the reading numbers will become the calibrated "White" color when you use the colorometer to calibrate each monitor. Each different type of monitor will need to be calibrated with different numbers for "white". Intermediate color tones will not match exactly between the differnt monitors, but hopefully they will be close enough to live with.

There are lots of flaws with this process but it is probably the best you can do cheaply.

Also, bear in mind that all monitors that will be connected to a PC by an analog cable must be calibrated on the PC it will be used with - calibrating an analog monitor without its PC is worse then useless because you are actually calibrating the monitor/graphics card combination.

Digital monitors connected to a PC with a digital cable can be tested away from its normal PC since the PC has no influence on the colors the monitor produces.

Technically, the cheap colorometers are often extremely good devices. The cheap ones tend to come with highly automatic software that makes you think that calibration is a simple process.

The same companies sell more expensive calibrators and there will not be much different in the hardware (often identical), but they will have better software that allows you to feed in calibration matrices along with many other extra software features. The quality of the software sets the price for colorometers.

Now if anyone has a better suggestion, I would love to hear it. The idea of spend huge hours to get the color absolute perfect in a production, only to discover that your monitor calibration was way out is a major nightmare.

How about calibrating scanners and printers? Now that is a totally different story. Just get the open-source program LProf from

and buy a $10 "R1" calibrated color target from Wolf Faust at

and you can now produce very accurate and comprehensive color profiles automatially.

Richard Harrowell.
Wow! Thanks Richard for all this usefull information.

You are absolutely right. Cheap calibrators like the Huey are not going to compete with large calibration labs in term of absolute precision. That's a fact.

Indeed, large studios with millions of budget for working on a feature film will even go to the extent of setting their own calibration lab. There is an absolute necessity for this because in the end, everything will eventually be composited together and the colors must match perfectly. This is even exacerbated by the fact that they tend to do a lot of compositing even on a per frame basis. And they will also go to the extent of controling the ambiant lighting in the workplace too.

Unfortunately, I don't have such a budget and I don't know a calibration lab nearby, let alone one that will just let me in with my laptop and let me sit next to one of their reference monitor to calibrate mine.

Basically, I don't have the requirements of a studio and I don't need that precision. I only need a calibration procedure that will give me a correct gamma plus some form of white balancing. I found that the Huey is doing that decently with the precision that suits my requirements. It is not prefectly precise but it is still way better to have a monitor calibrated with the Huey than not calibrated at all. I posted this thread on the TWO lighting forum because I believe that we should at least have a minimum common ground from which we can discuss colors, contrasts etc. The Huey just brings the displays we use nearer to this common ground than not calibrating at all.
Thanks as well Richard,

I'm like Yves. I don't really care how much like his monitor mine is. What I want is a good tool to keep my monitor steady so that when I work.. its relatively the same. I've struggled with this for a long time. My office gets tons of sunlight during the day and has a totally different setting at night. Factor in twilight and morning and I average about 4 different lighting conditions per day.

I've tried forever to calibrate my kickbutt printer to my monitor, but one factor is that even the prints look different depending on the light you see them in. At least now, hopefully, what I see on my monitor won't be as different as it was before. That'll go a long way toward simplifying my ambient lighting monitor color issues.

Thanks also for the links to the open source stuff. Even though it doesn't say it does printer ICC, I might find a use for it still.
Given the natue of the light coming from the new LCD screens and Video projectors, there is every reason to think that the cheap colorometers will be quite stable, so they will ensure that your color today is the same as it was a month ago and two months ago - that is very valuable.

The exact frequency of the R, G and B colors is set by the phosphors or gases used in the light source and this frequency is unlikely to change at all. This means for one monitor, the colorometer does not have to try and adapt for changing RGB frequencies - it only has to worry about the level of each, and I would expect even a cheap device to stay within about 1% accuracy. You don't have to worry about how well a cheap colorometer conforms to the standard colorometer CIE 1931 response curves. (It is a very weird standard - the blue sensor on a colorometer is required to respond to both blue and red light.)

Colin, you are right about the problems of printing. The thing is that once you have a calibrated scanner, you can use it to measure the colors from the printer. A major problem is that lots of scanners and printers have overblown drivers that try and automatically optimise the color all the time, and if you are doing calibration, you want extremely simple drivers that do not adjust for any reason.

I gather the standard for commercial printing companies is to work with all their monitors set at a low color temperature (I think it is 5000 deg Kelvin). They use the same lighting to evaluate the prints and they get an excellent match this way.

Animation companies tend to use 5000 degrees room lighting with the walls painted a neutral grey and the monitors are set to to 6500 deg Kelvin. This means that a calibrated print will never match the colors on a calibrated monitor.

Richard Harrowell.
I just calibrated all of my monitors using the Huey--dramatic difference!
Paul Forwood
Ah, found this thread!

I just wondered why typing "monitor" into the search engine doesn't find this thread. The title says "Monitor Calibration"! huh.gif
Oh, well...
The reason that I was looking for this information is because I can't see the any difference between the background for the horizontal, numerical scale on the timeline and the "range" colour, when viewed on an LCD monitor. It is absolutely fine on a CRT monitor but the range marker is impossible to see on my LCD monitor. Any chance we could have one of these colours added to the "Customize/Appearance" options? wink.gif
Even if you don't use a monitor calibration device, you should be able to get the required contrast back by adjusting the monitor's own "contrast" and "brightness" controls. Some older or cheap LCD monitors are so anisotropic that attempting to calibrate them is totally hopeless anyway.
Paul Forwood
Thanks, Yves.
It is just one of Dell's cheaper LCDs. I thought that it was pretty good until I started making comparisons with my CRT.
Even with contrast at 100% there is barely any difference between the grey and white, on the timeline scale, when I run through the full range of brightness settings. sad.gif

The timeline seems to be a special case:
I was trying to view the "range" marker in the timeline, while setting up the brightness and contrast in the "Catalyst Centre" app that comes with this PC, and just noticed that when the A:M window loses focus the range marker is removed. I may get something useable yet! smile.gif
If you have a "Gamma" adjustment in your "Catalyst Center" you may get better results by adjusting it instead of adjusting the contrast and brightness.
Paul Forwood
Yes. By turning "Gamma" down to .8, brightness up and contrast down I can now discern the difference between the grey and white. Images look darker but my eyes can adapt to that. wink.gif

Thanks again, Yves!
Keep in mind that if you have difficulty seeing that kind of shade differences in A:M interface on this monitor, be aware that the model colors, material and decal colors, quick, progressive and final render colors, etc are probably quite off too.
Paul Forwood
Yes. I will restrict all my colour work to my CRT.
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