I recently upgrade my video card to an ATI Radeon HD 7750 and started using my desktop as an HTPC. The problem I am having is that I can't get video to look right on my Samsung ln40b650 lcd tv. I primarily watch .mp4 and xvid movies using VLC media player on my PC and the main problem I am having is that there is not enough contrast in the videos when I watch them on my HDTV. My eyes are strained watching the .mp4 and xvid movies on my tv and it is because I can't get enough contrast in the videos. I have tried numerous things. I have used the AVS HD 709 .mp4 video calibration files on AVS forum and they helped make the colors look better in the video and I did calibrate the contrast and brightness on my tv using these videos but it still didn't help improve the contrast that much. I have tried using RGB output (limited and full) for the video and it actually does pretty much solve the lack of contrast problem but the colors in the video look terrible on my TV and hurt my eyes with RGB output. The video looks best on my TV with the output set to ycbcr 4:4:4 (limited range) but then the contrast is not right. Even if I increase the contrast and brightness on my tv it doesn't help. I am guessing I have to do something on my PC to get the contrast right in video on my HDTV. My samsung tv has several different picture options and the "movie" setting looks the best. I watch the videos in a dark room with the lights off. I know that there is nothing wrong with my TV because I watch dvds and blu-rays on my tv using a ps3 and they look great. There is plenty of contrast and the dvds and blu-rays look great when played on my ps3.
In addition to doing the above, using the ATI catalyst control center software I have set it to use video player settings as they look best. I have used preset video settings in the catalyst control center such as "theater" and they actually improve the contrast but then the colors look like crap and hurt my eyes. I have turned off all video enhancements in the catalyst control center. I have also experimented using the color calibration tool in windows 7 and it made videos look worse so I switched the color settings back to default. The catalyst control center also has a video gamma control that can be adjusted but I experimented turning the video gamma up and down and it didn't really help so I have just disabled the video gamma control as videos seem to look better with it disabled.
What are some other things I could try to calibrate video on my PC for my htpc. Is there other software I could use or some sort of calibration device I could buy. My friend has an eyeone display 2 colorometer but I have heard that it is only good for calibrating desktop color and is not good for video. Is there a colorometer that is better for video? What do you guys think.
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
ATI Radeon HD 7750
Intel core 2 quad q8300 2.5 GHz
4 gb ram
Samsung ln40b650 HDTV
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Edit: I must have skimmed over your post too quickly as I just realized you've tried changing output levels using the video card, but since I typed it all.....
It sounds like a levels issue. PCs use a wider range of luminance levels than TVs (and normal video). So when you watch video on a PC monitor it can also look "washed out" if the "TV Levels" aren't expanded to "PC Levels" on playback.
I don't know anything about VLC and what it does. MPC-HC using the EVR renderer lets you choose which levels to use.
My Samsung TV (it's a Plasma but it seems like all Samsung TVs have similar settings), gives me the option to select the appropriate input level which is universal for each preset..... Standard, Movie, and the really horrible one, whatever they call it.... Dynamic. I actually can't remember for certain, but I think it can only be changed when using the dedicated HDMI/PC input (HDMI #1, I think). The rest of the HDMI inputs might have a fixed input level. I can't remember.
Anyway... under Picture Options there's a setting called "HDMI Black Level" which is universal for each preset (Standard, Movie etc). Counter-unintuitively, when it's set to "Normal" the TV expects the input to be PC Levels. When its set to "Low" the TV expects the input to be TV levels.
Me.... I have the TV set to expect PC levels (HDMI Black Level on Normal), as Windows itself uses PC levels, while setting the video card to output PC levels for video. That way Windows looks normal and the video levels should always be correct regardless of the player being used. If you're playing video with black borders (ie a DVD or Bluray etc) and those black borders look dark grey, then there's probably a levels mismatch between the PC and TV. Likewise if the borders are black, but the picture is too dark... levels mismatch again.
My method for adjusting the TV:
Select the "Movie" preset and reset it.
Check the HDMI Black Level is correct.
Disable all the picture enhancing crap (TV and video card).
Turn the colour down a fair bit (it's always too much).
Reduce the "sharpness" a fair bit.
Make sure the contrast is at maximum or close to maximum (I use 95).
Play a video with hard-coded black bars.
Turn brightness right down.
Get one eye as close to the screen as you can in an area where the black bars are.
Slowly increase the brightness until the first little white dancing pixels appear in the area which should be black.
Reduce the brightness just enough to get rid of those dancing pixels.
Adjust the colour again if need be.
There's also a setting under Picture Options called "Colour Tone" or something similar. I use "Warm 1" as "Standard" is too harsh for me.
I also crank up the "Cell Light" option a bit before doing the above otherwise the picture's too dark for me. The LCD would probably have a setting called "Backlight" instead.
Failing all of that, have you tried another player instead of VLC. Not that it's likely to be, but just in case....
Last edited by hello_hello; 22nd Aug 2013 at 01:10.
With my TV each preset can be configured independently for each input. ie The movie preset can be used each time but the settings such as brightness and contrast can be different. It seems though, if the settings are identical the picture should look the same. For instance I can't tell the difference between using the Bluray player or PC... at least in terms of picture calibration.... if all the settings are the same.
So if you like the PS3's picture, and you make note of all the settings the TV uses, then replicate them after switching the input to the PC, there shouldn't be any difference (as long as the levels match). You could probably confirm that by replicating the settings, then connecting the PS3 to the input normally used by the PC. The picture shouldn't change.
If the PC looks quite different though, maybe that'd point to the problem being on the PC side of setup. What, I'm not sure. You don't have any of VLC's picture altering stuff enabled do you? (Tools/Effects and Filters)
Thanks for the help hello_hello. I did not know that I could set the tv to expect pc levels with hdmi black level set to normal. I was able to set the hdmi black level to normal but my video card had to be set to output in RGB format because using the YCbCr format, my tv did not allow me to change the hdmi black level. I chose to output using RGB limited (16-235) because using RGB full and setting hdmi black level to normal, videos looked terrible on my tv. I also used the ATI catalyst control center to set the dynamic range of the video to limited as well (16-235). Using these two options, the video looks quite a bit better than it has before. The colors look very good and the contrast does appear to be better with videos on my tv. I experimented with color temperature settings on my tv and I prefer the "normal" temperature setting instead of the "warm" settings. I do still think the contrast could be improved a little more in videos and I am still considering getting a colorimeter. I am just not sure what to get and if my friends eyeone display 2 will be a good option for me.
Yeah I think ultimately the video has to be converted to RGB. When the output is YCbCr, the TV expects to do it and it knows what levels to use so you don't have the option for HDMI black level. When the output is RGB though, as long as the PC/TV levels match, the end result should be the same regardless of the HDMI black level setting, so it seems odd that's not what's happening. If video looks different, maybe the video card isn't doing a good job expanding the levels, although why that'd be the case, I have no idea.
I've got a second PC hooked up to my TV using VGA (same model video card). VGA is always RGB and always uses full range levels, and with this PC outputting full range levels and HDMI black level set to normal, they look identical.
The main reason I went with using full range levels is because Windows itself does. The video card's setting for levels only effects video, not Windows. So with the TV and video card both set to 16-235, Windows itself looked a little "off" to me. Same when outputting YCbCr.
Have you tried a different media player, just to be sure?
I can't really help with colour calibration tools. Maybe someone else will come along with some advice.