What to do if your client doesn’t trust any of your reference displays?

May 9, 2019

Team Mixing Light tackles a member's question on how to handle a DP who doesn't trust any monitor in a facility?


From The MailBag Episode 69

How To Handle A DP Or Client That Doesn’t Trust Any Monitor In The Facility?

To paraphrase J.R.R. Tolkien, as colorists we often hope that one day there will be ‘One monitor to rule them all’. Meaning wouldn’t it be great if everyone in the world viewed content on the same monitor so there was never any variance how content looks display to display.

This will probably never happen, and even if it did people would probably STILL perceive differences display to display! This week we got a question from Mixing Light member Charles who’s been wondering how to handle a DoP who finds problems with content on every display they look at:

We’ve had a DoP that’s been in our shop a lot who seemingly doesn’t trust any monitor in the facility.  He bounces from room to room checking out his content on each monitor in those rooms, and giving feedback and finding different things he’s unhappy with.  Is he just OCD? Is this something that you guys have faced?  All of the monitors match and all are in spec – .5 deltaE, so really well calibrated.  Any ideas on how to handle this situation?


Charles – whatever you do don’t take Dan’s suggestion at the start of the MailBag to kill them!  He was joking (we think!) – you need happy clients.

We’re sorry that you’re going through this, its something that the three of us have experienced and have some opinions about. So, in this installment of From The Mailbag, we discuss the case of DoP who doesn’t trust/find problems with every monitor he or she looks at plus some related issues we’ve encountered over the years.

Have A Question For Team Mixing Light?

Remember, if you have questions that you’d like to get an opinion on please use the contact form.

Your questions can be aesthetic, technical or even client related. We’d love to hear from you, and your question might make future episodes of From The MailBag.

Enjoy the MailBag!


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Homepage Forums What to do if your client doesn’t trust any of your reference displays?

  • Marc Wielage

    God, I could go on for an hour about this problem. Quick story: I know of a case where one of the biggest films ever made finished the theatrical sessions and moved into home video. The director immediately demanded that he wanted to know “what will this look like in the real world?” After a heated discussion, the facility reluctantly brought in about a dozen “average TV sets” and put them in a room down the hall, which they christened “Best Buy.” Staff engineers frantically tweaked the displays for days to get them “Rec709-ish.” On the big day, the director came in with a note pad as they played the billion-dollar film for him. He made little notes on each one, pausing every few moments. Finally, Mr. A-List went back to the final color room with the BVM and had the colorist make little eensy-teensy changes… but he was ultimately happy. I think the point there was he just wanted the security that his film had a fighting chance of looking “similar” on many different displays. It’s better to do that than to try to lecture a filmmaker on what calibration is and why their idea may be futile (even if that’s true).

  • R Neil Haugen

    SO many conversations about this at NAB 2019. And … yea, I’ve got an editor I’m grading a job for that is working on a probably generic Mac P3. He’s there, I’m here, different states even … I’m Rec,709 calibrated/profiled/ deltaE all under the 2.3 line … and he’s “just not seeing it …”. And naturally, having trouble with the concept there can be “that much difference just cause a monitor isn’t perfect … “. Fun is ensuing. “I know your the expert, but … ” … yea.

  • Evan A

    Great insight! There was some talk about using a iPad Pro and streaming to it for approvals. Can we get more info about this?

  • charles l

    Had a lot of fun listening to you guys!!!

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