Colorist Eye Health

Colorist Health – My Campaign For Eye Awareness

May 2, 2015

How much time have you spent thinking about your eyes? Dan starts a new series about health issues including eye awareness.

Are you taking as much care with your eyes as your gear?

Recently we had a brilliant discussion here on Mixing Light about new monitoring technologies like Dolby Vision (don’t worry that discussion will be released as a MailBag episode soon.)

Sure technologies like Dolby Vision deliver great new highlight rendering and peak luminance that’s insane!

But how can you work with monitors that are putting out that much light?

What are the near term and long term consequences for colorists how have to work in HDR?

What protections can be taken by colorists to protect their eyes?

It’s quite possible Dolby and other manufactures take on HDR may be the future of video for us all, but it got us (and me in particular) thinking about our eyes and how they’l be impacted by HDR and future monitor technologies.

As a group we already face health issues – like sitting too long, vitamin D deficiencies and so on.  It seems to me there is not enough talk about eye health.

First off, if you haven’t heard of or seen Dolby Vision in action please do check out the video below, it’s insanely good!


Dolby Vision from Dolby Laboratories on Vimeo.

This extra bright display technology is amazing but just think of how much strain it could put on your eyes if you sit in a dark room grading for 8-10 hours a day like I do.

This lead me to the question; how much do I take care of my eyes?

Our eyes are our money maker, so shouldn’t we really be taking better care of them?

This leads me to a new series of Insights here on Mixing Light about eye health.

Let’s dive in to Part One.

Member Content

Sorry... the rest of this content is for members only. You'll need to login or Join Now to continue (we hope you do!).

Need more information about our memberships? Click to learn more.

Membership options
Member Login

Are you using our app? For the best experience, please login using the app's launch screen


Homepage Forums Colorist Health – My Campaign For Eye Awareness

Page 1 of 2
  • Great points Dan, thanks for the insight! My recent visit resulted in some unique advice when I explained situation. My Ophthalmologist strongly recommended I stop using visine (and others that had any red eye medications) and instead recommended I use simple lubricant drops (such as Systane, from Costco). He explained the medications in them actually dry out your eyes after a few hours, forcing additional uses, cycle repeats. Switched and only use visine occasionally and my eyes do feel better for longer.

    Regarding polarization, does that have any health benefit to your eyes or just helps reduce glare?

  • Toby Tomkins

    Great write up Dan! Its a very important point!

    I believe in going outside for a short break rather than staying in the room. Yes it does take a bit of getting used to once you are back in the room, but I think the fresh air and actual daylight is a nice rest/reset for the eyes. I’m lucky enough to have a client friendly roof terrace so clients don’t mind the breaks either!

    I’m not sure about the ‘HDR will be blinding colourists’ mantra. It’s still a lot dimmer that reality (AKA outside!) and doesn’t have UVA or UVB output. There is a colourist out in LA who has been grading on a HDR monitor for over a year now testing for Dolby (I can’t remember his name) and he said that after you get used to it it doesn’t strain your eyes any more than being outside would, or at least if you were used to being outside (hence the adjustment period for a colourist!).

    I guess it’s like looking out of a window with some ND on (and I guess UVA and UVB filters..), or tint-less sunglasses. For example a 100w incandescent bulb reads as 18,000 nits, so a peak luminance of 1000 – 4000 nits (From Sony ‘EDR’ to Dolby full blown HDR) isn’t ‘that’ insane when compared to reality.

    Also usually this peak brightness is limited to a certain percentage of the screen, I heard it to be as low as 5% with some manufacturers plans.

    Also the idea of grading in ‘normal’ video space and then switching to HDR kind of defeats the point to some extent as you would then be doing a trim pass going to a larger gamut / brightness / contrast ratio, which isn’t ideal as you want to start big and trim to small.

    I’m a big fan of what Dolby are doing with HDR and I think it will form a part of the future for consumers. I also think that we as colourists will need to adapt to embracing it for our main deliverable at some point in the future, with the other colour spaces being delivered from a mixture of the automated Dolby processing to SDR and a trim pass by us. It’s a shame that the deliverables are growing but its also good that Dolby are thinking about the actual implementation of the technology on the consumer end, scaling the HDR signal appropriately for each specific displays capabilities. That is huge!

    I love the idea of mastering in a HDR wide gamut space in the future because it means that in the future (maybe once we are gone), the work we did will still look good on the displays/projectors of the future, which I think inevitably will be wide gamut and HDR. It simply ‘looks good’ to consumers!

    Its very exciting times!

    I better go now as looking at this 100 nit white screen is killing my eyes! (-;

  • About bias lighting: could you give some examples of what is commonly used by colorists when they are setting up their grading room? In Patrick’s insights we can see the light in the tiny space between his screen and the wall, I’m also wondering what he’s using. Thanks.

  • RobbieCarman

    Hey Christophe – the most important thing is behind monitoring or in a general sense in your ‘surround’ i.e. your field of view but essentially behind monitoring. There are a couple schools of thought some like more diffused lighting – on the floor diffused up kind of as a glow on behind the monitors. Others – myself included have bias lighting mounted behind the monitor and diffused on the wall. I’ll take some photos to share.

    I’ve been using cinema quest products for years. They’re a home theater company but have moved steadily in the pro market. You can find them at I use their Ideal Lume Pro products. I think Pat is using the panel lights. Its all high CRI value D65 lighting.

  • RobbieCarman

    Toby – You make some great points. I’ll let Dan chime in as well but I wanted to respond cause I’ve been thinking a lot this stuff too.

    Love the idea of the idea of leaving the suite for a walk outside. Just rinse and repeat on the acclimatization as dan mentions.

    A few points on the HDR stuff.

    I sort of agree with you saying that but I think there is something to be said for the localization (think lightbulb as you mention) of a point source like a monitor vs actually bing outside where clearly the intensity is more diffused for the most part.

    The HDR plans are obviously up in the air but I know from being at the canon booth – they said many times the ‘entire’ monitor is capable of that light output. I think the localized levels make more sense and would gel more with your general attitude of HDR. But 4000-5000 nits of the entire screen is a different thing all together.

    Also Dan doesn’t mention this but one thing that plays into what your saying and no one seems to be discussing is the surround environment. 4000nits in a black box environment is MUCH different then in a daylight lit room. In my opinion the entire surround ‘standards’ would have to be evaluated.

    To be fair I suggested Dan add the question about comparing S3D workflow to HDR workflow. I’ve done a lot of S3D work over the past few years and I think its still a good analogy. If we assume that HDR work will always happen in wide gamut spaces or even ultra (everything) spaces like 2020 that I could see options on the monitors to work in the wide gamut with what I would call ‘studio’ brightness and then press a button and then your working the extended brightness range.

    At least with S3D I would just get to tired working in stereo all the time. I’d grade one eye, ripple to the other eye and do convergence, floating window passes after the base grade was put down.

    Agree exiting times and I agree with Dan – need to pay attention to our eyes more!

  • RobbieCarman

    its like blistex for your lips! Its addictive. I think this again a person to person type thing. the lubricant drops don’t do anything for me. While a drop of visine feels like my eyes just got an upgrade.

    In my opinion polarization leads to more definition and less strain. LOVE my ultra polarized Maui Jim sunglasses!

  • Marc Wielage

    Visine is bad. I went through some dry eye stuff that made long sessions agonizing. My opthamologist prescribed some drops that didn’t quite work, but after nosing around on the net, I tried a half-dozen different brands. Surprisingly the cheapest Target (cheap US discount store) eyedrops on the shelf were perfect. A couple of shots, and I’m good for the whole day. The key is the individual containers without preservatives; the eyedrops with preservatives really hurt after X hours. (I don’t deny that everybody’s eyes are different; my eyes burned like hell with Systane, so those didn’t work for me.)

    Bias/netural wall lighting is a good idea in theory, but this isn’t possible in D.I. projection situations. You can always say, “take a break every couple of hours,” but do you really want clients in a carefully-tweaked P3 14fL environment to go in a hall with blazing fluorescent lighting or go outside to daylight for a break? Believe me, they come back from those environments very confused.

    BTW, note that the HDR advocates are very quiet about potential risk for eye damage. I don’t doubt that it’s not that bad for 2 hours a day, but there are those of us who have routinely worked 10-12-14 hours a day, 5-6 days a week, for decades. I’m positive my eyes would be thoroughly fried if I had to stare at a 1000-nit monitor that long instead of a 100-nit monitor.

  • Toby Tomkins

    Thanks Robbie!

    Going back to that incandescent example, it’s also worth considering that that is hard light, whereby a monitor output is soft light, not diffused / reflected light like you mention (when compare to outside), but still not as harsh as hard light. If you imagine the 18,000 nit light bulb, then looking at it through ND4 / 0.6 the bulb would be about 4500 nits. I might give this a go to see what that looks like!

    Yeah a full screen at 4000nits would certainly be bright! Especially if coming from a full black! Whether or not this is more extreme than real life situations outside though I’m not sure. Think of driving or being on a train with low sun coming through trees etc. I agree that it might not be comfortable and might be tiring, I’m not sure that the UVA/UVB free light would ‘damage’ your eyes, but I guess over time then the strain would result to some sort of damage.

    I plan to get the Dolby HDR consumer set when it comes out this year. I’ll try and do a day on it in the suite (for something non critical) and I’ll post my finding on LGG.

    I think the comparison between S3D and HDR working methods is dangerous. The difference in your working dynamic range between 2D and 3D would be 1-2 stops (assuming you didn’t adjust the monitor/projector brightnes, and if you did adjust it to match for both 2D and 3D, then the difference would be 0 stops). With HDR the difference to SDR could be 5 stops, so that will fundamentally change how you grade the content. With that extra latitude / space, you will likely change the way highlights are handled, if not the entire midtown as well. So I don’t think you could go in and out of that difference. It would be like going from 35ftl to 14ftl but much much worse! (and that can be shocking enough already!). So from a colour perspective I don’t think we can borrow these ideas from S3D work and apply them to HDR.

    Yes indeed very exciting times!!!

  • Fantastic Robbie, this is just what I was looking for. The link you mentioned doesn’t seem to be the good one though, so I’ve tried Google and actually it is They have some install photos at (but please don’t hesitate to share yours). Thanks again.

  • Robbie Carman

    ooops. Yep sorry thats the site. FSI also re-sells them. I’ll post a pic or two of mine later today when I’m in the office

  • Robbie Carman

    Toby –

    Sorry it was late, and I was couple pints in! I could have chosen my words slightly better

    Soft is a better word then diffused for sure, my point was, that compared to the larger world they are still relatively focused sources of light. The bulb is more focused and ‘hard’ but I think you get what I’m saying.

    Yep, of course UVA/B damage is something you don’t have to worry about with the HDR displays but I guess eye strain is still a factor and i think the jury is out on strain and the long term effects of the eye.

    Your point is well taken about just being outside – but every colorist you talk to is a huge advocate of sunglasses so what does that tell you! 🙂

    I totally get you on the S3D/HDR workflow thing (we’re totally screwed if we do S3D HDR together!) All the S3D work we’ve done over the years as been for Blu-Ray & broadcast. So I never didn’t anything projection – just direct view. We did exactly what you suggest – measured the light fall off with the glasses (both active & passive) and averaged out that fall off. Then simply set two different profiles on the monitor – one working mono and one with glasses working stereo – that way grades were pretty much identical.

    I don’t think Dan nor I were saying that analogy is perfect, but I think the point is there has to be some way of reducing eye stress when working. Not sure of the best way.

    Your point about starting HDR is well taken. I can’t see content (for now anyway) living as HDR only – other standard deliverables would have to be made, so no doubt a trim pass for those would take place. But yes starting large and moving down as you suggest would be the way to go.

    Do you see where I’m coming from? I’m looking for a middle ground – working with the latest and greatest and all that has to offer but also a practical approach to the high brightness nature of that work to help our eyes.

  • Robbie Carman

    Marc –

    the visine I’ve been using and I pretty sure the CVS stuff is just the generic is the Visine pure tears

    I can’t use the redness relief ones or other such marketing. Those feel “sticky” to my eyes.

    Great point about the theater! Of course no bias light there but thats the nature of the black box approach!

  • Robbie Carman

    linked above but these are the drops that work for me –

    Marc mentioned the CVS brand – I ‘think’ thats a generic of these

  • Toby Tomkins

    Maybe we need to wear sunglasses when grading HDR (-;

    I think the gain in dynamic range will have a big impact on how we approach the look. For example the increased dynamic range in the shadows of OLED affected the way I was grading the bottom end compared to LCD, you can see more detail/nuanced differences in the shadows that you just couldn’t see with LCD (with Plasma being between the two, although plasma ‘noise’ often became a factor in the bottom end). I think the increased dynamic range of HDR displays will lead to more fidelity possible in the highlights, reducing the need for a ‘soft roll off’, but maybe not removing this wanted aesthetic (we’ve had it for decades with film…), and this will probably affect the midtones as well as a result.

    I really want to find out more about how Dolby is trying to automate the conversion to SDR, it must be a weighted scale of some sort, possibly with some soft clip in the highlights. I look forward to seeing more examples of this.

  • I do have my BRAND of chapsick, and it is addictive, point taken. 🙂 Seems I need to upgrade to polarized tho

Page 1 of 2

Log in to reply.

1,000+ Tutorials to Explore

Get full access to our entire library of over 1,100+ color tutorials for an entire week!

Start Your Test Drive!