Colorist Podcast

Colorist Podcast Episode 011: Dave Abrams

April 14, 2017

On this installment of the Colorist Podcast, Josh talks to famed calibrator Dave Abrams of Avical about display technology, HDR & getting great calibrations


Editor’s Note:

The Colorist Podcast is an interview series produced & recorded by Mixing Light contributor Josh Petok. is a paid sponsor of the Colorist Podcast & we only republish (aggregate) the content here for our members to enjoy.

Colorist Podcast Episode 011

On this episode of the colorist podcast, we’re trying something a little different. We take a break from talking with a colorist to focus on something quite a bit more technical. Dave Abrams, monitor calibrator and owner of Avical, joins me on this episode. It’s about to get seriously geeky, and in the best possible way 🙂

Dave has been calibrating monitors for over seventeen years. He’s been through the transitions from SD to HD, tape and film to file based, and now 4K and HDR. Post facilities from all over the world rely on his expertise and knowledge of monitors to get the most consistent and accurate monitoring possible. High-end home theater owners also use his services to get great looking images at home. And seeing both sides of each situation gives him a great perspective on the industry as a whole.

On this podcast, we talk about:

  • How HDR is changing the approach to calibration
  • The differences between calibrating by the numbers and when to go with your instincts
  • The HP Dreamcolor, Eizo, and other computer monitors for color critical evaluation
  • Room lighting considerations when setting up a grading room
  • Comparing OLED, plasma, LCD monitors
  • Considerations for large size client monitors used in combination with hero monitors
  • Projects that are destined for web distribution and how to monitor for them
  • Where the future is going for monitoring and what they still are lacking






3 thoughts on “Colorist Podcast Episode 011: Dave Abrams”

  1. Ok, thanks for the podcast, but I’m still unsure of what i’m supposed to be calibrating my monitor to, or if it even requires it…
    The main question I had coming into it, was “As a editor/colorist/do it all/post production guy” running freelance, delivering to online, be it youtube, vimeo, or some other online player/distributor, jwplayer, viostream, in a 4k or 1080p resolution what specification should I be calibrating my monitor to?

    As I understand it:
    Rec 709 is the standard for HDTV.
    sRGB is the minimum acceptable standard for computer monitors, with the majority of computer monitors today able to display at least the Adobe RGB color gamut.

    Now as i’m delivering for online, and expecting majority of people to watch my online content from a computer display (or perhaps from a smart TV with access to internet) I’m imaging I’d probably want to be calibrating my monitor to sRGB and then just grade away?

    But then I get confused on how a video codec retains color information. I get this feeling that Rec 709 will be embedded or added as metadata onto a H.264 video codec. But then I think, well this probably is true, but doesn’t matter, as my monitor is calibrated to sRGB and so, i was viewing a Rec.709 color space inside of the sRGB color space of my monitor and so thats what everyone else with a sRGB monitor is going to see (the colors I graded to). So its working correctly….

    I feel confused again. Basically two main questions

    1. What is the process when delivering online only? What should my monitor be calibrated to? Is there a purpose of using a wide range gamut monitor?

    2. If then further delivering to TV, be it via DVD or such, should I be regrading with my monitor calibrated to Rec.709 (assuming it can handle it, or using a I/O blackmagic card, to a broadcast monitor or such), so that the colors are correct for what people will be seeing via TV’s? So multiple grades are having to occur per deliverable type?

    Most appreciate a response, and thanks again for the podcast.

    1. Hey Craig –

      Obviously this podcast wasn’t meant to be a how to! Dave is just one of the best in the industry and has some great insight.

      Before I address I couple of your questions – you have both calibration and workflows questions – I would suggest you start your search into calibration here on Mixing Light. We have a lot on the subject – some of it a bit old but much of it every green. I’ve pulled several Insights that you can check out below

      (will help you get some basic calibration terms under your belt, software offerings have changed a bit since this was published)

      (this is an 8 part long series Patrick did, use series navigation on right of the insight to go from this one (first in series) to the latest which is at the top)

      (this covers matching two displays using a calibration technique called perceptual match)

      Now to answer some of your specific questions:

      1. Yes every monitor should at the very least be verified and profiled (a process gone over in detail in Patrick’s series). This initial step that some also called characterization determines what your monitor is really doing vs a known standard – like Rec 709, Rec 2020, sRGB etc. My personal approach is is to profile my monitors every month to verify they haven’t drifted and are still in good working oder.

      2. The web vs tv question is one that we get all the time! Here’s the deal Rec 709 and and sRGB have virtually identical primary xy coordinates so don’t worry much about that. The difference is that its generally accepted (still some debate) that Rec 709 uses a 2.4 gamma vs web sRGB is 2.2 gamma.

      3. You’re correct that output files do get tagged with metadata like color space, but as I mentioned before there is virtually no ‘color’ difference between REC 709 and sRGB

      SO there are a few ways to approach the situation you face.

      1. If you’re doing everything web. Calibrate your monitors to sRGB/709 but use a 2.2 Gamma and be done with it .

      2. If projects you work on have both tv and web deliverable simply grade Rec709 2.4 and be done with it! Honestly it’s what I do 80% of the time. If a client comes back and says hey on YouTube it looked a little dark I’ll brighten it up universally with a track level grade.

      3. If you’re using Resolve color management you get elegantly handle this with the output color space transform – set it to sRGB/2.2 Gamma. Just keep in mind you need have your monitor match what RCM is doing for output.

      Anyway have a think on everything and watch those videos and let us know if you still have questions

      1. Thankyou for the reply, Rec709 2.4 seems to be the answer to the question! That will cover the online and DVD aspect nicely. One of the reasons I asked this question, is because i’m in the market for a new 4K monitor.

        Now that I understand that Rec709 is the standard I most wish to calibrate to, I assume I can narrow my monitor choice down to one that simply provides 100% accuracy on this standard.

        The ASUS ProArt PA329Q 32″ was a monitor I was looking at, but this seems to now be overkill as its price is probably high due to it offering a color accuracy that gets close to supporting DCI-P3 and Rec2020, of which I don’t need either?

        I would be better off just buying a PA328Q 32″ for $500 cheaper which is still 100% Rec709 accurate, just doesnt have the wider gamut capability.

        Buying a monitor really does seem to be a hard choice, there is a lot out there.

        Many thanks for the links I will watch them all.

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