Video Calibration

CalMAN Video Display Analysis System


Versions and Features

The CalMAN software (current version 3.3) comes in three flavors:  Home, Enthusiast and Professional.  All versions include step-by-step guides to walk you through the calibration process.  The Home version is the least expensive package.  It supports only the meter you purchase with it and does not automate pattern generation.  The Enthusiast package supports multiple meters and provides automatic control of SpectraCal’s new DPG-1000 digital pattern generator.  The Professional version allows you to use as many meters as you like.  It also works with all signal generators and includes features to create a customer database, store contact information, and design custom reports.  All three versions support Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Design operating modes.  That way, you can control the amount of detail you want as you become more comfortable and knowledgeable about display calibration.  The Design mode is especially cool, more about that later.

To get started with CalMAN, you can download an evaluation copy from the SpectraCal website.  This version offers full functionality with two important exceptions:  you can only use a simulated meter and there is no control of pattern sources.  You can experiment with all the modes, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, and Design.  When you press a function key to take a reading or series of readings, CalMAN inputs values into the charts as if an actual meter were connected.  Once you have simulated data in place, you can look at the various charts and read all the associated help files.  You can even create layouts in the Design mode.  Once you’ve decided to purchase the software, there are a range of prices depending on bundled hardware and which version of CalMAN you’d like to use.

SpectraCal offers a wide variety of color analysis tools with their software.  The lowest-priced package starts at $299 and includes the X-Rite EyeOne Display 2.  It was this meter that I used for my testing.  The software supports a huge list of instruments right up to the uber-expensive spectroradiometers from Minolta and Photo Research.

The other major area of hardware support is pattern generation.  There are two ways to send the necessary test patterns to your display, a dedicated signal generator or DVD/Blu-ray based patterns.  The Professional and Enthusiast versions of CalMAN include a slick system for integrating disc-based patterns into the calibration process.  By turning on the Pattern Auto Sense option you can have your meter automatically take a reading when changing patterns on your player.  Alternatively, you can plug in a USB to IR device that CalMAN controls.  That way your player will change patterns via commands from CalMAN.  It is then possible to do an entire series of measurements with a single button press.  CalMAN is the only software out there that automates disc-based pattern generation.  This is a real plus as very few hobbyist calibrators can justify purchasing a signal generator.  These devices are typically $1500 or more.  SpectraCal does offer a generator for $699 that includes most of the functionality of more expensive gear like the Accupel or Sencore units.  This generator (the DPG-1000) is purely digital so it will only work with HDMI or DVI connections.  It can be controlled by CalMAN through the USB-UIRT attachment which sends IR commands from your laptop’s USB port.

One of my favorite features in CalMAN is the Design mode.  It’s easy to create custom layouts that fit my particular workflow and style.  Some very nice sample layouts are included with the package for grayscale and color adjustments.  You can change these to your hearts content or make your own from scratch.  There are many different charts to choose from and you can mix them any way you like.  You can also swap layouts with other users at the CalMAN forums.  Below are a couple of layouts I created to adjust color management and grayscale (screen shots shown below).