How Sony should hack a Bravia to create an awesome prosumer editing/grading monitor

Here’s a recipe for Sony’s pro monitor division to create an awesome prosumer editing/grading monitor from a consumer Bravia.

Recently, I published an article which described why Miami-based PRODU.com chose to purchase a “foreign” Sony consumer Bravia HDTV set for video editing. That model surpassed the limitations of many segregated U.S. consumer models by allowing for all standard worldwide framerates, but it still isn’t as good as it could be for the mentioned applications. Ahead you’ll see the few but important software tweaks Sony should make to a Bravia to create an awesome prosumer 1080p editing/grading monitor.

Link to prior mentioned article

Here is a link to the prior article: Sony KDL–40BX420E: a low cost monitor for 1080p video editing at worldwide framerates from January 29th, 2013.

Recipe for Sony to create a killer prosumer 1080p editing/grading monitor

  1. Pick a Bravia 1080p model which has a true 10-bit (30-bit) panel with LCD backlight as a basis for the other modifications.
  2. As a pro model, it should accept all worldwide framerates openly.
  3. Make HDMI input 1 the default input (not the tuner). You can even eliminate the tuner.
  4. Make Rec. 709 the default picture setting for any HD source (not Movies or Sports). Make Rec. 601 the default for SD sources.
  5. Create a calibration software for Mac and Windows that talks to a popular, off-the-shelf probe and that connects to the monitor via USB for control and saving profiles into the monitor. If the Bravia hardware won’t allow control via USB, offer or recommend an IR Blaster so the calibration software can control the modified Bravia via infrared.
  6. Make 1:1 pixel-by-pixel the default for any 1080i/p source. This is buried in the menu in the current consumer Bravia models, where it’s called Full Pixel. There should be a direct toggle button for this on the remote control, and it should work for 720p sources too (although it shouldn’t be the default for 720p sources). (The consumer Bravia model I tested unfortunately doesn’t allow this mode at all for 720p sources.)
  7. Improve the on screen display to indicate precise details of the source video, including the framerate (details ahead in the following section).

Details about source video information to be displayed on screen

It is vital for editors to be given accurate source video information on screen. Fortunately, the “foreign” non-segregated Bravia that I tested for the prior article accepts all standard worldwide framerates. I tried the following at PRODU.com over HDMI and they all worked fine:

  • 1080/23.976p with a proper cadence (only via HDMI)
  • 1080/24.000p with a proper cadence (only via HDMI)
  • 1080/25p
  • 1080/29.97p
  • 1080/30.000p
  • 1080/50i (aka 25i)
  • 1080/59.94i (aka 29.97i)
  • 720/50p
  • 720/59.94p

(Even though I didn’t test for it, I believe that it will also accept 1080/50p and 1080/59.94p over HDMI.) That is great. However, the consumer Bravia did a terrible job of indicating the source framerates on screen:

  • 1080/23.976p was incorrectly indicated on screen as 1080/24p
  • 10880/24.000p was correctly indicated on screen as 1080/24p
  • With all other framerates, the Bravia didn’t indicate the source framerate at all!

In addition to using it to evaluate the picture, the video monitor should also tell the editor what spatial resolution and framerate is coming from the hardware interface. In the case of editing or grading software that can control the hardware interface directly, it serves as a reminder to the editor of the project/sequence settings. In the case of editing software that can’t currently control the hardware directly (i.e. Final Cut Pro X as of 10.0.7), the human editor must set it separately in an independent control panel. Having the on screen indication helps remind the editor if the hardware is properly matching the project/sequence settings (which is almost always desirable) or whether it is forcing a conversion (often done by mistake, occasionally done on purpose).

There should be a direct button on the monitor’s remote control to activate this on screen information perpetually (until pressed again). When not set to display perpetually, it should appear momentarily for eight seconds every time the source video spatial resolution or framerate changes, or when the user switches the input.

I know that even the current PVMs and BVMs have a similar limitation

The Sony PVM and BVM monitors I’ve seen currently round the source framerate even worse than many of the NXCAM cameras do in their viewfinders. The PVM & BVM monitors and the NXCAM cameras should also be corrected to display non-integer framerates on screen (or in the viewfinder), but that is outside the scope of this article.

How to price the Bravia Pro

I believe that even if Sony’s professional monitor division doubled the official list price of the consumer Bravia models, they would still be very attractive, yet still be substantially lower in price than other current pro monitors.

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Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is an award-winning broadcaster & podcaster, bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994,…