One little booth I happened to come by as I walked the NAB show floor was SpectraCal. A bright red screen with a little device attached to it was all that I needed to stop by and check it out. SpectraCal was showing their solutions for measuring and calibrating accurate color on your client and grading monitors. Why do you need an accurate monitor? Are you using DaVinci Resolve?
Color meters are usually very expensive devices that can run into the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. The device SpectraCal was showing is $695 and that’s thousands less than most all of its competitors. Can a $695 color meter be accurate against it’s $15,000 competitor? That’s a good question and I mentioned that my engineer would probably poo-poo it on price alone. But the guys at the booth were resolute and offered to send out a meter for our engineer to evaluate. They seem very confident in their product.
The SpectraCal C6 is a $695 color meter that attaches to the monitor.
The entire SpectraCal system is actually two or three pieces depending on what you want to do so basic costs might be more than $695. The $695 piece of the unit is the SpectraCal C6 that attaches to the display itself but another very important part of the process is the software. The CalMAN Studio software is $1595 but it can be used with other color meters as well, not just the SpectraCal unit. The measuring software is very important piece of the puzzle and has to be considered if choosing SpectraCal system.
SpectraCal’s calibration software is another part (with a separate cost) of their system.
The third piece of the puzzle is the SpectraCal ColorBox that your monitor might attach to. This box is used as an image processor to get that precise color on your monitor. It provides 3D LUT calibration, 12 bit color, 1080p 60 fps and 6 memories. If you know what a DAVIO is then think of this as SpectraCal’s version of a DAVIO only at a cheaper price. I don’t know the exact DAVIO prices or exactly what the ins and outs of all this monitor calibration is but when I asked about a cost effective calibration solution for a small shop or one-man-band the SpectraCal guys said very little could touch their solution.
The SpectraCal ColorBox can be purchased to help adjust your monitors.
So why would you need a SpectraCal system to properly calibrator monitors? Well unfortunately these days many people don’t see the need for properly calibrated monitors even when using a grading tool like DaVinci Resolve. Good monitors are expensive and a properly setup grading suite is expensive as well so if you’re going to YouTube maybe you don’t need to spend that money. But if you’re going to broadcast or if are just aspiring to something beyond a YouTube upload this may be one of the more affordable options. Check out [this article on monitor calibration](lhttp://vanhurkman.com/wordpress/?p=283 for further reading.