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How to calibrate a NTSC monitor

by Eric Adler, staff writer.

Here's how to calibrate a NTSC monitor (broadcast or otherwise):

Requirements:  a source of SMPTE color bars and either a blue-gun/blue-only switch on your monitor or a strong blue gel. 

  1. Feed SMPTE color bars into your monitor.
  2. Turn your contrast (white level) knob/menu setting to the middle (this is sometimes labeled "picture")
  3. Turn your chroma knob/menu setting down all the way (this is sometimes labeled "color")
  4. Turn your brightness (black level) knob/menu setting up until you can notice three distinct bars in the lower-right region of the monitor.  These are (from left to right) blacker-than-black (5.5 IRE), black (7.5 IRE), and slight grey (11 IRE). 
  5. Turn the brightness control down until the left of those three bars (blacker-than-black) just disappears with the black region to the left of it and the middle black bar).  Be sure the grey bar (right-most of the three) is still visible. 
  6. Turn your blue-gun switch on (or begin looking through your gel - note, you may need to fold it over multiple times for it to be effective).  Slowly turn chroma up until the outter-most large bars match shade with the small bars directly below them. 
  7. Slowly adjust your phase knob/menu setting until the inner bars match the small bars below them in shade.  (this is sometimes labeled "hue" or "tint")  After this, you may need to tweak between phase and chroma adjustments to get all of the bars matching. 
  8. Once the bars match in shade, turn the blue-gun/blue-only switch off (or stop looking through your gel).  Adjust contrast to taste. 


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