Joel Silver, founder of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) isn’t one to rest on his past Laurels. The CEDIA Lifetime Achievement award winner, along with his support team, and the CEDIA trade group are making CEDIA ISF Level I calibration training more accessible … and more informative.
Silver and CEDIA are now offering a newly redesigned ISF Level I training course through the CEDIA Academy education platform.
With Level I now available through CEDIA’s online learning portal integrators now have access to a hybrid video calibration educational program from Silver that combines the convenience of online materials, with hands-on learning, which comes later with the ISF Level II and Level III programs.
Having an opportunity to take the training before its release, we will go through each of Level I’s 11 modules to preview what integrators can expect from the online learning course.
ISF Level I Takeaways
Before starting the course, I would recommend grabbing a pen and paper to take notes throughout the modules. If you are like me the notes will help you focus on important bits of information and they’ll also provide you with a quick study guide you can always refer to in the event you forget something.
I’ll also add that one of the things I liked about this training as someone that has previously taken ISF training (albeit many years ago) is that ultimately this learning method provides a greater wealth of information than the typical classroom learning environments.
Additionally, I’ll point out that another of the things that I liked—beyond updating and growing my calibration knowledge—is the fact that I was able to learn at my own pace. For me that meant I took one module per day for a total of 11 days. For the sake of ease, we’ll say that each module takes one hour to complete, that means that once you’ve completed the course you’ve had 11 hours of learning. Compare this to what you would learn during a single day of sitting in a classroom.
In addition, Silver and his team wrote the curriculum so you can’t fail. If you don’t answer a question correctly the modules allow you to reanswer the question before moving on. The modules provide the correct answer in the pop-up quizzes, and if you’re notes are decent you can refer to your notes before answering the question.
Here is a summary of each of ISF’s 11 Level I modules:
ISF Level 1 Module Summaries
Module 1: Managing and Measuring Human Vision and the 1931 CIE Model
You could say the first module starts at the beginning with a look at the internal parts of the human eye and how they work.
As the module progresses the topic of the CIE chart is introduced and the coordinates on the chart of X= .313 and Y= .329. Later the module introduces two terms:
- Optical Electro Transfer Function (OETF)
- Electro Optical Transfer Function (EOTF)
As the module wraps up, it touches upon the highly debated topic of resolution by explaining the fundamentals of this term, along with aspect ratio and pixel counts.
Module 2: The Critical Role White Balance Plays in Analog Color
Entering the second module the ISF training provides a lesson in standards and why the D65 standard white balance standard was developed.
The training then emphasizes how the creative community and Hollywood in particular use color to convey a specific state of emotion.
Supporting that point, the training states, “if consumers aren’t shown calibrated images, they will accept uncalibrated images as the real thing. Blue for example looks brighter.”
Demystifying a term that video experts will discuss frequently, the second module explains that grayscale describes the way that consumer TVs are calibrated using 10- and 20-step grayscale patterns.
Concluding the second module, the ISF says the reasons for calibrating are simple:
- Respect the work of artists and directors
- Respect clients; deliver great experiences
- Respect yourself: Leave the job knowing you did the right thing
Module 3: The Development and Evolution of our Video Display Standards
Providing some background on the development of some of the industry’s most commonly employed standards the third module points out that in 1963 the D65 standard was adopted.
As the module progresses the ISF explains the evolution of several governing bodies that impact the standards the electronics industry uses today.
Later it is pointed out that standard definition (SD) television era begins in 1982 and eight years later in 1990 the HDTV era begins. Breaking down the Rec. 709 specification the module notes the HDTV standard defines aspect ratio at 1.78:1 or 16:9, and the 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p resolutions to accommodate the NTSC and PAL broadcast formats.
Another point that will come up frequently in other modules is gamma. The ISF says gamma was not defined, but a recommendation was made back then called ITU-R BT.1886. As the market matured, the ISF and CEDIA emphasize the video industry transitioned from the term gamma to either EOTF and OETF.
Concluding the third module, ITU-R BT.2246 was introduced and this initiative covers resolutions up to 10K and brightness levels up to 10,000 nits.
Additionally, it is noted that advanced color specifications were introduced in 2011 based on the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) or SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) called P3. The newest color advancement specification is BT.2020, which provides 72% more color than the HDTV color specification.
Lastly, HDR (high dynamic range) is introduced to the curriculum, and terms such as perceptual quantizer, which Dolby Vision and HDR10+ falls under.
Module 4: How Digital Video Standards Simplify and Demystify Calibration
Like some of the previous modules the fourth educational unit from the ISF and CEDIA provides an overview on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the origins of IRE test patterns.
Providing a bit of a history lesson, which may serve younger industry professionals, the module explains how CRTs scanned images and why PLUGE patterns were developed for testing purposes.
The discussion points then proceed to cover white levels, black levels before covering some more elements of the BT.2020 standard.
Module 5: The “Language of Light” and “Color Volume” for SDR and the New HDR
Going back and elaborating on CRT (cathode ray tube) technologies of the past the fifth module explains how Jenjiro Takayanagi discovered how this old technology worked. Takayanagi’s research found that 50% of a CRT’s input voltage produced 18% of its peak brightness.
Some of the other informational elements in the fifth module include 2011 marked the end of the term gamma to describe TVs’ non-linear transfer function, and that back in the analog days of video, older 100-nit TVs needed to operate in dark rooms.
As the “Language of Light” and “Color Volume” module concludes the material emphasizes the transfer function is the most important part of HDR technologies.
Module 6: Level I ISF Calibration Basic Steps
The objective of module six is to calibrate to Rec. 709 (HDTV color gamut standard), and to learn the basics of projector calibrations.
Maybe for dealers, besides the calibration component emphasis, the sixth module also stresses client invoicing, which is an important revenue opportunity for professional integrators.
Module six reinforces some of the earlier modules’ points about the various terms used in the video market to describe contrast, black levels, color and tint.
As the module progresses the ISF curriculum emphasizes that some consumer market model televisions incorporate bad color decoders and as a result skin tones can look “burnt.” It also points out how the adjustments of red, green and blue either up or down can impact the fidelity of secondary colors.
Module 7: Preview the Steps of Level 2 and Level 3 ISF Calibration
As the name implies, the seventh module provides an overview of ISF level II and Level III classes.
It may seem obvious, but one of the first things this module brings up is that integrators should not start calibrating until all of a system’s firmware updates are completed. This includes the display product and everything thing else in the system.
Some of the other things this module emphasizes is the verification of a system’s HDMI connectivity, and it comments that first-generation UHD TVs are not designed for HDR.
HDR and specifically dynamic formats such as Dolby Vision and HDR10+ require specific hardware, and every component within the chain must be compliant.
Digging deeper into this module the ISF notes that it chairs the CEB23 Home Theater Design Committee of CTA and CEDIA. It also points out there is a new subcommittee called CEB28 that was formed to deal with the current and next generation of AV and home theater issues.
Towards the end of the module the ISF summarizes why its processes are important.
The goals of workflow:
- Consistent workflow process
- A framework that makes learning easier
- A process that speeds workflow up for experienced users
- Software makes calibrations accurate
- Supports customer reports
- Processes can be updated
This is the longest of the modules and it will take more time to get through than the other units. There is much more to this module than what’s been highlighted here.
Module 8: Understanding HD and UHD Screen Sizes and Viewing Angles
The eighth modules begins by pointing out that video systems fail when artifacts distract from an enjoyable viewing experience.
Progressing into the “Understanding HD and UHD Screen Sizes and Viewing Angles” Module, the ISF comments that 4K TVs have four spatial points of potential interpolation for every artifact-riddled piece of 1080i content. Conversely, 8K TVs have 16 points of interpolation.
Ending the module, the ISF adds that screen size and screen distance have been greatly debated over the years. The best thing integrators can do if possible is during the client interview process, ask the client where they like to sit at their local movie theater. Afterward, visit that theater with the client and have them point out their favorite seating locations. Once integrators determine the clients’ preferred seating location—if possible, take distance measurements to extrapolate those numbers to their residential environment.
Module 9: The Physics and Math of Calibrating White Balance
This is one of the courses’ most insightful modules. It starts by breaking down the origins of the Kelvin term of measurement and it transitions into Planck’s Black Body.
The deeper the module goes, the more explanation it provides on the CIE chart and how it specifies color temperatures. A line can be defined by two points; the number of points along the line are infinite, the module explains.
Remember, the module stresses, the numbers of colors along those lines is also infinite, so if you calibrate to 6500K colors can look greenish or magenta. Because of this, integrators need to calibrate to D6504 to be precise.
As the eighth module wraps up it provides some overview of the capabilities of the human eye to see color, and some basics on the calibration tools used to calibrate displays and projectors
Module 10: Introduction to Three Dimensional RGBCMY Color Management
As television technologies have advanced and formats have kept pace with those technological developments, the 10thmodule starts by pointing out the expanded color gamuts plot with a third dimension. “X” is horizontal, “Y” provides up and down (vertical), and it provides that aforementioned third dimension according to the curriculum.
The ISF also notes that hue is a dominant wavelength, while tint of color saturation is the degree of purity from light or other wavelengths. Zero saturation equals white, and brightness is the perceived light energy level.
Circling back to some earlier curriculum points, the 10th module also reiterates the video display industry and the consumer market in particular often interchange different terms that mean the same thing. For example, color and saturation are the same thing; hue is sometimes called phase, and brightness is often called luminance or level.
The module stresses that learning the various manufacturers’ nomenclature can make calibration processes as efficient as possible.
Module 11: HDR Basics, the Multiple HDR Proposals and Transfer Functions
Wrapping up the Level I course, module 11 states UHDTV systems have three languages of light: SDR, UHD HDR PQ formats, and broadcast and streaming bandwidth limitations.
As the module continues the final educational unit from the ISF and CEDIA elaborates on HDR, and metadata signaling.
Concluding the module and the Level I educational materials, the module outlines what integrators can expect in Level III, and some of the benefits of certification, which include calibration hardware discounts and business listings on the ISF website.
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