Quick Tip: Adjust your Picture using ONLY the "Video Level" Controls Found in your TV!

Brightness, Contrast, Color, Tint, and Sharpness:  These five controls establish your "Basic Video Levels", and are fundamental to achieving best Picture Quality in your Home Theater.  EVERY modern TV will feature these controls in its user-accessible settings -- although perhaps less prominently than in the past, as a whole bunch of other weird (and usually unexplained) settings like "Flesh Tone Correction", or "MPEG Noise Reduction" will also be clamoring for your attention.  "Contrast" might be called "Picture" in your particular TV, and "Color" might be called "Saturation" (Hey, Marketing guys LOVE to invent names!), but they are the same controls.

And as I move along in this Blog, I'll undoubtedly talk about each of them -- umm, at some point!  We've already covered Brightness in my post on Blacker Than Black Video, and Contrast in my post on Peak Whites Video.  And in my post on Extinguishing Torch Mode Settings I alerted you to the sad fact the Factory Default settings for these basic controls in your brand new TV are, almost certainly, flat out WRONG for best quality viewing!  So correcting THESE settings is something you'll want to tackle right up front when dialing-in your Home Theater.

But when you begin that task, you may be stymied by the discovery the SAME (apparently) controls are also offered in some or all of your Source devices -- and possibly even in your Audio Video Receiver (AVR)!  So, umm, WHICH set of controls should you use?  Or should you COMBINE the controls? For example, doing part of the necessary adjustment in each device?

In my post on Peak Whites Video, I revealed the basic Rule of Thumb for this:

Adjust your Picture using ONLY the “Video Level” Controls Found in your TV!

Let's explore this further.

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Peak Whites Video, OR "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!"

One of the biggest changes in a long time in Home Theater Video has been the recent introduction of High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, and equipment which can display it properly.    HDR allows elements in scenes to be much MUCH brighter than with prior home video technologies (in comparison to other portions of the same image) -- excellent for sparks, glints, flashes, direct views of light sources, and details in bright objects such as clouds in bright sunlight.  However, there is plenty of Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content out there which you will still want to look its best.  And the foundation for understanding what HDR brings to the table begins with an understanding of the proper rendering of SDR Video.

In my prior post on Blacker Than Black Video, I introduced the concept of the Headroom and Foot Room portions within the video encoding.  The "Peak White" pixels found in SDR Video simply reflect the Headroom authored into that video content.  Whereas HDR and SDR Video are quite similar in their treatment of Blacker Than Black pixels, they differ dramatically in how they handle these brightest pixels.

In this post we'll focus on setting up your TV to render Peak Whites properly whenever you are viewing SDR Video content:  I.e., what you SHOULD see and what you SHOULDN'T see.  So break out the sunscreen and get ready for a few Bright ideas!  COOLNESS NOTE:  Shades are optional.

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