Color Bars and How To Use Them

Color Bars and How To Use Them

How to use a color bar

Color Bars and How To Use ’em

HD Calibration Disk for Monitors, TVs, Displays, Blu-ray Players and more.

 

Color bars are an artificial electronic signal generated by the camera or by post production equipment. They are recorded at the head of a videotape to provide a consistent reference in post production. They are also used for matching the output of two cameras in a multi-camera shoot and to set up a video monitor.

Before we proceed, you should know that computer monitors are quite different from video monitors and TV sets. You are seeing this on a computer monitor so you will not have the same kind of controls or images as on a video monitor. In fact, if you create graphics on a computer monitor, it’s very easy to be fooled into thinking you have a great looking graphic for your video. But the only real test is when you see that image on a properly adjust video monitor.

The graphics on this page are for example only. You’ll want to use real color bars generated from a camera and viewed on a VIDEO monitor or TV set. Send engineering feedback on this article

 

To Set up a Video Monitor or TV

1. Allow the monitor to warm up for a few minutes

2. Dim the room lights and block any reflections on the monitor

3. Feed color bars to the monitor either from a camera or “house bars”

from your editing system

4. Set the contrast also called “picture” to its midpoint

5. Turn the chroma also called “color” all the way down until the color bars

are shades of black and white

Diagram of Colors and Values

Diagram of Colors and Values

6. Notice the three narrow bars labeled 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 on the bottom right. These are the

Pluge Bars which stands for Picture Lineup Generating Equipment. Adjust the brightness control until the middle (7.5 units) pluge bar is not quite visible. The lightest bar on the right (11.5 units) should be barely visible. If it’s not visible, turn the brightness up until it becomes visible.

Since 7.5 units is as dark as video gets, you should not see any difference between the left bar (3.5 units) and the middle bar (7.5 units). There should be no dividing line between these two bars. The only division you should see is between 11.5 and 7.5 (Note this same technique is used in setting the b&w viewfinder on your video camera.)

7. The next step is to set the contrast control for a proper white level. To do so, turn the contrast all the way up. The white (100 unit) bar will bloom and flare. Now turn the contrast down until this white bar just begins to respond. The image below shows what it should look like at this point.

 



 

Since 7.5 units is as dark as video gets, you should not see any difference between the left bar (3.5 units) and the middle bar (7.5 units). There should be no dividing line between these two bars. The only division you should see is between 11.5 and 7.5 (Note this same technique is used in setting the b&w viewfinder on your video camera.)

 

Pluge Bars which stands for Picture Lineup Generating Equipment. Adjust the brightness control until the middle (7.5 units) pluge bar is not quite visible. The lightest bar on the right (11.5 units) should be barely visible. If it’s not visible, turn the brightness up until it becomes visible.

 

Before we proceed, you should know that computer monitors are quite different from video monitors and TV sets. You are seeing this on a computer monitor so you will not have the same kind of controls or images as on a video monitor. In fact, if you create graphics on a computer monitor, it’s very easy to be fooled into thinking you have a great looking graphic for your video. But the only real test is when you see that image on a properly adjust video monitor.

 

Color bars are an artificial electronic signal generated by the camera or by post production equipment. They are recorded at the head of a videotape to provide a consistent reference in post production. They are also used for matching the output of two cameras in a multi-camera shoot and to set up a video monitor.