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Video Editing Monitor Recommendations?


Oliver Daniel

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I may get a maxed out Mac Mini M1 for my company. 

I’m looking at 27-32” monitors and the amount of options is staggering. It’s confusing to say the least. 

It will be used for editing and grading for brand and music video work. 

Budget is up to £1k or maybe a bit more if it’s worth it.

What do you recommend? 

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I suggest:

  • if you don't have a monitor calibration device, buy that as top priority and then buy the monitor with what is left - a cheap calibrated monitor will kill a more expensive uncalibrated monitor
  • read lots of reviews..  when I was monitor shopping I read a bunch of them and there is all the information you need out there
  • think about size and resolution, for example the larger the monitor the larger the resolution is typically, which will end up specifying how many of your controls you can view in your NLE at a time and also what resolution your preview window will be, which isn't so critical for editing but is for things like sharpening and other resolution-related tasks
  • also, in combination with the above, think about aspect ratio, as those super-wide monitors have room for more UI in some NLEs
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1 hour ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

Out of curiosity, will you be doing HDR or just SD grading???

I have a vague recollection that benQ monitors are supposed to be good for HDR, but don't quote me on that. I couldn't even begin t suggest which particular model is best.

Yes, been told the BenQ 31.5” is good, but I can’t tell how much better than a monitor half it’s price. 

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35 minutes ago, kye said:

I suggest:

  • if you don't have a monitor calibration device, buy that as top priority and then buy the monitor with what is left - a cheap calibrated monitor will kill a more expensive uncalibrated monitor
  • read lots of reviews..  when I was monitor shopping I read a bunch of them and there is all the information you need out there
  • think about size and resolution, for example the larger the monitor the larger the resolution is typically, which will end up specifying how many of your controls you can view in your NLE at a time and also what resolution your preview window will be, which isn't so critical for editing but is for things like sharpening and other resolution-related tasks
  • also, in combination with the above, think about aspect ratio, as those super-wide monitors have room for more UI in some NLEs

I know a guy with an Xrite, all sorted there. 

My iMac is 5k so that’s the ballpark I’m looking at. 

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I got a refurbished BenQ SW320 for $700 and I've seen deals like that frequently with the SW320. You might find something better for $1k, but I doubt you'll find anything better for $700. And as mentioned above, you can use the extra money for a calibrator. I would disagree slightly, however. Once you're in the range of "good monitors designed for color accuracy", (i.e. NOT gaming monitors) then a calibrator really does very little. Conversely, a low end panel will never look very good even with calibration. Here are my +/-'s for the SW320:

+ Looks great. 32", IPS, UHD 10 bit panel.

+ Easy to switch between profiles (sRGB, aRGB, P3)

- HDR isn't great. Part of this is Windows' fault for having terrible HDR support. You might have better results with Mac.

- Response time is not good. Motion tends to tear or have other artifacts. It's pretty noticeable on even ordinary pans and can be pretty bad on footage with a lot of motion. It's a photography monitor, after all. I suspect that most color accurate IPS monitors will be similar, outside of very expensive ones made specifically for video work. But if you're coming from a gaming panel, it's a big difference for how it shows video motion.

- Does not calibrate with Datacolor calibrators. If you really want to use a Spyder, you can calibrate with DisplayCAL software. On Mac I believe it's fairly easy to apply a system-wide LUT from DisplayCAL. However, on Windows, it is a nightmare. Honestly I might not have gotten this monitor if I'd known that its built in LUTs would be useless to me without further hardware investment.

- USB hub and card reader isn't particularly accessible

 

In terms of actually using the monitor for color grading, if you're using Resolve then remember that the best way to get an accurate signal is with a Blackmagic card like the Decklink. Another option would be a lower end 4k monitor for the UI, and a decklink + color accurate HD monitor for critical grading. I decided against it because I wanted color accuracy in other software as well, but if I was exclusively using Resolve then I would have done that for sure.

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11 hours ago, KnightsFan said:

In terms of actually using the monitor for color grading, if you're using Resolve then remember that the best way to get an accurate signal is with a Blackmagic card like the Decklink. Another option would be a lower end 4k monitor for the UI, and a decklink + color accurate HD monitor for critical grading. I decided against it because I wanted color accuracy in other software as well, but if I was exclusively using Resolve then I would have done that for sure.

I asked the question on the colourist forums about calibration on a normal monitor and although the strict answer is that you need to have BM hardware some people said that their GUI matches their reference monitor almost exactly, obviously after calibrating, so it's really about what level of certainty and accuracy you want.  If a pro colourist says the match is almost perfect then I figure that's good enough for me!

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4 hours ago, kye said:

I asked the question on the colourist forums about calibration on a normal monitor and although the strict answer is that you need to have BM hardware some people said that their GUI matches their reference monitor almost exactly, obviously after calibrating, so it's really about what level of certainty and accuracy you want.  If a pro colourist says the match is almost perfect then I figure that's good enough for me!

You can assign a 3D LUT to the GUI monitor in settings. So if you create that LUT correctly, then your GUI monitor will be perfect, although it is just 8 bit I believe. Making the LUT with DisplayCAL is a royal PITA and there is so little information that it's impossible to know whether you've done it correctly. I've asked on here once or twice from people who say they have "calibrated their monitor" and they don't seem to know either, so I just followed DisplayCAL's somewhat sparse documentation and blindly trust it.

If my understanding is correct (and please correct me if it is not!). On Windows if you run calibration software it will only change the desktop color. Software that outputs directly to the graphics card, including most NLE's, are not affected by your "system wide" icc profile. However, the gamma profile is applied system wide. So if you run calibration software, you need to create a LUT based on your calibration that modifies the colors, but not the gamma.

The easiest solution is to get a monitor with its own builtin LUTs, like the SW320--just make sure your calibration hardware is compatible.

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My opinion is that as long as it's "good enough" it doesn't really matter unless you are professional colorist, in which case you probably wouldn't be asking here.

90% of the grades on YT look bad anyways, it's crazy what gets put out there.  I'm willing to bet most people on this site just use whatever they have, which is a decent monitor with good color reproduction and a calibrator. 

Unless the budget for the job is over $50K client probably doesn't even know or care as long as it looks "good" which is 100% achievable even on "cheap" $300-$500 monitors.

Not to mention if you aren't a "pro" colorist, the monitor is not the thing that is going to make a difference...

 

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It really depends what program you're using, and what kind of grading you're doing. I'm going to assume that all monitors being considered have at least sRGB gamut.

Davinci Resolve (as of version 16) has a number of places to put LUTs, which can be generated using DisplayCAL and an i1 Display Pro. One for the Edit page, one for the Color page, and one for all output (including exports). It does not have one for the fullscreen output as it is expected that you will just buy Decklink/Reference Monitor setups.

If you are using a monitor that uses internal LUTs, then you do not need to worry about conflicts with system calibration nearly as much. Just calibrate the monitor, generate a LUT for Resolve in DisplayCAL (typically Rec709 2.4) and put it in the right (multiple) places in Resolve.

If you need color accurate fullscreen output on a second monitor (without a decklink/reference monitor setup), you have two choices.  First, calibrate the monitor then generate a LUT in DisplayCAL and apply it in Resolve as an Output LUT (affecting all footage on all monitors) and remember to remove it prior to exporting or capturing stills. The sketchiness of this (relying upon the user to prevent color problems upon export) is rather significant so I really can't recommend this. Second (assuming this is possible with your setup, and as it is with NEC Spectraview) just calibrate the fullscreen monitor to BT.1886 sRGB (BT.1886 sRGB is a display calibration for Rec. 709 2.4 content that compensates for any raised black point that a monitor has). The downside is that if you also do photo/print work the monitor will need to be switched back to an AdobeRGB or greater gamut calibration for that. I can confirm that ~AdobeRGB+DisplayCAL LUT is essentially indistinguishable from BT.1886-sRGB+noLUT on an NEC PA302W wide gamut 14-bit-internal-LUT monitor (as it should be).

On a related note, if anyone needs accurate color for stills grabbed in Resolve, the general procedure is this: Grab Still in Resolve, Export Still. Open Still in Photoshop. Assign Rec709 2.4 colorspace (NOT Convert), then Convert to sRGB including Black Point Compensation and Save.

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@KnightsFan I'm far from an expert but the approach that I have taken (and I'm pretty sure aligns to what I was advised to do) was to calibrate the monitors in the OS so that all apps get the calibration applied, but I'm on Mac so it could well be quite different for you.

4 hours ago, Neufeldt said:

On a related note, if anyone needs accurate color for stills grabbed in Resolve, the general procedure is this: Grab Still in Resolve, Export Still. Open Still in Photoshop. Assign Rec709 2.4 colorspace (NOT Convert), then Convert to sRGB including Black Point Compensation and Save.

I take a slightly different approach of having a preset node in Resolve that I append to the node tree, take the screen grab, then remove the node again.  I've taken multiple shots and the brought them up in the UI and compared them to the Resolve window and found the match to be acceptable.

@Oliver Daniel The other thing I forgot to mention about colour accuracy is to get a bias light that will provide a neutral reference.  I purchased one from FSI https://www.shopfsi.com/BiasLights-s/69.htm which is just a LED strip that gets stuck to the back of your monitor and shines a neutral light onto the wall behind your monitor like this:

TV-bias-lighting-hero.jpg

The wall behind my monitor has black sound panels so I just pinned up some A4 paper for the light to reflect off.  I figured you can always rely on reflex!

There's all sorts of other tricks to getting a neutral environment, but probably the most important aspects are to calibrate your monitor to 100nits and 6500K, to get a bias light, to match the ambient lighting to the bias light (which is an accurate reference) and to ensure that the ambient light isn't falling onto the monitor and that it's quite dark compared to the brightness of your monitor.

I used my camera as a light meter to measure how bright the ambient light was, but if you calibrate your monitor and pull up an 18% grey then match your ambient light to that then you should be good.  Professional colourists talk about getting paint that is exactly neutral grey (which is available and very expensive) but once again, it's diminishing returns.

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On 11/19/2020 at 10:47 PM, kye said:

 

@Oliver Daniel The other thing I forgot to mention about colour accuracy is to get a bias light that will provide a neutral reference.  I purchased one from FSI https://www.shopfsi.com/BiasLights-s/69.htm which is just a LED strip that gets stuck to the back of your monitor and shines a neutral light onto the wall behind your monitor like this:

TV-bias-lighting-hero.jpg

The wall behind my monitor has black sound panels so I just pinned up some A4 paper for the light to reflect off.  I figured you can always rely on reflex!

There's all sorts of other tricks to getting a neutral environment, but probably the most important aspects are to calibrate your monitor to 100nits and 6500K, to get a bias light, to match the ambient lighting to the bias light (which is an accurate reference) and to ensure that the ambient light isn't falling onto the monitor and that it's quite dark compared to the brightness of your monitor.

I used my camera as a light meter to measure how bright the ambient light was, but if you calibrate your monitor and pull up an 18% grey then match your ambient light to that then you should be good.  Professional colourists talk about getting paint that is exactly neutral grey (which is available and very expensive) but once again, it's diminishing returns.

There’s so many options, i just went with  Apple’s recommendation for the LG Ultrafine 5k. 

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I had a power surge recently and fried both my 2 monitors ( lg 31mu97-b) I was quite disappointed by them ( one was more blue than the other, had some banding , and even calibrating with a Xrite did not fix it entirely)

I ended up replacing them with 2 BenQ PD2700U , so far I m happy with them, very straight forward and good price, the only issue is that they have some vignetting in the extreme corners.

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On 11/19/2020 at 3:47 PM, kye said:

I take a slightly different approach of having a preset node in Resolve that I append to the node tree, take the screen grab, then remove the node again.  I've taken multiple shots and the brought them up in the UI and compared them to the Resolve window and found the match to be acceptable.

That's a potentially workable solution, but I can't see it being particularly batch processable? I guess it depends how many stills you're pulling that need matching color.

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5 hours ago, Neufeldt said:

That's a potentially workable solution, but I can't see it being particularly batch processable? I guess it depends how many stills you're pulling that need matching color.

I think if you applied it in the Timeline node tree then it should work?  It's worth testing, although applying presets to the Timeline graph may or may not work, I've had trouble doing that in the past.  If it doesn't work, you can append it to a single clip, copy it, apply it to the timeline graph, remove it from the clip, take the screenshots you want, then just delete it.

The alternative (if it works - I haven't tried it) is to highlight multiple clips and then append the node to all of them.  This should work for extracting stills, but removing it might have to be done manually, which is a PITA.

The other other way, which is a different approach, is to setup your grade with a shared node as the last node, and apply the adjustment in it, but setting the strength of the effect to zero using the Key Output in the Key tab.  Then when you want to enable it just up the Key Output, take the shots, then set it back to zero.  
If you have an existing project then you'd have to copy/paste that node onto every clip.  I'm not sure if there's a bulk way to do that, but once you did it you could do anything you liked with it.  If you were going to do that then I would suggest copying half-a-dozen shared nodes so that if you need them then they're already setup.

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What about the ViewSonic VP3268-4K 32" 16:9 4K HDR IPS Monitor? Seems to check a lot of boxes while being pretty budget for a monitor? It has 99.67% sRGB Rec 709 HDR10 14-bit 3D LUT Color Calibration. Comes factory calibrated plus can be calibrated with multiple calibrators. Maybe the catch is that the build quality is no good?

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