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Portable reference monitor? How big?


kye
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I'm gradually building my portable editing and grading setup, and have just bought the BM UltraStudio Monitor 3G, which is a Resolve-controlled thunderbolt-in / HDMI-out device the size of a large matchbox.  This necessitates using an external monitor.  

The question is, what is the right physical size?

Does anyone use a portable monitor as an external reference monitor for editing / colour grading?

I'm thinking that a normal 5" or 7" monitor designed for on-camera duties is probably too small, as you can't see enough detail in the image (for colouring at least) and wouldn't be larger than the Viewer window on the UI anyway, but a 15" reference monitor would likely be cumbersome to travel with.

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Did you consider one of the "travel screens" like the OLED that Andrew posted about recently? They're 14-ish inch and reasonably thin and light. There are also cheaper IPS options.

I think the main issue for a travel grading screen is that they need to be reasonably color accurate (calibratable) and have uniform brightness. I don't know how well one can find information regarding that without just buying one and trying/measuring yourself.

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2 hours ago, Phil A said:

think the main issue for a travel grading screen is that they need to be reasonably color accurate (calibratable) and have uniform brightness

You would, of course, also have to travel with a calibration device (they're pretty small, so not a major inconvenience) because you'll have to recalibrate it in every environment in which you work. Even if you always work in a perfectly dark room, if you're anywhere near a wall the monitor itself might cause enough reflections to alter the environment compared with your previous location.

I think 12-14 inches would be the smallest I'd want. Some photographers use 12-inch iPads or Microsoft Surface tablets for photo editing and grading in the field, so I guess 12 inches is feasible but I'd personally prefer something bigger.

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1 hour ago, webrunner5 said:

How accurate is say a Apple M1 Pro laptop? Might be an option.

It's not so much a question of accuracy but 10 bit vs. 8 bit and the desire to bypass the operating system, which is the  point of using those Ultrastudio monitors.

There is a separate question, of course, of whether this is overkill but much depends on the destination(s) for these videos. If it's just youtube I'm not sure it's worth the effort; for broadcast or cinema where you have to meet standards then obviously it is. There are examples of successful corporate and youtube videographers who just use their laptops or an uncalibrated monitor and are happy enough with the result, but everyone's priorities and standards are different.

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12 hours ago, Phil A said:

Did you consider one of the "travel screens" like the OLED that Andrew posted about recently? They're 14-ish inch and reasonably thin and light. There are also cheaper IPS options.

I think the main issue for a travel grading screen is that they need to be reasonably color accurate (calibratable) and have uniform brightness. I don't know how well one can find information regarding that without just buying one and trying/measuring yourself.

Yes, I suspect I'll end up with one of those travel screens, as Andrew reviewed.

In fact the one that Andrew reviewed looked great, except I think I'd prefer one that's smaller.  That's why this thread - to see if others have feedback.

9 hours ago, bjohn said:

You would, of course, also have to travel with a calibration device (they're pretty small, so not a major inconvenience) because you'll have to recalibrate it in every environment in which you work. Even if you always work in a perfectly dark room, if you're anywhere near a wall the monitor itself might cause enough reflections to alter the environment compared with your previous location.

I think 12-14 inches would be the smallest I'd want. Some photographers use 12-inch iPads or Microsoft Surface tablets for photo editing and grading in the field, so I guess 12 inches is feasible but I'd personally prefer something bigger.

Technically you're right, that I'd have to carry a calibration device, which I have and could do.

The challenge is that the rigours don't stop there.  You need to calibrate it to each environment, but you need to have colour calibrated ambient light of a specific brightness, lest you not interpret contrast correctly.  So I'd have to travel with several calibrated lights, and then I'd have to position them to achieve the correct ambient brightness.  

Luckily, my work is just personal and for YT so near enough is good enough.  

6 hours ago, webrunner5 said:

How accurate is say a Apple M1 Pro laptop? Might be an option.

Having a portable calibrated display isn't really the issue, really I'm just looking for a decently sized screen to view the video on.  In that sense it's actually more for editing than it is for colour grading.

I have a 13" MBP, but you can only make the viewer so large by adjusting the size of the menus etc.  I have the BM Speed Editor controller, and you can edit with it in full-screen mode, but it's tough to not be able to see the timeline or any menus or controls at all, so that doesn't work so well in many of the stages of editing. 

4 hours ago, webrunner5 said:

Yeah, but true reference monitors cost as much as a new car. I have no clue what an 8K HDR one would cost. We don't want to know. I think the new Apple stuff is 10 bit. Not sure about the iPad Pro, but it is pretty dope.

As I said, colour isn't that critical for me.  I asked about calibration on the colourist forums and there was an interesting reply saying "I find an i1 display pro using xrite software gets my GUI monitor pretty close to my Flanders broadcast monitor. So for hobbyist work it will be fine."  

I figure that if a pro said "pretty close" when talking about a normal monitor managed through the GUI then a reasonable quality normal monitor that is calibrated should be enough for me!

Also, I only work on 1080p timelines, and the BM UltraStudio I have is limited to 1080p, so I only need a 1080p monitor.  I do this not only because 4K doesn't really matter, but also to reduce the load on my machine for editing.  Once again, I'm using 1080p to avoid a cost of 4K that no-one here will even acknowledge exists..  🙂 

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If its for travelling and you've got an iPad then I'd be temped to use Sidecar to use it as an external monitor.

It will fit the need for something smaller than a 14 or 15" external type, they are decent screens and of course it will be useful for other things when you aren't using it as an editing monitor.

Saves you taking the BM box with you as well.

If you prefer to monitor using the screen on the MacBook then you can also flip roles and use the iPad for the UI.

Another bonus is that you can put LumaFusion on it to do some assembly editing on hoof on the plane, train, coach etc and then use its XML export function to carry on in Resolve when you get to somewhere more fixed to finish it off.

As it can now edit directly from external drives, its a very viable workflow.

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2 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

If its for travelling and you've got an iPad then I'd be temped to use Sidecar to use it as an external monitor.

It will fit the need for something smaller than a 14 or 15" external type, they are decent screens and of course it will be useful for other things when you aren't using it as an editing monitor.

Saves you taking the BM box with you as well.

If you prefer to monitor using the screen on the MacBook then you can also flip roles and use the iPad for the UI.

Another bonus is that you can put LumaFusion on it to do some assembly editing on hoof on the plane, train, coach etc and then use its XML export function to carry on in Resolve when you get to somewhere more fixed to finish it off.

As it can now edit directly from external drives, its a very viable workflow.

I'd prefer to use the BM box - I don't suppose Apple have allowed there to be a HDMI-in adapter for the iPad yet?  I'm not holding my breath though...

Also, do you know of anyone using the iPad as a dedicated viewer for editing?  I'm keen to hear if people find it large enough.

Walter Murch famously puts little silhouettes of people on the side of his viewing monitor to remind him of the scale of the screen in a cinema:

Walter-Murch-BTS-e1598060223845.jpg

This helps him keep perspective on what the viewing experience is like for an audience and inform decisions about how much is required and when something will be good enough.

Obviously I'm not editing for cinema, and according to @Django people watch videos on my non-existent 7" iPad, but I'd like to have the screen big enough to ensure things are visible.  I have a tiny 3.5" monitor for the BMMCC, but I'm thinking that isn't large enough(!) so wondering what is a sensible minimum size.

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