This is a new Volvo commercial that you may have seen on TV.
That’s Annie Little playing the single woman in the Mercedes. Annie provides a glamorous contrast to the soccer mom driving her kids in the Volvo. Shortly after becoming a new mother herself this year, Annie was happy that Argo won the Academy Award for Best Picture. She’s the Swissair agent in the climactic airport sequence.
After all of the eye procedures I’ve had over the past 13 years I truly appreciate the gift of sight, and I’m using that as my excuse for justifying the purchase of a new, formerly state-of-the-art video projector. It was discontinued three years ago, and I’d decided then that it was exactly what I wanted, because it doesn’t have motion smoothing or 3-D, two features that I have no interest in, that were added in later models.
I came up with an impossibly low price that I’d be willing to pay for the projector — 75% off. “It’ll never happen,” I said to myself. For many months I kept watch on Amazon, with the assumption that the projector would disappear without the price falling low enough to tempt me. Well, it didn’t disappear, and then a month ago the impossible price became reality. I bought one of two available units, and the other one sold two days later.
What makes this particular projector worthy of special consideration is that it can, after a firmware update, be calibrated to have a nearly perfect HDTV picture. Obtaining that performance requires more than the update, however. Specialized equipment and software are needed, along with a lot of know-how, and patience, and hours of tweaking and testing. This video from c|net explains something about the process of TV calibration.
Deciding on which consumer-grade color meter to get took a long time. The choice was between the Datacolor Spyder 4, and the X-Rite i1Display Pro. The Spyder 4 is a colorimeter and the i1Display is a spectrophotometer. Each technology has its advantages and disadvantages, and I decided on the Spyder 4.
Past Spyder models were notorious for inconsistent quality control, so I used Datacolor’s software to automatically create monitor profiles on the computers at home to confirm that I’d gotten a good meter. The adjusted computer screens were consistent and they all “looked right.”
So I took the next step and downloaded a free calibration program called HCFR (Home Cinema France). I didn’t buy Datacolor’s HDTV test software because it doesn’t check for anything beyond the most basic controls (brightness, contrast, color, tint). The test patterns I needed for HCFR were also free and they came from the web site AVS (Audio Video Science). It’s actually a Blu-ray disc that I burned onto a DVD. Blu-ray on DVD doesn’t work on all Blu-ray players, but it does on mine. Using a portable Targus tripod I bought for five bucks a few years ago, I mounted the Spyder in front of the projector screen and plugged its USB connector into the Acer netbook.
Spyder 4 colorimeter and Audio/Video Science HD test patterns
The procedure I followed is Greyscale and Colour Calibration for Dummies, by Curt Palme. The instructions aren’t perfect, but I figured it all out, and after hours of going through the learning curve, and many practice runs, I finally achieved a proper calibration on the projector. Cyan was a particularly difficult color to adjust, and after getting everything else right I devoted almost an entire evening just to getting cyan nailed down.
The end result is shown in this chart, with the dotted lines intersecting as closely as possible to the X/Y “perfection point,” while keeping the white triangle from skewing very much off of the black triangle. The results when watching TV instead of test patterns are truly impressive!
Color calibration for HDTV standard Rec 709
Now the question is, what’s to become of the Panasonic projector I bought in 2007? I’d like to use it outdoors at night this summer, assuming the bugs aren’t biting too much this year.
Happy Birthday to Prue,
Happy Birthday to Prue,
Happy BIRTH-day… dear Prudence,
Happy Birthday to Prue!
The Sixties didn’t really kick into full swing until 1965. That was when the Beatles movie HELP! was released, the Beatles played Shea Stadium for the first time, and on September 1, 1965, British designer Mary Quant’s Youthquake fashion show introduced her miniskirts to America. One of the models on that trendsetting day was none other than Prue Bury, who is on the right in this newspaper photo. By Christmas, miniskirts and go-go boots were everywhere on American TV.
Sandy Moss, Sarah Dawson, and Prue Bury: NYC – September 1, 1965
Prue married Terry, her first husband, in early 1965, then they moved to New York City. Before leaving England, Terry reprised his croupier role from A Hard Day’s Night in an episode of the TV series Danger Man, or Secret Agent as it’s called in the United States. Here are some clips.
Annette Funicello’s popularity as a Disney girl was so great that to this day all you have to say is “Annette” and everybody knows who you’re talking about. Sadly, the inevitable has happened and Multiple Sclerosis has claimed Annette.
Doreen Tracey, Annette Funicello, Shelley Fabares
I’m too young to have been an Annette fan in the original run of The Mickey Mouse Club, and when watching re-runs as a kid I was a Cheryl Holdridge fan, but I certainly appreciate why Annette was such a hit. Annette’s best friend forever is Shelley Fabares, who was also on the Disney payroll for a time.
After she grew up, Annette was in the Beach Party movies for American International, of course, but she also returned to work for Disney, as seen here with the Beach Boys, singing a song by the Sherman brothers, who wrote the music for Mary Poppins. How great is that??
Somebody has done the world a very nice favor by posting the entire Michael Powell film, The Tales of Hoffmann. It’s not to everyone’s taste, to be sure, but if Moira Shearer doesn’t take your breath away, then you’re not breathing.