A few weeks ago I watched the current show I am working on with my co-workers in the lobby. It played on the big HTDV we have. This is an office ritual that I just haven’t gotten into because I was either busy, or wasn’t interested as I watched the thing like 5 times just a couple weeks prior. Dunno why that is…when shows air that I spent 5 months on I watch them…just to see how it looks on the TV. It took until a couple weeks ago for me to do the same with this show.

And it looked like crap.

The producers were telling me how horrid the color correction looked. But I was looking at this image on the TV, a pretty off-brand HDTV, that is being fed from a DirecTV box…SUPPOSEDLY in HD now (before it was SD and I think that is why I didn’t watch). But the compression looked HORRID. I told the producer that the show didn’t look like that when it left my bay. It looked a lot better. In fact, this was worse looking than any other show I worked on. And I am convinced it is the compression…or the TV…something. I took the producer to my bay and showed her what it looks like on my GOOD HD CRT, and even what it looked like on the not-so-good HD LCD. She was sort of appeased. At least now she knew that I didn’t make it look as bad as we saw.

I recall being in a bar at Ceasar’s Palace in Vegas with a couple friends…one of them a “camera shader” (the guy who makes sure all the cameras spit out the same looking image) for major league sports. We watched some basketball broadcast on one of the MANY TVs they had…and it looked like crap. And 4 of the TVs showing this didn’t even have the same look. He pointed that out to us and said “See? What does my job even MATTER if by the time the signal hits these TVs it looks like that? Pure crap.” “Well,” I replied, “the crap has a uniform crappy look. At least you have that.”

This brings me to a thought. Should I get a crappy HDTV to put in my bay? Hang it on the wall and feed it from the capture card, so that I can see what it MIGHT look like when grandma in Montana gets it on her TV? Although my grandma doesn’t have an HDTV…but that’s besides the point. Should I have something that shows a degraded crappy image, so that I might see “hey, this bleach bypass look I am giving it blows out WAY TOO MUCH on this TV, I need to tone it down.”

This would be something very akin to what every GOOD audio mixer I know does when we go in to hear final audio. They play it back on a TV…using the TV speakers. They will MIX with the good board and great speakers, but when it comes to final delivery, they output it the way 90% of the audience will hear it…from those crappy TV speakers. Because some subtle sound you can hear in surround won’t be audible on those tinny things, so they have to boost it, or change it somehow. So I’m thinking that I should do the same….get the crappy…well, decent…HDTV and use that as a secondary monitor. Just to check that what I think looks good, will really look good. Not that this will take into account the over-the-air compression that happens, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction.