Broadcast Monitor help

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    • #37269

      Hey all,
      Although I’m trying to learn, I don’t know a lot about broadcast monitors. I’m editing a project in Avid Xpress Pro that was shot in 24pa and I plan on outputting to dvd (don’t know if this info is needed). Anyway, I understand a broadcast monitor is a staple of good color monitoring and for seeing raw video. I only have my computer lcd monitor right now.
      I don’t have a lot of money right now. Is there an alternative to broadcast monitors? Anything that comes close to producing the same results? I have access to a pretty large Samsung HDTV – can anything be done with this you think? Or maybe with a portable DVD player?
      If there really is no alternative out there and I could eventually get a broadcast monitor, are there any models that are pretty popular as the standard affordable but good monitor?
      Thanks a ton to any help. It is greatly appreciated.

    • #165021

      The primary value of a monitor for editing is the knowledge that what you see on it will be what everyone else will see. Broadcast monitors are designed to do exactly that. Plus, they are designed to fit into the complex environment of a studio. Often called the tech monitor, it’s also essential for monitoring video images in the head-in of cable & satellite operations. But what is the difference between a tech monitor and a video or output monitor?

      Number one is rugged construction; they are built to last w/o losing any image quality over the years. Television sets are built with an expected lifetime of just a few years. Tech monitors will have all of their controls on the front panel and they have a large adjustment range in order to make tiny, precise adjustments. Modern TV’s require a remote for adjusting settings and the settings themselves are discreet jumps. TV’s have tuners to receive broadcast signals, but many also include AV inputs for home electronics. Monitors only have AV inputs, generally more than one. They will also have signal pass through and the capacity to synch to the suite’s master signal. And the most important difference (for editors like yourself) is the blue button. It does something that you can’t replicate on a TV or consumer monitor.

      The blue switch turns off the red & green portion of the display. This leaves only the blue part of the image. And you ask why you’d want to do that, it is by far the easiest way to perfectly adjust the color, saturation, brightness & contrast of the monitor. And how does that work? It works with NTSC color bars. Have you ever wondered why color bars look like they do? It’s because of how they look when only the blue portion of the signal is displayed. I could go into details about how to adjust the monitor using only the blue portion of the picture. But it doesn’t matter how unless you have the blue switch. (If you are curious, there are several excellent sources for details.)

      So, now let’s get to your questions. If you are serious about editing, you absolutely MUST have a dedicated video monitor. Now that monitor doesn’t have to be a broadcast reference monitor. It just needs to be able to accurately display your output signal. The video monitor is how you judge the quality of your video image. The only way to know what your video will look like when it’s played back on a TV is to see it on a monitor. (Of course, you have to accurately adjust the video settings first.)

      Now you didn’t tell us what we really needed to know for us to tell you if any of your ideas would work. Neither of my edit suite computers has a video-out signal of the edited video signal. While the laptop has both a monitor out and an SVHS line out, both signals are generated by my graphics card. So they are useless for trying to judge the NTSC video I’m editing. To make judgments of the video image quality, you have to be looking at the program out of your editing software. I’m not familiar with Avid Xpress Pro since I am using Vegas Home Studio (the consumer version of Vegas.) But Vegas sends program out through the Firewire port. So I connect my DV camcorder to the computer then use the video out from the camcorder to display the NTSC video on my monitor. I adjust my monitor using color bars generated by Vegas and I’m in business. Any image adjustments or EFX can be accurately judged on the monitor.

      So, in theory, you could use that large Samsung HDTV as a video monitor. But it’s only useful if you can see it while you are editing. That’s why the DVD player isn’t going to be of much use either. Since Avid Xpress Pro is a solid NLE, it undoubtedly has a method for displaying the program output on an external monitor. But someone else is going to have to help you with that.

      As a last resort, you could render test segments of the video you are adjusting then burn them to a DVD and watch the DVD on your HDTV. But in addition to being a pain in the ass, you really won’t be getting the benefit of seeing your changes as you make them. So in conclusion, get yourself a decent monitor you can place in your edit suite. And figure out how to connect it to Avid Xpress Pro. You will not regret it. And when you find your monitor a pain to constantly adjust, then think about a tech monitor.

      Good luck! You sound like you’re on the right track.

    • #165022

      First, wow, thank you! I really appreciate your incredibly informative, helpful, and accessible response. Really appreciate it. There’s so much info out there, that it canbe more difficult for someone new to find accurate answers or just to understand what’s going on.

      So I gather I can possibly use the hdtv as a weaker alternative to a tech monitor. I don’t know for sure, but I’m assuming Avid could allow me to go from firewire to camera to hdtv. The downside is I would have to adjust the tv a lotI guess. I’m definitly going to see if I canget a tech monitor – maybe ebay.

      Thank you very much.

    • #165023

      ok I’ve never used a moniter before and I was sorta wondering what kind of moniter to look into getting and where it will need to plug in at?

    • #165024

      I don’t know if I should be giving advice on this subject, but you could check out and browse through their monitors and judge it based on your price range, and then compare more specifically from there. They can be found by clicking on the”Video Professional” category of their menu.I’ve heard afair amountto check ebay. As far as a specific model I don’t have a clue – I assume the more expensive they get the more options (NTSC and pal,4:3 and widescreen, tweaking features like color, etc.)they come with and the size increases.

      The plugging in situation i’m not sure about either, but I think you sometimesget more plug in options as the price increases too. I’d think you could plug in either from a video card, firewire, or your camera to the monitor. So I would think it definitly comes with composite jacks. Maybe S-video as well.

      Hopefully you’ll get help from someone more qualified. Good luck.

    • #165025


      BarefootMedia did a good job explaining the difference between a real monitor and a tv. So read up on what he said. Also, think about what kind of video you are working with. No one will really be able to give you a good suggestion without knowing the format your using, aspect ratio, etc.

      I have read somewhere though that if you’re not working on video that will be broadcast, you don’t really need a real monitor. A regular TV will work fine. You definitely still have to set up color bars though.

      As far as where to plug it in…BarefootMedia explained that too. Many NLE systems can be configured to have video playback going out through firewire. You can hook your camera or deck up to your computer via firewire. Then your monitor or TV to your deck or camera with RCA.

    • #165026

      What about DV Rack? I heard this software is really good. Is it possible with this software to calibrate a laptop as well as a broadcast monitor? Or at least almost as well? Anyone use this software? Since a laptop’s colors are different than a broadcast monitors wouldn’t that affect the display? Thanks for all help.

    • #165027

      Sorry to keep this going. I’ve heard that if you try to calibrate a tv with a blue gel you might not get it right still because some colors may get through. So, bottom line it seemsa tv is practically impossible to properly calibrate? I don’t know, but maybe I should ebay a broadcast monitor. Thanks for all help.

    • #165028

      I think you may be missing the point of a monitor. It is used to judge the quality of your video image. There are a lot of very good reasons to make these judgments on a properly adjusted monitor. You mentioned using DV Rack to adjust a computer monitor to act as a video monitor. I use DV Rack Express on my laptop and wished I gotten the 2.0 upgrade before they were bought out by Adobe. The only way to get a full version is to purchase a production package that includes “On Location” with Premiere Pro and some other useful stuff, but the package is running over $800 to bring home. You can get the DV Rack Express package I have from B & H Photo, but I don’t know how useful it will be.

      There is a broadcast monitor module in all of these packages. So far as I’m able to judge, it works exactly as it should. The on-screen image is adjusted by software controls using NTSC color bars. I use it for both adjusting the camera controls to get a good image, and to record the video direct to the hard drive in AVI2 format. I don’t know of a way to use it as a monitor for editing. It is designed to look at the video/audio signal into the Firewire port. I don’t see how the computer could be programmed to use an OUT signal as an IN signal. But there could be a work around, I’ve never investigated. I far & away prefer to view my work the same way my audience will view it, so I use a television with a video input (either composite or S-video.)

      The point of a monitor in post production is to see things as your viewers will see it. So I’d think it’s crazy to get an expensive monitor to edit programs that are aimed for the web. It is also crazy to use an RF converter into an old TV set you found on the curb. You want to be the most critical viewer of your program. You’ll be surprised at the low quality most viewers willingly accept. Until automatic setting using the vertical blanking interval became common, color drifted and I had to restrain myself from adjusting color on other people’s TV’s. But the point I want to make is how poorly most TV’s are adjusted. And why is that? Most people don’t do precise color comparisons.

      In psychology research, individuals with jobs requiring precise color comparisons were compared to folks with ordinary jobs. They established each group’s “just noticeable difference” (JND’s) between shades of color. They found some of the “color experts” could judge as much as 50 shades between colors ordinary folks found just noticeably different. So those of us who deal with color on a day in, day out basis are waaayyyy better judges of color, contrast, brightness & saturation. Now the blue filter or button is supposed to make adjustments more precise, more repeatable and much easier. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do what the blue button does some other way.

      In the studios I managed, we had very expensive physical versions of many of the test charts. And being around color bars all the time sharpened my color judgment to where I could adjust a monitor just to NTSC bars. But there is the poor boys tool for adjusting a monitor. You locate as nice of a JPG of just color bars as you can find, and as large as possible. Then have it printed at least as an 8″x10″ print at a good photo printer. (I know individual shops can vary colors, but going to a camera store will get the best available. And besides, I know you aren’t yet good enough to see the difference if a shop got it wrong. But you gotta get bars you believe are right.) Then you hold the bars next to the TV and match the colors. You’ll be as close as you’re able to judge anyway.

      When we discuss a broadcast monitor, we are really talking about an engineering monitor. It has the special functions the video techs need to make studio systems match perfectly, so you can’t tell one camera or tape roll from any other. In the post-production process, you gotta have a TV to judge the skin tones, know if the graphic colors stand out or smear together, make sure nothing is outside the safe zone and judge the brightness & contrast of your field source video. Having the TV adjusted to within your own “just noticeable difference” of perfect isn’t going to be very far off, certainly within the JND’s of your project audience. And practice will improve your ability.

      Now once you have a TV monitor to watch your program on, adjusted more accurately than most could tell and sitting conveniently in the center of the stereo speakers running off your computer’s sound card, or headphone out. So let’s talk about the professional’s secret editing method, know as workflow planning. It is much faster to do editing “passes” to make a professional product. My rather rudimentary workflow plan begins with “capture all source video, convert graphics and gather media in a new Vegas file.” Then I compare my, generally, three source video tracks to each other, with emphasis on matching the two close-up shots to the cover (master, wide, key) shot. Now as strange as it may sound, it won’t matter if your TV isn’t too accurate in the color settings. (Not so much with the brightness & contrast.) You generally want to pick a camera that’s the best looking, then adjust your other video sources to match it. Once my shots match as well as possible, my workflow then moves on to cutting the show together. I need a monitor during the graphics pass to insure all the text is legible and large enough to read from the equivalent “TV size”/”sofa distance” ratio of my audience. (Or in the case of drug, insurance, legal services, et. al. to look legible but be too small to read.) I may use the monitor to tweak cut-aways, but the requirement of a TV monitor has passed for this show. My workflow moves to audio tweaking and final reviews.

      So I’ll close as I began. Don’t get lost in trying to get equipment you don’t really need. Look at how you are going to use the monitor in the productions you plan on doing. And keep in mind the JND’s (just noticeable difference) of your viewing public gives you a bit of learning latitude. I used to be able to just look at a set of color bars and know what to adjust & about how much. Of course, then I was working master control at the cable company and my job was to use engineering tools to send beautiful pictures & level sound out to the cable viewers. And I was adjusting the video signals with TBC’s (Time Base Corrector’s) and fine tuning with vectorscopes & waveform monitors. But I was back to my problem of craving to adjust the TV’s at friend’s homes or waiting rooms, so anyway.

      Hope this helps you decide what you really need in a monitor for now. Engineering monitors make it fast & easy to adjust to NTSC bars, but practice will improve your ability to judge color and so better adjust your own monitor. There are some editing tasks (or workflow passes) that don’t even require a monitor and the same goes for projects viewed only on the web. In my years as an independent producer, I’ve found it much easier on the budget to make do with less than “industry standard” equipment. My first lighting package featured work lights on heavy duty stands and battered foamcore for reflectors, with a back-up roll of kitchen foil on hand. My first editing monitor on my NLE was an ancient Commodore 64 monitor with a composite video input. Once warmed up, it held settings very well and was too big for the space I had available. Check out TV’s with video inputs, composite & S-video, at pawn shops, you can often find a good deal to get you started. Because the sooner you start the practicing, the sooner it pays off in better video.

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