Okay, here’s a quick tip I was reminded of when Juan Salvo asked on Twitter about finding a GUI monitor that looked half-decent with the brightness turned all the way down.
I saw that and remembered something pretty awesome I saw during my internship at EFILM: The GUI monitors in the grading theaters had a piece of ND gel over the screen. The idea behind it is this: In a dark grading environment, bright computer monitors can be hard to look at for long lengths of time, they stick out like a sore thumb in the room and can even distract the client depending on your room setup. Most people would tend to just lower the brightness on the monitor, but this causes other issues. Sometimes (Like in Juan’s case) even lowering the brightness all the way down isn’t enough. Also, lowering the brightness all the way down lowers the contrast of the monitor a ton, which makes it harder to look at (remember how contrast affects perceived sharpness? You want your GUI monitor sharp).
Putting ND gel over the monitor works better than lowering the brightness because it leaves the contrast of the monitor as is, and just decreases total light output. You get a dimmer screen that still looks sharp. It worked pretty well for Juan!
Here’s a pic he sent me showing how well it worked:
The only question on this is how to attach. At EFILM, they just cut the gel to fit the size of the monitor (note: not the size of the screen, the size of the monitor – it went all the way to the plastic edge, which made it appear cleaner) and just used scotch tape on the top two corners to attach. This let the gels be flipped over the back of the monitor if you wanted to see the screen at full brightness. Other suggestions have included getting one of those privacy screens and replacing the filter with the ND gel.
I hope that helps those of you that grade in dark colorist caves!