Quick Tip: ND Your Screen

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Quick Tip: ND Your Screen

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:

 

It's kinda hard to tell since the room is so dark, but if you look closely, you can see the reflections on the ND gel in front of the screen. It's pretty cool how dim this display is compared to the rest of the room (look at the bottom of the picture to see a comparison of something not black...).

It’s kinda hard to tell since the room is so dark, but if you look closely, you can see the reflections on the ND gel in front of the screen. It’s pretty cool how dim this display is compared to the rest of the room (look at the bottom of the picture to see a comparison of something not black…).

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!

6 Comments

  • Juan Salvo

    24.05.2013 at 14:44 Reply

    Thanks Aaron! That was a big help for me.

    • Aaron Williams

      24.05.2013 at 14:48 Reply

      No problem! Glad it’s working out.

  • Javier Martos

    09.06.2013 at 04:28 Reply

    I wonder if there could be a kind of filters that snap to the monitor by electrostatic charge.

    • Aaron Williams

      10.06.2013 at 11:08 Reply

      That’s not a bad idea. Get to work! :)

  • Luxie

    09.06.2013 at 04:58 Reply

    There are a lot of Nd gel types that reduces different f-stop lights..what is the better one?
    Thanks :)

    • Aaron Williams

      10.06.2013 at 11:09 Reply

      I think a lot of that would be up to personal preference. I never did ask what ND EFILM was using… You should ask @j_salvo on twitter and see what he used!

Chime in!