Monitors: 'strategic' advice.

I hope it’s OK to post this here, I looked and couldn’t see a specific hardware forum.

I would like some advice on monitors, but this isn’t a basic “which is the best monitor” question, it has more of a workflow ‘strategy’ angle to it. Let me explain…

I have just ordered a workstation but have not yet ordered a monitor. I intend to use the system for making short animated films in both 2D and 3D, so that means modelling, animating, but also a lot of video editing.

At first I was thinking about splashing out and buying a really pro monitor with really good colour calibration so that I can do colour grading work at the end of the main part of making the short films. Then I see that decent calibrated monitors start in the thousands ££$$$, and may not even have a fast enough refresh rate to preview animations with smoothness, as their focus is colour not speed.

I might be naïve here, but I thought to myself that as vast majority of hours spent making short animated films would be on animation, modelling, rough previews and the very much smaller amount of time would be on colour grading of final video edit, I’d be better off buying a faster monitor without such great quality colour, and for colour grading at the end perhaps hiring a calibrated one or paying someone to do it for me – probably a lot cheaper it would cost to buy one (even in the long term, because if I bought one it would be superseded/depreciated at a faster rate than I make the animations!). Having a monitor that focusses on speed rather than colour would be a lot cheaper too!

So my questions are:

  • Does my reasoning make sense or am I being naïve? Somebody with greater experience of making such films might disagree about the efficiency of my plan!

  • If it does make sense, any pointers to a decent monitor for the needs described above (refresh rate top priority, colour quality not so important)?

Of course, I wouldn’t mind if any suggestions had half decent colour too.

Oh, and it would need to be 1080p so I can at least view things in native HD resolutions to judge if text is readable etc.

Thanks in advance!

First off: do not confuse colour correction and color grading. Colour correction you perform before editing, and is shot based, while colour grading is applied after all the editing, and is scene based.

Some tips:

  • Learn to read the scopes in your software well. Most of the time these are your best friends in color correcting and grading

  • A second (cheap) pc/laptop with a video card can be turned into an external scope by installing a software scope, like ScopeBox or VidScope - this way you can check the video signal coming out of your production machine downstream, and be certain all video lines are monitored.

(I am not sure how exact Blender’s scopes are, and if they check every single line of video. Software scopes built into video software like Premiere often only check a quarter, 16th or even a single line to preserve cpu power and reserve it for video editing.)

  • make your working environment as neutral-coloured as possible.

  • get a good book on colour grading and colour correction for video before deciding on the monitor setup, or ask people who work in video editing, both pros and semi-pros.
    Color Correction Handbook: Professional Techniques for Video and Cinema
    Color Correction for Video, Second Edition: Using Desktop Tools to Perfect Your Image

  • At least get a dual monitor system. Do not limit yourself with just one. Let me repeat this: get two or perhaps even three screens. A pro CRT broadcast monitor can help and be quite inexpensive second hand, but those generally have a lot of hours of use on them.

The ability to edit on one screen and preview on the other is gold. And Blender becomes 10 times more usable and fast to animate in when working on more than one screen.

  • Whatever you do, get a spyder, color munki or similar hardware color calibrating device for your screens. If dual screens are used, you may have to get a pro version that supports more than one screen.

Having a certified professional calibrate your screens or colour grade your production will cost a lot of money.

Many thanks Herbert, I will certainly research the above you mention. I do agree getting multiple monitors will be a good idea, and I did intend to do that - i do not throw old ones away.

So based on that, would I be right in saying I might as well get a cheap monitor to start with, cos it is good have a cheap one in your fleet in the name of varied testing? By cheap i mean a fast refresh but not great colour one as I described above. If you look at it like this, i almost can’t do wrong can I? :slight_smile:

I notice you have 3 screens - on some forums I read that Samsung and HPs are not liked these days. Would you agree seeing as you have one of each?

So at this juncture, I’d be thankful if anyone out there can just suggest a good one to start my eventual fleet of screens with!

A more specific question; will a response time of 6ms average be good enough to see very smooth animation? I am thinking of this one you see: its the only one that mentions that it has specific functions for 3D apps and animation:

“The CG241W’s Digital Intermedia (DI) functionality also supports 48/50 Hz signals; a frequency essential for editing, animation and 3D computer graphic applications.”

You could look at some dell monitors like Dell UltraSharp U2711, much cheaper and with a bigger resolution.look at reviews over the internet about monitors and color reproduction.

You read my mind Bluelife! I was just readin reviews about the Dell Ultrasharps. This HP one seems to have done better though:

…and the HP Zs below that in size are a lot cheaper but presumably of the same quality just smaller.

I think i might prefer to get more pixels by have 2 smaller monitors rather than 1 big one. That way I can get another monitor later once I have learned from experience of the first.

Still I would prefer 2 27’’ than a single 30’‘… And it seems the price for the 2 27’‘(dells) is the same as a single 30’‘(hp or dell)
And I can’t find a 27’’ model of the hp you posted plus the 24’’ doesn’t have the same resolution.(That’s a minus for me)

If you consider 2x24’’ I would again consider just buying a 27’’ first and pair it temporarily with a smaller one(maybe with a 90 degree rotation)

You might want to have a look at the Samsung 27" 27a850d. I got it, and it’s a great screen: hits the sweet spot between the disadvantages of ips and tn panels.

It is based on Samsung’s new PLS technology (Plane to Line Switching), with a LED backlight.

The quality of the image is amazing, once calibrated. And the non-reflective screen does not ‘shimmer’ like those Dell ips monitors - it’s ridiculously sharp looking - also no colour shift like the Dells. Movies look great, games look great, animation looks great - the only drawback is the less than ideal black, but I don’t notice it. No lagging when playing or watching film either. It hits the sweet spot for me.

Hi Herbert,

I was just about to buy the 27a850d when I noticed it is only 8bit colour which annoys me a bit, other than that it is perfect. The Dell U range and the HP Z range would be perfect (they are 10bit) but I have read too many user reviews where the anti-glare coating has infuriated owners so much that they send them back!

Is there anything else?

After considering it, I think I will get the Samsung, as even today not many apps or media use above 8-bit yet. However I since found out that the 27a850d has been discontinued at least in the UK, to be replaced by the 27a850T - apparently some glow has been improved and and it now has an HDMI port too (which I wanted ideally!). Only trouble is, after calling up Samsung and a few retailers, no one, not even Samsung sales dept. knows when it will be released in the UK (it’s already out in Australia and Europe).