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Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics [Blu-ray]
Digital Video Essentials HD Basics
Actor: Joe Kane
Director: Joe Kane
Genres: Special Interests, Educational
NR     2008     2hr 0min

Created by home theater industry legend Joe Kane, HD Basics is the — definitive High Definition home theater calibration tool. It promises to — improve your picture and give you an understanding of the concepts that — are vit...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Joe Kane
Director: Joe Kane
Genres: Special Interests, Educational
Sub-Genres: Special Interests, Educational
Studio: DVD International
Format: Blu-ray
DVD Release Date: 03/25/2008
Original Release Date: 03/25/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 03/25/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Still great, but mostly the same
T. J. Green | Hendersonville, TN USA | 03/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I've been using the Digital Video Essentials DVD to calibrate my TVs for quite a few years and I've always loved the results, so when I heard that a Blu-Ray edition was coming, I was ecstatic.

Well, now that I've got it, it still does an excellent job, but for owners of the DVD edition, you're really not getting anything new. Almost everything on here is directly from the original DVD, only remastered in 1080p. There are a few things that have been added that pertain to LCD technology and explanation of the HD color standards, but the vast majority of content is exactly the same as the DVD.

The one thing that is a definite improvement over the DVD edition is the menu system. Instead of being forced to fast-forward through explanations to get to the test patterns, now you can bring up the pop-up menu and select a test pattern directly. So, once you've learned how to use the test patterns, you don't have to watch the explanations again in order to get to them.

So, if your Blu-Ray budget is a little short and you already own the DVD edition, then I'd say just stick with what you've got. After calibrating my TV again with the new Blu-Ray edition, I ended up with the exact same settings that I achieved with the DVD, so in that respect, you're not going to get a more enhanced calibration with the Blu-Ray edition. Apart from that, I'd say its worth it just for the improved menu system, if you don't mind re-purchasing basically the same thing over again.

If you don't own the DVD, I'd say buy this immediately, but don't let the "HD Basics" tagline fool you. This can be pretty technical if you've never used a disc like this before. Just take your time, watch all the intro videos (and there's a lot to the intros), and you should be fine."
Not as easy to use as it says.
Machina | NJ, USA | 03/27/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I've never owned a DVE calibration disc. Before this disc, I used to use AVIA to calibrate my TV. My TV is a Sony 32S3000, and it is connected via HDMI to a PS3, which I used as my BD player.

Opening the HD Basics case reveals three color filters all in one single item. This is great compared to AVIA. Lift the paper holder up and move you head up or down depending on the filter you want. And the paper holder itself is a tool to check the grayscale. AWSOME INCLUSION!

The HD Basics BD starts by giving you a crippled menu, but with a question: Where would you like to start? The question was a good start, but the execution reveals that they didn't even put thought into the menu:

COMPLETE PROGRAM MENU - Self explanatory.
HD IN DETAIL - Video shows how to setup Environment, Audio, and Video (more descriptions of Video things like scan-lines, color quality, etc).
SETTING UP MY HDTV - Video shows how to use Basic Test Patterns.
JUST THE TEST PATTERNS - Basic Test Patterns.

The three lower items act like short-cuts to items in the Complete Program Menu. I don't like this menu because it's so annoying to get back into it and because the title of each item is very vague. "HD In Detail" - How vague is that? "Setting Up My HDTV" - Do you mean how to connect the wires to it? Also, having the Complete Program Menu at the top sort of contradicts their efforts to make it simple. Instead it should have been last, and called Advanced Menu or some crap similar crap that would've kept the average Joe from venturing in there.

Once you enter an item you cannot return to this menu unless you press the Top Menu button on your controller, which shows a loading screen. When you enter an item, you can press Back to go to the Complete Program menu:

INTRO TO HD - Video shows why we need to calibrate, new technologies and CRT matching, how wide color gamut sucks (possible shot at Sony?), and video compression.
HD IN DETAIL - Video shows how to setup Environment, Audio, and Video (more descriptions of Video things like scan-lines, color quality, etc).
HD VIDEO CALIBRATION - Known as Setting Up My HDTV in the top menu, this video shows how to use Basic Test Patterns.
BASIC VIDEO SETUP PATTERNS - Known as Just The Test Patterns in the top menu, this item shows the Basic Test Patterns.
AUDIO TEST SIGNALS - Self explanatory.
ADVANCED VIDEO TEST PATTERNS - More test patterns. Allows the option of 1080p or 720p. Doesn't seem useful to me.
DEMONSTRATION MATERIALS - Some videos to look at for viewing HD picture. Allows the option of 1080p or 720p. Narration by Joe Kane is also an option, but only in 1080p.
CREDITS - Shows who you should complain about if you dislike the BD.

Alot of the information on the 90 minutes worth of videos can get very technical and is not important to calibration or to the average Joe. The narrator sounds monotonous and throws in a few, really stupid jokes. It can also seem repetitive sometimes because every time he refers back to something he repeats that something almost entirely. It also sounds like a rant sometimes as the Narrator tends to sound disgusted with certain practices of HDTV manufacturers and goes on to say the beliefs of JKP.
There are also no titles to each chapter of video and very little emphasis is place on calibration information that is mixed in with all the other technical information. So I watched everything and picked out the information that I thought was important, but it doesn't mean I couldn't have missed something.

None of the of the Video Test Patterns allow you to calibrate Tint. How did they miss that and why? They went in so much detail on everything else.

The Navigation Menu is similar to the HD DVD menu, if you're familiar with it, but isn't as easy to navigate through. When you enter a menu item, a chapter selection thing shows up. What sucks about this is that to select the next chapter, which is below the current one, you need to press Up instead of Down. Then if you want to get back to the Complete Program Menu, there is no item to do so. You have to figure out to press Back. In only three menu items is there the selection to go Back. This is inconsistent and isn't intuitive.

Every Menu item has a description of it on the right of it that tries to describe in more detail what the item does, or how to use the test pattern if the item is for one. However, it fails. It's too verbose and not simple enough for the average Joe to understand what to do with it properly. It is also shown in too small font.

I also found a bug. While look at a test pattern, if I press the Menu button, the image becomes cropped. I fixed this by going back to the Top Menu. It's happened to me twice so far. This is obviously something that can get very annoying and is the true testament of how much work JKP put into this BD.

DVE HD Basics isn't as easy as they say it is to navigate and understand the full use of video patterns. However, JKP do provide the nice color filter item and there are true HD color patterns here unlike SD calibration discs. If you're an enthusiast, you may also find some of the technical information fun to know. My main complaint is that they could've made it so much easier to use by using common sense. It's just plain ridiculous the mistakes that they made in this edition.

UPDATE: I just remembered, from AVIA, how to adjust the TINT control. Use the blue filter on the pattern used to adjust color. Make sure all the blue boxes are an equal shade of blue.

UPDATE 2: If you already have a calibration disc, you won't benefit much from buying this disc. It only made a slight difference in my color and sharpness settings."
Definitely made a difference, but missing key features.
Revived gamer | Minneapolis, MN | 11/28/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Some quick info that I'm basing my review on: The TV I have is the Samsung LN52A750 (a very popular higher end TV right now). My HD sources are: Blu-Ray = PS3, Comcast HD cable, and an XBOX 360 for games. All of these are via HDMI.

I almost always have my TV on in a dark room which is what I wanted the calibration optimized for. I tried my naked eye, then the THX test pattern on the Terminator 2 Blu-Ray but I noticed some noise/graininess in background images sometimes.


1. Makes the THX test pattern that is available with some Blu-Rays a waste of time. I used the one that came with Terminator 2 (but they're all the same). I did not like the results. But I tried it because renting T2 on Blu-Ray was faster and cheaper than buying DVE so I thought I'd give it a try. To me, the THX patterns are next to worthless. I hate to be so critical but they really are.

2. In-depth education about HD in general, some tricks and methods used by TV manufacturers as well as movie studios, mastering firms, etc. This information is interesting, educational, and useful for optimizing your set. Even though a setting like "color" in your menu might seem obvious, this disc explains how it works within your set which does help in the calibration process.

3. Comes with a color filter that you hold up to your eye to get the red/green/blue correct.

4. If you set aside a couple of hours (yes, a couple of hours) and pay attention to the information presented on this disc (may take watching the same section a few times) you will get your set calibrated as close as you can. Skipping right to the test patterns won't do you any good because you won't know what you're trying to achieve. Spending hundreds of dollars to have someone come out is just crazy.

5. After adjusting some settings, my TV really does look even better than my own naked eye settings (which I was already in love with).


1. As I expected, there is nothing in this BD about my TV's unique settings for:
a. Backlight
b. HDMI Black Adjust
c. Dynamic Contrast
d. DNR (digital noise reduction)
e. And other menu options (flesh tone, white space, etc.) included in my LN52A750. But I think the factory options for these are fine.

2. While it does include a wealth of info, it's sometimes narrated too fast and/or not clearly enough. I had to watch the section that explains the test patterns 3 times. I didn't mind doing it but thought they could have delivered this in a better way.

Parts of this disc may seem intimidating (even for those of you that consider yourself experts because you browse A/V forums LOL) but if you watch the sections a few times until you understand, you'll be happy you did. My picture really is improved, and I got rid of the background graininess and noise. I think this disc is worth hanging onto, mainly because of future environmental changes that may occur (i.e. you move, rearrange your room, change the lighting, etc.).

I struggled with 3 or 4 stars. I'm happy with the purchase but would have given it 4 or 5 stars if it included info on other menu items in my TV.
Close to Useless - An Electrical Engineer's Perspective
Opinunated | USA | 03/20/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)

"As an electrical engineer and a real HDTV enthusiast I was hoping for a number of useful tests to set up my high definition TV by EYE. This test disk failed miserably! I should note that my work experience has NOT been with video and engineers who have worked in the field may find this disk more useful.

I own a top rated 2008 plasma, connected with HDMI cables and I used a Sony PS3 for playback of this disk.

I'm at a complete loss to understand any of the positive reviews* (*see my conclusion).

Here are a few of the many flaws evident on this calibration disk:

1.) There is an exceedingly long and sophomoric explanation of the compromises made as television evolved from standard definition to high definition and the marketing techniques used to make an HDTV more appealing in a showroom. This is not only a major irritant - this material takes up the bulk of the disk.

2.) Where the disk really fails is in its tests. That's right - it won't help you to set up your TV. The explanations of how to use the tests are either hopelessly incomplete or more often - just missing! I find it absolutely amazing that this video has NO explanations of how to use MOST of its tests. Not a single word!! The only test I thought was reasonably well explained was the one for the sharpness control.

For example: Key factors like setting brightness and contrast are hopelessly confused or incomplete. After a a bit of searching on the web I was able to understand the usefulness of the "below black" signal on this disk. It turns out that "below black" is a test signal only useful for calibrating a TV but in your final calibration you don't want this signal visible. "Below black" picture information does not exist on any commercial DVD or Blu-ray other than a test disk. Trust me - the information I just presented is far more useful and clearer than what you'll find on the disk! Also, no mention was made that your blu-ray player has to be set up to pass this signal. While I was fortunate that I knew this ahead of time, there was not one word of warning to the user, let alone information in how to set up your blu-ray player to pass this signal. Of course if your blu-ray player is not set up correctly you render the test completely invalid. What a reader needs to understand is the test pattern provides various black bars and if the below black signal is missing - a person is not likely to know that it is missing! Even worse was there was no mention that all your room lighting should be turned off to achieve any meaningful results. Fortunately I knew that too. That is a "best case" review of one of the few tests that had an explaination.

Most of the tests have NO INFORMATION about how to use them. Unbelievable!!!!

3.) Some of the sample high definition pictures on this disk, which are included to promote the high quality of HD, have excessive noise. Unbelievable! I was very concerned how poorly some of these clips looked. Only briefly and NOT when these images were first displayed was there a mention by the narrator that this noise was due to flaws/limitations of the (vintage) digital camera used (remember this disk was produced in 2000/2001). In short, any big box store will have better high definition content playing!

4.) The menus are confusing and their titles change. The text that appears on the screen is so small that even on a 60" HDTV I had to get up from my seating position and move closer to read it

This disk had the potential to do a lot but it fails miserably. The disk was made circa 2001 and it clearly shows its roots in CRTs and Projector systems. For example: There is no help whatsoever in setting up the back light of an LCD. That is a key adjustment for adjusting the black level previously discussed.

I hoped to learn more at the company's web site and thought, maybe, I'd still be able to extract some utility from this disk. I could not have been more wrong. There were no technical discussions or anything that a user would find helpful. In fact, the overall scarcity of information was amazing. No forums, tech discussions, or help. Even more telling was there was NO contact information. Once you've bought this disk you are on your own and the authors clearly don't want to hear from you.

Quite honestly - save your money. If someone thinks this disk helps them I'm afraid they are very wrong unless they are far more sophisticated than I am and have extensive technical experience in how to use these test signals and, of course, have the needed instruments. I have no doubt that the test signals were generated with some care. But the question is - how to use them? Most of these signals absolutely need test instruments and the few tests that don't need instrumentation require far better explanations if they are to be done by eye.

Conclusion: I've come to believe that most but not all of the positive reviews of this disk involved people who never understood the tests they were performing and likely misinterpreted the results. For others who liked this disk maybe it was a revelation that the vivid settings, the default/out of the box settings present on many TVs, are not the best. In that case, I suppose the overly long and verbose explanation of how television evolved might be useful if it urges someone to play with the settings of their TV to get a better picture. In a similar vein - some of the tests might be helpful if the HDTV was grossly mis calibrated but even then, using this disk, the HDTV would only be marginally better.

You will do much better checking out CNET where they publish the settings they use for any TV reviewed or visit the AVS forum and look for a discussion on your make and model of TV.

Update: If you click on comments for this review you'll discover a link another Amazon member provided that directs you to a superb tutorial on calibration. As I suggested, you MUST HAVE a test instrument to use this disk (and put in the many hours learning to use it and the associated software). If anyone doubts that this disk is USELESS by itself they should read the tutorial."