Why This Quick Fix To Your TV Settings Will Make You A Better Virtual Capture Artist

By Duncan Birnie @duncanbirnie

Game Photography TV Settings

A little while ago I saw a conversation unfolding on Twitter. The participants were troubled by the difference in appearance between the captured console image displayed on their TV versus their mobile or PC screens, and were trying to work out what was going on. I’m afraid the answer is this: unless you’ve already spent time setting up your TV correctly, your mobile or PC screens are actually showing more accurate images.

“But Duncan,” I hear you cry, “my TV cost so much more than my phone and/or computer. Shouldn’t it already be showing me the best images, and is there anything I can do to improve this dastardly situation?” Fear not, dear reader, for I am here aid you in these troubled times!

The reason for the discussed discrepancy is simple. Out of the box, TVs are designed to impress with bright colours, insane levels of brightness and way-too-contrasty images. This is because when they’re on display in a store, they’re all trying to compete with each other for your attention (and money). Our eyes are naturally drawn to the brightest and most colourful image in the store, so the default Picture Mode isn’t about an accurate image, it’s about sales. Plus it’s totally unsuitable for use in your home. On the flip side (with a few exceptions), mobile and PC screens tend to favour accuracy out of the box, or simply don’t have any extra processing like many TVs so can’t artificially tweak the image anyway.

So, in the context of the Twitter conversation, the participants were using the default, inaccurate settings on their TV, and seeing the proper, closer to accurate image on their mobile and PC screens. This is wrong on so many levels! Image accuracy and, crucially, consistency is key to producing good work, and your TV might currently be the weakest link in your chain. It’s also the first, so how can you possibly capture an image knowing that you and your audience (who are viewing on mobile or PC screens, not your TV) will see the image as you do?

The good news is there’s a super-quick tweak that vastly improves the accuracy of your TV screen, no matter how cheap or expensive it was. It takes less than 30 seconds and you can do it yourself! Follow these steps below:

  1. Go to your TV’s Picture Settings menu.
  2. Look for Picture Mode or a similar option, that is currently set to either Vivid or Standard.
  3. Select it and browse the Picture Modes on offer.
  4. Change it to Game, or if you don’t have that, Cinema/Movie Mode.

Yep, that’s it! The mode you changed it from was the key offender, and by changing it to Game or Cinema you’ve removed all unnecessary brightness, colour and sharpness boosts from your screen. You’re now seeing images much closer to how their makers intended (hint, it’s worth using Cinema Mode for movies!). Crucially, the consistency between your TV and everyone else’s screens is now much better, meaning you shouldn’t need to tweak as much in post because your baseline (CELLS INTERLINKED) image is much closer to what you intended.

There’s one other thing to check, and that’s the Colour Temperature setting. Set it to Warm (if you have multiple, the warmest option) as Game Modes often don’t do this by default, whereas Cinema Modes will. This is super-important for more accurate colours.

“Errm… Duncan? I think you broke my TV. Everything looks yellow now.” Ah well actually, you just got used to it not looking yellow enough! Without going into the technicalities, rest assured it is correct and accurate. Give your brain a few hours to adjust, and you won’t even notice it. In fact if you went back to Vivid or Standard Mode, things will look too blue once you’ve adjusted the other way.

You’ve no doubt noticed the other options in your Picture menu, and have probably guessed there’s an awful lot more you can do to improve your TV’s picture further. If this is received well and people want to know more I can certainly write an in-depth article, but in the mean time if you’d like to know more or need some advice on this subject just hit me up on Twitter! Home Cinema has long been a passion of mine, and I’d be more than happy to help you out.

Let me know how you get on!



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