By Chris Ryan
One of our days at the IBC show in Amsterdam was spent focusing on monitors.
We at Nice Shoes are on a quest to find suitable replacements for our client monitors, which are currently Panasonic Plasmas. When we redesigned our Nice Shoes color grading suites a few years ago we decided to go for a layout with the colorist to the side or rear of the clients. This helped to create a hybrid theater/living room feel. Part of that design was using high-end professional monitors for the colorist in tandem with “prosumer” level large-screen monitors for our clients.
We felt that this would help simulate the home viewing experience since most viewers have large, flat-screen monitors in their homes. The issue was finding monitors of that size that could be calibrated to match our professional monitors, which the colorists use. We found that Panasonic’s Plasma monitors fit that bill and we installed them in all our rooms both at Nice Shoes and with our remote partners around the country.
We’re now faced with a problem: Panasonic has abandoned Plasma technology. We’ve spent the past year bringing in new prosumer-level monitors and have yet to find anything that comes close to the Plasmas in terms of color and uniformity. We haven’t been able to turn to the professional market since only Dolby offers a Grade-A professional monitor above 30 inches in size. Dolby’s monitor is beautiful, very expensive and limited to 42 inches, which is well below our needs.
So we started walking the halls of the RAI Convention Center looking for a company that offers large-screen monitors that can meet our calibration requirements. It turned out to be a daunting task. All the usual suspects, like Sony and Panasonic, have beautiful professional screens but none are large enough for our needs. Their large-screen offerings are not meant for critical viewing and thus have many of the same uniformity and calibration issues I mentioned above.
We’ve toyed with the idea of using projectors like those that Christie offers but that would likely require too many changes to our rooms, and Christie’s large, flat-screen offerings have all the same issues we saw from other manufacturers. We were discouraged until we went to the Plura booth.
Plura is a company that specializes in high-end monitors. They use LG LCD panels that are then fitted into Plura-designed cases and use Plura’s own hardware in order to get the most out of the screens. We met with Ray Kalo, who is the founder of the company. We laid out our needs and he was very honest about how hard it is to get large-screen monitors to the level we desire, but he was also confident that his 55-inch offering could meet our requirements. Perfect, but we need to see it for ourselves.
Plura currently has a 55-inch screen installed at the UN broadcast center in New York City, and Ray invited us to either go there with one of their techs or to come to their factory in Phoenix.
When we get back to New York we’ll decide, but at least we have a glimmer of hope!
Chris Ryan is a colorist and partner at New York City’s Nice Shoes.