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Improving image quality with light

Improving image quality with light

In understanding how environmental light impacts image quality, it's helpful to think of bias lighting for displays in the same way that we think about acoustic room treatments for speakers. It does literally nothing to the device itself, and works entirely on the environment and human factors. 

Bias lighting, a finely-tuned light source placed behind the screen, subtly shapes our viewing experience by influencing how we perceive the images on screen. When employed correctly, it can bridge the gap between the screen and the ambient environment, reducing the harsh contrast that often leads to eye strain during extended viewing sessions. When the white point of the light matches the industry standard white point of the display, which is calibrated to what is known as the standard illuminant D65, it does this while preserving color accuracy. 

In our everyday lives, objects around us exhibit color through the absorption and reflection of light, an interaction that forms the basis of color perception. However, it works a bit differently when it comes to displays, which create color by transmitting light through pixels for LED or emitting light from pixels, in the case of OLED. The role of lighting becomes crucial here as it influences the perceived color accuracy of the displayed images through a process called chromatic adaptation.

In short, our visual system adapts to the color of the light in our environment, leading to an interesting phenomenon where the perceived colors on a transmissive display can be influenced in an opposing manner, such that the color of the ambient light emphasizes the complementary or opponent color on the display.

For instance, when exposed to warm ambient light, our screens will appear cooler in tone, while light sources with excessive magenta, a common occurrence in tunable light sources, will cause our screens to take on a greenish hue. This process of chromatic adaptation underscores our brain's ability to adjust our perception of colors to maintain a sense of consistency and naturalness in varying lighting conditions.

When your mobile device or computer dynamically adjusts its display according to the ambient lighting conditions, as exemplified by Apple's TrueTone technology, it does so for a specific reason. However, such adaptive behavior can pose challenges in a dedicated reference home theater or professional post-production environment, as it introduces disparities between the screen's color rendition and that of other screens.

First, consider the scenario in a post production facility, where color accuracy is non-negotiable. The ambient lighting conditions significantly impact how colorists and editors perceive colors on screen. A neutral and consistent light source, like that provided by MediaLight, aids in preserving the true essence of colors, enabling professionals to make accurate color judgments. This precision, in turn, contributes to achieving the desired output, be it in film editing, graphic design, or any color-critical task. 

The application of bias lighting transcends professional environments and finds its relevance in home theaters as well. By reducing the glaring contrast between the bright screen and the dark room, bias lighting moderates the harshness of the screen light, especially in dark scenes, making for a more relaxed and enjoyable viewing experience. You've heard the term "preserving the director's intent" when discussing display calibration. This extends to viewing the content under the same lighting conditions. 

Additionally, the consistent ambient light provided by bias lighting can mitigate some of the challenges posed by different display technologies. For instance, OLED displays, known for their infinite contrast, can cause more eye strain compared to LED panels due to the pupils' constant dilation and constriction reacting to the varying brightness levels. By moderating these brightness disparities, bias lighting alleviates the strain, promoting comfortable viewing.

In an era where display technology continually evolves, achieving enhanced color accuracy and reducing eye strain remains a priority for many. Bias lighting, although simple, plays a vital role in realizing this goal, making it an indispensable companion in both professional settings and home theaters. By embracing the influence of ambient lighting on image perception, viewers can unlock a visually rich and comfortable viewing experience,while getting the best picture out of their equipment. 

Adhering to recognized standards in display and ambient lighting is paramount to ensuring a true-to-source visual experience. Standards bodies such as the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA), Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) lay down stringent guidelines that help in maintaining a uniform quality and performance across various display and lighting setups. Products that meet or exceed these standards are seen as benchmarks in delivering a reliable and accurate viewing experience.

MediaLight stands out by designing solutions that not only meet but exceed the industry standards set forth by these authoritative bodies. Our adherence to and exceeding of established standards underscores a commitment to quality and accuracy, providing both professionals and home theater enthusiasts with a reliable solution to enhance their visual engagements. By aligning with these standards, MediaLight brings a level of sophistication and reliability that is crucial in a domain where precision and consistency are most important. Other brands in our range, such as LX1 and Ideal-Lume share the same commitment to standards and accuracy. 

Accurate light is the foundation of accurate color. Bias lighting, by enhancing image perception and reducing eye strain, remains a silent "behind the scenes and behind the screens" player, offering a simple solution to a more comfortable and enjoyable viewing experience.

Next article Bias lights for the modern TV.