You might also be asking yourself: Why? Who are they? Or even why should I care? Well don’t worry. When we started working with them three years ago on film, online and campaign work, we were in much the same boat.
The necessary getting-to-know-them piece of work uncovered lots of technical information, some of it pretty tricky to get your head round.
But it also uncovered some startling facts: One, that the image making, design and photography industry is perhaps tolerating an unnecessary margin of error between what they look at on their monitor and what they see in real life. And two, lots of the world’s leading photographers, image makers and even Hollywood special effects houses use EIZO. So, what do they know that we didn’t?
Let’s park the technical jargon for a minute and talk about how we can get to better images through the screen… in simple terms:
First things first, the monitor actually does matter… possibly more than you thought
In our agency, we are no different to thousands of other creative professionals across the world. We’ve been brought up using Apple machines and Adobe software. We’ve got the phones, they all link up nicely, everything’s great. But actually, there’s a whole world of stuff that contributes to making the monitor in front of us more accurate, more colourful and richer. Once you open the door to it, you end up asking lots of questions like: how come sometimes the thing that printed was different from what I had on my monitor? How come I keep seeing my stupid reflection in the glass? How come I’m getting banding when I look at gradients? The answer is: The tech that lives in the monitor itself.
They call it ‘luminance’, we call it brightness
One of the things we learned about EIZO was about how the monitor’s brightness or luminance can be set too high for the way you output work. Meaning the brightness of what you’re looking at might be completely fake when seen on a printed page. That’s important. It can lead to unnecessary brightening or darkening of an image. All that stuff can be set correctly inside the monitor and with proper set up, meaning what you’re seeing at your desk matches what you see on the page.
The edge of the monitor and the middle
Once we started noticing this we now can’t un-notice it. Look at any flat colour on your monitor and then look at the edges and corners. Are they darker? Is the middle lighter? If so, then how might that impact on the way your assessing a photo or colour? Are you retouching something or lightening an area that’s actually fine? This is known as ‘uniformity’ and again… we don’t have to live like this!
How come the print looks different to what I sent?
Here’s where that unnecessary margin of error lives: Why have we come to accept that what we see on a printer’s proof will be different from what we saw on screen? It doesn’t have to be. We can close that gap, we could be looking at a more accurate version of your image or design, one that’s closer with the one in print. Often monitors aren’t set up to do this. EIZO’s are. It’s all about calibration and ICC profiling that matches a printing press behaviour. But all you and I need to worry about is: What I see on screen is what I get in real life and what I see in real life is what I saw on screen.
The monitor has a temperature
Some may know this, personally I didn’t. The screen has a colour temperature which is measured in Kelvin (like a Sci Fi film). That temperature controls the warmth or coolness of the white areas you’re looking at. Now, digital monitor temperature is different from print temperature. So basically, your monitor is hotter than your print. Again: we soon learned that temperature can be set in the monitor to match the most common output of your work. Let’s say you make books, you don’t then need a monitor that’s set for onscreen work only. It’s too hot.
If my set up is the same as yours, we can share
Take all these things into account for larger organisations who might do things like work on scenes in a film. If we’re working on different set ups then the ability to share work across a team or even across the world in some cases becomes more difficult, especially in a digital industry where collaboration is so often lorded. So, who would’ve thought it: your monitor can actually aid collaboration. Last year we made a film with Framestore. It’s organisations like these who need to rely on consistency – they’re sending scenes off to other parts of the world. One scene’s got a gorilla in it. The previous one doesn’t. But the colour quality of all needs to match.
So, if we’re going to get the best out of our work, if we want a more efficient way of working, if we want to close down that margin of error, the monitor can actually help us do that. It’s as important as a lens or even the camera itself. It’s why we found lots of amazing leading photographers using EIZO monitors. It’s historically been the thing that comes in the box with your computer. I’d certainly never even given it a second thought. It was all for tech nerds, right? Well, actually no.
See, I told you it was more important than you thought.
Lee Davies is Creative Director at Sheffield based agency Peter and Paul, peterandpaul.co.uk
EIZO are committed to the creation of great images, so have spent the last few years travelling around the world, meeting some of the best image makers in their field and finding out how they work and why colour is so vital when making something amazing.