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Settings for contrast (white levels) and brightness (black levels) are critical to the proper viewing of a picture on a video monitor or television.

The blacker the blacks and the whiter the whites results in a higher contrast ratio, improving the visual experience. If misadjusted, the picture can look too grey and/or washed. The best balance is achieved by careful analysis of your monitor’s performance by providing controlled signals representing the “whitest white” and “blackest black”. Always keep in mind that the room environment will affect these settings. Making adjustments in a sunny room will result in a brighter setting than if adjustments are made in the evening. So it’s wise to make adjustments under the viewing conditions likely to exist when you watch the movie. Motion pictures are mastered in a room that’s moderately dark. White levels (contrast) are adjusted to 35-foot lamberts using a light meter and a signal very much like what’s provided by THX Optimizer. We don’t expect you to use a light meter, but the THX Optimizer test has been designed to deliver results very close to what’s achieved during mastering.

The Contrast/Picture adjustment procedure provides a box with four distinct shades of white in eight boxes surrounded by black. If the Contrast/Picture control is set too high, you can lose the distinction between the various white boxes and can result in a washed out image. The brightest white boxes will represent the highest video level in the feature. The goal is to adjust your Contrast/Picture control on your television/monitor to a point where the large white area is bright but all four shades of white are still visible.