• ISF II and THX Classes, My Experience. A Review by AVS Moderator Jon Spackman

    I recently attended both classes (ISF level 2, and THX 1 and 2), and thought others might want to read my opinion of how it went.

    I found both to be entertaining and helpful. The biggest difference between the two classes is the experience you walk out with after THX class (and the techniques for education the calibration customer you learn at THX) . At the ISF class you get a fun few days of great stories, along with explanations of what is “wrong” with displays, why they sell them that way, and what needs to be done to fix them. In the ISF classes you are taught what adjustments need to be changed. What you get very little of is actual time in class (no after/before class hands on time in the days during training is offered) adjusting displays and the invaluable help from experts while testing out your skills on displays.

    The THX class offers hours before and after class during the training days so you can test your skills and get feedback along with questions answered from experienced calibrators should you need it. Both classes will tell you what the major calibration steps are and why they need to be done in that order, however THX uses simpler to understand terminology and also includes helpful anecdotes from real calibrators usually associated with lessons (mistakes) they learned (committed) when dealing with their clients. The THX instructors also give you a real understanding about why you need to educate the customer about calibration so that they will grasp what you do for them and appreciate it. (As well as what to expect if you skip this part) Simply going to a customer’s home and calibrating their display(s) and leaving will not only leave the customer unsatisfied, but will almost certainly guarantee you never get asked back or get a referral from that customer. This concept that simply knowing how to calibrate a display does not in and of itself make you a professional calibrator is clear after the THX class. The ISF guys help the class to really know what needs to be done for a calibration, but do not talk at all about educating your customer about calibration so they can appreciate what you’re doing for them during your calibration visit.

    The ISF class does cover the things that are involved in a calibration from brightness to CMS (Color Management Systems) in that order. The biggest issue I had was after the complete explanation I knew what they were about, but not how to really set these levels and didn’t have hands on practice performing adjustments. It was kind of a “here is what to do,” now go and practice on your customers displays (and hopefully you are doing it correctly). In the ISF class we were given definitions of what the brightness does and why its proper level is very important, but there was no emphasis on what the parts of a test pattern for setting black level are (blacker than black, etc.), or actually how to set it by example. This same scenario was also the case with white level, grayscale, CMS. At the ISF class we did get a good understanding of what these things were all about and what they should look like, just not how to properly set them with examples and by doing it ourselves with supervision on displays in class.

    The THX class was very thorough and would explain a concept, then pause to let us go try it with supervision and do it on a few displays. Then we would get back together and discuss and answer any questions before moving on to the next skill. This makes for much better confidence that you are setting levels correctly as you can simply call over an instructor when in doubt. Add to that the fact that the THX instructors then start to hand out their business cards to the students, this was very reassuring. The business cards are given as a reminder that the THX instructors are always a phone call away should disaster strike in the field (An actual upset customer demanding a refund would be a good reason to call them). THX is the only one to offer a private support website for THX Calibrators for getting service code information and programs that will aid the calibrator in the field, as well as access to a TV repairman for those unexpected issues.

    Overall if you are going to take a calibration class and want to perform calibration for your customers, I would recommend the THX class because you will walk out a calibrator, not just an educated, but inexperienced video guy.

    Jon Spackman
    THX Video Level 1 and 2 Attendee at JVC in Cypress CA Dec 2010
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Zayd_Bhimla -
      I enjoyed every moment of the THX video 1+2 classes at JVC headquarter last december 2011!
      I am utilizing the knowledge/skills I learned to design & install the best video experience for my clients in california

      thanks gregg & michael
      you guys ROCK!