Color me puzzled. Very.
August 23, 2007 9:05 PM   Subscribe

How do I setup color profiles on my Macbook Pro? Frighteningly long description inside.

Lots of frustration setting up a color profile on my Macbook Pro through the Calibration option in Display Preferences. Some issues:

- I am "somewhat" color blind, where the qualifier means that I have trouble identifying (only some) shades of some colors apart — can't tell apart some yellows from some greens, browns and greens. (what's up with that anyway?) So playing Frenzic on some color profiles I can't tell apart the yellow pieces from the green, on some I have no problem.

- How do I choose/build a color profile properly for my screen? Any definitive downloadable profiles somewhere? Any novice-friendly literature on the subject?

OK, back to Frenzic.
posted by raheel to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
By color profiles as they refer to Frenzic, do you mean the system ones or their built-in ones? There are multiple possibilities to select if you're color-blind in the options. As for Calibration, only you can answer that. Color profiles are typically made to match a standard or print standard and align a specific display to be accurate. If you want to calibrate so you can differentiate colors better, than only you know what will look best.
posted by mikeh at 9:42 PM on August 23, 2007

mikeh - I did mean the system profile when I mentioned Frenzic.
posted by raheel at 9:57 PM on August 23, 2007

I think SuperCal might be what you're looking for, it's a much more accurate/in-depth version of the Mac monitor calibration tool. The problem for you is that most profiles are going to be based on the idea of reproducing colors accurately, but your eyes really need enhanced contrast in areas where it doesn't really exist. So having machine calibrated "accurate" color isn't going to help you see. SuperCal calibrates to your eye and it's fairly easy to use, so it may give you a better profile. Keep in mind, if you're severly color blind, this profile might make your display look a little strange to everyone else.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:48 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding SuperCal.
Next best thing to using an actual calibration tool.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:22 AM on August 24, 2007

I've used Apple's inbuilt calibrator, SuperCal, and some others whose names I can't recall. The best? A hardware calibration tool. If you're serious about wanting a correctly profiled monitor there is no other choice.

Using the software calibrators I'd end up with a different result every time I ran them. There are too many subjective decisions to make, and how do you know the result is accurate?

Once you see a true neutral gray on your screen you'll wonder how on earth Apple came up with those overly-yellow default profiles.
posted by TiredStarling at 3:04 PM on August 25, 2007

Calibration and profiling are two separate tasks.

To calibrate is to make your color device (be it a printer, monitor, etc) deliver color at its finest, with the best possible gamut and a good luminance curve, etc. You typically preform a calibration before making a profile, so that your profile is built around an optimally preforming device.

To profile is to interpret the color bias of any given color device. For example, your monitor is sent an RGB signal via DVI or VGA or whatever and displays color. This RGB signal, generated by your video card, is a one-way instruction, so your video card can't tell if your monitor is even generating color - much less with any accuracy. We use profile making tools like those made by ColorVision or Greytag-Macbeth to read the colors our monitors display based on a particular video-card signal and create a simple look-up table called a 'profile'. The profile creation must happen under very controlled circumstances, so that the lookup table can be used by your video card to adjust the color signal according to what the profiler has seen, and thus deliver accurate color. Monitors tend to shift away from proper calibration quite easily, so to keep them accurate you must calibrate and profile every few weeks. Hopefully that makes sense - I am writing this quickly and late at night, so...

The point of all of this work is to get our screen to match print (given differences in gamut, luminance, etc... "your monitor is not made of paper") without having to horse the colors in the print job around to get a match. You create a monitor profile (with tool! you can't do a good enough job by eye! promise!) and an output profile and do your work in a "working profile" or "working space". The working space is the default for the image you are working on, the monitor profile determines the monitor bias and the printer profile determines the printer bias. This means you have a file tagged with a wide-gamut (preferably, like Adobe RGB 1998) profile run through your monitor profile to display accurate monitor colors and then printed through your printer profile to have an accurate print. Sounds easy, right? It isn't.

There are a million variables and the human eye is one of them. You will need professional tools to get accurate color and you will spend ages building good profiles only to discover that a week later / ink-change later they have become obsolete as your device has shifted. It will drive you mad.

I am not sure how color-blindness factors into this, but I would imagine that you will want accurate color if you are doing color-sensitive work for anyone, regardless of how you see it.

Finally: to set monitor profiles after you have made (or otherwise obtained an accurate one) you will want to go to system preferences, in the displays > color tab. You will want to use something like Adobe 1998 as your working space, so set that up in Photoshop or whatever you are using and then lastly, when you go to print, be sure to use an accurate printer profile (this is set in the dialog box for printing in most pro apps like Photoshop). Also: when printing, make sure that Apple ColorSync doesn't creep up on you and do any funny color conversions with your back turned. Driver settings count.

This can go on forever. Viewing light? Ink drying time? Out of gamut colors? You get the idea.

Good luck!
posted by roygbv at 12:27 AM on August 27, 2007

Realizing too late that you are only trying to score semi-accurate color so that you can work out that game, and that my answer is total overkill. Whoops.
posted by roygbv at 12:31 AM on August 27, 2007

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