Author Topic: Why do my renders suck so much when viewed on my phone?  (Read 2741 times)

2021-01-19, 00:52:29

Basshunter

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I decided to ask about this even though the answer to my question might seem obvious. Still, I'd would like to hear your opinions regarding this topic.

I've never been very fond of phones or social medi, so I haven't spent much time moving my work to my phone in order to post it on Instagram or something. This could have been the reason why I'd never paid attention to this issue. However, after recent complaints from one of my clients about how dark our renders sometimes looked, I decided to investigate. I noted that sometimes he was watching the renders on his phone, so I sent a coupple of them to my phone in order to see if that could be the reason. Man, they looked awful! They just looked too dark and contrasty. It was very different from what I had on my monitor.

My initial guess is that this could be normal to some extent since I don't think phones screens are built with color acuracy in mind. Am I wrong? At the same time, this made me wonder how much the fact that my own monitor, which I know is not good for color work and has never being calibrated, was part of the problem too. I know, that's terrible. Specially coming from someone who has been in the field for a while now. Hopefully, that will change soon.

So I've been thinking about all this and I'd like to know your opinion too. Have you dealt with something similar when viewing your work on your phone? Do you suggest your clients to check your work on their monitor intead of their phones? Even when working on a calibrated monitor, how can one even make sure his work won't appear completly different on client's screen?

Anyway, just feel free to express your opinion. I wanna hear it.

2021-01-19, 14:30:13
Reply #1

Maybejensen

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I don't think phones screens are built with color acuracy in mind. Am I wrong? At the same time, this made me wonder how much the fact that my own monitor, which I know is not good for color work and has never being calibrated, was part of the problem too. I know, that's terrible. Specially coming from someone who has been in the field for a while now. Hopefully, that will change soon.
I'd say most phones, especially iPhones have a pretty color-accurate display. I use my iPad pro to check all my images before delivery.
Since you mention not having a color-accurate monitor and not calibrating it. My guess is that's the culprit.
A good rule of thumb is to always check your work on multiple screens. doesn't matter if it's a phone, tablet, tv or monitor.
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2021-01-19, 14:32:54
Reply #2

TomG

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"Even when working on a calibrated monitor, how can one even make sure his work won't appear completly different on client's screen?"

You can't, unless they too are using a calibrated monitor :) Same issue as with music, you can create it using your lovely headphones, but then people will listen to it in the car with roadnoise, on cheap earbuds, on tinny laptop speakers, etc. and you have no control over that.

Best you can do is find out what your client expects most people will view the images on (ie, THEIR clients, who will view the images), and set things up to look good on that, or go for compromise where it "doesn't look too dark on a phone, not too bright on a monitor".

EDIT - PS also most social media platforms also introduce their own image compression which can play a part too, e.g. Facebook etc. And PPS you can post to Instagram from a desktop now, if ever you need to do that (through "Creator Studio" in Facebook).

2021-01-19, 15:14:04
Reply #3

Nejc Kilar

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"Even when working on a calibrated monitor, how can one even make sure his work won't appear completly different on client's screen?"

You can't, unless they too are using a calibrated monitor :) Same issue as with music, you can create it using your lovely headphones, but then people will listen to it in the car with roadnoise, on cheap earbuds, on tinny laptop speakers, etc. and you have no control over that.

Best you can do is find out what your client expects most people will view the images on (ie, THEIR clients, who will view the images), and set things up to look good on that, or go for compromise where it "doesn't look too dark on a phone, not too bright on a monitor".

EDIT - PS also most social media platforms also introduce their own image compression which can play a part too, e.g. Facebook etc. And PPS you can post to Instagram from a desktop now, if ever you need to do that (through "Creator Studio" in Facebook).

This, I really like this approach. Everyone has a different type of a display (TN, VA, IPS...) and everyone has them calibrated differently (office work or gaming dungeon, there is a difference). I think focusing on where your client will use the images and then make sure that the work you are producing looks good on that platform, well, that is an approach that'll probably be in the best interest of you and your clients.

That said, if you calibrate your display so that it is at the very least decent for general use you'll probably have a much easier time creating with it. For the really basic stuff I guess you can use the online calibrators and tweak your display, maybe even do a paper/ phone to screen test. Unless you have a really really old or bad display it imho should at least get you to a point where you'll avoid those comments as it'll be better calibrated & more consistent across the board than it is now.

Ideally you'd obviously have it color calibrated with a calibrator as a good quality display will imho be up for versatile tasks. It won't help you if your client uses a potato to view the images but it will help you have balanced images across all the platforms / viewing devices and at the very least they'll look "pretty close" to what you envisioned when you were working on it. To me (read: in my opinion), having at least a somewhat well calibrated display means there is consistency across the board - so that while it will not look 1:1 on all the devices, it'll look at least somewhat close.

If you are doing print... Well, then you have no other choice, gotta calibrate that thing real hard :) And splurge out for a proper "print ready" display.

Personally, and I might be wrong, if you own a budget display I probably wouldn't bother getting a calibrator for it and instead I'd try to get it to look close to something that I have (like a solid phone).
« Last Edit: 2021-01-19, 15:17:35 by Nejc Kilar »

2021-01-19, 15:19:01
Reply #4

Juraj

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(Disclaimer before my terrible wall of text below.. sorry everyone. Anyway, I check my images on my Phone (AMOLED) and Surface Tablet (High-end glossy IPS) and they look identical to my desktop monitor, just nicer, crispier. But effectively, look the same, which I take as great comfort)


I am glad if my clients watch my renders on Phones and Tablets, because nowadays, they feature absolutely stunning displays compared to even the most high-end monitors. There are multiple reasons for that:

1) At worst, they feature high-quality (2000:1 contrast) IPS panels with glossy screen (Older iPhones).
    At best, they feature stunningly high quality ( million or rather..infinity:1 contrast) OLED panels with glossy screen (Every high-end Android and latest iPhones).

2) High brightness (They effectively go to sustained 800 NITs... that is bonkers) compared to low-brightness of desktop monitors (Sustained brightness max 250-300 NITs, but we usually use them around sRGB standard of 125)

3) Crispy details of up to 600 PPI, compared to average 140 PPI for 4k 32" display. Phones can look twice as good as high-end glossy magazine.

4) Contrary to popular opinion, they often feature perfect calibration... but by default show incorrect color gamut (often called "Vivid" mode). But all popular brands (iPhones, Samsungs, Huawei, etc..) feature standard sRGB mode for natural colors in unamanaged applications/environments.
But even if your clients use wide gamut (whether managed like DCI-P3 mode in iPhone, or just random something like Vivid in Samsung/Huawei), they will just see your image like punchier, over-saturated version. It will not look uglier. Quite contrary.. most people enjoy that carnival look, which is why it's default. "Nice colors !!"


So with that said... we can conclude that in most situations, the phones actually show your work more accurately. Often time... lot more accurately. In small amount of cases, the client is at fault with wrong device setup.

Now we can use bit of stupid pseudo-reverse engineering to try to pinpoint where comes the difference reason in typical situation :-)

A) Phones show the image too dark ---> While some phones feature drastic power savings and default to low brightness in "auto-mode brightness", which can look quite dark in outdoor setting, I presume these clients aren't total simpletons and watch the images inside, where even drastic power saving still means above 200 NITs. Which would be still brightness then how common desktop is setup.

So rather, most people use too high brightness or too dark environment. Worst, many people use both (Bright displays..and work in pitch black room at night), which is complete opposite to how people consume visual content on cellphones (during daylight in bright room).

Solution: Set your Display to 125 Nits, for most displays, that is 40-50 perc. brightness. Work in moderately lit room. Obviously not in direct sunlight... but the bullshit with dark room has to end. That makes sense for IMAX cinema post-production where the content will be consumed in dark theatres.

B) Phones show the image too contrasty ----> Unfortunately, phones show contrast much more accurately than even the best monitors on market. Since most Phones have OLED screens, their contrast is absolute. The blacks are true blacks, whites are nicely bright. That cannnot be said for desktop monitors. We have few types of panels for desktop:

- TN - Only used for cheap gaming and office monitors (Sub 250 Euros). The static contrast is often as low as 1:500.
- IPS - Used for all professional displays, feature static contrast from 1:700 (cheaper sub 700 displays) through 1:1000 (most common) to 1:1300 for the most expensive, high-tech screens (costing few thousands).
- VA - Used for most of gaming displays, all curved screens. While VA can have contrast as high as 1:8000 when used in TVs, desktop monitor VAs only have contrast of 1500 to 2000. So they are barely above IPS, not enough to offset their absolutely abysmall watching angles.

One OLED LG monitor is coming to market this year and there will be FALD and Mini-LED IPS displays (They feature array of LEDs to increase dynamic contrast mostly during HDR displaying. The static contrast is still only 1:1000 and these displays will cost 3l to 5k Euro. Very expensive. Apple XDR Pro Display also belongs into this group with its 384 LED zones behind its 32" 6K panel).

Solution:  - Use correct brightness (125 NITs, or 40-50perc.) and correct contrast ( default for sRGB mode that your monitor should have).
               - Use moderate ambient lighting (daylight). Don't work in dark room. If you do, set your monitor as low brightness as you can.. but really, don't. Don't imitate cinema post-production & color grading, it's different beast.
               -  Use bias lighting to increase the perceived contrast on your desktop monitor. Because the contrast on most desktop monitors is too low, it's best when you can perceive it as high as possible and bias lighting (something behind your display) can do this really well. It's also much easier and healthier for your eyes.


I've only touched the main hardware reasons, because color calibration and compression quite frankly, don't make great image into terrible image. They just make it slightly wrong temperature, saturation and clarity. But if the image appears dark and contrasty, Facebook's compression algorithm is not at fault.
« Last Edit: 2021-01-19, 15:30:11 by Juraj »
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2021-01-19, 15:42:15
Reply #5

Juraj

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Damn, Maybejensen wrote the same in 3 sentences..
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2021-01-19, 16:08:20
Reply #6

Juraj

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Here is how much the low-contrast of desktop monitors (applies to all desktop monitors that are not OLED, so all of them. Low-end are worse by a lot... but the effect is the same on ultra high-end as well. TN, VA, IPS, all technologies have them, but IPS has it most pronounced despite being the highest-quality type of non-oled panel used for monitors.

This is how your monitor look at dark setup, you might not perceive it as much until you photograph it. That's not white color... that's completely black display, 0/0/0 RGB. The darker the room, and the brighter is your display set, the worse this becomes. This is why you're seeing completely incorrect brightness and contrast, even though in the moment your brain is telling you different. This monitor has contrast of 1:1000, it's Dell Monitor with LG IPS panel.



And here is my setup in afternoon, I believe I had ceiling lights turned off to highlight the effect of bias lighting (Philips HUE). Of course dramatic tonemapping from cell-phone camera makes it look lot more drastic than reality :- ). But the important factor is... look how black is the black on my monitor. And that's also your standard 1:1000 IPS panel (IPS panel from AU-Optronics? It's BenQ Monitor) ! There also frontal bias lights (reading lamps, you can mount them on monitor, BenQ makes it but I was unable to buy it yet) that are excellent for working at night.

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2021-01-20, 09:36:19
Reply #7

Maybejensen

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Damn, Maybejensen wrote the same in 3 sentences..
haha "Why write many word when few word do trick"
I enjoy your extensive and in depth write up's Juraj, keep em coming!
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2021-01-20, 12:40:18
Reply #8

agentdark45

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Chipping in with my 2 cents: I've recently changed over my main monitor to an LG CX OLED. Such an amazing upgrade over my previous IPS monitor (I'm never going back to IPS). I use DisplayCal with a Spyder 5 for system wide calibration, and am around 1 Delta E.

The difference really is night and day, something was always "off" with the many IPS panels I've used before - constantly second guessing whether what you are seeing is correct/too contrasty/too saturated (even with calibration).

I believe LG are set to release a new G1 OLED this year which supposedly is meant to get brighter than the current CX, but it will cost a fair bit more.
Vray who?

2021-01-20, 14:01:45
Reply #9

Juraj

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As fantastic as CX-range from LG is, there are some specifics to its PC-use that pertains to accuracy, mainly the sustained 100perc. white brightness where the TV dims considerably. It's best to treat this like monitor, run it in SDR mode at 120 to 150 NITs when not used for gaming & cinema.

It also doesn't feature good factory calibration for PC-mode and doesn't have true hardware calibration (through 3D 14bit LUT).
So to have true system wide calibration, it has to be calibrated through manual settings in DarkMode preset.

(Usage of ICC profile in Windows is not considered 'system wide' because it's ignored by non-managed application, which is almost everything except for Photoshop, Raw Converterts, etc. 3dsMax and Corona are not color-managed, so they ignore ICC profile calibration and show stretched colors mapping to gamut the TV currently has selected).

I would personally not buy CX for color-critical work as main display even as beautiful as it is (And it is stunningly beautiful I would definitely buy one for my living room if I didn't consider it waste of money).

Now, the LG OLED 32" Ultrafine... that will be something else. It sadly features OLED from JOLED, not LG so it will be probably very expensive... (4-6k Euro).

Last, IPS panels with hardware calibration have no saturation issues that would be inherent to the technology. Any mid to high-end IPS monitor with hardware calibration option have (or good Factory sRGB preset) show saturation without any issue.

Still.. long live OLED. Hopefully we get as many options as possible to buy! There is nothing quite like it.
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2021-01-25, 16:35:32
Reply #10

Basshunter

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Thank you guys for sharing you experience.

I definitly need to get a better monitor ASAP. In the mean time I've tried to tweek my current one to get some consistency with my phone. What do you think would be the best way to do this? Monitor OSD controls, NVidia settings or another app?

2021-02-12, 13:50:35
Reply #11

Kuky

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Chipping in with my 2 cents: I've recently changed over my main monitor to an LG CX OLED. Such an amazing upgrade over my previous IPS monitor (I'm never going back to IPS). I use DisplayCal with a Spyder 5 for system wide calibration, and am around 1 Delta E.

The difference really is night and day, something was always "off" with the many IPS panels I've used before - constantly second guessing whether what you are seeing is correct/too contrasty/too saturated (even with calibration).

I believe LG are set to release a new G1 OLED this year which supposedly is meant to get brighter than the current CX, but it will cost a fair bit more.

I am curious in how many months it will develop permanent burn-in.

2021-04-06, 15:00:21
Reply #12

NikaNikitina

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Thank you guys for sharing you experience.

I definitly need to get a better monitor ASAP. In the mean time I've tried to tweek my current one to get some consistency with my phone. What do you think would be the best way to do this? Monitor OSD controls, NVidia settings or another app?

Just wanted to chime in to recommend a physical screen calibration tool. Short of that, I used to use http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/ in order to do quick and dirty manual screen adjustments on the go if I touched down at a coworkers desk with insane contrast and too cool of a color temp.

2021-06-07, 20:48:15
Reply #13

sebastian___

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What do you think about buying a small OLED TV for monitor usage ? For price reasons, because they are much cheaper than an oled monitor, and even though TV - they are still OLED.

The mini-LED technology sounds good on paper and maybe if you use it for casual viewing, but I feel any technology with FALD no matter how many leds they have behind, can have certain artifacts. Like in the new ipads - the shadow around the margin, and the bloom. Even though it can be a subtle bloom, these things might not matter for consumers, but I can sit sometimes even half an hour to adjust just the bloom layers on an image or video I make. So how can I trust a monitor with "built-in" bloom effect, no matter how subtle ?

I had that concern with burn-in and color degradation, but I have 2 phones with oled displays, one of them is very old, maybe 5 years old and has absolutely no burn in anywhere. And it was used pretty often.
Maybe I will have the same luck with an OLED TV ? A new oled tv should be even better/safer compared to a 5 year old phone.

2021-06-08, 10:23:30
Reply #14

Kuky

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I had that concern with burn-in and color degradation, but I have 2 phones with oled displays, one of them is very old, maybe 5 years old and has absolutely no burn in anywhere. And it was used pretty often.
Maybe I will have the same luck with an OLED TV ? A new oled tv should be even better/safer compared to a 5 year old phone.

My LG Oled developed burn-in in 6 months, so no...

2021-06-08, 21:29:17
Reply #15

sebastian___

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So it's the luck of the draw ? What's the explanation for my 5 year old oled phone ?

But maybe in that case the solution is simple, I think someone here said you could take an extended warranty which hopefully will cover dead pixels and burn-in, and it could still be cheaper than an oled computer monitor.

2021-07-23, 12:45:09
Reply #16

jamesdowling

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I'm not sure if your doing post in photoshop but also check your colour settings (Working spaces, colour management policies). I have been stung with that in the past when opening up a file using a different colour management profile, accidentally changing the profile without me noticing and wondering why all my images look like garbage. It's one of those things where it will look fine in photoshop but can look awful on another device that might not have that colour profile.

There's also the old Max/ vray gamma settings that used to drive me mad, but if your renders are looking the same one your computer I doubt it's that, I'm not even sure if it's even an issue anymore?

I used to have a standard non calibrated Dell monitor that I would check all my images on, most end clients would be using something rubbish so for my own sanity I would make sure it looked good on that and my calibrated one, although I just check on my phone now like others have suggested.

Yesterday at 09:53:25
Reply #17

etbali

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i think it wont support on mobile phone cause the specs is not built for rendering well i dont know correct me if im wrong