You're conflating calibration with profiling. They're two different things.
Let's do a basic definition of those two terms:
Almost all displays can be calibrated to one degree or another, but not all displays can be profiled.
- Adjusting a simple brightness/black level control is a kind of calibration.
- Adjusting a simple contrast/white point control is a kind of calibration.
- Adjusting simple RGB controls are the next higher level of calibration
- Adjusting different sets of RGB controls for dark, mid, and bright grayscale levels are the next higher level of calibration
- ... and so on as more refined adjustments are offered by a device's user adjustable controls.
Calibration is what happens when we manually adjust a control and then measure the result in a way that the measurement does not change the device's output. The measurement only tells us the result of our manual adjustment. We then manually change the adjustment to try and get closer to the target output and measure again. Rinse and repeat until we get as close as we can.
Profiling is when we use a measuring device to create and load a set of instructions that does change the device's output.
Ideally, a screen should be calibrated (and/or profiled if the screen has that capability) using it's own adjustment parameters before it is profiled to work with a specific device that has profiling capability.
Only after using the display's own adjustment controls to get it as close as possible to the targeted output do you run the profiling section of the software that adjusts the output of the device providing the signal (usually a computer's GPU). In most cases, the generated profile applied to the computer's output signal should add very little correction to the signal sent to the calibrated screen if you calibrated the screen properly using its internal controls (which, of course, also assumes that the display device has adjustment controls available to calibrate it well).
SO THE ULTIMATE QUESTIONS ARE: A. if I have to use my Xrite i1Profiler to calibrate a screen for use with a game player or DVD-player that can't run software, how do I do that? B. If I have to use my Xrite i1Profiler to calibrate a wall-sized plasma TV (for example) for use without a player at all, how do I do that?
A and B are basically the same question other than the output from your gaming console, DVD player¹, or whatever other device(s) is/are feeding/streaming programming to your TV screen (which could be an internal tuner module, but probably isn't for most folks) may use different standards/color spaces. This is where it gets a bit messy. You might want to use the same screen to play games, watch Blu-ray movies, use an Amazon Fire or
Roku, etc. to stream programming via the internet, or watch programming coming from your cable TV box! They might not all have the same color space capability. You might have to choose one device for the screen to be optimized to pair with and let the results from lower fidelity (or less frequently used) input devices fall wherever it lands.
How do I do that?
It all depends upon the capabilities of the screen.
If your screen has no capability to load LUTs (basically, profiles), then you're stuck getting the screen as close as you can using the screen's internal RGB, brightness, and contrast adjustments while it is hooked up to your computer. While doing this, you want to:
- Set the target color space to either the screen's capability or that of the primary device that you plan to use with the screen, whichever is more limited.
- Set the color temperature target (5000K, 6500K, D55, D65, etc.) to whatever the prevailing ambient light will be where and when you plan to use the screen the most. A lot of folks will say to set it at D65 regardless of ambient light. That works well in dark movies theaters or dark home theaters, but doesn't always works as well in places that are fairly bright but the color, tint, and spectral distribution of the light aren't close to direct, mid-day sunlight.
- Set the brightness target (120 cd/m², 160 cd/m², etc.) to whatever is appropriate for the anticipated brightness of the ambient light in which you plan to use the screen the most.
If your screen has independent profiling capability, then you use your computer and software to load the correction profile to the screen, rather than to your computer's GPU. Different screens may allow this in so many different ways that you'll have to dig into the screen's User Manual or Technical Manual to see how to do it for a specific model.
If your screen has the ability to load multiple LUTs/profiles for different input devices connected to their own input port (HDMI1, HDMI2, DP3, etc.), then you can rinse and repeat for each use case scenario. Do a profile for watching movies from your streaming device or Blu-ray player in a dim room with warm lighting. Do another profile for playing games in brighter, cooler light during the day when there's lots of sunlight illuminating the room, etc.
¹ Please - FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD - upgrade to Blu-Ray if you're using a plasma TV or other really nice and/or large screen!
I've still got an older X-Rite colorimeter and the ancient software that came with it. The first step is to use the monitor's own contrast, RGB, and brightness adjustments until the colorimeter measures the output as close as possible to the desired output.
Here's the closest I can get RGB and brightness to target using the monitor's own controls:
This monitor is a fairly cheap one, and it's also fairly new, which means it's still very bright. Monitors dim as they age, so it's nice to get one that has plenty of headroom when it's new. I had a Dell monitor that I used for 6-8 years that started out having to be set to about 50% brightness and I replaced it when it couldn't reach the target brightness set all the way to 100% brightness. With the current monitor, I had to do a LOT of correction using this monitor's internal controls.
Brightness and contrast were set to:
The RGB controls were set to:
For whatever reason, moving the red control above 36 does not increase the red response of the colorimeter, even though the screen is noticeably pink-tinted with red set to high values, so the other two colors had to be set to match red at 36/100. (Reducing the red control to values less than 36 did reduce the amount of red response by the colorimeter, so I'm guessing 36-37 is all it takes to fully saturate the colorimeter's red channel.)
After running the automatic profiling routine, here's the screen showing me the curves applied via the monitor profile:
Notice that there is very little correction being done via the profile! The red, green, and blue "curves" are almost a perfectly straight slope with the three colors almost on top of one another. If I had set the internal RGB controls to the same values, say R:36, G:36, B:36, then the profile would show deep curves reducing Green and Blue and a mild curve increasing Red.
Here's the "test pattern" on the final page of the calibration software. The first is with the profile applied. The second is with a generic sRGB profile applied.
There's almost no visually distinguishable difference! So if you hook up your monitor or TV to your computer and calibrate it well using it's own controls, then you can use it attached to things such as DVD/Blu-Ray players or gaming consoles and it will still be so close that you can't tell the difference. Changes in ambient lighting conditions will have much more influence on your perception of the color output than the minor inaccuracies that not having a proper color profile will introduce.
[OK, so I later realized that the visual differences seen looking at the monitor with the profile applied and not applied would not be reflected in a screen shot, which is created from the signal before any profile is applied to the signal sent to the monitor. But I promise, I didn't notice any difference in the actual monitor output when viewing it with and without the custom profile. The hardware calibration got it that close. When I tried to do the same thing with the monitor basically set to 6500K and then profiled to 5500K I realized my error. They looked markedly different on the monitor, but the screenshots were still identical! LOL]
Just for fun I went back and changed the monitor's hardware RGB settings to R:36, G:36, B:36.
Here's what the colorimeter measured.
It looks much worse than it is, It doesn't take much adjustment to push one color all the way to the end of the scale. Notice the colorimeter measured the output as 6400K, which is probably the monitor's native white point (with a goal of 6500K).
Here's the correction provided by the color profile generated by that hardware setting. As expected, Green and Blue are reduced compared to Red. Notice also that blue was measured slightly stronger than green before the profile was generated, so to compensate the blue line runs slightly below the green line in the profile generated.