Introduction to HCFR
HCFR is a freeware tool that allows you to calibrate a TV, projector or a monitor. It has been freeware ever since it’s original creation and has changed hands and developers many times.
Since the code is in the public domain, it can be copied and improved on by anyone. However, this also presents a bit of a problem in that there is no official support for the tool. However, there is a thread on AVS Forum where you can get more information and help if you were to get stuck with anything or indeed have possibly found a bug.
The drawback of HCFR compared to some of the paid tools such as Chromapure, Calman or ColourSpace is the lack of in- built workflows. That is, HCFR will not hold your hand on how to calibrate a display.
However, I also find this its strength, since you can deviate from any prescribed workflow and can tailor HCFR to your chosen way of working. This is especially useful as you are trying to calibrate displays that may not respond as expected. It will also help you understand calibration in a more in-depth way as opposed to simply following a calibration “wizard” in one of the other packages.
To address the lack of workflows within HCFR, I created The Display Calibration Guide, which includes step by step workflows for Greyscale, Gamma and CMS calibration for both SDR and HDR.
The guide includes the following steps for setting up HCFR. Some of these steps will be included on the site to help you set up for calibration.
The following sections are excerpts from The Display Calibration Guide
To install HCFR, you will need a Windows computer or a Windows Virtual Machine on a Mac computer (it will work with Parallels as well).
Download the installation package from here and run it. Once run, you should have the HCFR icon on your desktop and the program in your Windows Start Menu.
Should you have any issue with the latest releases, the previous releases can be found here.
Since HCFR is open source, and has a checkered history of ownership, developers on the project change every few years. Should the above packages not be updated after a while, you can search Github for HCFR repositories or use this link.
Please note that HCFR includes ArgyllCMS and it is built with Argyll code. However, in some cases, it is necessary to install ArgyllCMS, especially if your sensor isn’t directly recognised by HCFR or there is an issue that needs to be worked around using command-line tools. In addition, Argyll is necessary when using other software such as DisplayCal.
My recommendation is: if the sensor appears in sensor selection in HCFR, don’t install ArgyllCMS for now, but learn HCFR without it.
If your sensor doesn’t seem to work with HCFR out of the box – even after trying to install its driver package from the HCFR folder (more on this next), then try installing ArgyllCMS. Here is a cheat-list for the most commonly used sensors.
You can download the package from https:// www.argyllcms.com. There is also excellent documentation on Argyll on the above site including all its command line tools, which I recommend looking into for more advanced functionality, once you have learnt HCFR.
I would also encourage you to donate to Graeme who is the developer of ArgyllCMS if you enjoy using HCFR and Argyll. Without him, we wouldn’t have these free tools. You can also do this at the above site.
Installing the Sensor
Unless you are planning to just learn HCFR using its “simulated sensor” feature, it is a good idea to have your colorimeter and/or spectrometer plugged in and installed. You will need to refer to your sensor’s documentation on how to do this.
Some sensors can be installed by Windows without any manufacturer installation packages. Windows will generally report the sensor is installed and ready to use once plugged into a USB port.
If it doesn’t report it after a few minutes, you will need to install the driver package in the latest ArgyllCMS installation package or the package that comes with HCFR. To do this, you need to
- Go to the Start Menu and while holding the shift key, go to Restart your computer.
- When given the option, go to the Troubleshoot — >Advanced Options —> Startup Settings menu. When presented with the options, you need to choose “Disable Driver Signature Enforcement”
- After the restart, go to the Windows Search bar and search for Device Manager. Look for your colorimeter or spectrometer (normally under USB devices)
- Right-click and choose “Update Driver”.
- You will need to choose the option to look for a driveryourself and then “Have Disk…”
- Browse either to the driver folder where you extracted ArgyllCMS or in the HCFR program folder on your C drive under which there is a driver folder. You will need to select the Inf file and then click next to install the compatible driver.
You must make sure to use the same USB port every time you use the device otherwise Windows might not recognise that the correct driver needs to be loaded. However, this could be an advantage if you need to use both HCFR and a commercial software package as you could install the manufacturer’s drivers for one USB port and the Argyll drivers included with HCFR or Argyll for the other USB port.
Please note that priority should be given to the HCFR included drivers over the latest Argyll package if possible, just in case HCFR was built with a previous Argyll version. However, if the correct driver does not show up when trying to install and HCFR included driver package, then try Argyll, especially if you have a sensor that’s brand new on the market.
If you would like to learn more about displays, and display calibration, you can get The Display calibration Guide here.
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