LCCS: The LCD / CRT Hybrid from JVC


This little CRT video monitor from JVC is
no ordinary thing. While it may look like an unassuming, and
quite dainty, professional video product, it’s actually quite remarkable. If you know a thing or two about color CRT televisions
and monitors, you might be a little surprised when you get up close and personal with it. See, you won’t find any phosphor dots or
stripes on this display. Nu-uh. That’s because this monitor is actually
black and white. Let me show you. If I do a little… unauthorized disassembly,
you’ll find the face of the picture tube staring at you clear as day. If I pump some video into it you’ll discover
the picture tube is in fact a black and white picture tube. We can see the video scan-lines created as
the electron beam sweeps across the tube clear as day.
(yes, the same expression was used twice. Deal with it.) And, of course, everything looks either black,
white, or some sort of grey in between. But, just by placing this little cover in
front of the CRT, it becomes a color image. And a pretty good one, too. This is some freaky stuff man! Color, black and white, color, black and white! I could do this all day… but instead let’s
explain what’s going on here. This monitor is using a technology which JVC
liked to call LCCS, for Liquid Crystal Color Shutter. See, this cover isn’t just there for style
points. In fact, it creates the color image in conjunction
with the picture tube. You might be familiar with the active shutter technology
used in some 3D glasses. These glasses have liquid crystal shutters in each eye which alternately block your left eye and then your right from seeing what’s in front of you. If you coordinate that with
a high-refresh rate display that can switch back and forth in tandem with the glasses,
then you’ll see a stereoscopic image. This shutter, though, is a little different. Rather than blocking all light, it can select
between three color filters to tint the image either red, green, or blue. If it does that fast enough, you won’t be
able to notice. And, so long as the color-switching is carefully
coordinated with what the CRT is doing, you can create a color image by first drawing
a red image, then a green one, and then a blue one. So long as the color shutter can match itself
up with the sequential images from the CRT, it will appear as a full-color image. Now aside from just being… well nifty, this
little bit of tech has some surprising similarities both to a modern technology and a much, much
older technology pushed by CBS. Let’s start with the newer tech, first. DLP projectors (and not long ago, televisions)
typically use a very similar system to create a color image. See, on its own, DLP technology (which stands for Digital Light Processing) can’t produce color. DLP works by shining a bright light source
onto a DLP chip, known as a Digital Micro-mirror Device, or DMD. Microscopic mirrors on its surface can reflect
light in either one direction or another as a voltage applied to them causes them to pivot. In practice these mirrors become pixels, and
if you want the pixel to be white, you align the mirror so that if reflects light from
the light source out through the lens and onto the screen. If you want the pixel to be black, you tilt
the mirror the other way, and light is instead reflected onto a black surface inside the
projector which absorbs that light. Although the mirrors have only a binary state,
either on or off, you can create shades of grey by dithering them, or moving them back
and forth really really quickly. But, you may have noticed, that there’s
no color component here. Very expensive DLP projectors, like those
used in cinemas, will have three DLP chips, one for each color component of the RGB space,
but most consumer models will use one DLP chip, and place a color wheel in between the
lens and the chip. The color wheel is made of sections of dichroic
glass and can produce extremely pure red, green, and blue light. Sometimes there’s a white section, too,
to increase overall image brightness. When the projector (or rear-projection television)
is operating, the color wheel spins very quickly to color the output from the DLP chip red,
green, and blue over and over again. And, since the DLP chip is wicked fast, you
can create a full color image simply by drawing three monochrome images in sequence, so long as you do it fast enough for persistence of vision to kick in. This is what causes the rainbow effect you
may have seen when looking at a projection screen or certain televisions. When you move your eyes quickly, you’ll
see that bright objects break apart into a streak of red green and blue. This is particularly noticeable during credits
sequences. The only way to prevent this is to use three
DLP chips together, and since that’s pretty expensive, you’ll see the rainbow effect
fairly frequently. And, to make the matter even more complex,
some people are more sensitive to it than others, and in fact some people may never
notice it at all. It may not surprise you, then, that the rainbow
effect is in fact visible on this little television. I don’t know if I’ll be able to replicate
this on camera well enough, but hopefully I can. What I know I can do is take a slow motion
shot of this screen with my phone. Now, fair warning, this is extremely flickery,
so if that sort of thing may cause problems for you, please look away until I say “persnickety” I don’t *yet* have a high-speed camera which
can capture this at a higher frame rate, but you can at least tell that the entire screen is being colored red, green, and blue, in rapid succession. Unfortunately, the nature of the camera’s
rolling shutter, combined with the way CRTs are scanned, makes this kind of… suck but I think you get the idea. In fact, keen eyes may notice that the color
shutter is actually in three sections so it can follow the path of the electron beam as
it scans the tube. Persnickety. Now let’s talk about that CBS thing I mentioned
before. I’ve covered this in some earlier videos
of mine, so I’ll be brief, but in the early days of color television, there were two competing
systems. CBS wanted to use conventional black and white
picture tubes that would be scanned three times in rapid succession, and a spinning
color wheel would sit in front of the tube. Really, it’s just a scaled-up version of
the color wheel in a DLP projector. Their system worked really well, and was a
pretty cheap way to make color television work. But, while building color television sets
(and even cameras) like this would be very easy, this new color television signal would
be entirely incompatible with the existing black-and-white signals, and thus existing
black-and-white television sets. RCA managed to win this fight by fudging the
black and white signal and merging a color signal into it using weird math and stuff,
thereby creating what they called “compatible color”. These televisions required entirely new picture
tube technology, and the cameras were literally three cameras in one, but since these new
color signals could still be received by black and white televisions, it made the transition
seamless. So, in a weird way, this monitor is harkening
back to the days of the color television wars. It’s using a more modern equivalent of the
CBS color wheel system, but it’s the exact same principle. Now, you may have realized that in order to
do this, the television has to do some interesting processing wizardry. It has to take normal NTSC or PAL analog video signals,
and break them up into three distinct images, then draw them sequentially. It can’t just draw them at the same time
with three separate electron beams, like all other televisions do. And that probably explains why this technology didn’t appear in televisions until the year 2000, when this was released. It was some pretty expensive stuff. Not the actual picture tube or even the color
shutter, mind you, but the electronics required to turn a normal television signal into a
sequentially-drawn image. In fact this itty-bitty monitor sold
for about $1,200. Yikes! But, it did have some serious advantages. I’ve shown you this little television before,
it uses conventional dot-mask CRT technology. The image on the LCCS monitor is night-and-day
better. Small, color CRTs tend to just… not be very
good, so using a black-and-white tube and a liquid crystal color shutter provided a
significant improvement. But the real selling point for this tech was
that the screen was much easier to see in bright conditions. The color shutter improved contrast quite
a bit, so one potential use for this monitor would be on-location shoots for things like
newscasts or even movie production. Bright light around the screen wouldn’t
make it difficult to see, in fact it’s claimed it could be seen in direct sunlight. That said, there are some disadvantages, too. The color is just… OK. It seemed fairly washed out to me, and I needed
to turn the chroma adjustment up pretty high to get what I’d call “normal” colors. I’m guessing this is simply due to the fact
that the liquid crystal color shutter can’t produce quite as pure of a red, green, or
blue as dedicated phosphor formulations can. Colors also shift with differing viewing angles,
and uniform images reveal the structure of the LC shutter itself, imparting faint horizontal
lines at the borders between each section. And perhaps most importantly, scaling this
tech up into larger screens would require large color shutters, and who knows how practical
that might have been. Now I’m sure some of you have been screaming
this at your screens for some time now, and in fact some of you are probably already writing furious comments about this, so here goes. It was not JVC who developed this technology. It was the oscilloscope manufacturer Tektronix
who came up with it, in fact they patented it in 1983. Giving it the name NuColor, their motivation behind it was pretty clear as using a dot-mask CRT would suuuuuuck for oscilloscope applications. Using a phosphor-dot free CRT would fill with
glee the hearts of thee! said someone at Tektronix probably. So, they came up with the idea of using an
LC shutter over a black and white CRT to provide coloration AFTER the image had been drawn. Pretty neat thinking. As far as why it took nearly two decades for
the technology to find its way into video monitors, well again that’s probably due
to the much greater processing power needed to extract and store the R, G, and B components
of an analog television signal so that they could be re-displayed sequentially. Interestingly, I can’t find any reference
in either the owner’s manual or on the device itself to any patents at all, let alone those
held by Tektronix. Their patent didn’t expire until 2004, so
presumably JVC would have needed to license it from Tektronix. Or perhaps the Tektronix patent just didn’t apply
to video monitors. Or some other thing happened. But in any case, I do think it’s pretty
neat that this technology made its way into a color television monitor at least once. It’s not exactly the same as the CBS color
wheel system, but it gives a great approximation of what that world would have looked like. Thanks for watching! I told myself I was going to make a quick
video and, by golly, I think I did! Wow! Many thanks are owed to patron Brendan Terrett
for suggesting this topic to me. I had no idea these existed and it’s a perfect
complement to the whole color TV saga. It’s also just… really neat! And of course, thank you to everyone who supports
this channel on Patreon, with special thanks going to the folks scrolling up your screen. If you’d like to support my work with a
pledge of your own, you can find out how by clicking the link in the description or on
the end screen. Thanks for your consideration, and I’ll
see you next time! ♫ cleverly smooth jazz ♫ Oh, [expletive]! Ha ha! I can’t see… (wheezy laughs) I can’t see the teleprompter with these on! (clears throat) You might be familiar with the active shutter… Active shutter? You might be familiar with the active shutters used in some 3D glasses… (exasperation sound) Hey there. Not too many bloopers today, huh? That’s OK. The music is fun, too. Oh, and that thing the LC color shutter does is trippy and weird. Glad I realized that. Helps make up for the lack of bloopers. Do you know why chicken coops have two doors? Well, if they had four they’d be chicken sedans. This is not what captions are generally used for, but I don’t play by the rules! ♫ LIQUID CRYSTAL COLOR SHUTTER ♫ ♫ LIQUID CRYSTAL COLOR SHUTTER ♫ ♫ LIQUID CRYSTAL COLOR SHUTTER ♫ ♫ COLOR WITH A WEIRD TRICK ♫ SHUTTER POWER!!!

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100 thoughts on “LCCS: The LCD / CRT Hybrid from JVC

  1. Quick note! When I went to take more footage for some B-roll, I noticed that my camera saw the TV's image as much more color-saturated than my eyes do. With the color cranked up like it is, in person the image looks pretty normal, in fact I'd still say a tad washed out. But for whatever reason, the RGB coloration seems to match the camera's sensor so well that it sees really strong color.

  2. so if we played old black and white images from the before colour era – would this make them a true colour representation ? is that what is going on – b+w to colour ?

  3. Not sure if it was commented elsewhere, but you should include a warning about the strobe effect in the video.

  4. In the D Girl episode of the Supranos there's is one of these on the set off the movie Chris goes to see at least I think it's the same one

  5. Is there anything nowadays that uses three seperate images of RGB for each frame? Did movie theaters used to do that, or still do? Does anything use this method today?

    (It's quite fascinating, by the way, and reminds me of things you can do with the stroboscopic effect.)

  6. The rainbow effect bothers me pretty bad. Nice representation by the way, I tried to explain it to a friend in class one time he didn't get it lol

  7. Color wheels were also used by the field sequential color cameras used during the Apollo program on later missions. This is why the debris coming from the lander looks like stripes of rainbows in the iconic footage of liftoff from the moon during Apollo 17.

  8. Wow, that is very interesting technology. Nice video!
    I also didn’t know that DLP projectors uses similar method to produce colors!

  9. Hey, amazing video. I have a silly question though… If the color disk spins continuously or if the colored shutter scans continuously and sequentially, how can you possibly position the right color in the right place of the image?!

  10. Thanks for the flicker warnings.
    -An epileptic

    Not enough creators bother with it. I don’t blame them or anything, it’s not exactly something a lot of people ever need to think about, but it is very much appreciated, and I wanted to make sure someone in the comments let you know you didn’t do it for nothing 💕

  11. This was a good length for a video and you did a good job fitting in relevant information. I'd like if you did more of these and then when I want to really sit back and watch a long episode I have that choice too.

  12. I know it’s not related to this video, but after watching the video on Lightscribe, I went looking for a few of my old DVD drive, and sure enough they both are Lightscribe compatible

  13. I would say, there are some other ways they used it.
    Can you remember the color Viewfinder in old analog Video Camcorder? What if they used this tech threre? I think they did not use LCDs or Color CRTs, i think they use this tech to.
    But i can't find anything about this.
    I think a few guys used this.

    By the way, did you ever heard of these: https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/assmann_universa_640.html
    Maybe something for your channel. I have one of there with a few "Discs".

  14. Neat trick used by the original Space Invaders arcade game. When playing it as a young boy I realised that the colours of the aliens, protective blocks and your own ship were all done by having filter strips placed at the right parts of the screen. So a game which was black and white looked like full colour to the player!

  15. How much do one of these things cost on ebay second hand? I've been looking at getting a small CRT for authenticity sake, and this strikes me as a 2 in 1 bargain! Black and white or color, my choice which.

  16. Great video! By all means very interesting and enlighting – 'd give many thumbs up if I could
    Single most remarkable thing in the video: 11:40 – breakdown of the LCD crystal structure – truly amazing; awesome!

  17. Hmm. I am still not sure how it works. I understand the synchronized whole screen shutter thing, that is easy. But how it makes shutter be selective to colours? Is the shutter a monolithic on whole screen, or are there some pixel elements on it with separate filters? I am assuming the first one, because correct colour image appears even if you misalign the shutter.

  18. Always great quality content. I love almost all your videos. Big props to all the work you must put into each and every one video.

  19. 🎼Liquid crystal color shutter, liquid crystal color shutter, liquid crystal color shutter – colors on a monochrome!🎼

  20. I had no idea the rainbow effect was a thing. I just was annoyed by that color distortion that happened when I moved my eyes too fast on those cheap digital billboards you sometimes see inside stores and malls.

  21. this may sound odd, but my mom tells me that back in the 50's or 60's her family had a black and white tv that you could put a screen on that would allow you to make it color

  22. 11:16 Please don't use high pitched sound to censor your filthy language. There is infinite amount of sounds to choose from. Or don't swear at all. F you in the A and have a nice day

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