Watching the World Cup finals this weekend? Your HDTV probably can’t show off Messi’s boots in all their bright blue glory

Lionel Messi laces up some bright blue boots- these super saturated Adidas Sambas were designed for the FIFA World Cup 2014 (image source: Adidas)

Lionel Messi laces up some bright blue boots- these super saturated Adidas Sambas were designed for the FIFA World Cup 2014 (image source: Adidas)

If you’ve been following the FIFA World Cup this summer you may have noticed many players wearing some seriously colorful cleats. These super saturated Sambas are part of a new line-up specially designed by Adidas for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. They are being worn by many of the game’s top players like Argentina’s Lionel Messi who will be wearing his bright blue boots during the finals this weekend.

What you may not know is that, as wild as these shoes appear on your TV, you are actually not getting the whole picture. Today’s HDTV’s are only able to reproduce a limited range of colors- only about a third of what your eye can see- so there’s a lot missing. Common colors from the red of a London bus to Pantone’s color of the year fall outside this small range and watching the games over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking these shoes are also likely to be too colorful for TV.

The horseshoe shaped chart above represents the range of colors that our eyes can see and the triangle contains all the colors an HDTV can show. Lionel Messi's blue cleats fall well outside that range so the color you see on your TV is not accurate.

The horseshoe shaped chart above represents the range of colors that our eyes can see and the triangle contains all the colors an HDTV can show. Lionel Messi’s blue cleats fall well outside that range so the color you see on your TV is not accurate.

So, in honor of this weekend’s World Cup final, I got my hands on a pair of boots that matched my favorite player, Messi’s, and took some measurements to see what I’d find. Turns out that deeply saturated blue falls well outside the range of colors that HDTV’s can produce.

You may not be able to see those blue boots in their full glory unless you are at the stadium but, if the semi-finals are any indication, this weekend’s games should still be pretty exciting to watch!

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3 thoughts on “Watching the World Cup finals this weekend? Your HDTV probably can’t show off Messi’s boots in all their bright blue glory

  1. Hi Jeff,
    It was a nice read. I have a question;
    you are using an image which is from the Addidas, meaning that when you have received this image the gamut of image should be sRGB/Rec. 709. Then how did you know the color (highlighed in the graph) is outside the gamut and by this much extent. Am I missing something? Please also mention if possible how do you make these graphs for your articles?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Shah,
      That’s right, this image doesn’t contain the necessary information. Had to get a real shoe with the same color. In other cases I’ve been able to learn what the Pantone color is (many sports teams publish this information) and you can easily plot a CIE point from that information.

      I use Keynote (similar to Powerpoint) to plot data points over an image of the CIE 1976 chart and add other graphics.

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