DVD quality on the plasma

Now that we got one of the best TVs in the market (tsk, tsk…), we can clearly see which DVDs are well-encoded and which ones are not. However, doing some tests last night, we found that the encoding is pretty consistent between most DVDs and what makes movies look good or not is another factor: film grain.

If you look carefully, film grain differs from frame to frame. And this gives a huge headache to the mpeg2 encoder, because such predictive algorithms rely heavily on the fact that picture doesn’t change much from frame to frame. Most movies are shot on film, and so DVD quality is lower of what *it could* be. And then we popped in the “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” DVD in the player. The quality was near-HD. And the reason: it’s shot digitally. No film grain crap. The encoder had such an easier time to encode, that the quality was like, twice as good as in other movies.

I had already stated to JBQ that when the HD versions of the Star Wars prequel movies come out I would re-buy them, but seeing the kind of quality these DVDs have, I don’t think I can justify the $60. Especially when Star Wars was shot with 2k cameras, and so re-sizing to 1080p won’t yield that much of an advantage. We will definitely re-buy “Lord of the Rings” though. Its visual quality looked like grainy shite compared to Star Wars on DVD.

And speaking of Star Wars. No background blur, no DOF shots, no film grain. And yet, it looks cinematic. This just shows that the “movie look” is not 24p, it’s not even DOF, or film grain. It’s the lighting, sensor size and the lenses used that allow for greater dynamic range. Which means that trying to emulate the movie look with a stock $500 camera is POINTLESS. You can get close if you are extra-careful, but it won’t be the same.

6 Comments »

l3v1 wrote on March 7th, 2008 at 4:52 AM PST:

“It’s the lighting, sensor size and the lenses”

and the digital afterworks, compositing, keying, lighting and whatnot, which isn’t something an “amateur videographer” can do

anyway, one can’t always expect good quality from a video upscaled to sometimes even multiples of its target display resolution, even most of the methods used for upscaling s*ck big time

aisde from that, grain-like artifacts can be filtered (not easy, but not rocket science either), and combined with superresolution (some fairly usable methods do exist) there’s still a chance that close to hd versions of old 2k-scanned movies can be produced sometime (yet I don’t see why 4k or higher scans couldn’t be obtained if the material exists, which it should, I’ve seen&worked on 50 year old color movie material scanned with 4k, coming from far worse place than hollywood, and it’s doable)


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Eugenia wrote on March 7th, 2008 at 1:34 PM PST:

>and the digital afterworks, compositing, keying,

No, I am not talking about the 3D animations. I am talking about the real shots, with real furniture and what not. It still looks cinematic, without any digital addons. And a user today can do pretty good color grading using Magic Bullet or Color.

>grain-like artifacts can be filtered

You can filter them, but they will make the picture soft. Now, when down-scaling to DVD, it will be good enough. And yet, they don’t do that. Lord of the Rings falls waaaay behind Star Wars in visual encoded quality just because Star Wars had no grain in the first place.


Michael wrote on March 7th, 2008 at 4:22 PM PST:

“And speaking of Star Wars. No background blur, no DOF shots, no film grain. And yet, it looks cinematic. This just shows that the “movie look” is not 24p, it’s not even DOF, or film grain.”

The movie is shot with Sony Cinealta HDC-950 in 24p, which is why it exhibits film look (more precisely, cinematic motion look). Have you seen new 120Hz TVs with motion interpolation? Movies look like cheap video, all because 24p magic is lost.

Yes, I know, I am annoying. But I suppose you have enabled comments in your blog for other people to comment, so commenting am I.


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Eugenia wrote on March 7th, 2008 at 4:29 PM PST:

I have a 72Hz Pioneer that has the SAME feature as these 120Hz TVs (pulldown removal and frame duplication that is). And I am sorry, but you don’t know what you are talking about. You see, that feature (72Hz/120Hz/48Hz) is about making it look LIKE it’s on the theater (theaters these days use either 48Hz or 72Hz projectors). So no, the cinematic value is NOT lost, it is in fact ENHANCED by this feature. That’s the whole point. And so it certainly does not look like a cheap video. I watched a number of movies and 24p series since we got this Kuro TV at the beginning of the week (in Blu-Ray, with 24p player support), and it doesn’t look like video AT ALL.

I think you should buy such a TV and test it yourself instead of re-iterating misguided crap by clueless people on the web. Please do your own tests, and then comment.


Michael wrote on March 7th, 2008 at 10:41 PM PST:

Keyword was “motion interpolation” or in Sony-speak “Motionflow”. It is different from simply raising refresh rate to 120Hz, but is not possible without high refresh rate. Yes, I saw it myself both on Sony and Samsung. 120hz refresh without Motionflow looks nice, 120Hz with Motionflow looks like cheap video. Motionflow creates new frames, which is visually equal to watching a movie shot with higher frame rate. Yep, looks like crap, just because it is not 24 fps anymore. This did not mean to rain on your Pioneer, this was a retort for “24 fps does not give movie look” statement.

See, I did my tests this time, so I am commenting. If you haven’t been to an electronics store lately, look at new Sony XBR next time.


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Eugenia wrote on March 7th, 2008 at 11:14 PM PST:

Michael, 24p is 24 frames. Even if you duplicate them 5 times, you are still dealing with 24 unique frames. What you don’t see is the judder, not “new” frames that duplicates the feel of 60fps video. My TV has TWO algorithms for 24p, not one like LCDs do. It has the interpolation trick and the 72Hz. None of the two look like video. I am watching “Full Metal Jacket” as we speak, and I have changed back and forth between the two algorithms. I re-iterate: none looks like video.


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