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Pixel Perfect - 1080p vs. 480p

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#1
PhilExile

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I always tell people not to worry so much about 1080p for old games - which is constantly brought up to me as a weakness the Xbox 1 has, since its highest progressive output is 720p. I decided to take some pictures of my new TV setup using the PC SNES emulator, BSnes. I am using scanlines and in each image the screen is scaled to properly match the proportions of the original SNES' output. I have the scanline filter active too, which is basically an overlay.

1080p - No filters

Posted Image

The image looks good, but its a bit too sharp. This is because the resolution is too high and you can really see how the scanlines overlay is interacting with the image. However, if you love the artificial, blown-up pixel look - this mode, minus scanlines, probably would be for you.

1080p - w/ video smoothing

Posted Image

This is with video smoothing activated. This is a bilinear filter. (I think) More than likely, this is how the game would look on a consumer TV from the time this game was released, if not better. However, I noticed that it was a bit too much when compared to real 240p output to a RGB video production monitor....

480p

Posted Image


I found 480p mode, without any filters to best reproduced the look of the SNES on a RGB 15khz monitor. You will see its not quite as sharp as the pure 1080p image, but not as blurry as the filtered on either.

As we all know, 480p on an Xbox is very possible and helps games like STAR FOX run well in SNES9x. :P

If I have time later today, I'll add one more picture of Madmab's newest SNES emulator outputing 240p (15khz) via the Extron Emotia to my PVM.

Cheers

Edited by PhilExile, 18 September 2011 - 05:00 PM.


#2
Cospefogo

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Great info, Phil!
Thanks for sharing!!!

My day will come...
You will be my witness!

Pixel Perfect Witness.
We should createthis church!

C.

#3
PhilExile

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OK, this image shows MadMab/XPort's SNES9x port playing on Sony PVM2950 - output 640x480 VGA (Frosty Cable), through an Extron Emotia, which switches the output to real 240p.

Posted Image

After looking at these side by side, you can see two things. In terms of image softness, the 'real' output it somewhere between the bilinear filter and the natural softness of 480p. Though, this is so close it doesn't really matter.

The other issue is that SNES9x on the Xbox outputs a 512 pixel width and doesn't have an 'aspect ratio fix' like BNES does. I've tried manually stretching the image size to 640, but this introduce image distortions when playing games. This aspect ratio fix is one feature that would be great to add to SNES9x if its possible. :huh: There is a way around this though, but only if you are using an HDTV....

Below are more pictures, this time of SNES9x on the Xbox outputing to my LED.

Note: The Xbox outputs YUV component, which is then transcoded to VGA by DVDO iScan HD. The signal is passed through an SLG3000 for scanline emulation as well. This model DVDO is know to soften the image, so I may eventually try this out using the Xbox 'native' VGA output - via a Frosty cable.

Xbox - 480p

Posted Image

The softness here is likely due to the DVDO iScan HD. For more info on that and other deinterlacing devices, check out this site: http://retrogaming.hazard-city.de/

Xbox - 480p - with Scanlines (SLG3000)

Posted Image

With scanlines. (See everything looks sharper) :D

Now, the next two images shown are with me 'tricking' the TV into displaying the SNES emulator output 640 width instead of 512. What you do is set your pixel perfect size in SNES9x - 512x448 usually, then activate 10x11 pixel size. <- this is important. Then on your TV you set the screen to stretch.

Every TV is different, but on my Sony HX929 this is under the menu item - Wide Mode. You get 3 options:

1. Normal - displays the resolution as-is, centered with no scaling
2. Full 1 - scales the image proportionally
3. Full 2 - stretches the image to 16:9 <- This is what you need to do

By selecting Full 2, the TV is taking the signal from the Xbox - 512 pixel width image, which has been compressed by 10x11 pixel mode - and stretches it to 16:9 mode. This basically mimics the proper 640x448 SNES resolution. The 10x11 pixel mode is needed to compensate for the stretching involved. To my eyes, it seems perfect. Again, this won't help out SDTV users unfortunately.

Xbox - 480p - Stretched 16:9, 10x11 pixel mode

Posted Image

Xbox - 480p - Stretched 16:9, 10x11 pixel mode - with Scanlines (SLG3000)

Posted Image

Again, I think the blurriness shown here is likely due to the DVDO I'm using, but its hardly bad - especially with scanlines. This is a pretty accurate picture and probably better than you would get if you line-doubled a real SNES outputing RGB to an HDTV - or directly to an SDTV for that matter. Also, this is nearly indistinguishable from BNES outputing 1080p with video smoothing activated.

More in a bit. :)

Actually, looks like this is it. I just tried outputing to my TV via the Frosty VGA cable and it doesn't seem to want to sync the signal, even when passed through an Extron 203rxi (fancy VGA switch) which usually helps with this sort of thing. Sony HDTVs are picky these days. Anyway, that is all. I do think that the output via the Xbox could look 'sharper' if it were hooked up to a better device to transcode the component signal to VGA - but whatever, as I said, its a pretty accurate picture.

:P

Edited by PhilExile, 18 September 2011 - 06:42 PM.


#4
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Interesting stuff for sure. Do you have access to a real SNES and CRT TV to compare with? For me, the pinnacle of an emulator's video settings would be to have it look identical to the original output on the originally intended display medium.

#5
PhilExile

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Oops, I made a bit of an error. I had forgotten that I had the sharpness on the VGA input of my TV turned down to minimum, along with the VGA switch's peak, which is sort of like sharpness. The output from the PC was output via HDMI, so those images were correct. The image is much sharper and more on par with the BNES 480p output image. Sorry about the glare.

480p - with Scanlines via SLG3000 (Corrected Image)

Posted Image

In closing, Xbox 480p with the SLG3000 is all you really need - even on a fancy, modern 1080p HDTV. Although, make sure you buy one with a good built-in video processor.

#6
PhilExile

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Right, that's the idea. I have two Sony PVMs which are the pinnacle of low-def, CRT tech. :P

I don't have a real SNES anymore, but I do have a NES with PowerPak (in case anyone wants comparisons there). Its hooked up to a Sony PVM. I may get a SNES someday if I can find it cheap. I got my 'new' NES randomly on a street sale for $5. :huh:

The thing is - do you want to imitate RGB or composite (or, worse RF)? The SNES has the capability to output RGB (via SCART), as far as I know. Chris Covell did some awesome comparisons that can be found at the site below. These comparisons include the Super Famicom and a whole slew of other systems.

http://www.disgruntl...creenshots.html

The best case scenario is RGB, but most of us probably hooked our systems up via the shitty RF connector. From what I've seen, some TVs have stronger scanlines than others. For instance, my two Sony production video monitors have very prominent scanlines. I've noticed a lot of arcade monitors, that are in good condition, also have strong scanlines. Chris's screens show weak scanlines and I think that is a result of his monitor - nothing wrong with that though. :D

If you have an HDTV and setup your SNES9x the way I specified above and use an SLG3000, that's pretty close to a real, RGB output. I still haven't figured out how to do this on an SDTV setup though. Even using the Extron Emotia horizontal stretch function, I'm still unable to extend the image enough to fill the screen. I think that functionality needs to be added to the emulator. Also, the NES emulators, both Madmab's and NES6502's, have this 'problem' too. However, if you have an HDTV, you basically follow the same steps and get the same results.




Interesting stuff for sure. Do you have access to a real SNES and CRT TV to compare with? For me, the pinnacle of an emulator's video settings would be to have it look identical to the original output on the originally intended display medium.


Edited by PhilExile, 18 September 2011 - 08:51 PM.


#7
Cospefogo

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+T+,

Few months ago I had a real Super Famicom + the Power Pak cartridge (the one
where you insert a CF filled with ROMS and play in the real hardware.) Also, I was using
my Samsung 29" 480i traditional CRT TV, in other words, SNES in real 240p as it should be.

Few time later I did buy a Wii and plugged on the very same television. For my suprise,
the Wii's hardware is capable of output *real* (when I say real I mean real) 240p to a
CRT TV! I was pretty shocked when I did run a SNES emulator in the Wii and the graphics
were absolutely the same as the real console. Believe... it was awesome.
Then, I did sell my Super Famicom with the PowerPak cartridge, it became completely
useless for me!

But since I decided to upgrade to a LCD TV (old, used, bought from a friend) to have
better screen for Mame/FBL games I had to gave it up the Wii's 240p features.

So, now, the best option for me are the scanlines generated by the emulators
or the SLG3000 device that generates scanlines through a VGA connection.

And, for my eyes, the current FBL scanlines filter is almost like a 240p output.
We just need to have it a bit more "visible", more "strong" to really get very
close to the point.

Regards,
C.

#8
destronger

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my brain hurts reading this post... :P

Edited by tristanx, 18 September 2011 - 09:23 PM.


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So basically, to get an emulator's output to look as close as possible to the original hardware output it would be viable to use Wii VC for comparison. That's an interesting fact, I wonder how close an Xbox emulator could get to that with some tweaking. Obviously the benefit of scanlines is that they disguise the blockiness of the graphics and games were designed with this in mind so some kind of scanline filter on top might be good. That's a great link though Phil, really interesting to see the various comparisons.

#10
PhilExile

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So basically, to get an emulator's output to look as close as possible to the original hardware output it would be viable to use Wii VC for comparison.


Yes, at least for NES and SNES - I haven't messed with the other systems. Also, you have to be using a CRT SD television. The SNES9x and Nestopia ports also support 240p, but I think you need to change the output settings to native I think.

That's an interesting fact, I wonder how close an Xbox emulator could get to that with some tweaking.


It can be done. The only drawback to the Xbox is its inability to output 240p. At one point, there were people trying to write a custom BIOs to enable the hardware to do this, but it never happened. Its possible the video hardware just made it impossible. This can be overcome by using an Extron Emotia and outputting 480p.

Every system is different. The NES and SNES weird output is what causes issues. For HD, it can be sidestepped, but SD users need something added that affects the video output after the 'perfect pixel' setting has been entered. This isn't as much of an issue for a system like the Genesis that has a resolution of 320x224. This is easily doubled to 640x448 - so there isn't a 'black bars' issue.

Arcade machines are a whole other animal. For the most part, their native resolution is how they were displayed in the arcade. However, there are always exceptions. This is why I'm always pushing for perfect pixel, T. :P Without that functionality, the scanlines don't line up right and everything looks blurry.

Obviously the benefit of scanlines is that they disguise the blockiness of the graphics and games were designed with this in mind so some kind of scanline filter on top might be good.


Right, it also makes everything look sharper. I remember trying out the emulators at 1080i on my brother-in-law's HDTV years back and it was really jarring how BIG all the pixels were. The scanlines fix this. I can't imagine that adding scanlines would impact the performance much. I believe some of the filters are basically PNGs that are overlayed on top of the game.

That's a great link though Phil, really interesting to see the various comparisons.


Ya, that site is awesome. Also, Fudoh's mini-sites are very informative. Its how I learned about all this stuff: http://www.hazard-city.de/

I may do a picture comparison for the NES too that would show a game output via:

1. A real NES to a PVM (240p) via composite
2. Nestopia/Mednafenx through the Xbox/Emotia to a PVM (240p) - Black bars will be present
3. Nestopia/Mednafenx through the Xbox/SLG3000 to an HDTV (480p) - This will match a real NES for the most part, but there are very slight differences in the way games are displayed.
4. Wii VC NES game to a PVM (240p) via component (YUV) - Again, this will be the same as a real NES, but there may be some difference since VC is emulation too. :huh:
5. Wii VC NES game to an HDTV (480p) with the SLG3000

Let me know if you have any questions. :D

Edited by PhilExile, 18 September 2011 - 10:56 PM.


#11
PhilExile

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After you learn about this stuff, it makes sense. I was confused the first time I read Fudoh's site too.

my brain hurts reading this post... :P






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