Tuesday, March 18, 2008

High Bitrate Blunders

So I've been experimenting with raw AVI capture.

No, wait! COME BACK!

...okay. I've backed up some LDs in my day, and more VHS tapes than I'd like to remember while I was at it, but the overwhelming majority of these transfers looked something like...

Satanika pre-record (Extreme and Demonic)

...yeah. Better than a YouTube video? Somewhat, yes. As good as it should be? Well, you be the judge. There's a lot of artifacting around some of those lights in the background, and towards the bottom of the screen you can see some interlacing artifacts, but the transfer is so blurry that said interlacing breaks up and without being consistent, it basically makes any IVTC (even at the DVD player) impossible. This is a reasonably good cap from this sequence, too: when it comes to shots with a lot of reds I'm basically looking at a screen of fuzzy artifacts.

This is on the XP/BEST setting of my now deader than Elvis Sanyo DVD recorder, which managed to fit about 64 minutes at a bitrate of 7 mbps with a 224kbps AC-3 audio track per DVD-R. The trouble is a combination of real-time VBR encoding coupled with a host of filters built into the deck that are meant to "clean up" the source, but without any of these filters being optional it makes everything look rather soft and unpleasant. It did wonders cleaning up chroma noise on old VHS tapes, but... my fancy-pants VCR did a better job of it, so I end up scrubbing the image not once, but twice, and somehow the cheap real-time MPEG encoder built into the machine still spits out a blocky piece of crap. If I knew how you could mathematically wind up with artifacts on something that only has a fucking real-world resolution of 320x240 pixels I'd be glad to let you guys know, but it confounds me. The sad part is the Philips recorder I sent back a week or two ago is even WORSE!

I am getting a new DVD recorder, since it'll be more convenient, and it'll be a new region-free player to supplant my slowly dying several year old region hacked Daewoo which, slowly but surely, is starting to no longer enjoy playing DVD-R/W media. I may use that recorder to create archival copies of VHS tapes and laserdiscs, but as you can see, the results are kinda' lacking in some of my previous efforts. Or maybe I just expect better from cheap hardware?

The video card I currently use is so old it's an AGP, but my ATI All In Wonder 9600 is more than capable of capturing raw NTSC and then converting it all to lossless HuffyUV, which could then be re-encoded with CCE 2.67 for DVD. Sound like a pain in the ass? Oh, it is. It was such a pain that I finally gave up and bought a stand-alone recorder instead a couple years back. This was at the suggestion that the video quality would be the same no matter what I did, which I no longer believe to be the case. Unfortunately, a VHS capture at 352x480 ("Half D-1" resolution) with uncompress PCM audio equates to roughly 7~9 mbps, or the resolution of a maxed out DVD. If I capture at 720x480, this bitrate more than doubles for obvious reasons. The funny thing is if I capture at Half D-1 I'll have less noise to deal with, but if I capture at Full D-1 I'll be able to use noise reduction properly. What is a boy to do?

Regardless, my Lite-On LVW-5115GHC+*,which has been modified to be region free and has some hardware upgrades to boot (32MB video DAC converter? HELL YES!) should be here sometime next week. Me likey the part where it plays DivX, and hopefully the -RW reading powers of this unit will last more than a year, but for under $200, we'll see. IF the quality is notably better than my last recorder, maybe I won't need to capture anything with my PC. Man, wouldn't that be nice and simple...

*At least, I THINK that's the model number. The wacko on eBay who's selling the pre-modded players for $70 less than any stand alone website doesn't say which model it is because it's been modded in hardware rather than just firmware, and as such the specs are very different. It might even be a big-brother model, beats the crap out of me.

Huh. The specs don't list any S-Video connections. I'm going to hope (ie: pray) that's a mistake having plenty of good S-Video cables lying around, though I guess if all I have is VHS/LD to feed it the difference in quality would be pretty negligible, since it's all composite video anyway. I have no clue if cheaper recorders like Lite-On even have comb filters built-in, but there's only one way to find out.

In other news I'm no loner doing KURUTTA BUTOAKI (aka MUSCLE), that "Brownie Violence" gay pinku I hinted at a while back. The reason is simple: the guy who wanted me to work on it found someone else to do it faster than I could with me being so lazy and all, so he's putting me in charge of translating another pinku, which I'll do as soon as I'm done burning a bajillion DVD-Rs for him. (Seriously, I think I'll have burned 30-something discs over the past 3 days alone...) If you're interested in Hisayasu Sato's sick, sick ode to bloody boy love and Pasolini, head on over to Asian DVD Club, and download both Kurutta Butoaki and the "patch" for it. There's instructions on how to do it, but basically you're modifying the IFO files to add subtitles to the already finished DVD. Ginchy, huh? I've tried one patching experiment myself, which failed miserably, but with it being so simple and me being in no position to make any money off of bootlegging anymore, I'm going to keep experimenting. ADC has lots of other cool crap, too, including R2 fansubs (School Days, Gurren Lagann, etc.) rare and overpriced imports (Dr. Lamb!), and of course a fuck-ton of R1 DVDs which y'all reading this should be buying. Though actually, if you know me you're obsessive enough that you probably are supporting the entertainment industry as best you can, so hell, go crazy.

Oh yeah. Watched the first(...?! My mind!) 4 episodes of ZOMG Haruhi, which as I understand it is the accurate translatuion of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu. While I'd much rather follow a fictional cute and violent Japanese school girl than a self-righteous dead jew on a cross, I can't say that either of these figures are my spiritual savior. The fact that it's not the best thing since sliced mochi out of the way, the show is very well animated and amusing in its' own wink-wink nudge-nudge post-modern sort of way. Yeah, it's worthy of respect and love, but I can't say its' better than Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and if Kadokawa thinks the LE's are worth $245 they're smoking something pretty potent. Bonus disc with the same episodes in a different order, CD, pencil board, pillow case, and an alternate cover all sound great, but as someone who just wants the fucking box and maybe the alternate order of episodes I'm more than willing to pass. Plus they're offering vol. 1 (regular edition) with 2 CDs come April for $30. Tsk tsk, devaluing the pack-ins already?

I'm fully expecting at least one reply telling me that I need to die in a fire for disrespecting teh Haruhism. Two words: bring it.

No comments: