I've Created a WC4 HD Video Pack

ODVS

Ensign
Replying to a bit of an old post here.... I dug up an update from a long time ago that confirms some of what we knew about the 3DO files. The color depth is definitely slightly less than the PSX version, however that may not be where the 3DO videos would be of the most interest: https://www.wcnews.com/news/update/6329

"Higher color of the movies (64K colors instead.... 256), The audio is 16 bit stereo and it is in dolby surround" ....


So the WC3 3do videos are all in stereo with dolby surround encoding. IIRC (not sure about the PC version) PSX version only has stereo audio on the Intro video and everything else is mono.

If there is a way to combine the color depth of the PSX version and some of the more defined edges of the 3DO with the 3DO audio, that would probably be a more definitive version of the the videos for a potential remaster.

Now that's very interesting. I would say there would be little in the way of improvement (visually) with the increased resolution of the 3DO files - a minor bump of 20-40 pixels of width/height wouldn't make an appreciable difference to the AI routines upscale purposes - but I'd be very interested in getting my hands on a better sound mix.

You're absolutely right, @AD, that the PSX version is stereo for the intro and mono thereafter. If I could get my hands on the Dolby surround audio from the 3DO version, it would be quite a simple task to mux them into the remastered footage.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Now that's very interesting. I would say there would be little in the way of improvement (visually) with the increased resolution of the 3DO files - a minor bump of 20-40 pixels of width/height wouldn't make an appreciable difference to the AI routines upscale purposes - but I'd be very interested in getting my hands on a better sound mix.

You're absolutely right, @AD, that the PSX version is stereo for the intro and mono thereafter. If I could get my hands on the Dolby surround audio from the 3DO version, it would be quite a simple task to mux them into the remastered footage.
I don't want to dismiss video quality improvements yet either, but the audio is something we definitely would love to have.

I did some digging and the previous sample I posted was actually from the 3DO demo and not from the game itself. The demo seems to use the PCs compression where the game itself used the same re-compression that was done for the PSX. It it's immediatly noticable in that demo sample that the video is noisy.

Anyway, by re-examining my old emails I realized that HCl never actually got around to posting the results from the game extraction itself or whether he completed it at all. His last note about it said his decoder was working but still missing functionality and he never said if he figured out the audio format... Anyway I'm attaching what I've unearthed from my emails as a text file in case someone thinks they can use it to figure out the video. Meanwhile I've pinged @HCl via email and I'll see if he replies. Keep in mind that the messages are presented chronologically and you should assume the first few paragraphs are talking about the 3DO demo
 

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ODVS

Ensign
Quick post for anyone who's not on the Discord server - @AD and I worked together to remaster Steve Hilliker's Privateer 2: The Darkening 25th Anniversary video release:


AD used AVIsynth to convert the footage back to SD, deinterlace it and clean it up (Mr. Hilliker's version had a lot of combing artefacts that arose from converting interlaced PAL footage to 1080p progressive) and I used Topaz Labs Video Enhance AI to return it to erzats 1080p HD. Enjoy!

If anyone would like to download the entire hour-and-ten-minutes-ish video, you can grab it here.
 
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AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Quick post for anyone who's not on the Discord server - @AD and I worked together to remaster Steve Hilliker's Privateer 2: The Darkening 25th Anniversary video release:


AD used AVIsynth to convert the footage back to SD, deinterlace it and clean it up (Mr. Hilliker's version had a lot of combing artefacts that arose from converting interlaced PAL footage to 1080p progressive) and I used Topaz Labs Video Enhance AI to return it to erzats 1080p HD. Enjoy!

If anyone would like to download the entire hour-and-ten-minutes-ish video, I put it on my OneDrive here.
I went back and looked at the previous attempts to use AI upscale tech on the 25th anniversary video and it's impressive how much better this try was over that one. The previous results were... interesting, though not really what I would call an improvement over the source. I had an idea of how to handle the awful artifacting in the video and I'm glad it payed off. In many ways the solution was kind of a fluke but it's been proving to actually have improved some of my other deinterlacing projects. The combing on the edges, especially in any high movement areas was also part of why the previous AI upscales had a hard time defining objects.
 

ShadowArm

Captain
So here is an interesting tidbit i discovered testing WC3 with a preset i did here for Reshade CRT Royale with XM29 lut
The cutscenes with scanlines works perfectly with CRT interlace and even adds more shading and color.

Call it frridge thinking, but it may had been thought with composite in mind, since PS1 and 3do used it to make full use of dithering, though idk which cameras were used wc3.

WC3W 2021-05-29 00-34-00.jpg
WC3W 2021-05-29 00-34-03.jpg


For those who wants to test it
 

ODVS

Ensign
So here is an interesting tidbit i discovered testing WC3 with a preset i did here for Reshade CRT Royale with XM29 lut
The cutscenes with scanlines works perfectly with CRT interlace and even adds more shading and color.

Call it frridge thinking, but it may had been thought with composite in mind, since PS1 and 3do used it to make full use of dithering, though idk which cameras were used wc3.

I'm ashamed to say, @ShadowArm, I'm entirely failing to follow what you're talking about here.

Could you maybe break it down to dummy basics for me? I suspect I'm failing to grasp some some basic-level stuff that would make it all make sense :)
 

ShadowArm

Captain
I'm ashamed to say, @ShadowArm, I'm entirely failing to follow what you're talking about here.

Could you maybe break it down to dummy basics for me? I suspect I'm failing to grasp some some basic-level stuff that would make it all make sense :)
Pretty much, the reason of why WC3 and 4 had interlaced scanlines on its cutscenes, was because of CRT output.

those images are using WC3 interlace paired with Reshade's port of Retroarch CRT Royale filter. Esing shadow mask and NEC XM29 monitor LUT as options.

it did not only removed the raw pixelated compression of the cutscene, but also it made the image more smoother and even more defined.
you even see blair's shadow on his right shoulder, and how the light became more dynamic.

another good example here below

WC3W 2021-05-29 00-33-35.jpg
WC3W 2021-05-29 00-33-39.jpg


The dull fullbright is completely gone, the lights and shadows now feel more natural with the scene like the victory plaque at top left, and there is more color, even hobbes colors became more lively.

i still wish that it was possible for ben or someone at the community to get a top of the line 1996 SVGA PC Hardware to make a comparison
BTW, i made this comparisson, inspired by this twitter page, the guy has some good stuff about old retro gaming on CRT TV and PC Screens.

it would be nice to see him covering the PS1 releases of WC3 and even SNES WC1
 

-KRRU-Dominus

Petty Officer
Still playing around on how to fix my scaling problem with the videos in WC4 as described here:

Doing so, I noticed something different while comparing Upgrade Pack V2.0 and V5.0 (WC4).
In V5.0 all borders on top & bottom were removed, but it seems it was zoomed in to achive that (so some image is cut on both sides):

wc4missingsides_edit.JPG




@ODVS: Was this done on purpose? Personally I would prefer the old Version with the complete image. The borders don´t bother me while watching.
 
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ODVS

Ensign
@ODVS: Was this done on purpose? Personally I would prefer the old Version with the complete image. The borders don´t bother me while watching.

It was. The videos were always 16:9, but some had a very, very minor letterbox baked into the image. You're only missing 3-4 pixels worth of the original video on either side in most of the videos where they were removed.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
That sounds like a great optimisation. It probably makes sense for viewing of videos, but I'm wondering about 'film grain' in a rendered graphics context. In a handful of games where I've seen it as an option, I've always switched it off as I've found it to be an annoying distraction (probably doesn't make that much difference to performance but I imagine it can't do anything but give a slight improve performance too). Do you happen to have a high resolution example of a scene with and without film grain? Or is it one of those things that only makes sense in the context of watching video?
 

ODVS

Ensign
That sounds like a great optimisation. It probably makes sense for viewing of videos, but I'm wondering about 'film grain' in a rendered graphics context. In a handful of games where I've seen it as an option, I've always switched it off as I've found it to be an annoying distraction (probably doesn't make that much difference to performance but I imagine it can't do anything but give a slight improve performance too). Do you happen to have a high resolution example of a scene with and without film grain? Or is it one of those things that only makes sense in the context of watching video?
Yeah, you flat out can't tell from a still - it has to be moving. But it objectively looks wrong without it.
 

Pedro

Admiral
That sounds like a great optimisation. It probably makes sense for viewing of videos, but I'm wondering about 'film grain' in a rendered graphics context. In a handful of games where I've seen it as an option, I've always switched it off as I've found it to be an annoying distraction (probably doesn't make that much difference to performance but I imagine it can't do anything but give a slight improve performance too). Do you happen to have a high resolution example of a scene with and without film grain? Or is it one of those things that only makes sense in the context of watching video?

For the game it'll be an option - that said I sometimes wish such things weren't. Imagine playing silent hill without film grain? Some games do just throw the kitchen sink of effects out, but most there was an artistic decision behind it.

Our aim is to have the FMV and gameplay merge into one, we're a long way off that atm (largely due to not yet having done a colour pass), but 60fps video, consistent film grain between movie and gameplay etc should help us accomplish that.

ODVS would like to not have the option to disable movie film grain and just ensure that we keep it subtle enough, and I understand that sentiment. But like 60fps I think it will be toggleable just to avoid any conversations about the game getting sidetracked by this stuff.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
I wasn't asking to disable it for the video, but I wondered how it would look in terms of game rendering. I also understand the difficulty in balancing the desire to have a consistent vision/experience with allowing players to have a choice in the matter (working on another project). I'm not as avid a player as many of you but I'm just not (yet?) convinced of the merits of grain in a game rendering context - but I suppose it really does depend on how subtle it is. I suppose in the context of an atmospheric horror title like Silent Hill (not my kind of game) it would make sense, but my experience with it to date has been that it's just plain undesirable. I'm not sure how one can make an 'objective' statement on something like artistic direction one way or another.
 

Pedro

Admiral
I wasn't asking to disable it for the video, but I wondered how it would look in terms of game rendering. I also understand the difficulty in balancing the desire to have a consistent vision/experience with allowing players to have a choice in the matter (working on another project). I'm not as avid a player as many of you but I'm just not (yet?) convinced of the merits of grain in a game rendering context - but I suppose it really does depend on how subtle it is. I suppose in the context of an atmospheric horror title like Silent Hill (not my kind of game) it would make sense, but my experience with it to date has been that it's just plain undesirable. I'm not sure how one can make an 'objective' statement on something like artistic direction one way or another.

Mostly it just looks very static and too clean to match the FMV (which even without the film grain has other kinds of noise baked in). The models aren't super detailed and wouldn't look as passable in truly clean 4K, just look at one of the original models:


It looks much lower quality than when you watch the FMV. We've taken some artistic license adding effects like ambient occlusion absent in those renders, but to get a model suitable for a clean 4K would mean redesigning them, and adding greebles everywhere. Klav's models show that can look fantastic, but it isn't what we're aiming for.

Likewise the upscaled game rooms, they have the same issues as upscaled movies and enabling film grain there has really helped mask some of the streaking.
 

ODVS

Ensign

I decided to follow @EmuMusicFan's suggestion and see how the AI handles the cutscenes in WCII.

And the answer is.. it's OK.

It's better than I was expecting, in all honesty. It's not perfectly pin-sharp or anything; but once again, I'm surprised by how well the AI can calculate re-drawing shapes based on what amounts to a mosaic of blocky square pixels.

Thanks, as always, to Elend for the vector recreation of the logo in the thumbnail 😃
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
It seems to smooth out curves pretty well. I imagine the NN models dealt more with video and photos, so it's not going to magically create details from a limited set of pixels and colour palette, but the results are interesting. Maybe I'm just old fashioned but I wouldn't want to try applying such a filter to a game session, though - at this resolution and the age of the game, I'd prefer just to play with the blocky pixellation.
 

ODVS

Ensign
It seems to smooth out curves pretty well. I imagine the NN models dealt more with video and photos, so it's not going to magically create details from a limited set of pixels and colour palette, but the results are interesting. Maybe I'm just old fashioned but I wouldn't want to try applying such a filter to a game session, though - at this resolution and the age of the game, I'd prefer just to play with the blocky pixellation.
Yeah, I'm with you there, @Wedge009 - when I play old emulated games like MegaDrive classics or DosBox games, I tend to eschew modern soft filtering techniques for straight pixelation. This was really just an experiment to see what would happen :^)
 
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