I've Created a WC4 HD Video Pack

ODVS

Petty Officer
Edit - 22nd June 2020:
@TylerDurd0n pointed out that some people have issues with playback of these video packs in-game on their systems, and that it might be helpful to have post some tips to fix it here. Please see this post if you're having issues with playback (extreme lag before videos start, games crashing on video load etc.)

Edit - 14th & 15th June 2020:
WCP HD Video Pack V3.0 is ready


The improved compression/optimisation techniques have knocked the file sizes down massively. So there's only a single, ~2GB file to download the entire pack!
At @FekLeyrTarg's request, a German Edition is now also available


EDIT - 12th June 2020:
Here's WCIV HD Pack V3.0.1, which fixes the bug that was present throughout V3.0

Apologies to all because I know it's a lot of data, but if you downloaded V3.0, I'd highly recommend you replace it with V3.0.1 as it fixes a few issues.

While I was at it, I also put together and uploaded the German and French versions of the pack.

WCIV HD Pack V3.0.1 German
WCIV HD Pack V3.0.1 French
Part 1 of both the German and French packs also contain a .BAT file (wc4dvd_DE.bat and wc4dvd_FR.bat, respectively). If you copy these into the same location as your wc4dvd.exe file and use them to launch the game, they'll activate all the German/French text, interface etc. More info in this post.



Edit - 27th April 2020:
Massive thanks to @ChrisReid for officially hosting the HD video packs on WCNews! I'm updating the links throughout this thread to ease the burden on my poor GDrive and 1Drive 😝

ORIGINAL POST:
Hello all,

Total Newbie here - my name's Owen. First of all, thank you to everyone in this community - although I've only just joined, I have fond childhood memories of WC and I've called by WCNews occasionally over the years to make use of assets, patches and all the other wonderful things this community has come up with.

The reason I set up an account is I think I might actually have something to share. Having bought WC4 in the recent GOG sale, I decided to see if I could improve the DVD video. I set about using Machine Learning/AI to remaster the FMV footage in HD.

I've upscaled it to native 1080p Full HD (not just a scalar/smoothing solution - extra image data is actually added to create "true" HD footage) as well as removing the DVD interlacing, cleaning up the MPEG compression artefacts and remastering the colour of all footage. If you'd like to see the results, I put together a short comparison video which you can view on YouTube here.

Thanks to the wonderful work that's previously been done to bring the DVD footage into the GOG release, it was surprisingly easy to get the remastered HD footage working in-game. So if anyone would be interested, let me know and I'll see about sharing the remastered footage with anyone who'd like it - all you have to do is backup your original VOB folder in your Wing4 installation and drop my replacement video files in place.

Looking forward to any feedback!

Regards,

Owen

P.S. Do watch the YouTube video all the way through - YouTube's compression algorithms actually lowered the quality of the remastered HD footage and you get a better idea of the improvements if you watch all the examples - but the versions I dropped in-game are actually higher quality than YouTube displays.

P.P.S. If this proves popular, I might do the same for Prophecy :^)


 
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gr1mre4per

Rear Admiral
erm... speechless?

Looks good even on YouTube. I think the guys here would be more than willing to host your work if you'll allow.

In fact it might be very useful for some ongoing projects. And if you do go ahead with prophecy then it will complement the wcp enhancement pack project nicely!

Great work I can't wait to add it to my wc4 dvd version.

Very warm welcome!
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Hi gr1mre4per and DefianceIndustries,

Wow, such a quick response! Thank you both so much for the feedback :^)

More than happy to share the remastered footage with anyone who would like it and for it to be hosted on WCNews if they'd like it. I'd actually be quite honoured to have it hosted alongside some of the astonishing content that's been made available here.

It's quite a resource-heavy and time consuming process to get all the video processed, so I haven't actually made it through all the content yet, but I'm about 75% done. It will probably take a couple more days to finish processing all the footage, but once it's done I'll break it up into downloadable zip packs and post links to them on Google Drive.

If WCNews would like to officially host it, I'd appreciate it if someone would let me know, so I can then remove it from my GDrive. I'd currently estimate that the eventual total remaster will take up somewhere around 8-10GB of storage.

That being said, I'm currently prioritising speed of process over total quality in the video encoding. There's a good chance that once I've completed the conversion, I'll actually be able to squeeze more quality into the footage without impacting file size or performance. The downside it that it would take a lot longer to encode the video on my end. Still, with the world in its current state, it's not like I have many other demands on my time!

For now, we should probably consider this a 1.0 version of a WC4 HD Video Pack - I can always revisit later to create higher quality versions. A second run would take less time than the first, since the actual remastering has already taken place - it's just a matter of encoding it at higher quality. The uncompressed remastered footage currently takes up over 500 Gigabytes and growing!
 

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wiese.hano

Master Chief Petty Officer
The YT video indeed looks great. I don't know how you did it, but it's great. I wish I had something like that for the German version. ;) ;)
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Hi @gr1mre4per and @DefianceIndustries,

Many thanks for the warm welcome! I did send a response to your messages, but it's currently awaiting mod approval for some reason...

wiese.hano - I see the winky faces! I tell you what - if you can find a way to send me your VOB files, I'll be able to extract the audio stream and remux it with my remastered video streams. That's actually a far simpler process than remastering the footage in the first place, so I'd be able to turn that around for you with about three hours of actual work :^)
 
Looks Great! I would definitely like this when it is finished. If i may, I would like to see the Dolby Train trailer as well. I read that there were three different versions. Here is one I found. I don't know which was the correct one on the original CD release. Maybe someone here knows.

PS I think this is the PAL version.
 
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ODVS

Petty Officer
Hi Shades2585,

Holy moley, that takes me back! I actually had the CD-ROM version of Wing 4 back in the day and I'd entirely forgotten that until I heard the steam engine fire up!

I don't believe that is the version from the copy I had (it was the sound that sent me down memory lane, but I think the visuals were different). Still, your wish is my command ;^)

 

FekLeyrTarg

Rear Admiral
Excellent work. A definitive improvement over the DVD videos.
By the way: Could the same techniques be used to upscale the missing Speradon Shipyard sequence?
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Hi FekLeyrTarg,

I'm afraid we're possibly delving a bit deeper into WC Lore than I'm aware of!

If you can provide footage (or links thereto), I can have a good try at remastering it. However, if we're talking about adding cut content back to the game, I suspect it would take someone with a better understanding of the game's code than I to patch it into the game.
 

gevatter Lars

Vice Admiral
That looks very nice. I like how well the fine details like hair have improved as well as the lightning and color seams to be a tiny bit more natural. Espacialy skin tones seam better in some scenes. Also small writing is clearer.

Overall I like it and I would like to see Prophecy getting the same treatment. Do you think it would be possible to use similar technics on WC3 footage?
I mean its even more compress and smaller in scale then WC4 IIRC. Mh that makes me wonder...what would happen if you take WC1 or WC2 footage and try to scale it up with maschine learning. Would it try to fill it up with more pixels to get a more cartoon/drawn like look like Wing Commander Academy TV show? That would be fun to watch.
 

FekLeyrTarg

Rear Admiral
Hi FekLeyrTarg,

I'm afraid we're possibly delving a bit deeper into WC Lore than I'm aware of!

If you can provide footage (or links thereto), I can have a good try at remastering it. However, if we're talking about adding cut content back to the game, I suspect it would take someone with a better understanding of the game's code than I to patch it into the game.
That scene is part of the original CD-ROM and PSX-versions. For reasons unknown to me, the DVD-version only includes the part with the Intrepid entering the system.
I can't find it in the video archive, so I'm linking this YT-video here:

@ChrisReid or anyone else from the staff:
Could someone provide the PSX- or CD-version of the Speradon intro, please? It's missing in the video archive.
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
That looks very nice. I like how well the fine details like hair have improved as well as the lightning and color seams to be a tiny bit more natural. Espacialy skin tones seam better in some scenes. Also small writing is clearer.

Overall I like it and I would like to see Prophecy getting the same treatment. Do you think it would be possible to use similar technics on WC3 footage?
I mean its even more compress and smaller in scale then WC4 IIRC. Mh that makes me wonder...what would happen if you take WC1 or WC2 footage and try to scale it up with maschine learning. Would it try to fill it up with more pixels to get a more cartoon/drawn like look like Wing Commander Academy TV show? That would be fun to watch.

Hi gevatter Lars,

I don't think it will be possible with Wing3 footage, sadly - as you said, it was far more highly compressed than even the CD-ROM version of Wing4 and since it was never released as a DVD-Video version, the video files will most likely be some kind of proprietary video codec specific to the game. The AI routines really do work on a "Garbage In, Garbage Out" basis - I recall the Wing3 footage being pixelated to all hell and having a lot of ghosting/trail artefacts from the heavy compression, and I don't believe there would be a lot I could do about that.

On top of that, even if I did try to remaster the footage using the h.264 codec, I don't think there would be any way to get it to play back in-game. Similarly with the animatics from WC1 & WC2.

Given the response, though, I think I'm definitely going to move on to WCP once I'm done with Wing4 :^)
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
That scene is part of the original CD-ROM and PSX-versions. For reasons unknown to me, the DVD-version only includes the part with the Intrepid entering the system.
I can't find it in the video archive, so I'm linking this YT-video here:

@ChrisReid or anyone else from the staff:
Could someone provide the PSX- or CD-version of the Speradon intro, please? It's missing in the video archive.
Hi FekLeyrTarg,

I'm downloading that now and I'll see what I can do :^) The PSX footage is much lower quality than the DVD-Video version (and it looks like the frame rate is lower), but I'll see what I can do about that.

My concern would be that the DVD-ROM version might have re-used one of the standard Interpid Jump Sequence videos at that point in the game (so if I edit this sequence in, it would play every time the Intrepid jumps into any system). I'll look into it, though, and let you know if I have any luck :^)
 

FekLeyrTarg

Rear Admiral
I don't think it will be possible with Wing3 footage, sadly - as you said, it was far more highly compressed than even the CD-ROM version of Wing4 and since it was never released as a DVD-Video version, the video files will most likely be some kind of proprietary video codec specific to the game. The AI routines really do work on a "Garbage In, Garbage Out" basis - I recall the Wing3 footage being pixelated to all hell and having a lot of ghosting/trail artefacts from the heavy compression, and I don't believe there would be a lot I could do about that.
The PSX-release of WC3 has higher quality versions of the cutscenes, which aren't compressed that terribly.

(Fun fact: The upscale of the C&C cutscenes for C&C Remastered is also based on the PSX-videos.)

My concern would be that the DVD-ROM version might have re-used one of the standard Interpid Jump Sequence videos at that point in the game (so if I edit this sequence in, it would play every time the Intrepid jumps into any system). I'll look into it, though, and let you know if I have any luck :^)
Actually, that sequence is in its own file (https://download.wcnews.com/holovids/wing4/index/SC_2570A.mp4) even on the DVD-version, so replacing it with the full sequence wouldn't be a problem.
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Hi FekLeyrTarg,

I'm downloading that now and I'll see what I can do :^) The PSX footage is much lower quality than the DVD-Video version (and it looks like the frame rate is lower), but I'll see what I can do about that.

My concern would be that the DVD-ROM version might have re-used one of the standard Interpid Jump Sequence videos at that point in the game (so if I edit this sequence in, it would play every time the Intrepid jumps into any system). I'll look into it, though, and let you know if I have any luck :^)
Hi @FekLeyrTarg@,

I had a go, but I'm afraid the image quality just isn't high enough to give the AI routines much to work with. I tried three different methods, but they all look pretty bad. You can view the results here. I didn't bother muxing the audio back in to the upscaled video streams, because I didn't really think it was worth the time.

I did manage to get the frame rate up to 29.97 FPS to match the other footage in the game, though - but the image quality really isn't up to par.
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Actually, that sequence is in its own file (https://download.wcnews.com/holovids/wing4/index/SC_2570A.mp4) even on the DVD-version, so replacing it with the full sequence wouldn't be a problem.
Ah, thank you - I tracked it down and it looks like I've already upscaled it. If anyone can manage to source a "nearer DVD quality" version of the Speradon Shipyard sequence, I'd be happy to run it through the Remastering process and edit it in alongside the Intrepid Jump Sequence :^)
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Hmmm..... could YouTube's compression algorithm have caused problems?
Partially, but I think the main issue is just the very low resolution of the video. With the DVD version of WC4, we have video at a resolution of around 640x480 to work with - but PSX video is way down there at 320x240 - and even smaller when I crop out the black bars. It's just not a lot of pixel data to work with.
 
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