I've Created a WC4 HD Video Pack

ODVS

Spaceman
Oh well - would have been nice, but never mind 🙂

It's all pretty much without merit anyway unless/until there's a way to implement modern video codecs in-game
 

Hannibal_Barca

Spaceman
Oh well - would have been nice, but never mind 🙂

It's all pretty much without merit anyway unless/until there's a way to implement modern video codecs in-game
Now we just need a Barney Stinson type wingnut to stand up and say: "Challenge Accepted!" lol
 

ODVS

Spaceman
I've been experimenting with a new AI model and overall video workflow technique and I thought you all might like to see the results.

This new process is far more time consuming than the previous one. As well as the new AI model, I'm actually upscaling to 4K (2160p) then downscaling back to FullHD 1080p, on the basis that this improves overall visual fidelity (in much the same way NVIDIA Super Resolution does for games). The down side is that this doubles the AI rendering time.

On top of that, I'm also dropping the upscaled footage into Adobe After Effects and adding a simulated 32mm film grain, which tricks the eye into thinking there's more detail in play than there actually is on a pixel level (our stupid brains can be easy to fool that way). YouTube's compression actually smooths that extra shine out, so if anyone would like to download the pre-YouTube video, you can grab it here.

Overall, it's a very resource-intensive workflow, with far more manual tweaking than any of my previous efforts. To put it in context, this single one-minute video took me around 3 hours to remaster.

I'll look forward to everyone's feedback. If the consensus is that this looks like an improvement over the current WC4 HD video pack, I'll consider following this new workflow through to create a WC4 HD video pack V3.0. If you guys think that it's just kinda "meh" in comparison to what we already have, do let me know. This would be a major drain on my time!

 

Panther1.0

Ensign
It looks slightly better, sharper than ver2.0, not sure but it will take ages to complete ?

interesting work !
 
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Darkmage

Vice Admiral
Getting modern video codecs into WC3 is simple enough to do with the Kilrathi Saga version of the game. HCL put up a document that explains howto hijack a windows executable and run your own code. WC3 to Win9X patch for changing DOS editions to Win9x requires four wc3music.tre files (the bar music and some other track changes across the cds) as well as the wc3w.exe executable. What we could do is hack the wc3w.exe file to load wc3music1.tre wc3music2.tre wc3music3.tre wc3music4.tre for each disc. So you don't have to re-burn the cds, and ship it as a drop-in patch for WC3 DOS. It'd still require the WC3 DOS cds, but you could just drop the music files to the game folder. For the movies it'll be a harder patch to make since it has to redirect the loading/player code to an external function. There's a Kilrathi Saga speed patch that already does much of the work, the person who made the patch included documentation, including the location of the ingame movie player's terminate function:
Location of TerminateThread Call. Memory address: 0041C646.
Location of the old Thread fuction. Memory address: 0041B700.
 
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Darkmage

Vice Admiral
I've hacked a copy of Wing Commander 3: Kilrathi Saga using a hex editor so it now only looks for data files from the hard drive (wc3.can instead of wc3.con). I'm investigating hijacking the Xanlib.dll file to support other video codecs. One other thing I think we should look at with the AI engine: WC3 PSX comms videos are in colour. Would be great to process them and then size them correctly to import into WC3 PC. We might also be able to hack in the missing PSX/3DO Cutscenes finally creating Wing Commander 3's Ultimate Edition.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Dang! Can we re do that yearly poll again? This is a great year for WC. :)
It always is!

I'll look forward to everyone's feedback. If the consensus is that this looks like an improvement over the current WC4 HD video pack, I'll consider following this new workflow through to create a WC4 HD video pack V3.0. If you guys think that it's just kinda "meh" in comparison to what we already have, do let me know. This would be a major drain on my time!
Wow, that is amazing! Yeah, even better than the clips you've previously released. I'm not sure I would want to recommend you go and invest 500-1000 hours to convert the rest of the game like that, but that does look great. Are there any other improvements on the horizon that would produce similar results without so much manual effort?
 
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ODVS

Spaceman
Are there any other improvements on the horizon that would produce similar results without so much manual effort?
Funny you should ask... I just did this this evening:


This came off the back of a conversation with @Pedro - he said since I've been remastering some of the WCP CD-ROM videos and upping them from 15fps to 30fps, could I up the WC4 DVD videos to 60fps? So I thought I'd give it a go :)

It's certainly interesting - but it possibly falls prey to the dreaded "Soap Opera Effect". However, in doing this, I figured out a few more improvements to the overall workflow that might make the newer process I came up with for the Vagabond scene less time consuming. It's all an evolving process.

Of course, the thing that would really help is if I could finally build my dream Threadripper video workstation. Anyone feel like starting a Kickstarter? 😝
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
On the Vagabond introduction scene, I find it hard to make a direct comparison especially with YT-compression vs the direct files you made available for the v2.0 pack. But I feel as though there may be better detail reproduction in the facial features for the new video - hard to say for certain though. I did wonder about the details on Vagabonds face in the first few seconds while the camera is still approaching and his face is small relative to the full screen size but the YT video comparison blocks most of that. (That's okay.)

On the defection video, I only watched the first half. I liked the detail on the explosion that causes the crewman to fall (that may be in the v2.0 distribution too), but admittedly I suffer from the 'soap opera effect' too, having been accustomed to low frame rates in cinema theatre. I don't even care about 60fps in PC games (let alone the 144fps or even more that some players insist on), I much prefer higher resolution and graphical features than unnecessarily high frame rates.

I admit I don't know much about video conversion techniques - are there any processing that can off-load itself to the GPU or is it mostly still CPU-bound? Perhaps we need a distributed computing project for this! I invested in a Threadripper set-up at the beginning of the year since my previous machine was 7 years old - it's nice that a full-project compilation that previously took over half an hour only takes around 5 minutes now...
 

Pedro

Admiral
On the defection video, I only watched the first half. I liked the detail on the explosion that causes the crewman to fall (that may be in the v2.0 distribution too), but admittedly I suffer from the 'soap opera effect' too, having been accustomed to low frame rates in cinema theatre. I don't even care about 60fps in PC games (let alone the 144fps or even more that some players insist on), I much prefer higher resolution and graphical features than unnecessarily high frame rates.
I'd say higher graphical features are unnecessary (and I say this as a rendering/ effects programmer), but a high framerate directly impacts gameplay.
I mean it depends on the game, but for anything actiony with v-sync, let alone triple buffering 30fps can really suffer from input lag, and once you've gone past whatever your own perception point is it's impossible to go back. This is increasingly true as resolution increases.
I don't really have any issues so long as g-sync is holding over 70. G-sync / Freesync are the important bits; a rock solid 30 can feel better than 60 with the occasional drop to 30, but there is no going back from framerates not locked to your monitors refresh rate.

That said whilst I suggested the 60fps test it was out of curiosity having seen the 15 -> 24 CD upscales; I've no desire to use it in the remake.
 
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gr1mre4per

Rear Admiral
It does depend on how you play. If you are an intense FPS gamer then you always try to get the best framerate. You need your mouse to move your aim with as little delay as possible. Less ms between frames means a more responsive game. So lower detail is preferred. Also lower detail can make other players stand out more against the scenery. On the other hand if you just enjoy playing a game for a bit of fun, single player or coop then sure more detail on screen gives you that wow factor at the expense of framerate.

For the first few years of a games life you need to make that trade off until better hardware comes. Unless its Crysis in which case a 30th century quantum computer running at a bazillion gigahertz still runs it at 50fps.
 

gr1mre4per

Rear Admiral
I'd say higher graphical features are unnecessary (and I say this as a rendering/ effects programmer), but a high framerate directly impacts gameplay.
I mean it depends on the game, but for anything actiony with v-sync, let alone triple buffering 30fps can really suffer from input lag, and once you've gone past whatever your own perception point is it's impossible to go back. This is increasingly true as resolution increases.
I don't really have any issues so long as g-sync is holding over 70. G-sync / Freesync are the important bits; a rock solid 30 can feel better than 60 with the occasional drop to 30, but there is no going back from framerates not locked to your monitors refresh rate.

That said whilst I suggested the 60fps test it was out of curiosity having seen the 15 -> 24 CD upscales; I've no desire to use it in the remake.
Indeed, and the file size is unnecessary.

Damn I need a gsync monitor.

Vsync is a nice to have thing when responsiveness isn't an issue, nice smooth experience. Useless for online fps gaming tho.
 

Pedro

Admiral
Vsync is a nice to have thing when responsiveness isn't an issue, nice smooth experience. Useless for online fps gaming tho.
And if you are ok with 56fps, but not the 30 v-sync would clamp it to then a g-sync monitor lets you put off upgrading your graphics card another year or two (and they aren't cheap).
 
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Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Regarding frame-rate discussion, I'm aware some players go for high frame rates for responsiveness reasons. The kind of games I play generally don't rely too heavily on player reaction times, hence why I don't really care for high frame rates.

I only recently suffered bad input lag when going back to some old consoles I hadn't played in years, but on a modern flat-panel TV. The discrepancy between input and visuals really was quite substantial and made games that required good timing on 'action commands' all but impossible and not fun at all... till I discovered that the 'game' picture mode on the TV did more than just play with the colours but actually kept the display more responsive (I noticed there's a flicker between switching into and out of 'game' mode but not when switching between other picture modes, which suggested to me that it was enabling/disabling whatever silly post-processing effects).

Anyway, back to the video discussion!
 

Pedro

Admiral
I only recently suffered bad input lag when going back to some old consoles I hadn't played in years, but on a modern flat-panel TV. The discrepancy between input and visuals really was quite substantial and made games that required good timing on 'action commands' all but impossible and not fun at all... till I discovered that the 'game' picture mode on the TV did more than just play with the colours but actually kept the display more responsive (I noticed there's a flicker between switching into and out of 'game' mode but not when switching between other picture modes, which suggested to me that it was enabling/disabling whatever silly post-processing effects).
I could go into the details but even in gaming mode you can be comparing 21ms delay at one extreme to 250ms at the other. You noticed it only when playing older titles which didn't work around this issue; but a lot of modern gaming is compromised due to this fact. I'd much rather see it addressed than 8k. Auto aiming, input acceleration etc. There's a lot going on behind the scenes to mask this issue from the player but games would be made differently without it (and feel much better).
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Again, it looks like I don't play the kind of games you're talking about - auto-aim is irrelevant. I'm aware of some of the technical reasons for what I observed even if I'm not a professional developer.

Again, back to the video discussion.
 
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