I've Created a WC4 HD Video Pack

EmuMusicFan

Petty Officer
This version has audio streams built in for English, German and French, in exactly the same way DVDs and Blu-Rays contain multiple language streams. As Pedro mentioned, though, someone's going to need to modify the executable in order to bring the functionality to the base game:
Would you consider including Japanese audio?
 

EmuMusicFan

Petty Officer
I absolutely would if anyone has Japanese audio 🙂
I only have the Japanese version of WC3, and the 3DO Super WC (it seems to be only partially dubbed), so that probably I can not help. 😗

Edit: ... Could it be that WC4 doesn't have a dubbed Japanese version at all?
 
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Pedro

Admiral
I only have the Japanese version of WC3, and the 3DO Super WC (it seems to be only partially dubbed), so that probably I can not help. 😗

Edit: ... Could it be that WC4 doesn't have a dubbed Japanese version at all?
It does not, WC3 was EAs big shot at hitting the Japanese market with the WC franchise. If WC4 was the German side of world war 2 then WC3 was the Japanese side, ending with the dropping of the atomic bomb. I'm not sure how well they thought it would do out here.
WCIV doesn't even exist in Japanese as far as I'm aware. I have a copy of WC Prophecy in a Japanese box and manuals, but the actual game is the english version.

Now that said I'll probably create Japanese subtitles for the WC4 remake; it's good practice if nothing else.
 

EmuMusicFan

Petty Officer
I'm not sure how well they thought it would do out here.
My impression is that the Japanese console game market of that era didn't quite accept this type of game.

Now that said I'll probably create Japanese subtitles for the WC4 remake; it's good practice if nothing else.
Yes, I feel like I could improve my language skills in translating subtitles and some official novel parts, too.
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Hello all,

Just a quick update - there's a minor bug in the WCIV HD Pack V3.0 release that might cause playback and performance issues on some CPUs and chipsets (so if anyone's been having playback issues with it, this might be why).

Trying to cut the long story as short as possible, I forgot that the aspect ratio of the FMV in WCIV is a little all over the place - some sequences are just a little wider than others, leading to very small letterbox bars appearing at the top and bottom.

Unfortunately, when I bulk compressed/encoded all the remastered sequences to the final files, the routine I was using detected those black bars and clipped them out of the frame. So while most of the sequences are a standard 1920x1080 resolution, some have weird resolutions like 1920x1076 or 1890x1080. We're frankly stressing the VOB container to be holding an HD image in the first place (since it was the standard used for DVDs back in the day) - and these non-standard aspect ratios can cause issues with some hardware.

This wouldn't be a problem if the game used hardware acceleration for video playback but it actually routes it all through the CPU - hence the problem.

You might not experience any issues (I don't on my system, which is why I didn't catch this bug straight away), but I'm going to replace the V3.0 pack anyway. I'll post it here when it's ready and I'm sure @ChrisReid will mirror it on the CIC main server.

My apologies if you're having issues with it. I'll make a fixed replacement available as soon as I can spare the time to render out all that video again!
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Right, apologies for the screw up.

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 ("C:/Program Files/GOG Games/Wing Commander IV", for example) and use them to launch the game, they'll activate all the German/French text, interface etc. Thanks to @Pedro for providing the command line extensions that activate the language localisation :)

screenshot_DE.jpg
screenshot_FR.jpg


I'm afraid the .BAT files may trigger the Windows User Account Control dialogue (which can be annoying) but rest assured they don't actually change any settings on your computer and you can allow them. Strangely, UAC also seems to be triggered if you run wc4dvd.exe or the Launch Wing Commander IV shortcut directly in the game's installation folder.
 
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ODVS

Petty Officer
WCP HD Video Pack V3.0 is ready

The WCP DVD videos are a challenge to work with. The interlaced NTSC format combined with the choice to shoot on digital and the... budget-conscious lighting choices from the original production all conspire to make these videos far more difficult to remaster than the WCIV videos.

However, this time around I did a lot of remastering and cleanup work in AVIsynth prior to even running the AI Upscale routines and managed to clean up most of the major issues and pitfalls that were throwing the AI models off. They'll still never look as good as the WCIV remasters simply because the original production quality/budget wasn't as high - but this is a definite improvement over V2.0.

The jaggies are gone, the weird halo/ghosting images around illuminated characters in low-light environments (read: almost every environment in WCP) are gone, and the annoying dot effects over the credits and star system text overlays are mostly cleaned up.

On top of all that, I also applied all the processes I figured out for the WCIV remaster workflow in the production of this new pack. The best news of all is that 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!

You can download the WCP HD Video Pack V3.0 here.

The pack also includes the requested missing videos that have been remastered from the CD-ROM source (you'll notice them when you hit them. They're better than the CD-ROM videos that the game defaults to if they're not present, but they're noticeably lacking compared to the rest of the pack).

Finally, as is usually my wont, here's a preview/comparison video from the pack :)

 
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AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
WCP HD Video Pack V3.0 is ready

The WCP DVD videos are a challenge to work with. The interlaced NTSC format combined with the choice to shoot on digital and the... budget-conscious lighting choices from the original production all conspire to make these videos far more difficult to remaster than the WCIV videos.

However, this time around I did a lot of remastering and cleanup work in AVIsynth prior to even running the AI Upscale routines and managed to clean up most of the major issues and pitfalls that were throwing the AI models off. They'll still never look as good as the WCIV remasters simply because the original production quality/budget wasn't as high - but this is a definite improvement over V2.0.

The jaggies are gone, the weird halo/ghosting images around illuminated characters in low-light environments (read: almost every environment in WCP) are gone, and the annoying dot effects over the credits and star system text overlays are mostly cleaned up.

On top of all that, I also applied all the processes I figured out for the WCIV remaster workflow in the production of this new pack. The best news of all is that 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!

You can download the WCP HD Video Pack V3.0 here.

The pack also includes the requested missing videos that have been remastered from the CD-ROM source (you'll notice them when you hit them. They're better than the CD-ROM videos that the game defaults to if they're not present, but they're noticeably lacking compared to the rest of the pack).

Finally, as is usually my wont, here's a preview/comparison video from the pack :)
It's looking so much better... There's a few spots where distant faces are a bit smudgy and there's some patern stuff going on in some of the CG scenes but they're really not that distracting anymore. Good job!
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
It's looking so much better... There's a few spots where distant faces are a bit smudgy and there's some patern stuff going on in some of the CG scenes but they're really not that distracting anymore. Good job!
Thank you 🙂
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
Absolutely outstanding work, ODVS! And very much appreciated by old and new wingnuts in these difficult times.

I'm particularly impressed with your work on the WC3 videos - to upscale and get so much definition from such a low resolution and lossy/blocky source augurs well for the future when the community can hopefully access the original WC3 video source material in some form. I used to dabble with VirtualDub back in the early 2000s when DivX and Xvid were popular codecs and while there were various sharpening and resampling filters one could use to improve source material a bit this is an order of magnitude improvement. Fascinating to see what these new AI algorithms can do with the increasing processing power and GPU compute available now.

Speaking of the WC3 video source, I see that AD mentioned that HCL had been working on a decoder for the 3DO version. Of the PC, PSX and 3DO versions, the 3DO generally has best video to work with, but would be a non-starter without a decoder short of capturing individual scenes with a high-quality capture card.

Was it back in 2008 that some of the CIC staff were able to catalogue and salvage a lot of Origin materials? My memory is hazy on this although I think I recall Chris or Loaf mentioning that they came across some magnetic tape backups and the labelling suggested the tapes may have included some of the original WC3 video masters or SGI renders on them. However, at the time they couldn't access the contents. Did you guys get any further on that?
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Absolutely outstanding work, ODVS! And very much appreciated by old and new wingnuts in these difficult times.
Thank you very much for the positive comments, @BrynS - I'll admit that my ego is close enough to the surface that this kind of feedback really spurs me to carry on experimenting 😄

I'm particularly impressed with your work on the WC3 videos - to upscale and get so much definition from such a low resolution and lossy/blocky source augurs well for the future when the community can hopefully access the original WC3 video source material in some form.
WC3 is an interesting case, from a remastering perspective. The original content is, by current standards, so ugly that there is clear room for massive improvement - and compared to those original compressed releases, any remastering work I do on them will definitely look better. However, it's a double-edged sword; the fact it's 15 frames-per-second and I can reliably use AI to create a convincing 24-30 FPS remaster does a lot (on a psychological level) to make us think "wow, that looks better!". However, the sparsity of pixel data available in the tiny 360x120 resolution of the source videos does mean that the AI upscale is going to be lacklustre - hence all the comments about the eyes and teeth looking so wrong. Garbage In, Garbage Out!

Speaking of the WC3 video source, I see that AD mentioned that HCL had been working on a decoder for the 3DO version. Of the PC, PSX and 3DO versions, the 3DO generally has best video to work with, but would be a non-starter without a decoder short of capturing individual scenes with a high-quality capture card.
So yes, I'd be massively interested in getting my hands on any source material that's of a higher quality - minor quality improvements in source can pay dividends in terms of what comes out the other end. Garbage In, Garbage Out always stands, but there are definitely degrees of "garbage" - and I would say a 2% improvement in source quality could lead to a 10% improvement in remaster quality. It's an interesting state of affairs.

I also maintain that remastering WC3 is something of a fool's errand until such time as it's possible to get the footage to play back in-game. From an artistic standpoint, these are games, not movies. The FMV is part of a storytelling whole.

There have been comments stating that the Kilrathi Saga release might allow those with more software development experience than myself to create something akin to HCl's Prophecy DVD patch. If anyone would like to take up that challenge, I'd be more than happy to devote the time to creating a WC3 HD Pack of some flavour - especially if we can scrounge up better quality source material. I think that could be something quite spectacular.
 
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ODVS

Petty Officer
Since the remaster has improved a great deal over the last few months, I thought I'd re-upload the original comparison video using the latest remaster footage:


While I was at it I thought, "what the hell," and put together a similar video comparing the WC Prophecy remaster as well:


Enjoy!
 

Pedro

Admiral
Did it remove the static from the screen during the "scanner malfunction". That's a little too agressive :D
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Did it remove the static from the screen during the "scanner malfunction". That's a little too agressive :D
Have you only just noticed that? That's been the case since V1! 😂

Mostly because I really can't be bothered to rotoscope out the radar/lidar screen and treat it differently - that's hours of work 😝
 

Pedro

Admiral
Have you only just noticed that? That's been the case since V1! 😂

Mostly because I really can't be bothered to rotoscope out the radar/lidar screen and treat it differently - that's hours of work 😝
You’ve spent many hours thus far...
 

FekLeyrTarg

Rear Admiral
Fantastic work, @ODVS.
You never cease to amaze me. :)

By the way: If you wish to incorporate Prophecy's German dub, you can find the audio files over at WingCenter:
https://wingcenter.net/index.php/downloadcenter.html?folder=wcp (look for "DVD Videos (deutsch)")

Your upscale looks good especially on the actors, mostly on the close-ups @EG1918.
It does still need a lot of work though.
Hopefully, we'll be able to access either the 3DO videos or better sources for upscaling. :)
 
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