I've Created a WC4 HD Video Pack

TylerDurd0n

1st Lieutenant
The weird thing is that I didn't have that issue with WC4 at first, but after I disabled some codec filters, it came up and I haven't been able to revert it yet. The only thing I haven't tried is re-enabling AC3filter again, will do that later.

The issue of missing sound I was able to "solve" by clicking once, which seemed to restore the focus to the playback window. Having a very short screen saver timeout is also dangerous as video playback doesn't disable screen savers.

UPDATE: So the video playback delay in WCP is indeed fixed by setting the preferred splitter to LAV with the codec tweak tool. As for the video in WC4 it seems that the pillar boxing of direct draw fixes don't work right. I fixed it by forcing the scaling to "application", which makes the videos full screen but also scales the choice prompts at 4K resolution. On the whole it seems the direct draw wrappers don't play well with HidPi scaling.
 
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ODVS

Petty Officer
UPDATE: So the video playback delay in WCP is indeed fixed by setting the preferred splitter to LAV with the codec tweak tool. As for the video in WC4 it seems that the pillar boxing of direct draw fixes don't work right. I fixed it by forcing the scaling to "application", which makes the videos full screen but also scales the choice prompts at 4K resolution. On the whole it seems the direct draw wrappers don't play well with HidPi scaling.
That makes perfect sense. HidPi scaling is the bane of my existence with older games and apps - I frequently drop back to 1080p 100% scaling when running legacy apps just because the TV I use as the monitor for my daily driver handles scaling better than Windows does in many cases.

@TylerDurd0n, @Pedro made a hacked WCIV EXE for me to experiment with that looks for .mp4 instead of .VOB files, to see if it helps to cut out the middle man and not force Windows to figure out why h.264 content is sitting in a VOB container. If you'd like a copy to tinker with, let me know and I'll be happy to send it your way. You just have to rename the .VOB files to have .mp4 extensions and launch the game via the hacked EXE.
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Not strictly WC-related here, but I thought this might inspire any capable Wingnuts out there who might be able to extract the cutscenes from the 3DO version of WC3. Here's an example of how a slight bump in source quality can pay dividends in the eventual remaster. The source material for the below was a DVD and only a little higher in resolution than WC4 because it's native widescreen, so no black bars to crop out.


Don't forget to set the playback stream to 4K or 1440p if you have a high-res screen!
 

Pedro

Admiral
What a choice for footage


"What was Russell thinking? What the hell was going on?"
(It was actually the whole moving earth thing that broke me, the hand was more like "sure, ofcourse, why should I expect anything else?"

Quality of the episode to one side the footage is good, but somehow I feel like WCIV came out even better. Some of the face outlines are more unsettling here.
 
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ODVS

Petty Officer
Here's something I've been tinkering with for a while: a first experimental effort at mixing George Oldziey's orchestral recordings of his score into my remastered video.

It's slightly wonky in places. While I do have the 5.1 channel audio to work with, I can't remove the original synth music entirely, so it's still there in the background and doesn't QUITE line up with the orchestral recording. It's most noticeable when there's other audio in the left and right channels (comms dialogue, ship SFX etc) and I had to raise the original channels so they could still be heard.

Still, I thought you guys might like to see it :)

 

Whistler

Commodore
This is what I get for staying on Discord all the time and not checking in more often.

Bravo Zulu OP, can't wait to try these out
 

Treguard82

Spaceman
Very nice job. Strangely I was thinking of going back to WC4 just yesterday! I always wondered if EA or Origin kept hold of the 35mm in storage. Maybe if the C&C remaster does well, they might turn to Wing Commander next? On the other hand even if so, they still didn't go back to the source tapes for the video footage.
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Hello all,

I've revisited the old WC3 footage to apply some of the processes and techniques I figured out tooling around with WC4 and WCP.

It's still not perfect, but it's definitely a step up. The "crazy eyes" phenomenon is far less apparent now and I applied some of the AVIsynth workflow from the WCP remasters to do some sharpness and motion cleanup before running it through the Machine Learning process. It also now picks out more fine detail in hair (and fur) and other such places.

Anyway, still in the experimental phase, but I thought you all might like to see it :^)

 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
I think where this benefits the most is in the facial detail - even the wrinkles of the non-human faces. The head fur on the Kilrathi did look a bit blurry in comparison, but there's not much to work with in the source material.

Regardless, if a 'remaster' - official or otherwise - was to be made, this kind of video fidelity would go very well with it!
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Thanks for the feedback, folks 🙂

Since I am now using a few new methods, I thought it might be interesting to re-do one one of the sequences I've done before so you can get an idea of the minor improvements that are creeping in. I figured I might as well go big or go home, so here's the entire WC3 intro again 😃

Red is always an issue when dealing with video image compression. Due to various technical reasons to do with the way the colour space is handled, red objects generally get around half the resolution of other colours - which is why the credits and the glyphs on the emperor's throne still look blocky. They're so very pixelated in the original footage that they appear to be geometric shapes and the AI actually tries to maintain it.

I think the improvements on the Kilrathi and Human characters are quite evident, though.

As always, YouTube's compression is incredibly aggressive and knocks out a degree of detail from the remastered footage, but whaddayagonnado? 🤷‍♂️

 

ODVS

Petty Officer
I wasn't planning on posting anything again so soon - but then I got my hands on a new AI model!

So in the vein of returning to remasters past, here's a new version of the Vagabond comparison video. The new AI model does a far better job of adding detail without creating the nasty over-defined edges (in previous WC4 remasters, I've always toned the detail recovery down a bit because it had a tendency to screw up curves and shapes such as shoulders, uniform elements etc.).

I'll keep experimenting with this, but there may be a WC4 HD Video Pack V4.0 on the horizon if I find it improves other scenes.

Enjoy!

 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I wasn't planning on posting anything again so soon - but then I got my hands on a new AI model!

So in the vein of returning to remasters past, here's a new version of the Vagabond comparison video. The new AI model does a far better job of adding detail without creating the nasty over-defined edges (in previous WC4 remasters, I've always toned the detail recovery down a bit because it had a tendency to screw up curves and shapes such as shoulders, uniform elements etc.).
Your WC4 efforts were always the best of the bunch, but even here this is much more pleasant to me with almost none of those shimmery distracting bits that bugged me before. Great work! If they all turn out as good as this one, then I think "mission accomplished".

The WC videos are a vast improvement too. Ideally it would be great to get the 3DO format sorted out as that may or may not fix the compression issues with the reds of the PSX version.
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Your WC4 efforts were always the best of the bunch, but even here this is much more pleasant to me with almost none of those shimmery distracting bits that bugged me before. Great work! If they all turn out as good as this one, then I think "mission accomplished".

The WC videos are a vast improvement too. Ideally it would be great to get the 3DO format sorted out as that may or may not fix the compression issues with the reds of the PSX version.
Thank you, @AD - I really appreciate the feedback :)

There will hopefully be further improvements to the WC3 videos coming in the next couple of months. I've thus far been using the PSX rips from the CIC Holovids pages (which I believe you had a hand in? If so, thank you!). As you'll probably know, while they're great rips, they've been compressed/optimised for web deployment - and every level of compression gives the AI slightly less to work with.

After some nudging from @Pedro (and despite not having owned any gaming console myself since the Megadrive/Genesis!) I've ordered a copy of WC3 PSX on eBay. Pedro's going to assist me in applying HCl's extraction techniques to rip the videos as close to source-quality as possible. Fingers crossed it'll lead to some improvement - because if not, it's going to be a massive waste of time!

The 3DO videos remain the dream. If any Wingnuts out there can help get them into my hands, I'd be very interested in doing remasters of the whole lot!
 
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