WC4 Fan Remake Launches Full-Featured Website (July 23, 2020)

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
It's not every day that fans open a new Wing Commander website, so we're very excited today to unveil the new site for the fan remake WC4 Remastered! Pedro and DefianceIndustries have been doing the ground work to get the game's engine and core assets together for a while now, and efforts have recently been kicked into higher gear with the addition of ODVS' talents on video enhancement and 2D art. Now everything they've been working on has been collected in one central hub. The site is nicely appointed with subsections for background info, project status, media and more. They also have an elaborate links page, which is a wonderful throwback to old webpage days. Everything even works well on mobile devices. Visit for yourself at WCRespace.com!






I'm proud and excited to release WCRespace.com to the web! This is the official website for the Wing Commander IV Fan Remake project. Pedro, Defiance and I have been working away on this for a few months and it's finally ready for public release. Check it out for more information on the project, lastest news, media previews and screenshots. We're planning to update the news section periodically with updates on the progess of the project and post new videos and media when they're ready.
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Original update published on July 23, 2020
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Ooh, pretty web-site. Just one issue I noticed: the certificate for the site is only registered for *.secure-secure.co.uk so I get a browser warning about the domain name mis-match. I know enough to know that this just means the certificate is only provided for the host and not your actual web-site, but others may be wary of any security warnings their browser might give so that's something you might want to get fixed as soon as possible.

I also read @ODVS' article about his video process. Nice to see the clarification about neural networks and 'AI'. I dabbled a bit with NN in my previous job dealing with machine processing and visual recognition - this was mid-late 2000s so the technology was nowhere near as common (or powerful) as it is nowadays. Seems to me 'AI' is used like a flashy marketing term to catch all references to this kind of processing in a similar vein to how '4K' was mis-appropriated to refer to UHD.

Anyway, I was curious about the final step to add a film grain effect. Not sure if it's related but I understand how dithering can be applied to give a more realistic representation (to our brains, anyway) when colour space is compressed - is it the same principle with this film grain addition? In the few games I've seen the option for it, I've always disabled the 'film grain' option as that is my preference - is it possible to show a before and after example of the film grain being applied, please?
 

Pedro

Admiral
Anyway, I was curious about the final step to add a film grain effect. Not sure if it's related but I understand how dithering can be applied to give a more realistic representation (to our brains, anyway) when colour space is compressed - is it the same principle with this film grain addition? In the few games I've seen the option for it, I've always disabled the 'film grain' option as that is my preference - is it possible to show a before and after example of the film grain being applied, please?
It's more that the AI upscaling creates an image which is nearly flawless in places so when something is a little off (like overly sharp or bright edges around the eyes) it takes the image into uncanny valley. Since this is based on 90's footage it seems like a minor compromise; but some of the early test videos didn't include film grain.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
How hard would it be to just get the game to apply a very light film grain filter as the videos play? I'm guessing the results won't be ideal, but it could allow people to choose to turn it off if they don't like it. I personally feel the end results of having it baked in to the movies is probably a better option all around though.
 

Pedro

Admiral
How hard would it be to just get the game to apply a very light film grain filter as the videos play? I'm guessing the results won't be ideal, but it could allow people to choose to turn it off if they don't like it. I personally feel the end results of having it baked in to the movies is probably a better option all around though.
Not hard, I could just overlay the in game one which is based on the overlay and blend that ODVS uses in the movies.

That said increasingly there’s a trend not to allow users to disable these effects as all other assets, tone mapping etc are balanced with them.
The last of us part 2 is the most recent I’ve played and definitely doesn’t allow disabling it.
I definitely don't have the film grain cranked up that high, and in the videos a lot gets removed in compression. Have a little faith; we'll find the right balance.
 
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Panther1.0

Ensign
I like what you guys did with the website when scrolling up and down, when the object becomes transparent and then re-appear again...
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
It is indeed a problem.
And... browsers today are now showing general unencrypted http sites as "Not secure".
I'm aware, guys, but SSL certificates cost money - and we don't have any forms or input fields anywhere on the entire site, so https encryption isn't needed.
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Anyway, I was curious about the final step to add a film grain effect. Not sure if it's related but I understand how dithering can be applied to give a more realistic representation (to our brains, anyway) when colour space is compressed - is it the same principle with this film grain addition? In the few games I've seen the option for it, I've always disabled the 'film grain' option as that is my preference - is it possible to show a before and after example of the film grain being applied, please?
I can't really show you a before/after comparison, because it's an incredibly subtle, sub-conscious effect - and it's one of those per-pixel visual effects that gets completely wiped out by YouTube's over-zealous compression anyway.

It's not discernibly present in the YouTube sample videos, and even the more generous compression I use for the actual HD packs wipes out the visually noticeable aspect of it. Overall, as @Pedro said, it removes most of the "uncanny valley" side effects you get on things like faces when they're in the mid-to-far distance.

In video it's not like the real-time rendered visuals you get in modern games when you can immediately tell if it's there or not. This is standard practice now for almost all video shot on digital (except painfully cheap TV shows like soap operas - which is why they look so cheap). The Walking Dead is especially reknowned for it (and massively overdo it in my opinion, because it stands out to me like a sore thumb).

I kept it on the subtle side so as accurately recreate the kind of film grain you get from high-end 35mm film stock. I based it on the subtle grain you get from Kodak Eastman 5287/7287 EXR 200T stock - which was a colour negative film stock contemporary to the period when WC4 was filmed (and most likely the film stock they used).
 
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ODVS

Petty Officer
Seems to me 'AI' is used like a flashy marketing term to catch all references to this kind of processing in a similar vein to how '4K' was mis-appropriated to refer to UHD.
Absolutely, 100% this, @Wedge009! It kinda drives me up the wall, because there is very impressive research going on out there into genuine AI, and this really cheapens it. Sadly, it's part of the parlance now - which is why I used it in my YouTube videos. It's become a catch-all term that people kind of understand. I hate using it that way because I consider it massively inaccurate, but it's just where we are, sadly.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
No worries about the film grain demonstration - I was just curious. Not actually asking for a video comparison either, was just thinking of still images. But anyway, given that I didn't even notice there was a film grain addition, I'm happy to skip this - no harm in asking, though, I hope.

I'm aware, guys, but SSL certificates cost money - and we don't have any forms or input fields anywhere on the entire site, so https encryption isn't needed.
Um, I don't claim to be a web expert but I understand that the general Internet consensus has moved towards discouraging unencrypted web pages (search engines prioritising sites served over HTTPS, browsers switching to treating as HTTPS the norm over HTTP, etc). True, it's most important where user input is provided, but I understand it's still a good idea to serve non-interactive sites over HTTPS to preserve site authenticity and trust and those kinds of things.

As for cost, I thought that's what the Let's Encrypt initiative was about. For my own trivial hosting, it seems to happen auto-magically via cPanel's AutoSSL - I didn't have to do anything (except on occasions where it doesn't renew properly), I don't have to pay anything extra.

Anyway, it's a minor point for me, but as mentioned above it could be a point of concern for casual visitors.
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
No worries about the film grain demonstration - I was just curious. Not actually asking for a video comparison either, was just thinking of still images. But anyway, given that I didn't even notice there was a film grain addition, I'm happy to skip this - no harm in asking, though, I hope.
No harm at all :^) It actually doesn't show up in still images. As subtle as it is, you can't see it at all in stills - because it's a change between frames on a per-pixel level.

I'll look into Let's Encrypt - thanks for bringing it to my attention :^)
 
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EmuMusicFan

Chief Petty Officer
I'm aware, guys, but SSL certificates cost money - and we don't have any forms or input fields anywhere on the entire site, so https encryption isn't needed.
As far as I know HTTPS transmission doesn't only protect the user's private information submission, it also ensures data integrity throughout the access process. For example, you wouldn't want users using some unsecured public "free" WiFi to see site pages with irrelevant advertisements added, right? 😆 So Lets Encrypt!
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Oh, I just noticed that! Must have been relatively quick and easy then.

A thought about the NN-training - is that something you've done yourself or is it included as part of the Topaz Labs application?
 

Pedro

Admiral
Oh, I just noticed that! Must have been relatively quick and easy then.

A thought about the NN-training - is that something you've done yourself or is it included as part of the Topaz Labs application?
Quick, maybe. Easy is not the impression I got
 

wcnut

Rear Admiral
I'm aware, guys, but SSL certificates cost money - and we don't have any forms or input fields anywhere on the entire site, so https encryption isn't needed.
Umm https://letsencrypt.org/

You cant beat the price (it's free)

I use this service all the time for my own projects. Highly recommended. Of course all my projects are linux boxes. Dunno if you are using windows and iis. Beats going streight up http in 2020



[EDIT] should read the whole thread before I post XD
 

ODVS

Petty Officer
Oh, I just noticed that! Must have been relatively quick and easy then.

A thought about the NN-training - is that something you've done yourself or is it included as part of the Topaz Labs application?
It's part of the application - I don't have access to the AI model to train it myself. Also, having tinkered with training an AI model for a DeepFake surprise for my Dad (who was always being told be looked like Commander Riker back in the '90s), I speak from experience when I say NN training is slow. Very, very slow.

I left the bugger "learning" for about three weeks and while it was definitely improving over time, the results... weren't great:


There's also a degree of diminishing returns. It definitely keeps getting better the longer you leave it running, but the amount of improvement lessens as you progress - so the curve to get really good results is a nightmare. It defintitely needs to be done on dedicated hardware with distributed processing across a multi-GPU setup. I have an enterprise level Titan Xp, and it was still damn slow going.
 
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