I've been quiet for a while, but I have been tinkering away and experimenting.
Specifically, I've experimented with using alternative AI methods. I know I've mentioned using DAIN (Depth-Aware frame INterpolation) AI models to increase the frame rate of the WC3 PSX videos - but recently I've been combining that with ESRGAN (Enhanced Super-Resolution Generative Adversarial Network) AI for the upscaling process.
If you haven't heard of ESRGAN before, it's the Neural Network AI tech used by a lot of game remastering enthusiasts to upscale textures in older games. If you've seen any of those original Doom mods with higher res textures or the Final Fantasy VII fan remaster that was doing the rounds a while ago, they use ESRGAN.
It's really best suited to textures and individual images rather than video enhancement - but being open source it does give me consideably more granular control over how it's actually implemented than Topaz Video Enhance AI does. I'd say the results are a mixed bag. It does a far better job of enhancing the CGI backgrounds and things like uniforms and hair, but it's not as good at faces. Prepare for the return of the crazy eyes!
Unfortunately, it's a far slower process, too. Not just from a processing perspective, but as a workload. I unfortunately can't automate the process as much as I can with the Topaz workflow - I have to manually select and process each video file, then leave it running. Given that there are 471 individual video files in WC3, it would take a very, very long time to create an entire HD pack using this process. If I left one per night processing, for example, that's about a year and three months - and most of it would be dead time, just waiting for me to kick off the next file.
Given that fact and the mixed results, I think this is something to return to later - but it's a very promising experiment, none the less.
I've also modified my AVIsynth scripts for the WC3 workflow to alter the brightness and contrast a bit. The PSX footage (in my opinion) is quite overblown on brightness, so I thought I'd address that moving forward. Demo below, as usual. I decided to re-do some scenes I've used before, so you guys can get an idea of the difference between this workflow and my previous one.