Quantcast ATI 9000 Capture Artifacts - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
02-13-2004, 11:15 AM
inchga inchga is offline
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Here is an example of my problem. I've enhanced the contrast so you can see the problem better, it's not this bad in person. It looks like a basket weave pattern. This artifacting is present regardless of capturing S-Video, Composite, from VCR, Cable Box or directly from cable to PCI card! Filters help, but not enough. I've followed Lord Smurf's Capture Guide and it was much better. I also turned up the bit rate to the maximum at "constant" rather than "variable" and that also helped. ATI says that I'm too picky!!! I say, "Why can't you sell a card that works!?!" All I expect is a vhs quality capture.

Is that too much to ask?
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  #2  
02-13-2004, 04:40 PM
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What are your exact capture settings for this image?

My first instinct is "bitrate too low" (I can see macroblocks) ...

... the pattern you see can be referred to as "moire" with an accent on the "e" (MOR-EE-AY)

If it was coax only, I'd say the line was bad. I have that on one system's coax when no filters added

Also, what is the source ? ... this may well be a minor issue on a broadcast antenna-based analog video stream, just that the tv cannot see the finite issues. The computer monitor's hi res CAN see the pattern oh so clearly.

How does this look on tv after burned ? (use a DVD-RW/+RW as needed).

Can you post an image without enhancements? Preferably MAXIMUM quality JPEG, at a 25%, 50% or 75% only resize from the original source ... also, where do you see this?

It looks a bit like 8-color depth (as opposed to 24-bit true color depth) when previewed in Womble MPEG-VCR.

VideoSoap with a 17% depeckle filter is also a good option to counteract such problems when present on VHS source or noisy cable/broadcast.

I think your answer is in there somewhere, lots of possibilities ...

... get back to me with answers to the questions I asked, and we'll get you set on track to better video.

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  #3  
02-14-2004, 04:37 AM
inchga inchga is offline
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Well, thanks for the prompt response. These images look much worse in person on TV and are unenhanced. The settings are: MPEG-2, NTSC (525), 352x480, interlaced, 48 KHz, 16bit stereo, P frames 2, B frames 2, GOP, Constant Bit Rate at 15.00 MB, No Video Soap at Windows Limit. I did get better results by cranking up the bit rate to the maximum and setting it to Constant Bit Rate. This is straight coax from the wall to the ATI card, this is the best quality image over the S-Video, RCA or VHS tape. I get this moire micro blocking (Thank you for giving me something to call it!) pattern anyway I capture, it's just a matter of how obvious it is.

S-Video Has less pattern, but it pulses and video tape has the best results, but the image is soft. To have any luck with the filters the picture has to be too soft for my taste before the pattern is gone. The pattern is more obvious on the TV rather than my monitor. To eliminate the possibility of the Pinnacle Studio 8 software causing this, I have just been saving the untouched files directly to a DVD rewritable for testing. I will try the Despeckle at 17%. If it is the cable broadcast or bad line, how do fix it. Will a signal booster help? Shouldn't this card give me a crisp clean image without filters if the source is crisp and clean or am I expecting too much from this card?
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02-14-2004, 07:04 AM
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I see three options:

1. Most likely one: The coax is a bad feed. Get your cable company to come clean the line and eliminate noise. There may be pirate taps on your signal, it may have decaying wire/splitters, or the outside stuff in use may be defective. This is likely.

Be sure to use commercial VHS tapes for testing, not the same source or something you recorded from cable yourself.

Now, considering your s-video and RCA is the same, it may be coincidence, and that the VCR may have bad output on it. What kind of VCR is this?

Note: Moire is a noise pattern. Macroblocks is an effect from inadequate bitrate being present, and the grid of blocks that make up an MPEG image become more visible. In this case, they are directly related, as the moire noise creates more noise, and noise uses bitrate (big reason noise is bad).

2. The purple breakout box on the ATI card is defective. This could be it. These cost like $10 on eBay. Exchange at the store if it's a recent purchase.

3. The card could be defective. If it was a recent purchase, I'd go get it exchanged.

The ATI AIW card should never exhibit the symptoms you see now, unless the source being fed to it was bad. Before I began working with digital video, I never really noticed these things. My tv set here in the office has a noisy moire-like coax scroll pattern on it (the set itself, not the signal being fed to it).

In fact, these cards can often make source better than the source when used properly. My guides on video restoration should be open (finally!) in a few weeks, outlining this process.

The 17% despeckle should serve to remove this kind of error, but if the source is perfect then the card has problems. And not all cards, just the one bad apple in your possession, assuming it really is a bad card.

FINALLY: Let me know about the VCR, and then more about the source being used, how it looks on tv (without any computer/ATI stuff, and then if you can still exchange it.

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  #5  
02-14-2004, 07:07 AM
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Few more things to add:

I keep looking at the images... I seriously think it's signal noise, not the card itself, MAYBE the purple breakout box (is it connected properly, and there is NO DUST on any connection? And are the coax/comp/s-vid wires good quality, not the cheapo stuff that was free (these are often bad)?

Signal boosters can be found at Walmart and Radio Shack for about $25 each, and the FM traps and DC blocks can be found at RadioShack for like $2 each.

Beyond this, I'm not sure what else it could be.

Maybe even a motherboard problem or soundcard affecting the internal card. What kind of motherboard, CPU, soundcard?

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  #6  
02-15-2004, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inchga
Constant Bit Rate at 15.00 MB...
Can you reconfirm this setting? That is an awfully high bitrate, well in excess of the DVD standard.

I would have said this was a weak head-end signal on the cable company's end coming from the broadcaster. But, since you're seeing this on an ABC affiliate, this looks like an across-the-board weak signal, or possibly an overload on the CPU. I say this because you can gain acceptable results with Half-D1 using 4.0M CBR...

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  #7  
02-17-2004, 11:19 AM
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I am still testing filter combinations. I've added a signal amplifier and FM filter. I am also having the cable company out tomorrow to test the lines inside and out. ATI suggests using "I Frame Only", do you know why that would help? It seems to though, a little! The coax connects directly to the card and not to the purple breakout box. The S-Video does connect through the breakout, but even with the boster and separate S-Video cable amplifier, I still get better results from the coax to card connection. My S-video out comes from a Super VHS recorder and is new.

Lord Murf suggested boosting the bit rate, I may have gone over board on the 15MB, but it did get ride of the micro blocks!!! The 17% Despeckle is a little soft for me, maybe some adjustment. My source signal looks great on all my TV sets, there is, if I study the screen, a faint horizontal noise that nobody but me would notice! It does however, seem to be amplified after capture which is part of my complaint. The TV signal looks good on my pc monitor only in the small format. If I enlarge to the full screen, it's not so great. I have the 2 year exchange with CompUSA, they suggest waiting a few months and then they'd give me the newer card as a replacement.

Maybe I can get ATI to replace it so I don't waste my replacement garantee at CompUSA. As for my PC it is a year old Dell 2mhz, SoundMax Card, my chipset is Intel, I have an 80gig HD for capture and a 20gig for software (I've captured to both HD's and the result is the same) I also have a gig of RAM. I close all pc functions and turn off all the lights in the house that have dimmers too! If what I'm capturing is bright and sunny the picture looks great, so I have to wait for Weds. and Suns. to test with Star Trek as the lighting is dim and the colors are muted which best displays my problem, so I write out all my possible filter and setting combinations and capture 30 seconds of each and then watch them... Otherwise the test clips aren't comparable to each other.

Oh I've spend a couple hundred hours testing and retest, waiting hours on hold to tech support in Canada. One month I had a 300 phone bill for my 200 capure card! I have to laugh, I've already cried! So to sum up, I'm testing more tomorrow night after the cable guy leaves and Star Trek starts! If you have any suggestions for my next testing session please let me know.

Thanks for your help and suggestions.
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  #8  
02-17-2004, 11:25 AM
inchga inchga is offline
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OH! All my cables are the crazy expensive gold kind. What is a DC block? Should I try that also? Thanks again.
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02-17-2004, 07:13 PM
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ATI's suggestion of I-frame only is retarded. That removes the temporal compression and makes a non-compliant MPEG-2 (for DVD usage at least). It must be some sort of GOP delta pattern for MPEG-2 for DVD.

The coax error is MOST DEFINITELY the quality of the signal. When you say "s-video", are you using the SAME COAX into a VCR and then relaying it through the s-vid? If so, you're still getting that garbage signal. How do VHS tapes on a ANOTHER VCR inputted via composite (not s-vid or coax) into the purple breakout box look?

Your VHS capture should look fine. Otherwise, it's a bad breakout box or bad wires (gold or not, wires can be bad, even new Monsters can go bad). Switch things around. You must isolate and eliminate variables one by one.

The 17% despeckle will not look soft on tv. The noise you see may not be seen on tv. Your computer has more depth and more resolution, so therefore you see more signal, flaws and all.

To some extent, I think you may be overly critical of what you're seeing. These images you post can be better, but don't expect too much, not without spending 10's of thousands of dollars. And again, the computer look worse than tv most times.

It does not matter what card you have, this is a source error. Your signal is bad. Maybe the VCR is bad, but I bet it's just a crappy signal. Maybe it's bad wires.

Go to Radio Shack (they have them in Canada too) and ask about coax filters, specifically DC blocks and FM traps.

The noise create a problem with bitrate dispersion, so more will make it less problematic. But that's putting a band-aid on a flat tire, it's not really fixing anything.


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  #10  
02-20-2004, 10:33 AM
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Well, I am hoping that I just have a bad card since I am the only one in the whole entire world that seems to have this problem with my ATI card according to ATI and every single forum I check with. I had 6 cable guys over and they said that I had a strong signal. They even rehung the drop and replaced all the inside and outside cables and equipment! They were here all day! I showed them the slight noise in the background of all my chanels (which only I would complain about, you really have to look for it) and they said that it was normal analog noise and that even if i got a digital cable box that the only channels that would be a digital signal where channels 99 and over! I video tape all the time and the tapes are crystal clear, so I do hope it's just the card, although I've heard that the card will enhance even the slightest noise.

Thanks for your help with this, it's so fustraiting, especially for an anal perfectionist!
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  #11  
02-22-2004, 01:59 AM
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Again, I think it's mainly because you are now finally seeing the true signal, something only possible when viewed on a PC ... the tv set is MUCH lower resolution, so you have never been able to see this.

I bet a recording made on PC, then burned to DVD, will yield the quality you normally see.

Or then again, maybe it's a defective card. Or noise is being emmitted from a component in your PC, and no matter what you try to use, you'll get extra PC-created noise on the signal.

Something like this is REALLY hard to gauge without being onsite and having experience at this sort of thing.

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