Quantcast Artifacts (macroblocks) on HDTV set - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
08-11-2004, 03:57 PM
mlaviolette mlaviolette is offline
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I'm trying to pinpoint the cause(s) of artifacts appearing when I play a DVD created by my Philips DVDR80 on a Panasonic 34" HDTV. I do not notice these artifacts on my 17" LCD monitor.

My source is a VHS recording (SP mode) of an analog cable TV program created on a Sharp VC-H975 (4 head Hi-FI stereo), Sony premium grade tape, played back on my Sharp VC-H992 (4 head HI-FI stereo "S-VHS Quasi Playback") which is connected to the DVDR80 via RCA video in. The video cable seems to be of good quality, although longer than needed (4-5 feet). Neither Sharp VCR has s-video capability.

I use Sony (RICOHJPN) DVD+RW and TDK (RICOHJPN) DVD+R media.

When I play the DVD back to my monitor using either the standalone DVDR80 (through my Hauppauge WinTV PVR 350) or my PC's Sony DRU500A I do not see artifacts. When I play the same DVD to the HDTV using either the DVDR80 or Pioneer DV-444 player I see some artifacts, especially with motion. There are fewer artifacts when I record in XP mode (1 hour per DVD) compared to SP mode (2 hours per DVD), but they are still there.

I tried using my AVT-8710 TBC during recording but got the same result (no surprise). I did not try to add my ADVC-100 to the mix.

Commercial DVDs played on the Pioneer DVD player/Panasonic HDTV look great.

A commercially recorded VHS tape used as input to the DVDR80 gives a good result. This may mean that if the signal is clean then the DVDR80 will produce a decent result and all I need is a prosumer VCR. Maybe?

I know that I should be using a prosumer VCR, but I'm worried that I might waste my money if I order a JVC HRS9911U and it doesn't fix my problem. To add to my confusion I read a post somewhere that stated some DVD recorders (JVC) do a better job encoding an imperfect input signal and produce fewer artifacts compared to other recorders, but that all VHS transfers will have some artifacts. So at this point I'm not sure if the fix is

1) settings for the HDTV or DVD player
2) new Monster cables
3) a JVC prosumer VCR
4) a JVC DVD recorder
5) all of the above
6) there is no fix - consumer VHS recordings converted to DVD will always result in aritifacts (which was stated in the above mentioned post) especially on a HDTV

I hope that I don't have to try each item only to end up at number 6). Have you encountered such problems with HDTV playback? Any thoughts as to the most likely solution (if any)? Or am I expecting too much given my imperfect source?
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  #2  
08-11-2004, 10:24 PM
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Well, the first step is you see twice as much on the 34" as you do on the 17". Some of the "not seeing it" on the smaller monitor could be optical illusion.

If you see it in one place, you should see it in both.

This would seem to mean the HDTV or the DVD player attached to the HDTV is causing it? Not the same player on the HDTV as the PC monitor, correct?

I'm not sure if you're seeing glitches or actual blockiness in the image. If glitches, maybe the DVD+R is causing it?

Your VHS VCR's playing/recording all sound like good models. They'll do a decent job. I have a SHARP myself in addition of JVC S-VHS and other machines.

The Philips DVD recorders are not the best, and are not even in the top half when it comes to machines. It will often produce a blocky image when the source is not perfect. LSI-based machines, like the JVC DRM10SL, are much better at recording quality.

The PC DVD player is also running a smooth deinterlace for playback, which will soften the image a bit and hide artifacts. The TV will play back at full interlace. You have the HDTV set to playback in interlace (or "i"), correct? This will no hide the errors.

If just using the Hauppauge preview window, it is likely using bob filters, causing double rate playback, and therefore still not the same viewing conditions as the tv set.

You'd have to extract files from the disc and view in a PC video editor (unfiltered) to see whether it is truly blocky source or not. Do you have a regular tv to view this one? Maybe a friend's house?

HDTV by it's very nature was a bad idea. Old tv's had a way to hide imperfections of video signals. We have almost 100 years of video at this point, and all of it will look inferior under the microscope that is HDTV. It was never intended for such viewing conditions.

However, that said, macroblocks on a DVD should not be one of these problems, you'll see all kinds of other noise first.




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  #3  
08-12-2004, 09:54 AM
mlaviolette mlaviolette is offline
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I think that I have eliminated the DVD player since I get the same result playing back on the Pioneer DVD player as well as the Philips DVDR80 when attached to the HDTV.

I see blockiness, especially on the outside edges of an object. For example, I see blockiness on the outside of an arm when the person is wearing a dark sweatshirt, and this effect is increased with motion. I especially notice it in the trailing credits where the white letters are not sharp and seem to bleed with small blocks.

I don't see an option to set interlaced or progressive on the HDTV menus. The manual talks about supporting 1080i, 480p, and 480i picture signals, but also says that unless the Digital In terminal is used the picture will be displayed as an analog signal. I know that it is not 1080i since this would force 4x3, and as best as I can tell it is using 480p due to the choices of aspect control available. There is one that is only available for 480i, and it does not appear when I play back the DVD. Moreover, I have nothing attached to the Digital In terminal. Even my Pioneer DVD player is attached via the component video RCA terminals, and it produces a quality picture when playing commercial DVDs.

I hooked up the DVDR80 to an old Sharp 19" Unyvision set using RCA video in and the DVD looks great. Even with my face right up to the screen I see no blockiness in the tiny trailing credits.

I then hooked it up to my old Sharp 27" set using coax cable (it has no RCA terminals) and the picture was a little worse than the 19" but better than the HDTV. The picture on this set is not the best to start with, and using coax may also have had a negative effect.

I will ask a friend who has a giant 65" HDTV if he can play the DVD on his set to see what happens.

Given your comments about the Sharp VCRs and the DVDR80, as well as the results of my testing, I'm leaning towards a recording quality problem with the DVDR80. When I used a commercial tape as the source instead of my own recording the result was much, much better. Also, if I use XP mode there is much less blockiness, but this also means I am restricted to 1 hour per DVD.

Does any of this new information make sense or inspire more ideas? - mlaviolette
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08-12-2004, 10:56 AM
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That all pretty much points to the DVD recorder.

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  #5  
08-13-2004, 03:04 PM
mlaviolette mlaviolette is offline
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Yes, you are right. I connected my Sharp VCR to my ADVC-100 (simply for convenience since the VCR does not have s-video out while the ADVC-100 does) and then to my Hauppauge WinTV PVR 350 card, bypassing the DVDR80 altogether. I captured a few minutes using WinTV's preset "standard DVD 2 hour" setting, then authored and burned the resulting mpeg with the Ulead DVD Movie Factory 2 SE package that came with the card (no re-encoding) also using the 2 hr/DVD setting. Played the DVD on the Pioneer player to the HDTV - what a difference! Dark colors are no longer snowy, no artifacting that I could tell, everything is sharp and clear - and all this without even using the highest capture and burn settings!

I may just go ahead and get the JVC HRS9911 VCR, if only to get a better analog cable TV source. I find that the signal from playing a recorded VHS tape is cleaner than the original cable signal, so I will tape programs to S-VHS then capture them later instead of capturing them directly to my hard drive.

If you have better ideas on how to clean up the cable signal (other than digital cable), please let me know.

Look for my DVDR80 to be listed on ebay in the near future. Had I known then what I know now...

Thanks for all your help.
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08-13-2004, 04:05 PM
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Coax filters from Radio Shack. Look at a FM trap, an attenuator, using RG6 cable instead of cheap RG59 cable, an amplifier (at least $25 priced one), and a DC block.

The cable and amp do the most. A lot of this stuff is just a few bucks each.

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  #7  
08-15-2004, 12:03 PM
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Is there any easy way to clean up the blockiness on DVDs I have already created and finalized on the DVDR80 by using (hopefully free or cheap) software and my Sony DRU500A? If so, detailed instructions would be greatly appreciated.
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08-17-2004, 04:30 AM
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Not really, no. You can run noise removal filters in almost any encoder (TMPGENC PLUS is a good one for filtering), and then re-author the disc.

But the side effect is you'll soften the video a bit, and re-encoding MPEG can result in not-great results.

It'll also be time-consuming.

If you still have the source, start over when you get better equipment. If you don't have the source, either live with it and don't repeat the mistake (something I do with my earliest work from several years ago), or re-encode and take your lumps in regards to side-effects.

I actually don't mind softer video ... up to a point.

Follow this guide to extract the DVD:
(will add link later today)

And then this guide to re-encode the MPEG:
(will add link later today)



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