W A R N I N G !

W A R N I N G !

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

True Full-HD 1080 Anime fansubs. The time has really come.

(This post has been postponed for... a month, because originally it was intended to be scrapped unless I find more strong supporting evidence

Or because I was again lazy. But, how'd you know?)

Although this is a tech blog and Anime rant page, or so I called it, I've had few posts really on Anime yet. There are good reasons for that. One, if it's about reviews or opinions/afterthoughts, there are many more people with more time to watch more shows to put on their gigantic Anime blogs (I mean, there's animeblogger.net). Two, I don't like to press my subjective views onto other people, because everybody have their own preference, and few things are definitely right when it comes to Anime. And also, I don't talk about fansub quality - I do that on AniDB.net.

So what's left for me to talk about that'd be totally Anime and not related to tech by even a bit? Rare occurrences, unknown discoveries, shocking discoveries, that'd be about it. Like how I was like "HUH WTF!?" when I first learnt that True Tears was going to be made into an Anime that looks totally different from the game of the same name, and looks to be a best seller with high-quality story and cinema-like animation, opposites of what the game offered.

Speaking of True Tears, this post is here because of it. Now onto the main thing...

True Tears, another one of those Anime with tonnes of fansub groups doing it when it first came out. ef was another recent one. They can probably fight with Air... Heck with this already shall we?

This one was difficult to choose a fansub, not because all the fansubs have shyt quality (like ef...), but because all the fansubs have excellent quality, thanks to good raws being available. You can take any one of these, show it to MediaCorp or Starhub or Singtel MIO, and tell them in the face "THIS is true HD, not the sh!t that you've been giving us".

While searching for the best fansub available, I came across EMD's 1920x1080 (Full-HD) version. Naturally I got interested in it. Yes, many subbers, especially Chinese ones, like to upscale from their raw to something higher like 1024x576 and 1280x720 and add sharpening filters to give the false impression that their source is HD. And yes although it has its benefits (as I've posted b4 on HWZ DV-VE forum, maybe I should post one article here too), it's usually less beneficial than destructive. This 1920x1080 resolution is rare, because usually you don't see raws of this resolution (imagine how hard to capture), and most people's coms are too slow/screen too small to view it in its full glory. Furthermore, resizing an SD material to Full-HD just doesn't make sense - imagine the amount of extra data compared to the minute amount of image quality improvement.

That said, I believed there was high chance that this 1920x1080 is upscaled too. So I downloaded it to test it out. And the result is:

Update note: The 1920x1080 video featured here in the comparison is not the release by EMD, but a RAW of unknown release. The reason is because I've already deleted EMD's release by the time of this comparison, which I've only decided to do after getting good evidence that there is 1920x1080 raw (which is, like, the one I'm staring at now). Fortunately, the videos share so many similarities that I can believe that EMD used this raw as their source and simply muxed it into the MKV container without reencoding while adding subtitles. In fact, EMD's file size is just slightly bigger than this raw's, probably due to the subtitles.

(I resized the other two 1280x720 subs to 1920x1080 via Lanczos for size-to-size comparison)
(I resized it using Lanczos to give it slightly better quality than default hardware billinear. Not that it makes much of a difference anyway compared to that you're going to see.)
(Other than the first comparison pic, sharpening was not done on the lower res. video, because frankly, no amount of sharpening will being the quality up to that level as you will see, so why bother adding the noise?)

Things that one can immediately notice about the 1080 release:

The text is much sharper and cleaner
More of the line details are kept
The background has more details
F*** it, the difference is obvious, why not just see for yourself:

(Don't tell me you need me to tell you which one is the 1920x1080 release)

Side-by-side, easily differentiable even to the untrained eye. But, this isn't the most obvious one. The scene that had me in awe was:

The leaf pile is a big giveaway, see the difference in lines, even the white patches in the leaves. And the faces and words are totally different too.

And the scene that determined whether it is true 1920x1080 or just a very good upscaled 1280x720:

These lines are at most 3 pixels thick. On the 1280x720? Four to five.

I can safely conclude that the 1920x1080 release is indeed true 1920x1080, because it has the line details that the 1280x720 release does not have, because no matter how I resize and sharpen the 1280x720 release, which I consider to be extremely good quality already, there's definitely NO WAY for that to reach the quality of 1920x1080.

And another pic to showcase the significance of 1920x1080:

The ripple-like thingies are not noise. They are artistic brush strokes, at least to me. This kind of detail is lost on the 1280x720 release, like the edge details of the leaves.

This finding is of great importance. For long HD and Full-HD has existed, but their maximum capabilities have seldom been used. Few Anime fansubs are available in 1920x1080, and perhaps even fewer are true Full-HD, considering how people are upscaling from SD to 1280x720. And there's a possible reason for that, because the producers didn't really produce the show in HD/Full-HD but only SD in some case (since according to reports, there are a number of shows that had no HD broadcast) But for once, there is evidence supporting that the producers are really making Anime in Full-HD, using the capabilities to the max to include never-seen-before small details (which requires more work by the artists). On a related note, part of this variable frame rate video is in 60p. Yes 60p, twice the frame rate of the 60i of SD and 30p of normal HD video. (How they got 60p @ 1920x1080 is really scary)

But, there are problems related to the adoptation of Full-HD. Firstly, with so many computers unable to handle either 720p HD or H.264, not to mention both together, forcing the viewers to get the SD XviD releases instead, it's going to be rare to find those that can handle 1920x1080 H.264. Minimumly, you'd need a dual-core. That means any computer that's more than 2 year old is out. Secondly, not many people have a nice 22-inch widescreen that supports 1920x1200, so you won't get to see the extra pixels, but due to resizing back to 1280x720 you'd probably lose some detail instead.

However, if you ask me whether I'd get the 1920x1080 release, my answer is yes. To be precise, I will be getting both. The English 1280x720 version will be for current watching, while the Chinese 1920x1080 release will also be archived for future enjoyment when I get a Full-HD TV.

1 comment:

David said...

Damn right. I hate it when HD gets fucked up by ppls that don't know fuck about encoding