W A R N I N G !

W A R N I N G !

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Improve your ATi / AMD graphics card's video playback quality by DISABLING all the enhancements

It happened one day (a long time ago actually), I acquired Nanatsuiro Drop's DVD creditless opening video, so when I got home I played it on my main PC with a HD5670 and SyncMaster 913V.

What I saw, was a putrid mush of ****.

It should be noted, at that point in time, my 913V was not calibrated. But that only makes the problem even more obvious.

I've seen the TV version of that video so I know what it looks like. My experience from comparing different encodes tells me how some fluctuation in color is normal, due to different tuner and tuning settings (more an analogue problem than a digital one nowadays), different broadcasted and subsequently captured raws, encoder and filter colorspace issue, and any enhancement the encoder (person) wants to add.

But even if you haven't seen the original video before, you can tell which one looks the most and least s**tty -

Four photos, with AMD video enhancements on and off, and display calibration on and off, in various combinations. +5 brightness and +25 contrast added in Photoshop as a noobish attempt to compensate for camera color response.

I'd expect some fight between 2 and 4, but 4 is closer to the original video, and 2 looks worse when big (click for 800x600). Photo 4 is with display calibration on and video enhancements off. As you can see this screen is fairly inaccurate while uncalibrated (photo 3), it is one of the earliest 19-inchers and only has a VGA input.

With an uncalibrated screen and enhancements on by default, I was greeted with the oversaturated POS of photo 1.

Fortunately I already knew that ATi / AMD cards have video enhancements on by default all along, and that it only works with MPEG2 (now also H.264 and VC-1 as long as you are using DXVA), so for all the MPEG4 ASP and AVC videos it didn't have any effect so I ignored it. But this video is MPEG2.

Speaking of oversaturation, this is what can happen with enhancements on, at least with an uncalibrated screen -

You know something is wrong when dark hair turns from being a light absorber to a light emitter.

Enhancements can be good sometimes, but they can be very bad many other times. So it should be left off by default unless the user wants it. However this is not the case with consumer video products, where upscalers, more vibrant colors, sharper edges, and motion-enhancement-whatever flood the market.

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