Xbox 360 crushing blacks in games but not DVD... - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been trying to work out why I get crushed blacks in some games, and I think the xbox 360 is doing it by default! Try this: set your xbox 360 to output HDMI with YCbCr colour space, or use the analogue component cable.

1. Use Digital Video Essentials on DVD to calibrate black level, so that anything below black level 16 is hidden. THX Optimiser can also be used, make sure the drop shadow on the THX logo is hidden but the THX logo is still visible.

2. Put the attached picture on a USB memory stick and display it on the xbox 360. All the shades should be visible - but it's not, it crushing some of the blacks!
LL
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post #2 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 12:50 PM
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My understaning, and theres been alot of talk about this in the HDMI Colour Space thread, is that for games xbox outputs PC levels (0-255) so if you calibrate your set for DVD it will crush blacks in games.

The best bet from I understand is to set your xbox to auto and calibarate your display for games and then another profile for movies if possible.
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post #3 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 12:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ripeer View Post

My understaning, and theres been alot of talk about this in the HDMI Colour Space thread, is that for games xbox outputs PC levels (0-255) so if you calibrate your set for DVD it will crush blacks in games.

The best bet from I understand is to set your xbox to auto and calibarate your display for games and then another profile for movies if possible.

I thought the xbox 360 was supposed to convert video games to video levels which would mean compressing the range so both games and videos have the same levels, but that doesn't appear to be happening...
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post #4 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
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A way around it seems to be:

Set the xbox 360 HDMI colour space to Auto / Source
Set the xbox 360 Reference Levels to Intermediate
Set the TV to expect PC levels over HDMI for RGB (HDMI Black Level: Normal on my Samsung)

I can now see all the bars in the test pattern and DVD levels still look right... I shouldn't have to do this though, it seems rather complicated to get the right picture.
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post #5 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cybersoga View Post

I've been trying to work out why I get crushed blacks in some games, and I think the xbox 360 is doing it by default! Try this: set your xbox 360 to output HDMI with YCbCr colour space, or use the analogue component cable.

1. Use Digital Video Essentials on DVD to calibrate black level, so that anything below black level 16 is hidden. THX Optimiser can also be used, make sure the drop shadow on the THX logo is hidden but the THX logo is still visible.

2. Put the attached picture on a USB memory stick and display it on the xbox 360. All the shades should be visible - but it's not, it crushing some of the blacks!

On my display using that pattern with xbox set to source and reference levels set to standard "16-235" I have zero black crush. If I change it to expanded and set my tv to accept "0-255" I have zero black crush. Bottom line is if your tv is crushing blacks on this pattern, it means your tv has too high a gamma or a bad gamma curve. Two high a gamma will make the tv rise out of black too slow and kill shadow detail. Too low a gamma can make blacks look gray and washout the image. People need to stop with the calibrate your tv to the game console biz. When your tv is calibrated correctly and your getting a gamma curve at 2.2 or close, you will not get any black crush. If you have a tv that does correctly video color levels and pc levels, you will see zero difference between the two.
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post #6 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PARASITE View Post

On my display using that pattern with xbox set to source...

Let me stop you there, if you have it set to source the xbox 360 is outputting RGB in games and YCbCr in DVD and therefore calibrating it with a DVD isn't going to affect games. The reference levels setting doesn't have any effect when the xbox 360 is outputting YCbCr.

I should also add the TV displays the test pattern just fine with my laptop plugged into the same HDMI port.
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post #7 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cybersoga View Post

Let me stop you there, if you have it set to source the xbox 360 is outputting RGB in games and YCbCr in DVD and therefore calibrating it with a DVD isn't going to affect games. The reference levels setting doesn't have any effect when the xbox 360 is outputting YCbCr.

No offense cybersoga but you are way off here. When you set the 360 to source and have reference levels set to standard it will send RGB at 16-235. If you set reference levels to expanded, the xbox will send out RGB at 0-255.
YCbCr is always 16-235. I dont know why you even commented about YCbCr. I wasnt even talking about that it in the first place. The fact that you set your xbox to intermediate tells me you have no idea about anything calibration or displays for that matter. My point was very simple, If your tv is calibrated correctly, and can accept and display video levels and pc levels standard and expanded will have zero visible difference. I think where I'm losing you is, I dont think you understand that RGB is not always 0-255. Just because something runs RGB, doesnt always mean its pc levels. For the record reference levels is what is changing the color space. Just by setting the HDMI to rgb is not going to magically change the color space.
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post #8 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 01:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cybersoga View Post

Let me stop you there, if you have it set to source the xbox 360 is outputting RGB in games and YCbCr in DVD and therefore calibrating it with a DVD isn't going to affect games. The reference levels setting doesn't have any effect when the xbox 360 is outputting YCbCr.

I should also add the TV displays the test pattern just fine with my laptop plugged into the same HDMI port.

My display is calibrated to ISF standards, not to a dvd with test patterns. If you think setting your tv up with video essentials is calibrating then I'm afraid I cant help you.
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post #9 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PARASITE View Post

No offense cybersoga but you are way off here. When you set the 360 to source and have reference levels set to standard it will send RGB at 16-235. If you set reference levels to expanded, the xbox will send out RGB at 0-255.
YCbCr is always 16-235. I dont know why you even commented about YCbCr. I wasnt even talking about that it in the first place. The fact that you set your xbox to intermediate tells me you have no idea about anything calibration or displays for that matter. My point was very simple, If your tv is calibrated correctly, and can accept and display video levels and pc levels standard and expanded will have zero visible difference. I think where I'm losing you is, I dont think you understand that RGB is not always 0-255. Just because something runs RGB, doesnt always mean its pc levels. For the record reference levels is what is changing the color space. Just by setting the HDMI to rgb is not going to magically change the color space.

Dude, no offense but read the original post again. If the xbox 360 is set to output YCbCr all the time (the same as using a component video cable) then levels in games and DVD's do not match, or rather, <16 is crushed in video games if you have below black crushed in DVD. That is the point i'm trying to make. I am under the impression that you shouldn't see <16 in DVDs, but you should do in video games? Am I wrong in believing that? You have your TV calibrated so you see all the values below black on DVDs?
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post #10 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cybersoga View Post

Dude, no offense but read the original post again. If the xbox 360 is set to output YCbCr all the time (the same as using a component video cable) then video levels in games and DVD's do not match. That is the point i'm trying to make.

Dude, no offense but you are wrong. If the xbox is set to do everything at YCbCr then yes its doing the exact same thing for games and dvd's. YCbCr is component and its always 16-235. When the 360 is outputting YCbCr it is taking the games that are normally RGB 16-235 and converting them to YCbCr. Then end result looks exactly the same. The only time you are going to see a difference is if you have reference levels set to expanded, and using rgb. I will say this again "RGB can be 16-235, or 0-255" " " YCbCr is always 16-235".
If you are getting black crush on your tv by using expanded, then you need to set it to standard. You do not just raise the brightness level to compensate. By doing this you are displaying the image incorrectly. If your tv can display the image correctly by using some type of pc color mode or pc color hdmi mode then you are good to go. If your tv crushes blacks with expanded then that means your tv is not designed to accept and display PC levels. Here is the best solution for everyone on using hdmi color space and refrence level settings.

HDMI set to auto and reference levels standard if: Your tv can do both RGB and YCbCr but your not sure if your tv can do PC levels. "if your tv crushes blacks on expanded this setting applies to you"

HDMI set YCbCr and reference levels standard if: your not sure your tv can properly convert RGB to YCrCB by making the output of the 360 always YCrCB you are only sending out component color at 16-235 space. This will work with every digital tv on the planet.

HDMI set to auto, source, RGB and reference levels Expanded if: your display is a pc monitor, or your tv looks washed out when set to standard "remember some displays have the ability to switch between pc levels and video levels, so always check for compatability first"

I will say this one last time On a display that is calibrated correctly and is able to display video levels and pc levels, there is no visible difference between standard and expanded.
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post #11 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 02:12 PM
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Dude!
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post #12 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Explain this:

Xbox 360 set to RGB colour space with Expanded reference Levels. Level 8 in the jpg is crushed.

PC plugged into the same HDMI port via DVI, no changes made to TV settings. Level 8 in the jpg is visible.
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post #13 of 211 Old 11-22-2008, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cybersoga View Post

Explain this:

Xbox 360 set to RGB colour space with Expanded reference Levels. Level 8 in the jpg is crushed.

PC plugged into the same HDMI port via DVI, no changes made to TV settings. Level 8 in the jpg is visible.

Easy your pc is looking for 0-255 color space and your tv is not correctly displaying 0-255. Set your xbox to rgb and set reference levels to standard. set your tv if its a samsung to hdmi low levels and you will not have black crush. Some tv's dont handle RGB full correctly. This is what I was saying earlier in another thread. Some sets have chroma bugs, others have gamma issues. If your display can do pc levels and video levels correctly, you will see no difference between the two. My pioneer elite 151 can do this. I have tested all settings.
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post #14 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 12:43 AM - Thread Starter
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What is everyone else getting? Can you see level 8 in the test jpg if your xbox 360 is calibrated for DVD?
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post #15 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 02:50 AM - Thread Starter
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I just tried Dead Space and it's now too bright. Fallout 3 now looks about right. You know what? I don't think the xbox 360 is converting levels between DVDs and video game graphics at all. That would explain the lack of banding.

I can only conclude that most games are optimised for video levels, but there are some out there that are wrongly using PC Levels, and the photos come under that.

PARASITE, if you can see level 8 in the test jpg then surely you are seeing below black on DVDs as well. I was always told to adjust level 16 to be the lowest black on DVDs and anything below that shouldn't be visible.
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post #16 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 09:05 AM
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Ok cybersoga, you may have some valid points. I did some testing last night with the pattern you have in the original post, and came to some interesting results.
When I put the pattern on a usb stick and loaded into my xbox and set the reference level to standard and my tv to auto color space "which detects and switches to pc or video dependant on source", it correctly displayed the pattern crushing everything below 16 and over 235. I do want to point out 16 was infact black. Now the interesting results was this. When I set the reference levels to expanded my tv locked into to pc color mode and the ugly truth reared its head. I could clearly see every bar down to zero, BUT 0 WAS NOT BLACK! How could this be? The answer will shock you, but first I need to evaluate my hypothesis. I then took the usb stick with test pattern in hand and stuck it into my TV usb reader "thanks pioneer for a cool feature". First setting my tv to video color space, the pattern clearly crushed everything below 16 like I knew it would. Everything like before above 235 was crushed as well. Now for the shocker. When I set my tv to pc color my fears were then realized. The pattern showed every single strip down to 0 but, 0 was black as midnight unlike before on the 360 were black was dark grey. 255 was also absolute white and every strip below it was clearly slightly less white. THIS IS HOW THIS PATTERN IS SUPPOSED TO LOOK!

What did we learn through all of this? THE 360 SET TO EXPANDED IS NOT MAPPING THE LEVELS CORRECTLY.
That is why people say the pattern looks right on their pc or if they look at the pattern through any other usb device other then the 360. Yes you can use expanded on your tv if it has a pc color mode. However you are probally not getting the best image possible and are most likely losing contrast. When you set the 360 to expanded and use pc color on your television, you can only achieve black by lowering the brightness too far on your display which corrupts the original image. I have confirmed the problem being the 360 mapping errors in color space by using a different device to display the pattern on the same display. By do this I prove the calibration of the display is not the culprit.
I am confident now in saying the best image possible with hdmi for most people is by using reference levels standard. If your tv will display video and pc levels correctly then standard is what you should use. The problem is and always has been the 360. If you set refernce levels to expanded and your tv picture washes out, then your tv is looking for video levels. If your tv shows severe black crush on standard then PC levels is what you use. If your tv can do either standard or reference "sometimes by changing color space in the display" you should use standard because expanded is not mapping the levels correctly and you are losing black and washing out the very low ire. In lamens terms things that are supposed to be black will be gray.
Feel free to duplicate the test I have done.
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post #17 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
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The conclusion i've come to is that both DVD's and video games on the xbox 360 use the same levels natively - level 16 as black and 235 as white (video levels).

When you set the xbox 360 to RGB expanded and your TV is expecting PC Levels, all it does is it expands level 16 to level 0 and 235 to 255 and re-maps all the levels in between. Both DVDs and video games are affected the same way. <16 and >235 are hard clipped. This looks almost the same as when the xbox 360 is outputting video levels on a TV that's expecting video levels, however you are adding an extra conversion stage which can add banding and other artefacts. Below black and above white data is used by the video processor in the screen to reduce interpolation errors, so the lack of that could also degrade the picture.

The thing is, there's no way to get native PC levels out of the xbox 360 because no matter what you do, the xbox 360 treats 16 as black for both DVDs and Video Games.

So now I am in the agreement that there is no advantage to setting the xbox 360 to output expanded levels. Video levels are native for both DVDs and Video Games. If the TV and can be set to accept video levels that is the best option to have the xbox 360 outputting.
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post #18 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 10:22 AM
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So to clarify, I should use the test pattern and adjust my brightness and contrast so that anything below 16 is crushed and anything above 235 is crushed as well?
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post #19 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KillTheApex View Post

So to clarify, I should use the test pattern and adjust my brightness and contrast so that anything below 16 is crushed and anything above 235 is crushed as well?

Yes, it is safe to do that, as it's exactly the same as a calibration DVD
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post #20 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 10:41 AM
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Ok. Will do. I guess I'll switch it to standard since there is no advantage to expanded.

That kind of sucks, so the 360 is not outputting pc levels? Dead Space looks too bright now but I can actually see all the nice work they put into designing levels and things.
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post #21 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 12:17 PM
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The PQ looks much better with the 360 when using optimal resolution on my set. Which is 1360x768. Tv is native 1366x768. 720p and 1080i looks meh. Now not to argue what is right and what is wrong. All sets vary. Funny thing though. With DTV. I have a HR22. And it looks absolutely fantastic when it is set for native resolution for the HD channels. Which is 720p or 1080i. As for that test pattern. Mine is set like this with my Samsung lcd.

Input named PC with HDMI 1
hdmi black level (with in the tv settings) Normal
hdmi black level (with in the 360) Expanded
hdmi color space (with in the 360) RGB
Optimal resolution

I can see every thing fine. I am able to see all bars with 0 being complete black. With 8 being in between. Not crushed and not bright. To sum it up. The pattern looks exactly the same on my pc as well as on the tv.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cybersoga View Post

The conclusion i've come to is that both DVD's and video games on the xbox 360 use the same levels natively - level 16 as black and 235 as white (video levels).

When you set the xbox 360 to RGB expanded and your TV is expecting PC Levels, all it does is it expands level 16 to level 0 and 235 to 255 and re-maps all the levels in between. Both DVDs and video games are affected the same way. <16 and >235 are hard clipped. This looks almost the same as when the xbox 360 is outputting video levels on a TV that's expecting video levels, however you are adding an extra conversion stage which can add banding and other artefacts. Below black and above white data is used by the video processor in the screen to reduce interpolation errors, so the lack of that could also degrade the picture.

The thing is, there's no way to get native PC levels out of the xbox 360 because no matter what you do, the xbox 360 treats 16 as black for both DVDs and Video Games.

So now I am in the agreement that there is no advantage to setting the xbox 360 to output expanded levels. Video levels are native for both DVDs and Video Games. If the TV and can be set to accept video levels that is the best option to have the xbox 360 outputting.

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post #22 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 12:39 PM
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When I set my tv to optimal resolution I can't change the hdmi black level for some reason. I have it with home theater pc on (samsung lcd btw) but even if I turn it off I am unable to adjust hdmi black level. It's on normal but greyed out.

If I use the test pattern cybersoga has up with my xbox on expanded, and rgb and my tv on htpc, everything looks a little washed out if I adjust the brightness to where 0 is black and 255 is white.

I set my xbox to standard and source, adjust my brightness and contrast with the test pattern. I crushed everything below 16 and tried my best to crush everything above 235. I can't seem to crush the white, I turned on the dynamic contrast to low and my gamma to +3 but it still doesn't crush the white. Is the dynamic contrast and gamma adjustment a bad idea? Sorry, I'm kind of n00bish to these matters.
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post #23 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KillTheApex View Post

When I set my tv to optimal resolution I can't change the hdmi black level for some reason. I have it with home theater pc on (samsung lcd btw) but even if I turn it off I am unable to adjust hdmi black level. It's on normal but greyed out.

If I use the test pattern cybersoga has up with my xbox on expanded, and rgb and my tv on htpc, everything looks a little washed out if I adjust the brightness to where 0 is black and 255 is white.

I set my xbox to standard and source, adjust my brightness and contrast with the test pattern. I crushed everything below 16 and tried my best to crush everything above 235. I can't seem to crush the white, I turned on the dynamic contrast to low and my gamma to +3 but it still doesn't crush the white. Is the dynamic contrast and gamma adjustment a bad idea? Sorry, I'm kind of n00bish to these matters.

Change the name of the input on the TV something other than PC. Set the Reference Levels on the Xbox 360 to Standard. Set the Colour Space on the xbox 360 to Auto or Source. Set the HDMI Black Level on the TV to Low (it will only let you change it while the TV is being fed RGB). Put the TV in movie mode, adjust the brightness so <16 is crushed in the test pattern and your pretty much done for both games and DVDs. Don't worry about crushing white, I can't do it on my samsung either. I wouldn't use dynamic contrast and gamma adjustments.
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post #24 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoRn View Post

The PQ looks much better with the 360 when using optimal resolution on my set. Which is 1360x768. Tv is native 1366x768. 720p and 1080i looks meh. Now not to argue what is right and what is wrong. All sets vary. Funny thing though. With DTV. I have a HR22. And it looks absolutely fantastic when it is set for native resolution for the HD channels. Which is 720p or 1080i. As for that test pattern. Mine is set like this with my Samsung lcd.

Input named PC with HDMI 1
hdmi black level (with in the tv settings) Normal
hdmi black level (with in the 360) Expanded
hdmi color space (with in the 360) RGB
Optimal resolution

I can see every thing fine. I am able to see all bars with 0 being complete black. With 8 being in between. Not crushed and not bright. To sum it up. The pattern looks exactly the same on my pc as well as on the tv.

That doesn't sound right to me. If you can see below 16 in the test pattern then its going to be too bright in both games and DVDs.
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post #25 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 01:13 PM
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Thanks for helping me cybersoga. Just another question:

Is there a reason why I can't adjust my HDMI Black Level on my tv? FYI, my settings are as follows

TV: Samsung LCD LN-T2354H
HTPC: On (even with HTPC off I still can't change the HDMI Black Level)
HDMI Black Level: Normal (but greyed out)
Sharpness, Color, Tint are all greyed out

Xbox 360:
Optimal Resolution: 1360x768
Reference Levels: Standard
HDMI Color Space: Source
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post #26 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's another test pattern with a grey ramp that should make it easier.
LL
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post #27 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KillTheApex View Post

Thanks for helping me cybersoga. Just another question:

Is there a reason why I can't adjust my HDMI Black Level on my tv? FYI, my settings are as follows

TV: Samsung LCD LN-T2354H
HTPC: On (even with HTPC off I still can't change the HDMI Black Level)
HDMI Black Level: Normal (but greyed out)
Sharpness, Color, Tint are all greyed out

Xbox 360:
Optimal Resolution: 1360x768
Reference Levels: Standard
HDMI Color Space: Source

Have you got your HDMI port named "PC" on the TV? if so, change it to something else.
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post #28 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 01:20 PM
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Yeah I dunno man. Just reporting what I saw. Thought it was weird that my pc monitor and tv showed the exact same thing. I even had them side by side. So, from an optimal stand point with the 360. Since yall figured it out. Is this how it should look now?

Samsung lcd
hdmi black level (with in the tv settings) Low
hdmi black level (with in the 360) Standard
hdmi color space (with in the 360) Auto

Obviously I could not use optimal resolution any more with these settings because then we are back to pc levels. I will just have to take the PQ hit and use 720p.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cybersoga View Post

That doesn't sound right to me. If you can see below 16 in the test pattern then its going to be too bright in both games and DVDs.

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post #29 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 01:48 PM
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Apparently you can't use optimal resolution (1360x768) and adjust black level, etc. That's pretty lame, I'm taking a tiny hit in PQ but I guess that's what I'll have to do.
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post #30 of 211 Old 11-23-2008, 01:49 PM
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However ... if you use VGA then Expanded does map the levels correctly when you have a display that does 0-255 via the VGA connection , I have tested this on several different displays (Projector/HDtv/PC monitor) .

- Jason
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