Compete beginners questions about upscaling - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 03:56 PM - Thread Starter
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I have some completely naive questions about improving video quality on an HTPC. I've read through a number of threads on the forum about the subject, even worked through the "upscaling standard dvd movies to 1080p using ffdshow and your htpc" guide, but I think I might be just about as confused as when I started. So I was hoping you all wouldn't mind answering a few basic questions I have about all of this...

1. I need sort a layman's understanding for how upscaling works, and what all it works on. From what I understand upscaling simply improves DVD video in an attempt to bring it up to sub-Blu-ray type quality... essentially it takes a 420p image and upscales it to 720 or 1080. Is that correct? Would this work on any other video sources besides a DVD iso?

2. I hear a lot on this forum about increasing frame rates. I don't think I comprehend how this is possible. How can we see more frames than the source provides... I must be missing the point on this somehow.

3. Are there any threads or wikis you all could direct me to that would give me more of a beginners understanding on all of this? How about guides on how to carry out improving video on an HTPC? As I mentioned, I tried running through the guide on the sticky thread about upscaling standard DVD for a number of hours, but found it very confusing with a lot of information that seemed either outdated or contradictory. I felt stupid about that because the thread creator obviously spent a lot of time working on it, and even created videos and screenshots to help the user put it all together, but every time I tweaked some aspect of ffdshow or something in mpc it seemed this was contradicted later in the guide. I'm assuming what I'm perceiving as contradictions are really alternative ways for setting up one's player, but the format of the guide is bare bones basic, and left me scratching my head a number of times. In the end, MPC would simply crash on me on the start of playing a video and I gave up.

I have a couple more questions to ask, but I think this'll do for now. Thanks everyone.
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post #2 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 05:18 PM
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This is the most over-hyped subject when it comes to video display on a HTPC (or any other device for that matter). It brings almost nothing to the table but it sure causes a lot of discussions. The reason...you can't create detail that is not there. If your source is 480p (most DVDs) that's what you got to work with.

If you insist on this great magic then:

What is your current video card resolution? If you have a 1080p display (TV), odds are that you have a 1920x1080 video resolution which means that your video card is upscaling ANY video you play to those magical 1080 lines. That is it...it's all the magic you need. Play any video of any resolution and your video card will upscale it to 1080p.
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post #3 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 05:23 PM
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adrift, you're on the right track...upscaling is adding resolution that didn't exist in the source. In the early days of 1080 (CRT's) it mattered where you did your upscaling. Zagor hit the nail on the head. Today, video cards upscale about as well as anything else without having to configure anything. Whether you can do better is certainly debatable, and ffdshow is one approach.
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post #4 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zagor View Post

This is the most over-hyped subject when it comes to video display on a HTPC (or any other device for that matter). It brings almost nothing to the table but it sure causes a lot of discussions. The reason...you can't create detail that is not there. If your source is 480p (most DVDs) that's what you got to work with.

If you insist on this great magic then:

What is your current video card resolution? If you have a 1080p display (TV), odds are that you have a 1920x1080 video resolution which means that your video card is upscaling ANY video you play to those magical 1080 lines. That is it...it's all the magic you need. Play any video of any resolution and your video card will upscale it to 1080p.

Hey Zagor, thanks for posting! Very informative. I currently have an Nvidia GTX 275 with resolution set at 1920x1080, and I'm using an Optoma HD20 projector displaying on a 110" screen. The processor I'm using is an AMD Phenom II X2 555. I'm using a Lite-on 4X Blu-ray player, and Totalmedia Theater 5.

The reason I was interested in the whole concept of upscaling was because I've watched a few DVDs and fanedit iso's through TMT 5, and I've noticed lots of jaggies, and noise even with SimHD on. Actually, SimHD appears to improve the color and brightness of DVDs, but seems to make jagged edges and noise more noticeable or more pronounced. I was hoping that all the hoopla surrounding upscaling via mpc or zoomplayer (or other players) would alleviate these issues.
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post #5 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Big Foot View Post

adrift, you're on the right track...upscaling is adding resolution that didn't exist in the source. In the early days of 1080 (CRT's) it mattered where you did your upscaling. Zagor hit the nail on the head. Today, video cards upscale about as well as anything else without having to configure anything. Whether you can do better is certainly debatable, and ffdshow is one approach.

Okay. Understood. So is it your opinion that the picture I see probably won't get a whole lot better with these approaches to upscaling?
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post #6 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 05:48 PM
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I was wondering the same thing about upscaling. I rip everything using makemkv and was wondering how they would look on my TV compared to my BD player. They look good and I don't have a video card, I am using the onboard GPU on the I3 chip.
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post #7 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 06:01 PM
 
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okay.. you want a very simple approach to upscaling.

pixels are dots.
just like graph paper that is full of squares.

if you have a piece of graph paper that has 1920x1080 squares.. and you try to drop 720x480 onto the paper..
there are few options:
1. you place all of the pixels close together and center it in the middle (black bars on all four sides for squares you dont use.
2. you can add spaces between each square (empty squares) to make the size of the square box bigger (this is the gray, washed out look)
sometimes they fill in those empty squares with black or grey instead of white, because it helps change the final result.
3. you can start filling in the graph paper from the very top line to the very bottom line, so that there are no black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.
this means you have to have equal amounts of gaps (spaces) between the pixels.
then you use a copy and paste scheme to fill in the gaps with the exact same information in the original pixel.
the method you use to fill in those gaps is 'bicubic' or 'lanczos' or something else.

here are two pictures to give you a visual idea:

this one has the pixels spaced (if you wanted black bars on all four sides of the video, the circles would be touching)


this picture shows the pixels being copied.
the light grey circles are the original.
the dark grey circles are the copies.


there are still gaps using copies, as you can see in the photo.
those gaps either need more copies (advanced upscaling method)
or
those gaps are filled in with grey or black (either one of these will wash out the picture with grey or excessive black)

if you are experiencing artifacts.. that means the upscaling MATH is running too slow (or too stupid)
but it means you need a better upscaler.

what option you choose will determine how washed out the picture looks, and if there are any artifacts, and generally how solid (clean) the picture looks.
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post #8 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 06:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Great explanation anwaypasible! Thank you.
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post #9 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adrift View Post

1. I need sort a layman's understanding for how upscaling works, and what all it works on. From what I understand upscaling simply improves DVD video in an attempt to bring it up to sub-Blu-ray type quality... essentially it takes a 420p image and upscales it to 720 or 1080. Is that correct? Would this work on any other video sources besides a DVD iso?

2. I hear a lot on this forum about increasing frame rates. I don't think I comprehend how this is possible. How can we see more frames than the source provides... I must be missing the point on this somehow.

1. Your basic understanding seems correct. If you have a 1080p display, for example, your PC will output a resolution of 1080p. If the source material played back by the PC is not 1080p, the material will be scaled to 1080p. The scaling can be done in hardware or software. There's always room for improvement in scaling algorithms so you can and will see different results with different algorithms.

As you noticed, SimHD gives a different result than a pure NVIDIA scale. Personally, I prefer letting the GPU perform the scale over SimHD because of the artifacts you pointed out. Of course, it's rare that I even watch DVDs these days.

2. By increasing frame rates, I assume you mean taking 24p film-based material and interpolating frames to achieve a higher frame rate as opposed to pulldown methods. If you are not familiar with 24p, you might be interested in this. Basically, interpolation allows additional frames to be created using an algorithm to guess where objects in the frame should be. This generally causes film-based material to appear video-like. It is often called Soap Opera Effect.

Aaron Ledger - Senior Design Engineer, Ceton Corp.
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post #10 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by swoon! View Post

As you noticed, SimHD gives a different result than a pure NVIDIA scale. Personally, I prefer letting the GPU perform the scale over SimHD because of the artifacts you pointed out. Of course, it's rare that I even watch DVDs these days.

I'm very new to hi-def quality video and over the last year or so have been astonished by the detail blu-ray offers. If you couldn't already tell, I'm a very late adopter to blu-ray, but always felt that, in some ways DVD was inferior to VHS, because, when I transitioned from VHS to DVD, I always noticed pixelation in dark scenes. Hi-def has pretty much solved that complaint, but I still have a small library of rare DVDs (and other video sources) that have yet to make the jump to hi-def. Thus my interest in upscaling. More and more I'm going the way you mention... rarely do I watch DVD, but occasionally, I seem to have little choice. Thanks to some of the replies here, including your own, I think I'm going to forego SimHD.

Quote:


2. By increasing frame rates, I assume you mean taking 24p film-based material and interpolating frames to achieve a higher frame rate as opposed to pulldown methods. If you are not familiar with 24p, you might be interested in this. Basically, interpolation allows additional frames to be created using an algorithm to guess where objects in the frame should be. This generally causes film-based material to appear video-like. It is often called Soap Opera Effect.

Thank you for the link and the short, but to the point explanation. Definitely will check it out. Without reading the link right now, can you tell me whether or not increasing frame rate (or interpolation) provides a better viewing experience for DVD quality video?
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post #11 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 07:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adrift View Post

Thank you for the link and the short, but to the point explanation. Definitely will check it out. Without reading the link right now, can you tell me whether or not increasing frame rate (or interpolation) provides a better viewing experience for DVD quality video?

It is a matter of opinion. My philosophy is that I want to see the content as close to how it was originally intended to be viewed by the creator. Film makers are aware of the limitations of 24 fps and make specific adjustments to account for that rate.

Consider the psychological effect of watching film. Part of the magic, if you will, is the frame rate. The 24 fps rate is slow enough that psychologically, the brain realizes what is on screen is not reality and thus the viewing experience is colored by that.

Aaron Ledger - Senior Design Engineer, Ceton Corp.
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post #12 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 07:29 PM
 
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fluid movement is why they increase the frame rate.
they should be recording at higher frame rates to begin with.
but if the movement isnt fluid enough, then taking two frames and calculating the average will yield the result of a new 'middle' frame.
if the 'middle' frame doesnt have any artifacts, the result is superior.
this is true for any frame rate change that can be seen by the naked eye.

however, if you make more than one 'middle' frame.. the result is worse because the motion might make a sudden move in the opposite direction.
when that happens, the fluid motion is broken and a severe jump can be seen.
depending on the algorithm used, you might see artifacts as one frame was had movement going to the right and the next frame has sudden movement going to the left.
if you average those two, the result is false and you totally lose fluid bliss.
even if you drop the 'mixed' frame that would cause an artifact, you are screwing with the time domain.
you dont want to jump ahead one frame and expect the audio and video to be perfectly in synchronization.
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post #13 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 08:53 PM
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Upscaling can be done at three places:

- GPU/driver. Just use DXVA API, or send video streams in YV12/NV12 with EVR. All the other post processing tasks by GPU also work. Overall excellent. A great advantage is that you can use hardware deinterlacer.

- Video renderer. Try madVR. Upscaling result is excellent. A simple instruction.

- Video decoder. This includes ffdshow Video Decoder (with or without AviSynth script), PowerDVD TrueTheater HD, TMT SimHD. (Unless you select RGB output in ffdshow, GPU post-processing is also applied.)
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post #14 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by swoon! View Post

It is a matter of opinion. My philosophy is that I want to see the content as close to how it was originally intended to be viewed by the creator. Film makers are aware of the limitations of 24 fps and make specific adjustments to account for that rate.

Consider the psychological effect of watching film. Part of the magic, if you will, is the frame rate. The 24 fps rate is slow enough that psychologically, the brain realizes what is on screen is not reality and thus the viewing experience is colored by that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anwaypasible View Post

fluid movement is why they increase the frame rate.
they should be recording at higher frame rates to begin with.
but if the movement isnt fluid enough, then taking two frames and calculating the average will yield the result of a new 'middle' frame.
if the 'middle' frame doesnt have any artifacts, the result is superior.
this is true for any frame rate change that can be seen by the naked eye.

however, if you make more than one 'middle' frame.. the result is worse because the motion might make a sudden move in the opposite direction.
when that happens, the fluid motion is broken and a severe jump can be seen.
depending on the algorithm used, you might see artifacts as one frame was had movement going to the right and the next frame has sudden movement going to the left.
if you average those two, the result is false and you totally lose fluid bliss.
even if you drop the 'mixed' frame that would cause an artifact, you are screwing with the time domain.
you dont want to jump ahead one frame and expect the audio and video to be perfectly in synchronization.

It seems obvious to me that the director never intended (ultimately) for the video to be seen at whatever quality DVD renders the picture. They intended the picture to be seen in the quality that the picture should have been seen in the cinema (for the most part). Do these algorithms account for this fact for those directors, producers, etc. that may want the picture to be seen at a higher resolution?
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post #15 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 10:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by renethx View Post

Upscaling can be done at three places:

- GPU/driver. Just use DXVA API, or send video streams in YV12/NV12 with EVR. All the other post processing tasks by GPU also work. Overall excellent. A great advantage is that you can use hardware deinterlacer.

- Video renderer. Try madVR. Upscaling result is excellent. A simple instruction.

- Video decoder. This includes ffdshow Video Decoder (with or without AviSynth script), PowerDVD TrueTheater HD, TMT SimHD. (Unless you select RGB output in ffdshow, GPU post-processing is also applied.)

I tried madVR, but that's when mpc stopped working for me. I'm assuming there was a tweak someplace that I wasn't accounting for. That's one of the reasons I started this thread. I was hoping there might be a simpler guide I could use to help navigate me threw some of the more complicated procedures. I'm sure I'm missing something completely obvious, but without going through a very long thread, I'm not sure exactly what that might be. I'm not unappreciative of the advice, but was hoping there might be a guide for dummies that I could navigate through.
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post #16 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 10:17 PM
 
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either the extra pixels have the individual information.. or the pixels are simply copies (meaning more than one pixel has the same exact information)

changing quality from the original recording to something on DVD includes more than simply reducing the pixel count.
the number of colors can be trimmed down.. the gamma can be shifted.

a 1:1 copy of the original from the camera = same pixel count / same number of colors used / same gamma

a 1:1 copy of the actual scene recorded is a little bit more difficult.
pixel count is one importance.. the number of colors in the scene compared to the number of colors actually recorded could be different.. the actual shade of the color compared to the recorded shade of color could be different.

things like 'black levels' or 'grey levels' or 'white levels' can change pretty quick (sad but happens)

the shade of the color isnt always recorded as the same shade = gamma
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post #17 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 10:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adrift View Post

I tried madVR, but that's when mpc stopped working for me. I'm assuming there was a tweak someplace that I wasn't accounting for. That's one of the reasons I started this thread. I was hoping there might be a simpler guide I could use to help navigate me threw some of the more complicated procedures. I'm sure I'm missing something completely obvious, but without going through a very long thread, I'm not sure exactly what that might be. I'm not unappreciative of the advice, but was hoping there might be a guide for dummies that I could navigate through.

the word you are looking for is 'tutorial'

this website talks about 'external filter management'
but i dont know if it will go into detail for the things you need specifically.
http://imouto.my/watching-h264-videos-using-dxva/

maybe you could tell us how the program stopped working.. then we could explain.
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post #18 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 11:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adrift View Post

It seems obvious to me that the director never intended (ultimately) for the video to be seen at whatever quality DVD renders the picture. They intended the picture to be seen in the quality that the picture should have been seen in the cinema (for the most part). Do these algorithms account for this fact for those directors, producers, etc. that may want the picture to be seen at a higher resolution?

It seems you may be combining scaling and frame interpolation into the same thing. My previous comment was regarding the latter.

When transferring the film to disc, the frame rate is generally preserved (or can be recovered in the case of DVD). Interpolation algorithms are not an attempt to recreate the film as it was seen in cinema nor are they necessary.

Conversely, scaling a DVD to a higher resolution of the display being used is entirely necessary. The scaling will and must happen at the source device or the display itself.

Aaron Ledger - Senior Design Engineer, Ceton Corp.
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post #19 of 25 Old 04-16-2011, 11:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anwaypasible View Post

either the extra pixels have the individual information.. or the pixels are simply copies (meaning more than one pixel has the same exact information)

changing quality from the original recording to something on DVD includes more than simply reducing the pixel count.
the number of colors can be trimmed down.. the gamma can be shifted.

a 1:1 copy of the original from the camera = same pixel count / same number of colors used / same gamma

a 1:1 copy of the actual scene recorded is a little bit more difficult.
pixel count is one importance.. the number of colors in the scene compared to the number of colors actually recorded could be different.. the actual shade of the color compared to the recorded shade of color could be different.

things like 'black levels' or 'grey levels' or 'white levels' can change pretty quick (sad but happens)

the shade of the color isnt always recorded as the same shade = gamma

If I'm understanding you correctly, ain't nothing can compare to the real thing. ?
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post #20 of 25 Old 04-17-2011, 12:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anwaypasible View Post

the word you are looking for is 'tutorial'

precisely!

Quote:


this website talks about 'external filter management'
but i dont know if it will go into detail for the things you need specifically.
http://imouto.my/watching-h264-videos-using-dxva/

Okay, thank you. I'll check it out tomorrow morning when I have more time, and I'm not so tired.

Quote:


maybe you could tell us how the program stopped working.. then we could explain.

Fair nuff. I went through a number of steps and sometimes mpc worked and sometimes it didn't. I think it had a lot to do with the avisynth code I used, but I'll give the low down tomorrow.
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post #21 of 25 Old 04-17-2011, 12:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by swoon! View Post

It seems you may be combining scaling and frame interpolation into the same thing. My previous comment was regarding the latter.

When transferring the film to disc, the frame rate is generally preserved (or can be recovered in the case of DVD). Interpolation algorithms are not an attempt to recreate the film as it was seen in cinema nor are they necessary.

Conversely, scaling a DVD to a higher resolution of the display being used is entirely necessary. The scaling will and must happen at the source device or the display itself.

I'm sorry, but I'm a bit confused by this. What do you mean when you say that the "frame rate is generally preserved"? I think I know what you mean, but could you be more precise?
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post #22 of 25 Old 04-17-2011, 06:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adrift View Post

I'm sorry, but I'm a bit confused by this. What do you mean when you say that the "frame rate is generally preserved"? I think I know what you mean, but could you be more precise?

Typically, the film frame rate is 24 frames per second (fps). It is then slowed by 0.1% to 23.976 fps when transferred to BD and DVD so it isn't exact, but then nobody is going to notice the difference.

While this information may be true for the majority of film-based sources, there can be exceptions.

Aaron Ledger - Senior Design Engineer, Ceton Corp.
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post #23 of 25 Old 08-05-2012, 02:13 PM
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How exactly do I do this?

- GPU/driver. Just use DXVA API, or send video streams in YV12/NV12 with EVR. All the other post processing tasks by GPU also work. Overall excellent. A great advantage is that you can use hardware deinterlacer.

Thank you so much

I'm just trying to find a better alternative to playing all my movies and videos through Arcsoft totalmedia theater with SimHD on
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post #24 of 25 Old 08-06-2012, 10:20 AM
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This is a great guide to setting up your HTPC with some advanced techniques:

http://www.homecinema-hd.com/intro_en.html

It details setting up ffdshow to provide great scaling and more.
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post #25 of 25 Old 07-08-2013, 09:04 AM
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Very simple understanding to get higher resolution!

Interpolating is calculating the pixel between what you already have.

Replication is merely adding another copy of the pixel between.

I believe a larger display would use whatever you gave it and replicate to fit, and an upscaling processor would actually interpolate the pixels to fit for a much smoother transition.

Common practice in digital film is to interpolate once and replicate once, max!
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