Owen, I think I'm crazy!
I was very satisfied with my picture quality, but still used four hours trying to squeeze out a few percents extra. But that's not why I'm crazy. I'm crazy because I think it was worth it! I actually did manage to make a change.
Yesterday, when my wife went to bed at 11 P.M. (early for a Friday, but she was tired) I went down to the Cinema Inferno. I had in advance semi-prepared the server with an image of the HTPC (same motherboard, but slower 1800 processor versus 2600 on the HTPC and older Radeon 7000 versus 9500 on the HTPC). It of course took an extra half hour to get PowerStrip settings, but finally I got it to a point where a fast doublepress of the control button on my IR keyboard could change between the HTPC and the server without any change in scan frequency on my very well adjusted Barco Graphics 808. Then I did another half hour of finetuning convergence (it wasn't strictly necessary, but I could see a slight difference afterwards in some parts of the image). I finally did a bit of Girder magic so that one press of pause, play, stop, next and previous chapter would work at the same time on both computers. Then in with the same movie rip (full DVD rip played as DVD file in ZoomPlayer, of course), "The Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring". And let the games begin! Mind you most of the time I had no way of knowing what computer I was watching simply because I did a random number of jumps between them with doublepresses on control so I shouldn't fool myself. To see where I was I had to move the mouse into view since the IR keyboard/mouse combo was connected to only one of the computers. Also I did it without sound so I shouldn't be distracted.
First of all I could hardly see the difference between the two images when using Sonic filters and no ffdshow. There was a minute difference in very fine details, but nothing one would notice in practical viewing. I found that Gimli's beard and the buckle on Boromir's shoulder belt just behind him and to the left in the scene before the Fellowship leaves Rivendell was a very fine way to check for fine detail.
Then we go to the big filter shoot out. I have spent a few days (only a short time every day, though) getting WinDVD Platinum 5 working with ffdshow (registry settings, ffdshow from the 23rd of May and Abstract filter). And it turned out to pay off. There was a distinct (not large or huge, though) in detail and clarity between WinDVD and Sonic's Cinemaster. No doubt there. Sonic had something I would describe as "warmer colors", but nothing that couldn't be attained with hue in ffdshow.
Next step: Both computers running WinDVD's filters. And the duel of the video renderers. My XP1800 is not able to run WinDVD evenly in VMR 9, so that had to stay in overlay, while the XP2600 HTPC got the VMR setup. Surprise, surprise: Again not a huge, large or even big difference, but distinct. Again more fine detail in the VMR picture, and it seemed to have a tad less noise as well. And those are of course related since noise will mask fine details.
Then, to be able to compare apples and apples I went back to overlay on both computers and fired up ffdshow as well (with abstract as the VMO filter that enables ffdshow to work with WinDVD). And the big one: 1280x960 resize on the HTPC, 1024x768 on the server. My eyes was getting kind of crossed by then, at first I was unable to see what was best. So I took a short break and a Coke and went back. The difference was not even distinct anymore, but it was there. And the winner is...1024x768! Which incidentally is my desktop resolution. I was happy to see that, since it of course taxes the processor less.
The hour I had left (it was 2 A.M. by then, and I wanted to get some sleep - which was partly destroyed by our dog (and I partly destroyed the dog!)) went into fine adjustments with ffdshow. I ended up with settings that fits my projector perfectly, but may be to extreme especially for digital projectors. Here's my new setup:
Video filter: WinDVD Platinum 5
ffdshow resize: 1024x768, both luma & croma sharpen on 2
dScaler sharpness filter: 133
Picture properties: Luminance gain 140, offset 8, all gamma corrections off, hue 4, saturation 82
Also, for purists this will be to extreme no matter what projector or TV you're using, but I prefer colors on the bright side and a bit of extra sharpness. Now this taxes my 2600 a lot, I get an even 100 % on ffdshow's OSD, while Windows' task manager shows jumps between 80 & 100. But the picture and sound has no jumps or dropouts, and I have 100 % stable pans, so I'm not to worried. But I have increased the speed of the CPU fan... Weird, isn't it? Just like the room on a desk your processor needs will within a short amount of time hit the roof of the last upgrade. But I guess that's why Intel's reporting increased earnings... And if I keep doing this I'll increase AMD's profit by myself!
Burre, if you don't see the OSD you're probably not getting anywhere. It should be there. As for "libra" I don't know. But there's one sure fire test to se if ffdshow processes your image: under "Miscellaneous" there's the possibility to flip the image. If it doesn't flip, you're not using ffdshow.