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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've finally gotten my little box up & running with custom resolutions (BTW, thanks Karnis for the advice on the Radeon - worked right off the bat). So far I've just tested 1 DVD on PowerDVD & WinDVD using Monsters Inc. I have a STB progressive scan player to compare to, & the colors are unbelievably vivid - the stb looked pale, washed out in comparison. Here comes the but - in the opening scene of the movie, there are a lot of shadows that pick up a lot of what I would call a cross between pixelation & graininess. It's very evident when played on the htpc, but I have to look hard to see it on the stb (I can see it, just not as noticeable). I've tried several different resolutions, both software players with & without ffdshow & settings on the tv & nothing seems to make any difference. Is there something I'm missing somewhere or is this a case of inferior picture quality due to the software dvd player (read, should I just upgrade to TT)? Also, both WinDVD & PowerDVD are OEM versions that came with hardware that I bought - would that make a difference? I'm using a Radeon 9600 non-pro, Cat. 3.6, PS 3.45, Win XP Home, 512 mb Sdram, hooked to a Mits 55311 via vga to RGBHV breakout cable. Any help would be much appreciated.
 

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I'm a big propoent of TT with FFDShow :). You can really clean up the image output. I'm not guaranteeing it will fix your problems, but TT does have a money back guarantee and FFDShow is free. So...


-MP
 

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Monster's Inc and a few other animated movies I have suffer from this. Atlantis is another one that comes to mind. Yes, I have kids.


I'm pretty sure it's an encoding / authoring artifact, i.e. the problem is with the source material.


I never really noticed it with my old DVD player because it was "blurred" out. Now that my HTPC has so much more detail (I use TT with ffdshow) some of those things that were previously invisible are now visible.


Think of it as the "bad" that comes with the "good" of better overall picture quality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
jvincent,


Thanks for the reply. That's exactly what it looks like on the stb - kind of softened & blurred out, so you don't notice it unless you really know what to look for. I thought a lot about this last night & had that thought about these high-end sets rewarding you for good source material as well as showing every little mistake in high detail. I haven't tested any live action movies, or any other animated movies - I was so excited that I got it working that I had to pop that one in because it really looks good on my tv. Will probably do that today.


Is Theater Tek that much better than the other 2? I'm not wild about the ui on WinDVD, & PowerDVD doesn't seem to play quite as well on my system - not sure why. Is it a problem to have more than one player on the computer at once?
 

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Make sure the "Enable Hardware Acceleration" is enabled in PowerDVD. My version defaulted to "off" for my ATI All-in-Wonder 8500-DV. Also you can control Video brightness, color etc. in the ATI Control Panel (Display, Properties, Advanced, Overlay). Final download Rage3D. It has some extra controls that may solve your problem.


Hope that helps.
 

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In terms of decoder quality TT (which uses the Sonic decoders) has as many fans as the other big guys. I don't think there is really that much of difference in PQ one over the other when you get right down to it.


What the various TT fans really like is the feature set and UI (or perhaps more correctly lack of GUI).


There was a poll on this just recently. Check it out.
 

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Yeah its your display blurring the artifacts.


My opinion on theater tek and the sonic filters are they are really bad. The sonic video filters are probably the worst I have seen in a long time. In most DVD menus with the sonic filters, there is a sort of flicker in the image and it is really noticable. I still can't see why some people think they are great. IMHO they are not.


I can't see much difference between PowerDVD and WinDVD but alot of users say on their massive screens they see WinDVD as having an advantage so i am sticking with WinDVD. (or its filters + ZP + ffdshow)
 

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Strangely enough, I prefer PowerDVd XP and 5 to WinDVD because WinDVD shows too much pixelisation/mosquito noise. PowerDVD has a much smoother way of playing DVDs without losing any details as far as I can see, so now I use PDVD all the time with my htpc.


You may also want to make sure that you calibrate the htpc outputs white and black level - if the brightness is up too far, you'll see all the artefacts, especialy in dark areas. This is the most common reason I find for visible mpeg blocking. Get a copy of Avia or Video Essentials and then see what the image looks like. In PDVD you can make a custom profile, and that's what I did - adjust the htpc, and that way you won't effect the settings for the other sources into the tv.


Gary.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Mark Kennedy
My opinion on theater tek and the sonic filters are they are really bad. The sonic video filters are probably the worst I have seen in a long time. In most DVD menus with the sonic filters, there is a sort of flicker in the image and it is really noticable. I still can't see why some people think they are great. IMHO they are not.
I've never seen anything even remotely like what you describe.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Tracie
......Also, both WinDVD & PowerDVD are OEM versions that came with hardware that I bought - would that make a difference? .....
What versions are those?


Apparently PDVD improved their PQ quite a bit from V4 to V5.


I am also a big proponent of TT. On a small 19†CRT of 16†LCD screen I can barely notice any differences in PQ between PDVD4 and TT. However, on a 110†screen I found PDVD4 to be barely watchable (!), where else TT’s PQ simply blows me away… YMMV…


I have not much experience with WinDVD, though…

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Axel
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Mark Kennedy
Yeah its your display blurring the artifacts.


My opinion on theater tek and the sonic filters are they are really bad. The sonic video filters are probably the worst I have seen in a long time. In most DVD menus with the sonic filters, there is a sort of flicker in the image and it is really noticable. I still can't see why some people think they are great. IMHO they are not.

…….
Wow, that’s a very unusual comment you made, Mark, I wonder if there is something wrong in your TT setup, that would cause this.


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Axel
 

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I guess Mark was using hardware decoding. Sonic filter shows some artifacts on menu, FBI warning, etc. in hardware mode.
 

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Thanks guys, well I did keep up to date with new TT versions and of course Radeon drivers and it never changed even after formatting the PC for various reasons, image quality in TT was and still is absolutely terrible. I will try your suggestion and use software mode to see if it helps.


I am not the only one who sees this either, maybe that is our problem, using hardware mode. Why is TT so bad with hardware?
 

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I use the hardware decoding mode (DXVA enabled)....strange... Image is too soft in software mode (no pun intended)

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Axel
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks so much for all of the replies - I'm making some serious headway because of it.


Axel,

Both DVD players are version 4.


Here's what I've done so far. WinDVD didn't like hardware decoding at all with my system - to say that there were stutter problems would be a major understatement. So I went back to PDVD & got a big difference. The artifacts aren't completely gone, but with Monsters Inc. it's about on par at this point with my stb progressive scan player. I threw in The Two Towers & I'd say it's probably even better than the stb. On the stb it looks "softer" than on the htpc - don't know how else to describe the difference. I've also turned down the brightness (thanks Gary) & sharpness on the Mits (thanks Karnis). I'm happy with the picture at this point, but like any good tweaker want to push it a little further so I'll keep fiddling. Next step, learning ffdshow .... ;)


Mark,

Yours is the first really negative comment on TT that I've seen. The worst that I usually see is that people can't see a difference in PQ between TT & the other 2. Please post your results in the software mode - I'd be really curious to see if you get any difference (I'm still trying to decide if I'm justified in spending the dough on it).
 

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I think you need either ZP or TT in order to use ffdshow. PDVD or WinDVD by themselves do not allow the integration of ffdshow.


Here another thought: If you mind spending $70 for TT (which I think is worth it) you could just buy the video filters from Sonic ($15) and get the free ZP (non pro) version. PQ will be the same a TT, as they use the same filters. Setting ZP up (building a graph, etc.) is (a bit) more complicated but you will find yourself in Tweaker’s Heaven.


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Axel
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
"...but you will find yourself in Tweaker’s Heaven."


LOL! I'll check into that - didn't realize that you needed ZP to make ffdshow work with these players, thanks for the tip. Do you think that the combination of the 3 is worth all of the work to put it together? I see a lot of people that run just TT & ffdshow & are really happy with that setup. One thing that is really tempting about TT is the fact that they look like they actually support their product, plus they've got that great forum over there. (I think I'm talking myself into it. :D)
 
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