Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I watched a bit of "Prince of Wails" (Universal DVD, deinterlaced in Handbrake, upscaled to 1080p via Lanczos). The result looks good at 1080p; Lanczos deartifacted the image a little but left a layer of noise that looks like film grain. The grainy quality actually helps: the video image under all that grain is quite fuzzy and bare. I think I actually prefer this to all previous upscales of these episodes because it's the closest the low-res videotape image has come to looking like the original film. The blurry haziness is offset by the noise.

I did run a few shots of "Prince of Wails" through Topaz and -- I don't know if it's feasible because the AI needs 20 - 22 hours to denoise and deblock each 1080p scaled episode. Topaz did lift off the grain, but removing it just shows how dull and undetailed the image is without the grain.

The reduced compression texture might be best left there for these analog videotape Season 1 episodes. What's under the compression isn't very good anyway and would take almost a day per episode to unearth, at least on my hardware.


Hmm... so in this case, topaz was not able to use this faux film grain to actually create more image.  because it's not actually film grain (even if it adds the texture affect to what was blurry stuff previously) -- it's more just noise, so it tries to remove it?

btw, when you ran topaz, what setting did you use? HQ?

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I've mostly been using Topaz Artemis HQ which is mostly about rendering film grain into pixel detail and removing compression artifacts. The medium and low quality Artemis settings are more aggressive with noise and compression artifact removal, but they create an overly airbrushed look.

The noise in the Lanczos upscaled files is compression noise, not image forming grain, so Topaz just removes it. It's not really worthwhile especially when Topaz needs 20 - 22 hours per episode. Usually, it only takes 7 - 9 hours to upscale a 480p image to 1080p in Topaz.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I've mostly been using Topaz Artemis HQ which is mostly about rendering film grain into pixel detail and removing compression artifacts. The medium and low quality Artemis settings are more aggressive with noise and compression artifact removal, but they create an overly airbrushed look.

The noise in the Lanczos upscaled files is compression noise, not image forming grain, so Topaz just removes it. It's not really worthwhile especially when Topaz needs 20 - 22 hours per episode. Usually, it only takes 7 - 9 hours to upscale a 480p image to 1080p in Topaz.

Gotcha, makes sense.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I watched two versions of "Prince of Wails" today: the version decompressed in Topaz and Lanczos scaled to 1080p, and the version scaled from the DVD file to 1080p via Lanczos on its own.

The Topaz-enhanced version is sharper in medium and closeup shots, but for wide shots, there's a painful fuzziness, blurriness and vagueness to the shots that is frustratingly jarring when the medium and closeup shots look so much better.

The Lanczos version is not as sharp in the medium and close up shots compared to the Topaz version. It's a little blurrier and the wide shots have the same lack of definition as the AI cleaned version. However, it looks better than just scaling the DVD image bicubically. Lanczos has softened the compression artifacts and now it looks like film grain. There's a sense of definition and texture. The wide shots with this noise look better; the noise partially fills in the lack of detail with some texture.

I prefer the Lanczos version because even though it isn't as sharp in the close up and medium shots, it's consistent: the haziness and noise are on all the shots, so you can get used to it as opposed to being distracted by the inconsistency of the Topaz version.

It doesn't look as good if you're watching it on a computer screen and studying the image closely, but it looks good when played on my Android TV.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

It doesn't look as good if you're watching it on a computer screen and studying the image closely, but it looks good when played on my Android TV.

I wonder if the wide shots with the Topaz / Lanczos version are more forgiving at a distance...  although it seems from what you are saying that you watched that version on the Android TV?

I guess I am wondering if the wide shots are as muddy at 10-12 feet vs. close up.  I only say this because we also have to keep in mind that wideshots may be, what, 30 percent of the content vs. close/medium 70?

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I watched them both on my 55 inch HDTV, played on my Android TV box.

The Topaz enhanced version looks okay/good enough in mediums and closeups, but poor/terrible in wide shots. The Lanczos version looks okay in all shots, fuzzier and with a heavy level of what seems like film grain (but is really compression noise). The wide shots are still blurry and undetailed, but the film grain look makes it look consistent with the mediums and wides. It is consistent whereas the Topaz version keeps jumping back and forth between not-bad to terrible. Even if the episode is only looking okay, at least it looks okay from beginning to end. You get used to the visual quality and then you can get into the story.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I watched them both on my 55 inch HDTV, played on my Android TV box.

The Topaz enhanced version looks okay/good enough in mediums and closeups, but poor/terrible in wide shots. The Lanczos version looks okay in all shots, fuzzier and with a heavy level of what seems like film grain (but is really compression noise). The wide shots are still blurry and undetailed, but the film grain look makes it look consistent with the mediums and wides. It is consistent whereas the Topaz version keeps jumping back and forth between not-bad to terrible. Even if the episode is only looking okay, at least it looks okay from beginning to end. You get used to the visual quality and then you can get into the story.

cool.  a worthy trade off.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Well, I took a seven minute clip of "Prince of Wails" and dropped it into Topaz for upscaling. It says it'll take nine hours so I guess we'll see if it's worth it.

409 (edited by ireactions 2021-11-30 06:19:41)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I used Topaz to clean off the rest of the grain from seven minutes of the Lanczos upscaled "Prince of Wails" -- and it isn't an improvement. The video was better with the graininess to add some weight and filler to an otherwise undetailed 250 line videotape image that, without the video noise, is simply blurry and undefined. I'd keep the grain and keep the episodes looking like low-res videotape of film as opposed to looking like low-res videotape.

**

I think this is where the upscaling journey for SLIDERS ends. The pilot looks great with AI upscaling. The rest of Season 1 looks a bit better with Lanczos scaling. Seasons 2 - 5 look great with AI upscaling, although...

I've run a few shots from the Turbine version of "As Time Goes By" through the Topaz process for 1080p. I ran the Turbine file separately through the Lanczos process for 1080p. I find that for standard definition digital videotape, Topaz is really good for medium and closeup shots, resolving the grain image into pixel detail. However, for wide shots, it's less effective. The Topaz upscaled wide shots of "As Time Goes By" turned out fine for living room distance viewing, but the AI definitely smeared the shots a bit, creating a slight oil paint look to them. It's not really a big deal and not as bad as with Season 1 episodes.

This is probably because when wide shots on film are transferred to standard definition videotape, they lose anywhere from from 50 - 60 per cent of the detail in the downscaling and even with image forming grain, that grain forms a blurry shot. Interestingly, this wasn't a problem with Seasons 1 - 3 of THE DEAD ZONE shot on 16mm film, likely because for that 2002 - 2008 show, the film was transferred to high definition digital videotape whereas SLIDERS was transferred to SD DV tape.

For the best results for Seasons 2 - 3, it would probably be best to create a Topaz upscaled version and a Lanczos upscaled version with the Topaz version used for medium and closeup shots and the Lanczos version used for wide shots. I'm not sure if there's a plug and play solution to achieve that and the wide shots won't look too bad via AI only, just a bit too smooth. Seasons 4 - 5, however, being shot on 16mm film with larger film grains, is probably fine to drag and drop into Topaz for upscaling.

That said, given how good the Turbine SD files look to begin with, it might be best just to use plain Lanczos scaling for similar but better results to the Season 1 episodes: diminished grain, slightly fuzzier compared to Topaz, but consistently above average. Topaz takes 7 - 8 hours per episode whereas Lanczos scaling just needs one hour per episode.

410 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-01 11:03:07)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I think this is where the upscaling journey for SLIDERS ends. The pilot looks great with AI upscaling. The rest of Season 1 looks a bit better with Lanczos scaling. Seasons 2 - 5 look great with AI upscaling, although...


Let me congratulate you for your herculean effort in playing with the next-generation tools available to folks to rescue older, outdated content that deserves the royal treatment.

You tested, you theorized, you tried 1000 times.  This is exactly how science works. 

The professor?  Well, he would be very proud!




https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ed/Nobel_Prize.png


https://images-wixmp-ed30a86b8c4ca887773594c2.wixmp.com/f/18b6e8ed-66d2-493d-a1fb-d0f45afbb6b5/dekhjpx-9da22c18-1f89-45a6-b99d-b5aa2a310982.jpg/v1/fill/w_800,h_800,q_75,strp/professor_maximillian_arturo_by_joshdancato_dekhjpx-fullview.jpg?token=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJzdWIiOiJ1cm46YXBwOjdlMGQxODg5ODIyNjQzNzNhNWYwZDQxNWVhMGQyNmUwIiwiaXNzIjoidXJuOmFwcDo3ZTBkMTg4OTgyMjY0MzczYTVmMGQ0MTVlYTBkMjZlMCIsIm9iaiI6W1t7InBhdGgiOiJcL2ZcLzE4YjZlOGVkLTY2ZDItNDkzZC1hMWZiLWQwZjQ1YWZiYjZiNVwvZGVraGpweC05ZGEyMmMxOC0xZjg5LTQ1YTYtYjk5ZC1iNWFhMmEzMTA5ODIuanBnIiwiaGVpZ2h0IjoiPD04MDAiLCJ3aWR0aCI6Ijw9ODAwIn1dXSwiYXVkIjpbInVybjpzZXJ2aWNlOmltYWdlLndhdGVybWFyayJdLCJ3bWsiOnsicGF0aCI6Ilwvd21cLzE4YjZlOGVkLTY2ZDItNDkzZC1hMWZiLWQwZjQ1YWZiYjZiNVwvam9zaGRhbmNhdG8tNC5wbmciLCJvcGFjaXR5Ijo5NSwicHJvcG9ydGlvbnMiOjAuNDUsImdyYXZpdHkiOiJjZW50ZXIifX0.9wezdG8U9eDu_WwxjYfi5rKz3GpXyNWCmm3dDEPTEko

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Well, here's the second Daelin segment of "As Time Goes By" AI upscaled via Topaz to 1080p from Turbine.
https://mega.nz/file/PsgGnZDQ#c6oLZfbYA … PUiN8JonfQ

And here's the same segment, also Turbine, upscaled via Lanczos.
https://mega.nz/file/ysIE1JrQ#0fuecBKKR … fFptWx52gM

Your mileage may vary on which you prefer.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

very interesting

to me (just looking at a computer online)

this one looks way better:  https://mega.nz/file/PsgGnZDQ#c6oLZfbYA … PUiN8JonfQ

I'm doing this blind so i have no idea which is which

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ok, so seems like i preferred the topaz vs. the lanczos

for me the topaz had less noise and was sharper. 

so am i crazy for preferring this?  (by a mile) 

am i not viewing it in the right setting (eg on a standard tv etc).  I guess I am not really sure why there's any contest between the two, ha!

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Well, they've been upscaled in two different ways and Topaz is a crowdpleaser for a variety of reasons.

Lanczos upscaling operates on a specific mathematical algorithm that I don't actually understand except to say that the extra pixels added to make the image bigger are blended smoothly into the final version. Where bicubic scaling can add pixelated edges to the larger image, Lanczos scaling is softer, more forgiving, and also has the effect of mildly diminishing the noise in a grainy image.

Topaz AI upscaling, however, looks to me like it's composed of multiple algorithms for a wide variety of textures: skin, hair, grass, pavement, metal, sky, clouds, wood, fabric -- with specific models applied to specific portions of each frame. (The ability to recognize the texture and apply the right model is the AI part.) The models are dependent on using film grain as a guide to reconstruct the image at a larger size and to re-render that grain as pixel detail. As a result, Topaz upscaling is sharper than Lanczos because Topaz is actively re-rendering the film grain as a rebuilt pixel-based image. Most grain-reduction methods operate by blurring the image, but Topaz converts that grain to sharpen the picture.

In contrast, Lanczos is simply stretching, but with its single-algorithm serving to make the added pixels (mostly) smooth. It isn't re-rendering film grain, so the grain stays intact, just slightly faded out. It offers a mild level of sharpening with added contrast at the edges, but mostly in a way that offsets any new blurriness from stretching.

Topaz is generally better for closeup and medium shots. However, for wide shots, there's a smudged, painted look because the film grain is only serving to render an undetailed, distant image and the AI tries to sharpen detail that isn't present. The same wide shots in Lanczos, however, maintain the original blurriness and graininess so that it doesn't look like a watercolour mishap. Season 1 episodes stored on low-res analog videotape also do better with Lanczos because there isn't any film grain to use for sharpening.

Because SLIDERS was composed largely of closeups and mediums for television, most people will prefer a Topaz AI upscale for the digital videotape episodes.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Well, they've been upscaled in two different ways and Topaz is a crowdpleaser for a variety of reasons.

Lanczos upscaling operates on a specific mathematical algorithm that I don't actually understand except to say that the extra pixels added to make the image bigger are blended smoothly into the final version. Where bicubic scaling can add pixelated edges to the larger image, Lanczos scaling is softer, more forgiving, and also has the effect of mildly diminishing the noise in a grainy image.

Topaz AI upscaling, however, looks to me like it's composed of multiple algorithms for a wide variety of textures: skin, hair, grass, pavement, metal, sky, clouds, wood, fabric -- with specific models applied to specific portions of each frame. (The ability to recognize the texture and apply the right model is the AI part.) The models are dependent on using film grain as a guide to reconstruct the image at a larger size and to re-render that grain as pixel detail. As a result, Topaz upscaling is sharper than Lanczos because Topaz is actively re-rendering the film grain as a rebuilt pixel-based image. Most grain-reduction methods operate by blurring the image, but Topaz converts that grain to sharpen the picture.

In contrast, Lanczos is simply stretching, but with its single-algorithm serving to make the added pixels (mostly) smooth. It isn't re-rendering film grain, so the grain stays intact, just slightly faded out. It offers a mild level of sharpening with added contrast at the edges, but mostly in a way that offsets any new blurriness from stretching.

Topaz is generally better for closeup and medium shots. However, for wide shots, there's a smudged, painted look because the film grain is only serving to render an undetailed, distant image and the AI tries to sharpen detail that isn't present. The same wide shots in Lanczos, however, maintain the original blurriness and graininess so that it doesn't look like a watercolour mishap. Season 1 episodes stored on low-res analog videotape also do better with Lanczos because there isn't any film grain to use for sharpening.

Because SLIDERS was composed largely of closeups and mediums for television, most people will prefer a Topaz AI upscale for the digital videotape episodes.


Yes, agree.  When I skipped through your samples to even find a wide shot, I could not find one.  I think some episodes may use them more...

Since this is an S2 episode, where we have enough film grain, it would seem most people would fancy Topaz.

416 (edited by ireactions 2021-12-04 11:13:21)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Something I noticed: the Lanczos versions of my upscales are very hard to shrink down from their 4 - 6GB file sizes. Compression reduces the video noise that's alleviating the visual issues.

I was also running my Topaz upscales of THE DEAD ZONE through Handbrake to reduce the file sizes a bit, taking them from 3 - 4 GB a file to about 1 - 2 GB a file. The video quality went from being a high quality film scan to a medium quality 1080p Netflix videostream and some of the film grain texture left intact by Topaz was screened out by Handbrake.

Out of curiosity, I ran the very grainy blu-ray Turbine version of "As Time Goes By" through Handbrake at the "Super HQ" setting -- and Handbrake blurred out almost half the film grain and there was a slight loss of video quality. It's interesting: Universal's DVD compression in the early 2000s seemed to add compression noise; Mill Creek compression in 2016 added noise.

However, modern video compression codecs seem to screen out video grain and noise in the process of crunching a video file into a smaller container. I ran "As Time Goes By" but with the file size set to "Production Standard" and this time, all the graininess (and sharpness) remained.

I have to wonder if my technique for processing the DVD files has been a problem with SLIDERS, episodes 102 - 109. While I copy the file off the discs, I have to run them through Handbrake to deinterlace them or the final file has horizontal lines flashing across the screen.

I ran Seasons 2 - 5 through this preset and saved the video file at 'Super HQ' and the upscales turned out fine, but those files were already pretty sharp and Topaz had plenty to work with for increasing the resolution. I ran THE DEAD ZONE files through this same preset and the files definitely lost some grain as well, but again, the underlying image was good enough to upscale.

I wonder if my deinterlacing has been blurring the image and removing film grain from the Season 1 episodes. For other video sources, it was fine. But Season 1 was already blurry and lacking film grain; it couldn't have afforded to lose anything. I'm going to re-copy the disc files again and review the raw files.

**

I'd actually like to try another experiment.

Originally, I was only upscaling SLIDERS episodes to 720p and got okay results with Season 1 and great results with Season 2 onward. Season 1 episodes looked decent in mediums and closeups but like watercolour paintings in the wide shots.

After that, I read a bunch of articles from the DOCTOR WHO restoration workers upscaling old 1970s DOCTOR WHO episodes from 650 line analog videotape to 1080p for blu-ray releases. Their preference was to aim for 1080p so that the upscaling would be controlled in terms of their work on the video file and not by the television, so I began outputting my SLIDERS upscales to 1080p.

With episodes 102 - 109 of SLIDERS, however, I think that's proven to be a mistake because SLIDERS analog videotape episodes are 250 line videotape, 38.5 per cent the resolution of a 1970s DOCTOR WHO episodes. I haven't been happy with the AI upscales, but that's probably because I've been stretching the 250 line videotape files too far. These are 480p files; increasing them by 125 per cent via AI is too much whereas increasing them by a modest 50 per cent via AI is more achievable.

Originally, I upscaled the episodes from 480p to 720p using Topaz Artemis LQ for maximum compression artifact removal and sharpening, but I think that was also too far; there isn't enough to sharpen and it looks like a watercolour in wide shots. Topaz Artemis HQ doesn't try to sharpen too much; it's assuming that underneath the compression, the video won't benefit from further sharpening which is correct for SLIDERS' episodes 102 - 109 because they're too blurry for sharpening.

One of my subsequent experiments was running 102 - 109 through Topaz but leaving it a 480p file that had been deartifacted and denoised and then Lanczos scaling this version to 1080p. The results were good but inconsistent: wide shots looked fragmented or blurry while mediums and closeups looked decent.

When running the raw DVD files through Lanczos without Topaz, the 1080p versions were not as sharp in mediums and closeups and had compression noise, but the video quality was consistent across all shots instead of going from clear to blurry. The noise actually helped as a sort of filler data cross the blurry shots.

I'm wondering if using Topaz AI's Artemis HQ to remove the compression raise the resolution by 50 per cent (without trying to sharpen what isn't there like the Artemis LQ version) will yield at least a modest improvement on the initial 480p to 720p upscale.

I'm wondering if then using bicubic scaling to raise the resolution by another 50 per cent to 1080p will also be effective.

It will definitely add a little pixelation back into the image, but that will hopefully make all the wides, mediums and closeups look more consistent, with the pixelation serving a similar function to the compression noise.

I'm going to try it with "Luck of the Draw" and "Prince of Wails" which, to me, had the worst looking wide shots after AI upscaling.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

That looks like a great experiment, ireactions.

Has anyone tried DVD Fab's Enlarger AI? I have it and I was going to try upscaling some of these DVDs from the Universal release to 1080p for my own archive of the show - and so I can watch it straight from start to finish in its own original filmed order.

I had to re-purchase a copy of each season from Amazon because who knows where my former copies are (usually I keep track of these things like a hawk).

Question: why is the fifth season so expensive for a new DVD package on Amazon? It seems to me that it's the worst season and it shouldn't be that expensive on DVD compared to the earlier seasons.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

It's indeed very strange that Season 5 goes for anywhere from $80 - $300 USD on some websites for the DVD set. My guess is that sales were good for Seasons 1 - 2, average for Season 3 and so bad for Season 4 that Universal Home Media grudgingly put out Season 5 but in an extremely low quantity anticipating low sales.

That said -- if you get the low bitrate Mill Creek DVD set, the Season 4 - 5 episodes don't really suffer very much from the overcompression.

Seasons 4 - 5, due to the reduced Sci-Fi Channel budget, clearly made a switch from 35mm film to 16mm film which is cheaper due to being smaller. 16mm film has extremely large film grains compared to 35mm film, so those film grains remain large and present even when downscaled to standard definition digital videotape and compressed for Mill Creek's DVDs.

The large grains that for the image keep it sharp and clear; the textures of all surfaces are defined and detailed (for 16mm reduced to standard definition, anyway). You can see all the grooves in Kari Wuhrer's lips. In the Turbine version, however, you can make out the pores in her skin.

In terms of upscaling, you can also get pretty much the same quality for S4 - S5 whether using Mill Creek or Universal. The reason is, once again, the 16mm film grains. AI upscaling algorithms are based on mapping additional pixels to the video image based on the film grain within the image. 16mm film grains, even under Mill Creek compression, are present and retained and AI has no trouble mining that film grain for pixel re-rendering.

DVDFab is interesting, but at the time it was available for a discount, I was in the middle of an upscale and couldn't run it. I'm still pretty deep in the world of Topaz, but it would be neat if a parallel upscaling project used DVD Fab and described what results they're getting. On my end, Seasons 2 - 3 look great after a Topaz Artemis HQ upscale to 1080p whether using the Turbine SD blu-ray or the Universal discs. (I only attempted to upscale "As Time Goes By" to 720p off the Mill Creek DVD and it actually looked okay but not as sharp and crisp the Universal or Turbine based upscales.) And Seasons 4 - 5 from Mill Creek look terrific after an upscale as well.

16mm film downscaled to standard definition digital videotape yields excellent results. It's bitterly ironic that SLIDERS was at its lowest point in Seasons 4 - 5 with casting and budget and stewardship but those two seasons have the best video quality.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I think I got screwed. The season 3 DVD set I ordered off of Amazon (the Universal release) has two Disc 2's Side A's in it, instead of a Disc 1, Side A. I checked and yes, they both have the same contents. So I got screwed.

It's only 9 bucks so I ordered another one. Hopefully this is the only one that's a misprint.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Son of a biscuit! Season 3 is truly the Season of Hell. Even two decades later, it's still screwing people over. I am so sorry to hear this. Can you get a return on the mispackaged set?

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Hahahahahaha! Indeed.

It's 9 bucks. It's not even worth bothering with the return process.

422 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-05 10:27:57)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Something I noticed: the Lanczos versions of my upscales are very hard to shrink down from their 4 - 6GB file sizes. Compression reduces the video noise that's alleviating the visual issues.

I was also running my Topaz upscales of THE DEAD ZONE through Handbrake to reduce the file sizes a bit, taking them from 3 - 4 GB a file to about 1 - 2 GB a file. The video quality went from being a high quality film scan to a medium quality 1080p Netflix videostream and some of the film grain texture left intact by Topaz was screened out by Handbrake.

Other than storage capacity savings, what is the primary reason to reduce sizes?  My understanding is a blu-ray movie is pretty larger (and that's about 2x length of a sliders episode) so moving to 1 to 2 gigs would seem to be messing with the quality, no? 

And you are seeing some of that I guess...

ireactions wrote:

Out of curiosity, I ran the very grainy blu-ray Turbine version of "As Time Goes By" through Handbrake at the "Super HQ" setting -- and Handbrake blurred out almost half the film grain and there was a slight loss of video quality. It's interesting: Universal's DVD compression in the early 2000s seemed to add compression noise; Mill Creek compression in 2016 added noise.

However, modern video compression codecs seem to screen out video grain and noise in the process of crunching a video file into a smaller container. I ran "As Time Goes By" but with the file size set to "Production Standard" and this time, all the graininess (and sharpness) remained.

I have to wonder if my technique for processing the DVD files has been a problem with SLIDERS, episodes 102 - 109. While I copy the file off the discs, I have to run them through Handbrake to deinterlace them or the final file has horizontal lines flashing across the screen.

I ran Seasons 2 - 5 through this preset and saved the video file at 'Super HQ' and the upscales turned out fine, but those files were already pretty sharp and Topaz had plenty to work with for increasing the resolution. I ran THE DEAD ZONE files through this same preset and the files definitely lost some grain as well, but again, the underlying image was good enough to upscale.

I wonder if my deinterlacing has been blurring the image and removing film grain from the Season 1 episodes. For other video sources, it was fine. But Season 1 was already blurry and lacking film grain; it couldn't have afforded to lose anything. I'm going to re-copy the disc files again and review the raw files.


Interesting.  And, not that it's a problem, but you have to wonder if there was any undesired loss on s2 or even s3 and to what degree.  S2's video quality on the dvds still look more like s1 than s4 or s5.  S3 feels like a turning point and as you said elsewhere, s4&5 (the cheapest production) is what would have been the ideal scenario across all season's from a video quality standpoint.


I'd actually like to try another experiment.

Originally, I was only upscaling SLIDERS episodes to 720p and got okay results with Season 1 and great results with Season 2 onward. Season 1 episodes looked decent in mediums and closeups but like watercolour paintings in the wide shots.

After that, I read a bunch of articles from the DOCTOR WHO restoration workers upscaling old 1970s DOCTOR WHO episodes from 650 line analog videotape to 1080p for blu-ray releases. Their preference was to aim for 1080p so that the upscaling would be controlled in terms of their work on the video file and not by the television, so I began outputting my SLIDERS upscales to 1080p.

With episodes 102 - 109 of SLIDERS, however, I think that's proven to be a mistake because SLIDERS analog videotape episodes are 250 line videotape, 38.5 per cent the resolution of a 1970s DOCTOR WHO episodes. I haven't been happy with the AI upscales, but that's probably because I've been stretching the 250 line videotape files too far. These are 480p files; increasing them by 125 per cent via AI is too much whereas increasing them by a modest 50 per cent via AI is more achievable.

Originally, I upscaled the episodes from 480p to 720p using Topaz Artemis LQ for maximum compression artifact removal and sharpening, but I think that was also too far; there isn't enough to sharpen and it looks like a watercolour in wide shots. Topaz Artemis HQ doesn't try to sharpen too much; it's assuming that underneath the compression, the video won't benefit from further sharpening which is correct for SLIDERS' episodes 102 - 109 because they're too blurry for sharpening.

One of my subsequent experiments was running 102 - 109 through Topaz but leaving it a 480p file that had been deartifacted and denoised and then Lanczos scaling this version to 1080p. The results were good but inconsistent: wide shots looked fragmented or blurry while mediums and closeups looked decent.


"One of my subsequent experiments was running 102 - 109 through Topaz but leaving it a 480p file that had been deartifacted and denoised and then Lanczos scaling this version to 1080p."

This means without artemis, correct?  eg Topaz just deartifacted and denoised, correct?  Or was that done via artemis HQ?

When running the raw DVD files through Lanczos without Topaz, the 1080p versions were not as sharp in mediums and closeups and had compression noise, but the video quality was consistent across all shots instead of going from clear to blurry. The noise actually helped as a sort of filler data cross the blurry shots.

I'm wondering if using Topaz AI's Artemis HQ to remove the compression raise the resolution by 50 per cent (without trying to sharpen what isn't there like the Artemis LQ version) will yield at least a modest improvement on the initial 480p to 720p upscale.

So you mean running topaz HQ *after* upscaling via lanczos?  (edit: actually i think that's your normal workflow)


I'm wondering if then using bicubic scaling to raise the resolution by another 50 per cent to 1080p will also be effective.

It will definitely add a little pixelation back into the image, but that will hopefully make all the wides, mediums and closeups look more consistent, with the pixelation serving a similar function to the compression noise.

I'm going to try it with "Luck of the Draw" and "Prince of Wails" which, to me, had the worst looking wide shots after AI upscaling.



Interesting...  so are you suggesting lanczos followed by artemis hq followed by bicubic scaling?


The observation you made about not going to 1080 on s1-9 is interestiing.  The AI just can't work with the content as well.


Just as a note in general, I observed a pretty intriguing thing the other day.  The Jodorowsky's Dune BOOK / bible that was made when he was trying to pitch hollywood a feature in the 70s was bought for $3m by a bunch of cryto/nft bros recently.  There are a limit number of books out there.  They then and went raised 12 MILLION dollars from the nft/crypto community to basically share ownership of a future project to make tv/film content based on the book (inspired).  Yes, without dune rights etc.  Not using the brand I guess.  The "investors" don't even get a share of profit as I understand it, and it's supposedly not profit driven or whatever.

They are even looking at costs of an animated series -- supposedly most series for 13 episodes cost $3m to make though I am sure it at least doubles at times.

It's all very interesting to me because I think about our own community.  Like, I don't think we can repeat any of that, but would we be able to raise say 100-150k for a true restoration of S1?  If our show was cooler to 20-30 year olds with expendable income and overlap into the nft/crypto world, I'd say yea... sure.  But our audience is generally at least 40 and 35 youngest, and don't have the same expendable income or risk tolerance.

MY thing is, at the end of the day, a true scan of the negative of s1, even if you didn't put in the special effects, i think would be eye-opening to the community and it would feel newish.  Maybe you could even go 16:9 if cameras and boom mikes are not in the way.  It's the sorta passion project I wish we could rally around.  Because I don't think it will happen by companies motivated by profit.

That said, I also think an alternative is a fan related project that would essentially do it in an upscaling way.  If scans couldn't be made but let's say, we raised enough money to actually get some license to pay uni (my guess is it would minmally be $50k -- maybe just 25k for s1, i dont know) and then released the title as an actual blu-ray and you hope to break even.

In that case, I would think an approach of treating wide shots with its own up scale and medium / close with their own and compiling it on a timeline would be needed for the best look for s1.

All this is fantasy of course, but you just wonder what we as a community could pull together if we say could get a little push from a jerry or john.  I would also very much like to see distributors, like Peacock, asking Universal to at minimum do an upscale job (though clearly it would not meet the quality of yours unless they somehow had access to better raw assets).

423 (edited by ireactions 2021-12-05 15:25:09)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I was trying to reduce video file sizes to get some more files stored on my 2TB drive and delay needing to upgrade to a 4TB. It didn't work out.

**

One of the previous experiments was to run the 480p DVD file through Topaz Artemis HQ but leave it at 480p, but having used Artemis HQ to deblock and denoise the file, taking out all the compression. And then using Lanczos scaling to raise the 480p file to 1080p. The results were really inconsistent: medium and wide shots looked okay/good enough, but wide shots were jarringly blurry or otherwise distorted in a way that was way too distracting.

I tried scaling the Topaz 480p version to 1080p with bicubic scaling instead. The wide shots were more pixelated and less jarringly mismatched, but still mismatched. And overall, this upscaled version looked like mildly improved low resolution analog videotape.

I settled on just using Lanczos on the DVD files. It was a forgiving way to raise the DVD image to 1080p. While the closeups and mediums were fuzzier and noisier than the Topaz upscales, they were *consistently* fuzzy and noisy across all shots. And the noise at least filled in some of that lack of detail. This version with all the noise looked like film with film grain -- albeit film diminished by being downscaled to low resolution analog videotape, but still film.

Some people might prefer the Topaz enhanced 480p version, of course.

**

I re-ripped the Universal DVD files and deinterlaced them at the highest bitrate. Ran "Luck of the Draw" through Topaz to 720p and there sadly wasn't any improvement that I could see. There wasn't much improvement for the Lanczos only version either -- maybe there was bit more texture, but that's probably because there is more noise. It's a lateral move at best.

424 (edited by QuinnSlidr 2021-12-05 18:10:06)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Update: Yay! Season 4 was delivered today. At least I got all the right discs on season 4. I will be getting season 3 package #2 tomorrow (crossing fingers I get all the right discs on that one). Seasons 1-2 (my personal favorites) will be coming later this week.

What I wouldn't have given to have Tracy Torme` just be THE guy in charge for all five seasons.

Oh, well. With a potential 6 in the works...I'll be happy having him return.

Anyway...ripping with Handbrake produces blank/grayed out video on the DVDs in Season 3. The only ripping program I have that works is DVD Fab. Not sure what's up with that.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Handbrake used to be fine for DVD ripping, but recent updates seemed to remove the decoder. I've switched to MakeMKV.
https://makemkv.com/

However, Handbrake is still important. You see, MakeMKV does not deinterlace video and the DVDs are all interlaced (even and odd fields to form the whole picture). If you don't deinterlace the video, your video files will have horizontal lines flashing across the screen. You must use Handbrake (or some other software) to "decomb" the video and convert the video to a progressive format so that your upscale won't have the lines.

426 (edited by QuinnSlidr 2021-12-05 19:42:01)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Yes! I always use the deinterlace function on films (and TV shows) I rip for this reason.

BTW, side comment: I said it years ago and I'll say it now: watching Kari Wuhrer act is like watching (listening to...?) nails on a chalkboard.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I'm always surprised by the sound of Kari's voice when I haven't heard it for awhile. It's higher-pitched than I remember. I don't think poorly of her post-Season 3 acting, but she'll never be a favourite for me. Certainly, she never turned up on camera drunk like, say, Jerry O'Connell.

**

It's strange: for Universal DVDs and the Turbine SD blu-ray release, the video quality across the individual non-Pilot episodes of Season 1 are not consistent.

Universal DVD:
On the DVD (which uses the NTSC masters): some episodes have serious aliasing issues where lines that should be straight and smooth are instead jagged and pixelated, and when the camera moves, those jagged lines become further pixelated (the term is moiré pattern). The episodes that suffer from this: "Prince of Wails," "Fever," "Last Days," "Eggheads" and "Luck of the Draw."

"Prince of Wails" is glaring when the sliders encounter the army in Oakland: the humvee and the car suffer severely from jagged lines. "Fever"'s scenes in the drugstore are really pixelated with the racks of herbal medicine. "Last Days"' opening shot of the quiet residential streets are distorted. "Eggheads" looks especially bad with the scene where Arturo meets his wife. "Luck of the Draw"'s fashion display looks hideous.

I'm not sure why these five specific episodes have these aliasing issues more severely than the other three non-pilot episodes on the Universal DVD. It may be a DVD authoring issue where the interlaced format for those four episodes had the incorrect settings for encoding the video with odd and even fields, a mistake that the Turbine release didn't repeat.

Turbine SD blu-ray:
These jagged edges in the NTSC DVDs aren't in the PAL-sourced SD blu-ray from Germany, although these versions of the episodes are blurrier. But "Summer of Love" is strange: it is so much blurrier than the other seven non-pilot episodes and severely desaturated, missing almost half the colour from the NTSC DVD version. This is odd because the other non-pilot Turbine episodes of Season 1 are not as blurry or colour-drained as "Summer of Love."

Episodes 103 - 108 Turbine episodes of Season 1 ("Prince of Wails" to "The King is Back") are suffering only from about a 10 - 15 per cent loss of colour and about a 15 - 20 per cent loss of contrast. "Luck of the Draw" from this set isn't missing any of the colour compared to the Universal DVD, although it has the same lack of contrast as the previous episodes. And 103 - 109 are all, compared to the Universal DVD, missing about 20 - 25 per cent of the Universal DVD's sharpness (which wasn't that sharp to begin with).

I'm guessing that the NTSC analog videotapes were duplicated to PAL and stretched, and analog copying creates a faded second generation copy; "Summer of Love"'s PAL master may have been made from a copy of a copy of the NTSC tape.

I'm now wondering if Turbine's versions of "Prince of Wails," "Fever," "Last Days," "Eggheads" and "Luck of the Draw" might be a better bet for low-gain upscaling. The AI could try to sharpen the SD files to be closer to the Universal DVD version while still leaving it at 480p to avoid all the AI distortions, and then Avidemux could use bicubic or Lanczos scaling to bring it to 1080p while also moderately increasing the colour and contrast.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I'm always surprised by the sound of Kari's voice when I haven't heard it for awhile. It's higher-pitched than I remember. I don't think poorly of her post-Season 3 acting, but she'll never be a favourite for me. Certainly, she never turned up on camera drunk like, say, Jerry O'Connell.

**

It's strange: for Universal DVDs and the Turbine SD blu-ray release, the video quality across the individual non-Pilot episodes of Season 1 are not consistent.

Universal DVD:
On the DVD (which uses the NTSC masters): some episodes have serious aliasing issues where lines that should be straight and smooth are instead jagged and pixelated, and when the camera moves, those jagged lines become further pixelated (the term is moiré pattern). The episodes that suffer from this: "Prince of Wails," "Fever," "Last Days," "Eggheads" and "Luck of the Draw."

"Prince of Wails" is glaring when the sliders encounter the army in Oakland: the humvee and the car suffer severely from jagged lines. "Fever"'s scenes in the drugstore are really pixelated with the racks of herbal medicine. "Last Days"' opening shot of the quiet residential streets are distorted. "Eggheads" looks especially bad with the scene where Arturo meets his wife. "Luck of the Draw"'s fashion display looks hideous.

I'm not sure why these five specific episodes have these aliasing issues more severely than the other three non-pilot episodes on the Universal DVD. It may be a DVD authoring issue where the interlaced format for those four episodes had the incorrect settings for encoding the video with odd and even fields, a mistake that the Turbine release didn't repeat.

Turbine SD blu-ray:
These jagged edges in the NTSC DVDs aren't in the PAL-sourced SD blu-ray from Germany, although these versions of the episodes are blurrier. But "Summer of Love" is strange: it is so much blurrier than the other seven non-pilot episodes and severely desaturated, missing almost half the colour from the NTSC DVD version. This is odd because the other non-pilot Turbine episodes of Season 1 are not as blurry or colour-drained as "Summer of Love."

Episodes 103 - 108 Turbine episodes of Season 1 ("Prince of Wails" to "The King is Back") are suffering only from about a 10 - 15 per cent loss of colour and about a 15 - 20 per cent loss of contrast. "Luck of the Draw" from this set isn't missing any of the colour compared to the Universal DVD, although it has the same lack of contrast as the previous episodes. And 103 - 109 are all, compared to the Universal DVD, missing about 20 - 25 per cent of the Universal DVD's sharpness (which wasn't that sharp to begin with).

I'm guessing that the NTSC analog videotapes were duplicated to PAL and stretched, and analog copying creates a faded second generation copy; "Summer of Love"'s PAL master may have been made from a copy of a copy of the NTSC tape.

I'm now wondering if Turbine's versions of "Prince of Wails," "Fever," "Last Days," "Eggheads" and "Luck of the Draw" might be a better bet for low-gain upscaling. The AI could try to sharpen the SD files to be closer to the Universal DVD version while still leaving it at 480p to avoid all the AI distortions, and then Avidemux could use bicubic or Lanczos scaling to bring it to 1080p while also moderately increasing the colour and contrast.

Well I guess this speaks to the inconsistency between episodes with s1....

You mention a lot of things here with turbine vs. Universal.  Related to that I seem to recall strongly preferring most episodes of s2 turbine over universal (with goodfellas being an exception bc it played really pixelated and jaggy on my equipment).

However I think I recall maybe preferring s1 on universal vs.turbine and I just tried to find what I wrote it anything in this thread and don't see notes.

My blu ray player that could handle the pal format has since broke.

429 (edited by QuinnSlidr 2021-12-06 15:28:42)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Delivery update: My Sliders season 3 DVD package is now correct. Yay! All discs received. Glad to see that was a random fluke on the previous delivery. Now to await Seasons 1 and 2 later this week.

This should hold me over for at least 20 years and when streaming rights expire.

I am going to rip them, re-order in filmed order, and watch from one of my external hard drives which will be hooked up to my 4K TV that sits right above my dual monitor computer setup.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I'm sorry to hear about your PAL capable player, RussianCabbie.

QuinnSlidr -- I've generally found that the episodes from "Summer of Love" to "Luck of the Draw" are not AI upscalable due to having been transferred to low-res analog videotape that has lost all the film grain needed for an AI re-rendering. But I'll be curious to know if you get different results. The other issue is, of course, the aliasing issues on five episodes of Season 1.

I looked into the aliasing issue some more when I probably could've been eating lunch and...

Wide Shot Woes and Jagged Edges: A lot of the AI sharpened wide shots from specific Season 1 episodes of the Universal DVD looked bad after AI upscaling, even when the AI was just to deblock, deartifact, and leave the 480 image at 480. There was a weird broken stained glass effect across those shots. This was particularly present in "Prince of Wails," "Fever," "Last Days," "Eggheads" and "Luck of the Draw." These are the episodes with severe aliasing issues which lead to flickering, jagged edges on straight lines that I think confuse the AI in what pixels to add even for simple cleanup (and it was already confused by the lack of film grain). These jagged edges are in the raw DVD files.

A Normal Amount: "Summer of Love" and "The King is Back" don't have this problem. There are a couple shots in "The Weaker Sex" where aliasing is present (the scene when a woman stops her car in front of Rembrandt when he's singing on the street) -- and it isn't severe and at a fairly normal level for DVD, an interlaced medium. But it is really bad on the other five episodes.

Odd and Even Fields: SLIDERS was shot on film but transferred to videotape, an interlaced format where the video signal contains two fields (even and odd) for rendering the image. Most interlaced video will suffer from at least a little aliasing (like in "The Weaker Sex"), but when these two fields aren't aligned correctly, it will be glaring and distracting.

How Did This Happen? It looks like when Universal made the DVDs in 2004, the process for identifying odd and even fields from analog videotape for digital file conversion was limited. Rather than convert each videotape twice and choose the file that turned out correctly, Universal chose randomly, got it right three times out of eight (four out of nine if you count the pilot), and didn't bother to re-encode for the five that they got wrong.

Our Mill Creek Enemies: The Mill Creek DVDs have the same aliasing issues on the same scenes.

Our German Allies: Turbine, while using poorer quality PAL masters, doesn't have aliasing issues on their SD blu-ray. They may have received videotapes and transferred the fields correctly through 2016 technology or trial and error. (I mean, you only have to do it twice to get it right.) They may have received PAL digital files that didn't have the field errors (although given Universal's ineptitude, it seems unlikely). They may have received digital files with field errors but corrected them. They don't remember if they received digital files or videotapes.

Can this be fixed? I can't seem to do it easily. Handbrake has a "Chroma Smooth" function for this sort of distortion, but it blurs the whole image and those jagged, flickering lines still remain. Topaz has a few "anti-aliasing" presets, but it can't seem to smooth out the issue either; it's meant for reducing low levels of aliasing correctly encoded interlaced video, not video that's swapped the odd and even fields. There are a number of deinterlacing filters I could try and Turbine probably has the right software for it.

CPU Without GPU: AVIDemux has a bunch of options for deinterlacing and swapping the fields, but AVIDemux doesn't use my graphics processing card, instead using only the CPU. CPU-only video processing is very slow, so for me, trying different deinterlacing processes to find the right one would take hours for each one just to complete a five minute clip -- and I refuse to this any more.

Resignation: I refuse to spend any more time trying to clean up the hackwork done by Universal's home video department which they refused to perform properly even with simple trial and error back in 2004. Which they refused to correct even when they had years before sending the files to Mill Creek and Hulu and Peacock and Netflix. I am done trying to upscale the Universal DVD files. Universal is incompetent. It's not my job to fix their work. I will never put another disc from the Dual Dimension set into one of of my drives again.

Turbine: I put the Turbine version of "Prince of Wails" through Topaz this morning. No upscaling to a higher resolution, just trying to AI sharpen away the blurriness. It just finished and it looks to be on the same level of sharpness as the Universal version of this episode -- not terrific, but not downright fuzzy. It's good enough to scale via Lanczos to 1080p and it doesn't have Universal's field errors. I'm going to run the sharpening on all the Turbine versions of the non-Pilot Season 1 episodes and upscale them to 1080p via Lanczos.

Curiosity: "Prince of Wails," "Fever," "Last Days," "Eggheads" and "Luck of the Draw" will definitely be replaced with the Turbine-based upscales. "Summer of Love" off the Turbine version is really blurry and discoloured, but it'd still be worth it to see the results. "The Weaker Sex" and "The King is Back" might be best as the versions sourced from Universal, but it'd be nice to complete the set with them.

Good bye, Universal's Dual Dimension set -- and good riddance. (The Pilot, "Summer of Love," "The Weaker Sex" and "The King is Back" looked good, though.)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions - Wonderful analysis. I will keep all that in mind as I work on my own AI enlargements.

By the way, I don't mean to post anything promotional, but is this the Turbine German version?

https://www.amazon.com/Sliders-Die-komp … amp;sr=8-4

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

How Did This Happen? It looks like when Universal made the DVDs in 2004, the process for identifying odd and even fields from analog videotape for digital file conversion was limited. Rather than convert each videotape twice and choose the file that turned out correctly, Universal chose randomly, got it right three times out of eight (four out of nine if you count the pilot), and didn't bother to re-encode for the five that they got wrong.

I wonder if they had two different staff members doing this work?  And each person may have choose a different setting.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:
ireactions wrote:

How Did This Happen? It looks like when Universal made the DVDs in 2004, the process for identifying odd and even fields from analog videotape for digital file conversion was limited. Rather than convert each videotape twice and choose the file that turned out correctly, Universal chose randomly, got it right three times out of eight (four out of nine if you count the pilot), and didn't bother to re-encode for the five that they got wrong.

I wonder if they had two different staff members doing this work?  And each person may have choose a different setting.

That sounds exactly like that happened here. If so...pretty shoddy work by Universal not to be doing some kind of oversight on this.

434 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-06 18:42:06)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Big companies.  They don't care the way fans do.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

QuinnSlidr wrote:

is this the Turbine German version?
https://www.amazon.com/Sliders-Die-komp … amp;sr=8-4

That's the one!

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

Big companies.  They don't care the way fans do.

I guess depends on the units they think they can move. Paramount felt STAR TREK would sell huge numbers in blu-ray and put a lot of money into remastering it. They felt the same way about STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and promptly lost a lot of money on remastering it and decided not to do a remaster of DEEP SPACE NINE or VOYAGER. Visual Entertainment Inc. expected moderate sales on STARGATE SG1 and put a very moderate amount of money into upscaling the SD versions of Seasons 1 - 7 to something that vaguely approximates a high definition video.

Universal... did not think the sales on SLIDERS DVDs would be great, but they had the IP on their shelf, had some shelf space to fill, had a gap in their home video release schedule and hacked something out in the most half-assed fashion possible.

I once had a neat conversation with a Turbine rep. I said that I really appreciated the thought and effort they put into their blu-ray set: the packaging, the well-presented versions of the PAL masters, the episodes being in the right order, the menus, the pilot commentary whereas Universal couldn't even run some anti-aliasing and Mill Creek couldn't be bothered to use a few extra discs.

Turbine replied to say that they appreciated getting a message that recognized their focus on high premium, high quality products. Yes, they could put in less effort and probably get away with it, but what was the point of doing anything unless it could be done with care and love and quality?

I have had quite enough of those clowns at Universal who have been wasting my time and CPU and GPU cycles since 2004. Universal, you are no longer wanted. You are no longer needed. You have been replaced. You will not be missed. Turbine, let's upscale "Last Days."

436 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-07 00:49:13)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:
QuinnSlidr wrote:

is this the Turbine German version?
https://www.amazon.com/Sliders-Die-komp … amp;sr=8-4

That's the one!

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

Big companies.  They don't care the way fans do.

I guess depends on the units they think they can move. Paramount felt STAR TREK would sell huge numbers in blu-ray and put a lot of money into remastering it. They felt the same way about STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and promptly lost a lot of money on remastering it and decided not to do a remaster of DEEP SPACE NINE or VOYAGER. Visual Entertainment Inc. expected moderate sales on STARGATE SG1 and put a very moderate amount of money into upscaling the SD versions of Seasons 1 - 7 to something that vaguely approximates a high definition video.

Universal... did not think the sales on SLIDERS DVDs would be great, but they had the IP on their shelf, had some shelf space to fill, had a gap in their home video release schedule and hacked something out in the most half-assed fashion possible.

I once had a neat conversation with a Turbine rep. I said that I really appreciated the thought and effort they put into their blu-ray set: the packaging, the well-presented versions of the PAL masters, the episodes being in the right order, the menus, the pilot commentary whereas Universal couldn't even run some anti-aliasing and Mill Creek couldn't be bothered to use a few extra discs.

Turbine replied to say that they appreciated getting a message that recognized their focus on high premium, high quality products. Yes, they could put in less effort and probably get away with it, but what was the point of doing anything unless it could be done with care and love and quality?

I have had quite enough of those clowns at Universal who have been wasting my time and CPU and GPU cycles since 2004. Universal, you are no longer wanted. You are no longer needed. You have been replaced. You will not be missed. Turbine, let's upscale "Last Days."

I think you've discovered something really interesting and important here with regard to the deinterlacing and the 3  / 5 split of aligned properly vs. not for season 1.

I am sure universal never knew this and I an sure that not anyone else knew of this issue either.

I just did some googling and since you are so well versed in some of the technical end of things, I would invite you to reach out to this gentleman and see if you can get a conversation going.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/bpfunke

Maybe just maybe they'd correct their digital files in their local archive and we'd see the distribution of them down the road.  That would mean rescannjng the master tapes for those episodes I guess .

Here is some other names.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertblair … _browsemap


https://www.linkedin.com/in/ryanbeckfor … _browsemap

https://www.linkedin.com/in/shawnodonne … _browsemap

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-stewar … _browsemap


You could reach out to them individually and ask if they are the appropriate person to report an issue with for the SLIDERS (1995-2000) digital files distributed on the dvds and presumably to their other domestic partners (peacock, comet/sinclair).

Most of those technicians probably work on more current programming and it might be a team in the West coast where physical master tapes are located but if they can look someone in and you get the right person (in terms of kindness) they might be willing to talk about that stuff on the technical front and look into it. Maybe even fix it.

The fact that nbcuniversal is still landing syndication deals for the content at least makes it somewhat of a current technical issue..

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

NBCUniversal seems to have little to no interest in home video releases of their older content. Their home media site advertises box sets of late 2000s and 2010s shows, but for shows before that, there's not much beyond MIAMI VICE, SEINFELD and WILL AND GRACE. But for blu-ray releases of THE ROCKFORD FILES, KNIGHT RIDER, QUANTUM LEAP, I DREAM OF JEANNIE, EUREKA, the NBCU home video department has just kicked it over to Mill Creek.

As for contacting NBCUniversal -- I think I've spent enough time working on their products long after they released and abandoned them.

438 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-07 00:54:27)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Well, you're right that they probably wouldn't care enough to fix it.

I'm still glad you were able to discover the issue though.  A lot of what we historically thought was the problem was overcompression.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I don't know what they would or wouldn't do. If you want to contact them and copy-paste relevant sections from my posts for your own messages, you could do that. In my case, while I enjoy dragging and dropping video files into Topaz for various tests, I don't think it's my job to be running NBCUniversal's home video department unpaid.

I will put my leisure energy towards video materials produced by Turbine as Turbine actually put some effort into their work.

Topaz has had some software updates and while I couldn't run it before because the program kept crashing, the new version stabilized. There is now a wider variety of presets. Where originally, there were just presets for compression-removal and sharpening, there are now additional presets for smoothing out interlaced video (unfortunately useless on the mis-encoded five episodes of Season 1 and not effective on the rest because the sound is out of sync), for toning down aliasing (also ineffective for our problems) -- and there's also one that's focused on trying to deblur video.

Deblurring is where Turbine's S1 episodes would benefit most. "Summer of Love" may be beyond repair on Turbine. But I've run "Prince of Wails" through Topaz's Artemis - Remove Blurriness preset twice now, the first time on Low Quality Video while leaving it at 480p. The final file looked as sharp as the Universal version, but with a slightly 'painted' look to the wide shots due to the lack of grain in the source file.

I ran it again last night, but this time set to High Quality Video which doesn't try to add as many extra pixels based on grain to pixel rebuilding and it came out looking like a very nice 480p version of "Prince of Wails" where all the hair and faces were defined and wide shots looked appropriately distanced but not distorted. Turbine's blurry soft focus look is gone thanks to Topaz adding pixel contrast to all the edges, but the image still lacks fine detail or texture. When scaled to 1080p bicubically (through live playback), it looks like adequately upscaled videotape (and without the weird Universal distortions).

I am going to try two more experiments with "Prince of Wails": I am running the 480p cleanup again for AI deblurring, but this time, I'm using this new setting in Topaz that adds film grain. I think a small amount laid over the AI deblurred image might fill in some of that absent texture and make it look less like videotape and more like film-on-videotape.

I am then going to run the same preset but scale it to 1080p. I am extremely doubtful it will be any different from the last time I used AI upscaling to bring this same file to 1080p, but I'd at least like to see how it turns out with this new deblurring preset.

Regardless of which preset I end up using, all the Turbine S1 non-pilot episodes aside from "Last Days" will need to be run through AVIDemux to increase the saturation by about 15 - 20 per cent.

440 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-07 08:03:39)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I don't know what they would or wouldn't do. If you want to contact them and copy-paste relevant sections from my posts for your own messages, you could do that. In my case, while I enjoy dragging and dropping video files into Topaz for various tests, I don't think it's my job to be running NBCUniversal's home video department unpaid.

I will put my leisure energy towards video materials produced by Turbine as Turbine actually put some effort into their work.

Topaz has had some software updates and while I couldn't run it before because the program kept crashing, the new version stabilized. There is now a wider variety of presets. Where originally, there were just presets for compression-removal and sharpening, there are now additional presets for smoothing out interlaced video (unfortunately useless on the mis-encoded five episodes of Season 1 and not effective on the rest because the sound is out of sync), for toning down aliasing (also ineffective for our problems) -- and there's also one that's focused on trying to deblur video.

Deblurring is where Turbine's S1 episodes would benefit most. "Summer of Love" may be beyond repair on Turbine. But I've run "Prince of Wails" through Topaz's Artemis - Remove Blurriness preset twice now, the first time on Low Quality Video while leaving it at 480p. The final file looked as sharp as the Universal version, but with a slightly 'painted' look to the wide shots due to the lack of grain in the source file.

I ran it again last night, but this time set to High Quality Video which doesn't try to add as many extra pixels based on grain to pixel rebuilding and it came out looking like a very nice 480p version of "Prince of Wails" where all the hair and faces were defined and wide shots looked appropriately distanced but not distorted. Turbine's blurry soft focus look is gone thanks to Topaz adding pixel contrast to all the edges, but the image still lacks fine detail or texture. When scaled to 1080p bicubically (through live playback), it looks like adequately upscaled videotape (and without the weird Universal distortions).

I am going to try two more experiments with "Prince of Wails": I am running the 480p cleanup again for AI deblurring, but this time, I'm using this new setting in Topaz that adds film grain. I think a small amount laid over the AI deblurred image might fill in some of that absent texture and make it look less like videotape and more like film-on-videotape.

I am then going to run the same preset but scale it to 1080p. I am extremely doubtful it will be any different from the last time I used AI upscaling to bring this same file to 1080p, but I'd at least like to see how it turns out with this new deblurring preset.

Regardless of which preset I end up using, all the Turbine S1 non-pilot episodes aside from "Last Days" will need to be run through AVIDemux to increase the saturation by about 15 - 20 per cent.

The deblur feature seems like an interesting feature.  Really nice to have.   I bet that can help a lot on older tv content.... If you watch some of the stuff on the nostalgia tv networks... especially I think sitcoms... It seems a lot of them could use that.

With regard to Universal, yea I'll try to let some of these folks know about that issue.  None if those ppl are home entertainment but more digital asset management.  So if they ever did rescan the master tapes to get new digital files, we might see the rewards on new vod partners or syndication partners who receive the digital assets.  Even peacock should be able to show sliders a bit more respectfully... If that's the platform that is supposedly so important to the future of the company.

Of course having proper files would also therefore help with upscaling but I'm not so sure we'd be able to get our hands on them so easily since another DVD release is fairly unlikely.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I am keeping an eye on these tips.

Update: new USPS delivery guy delivers at 6:30 a.m. So I got my Sliders seasons 1 & 2 DVDs delivered 1 day early! Yay!

I'm ripping these DVDs while I do other work. No more horrid Amazon compression for the first 10-15 minutes on Sliders episodes.Yay!

Still debating whether I want to get season 5. I may just get season 5 for Cleavant alone. I'm not missing anything else otherwise.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Well, you could just get the Mill Creek complete set for Season 5. For upscaling purposes, it makes little difference.

Also, as you are working on the Universal discs, I can tell you: I was able to mostly fix the aliasing issue in Universal's "Prince of Wails" with a field-swap deinterlacer in AVIDemux.

In the Universal disc, the scene of the sliders encountering Hurley and the soldiers in Oakland was riddled with jagged edges on the humvee and the car. After using Kernel Deint and setting it to reverse the field order, the lines of the humvee and car were smoother, but there were still artifacts within the smoothed out lines and image flickering across them.

That said, I am only an amateur and some more experienced encoder enthusiasts say that the NTSC version is fine and it's the Turbine / PAL video files that are mis-aligned. https://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?p=1869424

I can only speak to my own particular hardware and software: I've run every Season 1 - 2 episode of SLIDERS through the GPU-augmented Handbrake's decomb filter using both Turbine and Universal. For me, only Universal's "Prince of Wails," "Fever," "Last Days," "Eggheads" and "Luck of the Draw" have the mis-arranged fields after Handbrake's deinterlacing. The other Universal episodes were mostly fine, the Turbine episodes converted to progressive video via Handbrake really well.

Certainly, there is *some* aliasing in the Turbine versions, but any video that was ever interlaced will have some. "Last Days" opens with a shot of a still street; in the Universal version, the straight lines are pixelated and blocky and flickering. In the Turbine version, those lines are smooth -- but there is a little flicker. To me, that's normal.

My guess would be that Turbine has a field-swap deinterlacer for files that haven't been encoded correctly.

If someone else wants to experiment with deinterlacing field swappers, they might find the right one for the five alias-troubled Universal episodes. However, I won't keep using the Universal DVDs for anything. I've realized that my relationship NBCUniversal has become abusive.

I am a devoted fan of SLIDERS as a television series and intellectual property, but I'm not going to devote myself to unpaid servitude for a multi-billion dollar global conglomerate that has the ability to deinterlace their own videotapes.

It's one thing to upscale a standard definition video product to HD as a fan; that's having purchased a product and looking at improving the playback options. It's also fine for me to write fan fiction; that's imagining what SLIDERS could be and typing it up.

But it is grossly inappropriate for me, a hobbyist fan, to provide free labour to a wealthy corporation just because I care about an intellectual property that happens to exist on one of their ledgers. I won't call five NBCUniversal employees to raise and repair the video quality issues. That's ridiculous. It is not my job to fix a standard definition video product that Universal sold to me broken.

NBCUniversal owns SLIDERS, but SLIDERS is not NBCUniversal.

In contrast, my relationship with Turbine is appropriate for a content distributor and a fan. I wanted SLIDERS in standard definition. They sold it to me. Their version of SLIDERS is encoded correctly and the episodes are in order and there is no damage from compression.

Any effort to bring Turbine's content to HD is to build upon the solid foundation of their diligence, not to correct incompetence in their product. Their version of Season 1 was not upscalable using the 2020 version of Topaz, but the 2021 edition is yielding some interesting results.

"Prince of Wails" from Turbine looks really nice after Topaz has deblurred it and added some film grain texture while keeping the file at 480p. Before Topaz, the Turbine file was about 25 per cent blurrier than the Universal version. After Turbine, I'd say it's about 5 per cent blurrier. I did do some work before Topaz, increasing the saturation levels a bit. I'm now putting this file through Topaz again to be deblurred and upscaled to 1080p. It might be as much a disaster as my previous upscales of this file, but it'd be nice to know what can and can't be done.

443 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-07 16:55:07)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

^ You're right that Universal completely screwed up.  And has been lazy throughout how they have put out releases and sent content to syndication partners.  It's not treated with respect, which is bothersome and there is a general lack of quality control.  Unfortunately, Sliders has always been low on the totem pole to them given the profit margins.

I think had SLIDERS been introduced in the streaming era (via a premium service) our audience, which may not have been as big as X-Files (which was sustainable on network tv), would have been enough for a different, non-ad driven business model.  And maybe seen as valuable and important.

That said, had it been introduced in today's era, I am not sure it ever would have gotten to season 5 given it seems that streamers stop at 2-to-4 seasons now.  Although they would not have started heavy meddling in season 3.  And we really only got two legit seasons of Tracy's SLIDERS.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I ran a short upscaling test on a segment of Turbine's "Prince of Wails" (Artemis High Quality, deblur, 1080p output) and I have to say, I think we're getting somewhere at last with these Season 1 episodes.

Sample video: https://mega.nz/file/O9YzHC7a#nX7JrcQHk … 79AO6_sFXo

Instead of trying re-render the image with absent film grain, Topaz's deblur seems to selectively increase pixel contrast to reduce blurriness while blending the pixels in smoothly to avoid blockiness. Looking at the results up close, there is some of that watercolour effect in the wides, but watching it at living room distance, it isn't really a big deal.

I am going to increase the amount of film grain by 25 per cent, however, just to fill in a bit of the absent detail and this time, I'm running the whole episode which will take 10 hours.

My relationship with Turbine is already proving healthy and rewarding.

445 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-07 21:05:16)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

^ That's quite a respectable image...  sometimes when I see these samples, I feel like I am seeing the episode for the first time because one isn't used to seeing it w/ the clarity.

You are next adding film grain as a post-production effect across the top of the entire image, correct?

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I am adding grain via Topaz. I feel that grain adds some weight and body to the image and fills in some of the missing detail. I think the objective here is no longer grain-to-pixel sharpening, but deblurring the PAL video master.

However...

I just reviewed the new "Prince of Wails" 1080p upscale and it looks good -- but still a little 'bare.' I'm running it again now but increasing the grain by another 10 per cent. I would like to show you a sample, except I'm running into that problem I had earlier: when I extract a file via Handbrake, I find that the H.264 codec, even at the highest file size, filters out the Topaz-added grain texture! Even when the full episode is 5.8GB and the extracted five minute sample is 3.6GB, it doesn't look any different from what I posted last night.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I just reviewed the new "Prince of Wails" 1080p upscale and it looks good -- but still a little 'bare.' I'm running it again now but increasing the grain by another 10 per cent. I would like to show you a sample, except I'm running into that problem I had earlier: when I extract a file via Handbrake, I find that the H.264 codec, even at the highest file size, filters out the Topaz-added grain texture! Even when the full episode is 5.8GB and the extracted five minute sample is 3.6GB, it doesn't look any different from what I posted last night.

Very strange.  Maybe there needs to be another in between step after adding the grain. Could it be that the grain is added in some data layer that gets discarded once handbrake does it's work?  Or does the h264 not support the kinda info in its file?   Or maybe that data gets so compressed or minimized... Even if the file size overall isn't shrinking.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Okay, Handbrake has a (very slow, CPU-only) process for 'tuning' a video to maintain the grain.

"Prince of Wails." The sliders meet Hurley! Again! This is Turbine, upscaled via Topaz Artemis High Quality (deblur) with film grain added after the upscale.
https://mega.nz/file/L5JigBLI#M6ZAtduC_ … Lp6S0d4CUY

449 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-09 09:19:54)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Okay, Handbrake has a (very slow, CPU-only) process for 'tuning' a video to maintain the grain.

"Prince of Wails." The sliders meet Hurley! Again! This is Turbine, upscaled via Topaz Artemis High Quality (deblur) with film grain added after the upscale.
https://mega.nz/file/L5JigBLI#M6ZAtduC_ … Lp6S0d4CUY

hmmm...  I assume you prefer the grain?  to my eye, at least, I think one issue with the grain is, because it's not image conforming, it can add some noise in places where we already have some image imperfection and make it feel even less perfect.  however, i understand the desire to add some texture to the image.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

For me, my low hanging target for the Season 1 Turbine upscales is to get them to look like the Season 2 Turbine files -- grainy and filmic. I think it's achievable to get a below average HD file that looks like an above average SD file.

Also, if I change my mind later, the grain can easily be removed: it only takes 2 - 4 minutes to re-encode the file in Handbrake with a GPU-augmented codec that deletes the data layer with the grain. Better to have it and not want it than to want it and not have it.

Here's the opening of "Fever." One of the things I have always admired about Jerry O'Connell as an actor: he is very good at fake eating. In both "Prince of Wails" and "Fever," he fake eats very convincingly even though, intellectually, I know he's not eating anything. Check out his fake eating in "Fever" in this upscaled sample here:
https://mega.nz/file/m94kQahB#vvrU5ndfc … PQ9BQGZ2ZE

451 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-10 16:01:25)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

For me, my low hanging target for the Season 1 Turbine upscales is to get them to look like the Season 2 Turbine files -- grainy and filmic. I think it's achievable to get a below average HD file that looks like an above average SD file.

Also, if I change my mind later, the grain can easily be removed: it only takes 2 - 4 minutes to re-encode the file in Handbrake with a GPU-augmented codec that deletes the data layer with the grain. Better to have it and not want it than to want it and not have it.

Yes, I understand. 

I think of course at times we have slightly different palates, where you are harkening an era of film and classic movies, whereas I tend to be so upset with the poorly aged look of the material we have now, I go for a cleaner look, though I have always found some grain beneficial when using VLC player to play the samples.

452 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-10 17:22:38)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Here's the opening of "Fever." One of the things I have always admired about Jerry O'Connell as an actor: he is very good at fake eating. In both "Prince of Wails" and "Fever," he fake eats very convincingly even though, intellectually, I know he's not eating anything. Check out his fake eating in "Fever" in this upscaled sample here:
https://mega.nz/file/m94kQahB#vvrU5ndfc … PQ9BQGZ2ZE


Fever looks good. I have always found the blurriness of the opening particularly disturbing, especially with the VOD distributors etc.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I'm not in favour of noise or grain as an aesthetic, but it has its uses. Generally, I don't see the grain and don't want to see grain; at living room distance, grain should just seem like detail.

In the case of Season 1 episodes, the PAL master even after deblurring is still a little blurry, and noise brings it closer to the original film look. In the case of Season 2, the SD masters are extremely grainy and while I like it, I'm also very pleased with how Topaz converted that grain into pixels for a crisp HD rendition for "As Time Goes By" and other episodes. If I could get Season 1 to look like a Topaz-processed episode of Season 2, I would, but the tools aren't there (yet? ever?).

I am less pleased with the STARGATE SG-1 DVDs which have had the noise blurred out through filters that also blurred out the image under that noise.

However, there are times when I find graininess really unwelcome and distracting. The TV show CHUCK was shot on grainy 16mm film and somewhat overcompressed even on its blu-ray releases, leading to a lot of compression noise in addition to the original film grain that can be really inappropriate. CHUCK has some scenes in the white, blank room of the Intersect computer in the pilot and series finale, and that room should look pristine. Instead, it's riddled with static dots. I also found the graininess of Sabrina Lloyd's UNIVERSAL SIGNS rather unpleasant and ran it through a 28 hour Topaz grain-to-pixel process so that all the grain would be resolved into detail.

DAWSON'S CREEK in HD looks really grainy to me; I think the 4K scan was a bit much for 16mm film.

With Season 1 of SLIDERS, it's blurriness or graininess, so I've chosen graininess.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

It's odd: the Turbine episodes are blurrier than the Universal episodes, but with the 2021 Topaz toolkit, Turbine is working out better than Universal.

I couldn't figure out what to do with the Universal Season 1 episodes after the Pilot. Even with the new Topaz tools, every attempt to deblur the Season 1 Universal files created either a smudged 1080p watercolour painting or oversharpened, deformed artifacts across the video image -- or improved the image so little that non-AI scaling was faster and better.

Even the Universal version of "Summer of Love," which didn't have the interlacing issues, came out of Topaz 2021 badly: it's really smudged, like a bad painting. It's like the compression and the lack of film grain just confuses the algorithm and when an episode like "Prince of Wails" has interlacing problems on top of that, Topaz is just lost.

My successes with upscaling DUE SOUTH and THE DEAD ZONE from compressed DVDs made me think that Topaz could lift off video compression and reveal what was underneath. But I suspect this isn't quite true: while Topaz can remove compression, it is dependent on film grain to reconstruct what is under that compression. When there is compression but no grain, Topaz can't rebuild the image correctly, so removing the compression artifacts off the Universal files only makes them worse.

In contrast, the Turbine versions of Season 1 only have one problem for Topaz to address. The Turbine episodes are blurry and Topaz needs to deblur them (and upping the saturation a bit in AVIDemux before the uspcale is good too). There isn't any compression noise to lift off, so Topaz doesn't need to rebuild the image using film grain; it just needs to review the pixels of this blurry image and increase the pixel contrast within the boundaries of each part of the image.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

^  well, either way, you've done a great job at figuring things out. We're dealing with very complex factors from the content, to the different releases, to the differences between seasons, to the differences within a season... to the different tools/software... to the differences between the settings and options within each piece of software... to the hardware requirements.... to the variables with each piece of hardware and hardware going...

This is all experimental and what the scientific process is.  A ton of variables, a ton of trial and error.  Often a relentless effort within a complex system / set of circumstances.

I have no doubt the technology will continue to improve because the software developers are on their own journeys trying to get their algorithms right.  And since there seems to be enough demand for this sorta software, it seems like their projects and r&d will continue.

One day, I hope we will get to see a three-dimensional professor in VR.

456 (edited by ireactions 2021-12-11 13:46:53)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Some findings:

"Summer of Love" from Turbine is still in progress, but I'm looking at the frames as they upscale and they do not look good after the deblur. It is the fuzziest episode in the Turbine set. I wonder if I might go to the MP4 file I have of the Universal version and use Topaz 2021's noise-removal preset to take off the compression artifacts -- while leaving it at 480p. Then run Topaz' deblurring function to bring it to 1080p. Topaz 2021 separating the tools instead of just having them all combined into a few presets may offer some paths forward here.

In terms of aliasing: I've been reviewing the raw Universal files of the episodes that are not suffering from misaligned fields throughout most of the episode. The Universal version of the pilot has some aliasing. There are some jagged edges in Quinn's car when he stops his car by the park, flickeringly jagged lines when Quinn runs past the homeless Communist, jagged lines across Arturo's classroom seats. I'd consider this normal for a DVD; you're always going to have at least a little. It's only annoying when it's in any and every shot with straight lines for entire episodes like Universal's "Prince of Wails," "Fever," "Last Days," "Eggheads" and "Luck of the Draw."

However, the Turbine version of the pilot, while blurrier, has significantly less of this flicker and jaggedness in the park scene and almost none in Arturo's classroom.

While mostly fine, Universal's "The Weaker Sex" had some flickering jagged edges in the scene with Rembrandt singing and a lady stopping her car to talk to him; those are not present in the Turbine version. Universal's version of "The King is Back" is also pretty alias-free except in one notable scene: after Arturo's crowdsurfing incident, the Motel 12 doorframe is very jagged and flickery. Again, I would consider all this acceptable for an interlaced DVD, especially in how occasional it is. However, the Turbine versions of "The Weaker Sex" and "The King is Back" don't have these issues.

I wonder if a part of it is that the Turbine versions are at 24 frames per second instead of 29, and fewer frames means less opportunity for field issues in interlaced video, but I think Turbine must have done processing cleanup here because it's unlikely Universal did a better job on the PAL masters than they did on the NTSC files.

**

Handbrake has a function called "Detelecine" which is supposed to address flicker caused when film has been converted to videotape (like with SLIDERS). I'd previously just been deinterlacing when when converting the DVD files from interlaced into a progressive (which makes it easier to upscale because the AI only has to improve image quality instead of merging two separate video fields).

Detelecine is a lot slower than just simple deinterlacing; a 3 - 5 minute deinterlace job becomes 10 - 20 minutes with detelecine. After running both the Turbine and Universal versions of the Pilot through detelecine: the Turbine version had no flicker or jagged edges and the Pilot's aliasing was about 80 per cent gone.

The Universal version of the Pilot is a sharper file, so that's probably the one to stick with for upscaling.

Out of morbid interest, I ran the detelecine function on the Universal version of "Prince of Wails" -- just the scene where the sliders in Oakland encounter Hurley's soldiers. Detelecine could only reduce the jagged edges in the cars by about half -- it's still really distracting, and it throws off the upscaling process. Detelecine still needs the file to be in a correctly interlaced format.

**

Out of professional interest, I ran the interlaced version of Turbine's "Fever" through Topaz' built in deinterlacer. Topaz could not properly deinterlace this file; the shot of the opening scene where the camera pans across the flags were filled with horizontal lines.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Question: the Turbine is in pal format.  The frame rate is different.  I notice some of the ghostly blurry image during movement.  Above you've written that they have 24 frames per second vs. 29?  Is this what causes the movement ghostly blurryness?   I thought pal actually had more frames and that was the cause....

Another thing.  You mention the differences in the jagginess between the files.   Is there ever a scenario where a composite image of 50 percent opacity turbine / 50 percent universal in two layers, flattened reap benefits?   Or does that just make the problem worse because you are introducing the problems of each of them?  Or does that ever help because you are benefiting from added grain for topaz to work with?

Or is that impossible to even achieve because turbine and universal are two different files and frame rate is different and frames won't actually match up?   I'm wondering if this might be a diplomatic solution to any episodes where you are not sure what is a better source.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I edited my post as some of my Handbrake samples finished. Detelecine can reduce 'normal' levels of aliasing, but it can't fix video files like the five Universal episodes where the fields are mis-arranged.

**

My guess is that ghostly blurring is due to different deinterlacing techniques in different players. My blu-ray player deinterlaces the Turbine files well, as do my codecs for Handbrake. But not everyone has had the same experience; over at Doom9, those experienced video encoders insist that there are no interlacing issues with the NTSC DVDs and it's the PAL blu-ray that's a mess of misarranged fields.

I don't think that you can sync up a 24 FPS video file with a 29 FPS video file. Even when I play the NTSC and PAL files side by side for comparison, they quickly go out of sync because of the frame rate difference.

**

I think my final upscale will likely use the Universal versions of Pilot and the Turbine versions of "Prince of Wails," "Fever," "Last Days," "Eggheads" and "Luck of the Draw." I am not sure about "The Weaker Sex" and "The King is Back" yet; the Turbine versions of those two are in the queue.

I want to try using Topaz to denoise the Universal version of "Summer of Love" while leaving it at 480p, then drag the denoised file into Topaz again for a deblurring upscale to 1080p. If the results are good, then the Universal versions of "The Weaker Sex" and "The King is Back" would benefit from the same.

459 (edited by ireactions 2021-12-11 14:16:32)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Minor update:

With Universal's "Prince of Wails," Handbrake's detelecine was able to remove about half of the jagged edges from the soldiers in Oakland scene. Topaz' "Artemis Alias and Moire" preset was able to reduce it some more; the jagged edges are at about 20 per cent of what they were in the raw DVD file. It's still a lot of work to leave the problem only 4/5 solved, and I'm sure there must be some better method out there of fixing a file with incorrect field arrangements.

Something for a future upscaler to deal with. I don't mind experimenting with isolated shots out of interest, but I'm not going to be dedicating any CPU cycles to fixing entire episodes.

Detelecine didn't even slightly reduce the (minor) jagged edges in the Universal version of "The Weaker Sex" in the scene with that lady picking Rembrandt up; the lines are as jagged and flickery as before. Detelecine also couldn't deflicker the Turbine version of "Last Days"' teaser or the flickering door frame after Arturo's crowdsurfing in "The King is Back."

I'm now surprised that detelecine was able to totally de-alias the Turbine version of the pilot and mostly de-alias the Universal pilot file.

460 (edited by ireactions 2021-12-12 12:41:18)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

New report on anti-aliasing for the Universal discs. The aliasing problem is solved.

Handbrake by default has deinterlacing enabled on its presets, but I disabled it and switched on detelecine all by itself and am getting much-improved results for the problem episodes of the Universal set.

The Universal version of "Prince of Wails" has that scene of the sliders encountering Hurley and the soldiers in Oakland; it has always been a mess of jagged edges; detelecine reduced that to being mildly artifacted with faint flicker.

I also ran 30 seconds of Universal's "Fever" through detelecine only -- specifically, 30 seconds in the drugstore with all the aliasing on the shelves. Those jagged edges were smoothed out and reduced to a slight flicker.

I ran a scene from Universal's "Eggheads" through detelecine; specifically, the scene of Arturo meeting his wife. The house has always been horribly distorted and the cars were riddled with jagged edges. Those have been smoothed out too to a mild flicker.

Detelecine was able to completely almost totally remove the jagged edges from the Universal version of the Pilot and there's only a faint flicker where those used to be.

The Universal version of "Last Days" had a lot of aliasing in the opening shots; the Turbine version of "Last Days" had a faint flicker. Detelecine didn't do anything to amend the Turbine version of "Last Days," but for the Universal version, the aliasing was reduced to being about the same as Turbine's.

I'll report back later about "The King is Back" and "Luck of the Draw."

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

I can report now: after detelecine, "The Weaker Sex," "The King is Back" and "Luck of the Draw" now also have the jagged edges smoothed out. There was really only one scene in "The Weaker Sex" that had aliasing: when Rembrandt meets the lady in the car, the lines of her car were very flickery and jagged. This has been toned down to a mild level of flicker. There were a couple shots in "The King is Back" with jagged edges (after Arturo is crowdsurfing, a shot of Arturo with some window shutters behind him). These have been completely smoothed.

"Luck of the Draw" is also cleaned up very well. The original Universal DVD episode was a mess from start to finish with all the produce signs flickering and jagged; detelecine has taken away almost all of the aliasing throughout the episode now.

I don't think, even after detelecine, however, that Topaz can upscale these via grain-to-pixel processing. They're still too blurry. But perhaps they can have Topaz denoise them (to remove the compression artifacts) and then deblur them. I don't know if I'll do them all, but I definitely want to run Universal's "Summer of Love" through this process and also do a new 1080p upscale of the Pilot now that it's been detelecined.

462 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-12 13:43:31)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

I can report now: after detelecine, "The Weaker Sex," "The King is Back" and "Luck of the Draw" now also have the jagged edges smoothed out. There was really only one scene in "The Weaker Sex" that had aliasing: when Rembrandt meets the lady in the car, the lines of her car were very flickery and jagged. This has been toned down to a mild level of flicker. There were a couple shots in "The King is Back" with jagged edges (after Arturo is crowdsurfing, a shot of Arturo with some window shutters behind him). These have been completely smoothed.

"Luck of the Draw" is also cleaned up very well. The original Universal DVD episode was a mess from start to finish with all the produce signs flickering and jagged; detelecine has taken away almost all of the aliasing throughout the episode now.

I don't think, even after detelecine, however, that Topaz can upscale these via grain-to-pixel processing. They're still too blurry. But perhaps they can have Topaz denoise them (to remove the compression artifacts) and then deblur them. I don't know if I'll do them all, but I definitely want to run Universal's "Summer of Love" through this process and also do a new 1080p upscale of the Pilot now that it's been detelecined.

Well, that's a bit of good news...

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Sorry I haven't been posting samples. I am currently running a graphics card update and with that comes a new version of Handbrake and I think the update should allow some improved codecs and GPU processing options.

For some reason, "Summer of Love" is the worst looking episode of Season 1 on all sets. It's downright foggy on Turbine and not very sharp on Universal, like a copy of a copy. For this one, I've increased the saturation by about 30 per cent via AVIDemux. I'm currently using Topaz to denoise it at 480p, then I'll Topaz deblur it and increase the resolution to 1080p like it's a Turbine episode file.

I'm not sure the other detelecined Universal episodes would need this two-pass approach; I'm also not sure if they would necessarily be any better than the Turbine episodes after a deblurring. And I don't think "Summer of Love" will tell me; I'll need to try upscaling the Universal version of "Prince of Wails" to know if the rest are worth doing.

Also, after some consideration, I've decided that I will increase the colour saturation of the Universal files between 15 - 25 per cent for each episode (and I was increasing the colour saturation of the Turbine episodes by about 20 - 40 per cent per episode for the desaturated ones). Might as well make it look closer to Season 2 but not going as far as Season 3.

464 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-12 18:29:16)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Sorry I haven't been posting samples. I am currently running a graphics card update and with that comes a new version of Handbrake and I think the update should allow some improved codecs and GPU processing options.

For some reason, "Summer of Love" is the worst looking episode of Season 1 on all sets. It's downright foggy on Turbine and not very sharp on Universal, like a copy of a copy. For this one, I've increased the saturation by about 30 per cent via AVIDemux. I'm currently using Topaz to denoise it at 480p, then I'll Topaz deblur it and increase the resolution to 1080p like it's a Turbine episode file.

I'm not sure the other detelecined Universal episodes would need this two-pass approach; I'm also not sure if they would necessarily be any better than the Turbine episodes after a deblurring. And I don't think "Summer of Love" will tell me; I'll need to try upscaling the Universal version of "Prince of Wails" to know if the rest are worth doing.

Also, after some consideration, I've decided that I will increase the colour saturation of the Universal files between 15 - 25 per cent for each episode (and I was increasing the colour saturation of the Turbine episodes by about 20 - 40 per cent per episode for the desaturated ones). Might as well make it look closer to Season 2 but not going as far as Season 3.

I am glad you've come to see.the benefits of a proper color correction. smile 

I've always maintained that while the coloring on season 4 and 5 is respectable, the early stuff just has too many issues to consider it  anything but distorted from the original image.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Part of my initial reluctance: it was taking anywhere from 1 - 2 hours to CPU encode the files with increased saturation; the GPU codec kept crashing and the queue would get stuck.

A new GPU update has reduced it to 10 - 15 minutes each and I've just put them all in the queue.

466 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-12 19:45:31)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Part of my initial reluctance: it was taking anywhere from 1 - 2 hours to CPU encode the files with increased saturation; the GPU codec kept crashing and the queue would get stuck.

A new GPU update has reduced it to 10 - 15 minutes each and I've just put them all in the queue.

Ok. As I recall, the hardware with your gpu broke.  I must have missed.it but did you get a new one?  I mean you've been doing a lot of processing lately so that would make sense but I guess i.assumed you were still held back by some limitation due to lack of a proper one.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Nothing broke, but there was a period where newer versions of Topaz, Handbrake and AVIDemux weren't working or if they were working, they weren't making use of the graphics processing unit. After some experimentation, I've come to realize that the "Studio" drivers tend to work better with these programs than the "Gaming" versions.

The nVidia H.265 video codecs may also make it easier to extract video samples at smaller file sizes with higher video quality that's superior to the H.264 codec I've been using up to this point.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Nothing broke, but there was a period where newer versions of Topaz, Handbrake and AVIDemux weren't working or if they were working, they weren't making use of the graphics processing unit. After some experimentation, I've come to realize that the "Studio" drivers tend to work better with these programs than the "Gaming" versions.

The nVidia H.265 video codecs may also make it easier to extract video samples at smaller file sizes with higher video quality that's superior to the H.264 codec I've been using up to this point.

Oh ok.  That's a good bit of info for anyone reading this in the future.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Some odd stuffs in recent upscaling adventures.

Detelecine does not seem to fully convert the interlaced DVD video files to a progressive video file. I noticed: for the opening credits and shots with bright flashes, scan lines flash across the screen. If deinterlacing is enabled in the video player (hardware or software), these lines will not appear, but it's dependent on the individual software or hardware. I didn't even notice the lines until I was seeing the frame by frame upscale of "Summer of Love" in Topaz.

Also, if I take the detelecined file and deinterlace it fully in Handbrake, all the aliasing issues that detelecine removed are suddenly all back in full force. It seems best to leave the files detelecined for now.

I used Topaz to denoise "Summer of Love" and leave it at 480p. Then I ran it through Topaz again to bring it to 1080p and... it was bad. There were a lot of weird upscaling artifacts from having run the upscale twice. It looked like a CG approximation of an oil painting with a strange stained glass effect on the faces. I didn't like it. But I had Topaz upscale a few frames to 1080p using the deblur preset, then the denoise preset -- and it really did not look good. Even with grain, everything looked overly waxy and like a painting. "Prince of Wails" also looked just as bad.

However, I really liked the look of "Summer of Love" at 480p but with Topaz deblurring it and adding some film grain to the image. I've decided to go back to an older plan: use Topaz to deblur all the Universal files but keeping it at 480p, then using Lanczos to scale the deblurred 480p file to 1080p. I'll then try that on "Prince of Wails" too and if the result is better than the Turbine upscale, I'll do it for the rest of the Universal Season 1 episodes.

I'll also do another 1080p AI upscale of the Pilot now that it's been detelecined.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

All good information.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Upscaling is going really well, but CPU tuning for grain is very slow. :-)

I realized last night: I have upscaled "Summer of Love" like 28 times at this point. I have rewatched the final scenes of this episode so many times. I have rewatched Quinn hearing Rembrandt singing and running down to the street to catch him and watched the shot of Jerry O'Connell and Cleavant Derricks hugging each other followed by Arturo diving into the car at least 500 times in my life. I have watched Wade's scene addressing the hippies and punching Arturo at least 600 times in my life. I would not have gone to this much effort and repetition to upscale this episode -- or any other episode of any TV show -- if not for these friendships. I wouldn't spend this much time upscaling "New Gods for Old" or "The Return of Maggie Beckett" despite their excellence; I also wouldn't have kept trying with THE DEAD ZONE had it proven as difficult as SLIDERS.

Anyway. With SLIDERS: we had to make our own behind the scenes tell-all (Temporal Flux), our own episode guides (The Expert), our own tie-in novels (Nigel Mitchell, Mike Truman, Tucker, Jules Reynolds and so many other fine writers), our own 20th anniversary special, our own DVD cases and now, it seems our own HD upscaling process because Universal could not interlace a videotape properly.

(I've been updating the first post of this thread with the AI upscaling process for anyone who wants to upscale SLIDERS themselves.)

472 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-17 09:50:56)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

You are right, it is fitting, given the history.   Heck, the internet saved the show from being canceled twice. 

Of course, you are under no obligation to do any of this work.  Nevertheless, that you have chosen to do so, is trail blazing and important for the community.   Everything you have found out, I am not sure, anyone else really could have figured out. 

The fact that you are actually documenting it and updating the first post, for a sort of cookbook and work diary of sorts, is amazing.  There's a lot of knowledge you are sharing. 

I remember seeing a webpage where fans upgraded an animated show, I believe it was Avatar The Last Airbender.  They posted some instructions for others to be able to replicate it.  I thought that was extremely well-thought out of them as it really does enable fans to overcome a studio dragging their feet and doing it on their own.

I do think it's important we keep sliders alive and going through all the continued stuff, whether it be social media, podcasts, fan fic, upgrades that make the old content "new".  No show has ever come close to replacing it for me, and I am sure many others, and we have had probably 5-10k scripted series come to tv since then.   

I mentioned it to you once before but if the tech ever gets there it would be amazing to build a library of phrases / words spoken by the characters (drawn from 88 episodes) that could then be used (and perhaps algorithmically altered for inflection in context of a sentence) for new fan scripts, audio dramas etc.  Throw in eventually a little photo-realistic CGI modeling and well.  No need for a studio.

473 (edited by ireactions 2021-12-18 12:09:19)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Detelecine does not seem to fully convert the interlaced DVD video files to a progressive video file. I noticed: for the opening credits and shots with bright flashes, scan lines flash across the screen. If deinterlacing is enabled in the video player (hardware or software), these lines will not appear, but it's dependent on the individual software or hardware. I didn't even notice the lines until I was seeing the frame by frame upscale of "Summer of Love" in Topaz.

Also, if I take the detelecined file and deinterlace it fully in Handbrake, all the aliasing issues that detelecine removed are suddenly all back in full force. It seems best to leave the files detelecined for now.

I'll also do another 1080p AI upscale of the Pilot now that it's been detelecined.

I've been testing the detelecined and upscaled episodes on my Android TV. The free Android TV version of VLC can deinterlace the file just fine and there are no scanlines. The paid MX Player app in its default settings, however, does not deinterlace the file properly and scanlines flash across the screen for scene transitions and bright flashes. The codec has to be set to enable deinterlacing.

I don't know if I can consider this problem 'solved' or not, but it will remain as it is at least for now.

**

I really don't know about using DeepFake and clips and digital approximations with autotune to tell 'new' stories... one might be better off just hiring actors.

That said, one project that has really intrigued me from STAR TREK is John Byrne's NEW VISIONS comic book series where writer-artist Byrne made 26 issues of photo comics where he took old stills from the 60s TV show and used Photoshop and 3D modelling to create new comic book stories from altered screenshots. I haven't read it yet, though.

**

There are certainly 'director's cut' type changes I'd love to make to Season 1 to SLIDERS if I understood the technology or had the material.

I'd want to alter the photo of Quinn and his family in Season 1 and replace Jerry O'Connell with Phillip Van Dyke (young Quinn in "The Guardian").

I'd want to add visible water vapour on the breath of all the sliders on Ice World.

I'd want to re-edit that missing scene from "Summer of Love" back into the episode where Quinn and Arturo explain to Rembrandt that the timer is now a countdown device.

I'd want to amend "The King is Back" with DeepFake to replace Clinton's face with Cleavant.

And if there were some way to make "The Guardian" colour corrected to look more like Vancouver and to digitally replace all the sliders' clothes and hair with the Vancouver wardrobe, that'd be great too, but that's impossible.

**

I have upscaled pretty much all of Season 1 now except for "Luck of the Draw" which should be done this evening. I'll be ripping short clips from all nine episodes to show us. However, it will take awhile because the extracts need to use an encoder that has its tuning set to preserve the grain texture and that encoder can only use the CPU, so what would normally take 2 - 4 minutes now takes anywhere from 30 - 60 minutes.

Happily, full episodes are only about 2.75 - 3GB each as opposed to the 7 - 8GB of earlier efforts without codec grain tuning.

474 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-12-23 13:54:49)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Something pretty interesting I noticed. I was watching an archived game from 2012 that the NBA put out of a classic game between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder.  It was originally broadcast in 16:9, HD.  So their archive should have been fully HD etc.

But very strangly, the players uniforms on the Thunder are a bright blue (a bit brighter than maybe the uniform color actually is) but the text on the jerseys, including even the numbers, is completely BLOTCHED out.  It's just almost all blue.  And there's a water color effect.  On close up shots, it's fine.  But the traditional broadcast shots, it's like this.  Almost as if they intentionally wanted to blur out all text from the uniforms due to a copyright issue.  But that's not it. 

So I am starting to wonder if any upscaling/faux HDing was done to the content...

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

There are certainly 'director's cut' type changes I'd love to make to Season 1 to SLIDERS if I understood the technology or had the material.

I'd want to alter the photo of Quinn and his family in Season 1 and replace Jerry O'Connell with Phillip Van Dyke (young Quinn in "The Guardian").

I'd want to add visible water vapour on the breath of all the sliders on Ice World.

I'd want to re-edit that missing scene from "Summer of Love" back into the episode where Quinn and Arturo explain to Rembrandt that the timer is now a countdown device.

I'd want to amend "The King is Back" with DeepFake to replace Clinton's face with Cleavant.

And if there were some way to make "The Guardian" colour corrected to look more like Vancouver and to digitally replace all the sliders' clothes and hair with the Vancouver wardrobe, that'd be great too, but that's impossible.

I love all of these ideas lol. Especially the one about rediting The Guardian with the Vancover background and the characters in their season 1-2 wardrobe and hair.

How I will always explain that picture in the pilot is that is not Quinn in the photo (he looks nothing like him!) but a family friend. Makes zero sense but it wouldn't make sense for Quinn as a teenager to be in a photo with his dad when Michael Mallory died when Quinn was 11.  Speaking of these ideas, how about edit the photo on the fridge of young JOC to be the young actor who played the young Quinn in the Guardian.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

@Tucker re edits yea would be quite interesting.

Google Matt's "the exodus excised" which I think is on video or daily motion.

Combined part 1 and 2 of the exodus.

-----------

In other news re: universals horrible handling of the material, I am watching the pilot that was from an on demand purchase from my cable operator (verizon).

The image is stretched like a 4:3 was stretched to 16:9 BUT the image is still cut off on left and right with black vertical bars. So it is still a 4:3  picture.

Not only that the motion is strobbed.  And there is wave like, undulation in the image at times.  And the colors look dark.

They are taking something from 1995 and making it like it was recorded off a vhs off some nostalgia channel showing something from the 1970s.

Sliders is not that old but they keep dating it by distributing it like this.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Yeah, it's awful how neglectful Universal is towards SLIDERS.

Here are the samples of all nine episodes Season 1. It's all the end-scenes (the conclusions of each episode, right up to the producer credits) except for "Eggheads" where it's Arturo's scene with his wife. See the sliders fleeing the Russian mob in crisp HD 1080p! See Quinn and Arturo engage the FBI in... less crisp, approximated HD.

https://mega.nz/folder/b9x0AabS#fvf1LxhBxNaFWgBdtE7ZMg

All the episodes were detelecined to remove the aliasing. After that, the saturation was increased on each episode from 15 - 30 per cent. The Pilot was upscaled to 1080p via Topaz deblurring. The rest of the episodes were simply deartifacted with Topaz but left at 480p and with film grain texture added. Then they were scaled to 1080p via a bicubic algorithm and the codec 'tuned' to retain film grain.

I actually increased the film grain on "Luck of the Draw" by more than the rest by about 25 per cent more than the other episodes. This was to offset the episode being significantly blurrier than the rest, more than Topaz could sharpen up.

It's imperfect, but it's significantly better than what I had before with previous upscales when Topaz didn't have a deblur option yet.

**

It's interesting what RussianCabbie says about smeared text. This is an anomaly in many upscaled video files done with Topaz 2020. However, I'm running an upscale of Season 2's "Time and Again World." The out of focus text of the Lamplighter bar sign looked really smudged under Topaz 2020's preset for removing compression. However, the 2021 preset for deblurring just leaves it out of focus... but still in HD.

Outside of the Season 1 episodes after the Pilot, upscaling SLIDERS is drag and drop. NBCUniversal could easily do it for most of the episodes and use a slightly more complicated process for the problem episodes of Season 1.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Universal has changed hands so many times, I'm amazed they remember they own it.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Yeah, it's awful how neglectful Universal is towards SLIDERS.

Here are the samples of all nine episodes Season 1. It's all the end-scenes (the conclusions of each episode, right up to the producer credits) except for "Eggheads" where it's Arturo's scene with his wife. See the sliders fleeing the Russian mob in crisp HD 1080p! See Quinn and Arturo engage the FBI in... less crisp, approximated HD.

https://mega.nz/folder/b9x0AabS#fvf1LxhBxNaFWgBdtE7ZMg

All the episodes were detelecined to remove the aliasing. After that, the saturation was increased on each episode from 15 - 30 per cent. The Pilot was upscaled to 1080p via Topaz deblurring. The rest of the episodes were simply deartifacted with Topaz but left at 480p and with film grain texture added. Then they were scaled to 1080p via a bicubic algorithm and the codec 'tuned' to retain film grain.

I actually increased the film grain on "Luck of the Draw" by more than the rest by about 25 per cent more than the other episodes. This was to offset the episode being significantly blurrier than the rest, more than Topaz could sharpen up.

It's imperfect, but it's significantly better than what I had before with previous upscales when Topaz didn't have a deblur option yet.

**

It's interesting what RussianCabbie says about smeared text. This is an anomaly in many upscaled video files done with Topaz 2020. However, I'm running an upscale of Season 2's "Time and Again World." The out of focus text of the Lamplighter bar sign looked really smudged under Topaz 2020's preset for removing compression. However, the 2021 preset for deblurring just leaves it out of focus... but still in HD.

Outside of the Season 1 episodes after the Pilot, upscaling SLIDERS is drag and drop. NBCUniversal could easily do it for most of the episodes and use a slightly more complicated process for the problem episodes of Season 1.


I haven't had real internet access the past number of days but looking forward.to checking the samples when it's back.

I'm taking a look at an older pilot sample right now and just marveling at it.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

working on downloading these bad boys now!

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

update.  Gonna have to switch to another computer as the one I downloaded them to is a slower machine (with only 4mb ram).  So the video is not rendering well.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

In order to preserve the grain texture, the files are encoded as H.265, a newer codec that allows for more data at smaller sizes. VLC has the decoder built in. https://www.videolan.org/vlc/

My personal video player package of choice is K-Lite. https://www.codecguide.com/download_kl.htm

483 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2022-01-07 20:03:09)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

In order to preserve the grain texture, the files are encoded as H.265, a newer codec that allows for more data at smaller sizes. VLC has the decoder built in. https://www.videolan.org/vlc/

My personal video player package of choice is K-Lite. https://www.codecguide.com/download_kl.htm

I use VLC, yea.

It's just a super slow computer.

So I was able to take a look at some of it on that computer (I'll switch to the other but wanted to see something so far).

I found it very interesting.

Seems like the new samples vs. the old samples for at least Summer of Love due fix some of the issues with the far wide shots (which had some doubling up of the image, watercoloryness).

And I did notice the more film-grain feel to it.

The coloring is interesting.

original up-res sample

https://i.ibb.co/6njYYWB/image.png

New:
https://i.ibb.co/vdsVQVm/image.png

Now my VLC actually isn't totally representative of the actual work because I had made some adjustments for the original content (that worked well for me.

Turned down hue to near zero.  Brightness +2

Contrast -4
Saturation -8
Gamma is toward the end of the spectrum.

Added small amount of sharpening and small bit of film grain.

All and all, I feel like they are different (in part due to the coloring of course) and I am not 100 percent what I like better.  On one hand there's something I like about the close up shots of the original, on the other hand, there is something natural about the new version and the far shots have less technical issues (if you were putting it on broadcast).  So I think they are different beasts.  I appreciate them both.

Going to continue to look more at all the stuff when I can get it playing smoothly and downloaded on another computer.  The current one I can only see paused frames.  It just lacks memory and processing speed and I can have trouble with the machine with heavier applications.

I have to say however, both are far better than the universal discs.

484 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2022-01-09 09:29:02)

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Well, I took a look more at the samples last night.

I have to say, looking at Last Days, which was a pretty problematic-looking episode with the original dvd source, that this up-res probably is superior to the original up-res.

It obviously has less flaws with the wide shots, so if you were to put this on Peacock or release it on blu-ray, these would probably be the better up-res specs.

It's a very artfully done up res job.  It finds a right balance and the coloring is better and less dark compared to the previous version.  Also, it's got a naturalistic feel to it, and it really done have the feel of transferred film stock, with the grain and texture.

So I think it's really wonderful to see SLIDERS both with this new S1 up-res job, and also the original up-res job, which had some great strengths in the close up shots and it gave a different sort of feel with the smoothness.   On balance, the new one is probably better treatment for s1 for wide distribution.  But I love that we've gotten to see both approaches.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

Well, both upscaling efforts had two very different goals. Originally, the hope was that SLIDERS could be upscaled to look like a good quality 720p digital video format. The results for the pilot and Seasons 2 - 5 were very good. The results for Season 1's post-pilot episodes were rather muddy and below the standard of the rest.

The second attempt at upscaling Season 1 was not to make it look like HD digital, but instead to aim for the quality of the Season 2- 5 episodes on the Turbine blu-ray set. Those look like high quality standard definition digital videotape versions of a film image (detailed, high levels of film grain). And because it's a lower bar, I aimed for 1080p so that any scaling would be within the video file itself and not dependent on the TV like the 720p upscales.

A new film scan of the PIlot episode would not look very different from the upscale. The Universal DVD version of the Pilot is so crisp and clear even in standard definition that I am starting to wonder if maybe this one episode, as a pilot to sell the series, was actually edited on film. It is a very detailed film image, significantly sharper in all areas than any Season 2 - 5 episode. It's hard to see it in the original SD file and among other SD SLIDERS episodes, but under the Topaz magnifying glass, the Pilot seems to have far more visual clarity and detail than the episodes that followed.

A rescan of Seasons 4 - 5 would also not look too different from upscaled versions of those episodes because those episodes, shot on 16mm film, had most of the film grain detail preserved in being downscaled to digital videotape.

Seasons 2 - 3 would see a significant improvement from a film scan. Scaling 35mm film to 540 line digital videotape will blur and flatten the image and AI upscaling can only approximate the detail to rebuild it for HD and there will be a bit of fuzziness to indicate that it's an upscale and not true HD.

Season 1's post pilot episodes, however, would see the greatest leap forward because the videotape image is so blurry, fuzzy and desaturated. Even after the Topaz deblurring and bicubic scaling, the post pilot episodes have a faint fuzziness that's dependent on a film grain effect to offset that lack of crisp definition.

Re: Sliders DVD Releases (Universal, Mill Creek, SD blu-ray)

ireactions wrote:

Well, both upscaling efforts had two very different goals. Originally, the hope was that SLIDERS could be upscaled to look like a good quality 720p digital video format. The results for the pilot and Seasons 2 - 5 were very good. The results for Season 1's post-pilot episodes were rather muddy and below the standard of the rest.

The second attempt at upscaling Season 1 was not to make it look like HD digital, but instead to aim for the quality of the Season 2- 5 episodes on the Turbine blu-ray set. Those look like high quality standard definition digital videotape versions of a film image (detailed, high levels of film grain). And because it's a lower bar, I aimed for 1080p so that any scaling would be within the video file itself and not dependent on the TV like the 720p upscales.

A new film scan of the PIlot episode would not look very different from the upscale. The Universal DVD version of the Pilot is so crisp and clear even in standard definition that I am starting to wonder if maybe this one episode, as a pilot to sell the series, was actually edited on film. It is a very detailed film image, significantly sharper in all areas than any Season 2 - 5 episode. It's hard to see it in the original SD file and among other SD SLIDERS episodes, but under the Topaz magnifying glass, the Pilot seems to have far more visual clarity and detail than the episodes that followed.

A rescan of Seasons 4 - 5 would also not look too different from upscaled versions of those episodes because those episodes, shot on 16mm film, had most of the film grain detail preserved in being downscaled to digital videotape.

Seasons 2 - 3 would see a significant improvement from a film scan. Scaling 35mm film to 540 line digital videotape will blur and flatten the image and AI upscaling can only approximate the detail to rebuild it for HD and there will be a bit of fuzziness to indicate that it's an upscale and not true HD.

Season 1's post pilot episodes, however, would see the greatest leap forward because the videotape image is so blurry, fuzzy and desaturated. Even after the Topaz deblurring and bicubic scaling, the post pilot episodes have a faint fuzziness that's dependent on a film grain effect to offset that lack of crisp definition.

It would be interesting to try to find out from the editor of the pilot (if they are still alive) whether the pilot was truly edited on film or video tape.  I might have to do some googling.