541 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2022-12-27 11:42:49)

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

All interesting observations.

As it happens, just a few days ago, I had a dream in which I was taking in an upscale of SLIDERS and Season 1 was looking great.

I continue to believe that the technology will continuously improve until we can get a better approximation of how Season 1 looked when it was shot on film.

I have lost all hope that SLIDERS audience is big enough to justify a re-scan of the negative and re-edit (through automatic, imagine-matching means) because even at a very low cost at $15k per episode, the market is just not there with SLIDERS fans.  Yes, there is passion around it but so many fans are not attached to the series the way we all are here.  The type of people who would shell out $50 to $100 for an s1 blu-ray are limited in number.  Five years ago we had a better chance but every year, people care less and less.  For those who would, I feel like we have a much deeper relationship with the show and characters, in a way that connects us to a feeling we get from it, that was built into us 25 years ago.

If I ever came into money (which I won't, but if I did...) I would consider partnering with a blu-ray company myself, pay for a license to re-release it on blu-ray and do a new scan through that means.  I guess we could always keep pushing Turbine, to push Universal.   I just don't think Turbine could sell enough units to cover the costs in any case.

Now if Universal valued the old show, and wanted to bring it back with the older characters, maybe they'd consider it but not now.  Peacock at this point is a giant failure of a business.   They are not going to be able to do many originals and rely on premium subscription revenue.  There's only so many streaming platforms people are willing to subscribe to and Peacock is like in 4th or 5th place.

Regarding Topaz, I continue to also wonder about if the Gaia algorithm would yield better results for some of the content.   I also, if I ever get into time (to not have to constantly deal with economic worry), will one day try to embark on a project to edit these things from different material.  With the Wide Shots using a difference algorithm / source than the close ups.   Although, I think the  water color wideshots are pretty tolerable at living room distance.     I guess I'm at a point where I feel like the closer we can bring SLIDERS back to looking "new" and crisp, the closer we are to having it back again, as if it were fully in our lives the way it was 25 years ago.   I know for me, it is definitely a series that gave me so much comfort when it aired... it was an escape, it was great characters that worked together to get out  of the situations they were in as a team, it tapped into the possibilities of how our world could look, it had the young physics student that felt a little bit like us, it had the wise, at times sardonic, professor who brought elder, leader feel but had his own imperfections. 

I don't know, but I definitely dream of us getting one day a true HD version of this great show, particularly the early material.   Already, the samples of the past topaz work has allowed me to re-live the series again, see it "new", see it not as a fuzzy, dated memory, but to re-witness it again.   It has helped me profoundly enjoy the series in a way I otherwise would not have.  When we first watched this series, on our 4:3 tube tvs, it looked great.   There was no compression, the colors were there, and those tvs were a lot more forgiving.  It's helped bring it back to that experience.  That's part of the challenge as well now.  Our newer TVs are bigger pictures, more lines of resolution, etc etc.  And we're dealing with a poorly archived S1 and to a similar but lesser degree S2.

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

Well, I wonder, with Season 1: what if the solution is to aim for 480p instead of aiming for 720p or 1080p or 4K?

I have recently been upscaling a 2000s TV show called 15/LOVE which is another shot on film, edited on digital videotape product. The low budget videotape is not really adequate for a 720p upscale and it looks like a slightly below average DVD. I found that when aiming for 480p only and just using Topaz to sharpen up the details and add film grain, it went to excellent DVD quality, but aiming higher than that would have caused too much warping as the AI didn't have enough film grain to enhance. Could high quality DVD level video be achievable with the Season 1 episodes?

I personally don't see the point of making Seasons 2 - 5 look HD if Season 1 is only ever going to be SD; I'd say identify the best that can be done with Season 1 and then ensure Seasons 2 - 5 match that. No one needs to see a pristine rendering of the radioactive worm in Season 3 while only getting a fuzzy rendering of Quinn and Wade's first date.

543 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2022-12-27 17:43:49)

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

ireactions wrote:

Well, I wonder, with Season 1: what if the solution is to aim for 480p instead of aiming for 720p or 1080p or 4K?

I have recently been upscaling a 2000s TV show called 15/LOVE which is another shot on film, edited on digital videotape product. The low budget videotape is not really adequate for a 720p upscale and it looks like a slightly below average DVD. I found that when aiming for 480p only and just using Topaz to sharpen up the details and add film grain, it went to excellent DVD quality, but aiming higher than that would have caused too much warping as the AI didn't have enough film grain to enhance. Could high quality DVD level video be achievable with the Season 1 episodes?

I personally don't see the point of making Seasons 2 - 5 look HD if Season 1 is only ever going to be SD; I'd say identify the best that can be done with Season 1 and then ensure Seasons 2 - 5 match that. No one needs to see a pristine rendering of the radioactive worm in Season 3 while only getting a fuzzy rendering of Quinn and Wade's first date.

A high quality DVD would be lovely for season 1.  I agree it is a perverse idea to strive for an HD like S3 while also having a far inferior s1 on hand. 

Although, I believe the samples as we have for s1, with some adjustments to color/contrast and when watching from afar, are certainly an order of magnitude or two better than the universal dvd and give me great pleasure.

The close up shots as well are certainly like a good dvd.   This is where we get the biggest gains, and that is a non-trivial achievement.  Some of the smoothing is a bit much yea, but at least it is clean, sharper, more alive, more realistic.

For me, the biggest issue with the season 1 in the dvd releases has been a combination of non-vibrant (faded) colors, fuzzy, blotchyness to the edges/lines (any text on screen makes this particularly obvious), and too much of a darker look (which makes me feel like I am watching a poorly preserved film from the 70s).   

I don't recall where our conversations netted out earlier in the year, but I seem to recall talk that the Universal dvd actually was  better for s1 than turbine (perhaps maybe just in my opinion, or maybe we both agreed), and the  pilot itself as well.  Maybe I am misremembering.    I do also recall perhaps thinking S2 was better for Turbine than Universal, but still not looking quite the way we'd like it.

I also recall that the frame rate created a movement/ghost affect with the PAL format.  I am sure different tvs and dvd players that we are outputing on all play a role in the ultimate quality.

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

The Universal DVD for Season 1, Episodes 2 - 9 is blurry, smeared and dull and half of the episodes have interlacing issues meaning there are jagged edges on any straight lines. Turbine's blu-ray files for these episodes are even blurrier and more desaturated, but the interlacing has been cleaned up. It looks to me like Episodes 2 - 9 were stored on low-res analog videotape and stretched to the slightly higher resolution of PAL.

Since Turbine uses the PAL masters, those Season 1 episodes have poorer video quality. However, it looks like Turbine's version is interlaced correctly and doesn't have the jagged lines. It looks to me like Universal's home video department misidentified the even and odd fields when authoring their DVDs while Turbine got it right.

I'm going to run an upscale on "As Time Goes By", "Season's Greedings" and "New Gods for Old" just to see if Turbine files gain anything from upscaling files that range from good to really good, and then I'll see if "Summer of Love" turns out well if aiming for the lower hanging target of a good 480p upscale.

I think the ghosting you describe is because your player is American and can't handle the European PAL format correctly. I've copied the blu-ray files to MKV and that distortion is not in the raw files. There isn't ghosting on mine, but I think I just lucked out that this discounted blu-ray player I bought from a refurbished-tech store could adjust for different framerates.

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

I've put the Turbine files for "As Time Goes By", "Season's Greedings" and "New Gods for Old" in the Topaz queue, set to output at 720p so that we can find out by tomorrow night if Topaz can make these files any better or if the results will be about the same as a TV upscaling SD content with image filters to deblock and sharpen and add contrast.

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

"As Time Goes By" finished. I can report that the AI-upscaled Turbine file looks astonishingly good and well beyond on-the-fly filters for SD upscaling. Topaz has resolved the mild fuzziness and transformed all of the blockiness in the Turbine file into crisp, crystalline detail. Also, the new grain effect prevents the waxy look of earlier upscales.

Turbine has added film grain texture to offset the waxy effect of my previous upscales. I was really impressed by how the Pilot episode, being shot and edited on film, could be AI-restored to 1080p and its original film look thanks to Topaz's new film grain feature. This 720p version of "As Time Goes By" looks as crisp as the film-look of the restored Pilot, although I did have to up the grain layer by 25 percent. I don't think a 1080p upscale would quite as sharp, however, as "As Time Goes By" was shot on film but transferred to 1996-era 540 line videotape.

The AI upscale definitely looks better than the Turbine version on an upscaling TV. The small, blocky texture on the the Turbine image looked nice at living room distance; it looked like film grain. However, the AI has converted that into sharper detail and texture: the grainy approximation of texture has become actual texture for dirt on the ground, for the actors' skin. It captures the sharpness of HD quality at edges, although it still doesn't have the fine detail of a true HD image. The wide shots still have a bit of telltale AI-imprecision although the grain effect has offset it so it doesn't distract. 1080p would probably make the lack detail and the wide shot issues more prominent.

Currently upscaling "Season's Greedings". I don't know if Turbine can this one better than the TV's on-the-fly upscaler, however. Season 3 seems to be using a 1997 digital videotape format for editing and effects that seems to capture even more of the original film's detail in a downscaled state.

It's truly ironic: each subsequent season of SLIDERS seemed to get crisper, sharper and more detailed even as the writing production became clumsier, shoddier and shabbier. The better SLIDERS' image quality became, the less it had to show.

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

ireactions wrote:

"As Time Goes By" finished. I can report that the AI-upscaled Turbine file looks astonishingly good and well beyond on-the-fly filters for SD upscaling. Topaz has resolved the mild fuzziness and transformed all of the blockiness in the Turbine file into crisp, crystalline detail. Also, the new grain effect prevents the waxy look of earlier upscales.

Turbine has added film grain texture to offset the waxy effect of my previous upscales. I was really impressed by how the Pilot episode, being shot and edited on film, could be AI-restored to 1080p and its original film look thanks to Topaz's new film grain feature. This 720p version of "As Time Goes By" looks as crisp as the film-look of the restored Pilot, although I did have to up the grain layer by 25 percent. I don't think a 1080p upscale would quite as sharp, however, as "As Time Goes By" was shot on film but transferred to 1996-era 540 line videotape.

The AI upscale definitely looks better than the Turbine version on an upscaling TV. The small, blocky texture on the the Turbine image looked nice at living room distance; it looked like film grain. However, the AI has converted that into sharper detail and texture: the grainy approximation of texture has become actual texture for dirt on the ground, for the actors' skin. It captures the sharpness of HD quality at edges, although it still doesn't have the fine detail of a true HD image. The wide shots still have a bit of telltale AI-imprecision although the grain effect has offset it so it doesn't distract. 1080p would probably make the lack detail and the wide shot issues more prominent.

Currently upscaling "Season's Greedings". I don't know if Turbine can this one better than the TV's on-the-fly upscaler, however. Season 3 seems to be using a 1997 digital videotape format for editing and effects that seems to capture even more of the original film's detail in a downscaled state.

It's truly ironic: each subsequent season of SLIDERS seemed to get crisper, sharper and more detailed even as the writing production became clumsier, shoddier and shabbier. The better SLIDERS' image quality became, the less it had to show.

This is great news but forgive me for misremembering....  turbine season 2 were already a part of older upscaling experiments.

I Understand the algorithms have been upgraded to add grain since those attpts but what is new about this upres vs the one earlier this year that has rendered much better results?

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

I don't recall doing more with Turbine's Season 2 beyond the second Daelin segment of "As Time Goes By", and I lost my enthusiasm for upscaling SLIDERS because if Season 1 doesn't look good, what's the point of upscaling any other episode? I also didn't work on it enough to figure out if AI upscaling was any better than on-the-fly smoothing and sharpening. However, it looks like Season 2 does upscale really well and benefits from AI upscaling and not just some non-adaptive filters.

I did attempt to upscale every Season 1 episode with Turbine at which point I realized Turbine's Season 1 video quality was actually worse than Universal's Season 1.

I'm just doing some experiments out of curiosity. I have the feeling that Topaz won't be able to do much with the Turbine versions of Seasons 3, 4 and 5 since those benefitted from advancements in digital videotape while Season 2 was using digital videotape in its earliest form.

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

ireactions wrote:

I don't recall doing more with Turbine's Season 2 beyond the second Daelin segment of "As Time Goes By", and I lost my enthusiasm for upscaling SLIDERS because if Season 1 doesn't look good, what's the point of upscaling any other episode? I also didn't work on it enough to figure out if AI upscaling was any better than on-the-fly smoothing and sharpening. However, it looks like Season 2 does upscale really well and benefits from AI upscaling and not just some non-adaptive filters.

I did attempt to upscale every Season 1 episode with Turbine at which point I realized Turbine's Season 1 video quality was actually worse than Universal's Season 1.

I'm just doing some experiments out of curiosity. I have the feeling that Topaz won't be able to do much with the Turbine versions of Seasons 3, 4 and 5 since those benefitted from advancements in digital videotape while Season 2 was using digital videotape in its earliest form.

Ok maybe I just assumed s2 was a part of that process.  I do distinctly remember turbine ironically being worse than universal for s1 and the realization s1 wasn't that compressed on the universal disc.


Another thing I recall is our conversation around episodes being shot differently and a few of them being on the darker / dimly lit side.

550 (edited by ireactions 2022-12-29 19:01:22)

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

Well, here's a comparison for "As Time Goes By: 540i Turbine on the left (stretched) and Topaz upscaling it to 720p on the right. As you can see, Topaz has given "As Time Goes By" quite the boost in visual quality, getting it closer to the original film.

https://i.ibb.co/hD8hLBK/upscale-0004-Layer-1.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/qmMJ0Lp/upscale-0003-Layer-2.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/T8SFVZ3/upscale-0002-Layer-3.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/GFYXyWy/upscale-0001-Sliders-213-As-Time-Goes-By-scale-1-34x-1-mp4-snapshot-16-14-400.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/tPSDLFH/upscale-0000-Layer-5.jpg

And the 720p version of "Season's Greedings" next to the 720x540 blu-ray version -- well, it's better, but a TV upscaler that did sharpening and smoothing wouldn't look very different. The only real difference is that Topaz AI has refined the detail rather than just upping pixel contrast.

A TV upscaler adds more jagged edges to the grass; Topaz AI actually rebuilds the grass. But from a living room standpoint, Season 3 already looked crisp and clear, and all Topaz AI does it make it look a little crisper and clearer.

540i on the left (stretched to fill the screen) and 720p on the right:

https://i.ibb.co/CH7SkdP/upscale-0003-Layer-2.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/gdSbrNC/upscale-0002-Layer-3.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/sPQrZzK/upscale-0001-Layer-4.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/Hp1FM4X/upscale-0000-Layer-5.jpg

551 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2022-12-28 20:51:44)

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

Out if curiosity do bluray or tv upscalers ever convert a 720 source to 1080 eg if you have a specific setting on?

I do recall in your old experiments you tried upscaling in multiple stages.  An uoconvert to 720 followed by 1080.  I wonder if you did it in turbine though? Maybe something to check if you haven't is converting the 720 there (say 30 seconds of it) to 1080 via artemis to see if you can turn that 5 to 10 percent gain you achieved into something more.

Or maybe as I recall doing it in stages had no better results than one stage and 1080 was more than it could handle.

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

Look at the magnificent stature of JRD on the pics of ATGB.

553 (edited by ireactions 2022-12-29 00:07:47)

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

I think everything on my TV is being stretched to 4K at 55 inches, and the TV has some grain reduction and sharpening for lower-resolution video. It's best to turn all that off for anything at 720p or higher.

I didn't find multiple passes in Topaz to be effective. And if you look at the above screenshots, I don't think there's anything more to develop. Season 2 looked good enough on Universal's DVD, had a bit more detail and film grain texture on Turbine, and after Topaz AI, Season 2 is approaching the quality of the film-based Pilot episode and Season 3 is only a few steps past it.

The original quartet was wonderfully cast and assembled. It will always baffle me that David Peckinpah looked at them and declared John had to go and Sabrina could go next. Heroin makes you stupid.

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

I see you updated your post to include As Time Goes By

Definitely gains there.  It looks like a 10 percent lift maybe 15.  I would say Seasons Greedings looked 5 to 10 from the screen shots.


It really is too bad we don't have a better source for season 1.

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

So there's a lot of information here. I'm looking into getting a boxed set of Sliders. Which has the best picture/closest to restored? I really want to see the series again looking it's best.

THANKS for the guidance in advance!
-Oracle

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

The Pilot Episode: The Universal DVDs are best, the Turbine blu-ray from Germany is bad, the Mill Creek DVD is terrible.

Remaining Season 1 Episodes: The Universal DVDs are bad, the Turbine blu-ray from Germany is very bad, the Mill Creek DVD is terrible.

Season 2: The Turbine blu-ray from Germany is very good, the Universal DVD version is good, the Mill Creek DVD is terrible.

Season 3: The Turbine blu-ray from Germany is great, the Universal DVD version is very good, the Mill Creek DVD is terrible.

Seasons 4 and 5: The Turbine blu-ray from Germany is amazing, the Universal DVD is very good, the Mill Creek DVD is bad.

Full details on Page 1 of this thread here:
https://sliders.tv/bboard/viewtopic.php?pid=2078#p2078

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

I'm watching pilot part 2 on Roku Channel which got sliders content as part of their agreement for peacock app to be distributed in the Roku app store.

The quality looks so incredibly bad.   Universal continues to sabotage the shelf life of the series by distributing lesser quality than possibly versions of the series.