Av stuff - digital artefacts

Posted by: Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus on 27 July 2004

guys, the inability of my harware to render a smooth image of certain images such as the misty scenes, or smoke.
I think it's known as 'gradation'.
Is this effect improved by the high end DVD players?
I have a panasonic plasma 42 inch and a Panny HD / DVD recorder and NTL digi.
thanks for any info.
Posted on: 27 July 2004 by reductionist
Probably a mixture of Plasma and MPEG artefacts.

Better display will solve the first and an improved DVD player can lessen the latter but don't think that improved means expensive. The large players (Sony, Samsung etc.) can invest vast sums of cash into this stuff and since it is largely in the digital domain they can implement there research cost effectively.
Posted on: 27 July 2004 by Mike Hanson
Some upscale players support Resizing and upsampling, but the hope is that the player can do this to the native resolution of your plasma screen. Most cannot.

If you're really interested in getting the most from your screen, you're going to have to use a Home Theater PC (HTPC). I'll warn you, though, that it's a job only for those who love tinkering. I do not! I started down this road a year-and-a-half ago, and I'm still fiddling, trying to get everything right. Others on the same quest think it's a wonderful hobby, but it drives me bonkers.

Sadly, you can't just copy someone else's methods/configuration, because every combination of DVD source, HTPC hardware, HTPC software, and screen (be it CRTV, RPTV, DLP, LCD or Plasma) produces entirely difference results. (It's kind of like speakers working differently in every room.) Also, you sound like you're focused on natural vs. jaggie realism with effects like fog, whereas many HTPC buffs are more driven by exquisite reproduction of inner details.

Fortunately, there are many people offering help (e.g. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=26 just like here on the Naim forum. Unfortunately, the help doesn't always make any difference in your dilemma.

Ultimately, the quality from a HTPC will be much better. In my case, I'm using a 65" Toshiba RPTV, and I'm quite pleased with the result (although I'm about to go through another round of tweaking with the release of some optimized software, and I need to get the rest of the remote control stuff working, and it doesn't really do "tivo" yet). If you've got the inclination, the technical alacrity, and lots of time, then the results can be worthwhile. Don't do it, though, unless you're sure you're willing to do this. (See any of James' speaker threads to get a feeling for what's involved.)

Oh yes, and it's also very expensive, even when compared to a high-end DVD player. For example, my HTPC cost perhaps half as much as Naim's DVD player, but results are inevitably superior (merely due to the customizability of resizing, etc.). However, if I had known how much time and money it would have been before I was started, I would have bought a DVD player instead, because (IMO) the difference in quality is not worth the agony of tweaking.

-=> Mike Hanson <=-
Posted on: 27 July 2004 by Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus
thanks guys,
well, the screen was a rash, one off. I will not be replacing that in a hurry so I guess I am after getting the most from it.
tbh I have noticed the effect on other screens: CRT computer screens and televisions, so I'm thinking it is an inescapable MPEG artefact, it's just unfortunate that I pick up ont it, it just seems to destroy any sense of suspended belief.
I do like the idea of using a pc tho - so thanks for the link Mike - you don't do things by halves do you? Wink
Posted on: 27 July 2004 by Mike Hanson
Originally posted by Cletus Awreetus-I have noticed the effect on other screens: CRT computer screens and televisions, so I'm thinking it is an inescapable MPEG artefact, it's just unfortunate that I pick up ont it, it just seems to destroy any sense of suspended belief.

You've probably not seen playback from a properly configured HTPC+Display combo. With that, you can truly get "Movie Theater" quality. If you're just not happy with what you see, then an HTPC may present a good solution for you.
I do like the idea of using a pc tho - so thanks for the link Mike - you don't do things by halves do you? Wink

Sadly, no. It makes my life far more complicated that I would like it to be. My wife often goads me by calling me "The Emperor", due to my consistently extreme expectations. Some days I wish I could be ignorantly blissful.

-=> Mike Hanson <=-
Posted on: 23 November 2004 by Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus
by way of an update for anyone interested:
Had a disaster with panny HDD recorder so thats off to the repair shop ( another story )
In the meantime fancied watching ALIEN dvd.
Rather than drag up my old pioneer from the playroom I plugged my laptop into the vga socket and ran it from there.
Well, damned if it didn't get rid of almost all of the 'banding'/'posterisation' and after a few tweaks of the software dvd player (power DVD 5) it looked pretty darn gorgeous.
Something to do with the scart re-processing the signal whereas the VGA doesnt have to I think.
Anyway, i'm off down the HTPC road for now.
P.S if the mods want to move this to it's proper new home, please feel free.
Posted on: 23 November 2004 by garyi
Our first DVD was some no name jobby that came with 6 free films, the banding was very bad.

A later update to a reasonable JVC got rid of most of this except in real low light filming.

I have an old Pioneer jobby now which is excellent.
Posted on: 25 November 2004 by Geoff P

I'll stick it in here aswell as on another thread. The following is a photo of my 2 & 1/2 year old Panasonic 42" plasma showing a "COMPONENT out" image off a Denon 2900 DVD player (that also supports DVD-A & SACD).

I hardly ever see the effect you are describing except occasionally on "digtal" images in films (The Matrix series for example, especially the last one). I reckon the computer generation process which created the so called original "images" can be to blame. In the LOTR films there is no problem.

BTW there is a slight banding effect visible which is NOT seen with the eye . It is a result of the camera shutter speed combined with progressive scan rate of the picture.

"Just trying to make a NAIM for myself"
Posted on: 25 November 2004 by SimonJ
Hi Paul,

What generation of Panasonic Plasma is it?

If yours is a generation 6, as mine is, and is the model without the speakers, mine's a TH42PWD6, then the Plasma can take multiple input boards in the back of it. You will see on the 42" ones they have the option of upto 3 boards. If you have the optional offboard tuner, the card for that nobbles all the slots and at the same time provides a lesser quality input than having the non tuner options. These options are direct SCART RGB, progressive scan component and digital DVI. I use the progressive scan component input with my Panasonic DVD/HDD recorder, but I also bought a DVI card for when I buy a suitably equiped DVI/HDMI DVD player. If you use a TH42PWD6 via a DVI card you can get a 768p (progressive, which is non-interlaced) picture is awsome when fed with a suitable player - plug NAIM DVD5!

I know it's not the full 1080p that some screen will do and some people talk about, but since a DVD only has 500-600 lines odd native, it is good enough for now. A useful link to board information here :- http://www.av-sales.com/plasma/html/pan_6th_gen_boards.html

If you are currently using SCART only, then make sure it is set to RGB. Even better than that see if you can use component (3 x phono type leads) or component progressive (same but non-interlaced) or best is DVI/HDMI.

Hope this helps and doesn't just make things more misty!!
Posted on: 26 November 2004 by Geoff P
Well, first of all, you mustn't expect a picture even as good as a simple 4:3 "old school TV" on a Plasma. Especially not in dark scenes.


What do you think I published that picture for. I can assure you that at normal viewing distance I have a 42" picture that is far better than I get off my 4:3 TV.

Pasmas ARE capable of portraying blacks quite convincingly and scenes with milky effects such as the fog you suggested are dealt with fine aswell.

Maybe there are some cheap plasmas that are not as good but if you go for the products from the likes of Panasonic, Pioneer, Fujitsu and so on they are capable of showing cinematic pictures when provided with a quality component signal off DVD.

They are also not too shabby on straight forward TV signals as delivered from even a VCR tuner which look quite effective in progressive scan.


"Just trying to make a NAIM for myself"
Posted on: 26 November 2004 by JonR
Watch it Geoff - he's getting to you again...!


Posted on: 26 November 2004 by SimonJ
"old school TV"

Absolute tosh!!

I replaced my 4 year old Panasonic 32" 100Hz Widescreen TV with a 42" Panasonic Gen 6 plasma. The picture blows the CRT away. There is no smearing even on fast action films.

It's comments like this that put me off getting a Plasma for so long. I bought one in the end, am very happy, and will never look back!

Yes, I think early Plasma's did have their problems. Pixels not updating fast enough so they looked smeary, poor contrast ratios and talk of screen burn.

I think today’s plasmas are very good. Fast pixel response, high contrast ratios o watch in normal conditions and screen burn has all but gone away.

If you want a plasma, and you want to buy a descent make one, Pioneer, Fujitsu, Panasonic etc., buy one, you will not be disappointed...

Some people will be early adopters, some people will be slightly sceptic and some people will always complain about new stuff.

I think Plasmas have now been around long enough to have ironed out most problems and you should not get problems unless you by a crud one or it is setup wrong.
Posted on: 26 November 2004 by Steve2701
Well, first of all, you mustn't expect a picture even as good as a simple 4:3 "old school TV" on a Plasma. Especially not in dark scenes

Total, complete & utter rubbish as has already been said.

How have you come by this piece of eronious information Alex? With your own eyes or is it something that you have heard 'them' say?

Sitting here having watched Sky digital for an hour & now watching Star Wars I.

No banding, No shading, and deep dark blacks.

Infinitely better on this 42" PW6 pannie than on my old and done in 28" Sony CRT. Sat in the same spot as I always have.

Paul.. have you got your Digi box & HDD set up to enable RGB output? (wasnt easy on the HDD... so many sub menus) Good leads help as well.
Still watching the DVD via my hdd (no dvd yet :-( )& to be honest, it is very, very good.
Posted on: 26 November 2004 by Geoff P
This from Alex on Dave simpson's "Recommendations wanted.." thread

AlexB posted Thu 25 November 04 16:08
I have no experience myself as I am not whealthy enough and prefer other screen types, but I have heard that Panasonic make good Plasmas. I don't know any prices, but a HD Plasma might be worth considering as it might help fight some of the typical Plasma "bugs". Might help lift the picture quality a notch, especially if it has a good built in scaler.
But I'm not sure...just heard Panasonic were quite good

This from Alex about 6 hours later on this thread

AlexB posted Thu 25 November 04 22:30
Well, first of all, you mustn't expect a picture even as good as a simple 4:3 "old school TV" on a Plasma. Especially not in dark scenes.
Scenes with fog often times actually create problems in the source too, so this would not only be your Plasma. But as you want to keep your Plasma, which from an asthetic view is understandable, you will probably want to make the best of it.

Come on Alex you have got to be kidding!!!!!.

Either you are the dumbest poster we have or you are as usual being confrontational on purpose and misleading people in the process, which is objectionable to say the least.


"Just trying to make a NAIM for myself"
Posted on: 26 November 2004 by JonR
Oh dear....

Old habits die hard, as they say.........

Roll Eyes

Posted on: 26 November 2004 by Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus
Well, this was a slow burner. Thank you for all your thoughts and opinions.
First to Geoff: Geoff I think you have the advantage of component inputs - I don't really understand the terminology or the technology but by popular consensus component I/O is preferred above all other options. Maybe that is something I should investigate.

Alex, you are right about a couple of things. My old Panasonic AV24 (jeez, brand man or what!) 4:3 was lovely, but too small! I now sit 5-6 meters away. Mind you channel 5 films often looked like low res videos even on that.

Simon, yes we have the same screens – I do make the occasional bad purchasing decision, but this was not one of them. I think the Panny 42 plasma is an amazing piece of kit and 90% of the time I am not only happy with it but, like my naim hi-fi, it delights and surprises.
I bought two scart boards to supplement the basic VGA connection thinking they would be most in demand. I toyed with the component but thought at the time I would never be ‘that into it’ <sigh>
But I say again – the VGA really does look good indeed. Okay the sound is crappy and the laptop makes a roaring racket but that can be overcome. What is important to me is that, as with music, you need to forget the mechanics and get the ‘message’.
Having said that I am intrigued to hear of your DVI board purchase. Mike gave me the link to www.avsforum.com and it really should be compulsory reading for anyone venturing into buying a plasma, let alone home cinema. I was having some wild fantasies about doing exactly what you have been brave enough to do – buy the DVI board, and then possibly the recent Denon 1910 I think, with similar technology to the forthcoming DVD5 . (I’m sure the Naim player will be a different beast)
But after a lot of googling I could not get any firm info on the effectiveness of this setup. Please do publish your findings; I sincerely hope it will be a great success.

Above all I am now enjoying films and feel no pressure to change, but…..

A few more thoughts:

I don’t understand 480p 780p 1080p – is this some kind of resolution – I get 800 x 600, 1024 x 768 etc, is this the same thing? AV sales wouldn’t sell me the DVI board separately so this would require some hunting around.

Lastly, anyone looking for a really good Plasma, the latest Pioneers really do have something special, for a bit more money.

happy viewing

Posted on: 27 November 2004 by SimonJ
Hi Paul,

Although I have bought the DVI board I have nothing to plug into it, yet!! I bought it as I think each generation has different boards and I didn't want to find out later on that I could no longer get one. I will post my thoughts if/when I get a suitable source.

I think the Panasonic DVI board is a bit funny on what resolutions and frequencies (60Hz for NTSC and 50Hz for PAL) combinations it can actually accept so it may not be the greatest DVI board. I think it can handle up to 780p for NTSC and 576p for PAL, but not the full High Definition 1080p. Since the screen only has 480 lines I don't think it really matters too much. Some other plasmas have a higher number of lines and inputs that support 1080p, but don't get caught up in the numbers, at the end of the day it's how the picture looks to you.

480p 576p 780p 1080i is the number of vertical screen lines and if it is interlaced or progressive. Progressive means all the lines are drawn in one pass of the screen and interlaced means the screen is filled in two passes. One pass doing half the line, maybe the odds etc and then the second pass doing the evens. Interlaced pictures are more flickery.

I reckon your mist and smoke problem is down to the actual DVD disk and maybe poor encoding, does it do it on all DVD's with suitable scenes to show it up or is it just some?!