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Thread: Genesis real vs. Kega Fusion comparison

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    Default Genesis real vs. Kega Fusion comparison

    While watching a video of Thunder Force III tonight I noticed that the colors seemed more vibrant or eye-catching than I was used to seeing. In the description of the video the uploader (Ace9921) says that he's captured it off an s-video modded Genesis, non-TMSS model that says "High Definition Graphics" at the top. My point in making this comparison however is to show the differences that original hardware seem to show versus emulation, rather than how it is modded.

    I just want to do a few quick comparisons to demonstrate something. I used the latest version of Fusion (3.64), and most of the screengrabs were taken from Ace's video at 720p with the video set to expand in size.

    In this shot you can see the SEGA logo as it is on the old hardware versus the emulation:



    While some may prefer the sharpness of the pixels in the right image, I just want to point out how the colors are blended in a smoother fashion in the left pic.

    (see the diagonal shading of the letters? It looks fine in its perfectly-clear emulated version, but the older hardware shows more blending, so that there is actually more color on screen. If you compare each up close in an image editor there are more shades of blue and white in the left image, and if you save just one or the other as an uncompressed file, such as .png, the right image is smaller because it requires less data to store the colors).

    Here is another, this time of the title screen (you may want to maximize your browser to enlarge the images):



    Again, some may prefer the latter, with its sharpness and clarity, however I am not trying to say one is better than the other, but rather point out the differences. I notice for instance that the glass on the ship looks smoother, more like glass, more rounded. The red parts of the ship on either side are also better shaded (the TV output gives the illusion of this, even though the hardware is pushing out the same thing as seen in the emulator).

    Other things may be more a matter of opinion, but to me the stars don't look as good when they are perfectly sharp. Now you see they are only a few pixels, but if you examine this image closely in an image editor they are more like 15-30 pixels.

    Here is another example:



    Note that the color blending produces a more spherical object. Also the fiery planet looks more orange and saturated, although this is perhaps due to Ace's recording requipment or TV settings.

    Whatever the case, I think the artistic effect of the fire looks more real, or better overall, than the one on the right, which looks splotchy. I am aware however that if you sit back from your screen a bit your eyes may do some of the blending effects naturally even with good vision.

    As a point of comparison, check out the second half of this video, where an artist is painting a dragon:



    At the 5:23 mark he says he wants to soften the chalky areas. And elsewhere it shows him softening parts of the image, or blending colors together. This gives it a more lifelike, three-dimensional look, so that the scales look soft to the touch, perhaps even cool in temp.

    Some emulators have filters which try to emulate some of the effects of TVs and wires, such as Blargg's NTSC filters in Fusion, which is also found in Nestopia. In this one,



    ... you can see that the right image does have some decent blending going on, but it is not as strong as the left image. In ZSNES, however, Blargg's filter has options for all sorts of levels to set and you can change it quite dramatically.

    Finally, some gameplay:



    (to view this last image in full, click here: http://img526.imageshack.us/img526/5...derforceii.png. It may be cut off by the borders of this message board. To view the rest as an album, click here: http://imageshack.us/g/526/acefusionthunderforceii.png/ )

    Again, back to the regular output of Fusion (set to normal, non-brightened, etc). The right image looks pleasant enough, but the blending of everything is preferable on the left, particularly the explosion effects which look rounder and more three-dimensional. It is like this basic drawing example many people are familiar with:

    http://www.discover-how-to-draw.com/...h-shading.html

    The final images always encompass a certain amount of smearing, which is why pencil or charcoal is used, along with thick paper.

    I also took some pictures of Thunder Force III on my TV, which is LCD, but they turned out poor. The effect looked vaguely like emulation, however, even though I'm using composite output and Ace was using s-video. I don't know how that works exactly, but certainly on a CRT there is more blending, I think, even with RGB.

    Another effect I forgot to mention, but is prevalent in the last image, and better visible in motion, is the after-glow of the lasers. In emulation when a picture disapears there is no noticeable effect of this kind.

    I am not sure how much of this can be simulated in computer programs, but it would be nice if the real effects of CRT televisions, or this old hardware, can be better achieved in the future. Most emulator authors are trying to imitate the game console hardware only, and leave the projection of its contents (what you actually see and hear) up to your display device. This may be for the better of course, but I thought I'd make a thread anyway.

    Matt


    P.S. Chris Covell has an excellent comparison of RGB, composite, emulator, etc., on his website, but in particular look at this page and scroll down to the Blaster Master section:

    http://www.chrismcovell.com/gotRGB/rgb_compare.html

    He wrote, "Sunsoft's artists really knew what they were doing on the Famicom. They blended their colours and used dithering methods that suited NTSC composite perfectly, creating lifelike, earthy tones that just might look better than RGB..."
    Last edited by stalepie; 04-28-2012 at 03:34 AM.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) tomaitheous's Avatar
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    There are a number of problems with your comparisons.

    One, you're using an s-video modded Genesis, on a youtube video no doubt. I mean, there's just so many things wrong there (a number of stages/changes, scaling, filters, encoder modifications, decoder modifications, etc).

    Second, you're using a capture card video to represent the REAL system. There are a lot of things wrong just right there. Capture card software implements all sorts of filtering that you would never see or experience on the real system on an intended SD CRT. Noise reduction filters add horizontal and vertical blurring. Deinterlacing algorithms also soften the pic. Chroma blurring, Chroma boosting. Etc. Capture cards are made for capturing video (TV, OVA, VCR, etc) as their primary target. None of them, that I've ever seen, were made for accurately capturing and reproducing classic game system video. And lastly, most capture cards today employ MPEG still frame compression at minimum before transferring to the PC. So it's impossible to get 'raw' real capture (non encoded) video from the capture card.

    So using that to represent what a 'real' system looks like is absurd. I have a capture card (BT chipset) that's PCI that can still capture in RAW format. I keep XP on a dual boot option just for this functionality. With virtualdub and BTweaker, I'm able to disable the on chip functions (and driver functions) that add such filtering to the captured signal. Capture the video as 480i and using a proper plugin to separate the fields back into frames for 240p60 without blending or interpolation. If you want to talk about real system VS emulation, this is where you need to start. And you still need a CRT emulation program to simulate the correct scanline gap and 'bloom' etc. Otherwise, it doesn't mean anything.

    That said, my real Genesis hooked up via composite (because the Genesis didn't have s-video out) to my 20" SDTV set, looks very much like the Blarggs filter in Fusion. With the exception of Blarggs filter being slighly sharper. But not all Genesis have the same video encoder chip, so sharpness will vary.
    Tom: That third elephant is so elusive, ya know.
    NFG: Elephants are so unpredictable.
    Tom: Especially in groups of three.
    NFG: Two pairs of three, no less.

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    Well, to my eyes the recording of the original hardware looked close to what I've seen using the system on various TVs and showed the blending effects I'm used to. I've seen this same effect in other videos of original hardware (whether capture card, VCR, or shot with a camera). As I said, I just wanted to use this as a quick comparison and reminder of the differences here.

    The effects are also there in Classic Game Room's video, or probably any number of videos of this game, but I thought Ace's had unusually high quality.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) tomaitheous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stalepie View Post
    Well, to my eyes the recording of the original hardware looked close to what I've seen using the system on various TVs and showed the blending effects I'm used to. I've seen this same effect in other videos of original hardware (whether capture card, VCR, or shot with a camera). As I said, I just wanted to use this as a quick comparison and reminder of the differences here.

    The effects are also there in Classic Game Room's video, or probably any number of videos of this game, but I thought Ace's had unusually high quality.
    That pic in this post from Ace's capture is waaay too soft. Way softer than the real system. The real system is a little blurry, but it's not a soft smooth blur like that. It's more gritty, if I could use such a textural word: blur with grit and other dirty artifact.
    Tom: That third elephant is so elusive, ya know.
    NFG: Elephants are so unpredictable.
    Tom: Especially in groups of three.
    NFG: Two pairs of three, no less.

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    Here are a couple of other examples:





    You'll note that with both emulators for Bucky O'Hare some of the color is missing -- the purple pixels in the planets, for instance.

    The effects of blending is more obvious on the Genesis, giving a more painterly image, I think. The magic spheres look rounded, the leaves look better blended together (more natural), etc.

    In this image I have added blur to the Kega Fusion shot in the last pic in order to give some of the same effect:



    Sometimes emulators offer blurring filters as part of the package, although I rarely like the output. I'm not sure the differences are substantial enough for it to matter, and Tomaitheous has me questioning the comparison altogether, so sorry if this thread was a waste of time.
    Last edited by stalepie; 04-28-2012 at 05:56 AM.

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    Here is the Fusion shot with Blargg's NTSC filter applied, and then the "soften," "blur" and "sharpen edges" commands applied in PhotoFiltre to give a close approximation to the YouTube image:

    Last edited by stalepie; 04-28-2012 at 06:15 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomaitheous View Post
    That pic in this post from Ace's capture is waaay too soft. Way softer than the real system. The real system is a little blurry, but it's not a soft smooth blur like that. It's more gritty, if I could use such a textural word: blur with grit and other dirty artifact.
    Here's a better example using Thunder Force II MD on that same console (direct snapshot from my capture software's preview window):



    It's strange, though... I don't remember the video being this soft. Then again, my capture equipment doesn't like the Master System or Genesis very much. Using Composite straight from the console results in this mess (this is from a Nomad, but every Genesis and Master System I own does this save for my European MegaDrive, but that has another issue where the video has no horizontal sync):



    Absolutely disgusting. The only way around this is to pass the video from the Genesis and Master System through my DVD recorder, which prevents this mess, but makes the picture a whole lot blurrier. I wouldn't be surprised if my capture device tries to soften the image, which I think it does as I don't have the sharpness turned all the way up like it is on my TV (S-Video on the Genesis looks sharper than this). I'll get a better screenshot for you later today.

    I will point this out, though: if you use RGB on the Genesis, the video will look identical to Kega except for some systems having vertical lines on anything blue (Genesis Model 1s, in particular).

    Also, Stalepie, keep in mind that video captured through capture devices will usually be blurrier than emulators and even blurrier than how you see the video on your TV. It's especially noticeable when your capture devices records at a low resolution such as my first capture device (the one I'm using now records video at native NTSC resolution).
    Last edited by Ace; 04-28-2012 at 09:16 AM.

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    Insert Coin (Level 0) Pr3tty F1y's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stalepie View Post
    You'll note that with both emulators for Bucky O'Hare some of the color is missing -- the purple pixels in the planets, for instance.
    The color is not missing.

    The "purple pixels" do not exist. They are artifacts of either signal quality, video capture, video compression, or a combination, there in.
    Last edited by Pr3tty F1y; 04-28-2012 at 11:50 AM.

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    I've played Genesis games Emulated and on real Hardware in Composite and in RGB, and I like on real Hardware in RGB the best. It Gives a nice crisp picture that i like. But that's just me.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) tomaitheous's Avatar
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    You'll note that with both emulators for Bucky O'Hare some of the color is missing -- the purple pixels in the planets, for instance.
    The NES thing is completely different issue. You're looking at RGB NES output vs Y/C output. The NES never had RGB output (only the PC-10 and famicom sharp PC IIRC). The PPU in the NES natively uses a different color scheme and the colors looks different due to the being in a different color space. Plus, you have adjustments and bias for hue, saturation, R-y B-y G-y gains (per gain), etc. And it differs per TV set and per capture card as well.

    Here's a shot of the same screen in Nestopia with Blarggs Composite filter and options:


    Of course you can adjust all sorts of settings in Nestopia for the signal emulation (composite artifacts, gains, fringing, dot crawl, element biasing, hue, saturation,etc).


    Ace: Here's a capture from my model 1 (I forget which revision)...

    All filters are disabled, including the notch filter (this is auto-disabled on my card when s-video is used for capturing too).

    Here's the same shot but with a horizontal (only) low pass filter applied to get rid of the dot crawl:


    The Chroma interference into the Luma channel is seen as straight vertical lines because the Genesis uses a cheap composite encoder (it doesn't alternate the color burst phase).
    Tom: That third elephant is so elusive, ya know.
    NFG: Elephants are so unpredictable.
    Tom: Especially in groups of three.
    NFG: Two pairs of three, no less.

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