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newtmonkey

General upscaler thread

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I decided to spend the weekend tweaking Framemeister settings.  I've thrown my Analogue consoles in the closet (will revisit them if they are ever updated to fix the various video issues) and replaced them with my SFC and JPN Mega Drive 2, so I had a lot to tweak.

 

Here are my notes, left here mostly for my benefit as I think only a couple of other people on these forums have/use a FM, and the FM is basically unobtainable at this point.

 

---Output Mode---

I found that I REALLY like DVI 480P output of the Framemeister for 240p consoles. It looks surprisingly sharp, yet smooth... a very pleasant look.  Setting the FM to DVI mode with NORMAL2 setting provides a 640x480 image that any modern TV will set to a perfect 4:3 aspect ratio (like it would do when you play a 4:3 DVD).

 

Using DVI provides another benefit: it allows you to select 1280x960, which is a perfect 2x scale of 640x480 for 480i/p consoles.  You can then set the FM to NORMAL2 mode for, again, a perfect 4:3 aspect ratio on any modern flatscreen.  PS2 and DC look FANTASTIC at 1280x960.

 

---Color Settings---

A good set of baseline settings that work with just some minor tweaking for every RGB capable console I tried.  Assuming that your TV is properly calibrated, you will probably only have to adjust the brightness down (but probably never up) a few notches in the worst case.

Brightness: 20

Gamma: 10

Black: 0

Sharpness: 0

 

---Scaler---

I definitely recommend sticking with GAME for 240p/480p and VIDEO for 480i.  You can tweak the H and V values for a hair more sharpness, but I found it to cause artifacts in some games.

 

---HDMI Settings---

You would think that switching to DVI would disable these, but nope.

 

[EDITED Feb. 21 2021: DEEPCOLOR SETTING]

I reread through the FM manual and they recommend NOT using "AUTO" for DEEPCOLOR when using DVI output (they claim it can cause inaccurate colors).  I personally have not experienced this, but the correct settings should be:

DeepColor: OFF

OUTPUT_COLOR: AUTO (DVI mode will always output RGB, so this is effectively set to RGB)

OUTPUT_RANGE: LIMITED or FULL (match TV settings: LOW or HIGH)

 

*The FM has weird quirks with RGB FULL, so I recommend setting both the FM and your TV to LOW/LIMITED, to be safe.  However, in DVI mode you can use RGB FULL without any issue... just make sure to set your TV to RGB FULL/BLACK LEVEL HIGH.

 

---Special Settings---

SCANLINE: I like to set INT_LINE to 50 and INT_SMOOTH to 100, for a very consumer CRT-like look.

A/D_SET: NEVER use AUTO, you will crush brighter colors into a horrible mess.  This is perhaps the single most important setting on the FM outside of the scaler settings.  A good baseline is 135 or so, but to get it just right you need a test pattern. The color bars in the 240p test suite are perfect for this: turn A/D all the way to the max, and then reduce it a step at a time until the exact point where the brightest two shades of each color (especially green) are just barely distinguishable from one another.  That will give you a nice vibrant image without any color detail being crushed.

Edited by newtmonkey
Corrected misinformation re: DEEPCOLOR setting
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Thanks for posting this. I haven't used my framemeister in awhile and was never able to get the PS2 to look the way I wanted it to. That's useful information for the SNES and Genesis too. I may try puttering around this coming weekend, though the OSSC has worked well for my Genesis.

 

I wonder if anything can be done to improve the picture from the TG16/PCE. The colors are crushed, sometimes there is noise (beyond the jail bars that I need to fix someday), and things are not quite right with the aspect ratio. I use the OSSC for the TG16 which gives a much better picture and and the colors are great. The sound is better with the FM though; the audio noise when accessing the SD card with the SSDS3 isn't as noticeable.

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I would say if the colors are crushed, the A/D setting is to blame.  Setting it to 130-135 or thereabouts will always provide a more accurate image than letting the FM set it automatically, but like I mentioned above, some manual calibration is needed using a test pattern to get the optimal A/D setting.

 

I haven't used my FM with my PC Engine for a LONG time (I find the RetroTINK 2x PRO with its comb filter to just work better for composite sources), but it would probably benefit from using the NORMAL2 screen setting to adjust the aspect ratio properly.  I think a good rule of thumb is:

 

SCREEN_SET

STANDARD: Try this, if it seems too narrow...

NORMAL2: Try this

 

I've found that consoles that have an output resolution of 320x240 (most PSX games, N64, Saturn) or 640x480 (DC, PS2, etc.) will have the correct AR in STANDARD mode, while consoles with a narrower horizontal resolution (SNES/SFC comes it mind) benefit from NORMAL2.

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Here are some screenshots of some PS2 games running though the good old Framemeister.  These are off-screen shots taken with my cellphone camera, and are using the settings I described in an earlier post.

 

The games originally run in 640x480i, are deinterlaced and upscaled to 1280x960p by the FM, then scaled to 4K by my TV.
These were taken using my cellphone, so colors look a bit saturated compared with how it looks in person.

Finally, I probably should have disabled the scanline filter to take the photos, but I would have had to redo some settings to take the increased brightness into account and got lazy.

 

You can click the thumbnails below for full sized pictures (black border cropped out).

 

PS2_Shinobi1.thumb.JPG.ec93f650d0753b3ef0cc441576dd9897.JPG

I just wanted to include this because I LOVE the title screen to Shinobi, great color choices.  I was immediately impressed by how sharp yet smooth still images look when upscaled by the FM.

 

PS2_Shinobi2.thumb.JPG.10cfdb267a21377b63c3ce235f59883d.JPG

An in-game shot from Shinobi.  It's not really a particularly good looking game, but it was also released in the "sweet spot" of the PS2 lifetime, where developers were no longer relying on the field rendering technique to maximize performance at the expense of image quality (this is what caused the infamous "jaggies" with the first generation of PS2 games), but had not yet started to implement "flicker filters," motion blur, and bloom lighting, all of which blurred the image.  It is therefore a great way to see the "raw" output of the PS2.

 

PS2_Tekken5.thumb.JPG.df655cb838d5fa95a1a2381b96e468cd.JPG

Gotta include a photo of Tekken 5, easily one of the best looking games on the PS2.  The game does support progressive scan, but imo does not benefit from being played in that resolution for various reasons ([1] the FM introduces some weird blur along vertical edges when upscaling from 480p, [2] the FM is an EXCELLENT deinterlacer, and [3] Tekken 5, like many of the other (few) PS2 games that support progressive scan, doesn't really benefit from it—and in fact, the 2D artwork looks awful in progressive scan mode).

 

PS2_HNK.thumb.JPG.4f361f495c9bdb7621f9c49e9990f7b7.JPG

2D games look great too!  Here's Hokuto no Ken.  A fine looking 2D fighter.

Edited by newtmonkey
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No one ever talks about the FM's DVI mode but it seems like a really cool way to use the device. I experimented with it just a couple of months ago because I was considering changing up how I record footage. Until I did that, I had no idea it would output to 4X3 resolutions over DVI. Ultimately I'd eventually like to route it to a 4X3 CRT VGA monitor I have in my chain and I bet it would look fantastic there. Unfortunately with my current setup (which is strictly based around VGA and HDMI) it's too much work to switch everything over to DVI without rigging up a bunch of converters and splitters/amplifiers. Hopefully I can move to that in the future.

 

By the way, those snapshots of PS2 games look great. I don't typically bother with progressive scan through the FM, especially not with the PS2. I tell people that the FM's deinterlacing is so good, it basically looks like progressive scan without it actually being the case, haha. The deinterlaced 480i image through a FM looks extremely stable. 

Edited by Austin
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58 minutes ago, Austin said:

I don't typically bother with progressive scan through the FM, especially not with the PS2. I tell people that the FM's deinterlacing is so good, it basically looks like progressive scan without it actually being the case, haha. The deinterlaced 480i image through a FM looks extremely stable. 

I started playing my Dreamcast through the Framemeister using S-video last week. The deinterlacing is so good on this thing. That's good, because that's what I bought the Framemeister for! The S-video looks great, as well.

Edited by Steven Pendleton

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I've had a feeling that the colors the Framemeister give me with the Dreamcast are wrong for about a week now, and I finally plugged my Dreamcast into my Trinitron and found that the Framemeister's colors are in fact way too saturated. My monitor doesn't really give me any options for colors other than brightness, contrast, saturation, color temp., and skin tone, so hopefully I can fix it on the Framemeister's side.

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I was playing some Mega Drive games last night, so decided to take some pictures.

 

As a side note, my JP MD2 happens to be quite decent, with really clean image quality and "okay" sound—not as punchy as my "high def" MD1, but not the disaster that some MD2s are.

 

---

 

I am using the settings I mentioned earlier for 240p games.  DVI mode, 640x480, NATURAL2 screen setting, scanlines set to 50/100 for a "consumer CRT" look.  So, the FM is scaling 240p to 640x480p, then my TV is scaling that to 4K.  This results in a near-perfect 4:3 aspect ratio (perhaps too wide by just a hair), with no image cut off on any side according to the 240P test suite, but I've noticed that the single-color borders around the picture that many MD games exhibit are mostly cut off.

 

VK.thumb.JPG.86a2360d30b24998760b57edbfabb0b9.JPG

First game up for the night was Vampire Killer (aka Castlevania Bloodlines).  The picture ended up being slightly dark because of the lighting conditions.  As you can see, the MD puts out some really awesome RGB video—very sharp and vivid.  I have mixed feelings on Konami's work on the MD; Vampire Killer and Contra play AWESOME and have some impressive but the artwork often seems half-assed.  VK, for example, has some really awkward animation that should have been touched up, and some really garish color choices in certain backgrounds (Contra suffers especially from garish/messy color choices).

 

BM.thumb.JPG.5c13f95a1c2127049b776061741ee3a3.JPG

Next up, Battle Mania (aka Trouble Shooter). This and its sequel, Battle Mania Daiginjo, are somewhat forgotten gems in the MD library.  A wonderful shooter that plays great, and that has some of the most detailed and colorful graphics on the system—no dithering, no garish/messy palettes, just pure awesome artistry that understands the limitations on the hardware and works within them.

 

S3.thumb.JPG.d57484e62298ba295b21b9fc9b130a39.JPG

The Super Shinobi II (aka Shinobi III).  One of the greatest games in the MD library.  I thought this screenshot would work better because of the limited colors in the background, but it ended up looking kind of washed out.  Oh well.

 

Finally...

LAG.thumb.JPG.2ab264c7e74d03f0b61aa628f0ae4888.JPG

Internal delay of 0.94ms... not bad at all.  I haven't done any scientific tests, but the delay introduced by the FM (as reported by the FM itself) definitely varies from situation to situation.  It doesn't change in-game (this would be disastrous), but it does vary depending on the output resolution and on whether the FM has to deinterlace a game—it definitely jumps up to around a frame of delay (14ms or so) when playing PS2, for instance.

 

---

 

Playing Vampire Killer has revealed one flaw in the FM.  It's well-known that the FM handles vertical resolution switching poorly (for example, PS1 games that play in 240p but switch to 480i for menus).  The FM also stumbles a bit when a game switches horizontal resolution—Vampire Killer switches between 320×224 somewhat often 256×224 (the former for still screens such as the map screen) and the latter for gameplay.  This results in a brief (less than a second) drop (video & audio) when the resolution switches.  The FM (and my TV) recovers quickly so it's never an issue like it is with PS1 games... and you can also eliminate this by changing the following setting:

 

SYNC_SET > SYNC_MODE: OFF

 

The downside of doing this is that it causes hitching/tearing/stuttering every 15 seconds or so, though it seems much more noticeable in certain games (vertical shooters especially) than in others.

Edited by newtmonkey
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On 2/14/2021 at 9:09 PM, newtmonkey said:

---HDMI Settings---

 

You would think that switching to DVI would disable these, but nope.

DeepColor: AUTO (DVI mode will always output 8-bit RGB, so this is effectively turned OFF)

OUTPUT_COLOR: AUTO (DVI mode will always output RGB, so this is effectively set to RGB)

OUTPUT_RANGE: LIMITED*

 

*The FM has weird quirks with RGB FULL, so I recommend setting both the FM and your TV to LOW/LIMITED, to be safe.  However, in DVI mode you can use RGB FULL without any issue... just make sure to set your TV to RGB FULL/BLACK LEVEL HIGH.

I reread through the FM manual and they recommend NOT using "AUTO" for DEEPCOLOR when using DVI output (they claim it can cause inaccurate colors).  I personally have not experienced this, but the correct settings should be:

 

DeepColor: OFF

OUTPUT_COLOR: AUTO (DVI mode will always output RGB, so this is effectively set to RGB)

OUTPUT_RANGE: LIMITED or FULL (match TV settings: LOW or HIGH)

 

I've asked the moderators if I could edit the original post (don't want any misinformation out there), but just in case I wanted to post this correction here.

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On 2/19/2021 at 11:00 PM, newtmonkey said:

I've asked the moderators if I could edit the original post (don't want any misinformation out there), but just in case I wanted to post this correction here.

I've just granted edit permissions, so you should now be able to revise your post.  Sorry to keep you waiting!

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On 2/18/2021 at 6:20 PM, newtmonkey said:

A wonderful shooter that plays great, and that has some of the most detailed and colorful graphics on the system—no dithering, no garish/messy palettes, just pure awesome artistry that understands the limitations on the hardware and works within them.

Your screenshot has dithering in it. :P

 

Still a cool game though. :)

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Yeah, but it's not the type of dithering that characterizes a lot of (primarily US-developed) Genesis games.  Maybe I should have said "no vertical dithering".

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My new favorite upscaler.. The Retrotink 2x-Scart! At least for Scart stuff.. Looks great on my RGB modded N64 (Voultar kit) and Intellivision (Sears SVA).

 

Besides that, I use the OSSC v1.6 for everything else. 👍

 

 

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The Retrotink is a great option for people who don't want to spend hours tweaking, but it's also great as a secondary upscaler to complement a Framemeister or OSSC.  There are some usage scenarios where I actually prefer using the Retrotink over the Framemeister.

 

- Composite-only consoles: The RT has a very decent comb filter that helps clean up composite sources quite a bit.

- N64: It just looks great plugged into the RT with no fuss.  Upscaling the N64 beyond 640x480 doesn't do it any favors imo.

- Playstation: The Retrotink handles 240p/480i switching faster than either the FM or OSSC (especially the FM...), so it's a good way to make games like Chrono Cross and Silent Hill playable.

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I've got a couple of questions on the Retrotink-2x Pro, and can't find answers anywhere.  Maybe someone here knows!

 

- How can you tell if the device is in "Low-res YPbPr mode", other than guessing based on the quality of the image?  Apparently you can step through the different modes by pressing the FILTER button like so: regular, smoothed, scan-lined, low-resolution, low-resolution/smoothed, low-resolution scan-lined... but since the FILTER mode is maintained between power cycles, it seems to me like you can never be sure it you are in one of the low-resolution modes or not?  The example screenshots I've seen show the low-res mode looking MUCH blurrier than the standard mode, but I am definitely not seeing that on my device updated to the latest firmware.  Was this feature ultimately scrapped?

 

- How can you enable "Manual DVI mode"?  This was added in FW 1.1 and the FW notes suggest checking the manual for information, but there isn't anything specifically on this mode in there.  Or is this the "High resolution chroma mode" mentioned in the manual?

 

Anyone?

Edited by newtmonkey

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I was playing some SFC last night, and thought it would be fun to post some screenshots.  These are all off-screen shots of my SFC connected to my Framemeister using my standard settings (DVI mode, 640x480) upscaled to 4K by my TV.

 

SMAS.thumb.JPG.d6b3e1a911d29609ef87d55c482d82f8.JPG

If we're talking Nintendo, then we gotta start things off with Mario... more specifically, Super Mario All-Stars.  I prefer the NES/FC versions of these games (something feels very slightly "off" to me in how Mario controls in these), but I can't argue with the ability to save your progress and the very respectful/charming upgrade in graphics and sound/music.
 

DKC.thumb.JPG.6adfbbef96ae43ee06f8395064fe8226.JPG

Next up, Donkey Kong Country.  I had trouble getting a good shot of this game, and the brightness looks a bit blown out here.  The point here, I guess, is how nice the graphics in DKC have aged.  It benefits a lot from a nice upscale with a decent scanline filter, and the naturally soft output of the SFC/SNES provides a nice "anti-aliased" look to the pre-rendered sprites and background elements.  I ended up cropping this one too much by mistake, so it appears wider than it is.

 

DC.thumb.JPG.fbf1824bc04d5d91089bf9ab91225096.JPG

Finally, Demon's Blazon/Demon's Crest.  I would rank it within the top 5 best looking games on the system.  Excellent use of color, detailed backgrounds, excellent sprite work, and it's probably the moodiest game on the system outside of some stages in Super Castlevania IV.  This scene has a large black border on the bottom that I mistakenly cropped out, which is why it looks "widescreen."

 

---

 

Overall, the SFC/SNES has its strengths and weaknesses.  The colors are wonderful and the image is very clean overall (no jailbars, etc.).  Unfortunately, the SNES/SFC has very soft RGB output compared with most other systems (specifically the Megadrive/Genesis).  It's noticeable even on a CRT!  This was corrected in later revisions of the hardware, but I am halfway convinced that Nintendo purposefully went with blurry output in an attempt to hide or mitigate the comparatively low resolution of the system—of course, that's just me and my conspiracy theory.

Having said that, you quickly get used to the softer output of the system and it almost becomes pleasant.

Edited by newtmonkey

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That reminds me that I have the official Nintendo RGB cable for the SFC. I need to try it on my Framemeister some day. I have 3 SFCs here to test, as well, even if one of them isn't mine.

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Over the past few weeks I've really gained a new appreciation for the good old FM.

 

I was initially blown away by it when I first started using it, but then began using it less and less when I got a Super NT and Mega SG, and then began using it even less than that once I got a RetroTINK-2x PRO specifically for S-video/composite-only consoles.  That meant I was using the FM only for my Saturn, Dreamcast, and Jaguar, none of which I use very often.

 

I started using it again mostly to replace the Super NT and Mega SG with actual hardware, and I really began enjoying using it again.  The internal lag is only a frame at the most (the FM itself often reports a much lower delay, often just below 1ms), and it's just extremely easy to get a fantastic picture with the proper aspect ratio once you've learned its few quirks.  It's also got a great scanline filter with plenty of room for customization.  Playing around with the A/D setting can also reduce a lot of the noise in darker colors everyone complains about.

 

Two things would make the FM absolutely perfect for me:

 

- Fast 240p/480i switching

I've tried playing around with the sync settings to no avail, but found that turning SYNC_MODE to OFF and then setting SYNC_TIME to 100 ALMOST works.  You get instantaneous resolution switching, but unfortunately the FM loses sync within a few seconds after the resolution change.

- Comb/notch filter for composite sources

I suppose you could get an external device to get around this.

Edited by newtmonkey
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Yeah, the Framemeister is still a great device. It's a tough sell to newcomers at this point in time due to its price, but for those like us that already have one, there's a lot to like about it.

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Someday I'll pick up the OSSC just to compare.  I could see myself eventually using:

 

- Framemeister for most RGB consoles (since I've got the settings down "perfectly")

- OSSC for PSX (since it handles 240p/480i resolution switching better than the FM)

- RetroTINK for composite consoles (since it has a built in comb filter) and the N64 (N64 just looks great on the RT for some reason).

 

I'd like to hear some feedback on using the OSSC for PSX (specifically, the PSP running PSX games!) if anyone has experience with that, especially with games like Chrono Cross, Silent Hill, and Dino Crisis that switch often between 240p and 480i.  I'd also like to hear about any thoughts on setting a proper 4:3 aspect ratio on the OSSC... I've heard that the default settings basically work fine at the proper aspect ratio, etc., and I'd likely just use the OSSC as a line doubler.

 

I do like the RetroTINK a lot, but the aspect ratio has really started to annoy me.  It's not as noticeable with FC/NES or PCE games, or even with most N64 games, but the narrower aspect ratio makes many PSX games look slightly off.

 

---

 

[EDIT] Oh, what the heck.  I ordered an OSSC just now.  It'll at least be another gadget for me to tinker with on the weekends.  Who knows, it may even dethrone my precious FM if I get used to it :)

Edited by newtmonkey

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Thanks @Austin!

 

It should arrive tomorrow and I've got nothing scheduled so I'll at least be able to get it up and running with the generic settings.  I don't much care for the ultra-sharp pixels look, so I might not even bother with setting up profiles, timings, etc.

 

I'm excited to see how it handles the 240p/480i switch.  Even if it's not quite as fast as the RetroTINK, if it's a noticeable improvement over the Framemeister I should be able to deal with it. 

 

I wonder if I could connect the Retrotink to the OSSC, and just use the RT as a cheap comb filter and adjust the aspect ratio with the OSSC?  I tried this with the RT and FM, but the FM flipped out haha.

 

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As far as I know, you can't change the aspect ratio with the OSSC aside from setting 256 to 8:7 or a 4:3 mode that is slightly too wide to actually be 4:3. You'd have to do it with your display.

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I think a slightly wide 4:3 would be preferable to the narrow Retrotink AR.  It will be interesting to see how it goes once it arrives.

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