I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New year. I missed the New Year completely. Fell asleep a few hours before midnight and slept through, so that’s why there was no “Happy New Year” message from me this year.
So we are back in full lockdown again here in the UK. At least there now seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. So there’s at least a chance now we could get part of the live action shoots done late summer this year. But at least being stuck indoors all day has given me enough time to really play about with the upscale of ANH:R & ESB:R.
I did some tests with the trial version of the latest version of Topaz Video Enhance AI. OMG, what a difference. Much better than the old version i have. They have managed to iron out most of the problems with the older version. It now seems to be able to recognise parts of the image that are meant to be out of focus, whereas the older version tried to bring things into focus. The speed is about 3x as fast. Sadly the pro-res encoder has problems and shifts colours, so i can still only render as image sequence, which creates huge files. Also it has a bug which, when a shot changes to the next, the previous image can bleed into the first 2 frames, or the image quality really drops for those frames. Also, mainly when lasers are moving across screen, you see the ghost image of the laser from the previous frame bleed into the next. The only way to fix this is to do a first pass upscale, then render out a reversed version of the film and upscale this and replace the first two frames of every shot in the film in the editor. A long process, but worth it. Sadly the trial version has run out and I can’t afford the £200 for the full version just yet.
Another problem with the upscaling I found was that there were many shots it just didn’t give good results in the final upscale, so I had to render it again using different settings and replace the bad ones in the editor with the new ones. But a lot still looked bad, no matter what settings I used, especially when I had to use lower res images/ video and used any form of sharpening filter. Strange artefacts where it tried too hard to add details, over-sharpened sections and images that almost look like an art filter had been added to the picture. Very artificial. And it really doesn’t like shots like holograms or macrobinocular displays. Luckily for me I still have all of the original project files , so I have the luxury of re-rendering these shots to help eliminate these problems. I also have the chance to use some element from the new 4k versions of the films to replace the lower quality from the 2011 blu-ray. For example, the picture below, where I enlarged Obi-Wan so he didn’t look like a tiny little figure in the shot. The results were never that great using the 2011 blu-ray, but sort of passed when being 720p. But upscaled to 1080p it looks horrendous. But using Obi-Wan from the 4k version, the results are miles better.
So I will be able to improve all of these type of shots for the upscale version. There are a lot, but many are just an easy re-render with some of the original filters turned off and applied after the upscale process. Plus there are some shots that were originally rendered in native 1080p and downscaled for the original release that I can use in the upscaled version. So it won’t be a 100% upscale for ESB:R and with ANH:R I can swap a lot of the upscaled footage with the original 1080p colour graded master I created when I started that. ROTJ:R of course will be native 1080p. ESB:R 1080p could well be ready in a couple of months after i can start work properly on it.
But now I come to the biggest problem with the upscale. Just rendering ESB:R as an upscale using uncompressed image files, and a few test renders of replacements, it almost filled a 4TB drive. The resulting filesizes are huge. And with working on ROTJ:R, upscales of ANH:R & ESB:R AND being able to back the files up, there just isn’t enough space even with the new larger format drive I have now.
As you may know, last year wiped us out financially with my wife losing her job. We were lucky that she was able to find a job later in the year, but at a greatly reduced salary. This sadly meant that I am no longer in a position to plough any more funds into Revisited for the foreseeable future. So I have no option other than to reopen the donation drive. As I said last time, I was planning on matching the money raised during the last one plus any extra, which would have fully funded this project, which was £3000. I’m just going to use the same Paypal money pool as last time as it’s the easiest thing to do, keeping the same links. I desperately need to get some more large size external drives for backup purposes and a couple more large format internal drives for the main rendering of the upscaled versions. Plus the last batch of materials for the live actions shoots and miniatures.
You all know I really hate doing this, but I have no other choice at this point in time. Here is the link for the donation drive. Any help is greatly appreciated.