Upscaling SD to HD, placebo or real improvement?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Sven11, May 8, 2014.

  1. Sven11 Suspended

    Sep 25, 2010
    I've read both good and bad things about upscaling SD content to HD. (I'm talking about the method used by Blu-ray and DVD players) Some say that it will definitely improve the picture quality, others say that it doesn't and yet others say that it will even worsen the picture quality. So what?

    Personally upscaled DVDs look sharper to me, but also grainier. Everyone probably sees this from a different perspective, so I'm asking: Are there any technical reasons why upscaled DVDs are better, the same or worse than non upscaled DVDs?
  2. filmbuff macrumors 6502a


    Jan 5, 2011
    You can't add information where it wasn't recorded. Upscaling SD content only makes it bigger, it doesn't add any detail or clarity.
  3. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    There are dozens of ways (and products) that upscale, most are mediocre, some terrible and grainy. There have been a couple devices that do pretty good, however, if you are viewing on a 42 inch screen. On a 60 inch, it is more obvious.. but watchable.
  4. Sven11 thread starter Suspended

    Sep 25, 2010
    So it's indeed a placebo and not really useful?
  5. Unami macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
    it can definitely make sd footage look better on a bigger screen (e.g. smoothening out jagged edges,...), but it won't reveal any informatin that is not there in the first place.

    it might look better, subjectively, but it's not the same footage 1:1, technically.

    wheter this looks better or not depends on the methode being used and the viewer's taste - but it's not a "placebo", it doesn't do nothing.
  6. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    If your DVD has low resolution, and your TV has high resolution, then _someone_ must upscale it. If the DVD player doesn't, then the TV will upscale it, otherwise your DVD would play just in a tiny corner of the screen.

    The question is how good the upscaling hardware works. The theoretically best results would be if the DVD player takes the compressed data from the DVD and turns it directly into the format that your TV displays, using good algorithms for the scaling. The worst results would be if the DVD player turns the compressed data into a low resolution image, and a cheap TV uses a cheap upscaler to turn it into the right size. Worst because there are two steps involved, and one step isn't done very well.

    So you get no improvement if the upscaling is less good than what your TV provides, you get improvement if the upscaling is good and your TV is cheap. The better the TV, the less need for upscaling and vice versa.
  7. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    No, with the right equipment its not a placebo... the DVD will look much better (depending on the source) but the video will not be near HD quality. There were several discussion threads over on the AVS forums years ago.
  8. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    I'd like to second this. If you watch something on the same HD screen, it's always upscaled, unless it is smaller (with black bars around it). So upscaling is always happening, and therefore it can't be a placebo ;) (else, the video would just remain smaller).

    I guess you mean that some screens and players have an option to enhance the material. As gnasher729 said, some devices do it better than others. I played a DVD of Wall-e on our ten year old JVC DVD player. The signal was sent by SCART to our 42" Sony Bravia. The SONY TV then upscales using a simple method(I guess just multiplying the pixels). The quality is terrible and you can't read small text.

    We also have the PS3 lite attached to the screen using HDMI. The PS3 automatically enhances the video and it looks quite sharp. Yes, the Blu-Ray version is slightly sharper, but from a distance, you won't notice it.

    Also, I was able to read small-text, which I was unable to read when using the JVC DVD player. So the PS3 actually applies a smart algorithm to improve the quality. I don't know how it works, but I think it might work something like the high-pass filter in photoshop that looks for edges. By overlaying the high-pass filter layer, you can make a photo appear to be sharper.

    Lastly, when I compare the result of the PS3's enhanced DVD material with a compressed HD copy from my macbook (over HDMI), the enhanced DVD version looks better. The compressed HD copy suffers from banding and other artifacts whereas the enhanced DVD version doesn't (or at least a lot less noticeable).

    Just my two cents ;D.

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