hverkuil at xs4all
Jan 24, 2007, 11:13 AM
Post #18 of 28
On Wednesday 24 January 2007 00:42, Bruce Markey wrote:
> Daniel Kristjansson wrote:
> > On Fri, 2007-01-19 at 12:21 +0100, Hans Verkuil wrote:
> >> Note regarding ivtv VBI support: it is flaky in all current ivtv
> >> versions. Basically when VBI capturing is on it is possible for
> >> MPEG or VBI data to turn up in the wrong stream. This is a
> >> firmware bug for which only the current ivtv subversion trunk code
> >> contains a workaround. This code will become available Real Soon
> >> Now for kernels 2.6.18 and up. It is extremely unlikely that it
> >> will ever be backported to older kernels since it required a huge
> >> interrupt/DMA rewrite in ivtv.
> >> Due to these problems I would recommend that for ivtv VBI is
> >> turned off by default in MythTV if possible.
> But thousands of people use it every day right now. To impose
> on them that they are not allowed to use VBI because you say
> it is imperfect is blown way out of proportion.
Just to clarify: for ivtv-based cards the MythTV VBI setting should be
off by default (i.e. after installing MythTV from scratch) for driver
version <0.10.0. You should of course always be able to turn it on if
> > Do you mean VBI embedding in the MPEG stream should be turned
> > off by default, oe the VBI device (which we don't use) should
> > be disabled? Also can you recommend some way we can detect if
> > we have an ivtv driver with a non-buggy VBI?
> I would first want to see a reproducible test case of something
> that does or does not work depending on if VBI is "turned off"
> (whatever that means). If there is something that this fixes
> and isn't throwing out the baby with the bath water, there should
> be an option to turn it off per input rather than global (the
> current setting affects all cards of all types on all backends
> and not only affects recording but tells the frontend that they
> are not allowed to try to read VBI). The default for the per
> input option should be "on" to not impose a change on users but
> allow them to turn VBI off to address these issues that I don't
> know about.
The information that I had suggests that this setting was off in
previous versions but was turned on in 0.20. I may be wrong. If it is a
global setting that would also affect other non-ivtv cards, then it is
probably not worth the effort of making this change, especially since
the next ivtv release will fix this issue. However, this fix will only
be available for ivtv together with kernels >= 2.6.18.
> >> Another cause of problems in MythTV is the default resolution of
> >> 480x480 instead of 720x480/576. The MPEG encoder introduces a
> >> small amount of ghosting when it has to scale.
> First, if this is a reference to the doubled image broken frame,
> I've already stated that turning off VBI had no impact on the
> doubled frame.
No, nothing to do with that.
> Next, "cause of problems" is an odd characterization. If ivtv
> can't record a sample rate other than 720 samples per scan line
> then it is clearly a bug in the driver/firmware/compression
> hardware. Bt8x8 absolutely can digitize analog NTSC/PAL at any
> horizontal sample rate and the bttv driver has no issues doing
It can record it perfectly, but scaling does introduce slight amount of
ghosting. Whether this is a driver, firmware or hardware bug is
something that I need to look into one of these days.
> Lastly, as has been covered many, many times here over the years,
> NTSC/PAL is not very high resolution. As the electron beam sweeps
> across the screen, the analog resolution of broadcast equipment
> and TV sets are in a range equivalent to 300-500 vertical scan
Out of curiosity, is this also true when you record with S-Video from a
DVD player, for example?
> The leading commercial DVRs use 544x480 for their highest quality.
> Because of the law of diminishing returns, higher sample rates are
> overkill and in a blindfold test, you can't tell the difference in
> recorded broadcast television at higher rates.
> But here's the downside. If you increase the resolution (for no
> benefit) and leave the compression bit rate the same so that the
> recorded files are the same size, there will be a lower bit per
> pixel ratio. This means that there will be more loss-iness in
> the compression. The result is that, because of the compression
> artifacts, there is less(!) detail on the screen and it is lower
> quality even though the "resolution" numbers are set higher. In
> order to counteract this, the bitrate would need to increase in
> proportion to the sampling dimensions. This results in bigger
> files but no better quality than at lower resolutions.
> So what is "720"? It is the arbitrary maximum point where it
> is absolutely overkill and wasteful. This could have been 1024
> or 2048 that would have created huge files and stressed system
> resources for a picture that looks exactly like 544x480 or even
> 480x480 when displayed on a TV set.
Well, an 720x480 MPEG stream has 1) the correct display ratio, 2) can
easily be burned to DVD without need for resizing. The default bitrate
set by ivtv is sufficient for good quality encoding at that resolution.
> > I'll fix this, it's just a hangover from frame buffer recording
> > profiles. I always change this to 720x480 when I set up a MythTV
> > machine.
> Ah, here's the reason I wanted to reply to this message ;-)
> In "2954-v3.patch" the "1178" appears to look through the
> codecparams table and deletes existing settings.
> Please, please do not do this.
> I can see changing the default for new systems for IVTV only
> (do not change the bttv default from 480x480) as a workaround
> for these crappy cards. However, existing users may have tweaked
> their settings and are fine with what they have now and do not
> need to be ambushed by a change they did not ask for. As above,
> this may cause more artifacts and an overall lower quality
> picture if they don't increase the bitrate (and, they may not
> want to increase the bitrate). Anyone is welcome to follow a
> suggestion of trying 720 but this should not be blindly imposed
> on all existing users.
For the record: these were just suggestions for improving (IMHO) the
default settings of MythTV for ivtv after a new installation based on
user experiences I received. These settings are specific to cards with
a cx23415/6 MPEG encoder.
> -- bjm
> PS I've been using myth since 0.5 or 0.6 and I got a PVR-250
> before tmk started what became the ivtv driver. There was a
> time around 0.10 or earlier where I was the only one doing
> testing for ivtv cards to verify things before releases. In the
> years since, there hasn't been a day when I honestly believed
> that hardware encoders do a better job than software encoders.
> I never mention this on the lists because the "common knowledge"
> belief is that hardware encoders must be better and I don't need
> lynch mobs taking shots at me and I don't want to do hand-holding
> support for tuning software encoders. However, due to several
> more aggravations recently, I'll come out and say it:
> Hardware encoders suck!
> Clearly any form of digital broadcast is always going to be
> better than digitizing analog broadcasts so discussion of
> "quality" is like comparing phonograph records to cassette
> tapes when we have CDs.
> Robert once made a comment a few years ago that stuck with me
> where he believed the picture was better from PVR cards because
> the chips were "mechanically" better. After all, if you look
> at a ivtv card output with default settings and a bttv card
> output with default settings, the ivtv picture is much better.
> Cory has posted several times that hardware encoders are better
> because the encoder chip on his card is better than the bt8x8
> of his bttv card. He then goes on to compare the characteristics
> of these two different chips as they digitize. This, of course,
> is comparing apples and oranges. I have a bt8x8 hardware encoder
> and bytesex,org has drivers for software encoders with different
> chip sets.
> Given the same chip on both types of cards, the software approach
> has to be better because you have more control over the picture
> and compression. The reason bttv looks worse is that there are
> bad defaults and the hardware encoders address these right out
> of the box.
> There is a well know bug in the bt8x8 chip where the max luma
> is set to 235 rather than 253 (duh!). This makes the colors
> weak in brighter areas and gives the picture a dull, washed
> out look. Raising the saturation doesn't fix this and just makes
> the picture look weird. Myth addresses this with the "adjust"
> filter and this can be used to make further tweaks to the
> chroma and luma ranges before compression. In fact, you can
> apply any current of future filter before compressing with
> software encoding whereas hardware encoding can only use
> filters built into the card.
> The default brightness and contrast of 50% (32768) are way off.
> the contrast needs to be cut significantly and the brightness
> raised so the whitecrush and blackcrush will fit in range. The
> default makes near white appear to be the same as completely
> The bttv driver includes options that improve the image that
> AFAIK are not available for ivtv. "Automatic Gain Contrail" or
> agc normalizes the luma levels between cards and perhaps channels
> that are out of whack. This give me a more consistent picture
> from recording to recording. I don't see this option with ivtv
> but it does do something annoying with the picture settings.
> Often after a scene change, about 2 seconds in, the brightness
> will instantly down shift a small amount but it is noticeable
> and annoying.
> Bttv has a comb filter that fixes that annoying multi-colored
> flicker you see on stripped shirts or small white lettering.
> Ivtv does this too but bttv filter set to 2 seems to do a
> better job.
> Bttv has an option to use "full_luma_range" which spreads the
> digital range out to 0-255 to get the maximum contrast rather
> than the normal limited range,
> Bttv has "coring" that does a digital cutoff for the black
> level, this cleans up noise and artifact and makes black truly
> black. The contrast and brightness need to be set so that dark
> grey or near black are above this point but black areas are
> cleaner and compression is more efficient.
> Bttv has a "uv ratio" which is another axis of tint. I find
> that 52% make yellow and gold look more vivid and makes
> flesh tones more natural.
> Then there is the compression. For a given bitreate/filesize,
> ffmpeg MPEG-4 certainly has fewer artifacts than MPEG-2 from
> the ivtv card at the same resolution and bitrate. The MPEG-4
> artifacts tend to appear smooth like blurring whereas the MPEG-2
> artifacts look like harsh little boxes. Ffmpeg has made several
> improvements over the past four years. The algorithms burned
> into to PVR-250 card are exactly the same as the day I bought it.
> Conversely, the bttv driver is fully functional and is done and
> untouched since April 21st, 2004. Ivtv is still a moving target
> and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
> For bttv, I set these modprobe options:
> options bttv chroma_agc=1 combfilter=2 full_luma_range=1 coring=1
> video_nr=0 vbi_nr=0
> The last two force the devices to be /dev/video0 and /dev/vbi0
> (these are to defeat udev which i despise even more than ivtv ;-).
> I also set these options when a backend is started:
> v4lctl -c /dev/video0 setattr 'mute' off > /dev/null 2>&1
> v4lctl -c /dev/video0 setattr 'uv ratio' 52 > /dev/null 2>&1
> v4lctl -c /dev/video0 setattr 'whitecrush upper' 253 > /dev/null
> 2>&1 v4lctl -c /dev/video0 setattr 'luma decimation filter' on >
> /dev/null 2>&1
> My Default profile for myth is 496x480, 4800 bitrate with
> "Scale bitrate for frame size" turned on, quality 0. 15. 3,
> and the four encoding options turned off (two of these are
> entirely broken). My picture settings for the coax input
> are contrast = 26100 and brightness = 39400. For s-video
> from a STB contrast = 26300 and brightness = 43350 (YMMV).
> I also use "quickdnr" for channels with poor signal to clean
> then up before compression.
> With these settings a get recordings of about 1.7GB per hour
> that look great and better than any recording I've seen from
> ivtv. I keep my ivtv card as the last choice with lower input
> priority. It sometimes records. I usually regret it =).
> - Playback startup is slow (as is changing to this input in
> live TV).
> - ~10% to 20% of the time, audio sync is off by about 0.2sec.
> - The texture leans to grainy and is worse with noise in the
> signal. [.Oh, and sharpness. Sharpness is adding controlled
> noise to the signal to make edges between light and dark areas
> wrap making the edge look more abrupt (ya know, that black circle
> of distortion around a golf ball in PGA coverage). Ivtv output
> seems to have sharpness added but no option. This makes the
> image more harsh and annoying and I can't find a way to turn
> it off].
> - Harsh motion artifact. Really bad if the black level is too
> high and noise near black is being compressed.
> - One or two seconds to sync A/V after each seek.
> - High speed FF/Rew can often freeze if used for more than a
> few seconds.
> I don't have any of these problems when software encoding.
> The main issue with software is that frames will be dropped
> if the CPU is pegged. I don't have problems with this because
> I know not to run a compiler on a machine while it is recording.
> The parameters above seem to use about the equivalent CPU time
> of an AMD ~700Mhz. I used Duron and Athlon 1.3Ghz chips for
> years and with a 2000, 2400 3000 or more it is absolutely no
> problem. You can't hardly buy a chip lees than 2GHz these days
> and if quality and reliability are the goal, CPU shouldn't be
> an issue for recording with bttv.
> So given that bttv or ivtv pale in comparison to HDTV, I honestly
> believe that I get better looking video and a lot fewer hassles
> with software encoding and will use bttv to record NTSC for the
> foreseeable future.
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