Getting good quality from retro consoles

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Getting good quality from retro consoles

#1

Post by Apollo the Just » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:57 am

Hi nerds,

I honestly am not a person who cares about quality, I am happy playing on whatever TV at whatever resolution because most of the games I grew up on were from that awkward early-3D era where things looked the best they could given the circumstances which isn't necessarily phenomenal.

That said, I've become a lot more conscious of visual quality when playing/streaming because I spend all my time playing one specific 2003 JRPG fast, and if that gameplay is on display for the world to see with pretty much nothing else, one becomes hyper-aware of the quality of that footage.

(I know that 2003 GameCube is probably not what most of us would really consider "retro" but I promise, there is a reason I am posting it in this forum because it shares a problem very specific to older, pre-HDMI-resolution games.)

So, I'm curious: have any of you invested in SCART/Component/S-Video cables for your older consoles? Have you ever had to use an analog-to-HDMI converter to get it to actually output on a modern TV? Do you have a CRT? Have any of you gone real gamer enough to invest in one of those pricey fancy upscalers? As someone totally new getting into this I'm interested in your experiences. Share your stories, troubleshooting, successes, and woes here.

I'm making this topic because I've recently dove into this because I have been having a TIME getting my capture footage to be any kind of decent. I was just using Composite cables, which I figured was the primary source of my woes, but even switching to Component didn't actually fix my problem and actually caused other new fun problems instead, so that's cool. (Also ToS isn't a GameCube game that natively supports 480p and my Wii isn't hacked to force it, so.) It wasn't until I actually bothered to read the documentation on my capture card that I realized EVEN THOUGH IT BOASTS SUPPORTING ANALOG VIDEO IN ADDITION TO DIGITAL/HDMI, it auto-upscales everything to 720 HD, it does not support any resolutions below that (although it still lets you select them - which I had been doing), and its upscaling is kind of ****. It works fine natively in its own software but if you plug it into OBS it is questionable. I read some old help threads and an OBS dev mentioned that the way the card formats things is kind of terrible to program with compared to literally every other card on the market. It works great in its own software, but its software is super limited, so that isn't helpful.

Oh and my favorite thing is it has a check mark that lets you select “allow 60fps” but it doesn’t actually support 60fps for any signals below 1080p. So it’s impossible to record 60fps on legacy systems. Honestly it’s fine for what it is but its supposed compatibility with analog inputs should not be a selling point because it may have the port but it sucks at supporting those formats.

I bought this card ages ago (it's the Elgato HD) because it is one of the EASIEST plug-and-play capture devices out there and I was overwhelmed by the technical babble when I was just starting, plus it worked on mac AND windows which was what I needed since I started on mac... so ALL I wanted was something that I could plug my cables into, that also plugged into OBS. At this point though I'm ready reevaulate and second-guess this decision.

Anyway the more I read into stuff the more I realized the Elgato is complete garbage for retro capture and almost everyone uses alternative setups, ideally one with a plain CC with no built-in upscaling since OBS has some good deinterlacing it can do that will look tons better. And after spending about 3 days researching stuff (mostly copying what melee players do since they have such a snooty community yOU KNOW THEY GOT THE GOOD STUFF FIGURED OUT LOL), I've put together a shopping list for what I want to use that is honestly going to total what I spent on this fancy schmancy completely ill-fitting capture card I bought initially, lol.

GV-USB2 is almost everyone's preferred actually-affordable capture card for old consoles, but it doesn't accept component input, so I'm gonna get an S-Video cable for the Wii since it DOES take that. The legit ones are a bit pricey but not obscene (like 30-50 USD, making sure it's one that doesn't have composite video too, just a dedicated S-video). I think I'm going to actually invest in a powered amplifier splitter to split the S-video into multiple analog channels, because honestly even if the quality loss from a single split probably wouldn't be too noticeable, if I'm gonna be an insufferable quality elitist I honestly might as well go the whole hog. My TV doesn't accept S-video but the amplifier/splitter I saw recommended can split S-video into composite and/or S-video (including both simultaneously) so the TV signal is just gonna be composite but that's fine.

Anyway, I'm getting excited at the prospect of setting all this up. I honestly don't know how significant of a difference it's actually going to make, but it's been interesting researching all the different setups people have, and it just seems like the best option to get a CC dedicated to converting analog video and use software that has better upscaling, rather than one that auto-converts everything to 720 digital but does a bad job of it.

I was looking into HDMI converters for Wii but most of them honestly don't seem like they would actually give any sort of decent quality and exist purely to convert to HDMI formats to plug into modern screens, so that's pretty much exactly what I don't want. Here's hoping sticking to an analog capture all the way preserves the original quality and resolution, and then OBS can do the upscaling.

THIS HAS BEEN ME TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING I RECENTLY GOT INTERESTED IN. Y'ALL WANNA NERD OUT OR FLEX YOUR SETUPS????? GO FOR IT I'M ALL EARS

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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#2

Post by CaptHayfever » Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:51 am

Our TV has two HDMI ports (Blu-Ray, Roku, Switch, WiiU--I have a 3-way splitter for it), a coax port (Antenna), & RCA red/white/yellow/S component input (so I can hook up Genesis, N64, or Gamecube...or all of them with another 3-way splitter).

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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#3

Post by Marilink » Sun Jun 16, 2019 5:29 pm

I mean obviously AI is the one that should be sharing his wealth of knowledge in this thread. I can’t tag him with his fancy name though so I hope he just shows up

The most I ever had in this realm was using a CRT for Melee/PM (brought it to the meetup for 64 games but forgot the remote so we couldn’t get to the video input lmao), and we somehow had component cables for my Wii. I didn’t notice much of a difference.

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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#4

Post by CaptHayfever » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:33 am

^ @е и ժ е я
You're welcome. :)

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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#5

Post by Apollo the Just » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:40 am

Marilink wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 5:29 pm
I mean obviously AI is the one that should be sharing his wealth of knowledge in this thread. I can’t tag him with his fancy name though so I hope he just shows up

The most I ever had in this realm was using a CRT for Melee/PM (brought it to the meetup for 64 games but forgot the remote so we couldn’t get to the video input lmao), and we somehow had component cables for my Wii. I didn’t notice much of a difference.
I'll be real I basically made this thread because I know AI is stupidly knowledgeable and has done a **** ton of tinkering and cool ****, but I thought it might be cool in case anyone else had neat experiences or know-how to share!

Did you do the progressive scan thing in Melee? I was salty when I learned that ToS doesn't natively support it. Honestly I don't know if I would notice much of a difference either but also at this point I'm used to seeing the pass-through footage from my Capture Card which is pretty garbo anyway. I ordered the parts for my new setup and it's going to look like some 1080p HD **** by comparison lmfao

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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#6

Post by DarkZero » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:52 am

i know you can force progressive through nintendont. idk if nintendont is speedrun-viable though since it can unlock load times and boot a disc 2 rom immediately
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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#7

Post by Apollo the Just » Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:17 am

I'm already pushing it with my modded C-stick (although Jay did it first) so I wasn't about to open that can of worms. Which is fine because in the end it looks like the best actually affordable setup for capture uses S-video anyway, so

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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#8

Post by Marilink » Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:49 am

Never did progressive scan.

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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#9

Post by Deepfake » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:21 am

Hey, so I don't know about what you're running and its perks or lack thereof, but I can give you some general tips or respond to any questions you have.

The first thing you should know is that any external upscalers aren't doing anything good for your signal, in regards to streaming, they are going to take whatever noisy signal they get and then make it take up more bandwidth. To get a clean image capture, you should want to put in as few steps from the system to the capture as possible, so you can be the one who decides what looks best afterwards.

If the system doesn't natively support progressive scan out for the game you want, the next concern you should have is how many frames you're capturing. Interlaced capture routinely drops every other frame, which is obviously not what you want, you want something that is going to capture the interlacing but process it correctly as interlaced, yeah? That way you would control the combine/etc through software.

Media Player Classic HC as a viewer provides a lot of the on-the-fly shader functions and transforms, off the top of my head, and I think that - like VLC player - you can probably stream via it as well. I was using a specific program to capture/interface my crappy USB capture device, which I can look up. I don't have much experience running a stream to WAN but I am definitely on hand to talk out whatever issues you have.


If you haven't tried it yet, S-Video is absolutely a less clean signal than component video, while obviously being better than composite, there is inherently less shielding. If your component signal is noisy, you may have some noisy parts on your system or gear, or you may be in an area with a high amount of radio noise. A bad hard-mod for the system will just attach an upscaler after the analogue output, a good hard-mod would replace the analogue parts entirely. I haven't toyed with that stuff specifically, but you may find both on the market.

Using a powered cable/amplifier may help you get a cleaner signal, depending on how much radio noise you have where you're recording, but I've noticed they can make colors overblown and even sound overdriven, with more noticeable line noise, if it carries audio.


I will ask how dedicated are you to using Wii or GCN to play it 'natively'? If you have a Wii U, did you know they can be soft-modded to play GCN games 'natively'? It just can't read the discs, so would pull the data off a USB drive. That may be the easiest way to get a clean progressive signal directly from a system without hardmodding. Depending on the state of the mod scene, there might even be a native stream-to-desktop hack for that hardware, it's powerful enough. My softmodded 3DS even supports image streaming, though it's obviously not the smoothest experience being a 3DS.
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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#10

Post by Apollo the Just » Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:49 pm

I know there’s no doubt that Component is better than S-Video but the decision came down to the best affordable analog capture device I could find only accepts composite and s-video so in the end I honestly think accepting the downgrade to actually capture the correct signal is the way to go. Because yeah like I said the one I currently use converts to digital AND upscales which results in a garbled mess. Plus it doesn’t capture the appropriate frame rate and just.. yeah. I looked up some footage on YouTube of people testing the exact setup I want to use to record Melee and it looks SO much crisper than what I have - again honestly I think my biggest issue is just having a capture device that doesn’t actually record analog, it converts and upscales and makes it look like garbage lololol

Although what you’re pointing out about potential noise is something I should look into. Given how much better it looks when I just plug my console into my TV I’m inclined to blame the CC, but there definitely could be noise impacting the signal and I didn’t think of that before..... and I’m not sure how to potentially go about countering that. That’s something I’ll keep in mind if I still have problems even when everything is fully set up for specifically analog capture.

I got the signal amplifier anyway because my parents gave me birthday money so I decided to yolo and go for it, but I’ll try it both with and without to see if things end up overblown or if going without it ends up losing quality.

Playing on Wii is necessary because atm it is the only accepted console for speedrunning (well GC is too but Wii is faster) and using WiiU would probably be considered emulating. Plus the control calibrations are programmed weird so running not-natively usually ends up with inconsistent movement speeds in towns. Also I don’t own a Wii U lololololol

I’ll defintely wanna talk to you sometime just to pick your brain though, I always appreciate your input <3

--

EDIT: I've heard good things about OBS's built in deinterlacers for old games, specifically the Yadif one? OBS is pretty much the software I need to stream from because I also need to capture my splits at the same time for speedruns. My understanding is you used to need to use a lot of external software to get good quality from analog capture (I know other people recommended AmerecTV for a while) but now OBS has most of that functionality built-in, which means I have 2019 Streamer Privilege lmao

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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#11

Post by Deepfake » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:01 am

Yeah, Amarec is the program of which I wax thinking, it is a solid utility. If something else offers comparable function you should be set with that. I have experience primarily with Amarec through Mediaplayer Classic HC and nvidia gamestream and know that setup to work for local play.

The Wii U isn't emulation! It uses the same processor as the Wii and downclocks to run GCN games same as the Wii! It might be worth discussing with others in the community in case someone else brings that up. :)

Glad to hear you've got a solution on hand.

The usual solutions for dealing with radio interference are to have a powered\amped signal, and also to use radio traps. IDK if you can do anything with a trap for your SVideo but I used to have one for my RFcables in cleveland, since that was up the road from a broadcast tower and I'd even pickup radio noise on my vocal mic carrier signal sometimes! Radio works a bit like light, hard flat cement walls reflect it and I was in a basement (the same one you know).Digital sound def solves that problem!
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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#12

Post by Apollo the Just » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:45 am

Oh **** cool I totally misunderstood about the Wii U. That’s awesome. It probably is worth bringing up in the discord even if i don’t personally have a Wii U because it sounds like a pretty great solution as far as recording and streaming goes.

Hopefully I won’t have too much of a problem with noise, there luckily are definitely NOT a lot of hard cement walls and my room is actually really padded with curtains and fabric stored everywhere - so hopefully that’ll help? Does having a somewhat overcrowded space have a negative impact on that kind of thing?

Thanks again for your input! I’ll probably post footage when everything’s set up for comparison if all goes according to keikaku. CC from Japan won’t be in until mid July though.

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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#13

Post by Deepfake » Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:01 am

If you do want to look into/talk about the Wii U stuff with others, here's the basic info:

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/play-game ... intendont/
Nintendont lets you force games to use the higher resolution and output in 16:9.
From what I understand, you actually may be able to use this with a normal Wii as well. You should probably check it out. I might actually try that myself, since my Wii's already softmodded!

In the case of radio interference, there's a lot of things that can contribute. Being close to high-voltage towers or radio towers is a Number One Bad Thing, but high density living usually means a lot more wireless radio etc. Analogue signals are susceptible to anything that comes too close to the same frequency waveform, even including wifi signals. It's all down to how much is going on in the local spectrum. TBH it's a pretty fascinating subject, like I've legit had an overpowered mic start outputting **** radio sound before (from the mic diaphram, which is sort of like a terrible membrane speaker).
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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#14

Post by Apollo the Just » Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:44 am

Yeah Nintendont does work with regular wii! I just didn't bother to homebrew mine to try it out and was also dubious about whether that would be ok with runs or not, and whether it would impact load times, etc. lol

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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#15

Post by DarkZero » Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:14 am

from my experience, running gc discs on nintendont dont alter the load times in any noticable way (its locked to regular hardware speed by default but you can turn the option off if you want)
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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#16

Post by Deepfake » Tue Jun 18, 2019 8:57 am

Apollo the Just wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:44 am
Yeah Nintendont does work with regular wii! I just didn't bother to homebrew mine to try it out and was also dubious about whether that would be ok with runs or not, and whether it would impact load times, etc. lol
The GCN disc drive has an absurdly high read access speed so most of the load times etc have to do with dumping and filling RAM and preparing scenes, actually, so it's all dependent on the CPU and RAM clock frequencies and scene complexity for the most part. Naturally, a lot of game engines were multiplatform and so they will still have loader screens because they're made to process differently. I believe the primary reason Nintendo went with that drive was because it had much better read times than DVD, aside from the rights etc being associated with Sony.
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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#17

Post by Apollo the Just » Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:07 pm

Oh cool. I was worried because apparently the Wii has faster load speeds than GC (which is why all the runs are actually played on Wii) (idfk if this is true in general or just for ToS/only noticeable with games that are 6 hours long) but this is all good to know

I mean I’m still too lazy to homebrew my Wii but maybe someday LOL

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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#18

Post by Deepfake » Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:33 am

Apollo the Just wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:07 pm
Oh cool. I was worried because apparently the Wii has faster load speeds than GC (which is why all the runs are actually played on Wii) (idfk if this is true in general or just for ToS/only noticeable with games that are 6 hours long) but this is all good to know

I mean I’m still too lazy to homebrew my Wii but maybe someday LOL
Should definitely be a non-issue issue if you're using actual discs on a modded Wii, then it will only load as fast as the discs allow. It would definitely be a big deal in comparison to an actual emulator since modern PCs can store the entire disc in RAM, but I'm skeptical that USB would actually perform better than the Wii disc drive. GCN discs read so fast in part owing to their low seek-time - less surface space means less seek. IDK how fast it actually pulls data off the disc itself, but the data bus for the GCN could at least hand off data at something like 2gb/s iirc. USB 2 is slow compared to that, but how much slower can the disc drive be? I could check real specs but I'm lazy r/n.

Okay I did a quick search anyway, and first real result I'm seeing is someone on a forum claiming the GCN drive works "between 2MB/s at the inner tracks and 3.125MB/s at the outer tracks" but that sounds lowish. If the Wii has a 6x dvd drive as I've heard it would read at 8MB/s I think? That's ballpark for games stored in the range of gigabytes, at least. If modders got the Wii to run USB at the highest possible USB 2.0 speed, it's likely that it runs around 60MB/s. If it runs at the lower end of USB 2, aka 'full speed' I think that's around 1.5MB/s.

@DarkZero you've used Nintendon't and said that was faster via USB but was that on Wii U or plain Wii?
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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#19

Post by DarkZero » Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:53 pm

I have never actually bothered to unlock load speeds so I can't answer that, but I've run it on both Wii and Wii U with locked speed and load times seem exactly the same between both.
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Re: Getting good quality from retro consoles

#20

Post by Apollo the Just » Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:34 am

GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!!!

I got all the stuff for my new setup in and finally got around to putting it all together. Here’s the footage (be sure it’s set to 720p so you can see how smooth it is):



Not only is it 60fps / properly deinterlaced but it’s also just overall clearer and nicer looking than what I was getting with the Elgato HD. The full setup is S-Video out on Wii, a powered splitter/amplifier, one out to my TV and one out to the GV USB-2 which plugs into my PC. I tried just using OBS’s built in deinterlacer but it was a bit choppy so I downloaded AmarecTV and used that to deinferlace and then captured that window in OBS.

I’m so pleased I’m so glad I finally decided to research better options *w*

EDIT: there is still one more thing i want to try out (i was doing the scaling in OBS rather than Amarec and I think it might look cleaner if I do it in Amarec instead, and ensure it's an exact multiple of the original resolution, along with everything else - OBS's scaling filters are pretty great though so it might not be an improvement) but that can wait until after my comptia exams on tuesday. regardless, this has been a fun project and i am very pleased with the outcome

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