Highest Quality Playback
using the "VMR 9 (renderless)" mode

This article is outdated. The information is not up-to-date. The idea is still valid and recommended especially for nVidia cards, but MPC and ffdshow mentioned here are from 2005, now obsolete versions. Also note that if your video card can—or you can configure your video card to—do the color space conversion properly, doing so hardware-wise is better in theory, meaning less CPU-intensive. On the other hand, if you have CPU power to spare, you may want to just do it software-wise as in the following article, because it may be much easier than fine-tuning your video card (you just need to clear a few checkboxes). (May 18, 2008)

3 April 2005

Quite a few people use Media Player Classic (MPC) in the "VMR 9 (renderless)" mode. VMR 9 is high quality, with very powerful softsub support, but you have to customize the ffdshow settings to get the best result in this mode.

If you use the default settings, probably the colors you see are not correct--hazy and grayish.

This guide explains how to customize ffdshow to faithfully reproduce the colors in MPC's "VMR 9 (renderless)" mode on Windows 2000.

Samples

First let's observe what is wrong and what is correct.

This is the original frame on the video editor. Our goal is to reproduce the same colors.

[JPEG]

Now, this is what you'll get by "VMR 9 (renderless)" + ffdshow in the default settings. As you can see, the video is hazy.

[JPEG]

It should be like this:

[JPEG]

How To...

To begin with, make sure you have the newer versions of everything installed (get files from www.honobono.cc/files/):

This is how to use the "VMR 9 (renderless)" mode in MPC.

[PNG]

You can choose the resizing method too. Do not use "Nearest neighbor," or you'll get zigzag edges in the full screen mode. Do not use the "...render video in 3D" + "Bicubic" combination either, which is too CPU-intensive even for 3GHz+ Pentium 4 (EDIT (May 18, 2008): This may not be true anymore on a newer computer). I'd recommend the "...render video in 3D" + "Bilinear (PS 2.0)" combination, but this is not a must.

Now, let's get to the point.

Close MPC just in case, and open the ffdshow video decoder configuration dialogbox, via Start - Programs - ffdshow - Video decoder configuration. Select "Output" in the left pane, and you'll see these settings by default:

[PNG]

The problem is, ffdshow uses the YUY2 color space by default. If YUY2 is disabled, ffdshow uses UYVY, which is not good either. Simply put, they are fast but low quality--especially they don't get along with the "VMR 9 (renderless)" mode.

You don't have to understand the theory here. What's important is, how you can enjoy anime with beautiful "true color," and the answer is "Use the RGB color space." How? I'd recommend the following settings:

[PNG]

  1. First, force the full-color RGB by unchecking everything but RGB24 and RGB32.
  2. Second, check "High quality YV12 to RGB conversion." XviD (and DivX too) uses YV12, which we are trying to convert to RGB, and, of cource, high-quality conversion is preferable.
  3. The third thing is actually unrelated here, but you might want to check "Use overlay mixer." This way, an anamorphic-encoded Matroska video plays properly. (If you don't understand what this means, just forget it. This part has nothing to do with the theme of this guide.)

Conclusion

If you use the VMR 9 (renderless) mode, make sure you are seeing the correct colors.

Last but not least, there is always an option not to use VMR 9. If your hardware doesn't like the "VMR 9 (renderless)" mode, just use another mode, such as "VMR 7 (renderless)" or "Overlay." VMR 9 is known as high-quality, but it doesn't work well in some environments.

I hope this guide will help you out.

If you have any questions, need support, or just want to say something to us,
don't hesitate to send an email to: info <at> honobono.cc

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