Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kasabian, Digital Foundry and Microsoft

It's quite ironic that Digital Foundry's first mainstream non-games project should be for... Microsoft. Last week, the Xbox Live Marketplace was updated with the back catalogue of Kasabian videos in standard definition, with the latest single, Shoot The Runner, available as an HD presentation.
Digital Foundry performed the conversion and encoding for this project, taking the masters in 1080i/50 format from HDCAM tape, ingesting the raw footage directly over HD-SDI into a 25fps 1080p file.
The video was then scaled downwards to 1280x720 - the Xbox Live HD standard - and encoded directly into the appropriate WMV container.
It was a relatively painless operation, but the flat colour/animated nature of the video provided a lot of potential for compression. However, with an eye for quality, Microsoft chose to use the version we encoded at the maximum possible bitrate, providing a virtually flawless rendition of the original file.

Click for full-size 720p images of the Kasabian video, Shoot the Runner, prepared by Digital Foundry for Microsoft and the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

1080p 24-bit Precision

The latest Digital Foundry HD software is now ready, offering native analogue component support to the already impressive results from VGA, DVI and unencrypted HDMI. So now the challenge is to push our existing hardware further and offer additional functionality.
Just about all HD capture solutions at the moment including Digital Foundry HD are limited to YCrCb 16-bit colour spaces, and it has to be said that in most cases, this is absolutely fine. Every single screenshot in previous blog entries has used this mode.
However, the next phase of software development will be for those looking for ultra-pristine assets. We are currently beta-testing full, lossless 24-bit capture. It'll be limited to 30fps at 720p, and 10fps at 1080p, but in terms of ultimate quality, nothing else will even get close.

Click for full-size 1080p images of Ridge Racer 7, captured digitally with full 24-bit precision.