The Big Question About Edge Enhancement

 
Old 06-13-03, 09:30 AM
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The Big Question About Edge Enhancement

OK, I've been here for years and I've never heard an answer to the most obvious question about EE. So here goes : If every DVD review blasts a movie for too much added EE, if other DVDs are praised for having no visable EE, then why add any? It is added later in the process and not in the original image, right?Are there any instances where it helps? Has there ever been a DVD with too little edge enhancement? Would that make the images too soft?
I just don't get it, especially considering that some pretty high profile discs that obviously were major undertakings and produced by famed DVD producers (such as SW Ep I and T2 : Penultimate Edition) are guilty of this.

Any thoughts?
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Old 06-13-03, 12:15 PM
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Edge enhancement makes movies look sharper on small television screens. The problem is that those of us with large displays can see the halo effect and it is very distracting and 'artificial' looking.

Why does edge enhancement continue to be added to DVDs? That is a good question.

I think part of the problem is that the people performing the disc mastering are reviewing their work on relatively small studio monitors, usually in the 27-30" range. Now, yes, these are professional-grade and obscenely expensive studio monitors perfectly tuned to NTSC spec, but regardless the level of detail perceived by the human eye is much smaller at that screen size. So, to them, edge enhancement really doesn't look too bad. But when you bring the disc home and try to watch it on a 50" RPTV or 100" front projection screen, it's horrible.

In the video supplements to the 'Grave of the Fireflies' DVD, there is actually a featurette where the studio tech goes over to his equipment and proudly demonstrates how he can turn on the edge enhancement to give the movie "that nice sharp look". Rotten bastard!

Last edited by Josh Z; 06-13-03 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 06-13-03, 12:28 PM
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Josh Z has just inspired me to play devil's advocate. Based on the statements above, it seems that complaining about edge enhancement on a DVD is analogous to complaining that your brand new Kia Sephia can't sweep at LeMans.

Can you do it? Sure ... but it is obvious that you are attempting to push the hardware beyond the intended limit. TV manufacturers don't care, they can project anything, just like tires don't care if you're going 20 or 120mph. But just because you can put Z rated tires on 17" rims doesn't mean you should try to hit the top rated speed with them in an $8k car and expect decent performance.

[edited to add that i have no interest in backing up this position, I just found it slightly amusing.]

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Old 06-13-03, 12:38 PM
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Apparently, during the conversion process to DVD, downconversion of the higher resolution element causes artifacts that need to be removed using edge enhancement.

Virtually every DVD has EE applied to it. It's just that sometimes they go overboard and that's where the halos come from.
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Old 06-13-03, 12:59 PM
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OK, that helps a little. I certainly understand why it looks bad on a 100" display, but if I think Queen Amidala looks like she's radioactive on my 36"Sony, then clearly something has gone wrong.

What about the second half of my question : Do any films have too little EE? What would that look like? Soft? Grainy? Faint?

and to address Big Pete's point, using a car analogy: I think complaining about EE is like complaining about that stupid fake wood siding that Chrysler used to put on their minivans. It was ugly and useless and almost nobody liked it. Yet they kept churning out those things for years. Eventually someone came to their senses and said "Why not just have the enitre minivan painted one color?" Then everyone was happy (or as happy as one could be while driving a minivan).
You see my point?

Last edited by Decker; 06-13-03 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 06-13-03, 05:37 PM
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Originally posted by Decker
What about the second half of my question : Do any films have too little EE? What would that look like? Soft? Grainy? Faint?
There are quite a few DVDs that look too soft (Donnie Darko and Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade come immediately to mind), but I don't think it's from a lack of edge enhancement so much as that the transfer has been too heavily compressed and then heavily filtered to reduce the appearance of artifacts.

There are many discs out there that are perfectly sharp without visibible edge enhancement. Criterion does a good job with that.

Edge enhancement is just a bad thing. There is no good side to it. It is unnecessary and harmful.
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Old 06-15-03, 03:01 PM
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The new T2 Extreme Edition DVD has no EE and looks considerably more detailed than the previous Ultimate Edition, which was riddled with EE.

Since the Extreme Edition was taken from an HD source, it seems clear that downcoversion from a higher resolution does not require EE.

EE is not neccessary. It makes the image on a 20" or smaller screen seem slightly better, while causing the image on larger screens to look much worse.

To test EE for yourself, open up a photo editor and apply 'sharpen' to an image. you'll notice that when you view the image at a smaller scale. the edges look a little sharper, but as you zoom in you'll notice the loss of detail and the wierd 'halo' effect arounf the edges.

Last edited by Jay G.; 06-15-03 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 06-15-03, 07:18 PM
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Certainly I understand how "sharpness" screws up the picture, and I always turn it down as far as possible on my TV set. I just never understood why EE is still added to DVDs. It's one thing if your talking about a crappy MGM laserdisc bare-bones port, but for a major DVD like T2 : UE, which was produced by the legendary Van Ling, it's inexcusable.
Maybe he was planning on selling another improved version of the same disc some time down the road in the future? Naahhhh.
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Old 06-15-03, 07:56 PM
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The new T2 Extreme Edition DVD has no EE and looks considerably more detailed than the previous Ultimate Edition, which was riddled with EE.
Incorrect. The EE has EE. Far less than the previous version, but some nontheless.

To test EE for yourself, open up a photo editor and apply 'sharpen' to an image. you'll notice that when you view the image at a smaller scale. the edges look a little sharper, but as you zoom in you'll notice the loss of detail and the wierd 'halo' effect arounf the edges.
Using "sharpen" in Photoshop is not the same thing as EE.

Since the Extreme Edition was taken from an HD source, it seems clear that downcoversion from a higher resolution does not require EE.
Although I can't substantiate this with first hand experience, it has been mentioned in other forums by people with experience that EE is necessary to remove artifacting when DVDs are played in interlaced mode. Whether or not this is actually true is another thing.
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Old 06-15-03, 08:43 PM
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Originally posted by Shazam
Although I can't substantiate this with first hand experience, it has been mentioned in other forums by people with experience that EE is necessary to remove artifacting when DVDs are played in interlaced mode. Whether or not this is actually true is another thing.
That's actually not true, and it's also not true that "virtually every DVD has EE applied to it," unless someone is using "edge enhancement" as some sort of catch-all term for various techniques used in the digital clean-up process. Downconverting a film source for interlaced video display can cause artifacts, but these type of artifacts certainly cannot be erased with edge enhancement. See this link for more:

http://www.lukesvideo.com/telecining4.html

Also, there are plenty of DVD companies that don't use any edge enhancement at all. I recall somebody posting on some forum that a Synapse Films disc had excessive edge enhancement. Synapse president Don May posted back that not only was there no edge enhancement used, but that there had been no digital clean-up done to the title at all. It was just a straight telecine job, with no corrections made, but people still insisted that they saw EE.
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Old 06-15-03, 08:59 PM
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Rare is the title without EE.

As for the Synapse Films comment from their president, I'd be hard pressed to believe it.
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Old 06-15-03, 09:09 PM
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Originally posted by Shazam
Rare is the title without EE.

As for the Synapse Films comment from their president, I'd be hard pressed to believe it.
What are you basing your assumptions on? You seem to be rejecting firsthand evidence simply to hang on to the idea that all discs use EE. I don't think you realize just how many discs are straight telecine transfers with no digital correction or restoration at all. There are numerous labels that simply run the transfer source through the machine and then start cranking up the replicators. You're actually giving many authoring studios far more credit they deserve when you claim that everyone uses EE. If some companies don't even bother to do basic color correction or even the most minimal digital clean-up, then we can't assume that they're bothering to mess around with edge enhancement techniques.
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Old 06-15-03, 11:55 PM
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Originally posted by Shazam
Although I can't substantiate this with first hand experience, it has been mentioned in other forums by people with experience that EE is necessary to remove artifacting when DVDs are played in interlaced mode. Whether or not this is actually true is another thing.
If anything, edge enhancement makes interlaced playback even worse than progressive, as it exaserbates moire artifacting.

Originally posted by Shazam
As for the Synapse Films comment from their president, I'd be hard pressed to believe it.
Indeed. I once got into an argument with a rep from ADV films who objected to one of my reviews complaining about edge enhancement on one of their titles. "We have never added edge enhancement to any DVD" he claimed, which is utterly ridiculous as the disc in question was plagued by terrible, thick halos visible even on small TV monitors. When a flood of other people with the disc backed me up, I pressured him to look at a specific scene on the disc himself and tell me what he saw. He backed off after that.

Originally posted by Sartana
What are you basing your assumptions on? You seem to be rejecting firsthand evidence simply to hang on to the idea that all discs use EE. I don't think you realize just how many discs are straight telecine transfers with no digital correction or restoration at all. There are numerous labels that simply run the transfer source through the machine and then start cranking up the replicators. You're actually giving many authoring studios far more credit they deserve when you claim that everyone uses EE. If some companies don't even bother to do basic color correction or even the most minimal digital clean-up, then we can't assume that they're bothering to mess around with edge enhancement techniques.
What it comes down to is that edge enhancement may be added by the telecine equipment itself somewhere in the video transfer stage. It may not even be a conscious decision on the operator's part, if the equipment is not calibrated properly.
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Old 06-16-03, 02:11 AM
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Originally posted by Josh Z
What it comes down to is that edge enhancement may be added by the telecine equipment itself somewhere in the video transfer stage. It may not even be a conscious decision on the operator's part, if the equipment is not calibrated properly.
The machines are taking over the world. Kill your appliances before they kill you.

Seriously..."if the equipment is not calibrated properly"? Why don't we just say that we don't know what we're talking about and stop speculating about how exactly edge enhancement is implemented? I'm sure that there's some information out there on the net that would explain exactly how EE is done.

Last edited by Sartana; 06-16-03 at 02:14 AM.
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Old 06-16-03, 03:43 AM
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It has been stated elsewhere that in some cases EE is an MPEG 2 compression artifact.

If you notice, most of the major releases this year have greatly reduced EE artifacts. This is a combination of the studios becoming more conscious of the complaint (and thus being more conservative in the application of EE during the transfer process); and improved compression software being employed in the downconversion.

I have also noticed that the newer progressive scan players with built-in scalers seem to reduce the effect even on some of the older EE plagued transfers. (For example, I was surprised at how much better The Sound of Music DVD now appears on my new Panasonic progressive scan player. It's still easily one of the worse EE offenders out there, but it's now tolerable.)
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Old 06-16-03, 09:03 AM
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http://www.videophile.info/Guide_EE/Page_01.htm
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Old 06-16-03, 11:01 AM
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Originally posted by Sartana
Seriously..."if the equipment is not calibrated properly"? Why don't we just say that we don't know what we're talking about and stop speculating about how exactly edge enhancement is implemented? I'm sure that there's some information out there on the net that would explain exactly how EE is done.
Edge enhancement can be added several different ways. It can be a conscious decision to sharpen the picture, it can be the result of improperly calibrated equipment, or it can be related to digital compression.

Regardless of which one causes it on a specific disc, the fact remains that it is a serious problem that those mastering the discs ought to be paying more attention to.
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