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LotR German edition - very bad compression artifacts

Old 08-07-02, 04:44 AM
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LotR German edition - very bad compression artifacts

I didn't notice this before I was made aware of a review that stated something like "The LotR DVD is free of compression artifacts". This is ridiculous if you've seen the German version, and since that one's much much cheaper to get in Switzerland than the US one, I bought it.

In the German edition I noticed the following:

- Compression artifacts (visible squares) in all dark scenes, Moria for example.
- "Keyframe pulsing" -- you visibly notice each and every keyframe since it is a slight bit brighter than the rest of the frames. This gets annoying quickly since once you notice the effect, you can't get it out of your mind.
- Slightly visible vertical lines through most brighter parts of scenes with high contrast, e.g. close-up of Legolas' face as he's shooting an arrow at something.

Is this also present in the US version? The German one contains full 5.1 versions of both the Germand and the English soundtrack, so I'd imagine they either had less space for the video track and had to encode at a lower bitrate, or they used the same video track on both editions, just converted to 25 fps higher-resolution PAL for Germany. This would leave the US version with some extra unused space on the DVD.

I'm aware that this is a 3 hour movie, but the DVD seems to be a dual layer disc so there's no excuse for this lack of quality. I've seen 2 hour single layer movies that looked a lot better than LotR, and in my opinion this movie is good enough to deserve better production values.

I can give you the details of a few frames and what to look out for. In some places, the artifacts are even visible when the picture is not moving.. I don't have a frame count, but I can give you the position of the ugly frames in milliseconds from the beginning of the movie.

Would anyone be willing to send me screenshots for comparison if I supply the URL of a tool that can decode a DVD and shows position in milliseconds?


Edit: Here's the URL of the review:

Interesting excerpt: "But with all this good, is there any bad? Well, yes and no. There aren't any compression artifacts in the transfer. Probably because the entire first disc is devoted to the three-hour film and only two audio options so it has just enough room to breathe."

Either this reviewer was watching the movie with his head stuck up his rear or there ARE compression artifacts, heavy compression artifacts, just not in the US version.

Last edited by Psy-Q; 08-07-02 at 04:50 AM.
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Old 08-07-02, 05:45 AM
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Psy-Q, I just watched the U.S. edition (region 1) last night and
it is excellent. I displayed it over a Toshiba HDtv with a Pioneer Elite DV-47A DVD player.

None of the compression artifacts, keyframe pulsing, or verticle
line distortion that you've mentioned were visible. As an industry professional I am extremely critical of DVD transfers, and LOTR Region 1 looks fantastic. I was impressed by the 5.1 audio as well.
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Old 08-07-02, 06:04 AM
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Awesome, thanks a lot for the input! I watched on a plain mid-range 19" PC CRT monitor (Belinea) using WinDVD 2.13 as a player. I watch most of my DVDs like this so I'm used to how WinDVD decodes. I'm absolutely sure you would have noticed them on your rig though, if they were there in the US original.

I am in no way a professional in video, maybe just more sensitive to compression artifacts than other people due to years of having to do JPEG compression daily.

I will try the DVD on an unsuspecting co-worker and see if he notices anything. Maybe if I can get my hands on the US DVD, I will have proof. There are a few screenshots in that review that I can use, and they didn't suffer too much from JPEG - it might be some basis for comparison.

I'm very very disappointed by the German one's quality and will probably buy the US extended version. Since selling RC1 DVDs has become illegal in Switzerland on August 1, I guess a foreign store will get my money, not AOL Switzerland.

I wonder if I can return the disc - in my eyes the guy who did the compression for this version was totally incompetent, and that has lead to a flawed product compared to the original. It's like buying a CD where the band is missing the bass player in the German version while he was there in the original Swedish one.

Last edited by Psy-Q; 08-07-02 at 06:08 AM.
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Old 08-07-02, 08:41 AM
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LOTR Region 1 looks fantastic
so why do i keep hearing reports of it being excessively soft with healthy doses of EE ?
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Old 08-07-02, 09:05 AM
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Originally posted by Andy_MT

so why do i keep hearing reports of it being excessively soft with healthy doses of EE ?

From where??? Have you seen the DVD?? It should be your new Demo DVD to show off your system. It IS nothing short of fantastic!
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Old 08-07-02, 10:04 AM
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no i haven't seen the DVD, but this is what i've been hearing from threads at the AVS forum. (stephane Bervas post for starters)

what worries me is that the forum members who are reporting it soft are usually on the nose when it comes to assesing PQ. and judging by the screen shots i've seen on IGN, they look right
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Old 08-07-02, 10:48 AM
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Thanks for that link!

It doesn't look good for the German DVD. The US one is apparently 7.3 GB. The german one is only 7.12 GB (7,652,921,344 bytes) and this includes ALL audio, that's 2x 5.1 DS EX plus one 2.0.

So unless magical little pixies were involved, there is no way that the German version is as good as the US version.

I wrote Warner Brothers Switzerland a letter asking if this is really true and whether people can exchange their butchered RC2 versions for proper RC1 ones. I don't think they'll even answer, but it's worth a shot...

Man, I'm disgusted. I'll never buy a RC2 DVD again, even if that hurts the local economy.
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Old 08-07-02, 11:27 AM
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