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Full Version: XBMC has 'Lossy' video quality on some .mkv files?
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I've been noticing that my XBMC is playing some video files, mostly 720p .mkv files, with under satisfactory quality.

If you're unsure what I mean by Lossy (I'm not sure if it's the correct term) I mean stuff like this:
Image

However, if I load the file in Media Player Classic, it plays perfectly. I've also installed the K-Lite Codec Pack as I figured it may help, but unfortunately it didn't.

Any help / insight is appreciated, thanks.
I've gotten that on a few titles too, only gets that way for a second or two though and all mine are 1080p. I wonder if it has anything to do with hard drive caching or access time. Have you tried rebooting and does the title still play like that?

Oh, and how do you get MKV's to play in Windows Media Player?
Unfortunately when I encounter this it's not just for a second or two, it happens consistently throughout the entire video. And it's not just an episode, entire seasons of Anime that I've downloaded have done this.

I've tried rebooting my Media Center, not the server that it's connected to. I'll try that when I get home. (Although I don't think it will do much as the videos play fine on my Media Center using Media Player Classic, so I'm thinking this is an XBMC issue.)

I played the MKV's in Media Player Classic, not Windows Media Player. Tongue

This is an issue I'd really like to resolve, I've been nothing but amazed with XBMC up until this point, and the only other issue I've encountered is that my "TV Shows" section isn't properly listing over half of the stuff in that folder (But the playlists I've created display 100% of the content.)

Even if there is a program I can use to scan the videos, if there's an issue with buffering.. or that my computer / network can't keep up with the buffering. This is something I want to resolve! Smile
Yeah I hear ya. Why do you have a server environment at home? Can't you just copy all the MKV's to the PC connected to the TV? That's what I'm doing and love it.
Eh, it's not really a server. I just have a downloads computer with 8TB of space and I've got it connected to my Media Center PC which is beside my TV. I'll try copying a few of the lossy files over and test that out when I'm home as well.
Have you got Divx2 enabled in Xbmc video playback... If you have try DSPlayer for XBMC might improve video quality for you
You've mentioned anime - that looks like it may be 10-bit video being played as 8-bit (either via DXVA or software). Obviously the image you posted isn't anime, but it might still be 10-bit.

The most likely other alternative is that you're trying to play back h.264 at a higher profile than your video card is capable of e.g. [email protected] on hardware that only supports [email protected] - a ,lot of hardware will play that but with artifacting.
indiejones Wrote:Have you got Divx2 enabled in Xbmc video playback... If you have try DSPlayer for XBMC might improve video quality for you
I'll check this when I get home, and is DSPlayer just an Addon I download?

magao Wrote:You've mentioned anime - that looks like it may be 10-bit video being played as 8-bit (either via DXVA or software). Obviously the image you posted isn't anime, but it might still be 10-bit.

The most likely other alternative is that you're trying to play back h.264 at a higher profile than your video card is capable of e.g. [email protected] on hardware that only supports [email protected] - a ,lot of hardware will play that but with artifacting.
Yes, this issue has only been with anime. I can go one step further and check if the files I've had trouble with are in fact 10-bit, because I remember that in the titles of some stuff I've downloaded recently.

That image I posted was off of wikipedia, I was just trying to show the issue visually as I feared my definition may be off.

In regards to the h.264 playback, I'm not sure I understand what [email protected]/5.1 is, but the files play fine using Media Player Classic on my media center computer, just when I use XBMC I see 'artifacts'.
Hi10P is a cancer for fansubs. By the time everything supports this old studio profile, we will have the superior h.265. Minor file savings vs compatibility. The dark ages of having to worry about codec packs is upon us again because some "encoders" think they can out smart standards.
Some other things that are important to mention about your setup are the video card you are using and if you are running 10.1 (Dharma) or 11.0b2 (Eden).

This kind of stuff shows up in a debug log.
live4ever Wrote:Some other things that are important to mention about your setup are the video card you are using and if you are running 10.1 (Dharma) or 11.0b2 (Eden).

This kind of stuff shows up in a debug log.
I'm not sure what the video card is (at work, I'll check when I'm home) but I believe I'm running Dharma. How do I enable the Debug log?

Also, I did a bit of research and the issue I'm having is directly from playing files done by the [CoalGirls] fansub team. I downloaded 2 more series by them last night and I had the exact same issues..

Two of the series I've had trouble with:

Unsure if any of the information on here helps anyone better understand any issues.
That's your problem right there. Coalgirls are being idiots and are using Hi10p. You're out of luck unless you want to use an external player that can handle those files.

Good choices on shows though.
YodaEXE Wrote:That's your problem right there. Coalgirls are being idiots and are using Hi10p. You're out of luck unless you want to use an external player that can handle those files.

Good choices on shows though.
Could you give me a small summary of what exactly Hi10p is and why it doesn't work with XBMC? Moreso, I'm more curious what formats I should be looking for when I'm trying to find anime. I usually download 720p versions when possible.

And thanks! Smile
In general Coalgirls are being idiots, but in this case it's a ton of fansubbers jumping to h.264 Hi10P.

Basically, Hi10P is an h.264 profile used in the professional space (studios, etc). Recently it has gotten support in consumer players, and fansubbers have been using it as a way to squeeze higher quality in smaller file sizes. The trade off is that it breaks compatibility with most video players and ALL hardware video decoders. While some players are slowly adding support, by the time it's "mainstream" for most people, we'll have h.265/HEVC, which will have broad consumer support and beat the pants off of Hi10P.

Hi10P can't increase the quality beyond the source. No HD broadcast or bluray is in 10-bit. All it can do is save file size (higher quality at a lower file size). How much depends on various factors, and sometimes it won't even be significant.

The worse part of this is, unlike divx, which today still has some support, most of these groups are dropping normal h.264 HP (high profile) cold-turkey in a misguided attempt to force adoption. While it is true that anime groups tend to jump on the latest codec technology, they are not the driving force behind it. Like I said, h.265 is the successor to the broadly supported h.264 HP.

So your best bet to watch anime this season in XBMC is to find "8-bit" versions or follow one of the options here: http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Hi10P_playback

XBMC will eventually be updated with a newer version of FFmpeg (the heart, so to speak, of our video player) and gain Hi10P support, but not until XBMC v12 (Frodo) due out next year.
Ned Scott Wrote:So your best bet to watch anime this season in XBMC is to find "8-bit" versions or follow one of the options here: http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Hi10P_playback

Or to transcode from 10-bit to 8-bit yourself (which is what I do). Even if you use one of the 10-bit options, all decoding has to be done on the CPU and many HTPCs don't have a powerful enough CPU for high-resolution 10-bit material (since they were built with the idea that all decoding would be offloaded to the GPU).

Best bet for transcoding is to use Handbrake - either 0.9.5 or the latest nightly. Start with either the Normal or High Profile (preferred if your hardware supports it) preset, and then adjust to find the combination of quality, size and time to transcode that works best for you. Note that you can mouse over most options to get an idea of what they affect.

I aim to transcode 720p (or 1080p reduced to 720p) at ~30fps on my machine (i7-860 - 4 cores, 8 threads). This means I can set an episode transcoding, watch another episode and the transcoding is finished by the time I'm ready to watch. Particularly good if I'm marathoning a series - set all episodes transcoding, and start watching 30 minutes later ...

Some specific suggestions I have to improve playback and reduce filesize whilst maintaining quality (but some will reduce transcoding performance):

Picture: If you download 1080p material you can reduce it to 720p here by setting Anamorphic to Loose and changing the width to 1280. This will greatly improve transcoding performance and reduce file size, and the chances of seeing the difference on your TV is minimal.

Video Filters: Detelecine and Decomb can be off if you know that the source material doesn't need it (which should be the case with most fansubs). It's safe to leave them on, but reduces transcoding performance slightly. I leave them on.

Video:

Framerate: Use Constant framerate - Variable is the default, and should work fine, but I've found that some sources combined with some playback software can produce jerky playback when transcoded with Variable framerate.

Quality: Use Constant Quality. I find RF:20 gives indistinguishable results from the source in nearly all cases, with reasonable file size and transcoding time.

Advanced: Many settings to play with here, and it's here that you can potentially exceed your hardware's capabilities (if you've got recentish nVidia hardware, everything is OK).

Reference frames and Max. B-frames: The defaults for High Profile of 3 and 3 are fine - higher values may give smaller filesizes. I use 6 and 5. I've tried higher values but just found slower transcoding for no size or quality improvement (esp. if Adaptive B-frames is set to Optimal as it should be).

Motion Estimation Method: The default Hexagon method is OK, but Uneven Multi-Hexagon is definitely better, for a smallish penality to transcoding time.

Subpixel ME & Mode Decision: This has one of the largest effects on file size and transcoding time. Since I have a big beefy transcoding machine I use 9: RD refine in all frames. I would suggest not going below 6: RD in I/P frames.

Psychovisual Rate Distortion and Trellis: For animated sources I set this to 0.50 and 0.00 respectively (i.e. in the options list at the bottom, psy-rd=0.50,0.00).

Ned Scott Wrote:XBMC will eventually be updated with a newer version of FFmpeg (the heart, so to speak, of our video player) and gain Hi10P support, but not until XBMC v12 (Frodo) due out next year.

I'm hoping it will be included in the nightlies shortly after the Eden final release, but whether I'd be able to use it on my HTPC is the question ... might be able to swap it's CPU with another machine, but then I've got to consider cooling and noise again ...
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