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Star Trek Voyager: Enhanced 4K & 1080p Edition (a WIP)

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This project started during the first Covid-related lockdown back in March 2020 and has been continuing ever since.

The “Enhanced Edition” features a PAL-DVD-based higher quality version that focuses mainly on the “clean-up” of visual aspects of the show, like: Reduced motion stuttering (stable 23,976 FPS), deinterlacing, cross color reduction, noise removal, deblocking, dehaloing, deringing, anti aliasing, reduction of color banding, sharpening.
All borders have been slightly cropped to eliminate the “VHS-tape look”.
Slight color grading has been added to enhance the color representation.
Furthermore, the audio tracks have been slowed down to correct for the PAL-shift.

The releases (4K) are encoded as follows: H265 (mkv) at 20 Mbps with Main 10 @ L5 @ Main, BT.709 @ 10 bit, resolution 2880x2160p (4:3 aspect ratio / no black borders left and right; you can decide if you want to stretch or not) with English and German AC3 5.1 audio tracks at 640 Kbps.
45-minute-episodes take up between 6-7 GB of space per episode.

The releases (1080p) are encoded as follows: H265 (mkv) at 2,5 Mbps with Main 10 @ L5.1 @ Main, BT.709 @ 10 bit, resolution 1440x1080p (4:3 aspect ratio / no black borders left and right; you can decide if you want to stretch or not) with English and German AC3 5.1 audio tracks at 256 Kbps.
45-minute-episodes take up between 0,8-1,0 GB of space per episode.

The realisation of this project is a very complicated multi-step approach (f.e. using several instances of AI-upscaling software), so it may take a while, but it continues to go on.

If you are interested in getting to know more technical details or in watching the “Enhanced Edition”, send me a private message!

The Ends DO Justify The Means …

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Not the greatest episode, but thank you again for your continued efforts.

A couple of the shots are a little unsteady (particularly the shuttle launch and one pan across the bridge), but that’s all I noticed.

I’m looking forward to the next couple.

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@vranir:
Since I am going in episode/season order, the better episodes will soon follow. Yeah, not every shot/scene is perfect, but the upscaler still has trouble with wide angles and smaller elements.

The Ends DO Justify The Means …

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You had us spoiled with the frequency of those initial releases. Hope all is well.

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Sorry I haven’t been around much. Was sick (including hospital and recovery time), but I am getting back into things. Actually, I am planning on revamping a few things including a latest quality update. I will keep you guys updated.

The Ends DO Justify The Means …

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That’s terrible! Glad you’re on the mend.

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Exiting news on the Voyager front guys: As you have probably noticed, I have been busy updating my projects as of late (Voyager included).

The thing that always stressed me out was how badly the CGI/VFX was handled on the PAL-DVDs of Voyager (DS9 sometimes suffers from similar problems, but not as bad as VOY). The motion is so jerky ships seems to stumble across the screen sometimes.
So, since I am updating things anyway, I thougt “Perhaps I can get a grip on this as well”.

Yesterday, I think I found a sort of “work-around” that improves things. I managed to get the NTSC rendered in a way that reduces the motion stutter and replace the PAL-DVD frames that contain CGI/VFX effects.

Note that this is only a preliminary trial, I am also considering adding FlowFrames to further smooth things out (so the examples do not include FlowFrames yet) - but I am excited and wanted to share where things are going.

First, you have an example of my previous work, upscaled straight from PAL-DVD to 4K (but downmastered to 1080p here for size-reasons) - note how jerky the ships move (link is free, no password):
https://www.dropbox.com/s/fqolbtlovv5t2z1/VOY 1080p from 4K Test (PAL only).mkv?dl=0

Second, you have an example of my latest work, live action scenes from PAL-DVD, effects from NTSC - spliced together to create 4K (but downmastered here for size-reasons) - note that the movements are smoother (link is free, no password):
https://www.dropbox.com/s/7sz6mshgw159svf/VOY 1080p from 4K Test (with NTSC Fix).mkv?dl=0

Let me know what you think!

The Ends DO Justify The Means …

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A little warning to everyone: don’t watch it streaming there on dropbox, or at least if you see big compression artifacts know that it’s NOT in the file. For me at least, downloading was the way to go.

Black Alert, really nice job. The effects shots look great! It’s hard to believe you got those out of NTSC!

LightWave = fun times with gfx for me 😃

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@WXM:
Thanks for the notice that downloading is better than watching as stream - it’s something I always do but forgot to mention, my bad.

As far as the NTSC-DVDs go: It’s a bit of a complicated process, but generally I have found that the NTSC have better quality in the CGI/VFX area, since they haven’t been adjusted for PAL distribution (25 FPS).
With my workflow, I reduce the 25 FPS PAL to 23,976, which looks nice for about 95% of the live action segments, but it really hurts the effects, which are already stuttering (coming from 29,97 FPS half fields). Since live action is mostly shot on 24 fps film stock, the 23,976 fps from PAL are ok.

My modifications now include:
Taking the NTSC and restoring to full fields (which creates 59,94 FPS output), the render them to reduce rainbowing and increase detail, then I eliminate frame doubles and blend the rest together so I get 29,97 FPS again, then I use an AI-based solution to reduce further to 23,976 FPS (without actually changing the number of frames/images in the videostream), then I do 3 upscaling runs with different models and finally I compare the number of images from the PAL stream to the NTSC stream. Usually, there is only a difference of 1 image, but to avoid losing audio sync I delete 1 image that isn’t as “noticeable” which works quite well if you can simply kill a black image during fade-in/fade-out.

The only thing left I want to do is to add FlowFrames in my final workstep to further smooth out the effects - then perhaps it could look even better.

The Ends DO Justify The Means …

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Intricate but very cool and smart! 😃

This might sound like a noob question, but since you have this down I want to see what you use… What is your preferred way to eliminate the double frames? And I assume that the quality differs between the two dupe frames, right? Is it always that the first (or always the second) of the dupes is poorer quality so you know which of the pair to drop?..or are they just of equal quality?

LightWave = fun times with gfx for me 😃

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It’s all too technical for me, but I truly appreciate your work and your willingness to give us a glimpse of your workflow.

The improvement in the Badlands shots is clear.

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Love seeing updates like this. Voyager is one of my favourite Trek series, but it looks awful in SD. Really happy to see what is technically possible through AI, even if I don’t have the technical know-how to understand all the steps involved.

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@trip64:
Happy to do it. Voyager (and also DS9) deserve this kind of attention.

The Ends DO Justify The Means …

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Hello again community. I am sorry to say that I have to take a break for a while (don’t worry, my projects are not dead, nor am I going to abandon anything) and I don’t know how long that break will be.
I have recently lost a family member and I have to deal with stuff.

I tried to distract myself with work and my projects here, but it’s really up and down and not consistent.

I will let you know as soon as I am back, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable to give you a timeframe (which I couldn’t, anyway) that may or may not work out.

Please don’t be worried, I will come back to you guys.

Until then.

The Ends DO Justify The Means …

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Sorry to hear that. Best wishes and thanks for letting us know.

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Hello community. I am going to be posting this in both the DS9 and VOY topics, since it affects both.

I am happy to say that I have dealt with most of my issues and that means … I am coming back.
Having been through a lot, my attitude towards this project has changed somewhat (for good or worse will be up for you to decide 😉 ).

So, what does that mean for you?

In general: I will implement a few changes (more on that below), most importanly I feel like I need to take back creative control of this project (I know, this may sound strange, but let me explain) - I think I have been listening to way too many opinions about my work, trying to please everyone as much as possible.
In the end: I have to be happy with the result, since I will be watching those episodes when I feel like enjoying some Trek.
So if my updates/re-renders are annoying to you, you don’t have to take them.
Nevertheless, I will still be happy to talk about technical details and how I did things, I am just simply done apologizing for stuff or justifying things.

Specifically:
As I had intended before, all the things I have done so far will be getting updates (the DS9 and VOY pilot will be swapped for the latest as well), but there is an important difference this time: I have tested my workflow against both DS9 and Voyager by doing tests with episode snippets from seasons 1, 3, 5 and 7 respectively to make sure I do not have to change anything in the future and the work remains consistent.
The most important new elements are: Better color grading, the inclusion of chapters and subtitles (english and german) as well as the combination of multiple AI models by doing layer-based work to create better quality.
I have decided to work on challenging samples, containing both CGI/VFX effects as well as live action; furthermore, I used mostly scenes that are dark, have bad lighting or difficult visuals (explosions, flickering lights, consoles and such) - that way I can make sure this does not cause problems down the line.

In order to proof that I will not be going back and forth and only move forward, here are samples from my test renderings, I call them “What does the Future hold?”, regarding both shows (DS9 and VOY).
Note: I apologize for the Borg Queen looking green and then blue in one image - I accidentally used the wrong image, sorry.

First, comparison images with slider function:

Show: DS9, episode 3x21 “The Die Is Cast (Part 2)”
https://imgsli.com/ODA1Nzk
https://imgsli.com/ODA1ODA
https://imgsli.com/ODA1ODI
https://imgsli.com/ODA1ODM

Show: DS9, episode 5x26 “Call to Arms”
https://imgsli.com/ODA1ODY
https://imgsli.com/ODA1ODg
https://imgsli.com/ODA1OTI
https://imgsli.com/ODA1OTQ
https://imgsli.com/ODA1OTU

Show: DS9, episode 7x25;26 “What You Leave Behind (Parts 1&2)”
https://imgsli.com/ODA1OTY
https://imgsli.com/ODA1OTc
https://imgsli.com/ODA1OTk

Show: VOY, episode 3x26 “Scorpion (Part 1)”
https://imgsli.com/ODA2MDA
https://imgsli.com/ODA2MDI

Show: VOY, episode 5x06 “Timeless”
https://imgsli.com/ODA2MDQ
https://imgsli.com/ODA2MDU
https://imgsli.com/ODA2MDY

Show: VOY, episode 7x25;26 “Endgame (Parts 1&2)”
https://imgsli.com/ODA2MDg
https://imgsli.com/ODA2MTM
https://imgsli.com/ODA2MTc
https://imgsli.com/ODA2MTk
https://imgsli.com/ODA2MjE
https://imgsli.com/ODA2MjM

And now, for the video samples (comparison between PAL-DVD and 4K-AI-Upscale; no password required):

Show: DS9, episode 3x21 “The Die Is Cast (Part 2)”
DVD: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1gf7zlyjkdaq1ex/DS9 - 3x21 - The Die Is Cast%2C Part 2 (SD-DVD).mkv?dl=0
Upscale: https://www.dropbox.com/s/s8v05sjkwrhy1js/DS9 - 3x21 - The Die Is Cast%2C Part 2 (4K-Test).mkv?dl=0

Show: DS9, episode 5x26 “Call to Arms”
DVD: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rr8wv0t1ujygrcm/DS9 - 5x26 - Call to Arms (SD-DVD).mkv?dl=0
Upscale: https://www.dropbox.com/s/erakyiabempe4u8/DS9 - 5x26 - Call to Arms (4K-Test).mkv?dl=0

Show: DS9, episode 7x25;26 “What You Leave Behind (Parts 1&2)”
DVD: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2r781sx8q7z1ae0/DS9 - 7x25%3B26 - What You Leave Behind (SD-DVD).mkv?dl=0
Upscale: https://www.dropbox.com/s/pr3gnnrq03l9rxe/DS9 - 7x25%3B26 - What You Leave Behind (4K Test).mkv?dl=0

Show: VOY, episode 3x26 “Scorpion (Part 1)”
DVD: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2eq7j3gk5djrsk7/VOY - 3x26 - Scorpion%2C Part 1 (SD-DVD).mkv?dl=0
Upscale: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ex11ftno848zsh3/VOY - 3x26 - Scorpion%2C Part 1 (4K-Test).mkv?dl=0

Show: VOY, episode 5x06 “Timeless”
DVD: https://www.dropbox.com/s/tt2nrzqfaouvfxn/VOY - 5x06 - Timeless (SD-DVD).mkv?dl=0
Upscale: https://www.dropbox.com/s/n7j4oc62m7k73ny/VOY - 5x06 - Timeless (4K-Test).mkv?dl=0

Show: VOY, episode 7x25;26 “Endgame (Parts 1&2)”
DVD: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ei5iphako0u9sje/VOY - 7x25%3B26 - Endgame (SD-DVD).mkv?dl=0
Upscale: https://www.dropbox.com/s/gnnprmm3mwgpfly/VOY - 7x25%3B26 - Endgame (4K-Test).mkv?dl=0

That’s what’s going to be coming our way. Let me know what you think.

The Ends DO Justify The Means …

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Welcome back. Beautiful work. I’ll be eagerly waiting for each episode of both series.

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@vranir:
Rendering the update to the DS9 pilot now. Then I have to test watch for errors or remaining problems.
Chapters and subtitles have already been prepared (adjusted from 25 to 23,976 FPS speed change, so they should match up, but I will check of course, hence the mentioned test watch).

The Ends DO Justify The Means …

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Hello again guys.

Sorry that I haven’t put up anything yet, but things are crazy around here. Covid came back with a vengeance, rules are changing daily and we are doing everything we can to keep up.

I am feeling truly guilty. I have rendering the pilot episodes of Star Trek (DS9 and VOY) as well as the first episode of season 1 of B5, but I just simply can’t find the time to watch them in order to note down what corrections have to be applied. Then they would have to be rendered again and after that I could upload them.

I will do my best to hurry up, but it’s very difficult at the moment.

I will keep you posted (this post will be copied into the other topics for time-reasons).

The Ends DO Justify The Means …