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In the latest update on the C&C remasters (this time official!), Jim Vessella takes it to the video format for the first time since the original announcement to address one of the most pressing questions among the members of the community - how the ingame cutscenes will be managed.

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Too bad they weren't able to get a hold of the raw footage. The upscaling isn't horrific, though it does get a bit wonky in some spots, like the truck driving up the hill.

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I was always wondering how they were going to address this. It is very sad that they couldn't find the full raw film footage. Obviously storing this stuff wasn't as much a high priority back then because backing these things up was super expensive and I guess this was a thing back in the early and even the not-so-early days of game development. Things have to be sacrificed, including source codes and footage like this. I guess there is a bright spot with today's game development is that it is a A LOT easier to back things up and archive them for possible future use and for historical purposes.

As for the process they are doing it is a nice step up at least. It isn't going to be perfect but they did more than alright with what they had to work with. Finding all the behind the scenes stuff is actually quite a nice bonus that I'm glad they are going to add to the remaster. :)

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Posted (edited)

I really dislike big game-related corporations throwing historic stuff away (without even considering the fans). The Westwood locker was sent to be DESTROYED. That hurts. So I'm happy about the people involved that saved all that Westwood treasure and stored it away. My primary interest is seeing Tiberian Sun FMVs and anything else that can be dug up in higher quality, so I'm hoping that too will see the light of day at some point.

Edited by AZ-Stalker

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The FMVs were super good, but the graphic cutscenes -- I was expecting bit more i.e. remaking them with modern graphics. Bit disappointed on that.

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I have mixed feelings about this. The neural upscale certainly did a great job, but the Allied cutscene shown in the reveal made a slightly odd impression on me. As if the upscale somehow made the live action part look less professional and more of a homemade VHS tape. The actors seem to stand out more against the digitized background compared to the low-res originals (maybe some sharpening was involved during upscale), and generally I got the feeling almost as if you're looking at raw footage that has not been processed yet, and not the final product.

Also some parts of the frames appear blurry in the upscale, e.g. in certain frames Von Esling's eyes look very blurry.

If this is not my imagination overall, perhaps the upscaled videos may yet be improved with some post-processing while staying true to the originals.

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@MrFlibbleYou have to realise that, despite the comparison shown, the right side is not, in fact, an upscale of the left side. They used the PSX videos, which are mpeg format. Mpeg lends itself better to such upscaling, since it has less sharp edges, but it does blur out details.

That said, the effect is less bad in C&C1 since these briefings are one-on-one, meaning the head you see is a lot larger in the video material.

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On 14/04/2020 at 4:46 PM, Nyerguds said:

Mpeg lends itself better to such upscaling, since it has less sharp edges, but it does blur out details.

I wonder what models were used for the upscale (if it was ESRGAN). As I mentioned elsewhere, there are some models which are better suited for upscaling certain types of images than others.

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After watching a few, they should have just left them the original size. They don't uh... look that good honestly.

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Posted (edited)
On 14/04/2020 at 4:46 PM, Nyerguds said:

@MrFlibbleYou have to realise that, despite the comparison shown, the right side is not, in fact, an upscale of the left side. They used the PSX videos, which are mpeg format. Mpeg lends itself better to such upscaling, since it has less sharp edges

Well, after a bit of playing I can definitely say I don't like the upscaled videos at all. Having less sharp edges is actually a non-issue with neural upscales, whereas MPEG compression leaves a ton of JPEG artifacts in frames like mosquito noise and ringing, which are all too noticeable in the upscaled videos.

I ran a few tests of my own in ESRGAN with frames from the PC/DOS FMVs, and I think the results are pretty decent:

Gen. Sheppard

Col. Morelli

GDI engineer at the construction yard gate

Construction yard unpacking

Gen. von Esling

A GDI soldier ambushes Nod trooper in a forest

I added some HSV noise in GIMP at default settings to the upscaled images but otherwise no editing or pre-processing was involved. Also here's the interpolated model I used, this is for the "old architecture" ESRGAN.

Edited by MrFlibble

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ESRGAN looks way too artificial and plastic-ey, not gonna lie.

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@MrFlibble your upscales have very unnatural sharp edge around every object.

I was thinking about actually remaking videos with the greenscreen footage. I only played TD at this point and I think the quality is pretty good. image can be cleaned up and missing grahpics can be made from scratch. But I do think that RA live action fmvs are actually much worse at this point. Is RA has the same kinda greenscreen takes as in TD or is it just behind the scenes kinda footage? I only finished one mission in RA and haven't seen the rest yet

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I'll just show you what put me off in the Reastered videos:pl3EcnG.png

These jittery lines appear because the model chosen for the upscale was not optimal. For comparison, here's more or less the same image upscaled by the model that I used:

GGKPG4M.png

The straight lines here look more or less what they're supposed to be.

1 hour ago, MilkeyWilkey said:

@MrFlibble your upscales have very unnatural sharp edge around every object.

I'm assuming that the effect you're talking about stems from the CGI nature of most images. Let's take one for which we have a high-res render released by Westwood:

TLQmwhr.png

I used a variation of the same model as above but which makes images even sharper, then scaled to 640x480 with Paint.NET (best quality method). And here's the original render:

warehous.png

I'm not noticing any edges, e.g. of the crates, being sharper compared to the high-res original.

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10 hours ago, MrFlibble said:

I'm not noticing any edges, e.g. of the crates, being sharper compared to the high-res original.

the effect is most noticable on greenscreen footage. Look for hair, fabric and other things that supposed to have uneven or harsh border - they look too smooth and flat.

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5 hours ago, MilkeyWilkey said:

the effect is most noticable on greenscreen footage. Look for hair, fabric and other things that supposed to have uneven or harsh border - they look too smooth and flat.

@MilkeyWilkey I always appreciate constructive criticism, so I ran tests with a different model interpolation that does not accentuate the edges so much (I believe the one responsible for that effect is LyonHrt's Fighter Alt 2). Here are the results, what do you think of them? I also believe the pure CGI elements like the MCV truck now look less plastic-ey as @Plokite_Wolf said.

Nod officer in a guard tower

GDI Orca mission briefing

Nod desert sweep

GDI engineer at the construction yard entrance

Construction yard unpacking

The model for these is a 0.5 interpolation of Spongebob v6 De-Quantize and DeviantPixelHD, which was then interpolated at 0.9 with 4xMisc. All these models are available from the Model Database.

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Not bad, Mr. Flibble. Maybe if you finished modifying some of those FMVs, release them as a mod for C&C Remastered, and even Red Alert Remastered as well.

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@PurpleGaga27Thanks! I'd love to (once I settle on what is the optimal upscale model that is), but alas my current computing power is not suitable for processing even a single FMV in a reasonable time frame.

Theoretically, it would be optimal to first make 4x upscales with a model that gets the image right, then do a second iteration of the upscaled images with either the same or maybe a different model and then scale them down a bit whilst correcting the aspect ratio (the DOS version videos are "squashed" vertically to account for the 320x200 image stretching to 640x480 on a typical 4:3 display).

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