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Robotech in 4K using AI Algorithms .....
Posted: 27 May 2020 07:53 PM  
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Recently I have become interested in the promising results coming from the use of AI algorithms upscaling lower resolution video.  In particular, the use of the Topaz Gigapixel AI has show that you can take 480i video and upscale it to pseudo-4K quality using Deep Space 9 as a test case.  This is well documented on the extremetech.com web site and one should read the articles posted there for further information.  I decided that I would attempt a similar process and try to create 4K Robotech episodes based on my lower quality original source material coming from my plethora of Robotech DVD box sets (Protoculture Edition, Legacy Edition, The Complete Series, The Complete Set, etc.). 

I decided that I would start by using the Topaz AI to upscale DVD quality copies of Macross Frontier.  I tested all four of the basic AI algorithms included in the Topaz software and without going into detail there were some fine tuning which had to be done to produce superior results.

At this point, Project Robotech 4K was ready.  I assumed that this would be an easy process albeit time consuming as the up conversion takes approximately 4 hours on an AMD 3900x with a NVidia 2080ti.  My source material was the Robotech Episodes from the “Complete Series”  However, I quickly determined after training the four default AI algorithms on Episode 1 of Boobytrap that none of them were producing results anywhere near the level of the Macross Frontier episodes.  In fact, the AI was often making the video look like stylized (art-deco) versions of Robotech.  These were interesting but after a couple of minutes highly distracting.

I tried copies from all my DVD collections and determined that the latest versions of the episodes (e.g. The Complete Set A+E) with different AI tuning than Macross Frontier produced superior results.  After 4 hours per episode, I use Handbrake to compress the 4K material using a H.265 scheme. I have worked my way through ½ of Macross and the New Generation at this point. 

The results are impressive but a couple of points.  The AI algorithm is incredibly good at sharping the picture and bringing out some hidden details, but there is only so much improvements that it can make based on the original source material.  The video colors are very vibrant, and I believe true to the original source material.  Motion blurring from the original source material is non-existent in the 4K rips.  However, with all of this said I do not think that there is really much difference in 4K Robotech vs some of the 1080p work using conventional sharping techniques.  I plan on investigating this further, but I have always found the difference between 1080p and 4k to be minuscule to begin with.

I currently have a secondary machine with a Titan X working 24/7 on the AI algorithms to upscale Robotech.  At its current rate of ~2 episodes per day (vs 6 on a 2080Ti), I expect that I will have completed 4K upscale in approximately three weeks.  I plan on posting a couple of short clips on YouTube showing what a potential 4K Robotech would look like, but please do not ask for source copies.  If HG is interested, I would gladly send them any results and discuss the process further.  Personally, I think that the results are good enough that they should consider a similar process (if not this one) to include in any future box set. 

After I have completed the original series, I am going to try to make a 4K version of Robotech the Untold Story.  As many of you know the movie was cobbled together from Megazone 23 and Southern Cross.  This has produced a noticeable difference in the quality of the animation as Megazone 23 was shot in 35mm and Southern Cross in 16mm.  I have some hopes that with proper training the AI can make a version in which the transition is less jarring than the best versions which are floating around.
Feel free to ask any questions that you might have and I will try over the next couple of week to post a couple of updates and upload short clips to YouTube.

Keeping Robotech Alive …….

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Posted: 28 May 2020 01:19 AM   [ # 1 ]  
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Very impressive! Would definitely love to see the clips!

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Posted: 28 May 2020 04:47 AM   [ # 2 ]  
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Thanks for the post. Does YouTube steam in 4k? Do most home computers or TVs have 4k ability?

Thanks for keeping Robotech alive. smile

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Posted: 28 May 2020 05:47 AM   [ # 3 ]  
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YouTube does have a 4k option (2160p) if the source material was uploaded.  As for your second point, I would guess that most people do not have the capability of viewing 4K material as it requires a 4k monitor / TV set which I do not believe have proliferated to a majority of homes ..... yet.

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Posted: 28 May 2020 04:02 PM   [ # 4 ]  
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My xbox one will stream youtube in 4k. Also not sure but my smart tv is 4k but havent tried it thru there. So assume it is possible given people have them. Just assuming.

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Posted: 30 May 2020 08:20 AM   [ # 5 ]  
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Thanks for mentioning the the “Arrival of a Train”.  I forgot to add that the DS9 work was inspired originally by the use of neural nets / AI to enhance that film from 1895. 

Here is the link to the original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dgLEDdFddk

Very impressive for the time

Here is the link to the upscaled

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RYNThid23g

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Posted: 28 July 2021 10:37 PM   [ # 6 ]  
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Posted: 13 August 2021 09:26 AM   [ # 7 ]  
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