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 Post subject: Framemeister output capture device recommendation
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2019 8:24 pm 



Joined: 04 Nov 2017
Posts: 6
I've got a setup of more than 10 retro consoles, all outputting RGB either natively or via modification. All of them are connected using SCART switches combination to the Framemeister. Next, the Framemeister output is connected to HDMI switch along with 3 other HD-era consoles. Finally this HDMI switch output goes to a HDMI splitter which is connected to a LCD TV. I'm interested in capturing the audio-video output from the Framemeister and HD consoles by using this second output of the HDMI switch (which by the way strips HDCP for capturing PS3 output).

I know this topic was discussed few times in the past, but with each passing year there are new devices released and maybe there are now some better solutions than in the past.

What I would like to get from this device is:
- capturing lossless screenshots - yes, I know they won't be perfect due to color space conversion, but I would like to avoid any artifacts present caused by video compression,
- capturing audio + video at acceptable quality, it doesn't have to be something like 60 Mb/s video, just 60 fps and 1080p,
- captured video is intended for storage and possibly future upload not for live streaming,
- it should be working with a Windows 7 x64 based PC.

After some research it seems that all USB 2 based devices that are able to capture 1080p at 60 fps (such as Avermedia Live Gamer Portable 2 and Elgato HD60) always output compressed video stream so that it can be send via slow USB 2 connection. The screenshot function of their capture software simply captures screenshot from this video stream so there are a lot of compression related artifacts visible.

Now the USB 3 based devices can output either only uncompressed raw video stream or uncompressed raw video along with compressed (at the hardware level) video stream. Since you can choose which stream to use lossless screenshots capture should be possible. Now the problem is that those USB 3 devices can be very picky about the USB 3 chipset of the PC motherboard. Avermedia ExtremeCap U3 supports 1080p at 60 fps on almost all chipsets, while it supports only 1080p at 30 fps with ASMedia chipset (which is on my motherboard is using) when running under Windows 7 (60 fps capture is supported there on Windows 8 and up). StarTech USB3HDCAP does not support ASMedia chipset too. While Elgato Cam Link 4K and Elgato HD60 S both does not support Windows 10.

So that leaves PCI-Express based devices. There's Avermedia Live Gamer HD 2 and Elgato HD60 Pro that I am aware of. I know that Elgato is said to be more compatible with Framemeister, but they ditched support for Windows 7 about 2 years ago. Yes, there is a driver and capture software compatible with this piece of hardware running under Windows 7, but it was not updated for the last 2 years. So if there were any fixes done after that related to the Framemeister I won't be able to use them. Also two devices from Elgato - HD60 and HD60 S - are known for crashing (you need to unplug it from USB port and then plug it in again) when Framemeister is encountering resolution change on the source video, which is common on PS1-era consoles. Maybe Elgato HD60 Pro does the same thing, but this would be worse as it would possibly require PC reboot. I could not find any opinion related to the Avermedia Live Gamer HD 2 and Framemeister compatibility.

Any suggestions on this topic? Thank you.


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 Post subject: Re: Framemeister output capture device recommendation
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2019 8:39 pm 


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Joined: 06 Mar 2006
Posts: 11794
Location: Germany
It's a bit more complicated (or a bit more easy depending on your requirements).

If you're using a Framemeister in the chain, then your internal processing is 4:2:2 only, meaning you won't get the razor sharp horizontal pixel seperation you would get with an OSSC. This also means 4:4:4 capture isn't neccessary. Whether you're using a USB2 or USB3 device will make less of a difference than you think. The limitation here is a) that the software you're using with those boxes won't allow you to choose anything else than h.264 4:2:0 compression and b) USB3's bandwith is too low to transmit 1080p60 4:4:4 anyway.

While the PCIe versions of the Elgato and Avermedia cards raise the datarate limit quite a bit, they still carry along a lot of restrictions in terms of software. If you're willing to use an internal card, you've overcome the biggest hurdle anyway already. I would try to go for something on a more professional level like one of the Datapath RGB capture cards. Here you get TWO huge advantages. First you get to select your own compression codec. You can capture to losless compressed 4:4:4 codes like Lagarith if you like. Second you're not bound to standard refresh rates the Elgato and Avermedia requires, meaning you don't have disable the vsync option on your Framemeister, but you can record your consoles in their native refresh rate instead.

The Datapath option starts at $150 for a RGB E1s via ebay.


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 Post subject: Re: Framemeister output capture device recommendation
PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2019 6:48 pm 



Joined: 04 Nov 2017
Posts: 6
Thank you for the response.

Yes, I know that Framemeister video output uses some kind of chroma subsampling. It's not really that noticeable when things are in motion and it would affect static screenshots the most. Since I'm not going to replace Framemeister with OSSC in the near future, a capture device which is using 4:2:2 subsampling should be sufficient for me.

As confirmed in this thread (check the second replay from the top) Elgato HD60 Pro outputs two streams at the same time - one lossless and another one compressed on the hardware level using H.264 codec. The first one is accessible using DirectShow compatible software such as OBS and the second one is accessible using Elgato capture software. It seems the first one could be used to get lossless screenshots and encode the video stream using any codec (including lossless one). Well, maybe the term "lossless stream" is a bit of a stretch. The video is not compressed in any way, yet there is still 4:2:2 chroma subsampling applied. Also I think that YouTube and most other video hosting services recompress uploaded videos using 4:2:0 chroma subsampling. So in this situation storing higher quality videos only makes sense in terms of my personal collection.

So when it goes to colors handling and output of uncompressed video stream HD60 Pro seems good enough. Yet I'm not sure can it capture any other refresh rate than 60 (59,94) Hz, so disabling V-Sync may be needed. But do any of the video hosting services actually keep all the unusual refresh rates after uploaded videos get recompressed?

While Elgato HD60 Pro cost about 150 $ for the new device which is very similar to the price of used Datapath VisionRGB-E1S, I can get the first one of them locally, this is without paying extra for the shipping from US to EU and what is more important I can return it for full refund after two weeks of testing if I'm not happy with the result.


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 Post subject: Re: Framemeister output capture device recommendation
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2019 8:52 am 


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Joined: 06 Mar 2006
Posts: 11794
Location: Germany
Quote:
But do any of the video hosting services actually keep all the unusual refresh rates after uploaded videos get recompressed?

yes, Youtube doesn't touch the refresh rate.

I didn't know that the HD60Pro provided a DirectShow accessable stream. Sounds good. Give it a try and let us know!


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 Post subject: Re: Framemeister output capture device recommendation
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2019 11:56 am 


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Joined: 18 Feb 2015
Posts: 2310
Location: DFW area, Texas
You also have to consider that since the FM doesn't do nearest neighbor scaling on the horizontal axis for low res content (you can get 960p content to scale 1:1 with tweaking), you lose a lot of the need for a lossless capture. Now add in the 4:2:2 color sampling, the horrible noise issues, and the nuclear greens color error in RGB output mode, and it's an ugly mess.

Still though, whenever I want lossless captures of the FM for screenshots or video, the E1S does a good job, though 1080p mode may introduce green pixel errors (looks like single 255-green random speckles of pixels). I've never been able to solve that on my E1S, and I wonder if the card just has trouble with it. I've tried many cables, and two different computers.
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 Post subject: Re: Framemeister output capture device recommendation
PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:04 pm 



Joined: 04 Nov 2017
Posts: 6
Short update on this topic. I got the Elgato HD60 Pro capture card for testing.

I have recorded two short sample gameplay videos using Elgato software with hardware H.264 encoding at 60 Mb/s video bitrate.

First video is showing some gameplay of Super Mario Bros game running on the real Nintendo Entertainment System PAL hardware which has been RGB modded. Framemeister settings:
- HDMI output resolution: 1080p50,
- image mode: Standard (source had too much noise for using Picture mode),
- auto scaler: Game,
- sharpness: 1,
- sync mode: Auto (it shouldn't matter with PAL content, since as far as I know Framemaister doesn't support V-Sync on PAL, yet the vertical refresh rate of input video as reported by the Framemaister is exactly 50,00 Hz so this doesn't matter either in this case).

Here goes the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vnl5zMQKXc. As you can see there seems to be some noise present on the background, possibly as a result of YouTube recompressing the video. Here is the original video file for comparison: https://1fichier.com/?0kj17p0ueq6wikj3e72j. Please note it's almost 600 MB file. I can't see the noise here, plus it's not visible on the TV.

The second video is showing some gameplay of Pandemonium game running on the real PlayStation 1 PAL hardware connected via sync on luma RGB cable. Framemaister settings are basically the same as above with two differences:
- image mode: Picture (source had some noise as visible in the background image of the menu screen, yet enabling low pass filter will result in loss of detail on PS1),
- sharpness: 0 (looks better with 3D content).
The sync mode is still set to Auto, but this time the vertical refresh rate of input video as reported by the Framemaister is 49,64 Hz while the video output is still locked at 50, so it seems to prove that there is no V-Sync support on PAL sources.

Here goes the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2hZvtcHsjM. I see no added noise this time, but if anyone is interested here goes the original video file for comparison: https://1fichier.com/?ncjoou01sx644qnduix6. Please note it's about 1,2 GB.

Now regarding the ability to capture uncompressed screenshots. Yes, this card does output uncompressed video stream that can be captured using OBS. Here is a screenshot from the Super Mario Bros running on RGB modded NES with Framemaister settings as before (please note there is Sharpness set to 1): http://tinyimg.io/i/AQm3k16.png. Looking quite clear. Well, until you zoom-in a little (8 times) and you can see quite some background noise: http://tinyimg.io/i/v3bZeYm.png.

Yes, I'm aware that PAL retro games are not that cherished as their NTSC versions, yet those are the one I'm dealing mostly with.

As for further test if anyone is interested I can try record some videos of few NTSC games (I do have NTSC version of PS1, PS2, NES/Famicom, SNES and few other consoles for playing games that were never released in Europe) and see if V-Sync is respected when recording using Elgato software and OBS + some lossless codec.


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