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Art Sonic CD Opening: Cleaned & Upscaled (...and a neat discovery!)

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Tanks, Feb 7, 2021.

  1. Antheraea


    Bug Hunter Member
    wow! I like how it looks cleaner but still recognizably 90s drawn animation. a lot of the time AI upscaling makes things look so smooth they're uncanny-looking, but this basically just makes it look like how my mind remembered the animation looking!
  2. Guess Who

    Guess Who

    It's a miracle! Oldbie
    This came out great! I've seen some upscaling models have issues with older cel animation but this really looks clean.

    (Also very interested to see what kind of results you get out of using this sort of model on the OVA.)
  3. It looks great, and you really did a good job with the sharpening and color correction, but I'm partial to the one done by Brady Hartel from Discotek Media:
  4. Chimes


    The One SSG-EG Maniac Member
    MMMMMMMMMMMMMM, that is some truly delicious quality! I really love how much of a drastic difference there is in the blues of Sonic and the much more vibrant colors: and that detail, WOW. I've rarely seen the CD intro looking this good.
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  5. Tanks


    You have no idea how much this means to Quazza and me. We've been working on the OVA for almost 6 months now (FYI still a very much WIP frame compare!), but paused it to develop new techniques. Out of the blue we decided Sonic CD needed some love and was short enough for us to test out a few things we've been working on to apply to the OVA and here we are. But like I said, it's one thing to train an AI to post-process old footage, but another to work with the original. Fingers crossed this can happen one day.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2021
  6. Blugenesi(Jarty)


    Wannabe Youtuber Member
    Oh, my bad, I didn’t download it and in drive it seemed to just be the one, and I couldn’t find a language changer in the drive. That being said, when I played it in my VLC, it knew exactly which track I wanted to hear!
  7. RGX


    Animator Member
    Hello Tanks, I really appreciate the work and attention both you and Quazza have done! I grew up with Sonic CD on the SEGA CDX & been obsessed with the OP/END animations for a long time. I have always wanted these animations restored as well. This is the cleanest the intro has ever looked!

    There's a pretty obscure detail that barely anyone knows of in this scene in the opening that's lost in this upscale. When Sonic spin-dashes into this rock, the stars form a circle, an upside-down triangle, and a square. Unfortunately, in the upscale, only the square can be seen but it heavily blends in with the environment.

    Images from the Sonic Gems Collection Sonic CD Opening:
    Untitled-1.png Untitled-2.png Untitled-3.png

    Square in the upscale:
    spindash 2.jpg

    I understand upscaling is a tricky process and it isn't perfect by any means. And I really love what you guys have done. So I was wondering, is this a one-time proof of concept or will there be any further updates / improvements with this project down the line? Thank you.

    Also looking forward to the OVA upscale!
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  8. Tanks


    Good eye, and yes! We do plan to do another iteration with slight changes to details and colors in some scenes. This is a fantastic find and definitely something we overlooked. We'll be sure it's corrected in our upcoming v2.
  9. biggestsonicfan


    Model2wannaB Tech Member
    ALWAYS Sonic the Fighters
    I'm on 3.0.12, the latest version.
  10. OKei


    OKeijiDragon Member
    Wow, excellent! This is pretty much how I would vision what a remaster directly from the original film reel (if it even still exists at this point) would look like. Now I would love to see what the ending looks like with this.
  11. Andrew75


    Technical Artist Member
    Project AXSX(Sonic Xtreme) + Misc Projects
    Really great little read up above!! Love seeing this kinda stuff!
  12. Diablohead


    Indie dev Oldbie
    Near London
    Why is it at 27 seconds I can hear a windows error triple beep? I can hear it in older footage too but I don't remember it from long ago, just more modern rips of the intro.
  13. Blastfrog


    See ya starside. Member
    This is incredible work, if you'd shown me this and told me that SEGA finally commissioned a proper restoration, I'd believe you.

    I have an interest in restoring animation from poor sources. There's one I want to tackle, it's from a DVD with mpeg blocking artifacts on top of what seems like a digital sharpen, on top of what appears to be composite artifacts like rainbow banding and dot crawl (possibly sourced from old broadcast tapes?). The interlacing is all over the place, sometimes stuff is animated at 25fps, sometimes 50fps, and is occasionally one refresh early causing the fields to be inverted. For best results, I'd need to take steps to reduce all of that damage (in reverse order) before color correcting and upscaling.

    I'd love to learn more about your team's methods, you guys clearly know your stuff and excel at it.
  14. Metalwario64


    The actual upscaling is very nice, about as much so as can be expected from the source we have, I'd imagine.

    Though, I kind of prefer the original transfer's color palette. I just like the softer, more muted colors because that's how lots of 90s Japanese animation tended to look, and this just seems a little bit oversaturated and high in contrast for my taste. I'd love to see a version of this upscaled CD opening with the colors unchanged.


    I'm actually not a big fan of most AI upscaling scripts at all, as I think a lot of the methods used are unsound and the tech is far too immature to be useful. More traditional methods with a good quality image and the right filters can do wonders if done correctly, however. I've done a more traditional bicubic 4K HDR upscale of the 1996 OVA's 480 ISO scan and released the results here a few months back.

    Having said that, you're doing this 100% right and far better than most groups I've seen do. It's a damn shame the ending animations are in such poor condition, as you're right that the ghosting issue will not be easy to resolve due to those poor quality scans. Frankly, a full frame by frame digital restoration may be needed to restore the scenes fully, which can be done, but would require some good animation/photoshop experts (something that is often done in conjunction with AI work in the pro world)

    Good luck and keep it up.
  16. Windii


    Robot Stonks Riser Member
    I kinda like Brady's attempt more too, but this is admirable nonetheless.
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  17. Shaddy the guy

    Shaddy the guy

    Professional Internet asshole Member
    Hate to be negative about a fan project, but I dunno, it kind of reminds me of those bad DBZ releases where they used too much grain reduction and now the lines don't look as consistent. You can see especially in some of the close-up shots that they aren't quite solid black anymore, and the texture on the background seems...wavy? It's what happens to a lot of upscales on footage with noise.

    Like, it's not Funimation bad, but ever since I saw comparisons of the Orange Bricks and Level sets I've been waaaaay more sensitive about things like this.
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  18. Ch1pper


    Fighting the Battle of Who Could Care Less Member
    In general I think I'm the loner that prefers this to Bradley's version, but they're both great.

    Bradley's has frames that, like the Orange Bricks (or shaky cam still shots in Kai), seem to have been overly brightened without a consistency check with the surrounding frames. They're minor, but they're sprinkled throughout just enough that I find them distracting, as blindingly quick as they are. (Edit: Go watch the first episode of Nickelodeon's Doug, it's all over the place there)

    I personally love the color and saturation in Tanks' version; the line thickness reminds me a bit of the American cartoons; but I get why it might not please everyone. Only thing is that some spots like rock textures look very odd and hand-painted compared to everything else's solid-color, like the grass. It feels weird noticing it now more than ever but also kinda cool to appreciate it that much more.
  19. MarkeyJester


    Original, No substitute Resident Jester
    Oh man, this is simply delightful!

    You may or may not have mentioned it already, but I am limited on time to check. Do you guys eventually intend on doing the ending sequences?
  20. Quazza


    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks so much to everyone who has taken the time to check out this project. I wasn't really expecting this to get the attention it's received and I'm really appreciative of the support, criticism and feedback. I plan on doing a V2 with additional corrections as well as a non-upscaled version. I know upscaling isn't appealing to everyone (it's not a magic solution), but the feedback I've gotten here and elsewhere has been very helpful in guiding me towards better corrections. I also thought this was a good opportunity to address some comments:
    I made the decision to aim for cel-like colours since there isn't really much else that I could use for reference and I think overall it came out pretty good. Most of the sprites in the game are also darker than their equivalents in the OP/ED as well. You make an excellent point here given we really know nothing about the intended color timings. Also, I agree with you on the contrast and am working on fixing scenes that have these problems.

    I did actually know about this but had not thought to check and make sure all the scenes with stars were retaining their color. Thank you for pointing this out! I'll ensure this is corrected.

    I'm more than happy to speak with anyone regarding questions or who might want some advice on general video processing. Feel free to send me a PM. I'm also in the Sonic Retro Discord as well.

    I've been working on fixing the ED as well. You're spot-on with the challenges here. I don't know if I'll actually be able to bring it to completion given the state it's in, but you'll surely hear about it here if it does.