don't click here

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

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

  1. Ch1pper

    Ch1pper

    Fighting the Battle of Who Could Care Less Member
    846
    105
    43
    Life.
    Looking earlier in the video at the footage of Yu Yu Hakusho Gaiden, the cast's colors are... warped. Yusuke's garb is nearly Sonic blue, Kuwabara's has some sickly red tint to it (that fades with the screen)… So maybe it is just '90s tape degradation? I mean, the red on Sonic's shoes is giving me the same feeling of oversaturation I had when I first watched the HDR upscale of the OVA.
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  2. Kushami

    Kushami

    Oldbie
    141
    90
    28
    I think the colors are more of a result of the film development than anything else.

    Cel Colors =/= the intended colors of film. There is color timing and all that to deal with. Cels are generally created in a way that develop the way a director wants them to be developed on film based on what camera and film stock they're using in their workflow.

    If I had to guess, I imagine that the footage was designed and developed in the muted way that it is on purpose, so that when they digitized it, the colors would be very flat and easy to manipulate.

    If you look at the version in the original game, it's fairly obvious that they dithered the background but also completely redrew in pixel-art Sonic and other things, such as completely retime every shot as well as add things like Amy's skirt fluttering when Sonic runs away from her. That's the reason why, despite the low framerate, it still looks good and crisp and not like Sewer Shark. Someone went in there and redrew a majority of the important things pixel style. I believe that either Tanks or Quazza found a frame where a retouch artist signed one of the corners.

    I will say that because of how the master is, it's very hard to push the colors of the characters to be more intense. Sonic in Origins is actually more saturated than the original master, but you could only push him so far before he becomes purple or whatnot. It also doesn't help that he has a seemingly different color palette in almost every shot.

    Also, you're likely looking at it on a PC, but it's color balanced for a TV.
     
    • Agree Agree x 6
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  3. biggestsonicfan

    biggestsonicfan

    Model2wannaB Tech Member
    1,619
    423
    63
    ALWAYS Sonic the Fighters
    There's lots of people arguing colors but no one's arguing the calibration of the camera for the photos of the original cels either...
     
  4. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    Member
    2,396
    1,009
    93
    Yeah, the colors in the original cels and the fan remaster based on them always looked too saturated to me. I'd be surprised if they intended it to look like that.
     
  5. Ch1pper

    Ch1pper

    Fighting the Battle of Who Could Care Less Member
    846
    105
    43
    Life.
    Watching on a PC hooked up to a TV so 50:50. :V
    My screen settings may have been off earlier, I'll grant you; watching YYH again the colors are not as intense this time, but Kuwabara's shirt is still sickly af. I'd be curious to see how the whole video is when color-corrected.

    Edit: Nvm, I don't know what I'm talking about. I color-corrected for YYH and then skipped to Sonic CD and the sky in the opening was waaaay past toxic-swamp green! :eng101:
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2022
  6. Antheraea

    Antheraea

    Bug Hunter Member
    Not just a TV, a CRT, and even back then CRTs had a myriad of different color configurations between them. It's why people can't decide whether the title screen of the one of the NES Mario titles had an orange logo or a brown one.
     
  7. Linkabel

    Linkabel

    Member
  8. Chimes

    Chimes

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO Member
    715
    514
    93
    Niiiiiiiice. Those bluuuuuuuuuues.

    Wait, the ending cel of Metal Sonic... I guess we have cel colour timing for the ending cutscenes now!
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2022
  9. Aesculapius Piranha

    Aesculapius Piranha

    つづく Oldbie
    4,534
    143
    43
    Unknown
    Diva
    Saw that yesterday and came here to post it. Glad someone is already on it. It is neat to see what the colors look like before the filming process (which as others have mentioned matters in the look as well.)
     
  10. ICEknight

    ICEknight

    Researcher Researcher
    ...Why do the shoe shines have outlines now?
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  11. charcoal

    charcoal

    Be Cool, Be Wild, and Be Groovy Member
    1,131
    1,086
    93
    Probably just an error with the AI. I didn’t even notice it until you pointed it out so it doesn’t really matter either way :V
     
  12. ICEknight

    ICEknight

    Researcher Researcher
    Maybe it kind of does matter that an AI adds brand new outlines to restorations.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2022
    • Agree Agree x 7
    • Like Like x 2
    • List
  13. Mastered Realm

    Mastered Realm

    Member
    3,831
    558
    93
    -
    This is not a restoration. You can't restore information that wasn't there in the first place.
    AI upscaling adds new stuff to make low-quality footage look better.

    If you notice the shadows on Sonic's legs and even Sonic's eyes -- they all got outlines now. It's a result of the model training they've applied in order to restore the outlines. Since some areas that had outlines became blurry pixels, other blurry areas that didn't have outlines now got them.

    I don't consider it a bad result at all, though. It looks really good and it's an official version of these FMVs. But, again, it's more comparable to a redraw than a restoration.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2022
  14. Chimes

    Chimes

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO Member
    715
    514
    93
    Okay, I am *super* glad that I'm eating crow today. We have a answer.

    So back about 5 years ago, Hidden Palace released their Smaug's den of Sonic prototypes for the scene to dig into. Over the years, thanks to the efforts of Clownacy, Devon, BlueSkiesAM2, and everyone involved in the decompilation, we know a shitload about Sonic CD along with its surrounding production. But especially the cutscenes. Thanks to information that came out since my post, we know a lot more about what actually went down when it came to putting the movies into the game's CD.

    First off, let's get something out of the way: The Sega CD cutscenes were reanimated. That one's very obvious, especially during the ending. But we didn't know that for sure until Judy Totoya wrote a post detailing how he and others reanimated the cuts along with changing the palette every frame to give the illusion of there being more colours. The Sega CD cutscenes will become relevant later.

    Second, there's the matter of Toei. Oh, Toei. This is gonna get complicated.
    Okay, so this was initially just snob knowledge that was shared only among filmheads (and snobs, you know who you are), but it's been a open secret that Toei's archived material is... not in the best shape. Usually, the actual film reels are supplanted in favour of videotape masters sourced from those film reels. Over time, these masters do degrade but in a wildly different fashion as seen in Sonic CD. If you're a Transformers fan, you've most likely heard of the Rhino DVDs where they used unfinished masters as a source because the actual ones used for TV had since degraded. If you frequent KnowYourMeme or you're one of those weirdos who still uses X (that's ok bby, I miss MySpace too), you're most likely familiar with a infamous fiasco that stemmed from a Twitter thread where someone discussed Sailor Moon's infamous pink tinting. Long story short, it was discovered that Toei's video sources come from film reels whose colour has since faded. Because they haven't colour corrected the video, this led Generation Z to assume that the show was originally pink tinted. It was not, as evidenced by VHS recordings of the show as it aired and Laserdisc releases of the show showing that things that were ruby hued were actually cerulean. Now, we can go on and on about Le Intent? or Aesthetic in a rude, pompous way, but we're not gonna pee up that rope. I'm setting the stage for what we now know. In short, the 90s were ruthless when it came to handling animation in a storage medium and its shocks can still be felt today.

    So back to Sonic CD. Judging from what we can infer from information about the animation production pipeline (thank you, Kanzenshuu), Studio Junio filmed Sonic CD's movies through actual physical film. These things.

    [​IMG]

    This was sent to Toei (the producer of the animation). Toei converted the film reel into videotape through a process known as telecine. Not VHS, though; there were videotape formats meant for professionals.
    This introduced a layer of tape artifacts (rainbow fringing, dot crawl, subdued saturation, an error in the opening where the video stutters, frame blending that's most prominent with the ending clips).
    This is actually par for the course for telecines by Japanese studios. Everything just looks faded, and without a film reel or Blu-ray to compare it to we'd have no idea if a movie or cartoon has screwed up colors.
    This videotape master was sent to Sega.
    Sega then digitized the videotape into a video format the Sega CD can understand.
    Other companies usually opted to just leave the compressed capture as is (which is why Keio Flying Squadron's FMVs look like total mud), but Sega went the extra step of reanimating the clips. This was done, as I understand it, by going through frame by frame on the compressed video and manually redrawing and shading the drawings themselves.


    This was a laborious task, and it appears that the digitized clips underwent minor tweaks as the game was being made. And this is where everything comes full circle.
    On one of the builds Hidden Palace released, the ending cutscene is mostly present, save for the sound. Except for one small leftover, which proves to be the smoking gun for this whole mess:



    snapshot.jpg

    snapshot.jpg

    As you can see, Sonic's infamous cerulean tint is present for less than a second while noticeable artifacting can be seen. This is the original videotape in its earliest sighting.
    What this tells me is we never actually had the film reels. What Toei, Sega, and the media (as seen in those preview videos) had was the tape master and copies sourced from that videotape respectively.
    The only way we knew Sonic's colours were originally deep blue was from the cels that several people have saved over the years. That's... actually miraculous, in hindsight.

    So... yeah, the reason Sonic looks like... *that* is because Toei screwed up the saturation while telecining the animation into tape, and Sega kind of had to fix it so that the FMVs didn't look totally like mud. That was simple.

    I wanna give big thanks to the people who gradually unearthed this kind of information over the past few years. Just only a decade ago, there was nearly nothing on Sonic CD's animation and we didn't know it was faded. We didn't even have production material until key animator Hisashi Eguchi casually posted model sheets from his time at Studio Junio many years back. With this, we can finally rest on the speculation front.

    Really, I'm surprised that such a saturation error created such a massive domino effect that it eventually made its way back to actual Sonic material in the form of Classic Sonic's current colour palettes. That's some butterfly effect tier shenanigans now that I look back.
     
    • Informative Informative x 19
    • List
  15. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    585
    257
    63
    Well, I feel called out... :colbert:

    So what you're telling me is that Santiago was Toei's fault?


    On a serious note, this makes way too much sense. I always suspected the cels were far closer to the actual color than what we had for years but at the time no one seemed to believe as much.

    As far as immediate fallout, we have several varying versions of the cinematics that people prefer. There's the "final" version redrawn by Sega, the Video Tape version at various speeds and using the wrong tinting, the Origins version that cleans things up very well but still has artifacts introduced by AI upscaling (looking at those stars that are harder to make out now when Sonic spins), and the original Film Master that is likely degraded or irreparably damaged and of which we have no access to. I honestly don't see a consensus forming any time soon over the "definitive version" of the cinematics.
     
  16. Chimes

    Chimes

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO Member
    715
    514
    93
    ...Uh, yes! It was a mix of Sega and Toei's fault, mainly because not only is Toei very stubborn when it comes to giving out materials for licensors i.e. masters or film scans, but for decades Sega just never bothered to get a film restoration going on with Sonic CD. Combine that with the "mysticness" of CD being locked on the Sega CD, old PCs, and a hyperspecific PS2 game and you have a recipe of this mutated nostalgia bomb ready to go off.
    You can actually see this with Dragon Ball. For years people just assumed Dragon Ball's backgrounds favoured green skies because the repeatedly used telecines had some really fucked colours.

    That and they used audio straight off muddy optical audio, so people just assumed DB sounded like mud the whole time too. It wasn't until people found VHS tapes of the original airings did people go "uh oh" and figured out what was going on. In fact that's what got me doing the disaster dominoes in my head as I wrote this; we're just lucky that one prototype elevated my educated guess to actually substantive reality.