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PowerDVD 9 OEM - How do I adjust brightness/contrast?  XML
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rironin

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Joined: 20/08/2009 20:01:01
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Just installed whatever version of PowerDVD 9 comes with an internal Bluray Drive (9.0.2919.52). I can play Blu-Ray titles with it, and the only problem is that the brightness and contrast are profoundly off. There is no such thing as the color black, even the letterboxes on widescreen movies are a light gray. Everything is washed out and the color is bad.

I assumed that this would be an easy thing to fix, but the options for this program are laughable:



Firstly, it appears you cannot adjust these options at all if you're playing a movie. This confused me so much, seeing them all grayed out, that I assumed the OEM version I had installed was somehow deliberately handicapped in a bid to get me to buy an upgrade. Now I see I am able to edit these things so long as I'm not loading or playing a BD.

As you can see, I've turned the "Bright/Brightest" setting all the way down and the "Sharp/Sharpest" (Which I hope is Contrast? I don't know) all the way up. There's no difference on the screen at all. Unchecking those checkboxes grays out the very settings, and also does nothing.

I have no idea what the radio buttons for TruTheater Display Mode are supposed to represent, but given the apparent absence of working brightness/contrast controls and the terrible picture, I'm frankly getting annoyed every time I see some shiny bauble or useless doodad being advertised right in the software. No one cares about 3d when the picture looks like crap.

Messing with the Color profiles (tried "Vivid" so far) improves the washed-out colors a bit, but I feel like this is the wrong way to try to "solve" the issue. Getting the letterboxes to just look black will probably solve everything. Is this a common thing, and can anyone tell me the right way to fix it?
David_H

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Joined: 08/01/2009 13:19:38
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Hi rironin,

Normally, the video image settings are controlled with your computer's video driver rather than a movie player like PowerDVD. All of my computers have nVidia graphics so I can only discuss the nVidia driver...


nVidia Video Adjustment
Launch the nVidia Control Panel and set the "Advance Settings" option at the top of its window to "Advanced". The settings are divided into three sections and are selected with the treeview list along the left. The "Display" section controls all non-video applications (including photo editors). These "Display" settings are best calibrated with a dedicated display calibrator (I use the Pantone Huey Pro). The "Video" section controls all video applications (like PowerDVD) and this is the section you'll want to adjust.

The place to start is with the "Adjust video color settings" page. Set "How do you want to make color adjustments?" to the "With the NVIDIA settings" option. Then click on the "Advanced" tab and set the "Dynamic range" to "Full (0-255)". This should fix your black level problem.

Most of the video image settings are controlled from the "Color" tab. However, these are difficult to do correctly unless you have an appropriate test disc with calibrated test images. I use the blu-ray version of DVE Digital Video Essentials HD Basics by Joe Kane Productions. It includes descriptions and instructions if you are new to video calibration. It also includes the red, green and blue filters you'll need to view your display through when calibrating the color.

Hope that helps...

Kind regards, David
rironin

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Joined: 20/08/2009 20:01:01
Messages: 16
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I have an ATI video card, and I believe the analogous program is the Catalyst Control Center. However, I don't even have it installed.

Some odd points: I have the same film on DVD, and when I play it, the letterboxes look black. Moreover, the brightness and contrast settings actually function, and I can adjust them while playing the movie (something which is impossible while playing a bluray disc), although the effects of the adjustments don't do a heck of a lot to change anything. It would be odd if these effects were the result of the video-card: this would mean it was altering the picture on bluray disc playback only, not normal video output or DVD playback.

One might think maybe it's the specific bluray movie, but all of the four bluray discs I have tried have had gray letterboxes and washed out color.

For some examples of what I'm seeing, see this image which I've submitted to customer service (after they told me that the TrueTheater settings should adjust the brightness and contrast for Bluray discs):

http://i.imgur.com/zwURE.jpg
David_H

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Joined: 08/01/2009 13:19:38
Messages: 72
Location: U.S.
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Hello again,

The symptons you're describing seem to be contradictory. If you turn off all video adjustments in PowerDVD, then the black level, brightness, contrast and color should be very similar whether you view a DVD movie or a blu-ray movie. However, you can't compare apples-to-apples unless you have the exact same source material on both DVD and blu-ray (for example, if you have the same movie on DVD and blu-ray).

The "proper" way to adjust your video picture quality is to turn off all settings in PowerDVD (or set them to a neutral setting) and adjust your video with your computer's graphics driver. Once your video is adjusted properly at the operating system level, then it should look good with any video player software you use (unless the software is defective or misadjusted). However, your driver will need to offer separate adjustments for desktop graphics versus video because the two are not the same. For example, if you calibrate your display for photo editing, you'll only be adjusing the desktop display settings---not the video settings.

My understanding of copy-protected blu-ray movies is that their higher security requirements do not allow the same signal path as a DVD. On my system, blu-ray discs require hardware acceleration to manage the secure decoding. As long as hardware acceleration is enabled, many of the user video controls will not be available inside PowerDVD.

Refer back to your screen capture of the "Video" settings tab from PowerDVD in your original post. If you turn on "Enable hardware acceleration" at the top of the tab, all of the TrueTheater effects will be disabled. Unless I'm mistaken, you only have this choice with DVD media. Blu-ray discs require the hardware acceleration (if they are copy-protected) and this is why you won't have many video adjustment options for blu-ray discs. At least, that's the way it has always worked for me in PowerDVD 8 Ultra and PowerDVD 10 Ultra and my computer configurations.

I'm surprised that your graphics card control panel software is not installed. If you have no way to adjust your video at the operating system level, then you're at a big disadvantage.

CyberLink could do a MUCH better job of explaining this stuff. Sadly, their reputation for customer support leaves a lot to be desired. In my experience, video setup is confusing to 90% of PC users and is too technical for the average user to configure properly. A properly calibrated video system is awesome!!! It is also rare.

Again, I recommend Joe Kane's DVE HD Basics for video setup. Joe does a good job of explaining the basics and his disc has some great test patterns and images. It also includes audio test signals for configuring your surround sound system.

Kind regards, David
rironin

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Joined: 20/08/2009 20:01:01
Messages: 16
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I can install the video card software if I wish, I just want to try to understand the theory that is leading us to believe that's what I need to do.

The symptoms I am seeing do indeed seem to be contradictory. I have the movie "Master & Commander" on Blu-ray and DVD and I was comparing them both. Regardless of the settings employed, the Blu-ray has washed out color and shows black as gray. The DVD has proper black coloration and better color over all. The PowerDVD video adjustments do affect the DVD and can be adjusted while the DVD is playing. The same adjustments cannot be changed while the BD is playing and have no visible effect.

On my machine, PowerDVD doesn't appear to mind playing BDs without hardware acceleration turned on. You are right that turning on hardware acceleration negates any PowerDVD picture settings. I tried turning it on to see what happened, and saw no measurable difference in picture quality.

Just to recap, your working theory is that my video card driver settings are generating completely separate picture quality for BD, DVD, and Desktop settings? I have heard of the difference between normal display and video output, but it would surprise me if my video card driver was doing something special just for BD. The BD/DVD comparisons lead me to believe that the difference is in PowerDVD, not the video card. I can try installing the ATI software, but I'm pessimistic about it having options with that much granularity, options that would fix BD without potentially messing up something else.

Plus, why would they even have picture controls in PowerDVD (as one would honestly expect from a multimedia player) if they're overridden or ignored by the video card driver? Surely one could build a multimedia player that made these adjustments correctly...
David_H

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Joined: 08/01/2009 13:19:38
Messages: 72
Location: U.S.
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rironin wrote:... Just to recap, your working theory is that my video card driver settings are generating completely separate picture quality for BD, DVD, and Desktop settings? ...

No, I'm not saying that your graphics driver has different settings for DVD versus blu-ray. They are the same. What I tried to explain is that the settings for all Windows non-video applications are separate from the video settings. This is because video playback does not use the Windows application settings. Why did I go into this? Because inexperienced PC users may adjust the display settings (they're usually the first settings they'll see) thinking they are adjusting the video settings when, in fact, they are not.

The video settings of your graphics driver should affect all video playback equally. This includes video on DVD discs, blu-ray discs, files on your hard drive, streaming video, etc. I'm not sure how else to explain it without getting really technical.

You've obviously got a problem because your computer does not appear to be displaying blu-ray video correctly. However, if I understand you correctly, this is the first time that you've tried to play blu-ray discs on your computer. Therefore, if I were in your shoes, I would start troubleshooting from the ground up and this means starting with your graphics driver since video playback starts there.

rironin wrote:I have heard of the difference between normal display and video output, but it would surprise me if my video card driver was doing something special just for BD. The BD/DVD comparisons lead me to believe that the difference is in PowerDVD, not the video card. I can try installing the ATI software, but I'm pessimistic about it having options with that much granularity, options that would fix BD without potentially messing up something else.

It seems that some of my earlier descriptions were not understood and I'm not sure what else to say. Of course, your graphics card does things to blu-ray that it doesn't do to DVD discs. It's called HD video and it requires different CODECs, different security algorithms, different hardware acceleration. Just think about this: There are hundreds of older video cards that play DVD's fine and have zero ability to play HD video on a blu-ray disc. Why? Because HD video requires things that the SD video of DVD's does not. So, yes, there are differences.

But you're muddling things here. These differences do not translate to separate video settings in your graphics driver for blu-ray versus DVD (a better contrast would be: HD video vesus SD video). Since your video quality settings seem to differ so much between SD and HD, you may have an out-of-date driver, out-of-date HD CODEC, etc., etc. But one thing is reasonably certain, without any video controls for your graphics card, your computer is missing essential components for adjusting video regardless of its source.

rironin wrote:Plus, why would they even have picture controls in PowerDVD (as one would honestly expect from a multimedia player) if they're overridden or ignored by the video card driver? Surely one could build a multimedia player that made these adjustments correctly...

This question tells me that I haven't been able to successfully communicate, yet. Like I wrote earlier, video setup on a PC is too complicated for most users. The answer to your question was included in an earlier post. I'll try to explain one last time and this will be "it" for me. You should contact CyberLink and get their help---this is a user forum. I'm a user like you and no one is paying me to help you.

How video is adjusted on a PC:
1 - The overall video quality for ALL video applications is controlled at the graphics card driver with the software provided by the manufacturer of the graphics card. The same video settings should work for all video sources (DVD, bu-ray, video files, streaming video, etc.). Once the video settings of the driver are configure properly, ALL good-quality video should look "good" if the playback software (like PowerDVD, Windows Media Player, QuickTime, etc.) uses neutral video settings. Under normal circumstances, if video doesn't look good, then it is a problem with the video source (the video was poorly made, etc.).

2 - If an individual video source has problems (it was shot with poor white balance, it lacks contrast, it has poor color hue, etc), then temporary adjustments are often made with the video controls of the video player software. Then these controls are set back to their neutral position when a good-quality video is played. Why is it done like this? Because you don't want to screw up your system video calibration so you don't want to make temporary adjustments at your driver. You want to be able to easily return you player controls back to their neutral position and know that the video is properly calibrated through your system.

That's the way video setup and control is normally done by experts. And that's why the place where troubleshooting usually begins is at the driver level. Once a compatible driver has been installed, it is calibrated. Then the only time the adjustments on the video player software are needed are to make temporary adjustments for video sources with problems.

When things don't work this way (like they are not on your system) then the source of the problem can be any one or more of a long list of problems:

1 - The video player software is not compatible with the graphics driver.
2 - The video player is not compatible with the required CODECs or the wrong CODECs are being used.
3 - One or more incompatible video players are installed on the same computer.
4 - The video settings of the graphics driver are so misadjusted that the video settings of the player software cannot correct the problems for all video sources.
5 - The video display (computer monitor, HDTV, etc) is misadjusted and/or uses "dynamic" settings (like dynamic contrast) that are screwing up the video quality for some video sources.
6 - The gamut of the video display is not compatible with the NTSC/PAL SD and HD video standards, preventing proper calibration and/or adjustment.
7 - The firmware of the graphics card is out of date or incompatible with the video source and/or player software.
8 - One or more Windows system components required by the player software are incompatible (this can happen when another application is installed after the video player, replacing one of more of the needed Windows system components).

When you started this thread, it sounded like you just needed to know how to configure and adjust the video settings of your graphics driver. Then we learned that this wasn't even possible because you cannot access those settings without installing more ATI software. And we learned that your problems differ, depending on whether the video is SD or HD. Welcome to the world of HD video on a PC! Good luck!

David
rironin

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Joined: 20/08/2009 20:01:01
Messages: 16
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It looks like I'm not the only one to notice this issue and based on the same evidence I've been citing, they have convinced Cyberlink that there is a problem with their software. It may be related to ATI drivers, but based at least in part on the clear difference between BD and DVD playback, it appears there really was something wrong with the PowerDVD. Looks like an fix for the bug may have already been released for version 10, at least.

I appreciate all your expertise in this area and the helpful posts you have made, but in this case it looks like the evidence really did point to a bug in PowerDVD. Some people were able to adjust the output using ATI driver software, but this was not the root cause of the issue, as I had suggested.
 
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