Cyberlink, the Taiwanese outfit behind the popular PowerDVD software is about to launch some new technologies – we were given exclusive first access to its new Noise Reduction technologies, Video Stabiliser, Video Upscaling (re-engineered) and fps upsampling engines.
The products are still in the development stages – the noise reduction won’t be available until next year, we were told, so the technology was still a work in progress. Cyberlink is branding everything top to bottom to match its TrueTheatre range – if you’ve already seen PowerDVD 8 you’ll be aware of the TrueTheatre Surround audio upscaling option that’s already nosed its way in there.
First up, the TrueTheatre HD technology – this is the latest generation of Cyberlink's CLEV which is specifically designed to upgrade DVDs to HD resolutions while retaining the quality. Cyberlink admitted it would never be as good as an original HD print, however, it also will try to capitalise on the many
DVDs already sold and many HDTVs currently being sold.
From the demo video, it looks pretty perfect (as we’d expect) although perhaps a little too sharp in some places. We were told that the sharpness and other factors were not a changeable setting, it was simply going to be an on or off option at the current time.
TrueTheatre Motion will also see the light between later this year and next – this basically upscales a 24/30 fps movie to 60 fps in order to make panning and fast action scenes look far smoother.
The noise reduction technology hasn't been given its TrueTheatre branding yet (it’s that
new), and it basically does what it says on the tin – it reduces noise and grain. It’s mostly targeted for webcams or video that suffers from high ISO or fuzziness like analogue TV (that we’re told is still very popular when you think on a worldwide scale), but at the moment it's only supported on pre-recorded material.
Unfortunately, the technology is a little way off being finished – it’s incredibly
CPU intensive, currently requiring a quad-core at a minimum. Cyberlink joked that while this will make Intel and AMD happy, it will obviously alienate a lot of end users and there was still plenty of optimisation to be done.
The new video stabiliser engine works in partnership with the above – if you’ve shot video on a handheld camcorder or cellphone camera that looks like it’s recording an earthquake, again from Cyberlink's video demonstration, it appears to work wonders cutting out and stitching the frames that match together and tracking the overall movement.
All four of these are different technologies but in some way related, however only the TrueTheatre Motion and TrueTheatre HD will be blended into PowerDVD, the rest will see uses in other applications. Another thing worth noting though is that PowerDVD 9 (formerly 8.5) will be available in a Q3 to Q4 timeframe this year – a lot earlier than Cyberlink's previously cited “yearly cycle”.
What still confuses us still about the whole lot is that by the time next year arrives there will be plenty
of HD-capable chipsets and even CPUs with integrated graphics available that have their own UVD/ClearVideo/PureVideo decoding engines in them, and they will offer very low power hardware decoding capabilities. Personally, we wish the graphics vendors would work with Cyberlink to make such technologies work directly with the DX 2.0 video overlay and give them access to the GPU functions rather than relying on an unspecific CPU to munch away at very repetitive and highly parallel workloads.
Obviously we’re always naturally sceptical about watching a pre-rendering showing how good something works, but we understand the final product is far from ready – we’ll come back to it once it's ready to see how these technologies turn out and whether everyone will simply be relying on low power IGPs or not by next year.
Do you think the technology has some potential, or do you prefer hardware-based implementations for image quality enhancement? Share your thoughts in the forums