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720p Streams
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28 / M / Fort Worth, TX
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Posted 1/8/09
I couldn't help myself, so I felt I had to bring this up. I am quite disappointed with the quality of the 720p streams. I did some analysis of the 480p and 720p streams of Naruto 91, and found that the 480p stream was actually higher quality. The 480p stream was noticeable smoother and less aliased when stretched to the 1080p resolution of my HDTV. I did comparisons between the two, turning deblocking and video smoothing on and off on both streams. To the naked eye, I noticed far more pixellation on the 720p stream. Whatever quantitative matrices or filters you guys are encoding the 720p streams with, you need to reevaluate them.

System used for testing:

Intel Core 2 Duo Merom @ 2.0 Ghz
2 GB PC-5300 RAM
nVidia Geforce 7900GS Go 256mb
Sound Blaster X-Fi Notebook 7.1 Channels
42 Inch Sharp Aquos 1080p HDTV
Onkyo 7.1 Channel High Definition Reciever THX I/S Plus Certified system
2 Front, 1 Center, 2 Satellite, 2 Rear Speakers
2 12 Inch Polk Audio Subwoofers @ 400 Watts
~2000 Watts RMS Combined System Power
All HDMI Specifications Certified v1.3b Including Cabling

As you can see, I am well equipped for High Definition entertainment, and being a paying member, I was counting on the 720p streams being up to par. Please do not interpret my post as negative sounding or angry. This is not a rant, I am merely trying to state my professional opinion and help you improve the experience of your paying member. I have loved using crunchyroll for a long time, and created an account just for the premium benefits and simulcasts.

Sincerely,
xSpAzZx
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21326 cr points
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30 / M / CA
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Posted 1/8/09

xSpAzZx wrote:

I couldn't help myself, so I felt I had to bring this up. I am quite disappointed with the quality of the 720p streams. I did some analysis of the 480p and 720p streams of Naruto 91, and found that the 480p stream was actually higher quality. The 480p stream was noticeable smoother and less aliased when stretched to the 1080p resolution of my HDTV. I did comparisons between the two, turning deblocking and video smoothing on and off on both streams. To the naked eye, I noticed far more pixellation on the 720p stream. Whatever quantitative matrices or filters you guys are encoding the 720p streams with, you need to reevaluate them.

System used for testing:

Intel Core 2 Duo Merom @ 2.0 Ghz
2 GB PC-5300 RAM
nVidia Geforce 7900GS Go 256mb
Sound Blaster X-Fi Notebook 7.1 Channels
42 Inch Sharp Aquos 1080p HDTV
Onkyo 7.1 Channel High Definition Reciever THX I/S Plus Certified system
2 Front, 1 Center, 2 Satellite, 2 Rear Speakers
2 12 Inch Polk Audio Subwoofers @ 400 Watts
~2000 Watts RMS Combined System Power
All HDMI Specifications Certified v1.3b Including Cabling

As you can see, I am well equipped for High Definition entertainment, and being a paying member, I was counting on the 720p streams being up to par. Please do not interpret my post as negative sounding or angry. This is not a rant, I am merely trying to state my professional opinion and help you improve the experience of your paying member. I have loved using crunchyroll for a long time, and created an account just for the premium benefits and simulcasts.

Sincerely,
xSpAzZx


As far as I know they come from the same source, so in theory the visual quality should be better in the 720p version. In reality, the bitrate might be too low in the 720p encode to keep the same standard of visual quality as the 480p version. That might explain the smoothness/aliasing issues.

The good news is that unlike a DVD release of your favorite anime, these things can change. This is the first major release of a Naruto simulcast and there are for sure some kinks to be worked out. As with most things, being patient usually pays off.
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shinji 
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34 / M / San Francisco
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Posted 1/8/09
hi spazz~

we are working with tv tokyo and the production studios to get the quality up~ it takes a bit of time since they are all the way in japan, but we will constantly be improving the quality! a lot of the encoding parameters can and will be tweaked.
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28 / M / Fort Worth, TX
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Posted 1/8/09
First off, I made this topic because I thought it would be prudent if you had some comments on the quality from the user side of the house.

Second, thank you, both of you, for your prompt replies. It makes me feel gooey and warm inside knowing such diligent and dedicated mods and admins are here to take care of business.

@Chris:
That is exactly what I was thinking. Honestly I think you may have to use a slightly higher bitrate to achieve acceptable quality. I understand it will use more bandwidth, but I honestly believe that it will be the only way. I will admit I was unsure if it was coming from the same source or not, thank you for clearing that up. Also, sorry for sounding impatient, I did not intend to come across that way. I am capable of being quite patient, you can thank good 'ol Marine Corps discipline for that.

@Shinji:
Honestly I am surprised they do not already offer Naruto in Digital Hi-Vision @720p, considering how common digital cable is here in Japan. It's too bad I have to live on the Iwakuni Marine Corps base, I would be loving that 100mbit fiber for ~$60 a month. (Now if only I could convince my Japanese fiance to order it...)

Anyways, keep us posted on your efforts(Maybe a sticky topic on your progress?). Next up, Super High Vision http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4320p (Or not 0.o)!!

Regards,
xSpAzZx
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30 / M / CA
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Posted 1/8/09

xSpAzZx wrote:

@Chris:
That is exactly what I was thinking. Honestly I think you may have to use a slightly higher bitrate to achieve acceptable quality. I understand it will use more bandwidth, but I honestly believe that it will be the only way. I will admit I was unsure if it was coming from the same source or not, thank you for clearing that up. Also, sorry for sounding impatient, I did not intend to come across that way. I am capable of being quite patient, you can thank good 'ol Marine Corps discipline for that.



Actually, bandwidth is not really a concern at all (well, you know, within reason right?). Mostly the concern is that raising the bitrate will make it more difficult for users to stream the episode. Not everybody has fiber connections and such :P

Thanks for being so gracious with your feedback. Most people aren't quite so tolerant of bugs and glitches.
47158 cr points
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28 / M / Fort Worth, TX
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Posted 1/8/09

chris wrote:

Mostly the concern is that raising the bitrate will make it more difficult for users to stream the episode. Not everybody has fiber connections and such :P



Actually because I am on base, the fastest I can get is 1 Mbit cable (which I have). Imagine how much that sucks lol. Honestly though, connections seem to average above 4 Mbit nowadays, and I imagine someone attempting to watch a 720p stream might have gone for a halfway decent package. Even my grandparents have a 30 Mbit cable connection in the US lol. I know I can't speak for others, but I would be willing to wait a bit for a nice quality stream to load, and considering 720p anime streams are pretty much exclusive to crunchyroll, people don't have much of a set precedent to compare and complain about anyway.

Regards,
xSpAzZx
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39 / M / USA
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Posted 1/8/09

shinji wrote:

hi spazz~

we are working with tv tokyo and the production studios to get the quality up~ it takes a bit of time since they are all the way in japan, but we will constantly be improving the quality! a lot of the encoding parameters can and will be tweaked.


I'm glad that you're aware of this and are working on it.

IMO, I'm paying for quality when I click on that "720p" button. Frankly, if I have to pause and let it buffer for a minute or two when I begin, so be it. If I want to watch something in a hurry, I'll click on 480p or H264 (still good, once these quality issues are fixed).

If a bitrate increase can improve the quality from what we see in Naruto 91... BY ALL MEANS do it!
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Posted 1/8/09

xSpAzZx wrote:
I know I can't speak for others, but I would be willing to wait a bit for a nice quality stream to load, and considering 720p anime streams are pretty much exclusive to crunchyroll, people don't have much of a set precedent to compare and complain about anyway.

Regards,
xSpAzZx


Completely agree with you. Keep up the good job CRoll.
redsd 
81064 cr points
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31 / M / Tiel
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Posted 1/8/09
I got a bigger problem when playing the episode, as soon as I switch to fullscreen I can only watch 2 minutes before the screen freezes. The sound continues without the screen.

If I want to keep on watching I have to switch to window mode again.
I use:
firefox 3
Latest flash player
quad core q6600
GT 8800
2 gb ram
and 20+mbit download connection
17060 cr points
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Posted 1/8/09 , edited 1/8/09
shinji,

what are you using to encode the videos for streaming ffmpeg, mencoder? it appears to me you are just running a single pass from the original video. are you using nero's aac encoder?

The issue may not just be tv tokyo's upload quality, but the quality of the video produced by the transcode process...

I also have issues with the flash player

MAC OSX Intel core 2 duo
10mbit connection
Flash 10.0.12.x
Firefox 3.0.5
Safari 3.1.2




Actually, bandwidth is not really a concern at all (well, you know, within reason right?). Mostly the concern is that raising the bitrate will make it more difficult for users to stream the episode. Not everybody has fiber connections and such :P

Thanks for being so gracious with your feedback. Most people aren't quite so tolerant of bugs and glitches.

@chris - as long as the file is around 150 mb users would be able to stream it on a 1.5mbps line without much of a problem.

I think most people would be more tolerant of issues if they were not paying. possibly take more time to test for bugs on a range of systems?

just my $.02 ^^
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45
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Posted 1/8/09
The quality is VERY disappointing. The Naruto tests where impressive, but the quality of the stuff is just sub-par. And then there are shows where there is no 720P, which is even worse!

The 480P stream stutters for lack of buffering and the player doesn't work with Firefox and Chrome. At times is works with IE8. And did I mention that I am on a 20mbit line?

I hope my money will be of some value, because for the momento Crunchyroll cannot deliver what it advertised.
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38 / M / Canada
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Posted 1/8/09 , edited 1/8/09
I think everybody on this board is too nice. The 720p vids worked just fine for me before (Skip Beat). But the new stuff is all screwed up. That's a pain. Shinji and company aren't posting any details on the home site, let alone anywhere else. That's a pain. I gotta fish around to find boards like this that don't even have any solid info on them. They just say, "we're working on it." Why don't they work on giving us some money back?! Tower of Druaga doesn't even offer 720p. They coulda posted something about possible problems to stem people's frustration. They coulda been specific about what shows would be getting proper 720 hi-def. People on this page seem happy that a couple of strangers are taking their money and giving less than what they promised in many different ways.

The current lineup of shows is some kinda lame. 3 shows on Thursday = Gintama, Naruto, Tower of Druaga.. that's acceptable but.. 2 shows on Friday = Shugo Chara, LineB, that's sub par. Sat. Sun. Mon. get Web Ghost, Skip Beat and Natsume respectively. Tuesday and Wednesday have nothing. That's only 8 stinking shows a week. Barely more than one a day!?
IMO Gintama is acceptable, Naruto is for addicts, Tower is acceptable but not in proper hi def, Shugo is cutesy-poo sailermoon with plushdolls, LineB of Iron is acceptable, Web Ghost is Dora the Explora for Japanese kids, Skip Beat is acceptable and Natsume looks acceptable. That's makes only 5 shows that I would be willing to watch. For many of you there are probably less than five shows. There are lots of interesting shows out this year, but CR doesn't seem to think that we would appreciate info on whether these shows are even being attempted !? It's a pain.

I wanna be legit, but I feel like I'm paying to watch this year's anime lineup through a keyhole; when I could just open the door for free.
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Posted 1/8/09
Seems that there is no interest in getting people to be legit.

If I knew that the quality of the new shows would have been so poor, and for some there is not even the 720P stream, then I would not have paid. I feel ripped off!
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Posted 1/8/09
Hey guys,

I compared the video streams from yesterday to today's. It seems that they have switched most if not all the videos on the site to a flash media server that uses encryption to prevent people from downloading the videos. In case you were wondering, yesterday the videos were in pure mp4 format (decrypted) hence the better quality. This update is very disappointing as the flash encoding of the files seems to have had a negative effect on quality and the encryption used is giving some people buffering issues as the video is supposedly deleted from memory as you watch it. It's my first month paying, maybe my last if things keep going this way.

-TXLZone
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30 / M / CA
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Posted 1/8/09

lrudor wrote:

shinji,

what are you using to encode the videos for streaming ffmpeg, mencoder? it appears to me you are just running a single pass from the original video. are you using nero's aac encoder?

The issue may not just be tv tokyo's upload quality, but the quality of the video produced by the transcode process...



Mencoder, x264, 2-pass, highly customized options, nero AAC encoder. There are some issues with the source quality that are being smoothed out (but of course that will take time).


lrudor wrote:
@chris - as long as the file is around 150 mb users would be able to stream it on a 1.5mbps line without much of a problem.


The problem is that an episode of 720p at 150MB would have far too low of a bitrate (that's like 800 kbps for a 24-min ep). I think most of the playback issues people are having with 720p is due to insufficient bandwidth for the stream.
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