Tuesday, December 23, 2008

PlayStation 3 Video Resolutions

As I've been reporting recently in this PlayStation 3 series of posts, I have a new PS3 80GB that I am getting a lot of enjoyment out of. In My New Sony PlayStation 3, Part II (Installation and Setup) I talked about how I went about installing and setting up the PS3 to work with my new TV. But I glossed over the complex topic of how the PS3, in combination with the TV, chooses its video resolutions.

The PS3's list of video output resolutions includes, in ascending order of quality:
  • Standard (NTSC) — i.e., 480i
  • 480p
  • 720p
  • 1080i
  • 1080p

The first,
"Standard (NTSC)," is 480i. It's not available with an HDMI connection, which is the connection type I am using between my PS3 and My New Samsung LN52A650 TV, a brand new 52-inch 1080p flat-panel LCD HDTV. All five resolutions are available if you use a component video connection that carries three separate video signals (Y, Pb, Pr). If you are stuck with using either an S-video connection or an ordinary composite video connection, only 480i is available.


What These Resolutions Mean

The numbers 480, 720, and 1080 give the number of scan lines or pixel rows in each video frame — the more the better.

The "i" or "p" gives the type of scanning. The "i" suffix is for "interlaced scanning," while "p" is for "progressive scanning." In interlaced scanning, each video frame is divided into two fields, with just the odd-numbered pixel rows (rows 1, 3, 5, 7 etc.) in the first field that is sent across the connecting cable, and then just the even-numbered rows (rows 2, 4, 6, 8 etc.) in the second field. In progressive scanning, all pixel rows are sent at once, in their normal order. Progressive scanning is preferable. Interlaced scanning can cause picture flicker.

Each resolution offers a maximum number of pixels in each row. For 480i and 480p, which are standard-definition formats, it's often 720 pixels per row, but it can be 704, 640, or lower. Only when the number of pixels per 480i/480p row is 640 are the pixels square — assuming, that is, that they're destined for a screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio. The other 480i/480p pixels-per-line counts involve pixels that are not square on a 4:3 screen. (480i and 480p expect a 4:3 screen; stretched to fit a 16:9 screen, the pixels are never square. There would have to be fully 853 pixels per line to make them square.)

720p, 1080i, and 1080p are high-definition formats. For 720p, the pixels-per-line figure is 1,280. For 1080i and 1080p, it's 1,920. In all HD cases, the pixels are square. All HD resolutions are intended for a screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

1080p video, accordingly, might be fully specified as "1920 x 1080p" video. 1920 x 1080p video is sometimes called "Full HD." A Full HD television yields the best possible high-definition picture. I am using the expanded designation "1920 x 1080p" here in this post to show what "1080p" actually implies, but on the PS3's setup and menu screens you'll just see "1080p."

What we are talking about here are "content pixels," not "screen pixels": the number of pixels the PS3 will put in the content it sends to the TV. Actual TV screens may have a different number of pixels per row than the content from the PS3 that is being displayed on them. Some 1080p HDTVs have fewer than 1,920 pixels per row. They are not "Full HD." If they receive 1920 x 1080p content from the PS3, they will sacrifice resolution in the horizontal direction.


Frame and Field Rates

In addition to the various video resolutions, there are several possible frame rates (or, for interlaced scanning, field rates). 480i video usually has a field rate of 60 fields per second (though the rate is typically adjusted to 59.94 fields per second for broadcast purposes). 1080i also typically has 60 fields per second. (Notice that 60 fields per second is equivalent to 30 frames per second, as long as it is understood that the frames are being scanned using interlaced scanning. Again, progressive scanning does not use fields.)

720p video typically has 60 frames, not fields, per second.

1080p video is not used for broadcast purposes; only 1080i and 720p are true HDTV broadcast standards. On Blu-ray discs, 1080p video can be recorded, often with a frame rate of 24 fps — the same as motion-picture film.

Actually, I have found that on the limited number of Blu-ray discs I have had a chance to play so far, all of them being movie titles, the main movie is always recorded in 1080p/24, meaning that it uses
1920 x 1080 video, scanned progressively, at 24 frames per second. Bonus materials such as making-of documentaries and deleted footage typically use a lower resolution and/or a different frame/field rate.


What Resolution Is Actually Used by the PS3?

The answer to this question depends in part on whether the PS3 is playing a Blu-ray disc (BD), playing a DVD, or generating video in real time from a video game. Game video is the simplest to discuss. BD/DVD video adds extra wrinkles.

For video being generated in real time by a PS3 game, the PS3 will try to match the resolution and frame/field rate of the video-as-generated with a resolution and rate which it believes the TV can actually use.

The first step in this matching process comes during the initial setup of the PS3 — see My New Sony PlayStation 3, Part II (Installation and Setup). This part of the initial setup can be redone at any time by navigating to Settings —> Display Settings —> Video Output Settings from the home menu of the PS3 (see this discussion in the online PS3 User Guide).

You begin the process by designating which type of video connection you are using: HDMI (my type), component, S-Video, or composite. If you choose S-Video or composite video, you are restricted to using 480i output, period. If you choose component video, you can allow any or all of the five output resolutions listed above; you have to manually choose which ones to allow. If you choose HDMI, you can allow any and all output format(s) except 480i, and you can automatically or manually choose which ones to allow.

If you are configuring an HDMI connection automatically, the PS3 in effect asks the TV which formats it can use. It will internally put checkmarks by those the TV can use. If you are configuring HDMI video manually instead (or if you are configuring a component-video connection), then you will put check marks by the video resolutions you want the PS3 to allow as output. Your best bet is to check all those which you know your TV can use.


How do the Checkmarks Work?

Take, for example, the auto racing game Grid. It generates 720p output. My TV accepts 720p input, so my initial PS3 setup put a checkmark by 720p. When I play Grid, the Info button on my TV's remote brings up an overlay on the screen showing "1280 x 720 @ 60Hz." That means that the PS3 is using 720p video output, with 1,280 pixels per line, at 60 frames per second.


What Happens When the Program Source Doesn't Match a Checkmarked Output Format?

If I manually disable 720p video output from the PS3, Grid video has to be downconverted to the next lower resolution that is checkmarked. This is 480p, so the Info overlay on my TV screen shows "720 x 480 @ 60Hz." The PS3 output is 480p (otherwise I would see "720 x 480i @ 60Hz"). It has 720 pixels per line, and its frame rate is 60 fps.

Because of option settings I'm using on the PS3 and the TV, the picture actually looks about the same. It is not squeezed into a 4:3 box, but remains at the original widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio.

For HDMI connections, the 480p resolution cannot have its checkmark removed; the PS3 won't allow it. Otherwise, if you unchecked 720p, there would be no lower resolution to downconvert to.


What About Blu-ray Discs and DVDs?

Here's where we get into some confusing wrinkles.

First, DVDs. They contain 720 x 480i video at 60 interlaced fields per second. If you don't turn on BD/DVD "upscaling" (I'll discuss that in a minute) the PS3 will, or so I assume, output that 480i video as-is over any video connection but HDMI.

HDMI doesn't permit 480i output, so the PS3 "deinterlaces" 480i for HDMI to turn it into 480p. My TV's Info overlay shows "720 x 480 @ 60Hz."

If you have either HDMI or a composite video connection, you can turn on "BD/DVD upscaling." You do this by navigating to Settings —> Video Settings —> BD/DVD Upscaler and setting it to Normal. (Or, if it's already on, you can eliminate upscaling by turning it Off. You can also experiment with the Double Scale and Full Screen settings.)

The Normal setting causes the PS3 to upscale the 720 x 480i/60 video on the DVD to your highest checkmarked resolution (in my case, progressively scanned 1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz).

As for Blu-ray discs (BDs), the PS3 will likewise upscale all BD content to your highest checkmarked resolution, if necessary — as long as BD/DVD Upscaler is set to Normal. The output will use a 60 Hz frame (or field) rate.

If BD/DVD Upscaler is set to Off, no upscaling from BDs will occur.

But there is a third consideration, and it overrides all the others. If you navigate to Settings —> Video Settings —> BD 1080p 24 Hz Output (HDMI) and turn it On, the PS3 will detect 1080p BD video that was recorded at 24 Hz and output it directly at a resolution of 1080p 24 Hz (i.e., it will not be converted to a frame rate of 60 Hz).

This is so only for an HDMI connection; it does not work for the other types of connection. You should do it only when you know your TV can accept 1080p 24 Hz input. (If you are not sure whether your TV can handle 24 Hz 1080p input, set this option to Automatic; the PS3 will use 24 Hz output only if it determines the TV can handle it.)

If BD 1080p 24 Hz Output (HDMI) is On, it takes effect even if BD/DVD Upscaler is set to Off, and even if you do not have 1080p checkmarked in your list of available resolutions! If your TV cannot actually use 1080p 24 Hz input over HDMI, you should set this option to Automatic or Off.

But you want to use 1920 x 1080 24 Hz input whenever you can. This is because 24 fps is the frame rate of film, and whenever a movie is transferred to BD, it will be recorded at 1080p 24 Hz. If the PS3 has to convert it to 60 Hz, video quality can suffer, since 60 is not a multiple of 24. You may see unpleasant artifacts or extra judder in the picture that would never show up with direct 1080p 24 Hz output.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hry Eric; I have a question. If you set your resolution higher then what the actual TV can sustain; what will happen? Will it cause damage to the TV and it's output? Today, I've been approved by Sony and now I'm waiting for the card in the mail. I asked them if they could give me my account number but they said it would then be illegal. I checked my email and there wasn't any email sent from Sony that told me anything about my approval and account number. Am I suppose to receive one? Is my only choice to wait for this card?

eric said...

I don't actually know what happens if you set your PS3 to use a video output resolution higher than your TV can handle, since my TV handles all the resolutions.

I do know that if you change the PS3's video output resolution, the PS3 immediately tries out the new resolution, and if you don't manually confirm to the PS3 within 30 seconds that the TV is handling the new video resolution all right, the PS3 reverts to the previous video resolution.

I seriously doubt trying a "wrong" resolution could damage the TV!

How did you find out you were approved for your PlayStation Card? (Congratulations!) I assume you called Sony on the telephone? If Sony wouldn't divulge the account number over the phone, you'll just have to wait for the card in the mail. Mine arrived in less than a week after approval. I bet you get yours by New Years Eve.

Anonymous said...

hey Eric sum month ago I ve bought a FULL HD TV 40",all games look really amazing but GTA IV doesnt, when I had the not-HD TV(srry but I dont know how to call it) GTA lookd good n everything, but just as when I had the full hd tv GTA has a really awful graphics(I dont know how to explain well coz Im not english).
1 last question: I hust had as present Resistance 2, but it almost look like I dont use well my HDMI cable, I mean for me resistance fall of man was even better for graphics, but I didnt play it on the HD tv. What can I do?What are the best setting for these 2 games? answer me please, Im going crazy!!!

eric said...

Hmmmm ... the PS3's Grand Tour Auto IV and Resistance 2 don't look right on your "Full HD" HDTV, when their 1080p images are being sent to the TV from the PS3 over HDMI?

First of all, let me say up front that I'm no expert on PS3 game-video output. I'm a rank novice in the video gaming world. I understand Blu-ray, video resolutions, HDTV stuff, etc., but gaming adds an extra dimension: images that aren't simply a recording on a disc but are being generated in "real time" — i.e., on the fly.

I located a thread (click here) that discusses a video problem with Resistance 2 on the PS3. You might want to look at the JPEG images linked to in posts in that thread. If the "garbage" you see in those pictures, particularly in the last two, looks like what you are seeing on your TV when you play Resistance 2, then it looks to me as if it's not really a video resolution problem per se. It looks to me like the "graphics processing unit" or GPU in the PS3 might be producing faulty output, or something like that.

As I understand the usual video generation process, game video is generated on the fly by having the game tell the GPU in the PS3 to calculate a very large number of "polygons," which, when put together into a single video frame, produce a realistic image. That is done over and over and over, once for each video frame (and there are 60 video frames per second).

Those "bad" sample images linked to in the forum thread look to me like the GPU is failing to calculate some of the polygons in the image. (Or, maybe it's calculating extra polygons that don't belong there at all ... but I'm inclined to think it's the former situation.)

There could be many causes, but maybe the cause has to do with the calculation running out of time, as in "I'm not done yet, but I'll give you what I've managed to calculate so far."

Now, the number of calculations (the number of polygons) is larger for high-definition images than for standard-def ones, I'll bet. The more detail you want in the image, the more polygons you would need to calculate. That means HD video takes more time to generate than SD video.

Maybe the GPU is running out of time on HD images in this game, so some of the spots on the screen that are supposed to be filled in by GPU-calculated polygons remain un-filled in.

There's just a chance, then, that the problem would go away if you (just as an experiment) switched to using the standard-def audio/video cable that came with your PS3. That cable carries 480i video only. Apparently this game on the PS3 (but not on the Xbox!) checks to see what is the highest resolution that the currently active video connection is set to use. It uses that resolution for its video output.

So (I'm guessing) the GPU has to calculate fewer polygons for 480i than for 1080p, and the process of generating each frame finishes in time. The distracting image artifacts would accordingly not show up ... or, at least, that result would seem to be a possibility.

If the experiment with 480i works, you might try going back to using the HDMI connection but setting it to use only 480p output, not 720p, 1080i, or 1080p. (After navigating to Settings —> Display Settings —> Video Output Settings from the home menu of the PS3, uncheck all resolutions but 480p.)

If 480p output is artifact-free for this game, try checkmarking 720p in addition to 480p (but not 1080i or 1080p). If 720p works, try checkmarking 1080i (but not 1080p). If that works, the problem would seem to be limited to 1080p.

Another experiment (though it would cost you some money): get the optional component video/stereo audio MULTI OUT cable for the PS3. Using HDMI might be putting a processing load on the PS3 that using a component-video connection would not, and this extra load might be interfering with the timely calculation of polygons by the GPU.

All this is guesswork. There may be all kinds of other factors at work that might cause the GPU to "drop" polygons as it is doing its calculations, or else might cause the game to "drive" the GPU improperly in some way.

***

As a side note: I was discussing the PS3 versus the Wii with someone who got his five-year-old son a Wii for Christmas. I said I was a bit jealous because the Wii is phenomenally popular while the PS3 is finding only a lesser amount of success in the marketplace. He told me he thought the PS3 superior in terms of the quality of its game video, as Wii video is not as good.

Well, he's right about that ... and it all happens because of those countless tiny polygons that are being calculated on the fly by the PS3's GPU. Nintendo chose to hold down the cost of the Wii by using a cheaper graphics chipset and not driving it at high-def resolutions. It spends the money instead on the Wii's richer set of controller features, which the PS3 can't match.

Of course, the downside to the PS3 approach is that when the PS3's elaborate polygon calculations go awry, you can get weird artifacts on the screen.

Anonymous said...

no way eric, its not that kind of problem, I mean those pics have really serious problems, the graphic I see on my tv is good , is just that... is not good enough, I dont know how to explain, all games I have look amazing on my tv (MGS4 for example is 720p but the graphics are PERFECT),but resistance doesnt. GTA instead has really sum problem coz the shadow of the people have little white points in it n faces are really awful, but tnx aniway!!!

eric said...

Anonymous,

I think that for the games with a problem, just as an experiment you might try

(1) using a different HDMI cable

(2) lowering the maximum output resolution of the PS3 to 720p or even 420p

(3) using the composite video connection (with 480i resolution)

(4) using the component video connection (you'd have to buy a cable for this)

If swapping out the HDMI cable fixes it (though I doubt it would) then, "Problem solved." I have no idea whether a "bad" HDMI connection can cause such problems as you are seeing, but I suppose it's possible that it could.

If lowering the resolution below 1080p fixes it then maybe it does have to do with trying to draw too many polygons in too little time. Just because the sample pictures I pointed you to online have a pattern that is visually different from "little white points in shadows," we can't be sure it's not the same kind of thing showing up in different ways.

If changing the connection type to component video (but keeping the resolution at 1080p) fixes it, then that would be very mysterious indeed ... but at least you'd be good to go.

(Oh, and one question: you do have the latest PS3 system software update, right?)

Anonymous said...

hey tnx for all the help now I try to do something. aniway I found that the problem I see in resistance is called "aliasing" do u know sumthin about that n how to solve it? n still tnx a lot!

eric said...

Anonymous,

I don't know of any perfect solution to "aliasing" problems. For what I do konw, see Aliasing on the PS3.

Shane said...

Hi Eric. I'm completely confused about something I read in the PS3 owners manual and you seem to really know your stuff so I hope you can help.
I've got a 6 yr old HD TV that only supports component video at 1080i. No HDMI connection. The PS3 manual says that while watching a blu-ray movie that you cannot get 1080p unless you're using HDMI.
My question is what is the maximum resolution I can get watching a blu-ray movie using the component video? Will I be able to watch blu-ray at 1080i?

eric said...

Shane,

If your version of the PS3 Quick Reference Guide is like mine, page 7 gives you the information you need. If you use the optional Component AV cable, you can choose 1080p/1080i/720p/480p/480i video. Since your particular TV can't handle 1080p, you would uncheck it in Settings —> Display Settings —> Video Output Settings on the PS3. The PS3 would scale the 1080p video on the Blu-ray disc down to 1080i, which is the highest resolution your TV can handle as video input. You also might consider unchecking 1080i and letting the PS3 convert to 720p instead. Then the TV would scale 720p to 1020p, which I presume is its native screen resolution.

Notice that there are many earlier-model HDTVs (and yours seems to be one of them) whose native resolution is some version of 1080p, though they can't display all 1,920 pixels per pixel row, and they (oddly) cannot accept 1080p input via the component-video connection.

Newer 1080p TVs often display all 1,920 pixels on each row, allow 1080p input for composite-video connections, and have an HDMI connection which makes things maximally simple (since the TV and PS3 can "talk to each other" and decide which resolutions are available).

eric said...

Shane,

In my previous comment, instead of saying newer 1080p HDTVs "allow 1080p input for composite-video connections," I should have said they "allow 1080p input for component-video connections." The former never allows 1080p, as it is restricted to 480i. The latter can handle all resolutions up to and including 1080p, as long as the TV use those input resolutions.

Shane said...

Thanks. I was just concerned with the text on the quick guide pg7 that says: Copyright-protected Blu-ray video discs can only be output at 1080p using an HDMI cable.
That seems to contradict their supported video mode chart right above it.

eric said...

Shane,

"Copyright-protected Blu-ray video discs can only be output at 1080p using an HDMI cable connected to a device that is compatible with the HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) standard," reads the full sentence on page 7 of the Quick Reference. I interpret this as meaning that if the TV or other device at the other end of the HDMI cable is not HDCP-compliant, the PS3 will not output 1080p over HDMI from a copy-protected commercial BD.

Of course, I don't know that there are any TVs that can in fact accept 1080p input over HDMI but do not honor HDCP. True, there were some early HDTVs that used DVI inputs — DVI was HDMI's precursor, and HDMI signals can be converted to DVI — that did not implement HDCP. But as far as I know, none of those TVs could accept 1080p input.

At any rate, this restriction does not apply to component-video connections, which are analog and not digitally copy protected in the first place. The PS3 can output unprotected 1080p over component video, provided the TV can handle it.

Anonymous said...

Hello all,

To anyone that has filled the rebate form.

How/when/where do you give the rebate form a name?

The rebate instructions as for a name = 'PS-PS3 $150 Rebate’

Carlos

aloke said...

Hi Eric,

I really need your help.. I just read your comments on PS3 and
blue rays. I just got a TH50PX80u. It is a 720P. The blue rays look horrible; very grainy. When I click the Info Button on my Remote it shows 1080P signal. It does that for DVD's also. I changed the Display Settings on the PS3 to accept only 1080i and 720P signals. Now when I click the Info Button for DVD's I see 1080i. But when I play Blue Ray and click the Info Button on the Remote I see 1080P again.. I dont know whats going on.
I guess the granular quality is because the TV is down converting the 1080P signal from Blue Rays to 420P.
Please Help!!!!!!!!!!

eric said...

In answer to:

I really need your help.. I just read your comments on PS3 and
blue rays. I just got a TH50PX80u. It is a 720P. The blue rays look horrible; very grainy. When I click the Info Button on my Remote it shows 1080P signal. It does that for DVD's also. I changed the Display Settings on the PS3 to accept only 1080i and 720P signals. Now when I click the Info Button for DVD's I see 1080i. But when I play Blue Ray and click the Info Button on the Remote I see 1080P again.. I dont know whats going on.
I guess the granular quality is because the TV is down converting the 1080P signal from Blue Rays to 420P.
Please Help!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, this stuff can be really confusing and vexing!

The information you gave me left me wondering which remote you were referring to, the TV's or the PS3's. I'll assume it was the TV's. I'll also assume you are using an HDMI connection between the PS3 and the TV.

Since the TV is 720p, you ought to make sure the PS3's Video Output Settings have 1080i and 1080p unchecked. They probably are, if you used the automatic setup for Video Output Settings.

Also, make absolutely sure that Settings —> Video Settings —> BD 1080p 24 Hz Output (HDMI) is OFF. You don't want the PS3 to attempt to output Blu-ray movies at 1080p/24.

If these steps don't help you, give me another shout and I'll try again!

Cheers,
Eric

aloke said...

Hi Eric,

Yes I was talking about the PS3 and yes it is connected with a HDMI.

I have switched off the
BD 1080p 24 Hz Output (HDMI) option. I think the picture quality is improved. Will the 720P TV does not support 1080I ?

If yes then which is better?

Thanks

eric said...

aloke,

You said:

I have switched off the
BD 1080p 24 Hz Output (HDMI) option. I think the picture quality is improved. Will the 720P TV does not support 1080I ?

If yes then which is better?

Well, aloke, I am happy to hear that you got an improved picture by switching off 1080p 24 Hz Output.

Your Panasonic TH-50PX80U plasma HDTV has a native screen resolution of 1366x768, which is a little better than the 1280x720 of 720p and a more than a little worse than the 1920x1080 of 1080i or 1080p. Accordingly, a 1366x768 screen is marketed as 720p rather than 1080p.

Because its screen does not actually match either 720p or 1080i/p, there has to be a conversion in the TV. I am reasonably sure the TV can accept 1080i input via HDMI. I am not quite sure it accepts 1080p, but perhaps it does. Either one has to be downconverted in the TV.

If you set the PS3 to not ever output 1080i or 1080p, and if you switch off 1080p 24 Hz Output, the PS3 will deliver a 720p signal at 60 Hz to your TV, and the TV will upconvert it to 1366x768 for screen display. This is the configuration you should use for best results.

Good luck with enjoying your PS3 and your new TV!

Pigsworthy said...

Hi Eric, I have a strange problem.
I recently purchased a full 1080p tv (32inch), hoping that my ps3 games would look good on them. Unfortunately,although games like wipeout HD and Super Stardust HD look brilliant at 1080, all of my 720p games (Mgs4, Killzone 2) look terrible, as if they are scaled up 576 images? Why is this? Should I go out and buy a 720p tv instead. Many thanks Anonymous.

eric said...

Pigsworthy,

You said:

"Hi Eric, I have a strange problem.
I recently purchased a full 1080p tv (32inch), hoping that my ps3 games would look good on them. Unfortunately,although games like wipeout HD and Super Stardust HD look brilliant at 1080, all of my 720p games (Mgs4, Killzone 2) look terrible, as if they are scaled up 576 images? Why is this? Should I go out and buy a 720p tv instead. Many thanks Anonymous."

Yours is another in a series of comments I have gotten which basically say that Games A and B look great but Games C and D don't, when played on my PS3 into a 1080p (or 1080i) HDTV.

I can only make some semi-educated guesses as to what causes this.

My best guess is that the PS3 games that look crappy have a problem known as "aliasing." I recommend you Google "PS3 aliasing" (without the quote marks) and check out some of the hits that show up.

Aliasing produces "jaggies" and other "artifacts" on the screen. It is a byproduct of video resolution conversion, as from a lower resolution, such as 720p, in which the game is typically written to a higher resolution, such as 1080p, in which the video is actually displayed on the screen.

One thing I would try is to limit the output resolution of the PS3 to 720p on HDMI (you are using HDMI, right?) After navigating to Settings —> Display Settings —> Video Output Settings from the home menu of the PS3, uncheck 1080p and 1080i. Then 720p games should be output at 720p ... but be aware that your 1080p HDTV will still upconvert them to 1080p! The difference is in which unit does the upconversion, the PS3 or the HDTV. The only way to eliminate the upconversion entirely would be to buy a 720p HDTV, but note that many so-called 720p HDTVs actually use a slightly different "native" screen resolution and need to do a conversion anyway!

Also, just to eliminate a variable, make absolutely sure that your PS3's Settings —> Video Settings —> BD 1080p 24 Hz Output (HDMI) is OFF. You don't want the PS3 to attempt to output games at the movie-ideal frame rate of 1080p/24. This probably will make no difference whatever with games, but you never know. If it doesn't help, turn it back ON for the best results with Blu-ray movies.

None of these experiments may make any real difference. (Here is where I'm getting above my own head in terms of expertise.) From the various discussions of the issue which Google turns up, I gather that the only real solution (other than rewriting the games for 1080p) might be for the PS3 to have better "anti-aliasing" (AA) than it does. AA is basically a way of recomputing the video output to eliminate jaggies and artifacts right at the source.

One discussion of AA on the PS3 I found relates the PS3's shortcomings in AA capabilities to low "frame buffer memory bandwidth." The Xbox 360 frame buffer memory has 256 GB/Sec bandwidth, according to one poster, while the PS3 has only 22.5 GB/Sec maximum bandwidth. So the Xbox does better AA. Simple as that.

In closing, I'd better re-emphasize that most of what I'm saying here is guesswork. I'm pretty well-versed in video expertise but only a novice when it comes to video games. I encourage you to try some of the experiments I mentioned, but also to check around online some more and see if you can't tap into someone who really knows!

Pigsworthy said...

Thanks very much for your help Eric, I will be sure to try your tips!

Pigsworthy said...

Hello again Eric,
Unfortunatley I have not noticed a significant improvement (after changing the PS3 to output only 720p and 576p and turning off 24hz). Im pretty sure the only way to fix this problem would be to buy a 1280 * 720 tv so that no conversion takes place. However, would using an HDMI to VGA converter help? I've heard that it puts a border around the image but in exchange the tv will play the games at their normal resoloution (Sorry if I haven't explained it particuarly technically). It's a real bummer that the PS3 has this kind of problem as it has the most gorgeous visuals to offer, and yet I can only view the games in a messy, badly upscaled way.
Thanks in adv

eric said...

Pigsworthy,

You asked:

"Hello again Eric,
Unfortunatley I have not noticed a significant improvement (after changing the PS3 to output only 720p and 576p and turning off 24hz). Im pretty sure the only way to fix this problem would be to buy a 1280 * 720 tv so that no conversion takes place. However, would using an HDMI to VGA converter help? I've heard that it puts a border around the image but in exchange the tv will play the games at their normal resoloution (Sorry if I haven't explained it particuarly technically). It's a real bummer that the PS3 has this kind of problem as it has the most gorgeous visuals to offer, and yet I can only view the games in a messy, badly upscaled way.
Thanks in adv"

I just don't know whether a HDMI-to-VGA converter would help, but I suspect it wouldn't, since it might just add one more conversion step that could even make things worse.

For those who want to know more: many HDTVs allow VGA input, i.e., emulation of a computer monitor screen. Because computer screens need to show everything out to their extreme edges, HDTVs in VGA mode avoid the usual TV "overscan" which puts the outer edges of the ordinary TV picture outside the visible frame of the picture. In this way, pictures that have garbage or junk at their very edges (it comes from such things as the closed captioning that is carried in the "vertical blanking interval") won't have it show up on your screen. But VGA has no such junk at the very edges, so the monitor (or TV in VGA mode) shows everything ... and to be totally sure that it does, it puts a black border around the actual picture.

This is my guess: HDMI to VGA conversion probably wouldn't get rid of the artifacts and jaggies that I assuming the PS3 puts in the picture when it generates it and/or upscales it from (for example) 720p to 1080p. My guess is that the only real solution would be better anti-aliasing in the PS3 itself.

This impresses me as a subject that needs a lot more investigation, but I just don't have time to do it right now ... maybe sometime down the road!

Pigsworthy said...

Hello Eric,
Would a future update or patch for the Ps3 help increase the Anti-Aliasing capabilities of the Ps3, or would the hardware need to be physically changed? I'm frustrated that Metal Gear plays in such a jagged, blurry and messy way, and yet my Xbox running on the same TV has no problems and runs crystal clear. I've tried three different Tvs to sort the problem (One 1280*1900 and two 1366*768). This seems to have been a major oversight on Sonys part, and as such any 720 Ps3 games are doomed to look terrible on my tv.
Thanks

eric said...

Pigsworthy,

You said:

Hello Eric,
Would a future update or patch for the Ps3 help increase the Anti-Aliasing capabilities of the Ps3, or would the hardware need to be physically changed? I'm frustrated that Metal Gear plays in such a jagged, blurry and messy way, and yet my Xbox running on the same TV has no problems and runs crystal clear. I've tried three different Tvs to sort the problem (One 1280*1900 and two 1366*768). This seems to have been a major oversight on Sonys part, and as such any 720 Ps3 games are doomed to look terrible on my tv.
Thanks
I still don't fully understand the PS3 anti-aliasing problem. What I am about to say are guesses.

It looks as if games that are written especially for PS3 sometimes do anti-aliasing OK. They sometimes do, but not always.

Games that are not written just for the PS3 often fail to do decent anti-aliasing on the PS3, though the same games may be fine on (say) Xbox 360.

PS3 programmers apparently have to choose how much processor speed to devote to AA, as opposed to giving us more stuff on the screen. AA can be at (for example) 4X, 8X, 16X ... with the higher number (which I think represents the number of samples per pixel) meaning more processor speed (and graphics memory)eaten up by AA.

Good AA can also, in eliminating jaggies and other "artifacts," make the picture seem "soft," which some people don't like.

Game boxes like Xbox apparently have better on-board graphics hardware than the PS3 has, so programmers can more easily get better AA without doing as much work in terms of their implementing of the software. To get equivalent AA, PS3 programmers apparently need to do more work when they code the software, because the PS3 graphics hardware doesn't shoulder as much of the burden for them.

Another factor is games written for a resolution lower than 720p. When they are boosted to 720p, "aliasing" (the problem that anti-aliasing is meant to remedy) becomes more intrusive.

So there are multiple factors affecting the PS3's inconsistency when it comes to AA.

I doubt an update/patch to the PS3's system software could help. Even if such a magic bullet were possible, the games would have to be rewritten to take advantage of it.

Redesigned PS3 hardware would possibly help ... but, again, only with redesigned game software that took advantage of it.

Game programmers could possibly re-implement their offending PS3 games and get acceptable AA with current PS3 hardware and PS3 current system software. Only they know what obstacles stand in the way of doing this, but obviously they are substantial ones or the problem would already be ancient history.

So, yes, I think Sony blew it by not designing better, easier to implement AA into the PS3.

Pigsworthy said...

Ahh I see, I guess it's pointless for me to keep hoping that MGS4 will ever be cured of this affilction! Thanks for the informative reply though, and hopefully Sony will adress the issue with the inevitable PS4.

Mok said...

hi, i am using a HDMI connection too, but I would like to ask how to mannually uncheck the 720P option?
because i would like to try to run the games on 1080P.
thanks

eric said...

Mok,

You said:

hi, i am using a HDMI connection too, but I would like to ask how to mannually uncheck the 720P option?
because i would like to try to run the games on 1080P.
thanks
To uncheck 720p, you navigate to Settings —> Display Settings —> Video Output Settings from the home menu of the PS3. Then you confirm that you are (still) using an HDMI connection, and if it asks you to confirm that you still see a picture on your TV screen at this point, you select "Change" to make the confirmation. (You probably won't have to do this.) Next, you see a screen for selecting the output video resolution(s) you want the PS3 to use. With HDMI, you can put a check mark by any or all of: 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. You want to uncheck 720p. Whether or not you want to leave 480p and/or 1080i checked is up to you, but of course you will put a check mark by 1080p. Then, after you confirm your TV type as 16:9, you will be given one last chance to check your settings. Choose "Enter" to save them. Simple, huh?

Anonymous said...

hi eric. when i play assassins creec 2 on the ps3,on my hdtv its like my tv cant handle it. im playin it through component because hdmi on tv are blown. gamplay has like a line come up in gameplay and some cutscenes any idea plz?

eric said...

hi eric. when i play assassins creec 2 on the ps3,on my hdtv its like my tv cant handle it. im playin it through component because hdmi on tv are blown. gamplay has like a line come up in gameplay and some cutscenes any idea plz?

I'll need more information.

When you say that a line comes up, what do you mean?

Also, what do you mean by some cut scenes?

Also, is this the only game that has the problem?

Thanks. I don't know if I can help, since I use HDMI and don't have Assassins Creed 2. If you answer the questions above, I may be able to suggest something ...