ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 - Refresh Rate Issues

Aug 28 2012

ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 Refresh Rate IssuesWe lauded ArcSoft when it added automatic refresh rate switching to a beta version of TotalMedia 5 as they moved us closer to the standalone player experience, and while the feature has been fleshed out significantly since then (it's optional now) there's one thing that they've never really gotten completely right with the implementation - the frequency selected for 24p content. I don't want to get too far into the weeds (those unfamiliar with 24p should start here) so we'll just stipulate that almost all Blu-ray sourced content, including 3D, is actually 23.976 frames per second (FPS) and players should therefore select 23Hz for proper output from a HTPC. The problem here is that in the original implementation ArcSoft made the newb [but completely understandable, having done it myself back in the day :)] mistake of tying 24p to 24Hz when selecting the refresh rate in the original implementation. Later realizing the mistake, an INI setting was introduced to correct the behavior, but unfortunately the engine doesn't universally respect the setting leaving 3D playback broken.

Adding the "Refresh23Hz=1" setting is a little onerous as it entails browsing into the user profile ("C:\Users\[UserName]\AppData\Roaming\ArcSoft") and must be done per GUI (stand alone/WMC integrated) and per minor version (e.g. upgrading from 5.2 to 5.3 means another trip to the user profile). I don't know why ArcSoft didn't just fix the problem properly instead of using an INI setting, but it is what we have so if you have a 24p capable display and TotalMedia Theatre 5 it will make a big difference for Blu-ray sourced content in most (BDMV, ISO, M2TS), but not all formats - including the one where changing the refresh rate is not optional, 3D.

As we can see, even with the "Refresh23Hz=1" setting in place TotalMedia Theatre still incorrectly selects "24Hz" for 3D playback. Fortunately, since this is a PC we have the flexibility to choose another player (CyberLink PowerDVD 12 works properly), but obviously that is a poor workaround for your wallet. Ideally ArcSoft will change the player to truly support refresh rate selection since 24FPS content (which should play at 24Hz), but for now I'd settle for fixing 3D.

 

Comments

 That's why I now use an hardware based BLU-RAY player. An Pioneer Elite BDP-53FD to be exact. It also has far better picture quality than an software based player, and the update are far more frequent also.

I haven't found a standalone player that offers enough flexibility for the my storage and playback requirements.

It's possible to get excellent picture quality from an HTPC, but it requires to choose the right combination of software version, video card model and driver version. It's not easy, but once you find it, it's great.

In my case, TMT5 does work correctly and does autoswitch to 24p with the above .ini file settings.

I use TMT5 version 5.3.1.144, Radeon 6570 driver 12.6.

Previously, I was using an nVidia GT430, but it coudn't do the 24p autoswitch.

Does it switch to 23Hz for 3D too? Adding the INI setting only works for BD/M2TS content for me.

I can't tell for 3D, never tried it...

For those interested, automatic refresh rate handling have been added in the latest version of My Movies.

It is intended that users use it exclusively, which means automatic refresh rate changing should be disabled in ArcSoft TMT.

In the case of Blu-ray 3D titles, despite auto refresh rate changing being disabled in TMT, it will still force a change to 24Hz - My Movies will then re-revert that if you are running 23.976 in 23 Hz, which however will cause an extra blink and HDMI sync.

We are in communication with ArcSoft to be able to truly disable the refresh rate changing, to let My Movies fully handle it, to avoid the extra blink.

There are some details about the support here:

http://kb.mymovies.dk/KnowledgebaseArticle50076.aspx

They have to do a resolution change to enable 3D mode (unless MM is handling that also), so either way I think it would be hard to avoid two syncs.

How does MM handle discs with mixed framerate content?

That is the point - they have to make the change for 3D, to run in 24P.

The problem is that they always change to 24Hz, while in many configurations, especially in Europe, where a 24.000 FPS is common, 24 Hz is configured for 24.000 FPS, while 23.976 is configured as 23 Hz.

Our discussion with ArcSoft, and our input is that they leave the refresh rate alone if it is already 23 Hz or 24 Hz, rather than always forcing 24 Hz.

You can configure in My Movies which refresh rate you would like for which frame rate.

My Movies does not handle content with mixed framerates - it detects the main movie and use the frame rate on that. From what we have seen, discs with mixed framerate content is not very common, and although we would like to handle also this situation, it is not technically possible.

The up-side with using My Movies for it is that you get automatic refresh rate handling for all launched content, no matter if you use the internal Windows Media Center player, ArcSoft, or other external players.

Binnerup wrote:

That is the point - they have to make the change for 3D, to run in 24P.

AFAIK, AMD and Intel require specific, undocumented calls to enable 3D mode (only NVIDIA ties specific refresh rates to 3D output, which is broken IMO). So even if you switched the rate for TMT, they still have to flip to 3D mode which would force a resync.

Binnerup wrote:

My Movies does not handle content with mixed framerates - it detects the main movie and use the frame rate on that. From what we have seen, discs with mixed framerate content is not very common, and although we would like to handle also this situation, it is not technically possible.

That's unfortunate. I see it quite often with TV series on BD where some content (like the title intro) is 59.94. Obviously, that's not critical content but it would be nice if it were handled correctly.

I am not certain what happens in regards to 3D mode - what I do know is that ArcSoft switches to 24Hz always - something we also got confirmed by our contact at ArcSoft.

It might be that they need to put it into 3D mode as well, causing a swich no matter what, but what we see is that there is a switch less if the title is not a 3D title that ArcSoft changes on.

Having discussed with ArcSoft what the timeline would be for them to correct the 23 vs. 24 Hz issue, we are planning to make a small change so that we do not make a second change of rate after ArcSoft starts, in case it is a 3D title - as this have not been added yet (it is simly to avoid a second switch), I can't from the top of my head remember if there is a swich based on 3D. It might be that there internally is a switch, but it is not noticeable, as the display device does not make a switch.

On the topic of mixed framerates, I fully agree, it would be ideal if it could be handled, we just technically can't, as we are out of the loop once playback is started, until it again stopped. I believe the issue should not be a big one, based on the fact that we should already be changing to what the TV episodes uses, and not what the intros use, so any studder would be on the intro's, and therefore would likely not be so important.

If you have examples (barcodes) of titles with mixed content, do let me know, as we then can try to use these to check if there are anything here we can improve on (when detecting what framerate to use).

 

 

Binnerup wrote:

If you have examples (barcodes) of titles with mixed content, do let me know, as we then can try to use these to check if there are anything here we can improve on (when detecting what framerate to use).

I'll let you know the next time I find a disc, although I've only noticed it consistently on TV series on BD (IIRC, Boardwalk Empire was an e.g.) so I won't have a barcode - those come from Netflix.

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