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SD Video on Blu-Ray: To Upscale or Not to Upscale?

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Mike Paprocki
SD Video on Blu-Ray: To Upscale or Not to Upscale?
on Jul 14, 2015 at 7:00:21 pm

I have some old standard definition videos that I'm considering putting on blu-ray disc. Seems I have 2 choices:

1) Upscale the videos to HD Resolution - I've been experimenting using the BorisFX "UpRez" plugin, which supposedly can improve the quality of the original video more than just scaling it up. My source footage is from VHS tapes, and from what I've seen so far, there's maybe a SLIGHT improvement over the original SD capture...

2) Leave the videos in SD resolution using a standard DVD variable bitrate knowing that I'll be able to fit a LOT of video onto a single blu-ray disc.

The question for me comes down to quality and having these old videos look as good as they possibly can. At this point, I haven't seen a huge noticeable difference in the upscaled HD render...and if the videos are going to look just as good playing back in SD resolution, I'd rather take advantage of the blu-ray disc capacity and have like 9 hours of video on a single disc without having the compression I would see on a regular DVD.

Has anyone else worked with SD video on blu-ray? What kind of settings do you use in terms of bitrate? When making DVDs (with under 1 hr 20 min of video), I'm using a variable bitrate of 8 mbps high / 6.5 mbps average / 4 mbps low for the best quality. Would the quality improve at all on a blu-ray disc using a higher bitrate? Or is that about as good as it looks before you just start increasing your file size for no reason?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Wayne Waag
Re: SD Video on Blu-Ray: To Upscale or Not to Upscale?
on Jul 15, 2015 at 3:31:10 am

If you want to make your VHS videos look as good as possible, the most important steps really come before deciding whether to upscale or not. First, capture and convert to digital (usually DV). Your VHS deck should have TBC or, if not, your A-D converter should. Second, your captured video should be filtered to reduce noise. There are some excellent Avisynth scripts written by John Meyer on the Vegas Pro Forum that target VHS captures. How well these are accomplished are IMHO more important than deciding whether to upscale. There is a restoration subforum on that can be of assistance.

Now to your question. Most of my analog collection over the past 30 years is either 8 or Hi8. For my own work using this footage, I almost always upscale to 720P since I usually include stills. I use QTGMC for de-interlacing and another avisynth script for noise filtering and upscalng. Rather than writing the final rendered file onto a shiny disc, I simply stream the video files directly to my Blu-ray player for display on my TV. For me at least, it's a lot easier than storing and searching for the right disc.

As to the question of how well upscaling works, I suspect that the improvement is on the slight rather than dramatic end of the continuum. Some years ago, I purchased this enhancer and found it to have no effect at all on my footage. The latest edition of Photoshop also has a new algorithm for upscaling which can be applied to video. Again, I suspect the effect will not be dramatic.


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