Odd TV/DVD-Player Problem

We bought a 40" Sony Bravia Z Series television set in April 2009. Three months later, we bought a Pioneer DV-420V DVD player. We’ve enjoyed both immensely.

However, an odd problem cropped up two or three months ago. Whenever we watch an animated DVD, “ghost lines” – I don’t know what else to call them – appear around the solid lines of objects in the animation. They seem to affect mainly those parts of the animation that actually move, such as bodies or vehicles.

We first noticed it when we watched Metropolis – the Japanese anime, not the Fritz Lang silent classic. Then again when we watched Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service a short time later. And we’ve also obtained a set of the entire Futurama series (except the current season, of course); same thing.

This does not happen when we watch live-action videos; that picture is clear. And the DVDs are not bought in the same shop. We took one of the Futurama DVDs back to the shop we bought it from and tried it there, and it looked okay.

We thought maybe it’s the HDMI cable, as when we bought the DVD player, the store threw in what it freely admitted was the cheapest one they had. We didn’t go overboard; got one with a gold element for 1000 baht (about US$32.50). That made no difference.

At first I thought this was a new problem, but thinking about it Metropolis is probably the first animated DVD we’ve watched since we got the new player last year, so it may not be something that is just now happening after all. Again, live action looks perfect.

Could this be a setting issue? I have poured through the manuals for both the TV and the DVD player but can find nothing that covers this.

I’m going to guess that you have the sharpness setting too high. That can create artifacts like you’ve described, and they’re often most visible in animation, because you have sharp edges and outlines adjacent to areas of even color.

If you’re watching mostly HD material, you should probably set the sharpness to 0. When you watch SD shows, you may want to bump it up a bit, but otherwise turn it off.

If you really want to set up your TV well, get this Blu-ray disc: Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics

The thing is we watch no HD material. We don’t subscribe to cable, and I’m not sure cable here offers any HD programming anyway. There’s certainly none on the free channels. And our player is not a Blu-ray.

But I just checked the Sharpness setting on the TV, and it’s set at 9. So I should try it at 0 the next time we watch animation?

Yes. You may want to even try reducing it for Standard definition television: I’ve found that, unless you are sitting horribly close, sharpening often makes things worse. I’m a bigger fan of blurring.

Since the DVDs you refer are from Japan and the United States, check the package and see if they are encoded as NTSC. Thailand uses PAL, so there might be some weirdness where the DVD player is trying to convert the NTSC to PAL encoding and not quite communicating with the monitor correctly. My DVD player automatically converts PAL DVD to NTSC output.

See what your manuals say about NTSC and you also might try a component video cable and see if the problem still happens. It is possible that it will work correctly on an analog rather than a digital connection. Also check if the firmware is up to date for the monitor and DVD player.

Sorry, I apparently didn’t read the OP closely enough and assumed.

Yes, and try it for regular programming, too. There are many adjustments to TV sets that people crank up too high, thinking they improve the picture, when more moderate settings are more realistic and pleasant.

There is an SD version of the disc I recommended upthread for adjusting non-HD TVs.

Thanks, all. Our DVDs come from all over, including Thailand, as they reproduce a lot here under license to add Thai subtitles and often dubbing. We have a Johnny Guitar that came from the UK. Our player is supposed to be for all zones and converts NSTC and PAL. But we’ll try the Sharpness setting tonight, and I’ll tell you how that went. May have to check out that recommended DVD, too.

Unless there’s an overriding reason, we generally leave stuff at factory setting. But it’s odd they wouldn’t mention this in the manual.

Ah, no, it’s not the Sharpness setting. We turned it off, and it made no difference.

Looks like it adjusts the Sharpness itself. I’d mentioned it was set at 9, but that was for the television broadcast. When we cranked up the DVD player, it switched to a setting of 13. But we were able to turn it off, and the “ghost lines” remained.

Thought I would bump this in case anyone else can think of something before we decide to take the player in to the shop.

Update: The problem seems to be not with any settings, the TV or the DVD player, but rather with the DVDs themselves. We took a Futurama DVD in to the place we bought our player, and the same problem appeared on their equipment. The techs said even if a local DVD was legal and not a pirate copy, the local companies often used the cheapest disks they could find. They explained something technical, which I was able to follow but cannot re-create here, about players, especially the newer ones, not being able to read such disks fully. Said on our old Sony Trinitron that we had watched for 15 years up until last year, it might not be noticeable but that a high-def version like we had now would show the flaws more. They were not sure why we did not see this with live action also but said it was possibly due to the sharper boundaries in animation. The reason it did not show the flaw at the shop where we bought the DVDs is probably that they don’t use a high-def set there.

We had considered the possibility it was the disks but the fact they came from different sources made us think it was probably not that. So we’ll just have to zero in on which brands and shops use better-quality disks when buying locally produced stuff.

Are the disks copies rather than originals. I would have assumed not but now I’m not sure. Some DVD player have a problem with DVD+R disks while DVD-R seem to be more compatible.

If that’s the case, odds are that the disks are not encrypted. Use the DVD burner in your computer to copy the disk to an ISO image and then copy the ISO to a new DVD-R disk.

Use imgburn for both steps in the process. It’s freeware and very easy to use. Only 6 very clear options on the main menu - one is to create ISO from disk, another is copy ISO to disk.

They’re supposedly genuine, but in Thailand you can rarely be 100% sure. There are established chains like Mank Pong where you can be sure, but some of the independent operations may be dodgyregardless of what they say. And the techs said those are the ones that often cut corners on disk quality even though they are under license, which is why they’re often cheaper.

Our computer is a few years old and cannot burn DVDs. We’re starting to think about getting a new computer next.

It’s easy to tell. If the bottom side is a bluish green, it’s a copy. If it’s silver with only a rainbow effect if angled to the light properly, then it’s genuine.

I can’t swear this is still true if they have the ability to press DVD’s. but I doubt it since that would be much more costly except for very large runs.

Well, with all of the foreign tourists alone buying up lots of cheap fakes, there are some pretty large runs. It’s a huge industry here, protected by the police. From time to time, they’ll make a big show in the media about running a steamroller over all sorts of fakes, but they have to produce the occasional scapegoat and so choose one who is short on his bribes.

I think it could be because you bought your DVDs on Sukhumvit Soi 7. You know, from that one guy? Next to the Skytrain stairs? I think you better take it back.

I kid! I kid!!! :smiley:
You said your computer can not burn DVDs… but can it play them? If yes, then try playing the DVD there and see what you come up with.

I think if it’s not some DVD quality issue (which I sort of doubt from what you describe) it is in the settings somewhere. There are so many places where settings can steer you wrong. And there are so many of them, a bunch of which you might not even know exist or are not easily accessible/changeable.

It is sad and rather ironic that the more manufacturers had dumbed-down consumer electronics to ostensibly make them easier to operate, the more difficult they have made it to get good results.

The sharpness snafu mentioned upthread is a good example. Many people think they prefer a “sharper” picture, so showrooms have the sharpness boosted on all their TVs (as well as the chroma and contrast). As if that wasn’t enough, I suspect, and part of what you wrote upthread supports this, that some devices or DVDs themselves are setup to automatically boost sharpness and perhaps some other things.

It’s important to remember that any changes like increased sharpness are actually degrading the image–not “improving” it. I put improving in quotes because a good TV picture is subjective. If you like the picture better on maximum sharpness, then to you it’s improved… whether the original image has been degraded or not.

Other than sharpness issues–which it seems you checked out–it might be some sort of interlacing or de-interlacing thing. Even if the video is progressive, interlace/de-interlace can still get you if either the DVD, the player, or the TV thinks that the signal it’s getting is something (interlaced vs. progressive) that it’s really not.

Oh… forgot to add… it could also be judder from a frame-rate mismatch (e.g. the video you’re watching is 30 or 29.997 fps but one of the super-sophisticated, gee-whiz, 23rd century devices you’re using is so cool it has some 24fps setting* which it is just dying to show off to you). Again, consumer electronics devices that are so damn cool and fool-proof that they outsmart themselves and their human overlords (slaves).

I sort of doubt this, but it’s a possibility, I guess.

*I don’t even know if this exists on any consumer devices. But I would not be at all surprised if the manufacturers slapped it on somewhere, bragged about it at the consumer electronics shows, raised the price a couple thousand Baht, then proceeded to ruin many a video viewing for half their customers.

This is what I was thinking, particularly because of this bit of information in the OP:

The de-interlacer could be weaving when it should be bobbing. Those types of artifacts can look like “ghost” images of moving objects while stationary areas appear clear.

I would check the output settings on the DVD player. Try setting it to 480i if it is on 480p or vice versa. Also verify the settings on the TV–anything related to frame rate or (de)interlacing.

I’m not buying the cheap DVD copy explanation. DVDs are digital with checksums. A cheap DVD will skip or pause or not play it all. That isn’t the problem you are having. I could buy a bad conversion to PAL, but the DVD worked when when you took it back to the store you bought it from.

I think it is still an issue with the the settings. I would try playing the DVD on a computer and see what happens. DVD movie formats aren’t native to the computer, so you can if the DVD plays correctly on the computer.

You might also try downloading AnyDvd and use the 21 day free trial if you have a DVD drive in you computer. Among other things, it gives you a lot of information about how the DVD is formatted.

http://www.slysoft.com/en/download.html

The problem with cheap DVDs is that the video itself is often changed. When they squish a DVD video from DVD-9 to DVD-5, they throw out a lot of information that helps create a quality image, particularly if they transcode. They also sometimes take rips from analog sources where the video may go from broadcast (or camera)->AVI->DVD. These types of video are more prone to color problems and ringing.

Something that may factor into the “now you see it, not you don’t” aspect of the problem is that CRTs are much less likely to reproduce these types of issues. Since CRTs can interlace properly and have completely smooth color gradients, many videos that appear to be poor quality on an LCD screen will actually look quite nice on the older technology. If the video store was using CRTs, this could explain why the problem did not appear there.

Thanks, all. I’ll experiment some more. Not sure if our computer can play DVDs. It’s really quite old for a computer, maybe six years old. Certainly five. We’ve never tried watching a DVD on the computer, because why bother when we have a TV? But maybe we can’t anyway. Will check.