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Big Ball O' Wax MUSE Thread

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by ChristopherDAC, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Well-Known Member

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    Now that the advent of 12cm High Definition optical disc media is nearly upon us, and digital broadcasting is being implemented in Japan, I thought it was time to take a last look at the first HD video system for home use.
    I know there are a number of HTF members who have had some contact with MUSE HiVision, and I would like to start a discussion about it. I am putting this in "Software" because I hope, among other things, to collect reviews, and there are more items of software available than of hardware. So come on, let's talk about it!

    To start with, here is the first draught of an article I'm writing about it, in hopes of starting a detailed FAQ/description section at LDDb. Anyone care to comment?

    DISCLAIMER: I do not own any MUSE equipment, and have not observed the system in operation. I am simply a LaserDisc collector, a lover of technology for its own sake, and someone who is vexed by the long wait for high definition television and video products. My information is gathered chiefly from print sources, with a little recollection of old Internet searches and the occasional Wild Ass Guess thrown in for good measure. Since I am a collector of Japanese animation LDs primarily, MUSE equipment is mostly of practical interest to me as a means of improving my NTSC playback quality, albeit the old curiosity [technolust? [​IMG] ] starts to kick in after a while; and it is primarily in hopes of satisfing that, as it were, disinterested curiosity that I am posting this.
     
  2. Davin D

    Davin D Active Member

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    Very informative. Thanks
     
  3. Rachael B

    Rachael B Well-Known Member

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    Muse was going to be the U.S.'s first HD system but got canceled. We could of all had the opportunity for Muse TV in the early 90's. I'd suggest that the prevalent reason for canceling Muse was to buy time to invent a TV system that could easily accomodate draconian copy-guard systems, like we're getting.

    I have a Victor Muse decoder that I only use for Muse LD's. It will do the Muse broadcasts and appears to accomodate one other component, proably a VCR...?

    The best Muse LD's out-perform DVD. That's only a few titles though. I've never seen Muse done by the legendary HLD-X0 though. Reportedly, it cleans up most of the video noise that I see using an HLD-X9. Muse LD has 2 caveats, video noise and motion artifacts. A really good Muse LD, of a Hollywood film, will only have 2 or 3 little, hard to notice motion artifacts (the nonfilm Muse LD's I have have no noticable artfacts). Some others have 23-30 little episodes of such and some fairly noticable. IMO, this may be more a function of relatively lousy transfers offered to the encoders of the format. I believe this because some Muse LD's really look good.

    My favourite film to watch on Muse LD is CHAPLIN. It's a good'un and is much more detailed than the DVD. I like STARGATE n Muse too. It's more detailed than the DVD, but the DVD has a better colour balance. When I got my X9 I decided to get a decoder and about 10 discs. I've ended up with 14, proably??? There's a concert disc I'd like to have but refuse to pay heavily for, which means I'll likely not ever get it but who knows?

    I'm ready to recieve Muse telecasts over hare en far West Oak-A-Na-Wah. [​IMG] I know where the delivery cable goes anyways... Has Muse broadcasting ended early in Nippon? I thought it was to go till about 2010...?
     
  4. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Well-Known Member

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    I'm pretty sure MUSE satellite broadcasting is still going on in Japan, side by side with developmental digital terrestrial broadcasts, and I don't know if the digital satellite broadcasts are all 525/30 or some are HD. NHK's website is singularly uninformative about what format they are using for HD transmission, all I really gained is that terrestrial analog [that is, NTSC] broadcasts will end in 2010.
    My reason for saying it is obsolete is an idiotic technicality. MUSE was designed to use the 1125/30/2:1 HiVision standard which was worked out carefully by the Japanese television manufacturers over a long period of time. When the CCIR got hold of it, over in Europe, there was some discussion over whether to use a 1250/50/2:1 standard instead, and in all the confusion the sampling frequency for digital processing got standardised so that, with the timing diagramme they used, there were 1920 samples in the active line period. EDIT: Specifically, the 1920 active samples/line number was chosen to make a simple relationship to the CCIR.601 format for 4:2:2 Standard Definition component video, the basis for DVD.
    Eventually our SMPTE started discussing High Definition, and they took the European recommendation as a starting point. Well, then the fur started to fly! Sun Microsystems pitched a screaming fit because 1035 times 16/9 does not equal 1920, and unsquare pixels are ungood for computer graphics applications. Instead of the obvious step, reducing the horizontal resolution slightly to the correct figure of 1840 pixels, SMTPE proceeded to royally screw things up by increasing the number of active lines to fit their incorrect horizontal spec.
    The result is that all the old HiVision program material, and some of the equipment, and the MUSE transmission standard, is incompatible with the so-called Common Image Format of 1080*1920. Whenever you want to televise anything which doesn't go analog or digital all the way, you have to do a set of transcodings, which everybody knows is wonderful for picture quality. Better yet, there are technical problems. The Japanese didn't allocate a full 90 scan lines to the vertical retrace because they were feeling generous that day; a trawl through the Display Devices forum here will reveal serious issues with sync and picture stability when viewing 1080i on a CRT, including some sources which have their own proprietary synchronisation pattern and won't work with some displays! I imagine even the digital displays would be grateful for an additional half-millisecond or so occasionally.
    Can you describe the picture artefacts you see? The ATSC reports mention haloing, blurring, loss of contrast and saturation, and leading ghosts, but that is using Narrow MUSE. They also say that a reduction in the transmitted signal-noise ratio leads to "graceful degradation" as opposed to the sudden blocking and freezing we are all so familiar with now from digital systems.
     
  5. Rachael B

    Rachael B Well-Known Member

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    A good example of a Muse motion artifact is when they fly on their bikes in E.T. When they first take off, the pic breaks up a bit about the riders. Sudden motion or fast camera zooms seem to promote them. Some films have very few. Others like A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT have many, beaucoups!

    I see no motion artifacts in Okinawa Underwater ( aka: Fishface). It would pass for 1080i with most folks. It looks good! The colour is competative with anything. Close inspection reveals great detail with just the slightest bit of video noise, but you really have to look closely to see it.

    You should read Ivan's posts about Muse, X9's, and X0's over at AVS. Last time he visited he was studin' up on how to give video shielding to the X9 that would move it closer to the X0 on Muse LD's. His visits are infrequent but vary anter-esting. He like front projection for Muse, BTW. [​IMG]
     
  6. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Well-Known Member

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    I don't believe there is such a thing as a consumer MUSE VCR. Signal bandwidth is just too great, although it just might fit onto U-Matic using metal tape. Also, many MUSE recievers apparently had MUSE-to-NTSC transcoders built in, to allow recording onto VCRs! I have no idea what a VHS downconversion from HiVision would be useful for, but there you are. [​IMG]
    I wonder what that extra jack could be for. One for the satellite tuner, one for LD, leaves what... terrestrial Narrow MUSE? [​IMG] If the inputs are labelled, I could make a guess by reading the Japanese writing [although it's more likely to have Roman letter abbreviations, e.g. "VTR" and "LD"] if you would like to send me a picture.
    The artefacts you're describing suggest to me that the sudden reduction of resolution around moving objects, and the stitching-together action of the motion compensator, is the trouble. I would guess that part of the problem is the encoder, since the movie titles with better PQ are later ones mostly? I believe you are on to something with the transfers, for instance the Obi on SHOWGIRLS [per LDDB cover photo] fairly trumpets its new HiVision internegative telecine [which was apparently used to prepare a PAL anamorphic version for German release]! Standards for transfer quality have improved considerably in recent years. On the other hand, with anything resembling a lossy compression scheme the encoder parameters come into play; surely we've seen this often enough with DVD, that the same transfer can yield a good and a bad disc from different releasers.
     
  7. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Well-Known Member

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    Okay, so as far as reviews go, we have so far:

    Player: Pioneer HLD-X9
    Decoder: Victor [model number?]

    Significant Artefacts:
    A River Runs Through It

    Noticable Artefacts:
    E.T.

    Minor Artefacts:
    Stargate
    Chaplin

    Negligible Artefacts:
    Okinawa Underwater

    Let's have some more, somebody.
     
  8. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Well-Known Member

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    Technical tidbits:
    In 1996 a new MUSE encoder was introduced which reduced motion artefacts, and increased chroma and motion detail. This is said to be "highly compatible" with then-existing decoders, but to have a new decoder which went even better with it. So, it's possible a later box is better for later discs... tho' I wouldn't bet on it.

    I've figured out exactly what was done to come up with the 1035*1920 snafu. The Europeans appear to have specified 2200 samples per scan line period [which incidentally bumps up the bandwidth to 37.125 MHz], and then alloted a full 280 to the horizontal blanking interval. Our present system thus gives the horizontal retrace 12.5% of the scan line period, and the vertical retrace only 4% of the frame period! [​IMG]

    Meanwhile in the Blu-Ray thread they're talking about massive draconian content-management measures; dunno about anybody else, but count me out. If this is the future of media I'm glad to be living in the past. Now, MUSE encoders and LD mastering/pressing equipment either are now, or soon will be, obsolete with nil salvage value. A modified Nipkow scanner would require an arc lamp, a collimator, two mirror drums, three photodetectors and a set of dichroic filters, and some miscellaneous mechanical parts... I'd better not take this idea any further, lest I get caught up in trying to justify it! "But officer, it's only for my friend, he owns the 35mm print I'm transferring..." No. No bootlegging for me, or anything like it. Time to get out the ol' wet noodle. [​IMG]
     
  9. RobertR

    RobertR Well-Known Member

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    Possibly, Rachael, but what I kept reading was that the refusal to adopt Muse was based on U.S. nationalism, ie it was decided that we would use our own technology instead of a system developed by Japan.

    I've been lucky enough to see Muse thanks to Brian Wiklem. I do think the U.S. digital Hidef is better (there's no substitute for lack of noise).
     
  10. Rachael B

    Rachael B Well-Known Member

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    Robert, we've only seen the LD subspec. TK Chan over at AVS used to tell me that the broadcast version was pretty darn good, not quite 1080i good but fairly close. [​IMG]
     
  11. Mark_Wilson

    Mark_Wilson Well-Known Member

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    RobertR is correct, it was a 'not invented here' attitude and the wanting to leapfrog the Japanese and do digital HD.

    A great book that discusses this and the development and politics of ATSC is Defining Vision
     
  12. Brian-W

    Brian-W Well-Known Member

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    Christopher, you should do a search both on this forum (Hometheaterforum) and also AVSForum not to mention Google (MUSE LD is a good key word start), there's more than enough info out there.

    Also, the Sony HDL-2000 and Sharp players are NOT MUSE Hi-Vision players. They're analog uncompressed HD players, and hence why they only hold 7 minutes of video in CAV mode and 14 minutes in CLV mode per side.

    http://home.q03.itscom.net/nsa/muse.htm

    http://www.cinedrome.ch/hometheater/hdtv/muse/reviews/

    You can find everything there is to know about MUSE and Hi-Vision in this book:

    "High Definition Television: Hi-Vision Technology
    by Nhk Science and Technical Research Laboratories"

    Check Amazon, Barnes and Noble (online), etc.
     
  13. Brian-W

    Brian-W Well-Known Member

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    Rachael, I've managed to catch Fish Face Okinawa, A Coral Story, Kamui of the Ohktosk, Sea Forest, Song of Africa on D-VHS. They've been having a "MUSE" fest of these scenery discs on InHD.

    Waiting for them to rebroadcast Penguins so I can get that one too....
     
  14. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Well-Known Member

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    Ah-ha! I wondered when you would show up! [​IMG]
    Actually I have done those searches, and not too much comes up [which is of any use to me]. Thanks for the book reference though.
    I never implied that the Sony and Sanyo machines were MUSE based -- I thought it was plenty clear.

    How would you reword that to make it clearer?
    I figure that with the LDDB project up and running, now is the time to consolidate as much information as possible. Forgive me if I don't want to just snip together a collection of articles by other people I don't know much about.
     
  15. Brian-W

    Brian-W Well-Known Member

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    i missed the uncompressed part.


    Regarding this...:



    Well, you're asking for essentially that now.

    Just rather than collect the information yourself, disseminate what you want more detail on and continuing your research, you are asking for many of us to repost what we've already posted previously.

    Not trying to be combative, but I just don't have interest or time in regurgitating everything I've already posted on the MUSE subject.
     
  16. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Well-Known Member

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    I don't see that.
    I've turned up a few posts here at the HTF, and a few posts over at the AVS. Mostly, though, it's about hardware, and the use of said hardware in viewing NTSC discs. Now, maybe my search criteria aren't what they should be, and maybe the various search functions aren't that helpful... but maybe you aren't understanding what I'm trying to do. If so, it's my fault, I tend to be a little diffuse.
    There are really three things I'm trying to get:

    1) Advice on this article I'm writing. Stylistic [e.g. about the baseband HiVision players, how to word it less confusingly] advice, and technical information which I have mistaken or overlooked. For example, that Swiss site you linked to claims that Breakfast at Tiffany's has an analog soundtrack. I don't know that such a thing is even possible, and since he might have made a mistake I'm not going to put that in my article unless I can get someone who has a copy to confirm it.

    2) Reviews of MUSE programmes, identified as to the hardware being used, mostly from a technical standpoint but with description of what is in a programme if it's not obvious. I mean, Gaia's Daughter? Fish discs? Ursa Minor Blue? From what I have been able to gather, the last named is the only HiVision animation disc.

    3) General discussion. It is a topic which interests me, and there have to be a few others in the world who are interested by it. Particularly, for people who've seen it work, what are their general impressions or specific comments?

    Now, I guess I might be missing some of your previous posts, and certainly I can go and search and dig some more up. But part of what I want to think about, is sort of the "last look" at something. I get the impression, for instance, that you have basically lost interest because of the current or proximate availability of new HD formats with superior performance, and I guess that's the case with most people who were interested in it in the first place.

    Anyway, so do you have any suggestions?
    And don't worry about "seeming combative". I honestly don't care, my personality is abrasive enough that you could flame me if you wanted. [​IMG]
     
  17. Brian-W

    Brian-W Well-Known Member

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    Partially - I lost interest because:

    A) I've seen basically every disc available with the exception of a couple of movies. I've owned 95% of the movies released on the format, and about 60% of the other discs (not counting the NEC Fish Club discs).

    B) The transfers of newer HD material is significantly better.

    C) There was only a handful of titles released on the MUSE Format. All told, less than 200 discs (including the NEC discs). Baseband HD less than 100 were released.

    So selection is a large factor in it. I still have my HLD-X0 and Sony MUSE decoder. I've also owned the Sony HIL-C1 and -C2EX players, the HLD-X9, and most MUSE Decoders (Victor MD2, Sony MST 1000/2000, MSC 3000-4000, Panasonic MD100, Hitachi, etc.) so I have a fairly broad range of experience with the format.

    Most of the transfers were utter crap. I even did a comparison between MUSE Close Encounters of Third Kind vs. DVD release vs. BS Hi-Vision broadcast (done in 2001 I believe) with screenshots.


    If you have specific questions you want answered, you can email me off line. But you'll find the majority of information in posts I've done to Hometheaterforum and AVSForum about the subject along with others.

    If you have the means to, you should pick up a set up so that you can experience it first hand.

    Here are some old links of picture comparisons:



    Fish of Okinawa comparison



    Same, but Jurassic Park and another
     
  18. RobertR

    RobertR Well-Known Member

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    Then there was that censoring of nice parts in Showgirls... [​IMG]
     
  19. Brian-W

    Brian-W Well-Known Member

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    I know, can you believe that they ruined a perfectly watchable film with opaque circles??
     
  20. Rachael B

    Rachael B Well-Known Member

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    ...gee, couldn't they have just changed the offending parts, digitally, into flashlights?[​IMG]
     

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