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S&M Press Release: Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark, Blu-ray Edition.

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#1 of 8 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 26 2009 - 11:30 PM


Seattle, WA, March 2009 – Stacey Spears and Don Munsil, acclaimed creators of the DVD Player Benchmark™ and Progressive Scan Shootout at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity®*, announce the release of the Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark, Blu-ray Edition. (Spears & Munsil) This disc is filled with test material and calibration patterns to help home theater enthusiasts evaluate displays and players and adjust their home theater systems to get the best possible picture.

The High Definition Benchmark uses all-new patterns created from scratch. “We developed our own pattern software so we could make patterns for ourselves for evaluation and calibration. We didn’t make our disc by encoding patterns from an off-the-shelf pattern generator,” said co-creator Stacey Spears. “Everything was created and encoded entirely by us, with no compromises on quality.”

The disc includes patterns not seen on other discs, and new twists on old favorites. A clipping pattern makes it easy to see whether the display is reproducing the highlights or shadows properly. The cropping pattern instantly shows how much of the 1080p image is being cropped by the player and/or display. A whole suite of chroma-channel evaluation patterns make it easy to evaluate chroma reproduction separately from luma.

“Our proprietary software generates the patterns in the native color space of Blu-ray, without any unnecessary color space conversions or rounding. That’s the only way to minimize artifacts and preserve all of the detail and bandwidth,” said co-creator Don Munsil. “Chroma patterns are especially tricky, because you can’t create them properly with full dynamic range in the RGB space that most image-processing software uses.”

“We’re especially proud of our Chroma Alignment pattern,” he added. “It allows you to quickly tell if the chroma channel is aligned properly with the luma channel. It’s easy to see an offset of as little as a quarter-pixel, which we think is a first. And it allows you to check both vertical and horizontal alignment. In the old days of analog, vertical chroma alignment was never a problem. But we’ve seen modern players that misalign the chroma channels up or down. Only our pattern can show you that kind of alignment issue, and show you whether it’s a convergence problem or a decoding problem.”

Even a classic pattern like the ubiquitous Color Bars gets the Spears and Munsil touch. “We noticed that lots of color bar patterns have small artifacts at the borders between the bars,” said Spears. “We shifted the borders between bars slightly so every one of them is on an AVC or VC-1 macroblock boundary. This ensures that there is no bleed or artifacting caused by compression.”

Spears and Munsil are best known for their analysis and testing of deinterlacing chipsets, so it’s no surprise that the disc includes a full suite of deinterlacing evaluation material. “When we started this project,]
“Bottom line,” he said, “this is the disc Don and I wished we’d had when we started creating the DVD Player Benchmark™ and Progressive Scan Shootout.”

The Spears & Munsil High-Definition Benchmark, Blu-ray Edition is available from OPPO Digital, OPPO Digital - Up-Converting DVD Players - Buy Direct from the Manufacturer
, and Amazon.com, Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & more. List price is $24.99.

About Spears & Munsil:

Stacey Spears and Don Munsil have written many seminal articles, together and separately, on inside secrets of video decoding, processing, and deinterlacing. They are inventors or co-inventors of multiple patents in video and image processing. They set a new standard for evaluation of DVD players with the DVD Player Benchmark™ and Progressive Scan Shootout at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity®*. They were the first to publicly document and explain the well-known chroma upsampling error in MPEG-2, H.264 and VC-1 decoders. They created standard-definition test and calibration discs for Anchor Bay Technologies. They have done video encoding and compression for multiple HD DVD and Blu-ray discs, and have consulted for and produced test patterns and evaluation material for a variety of video and consumer electronics companies.

*Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity is at Welcome Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity. Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity is not the creator or sponsor of the Spears & Munsil High-Definition Benchmark, Blu-ray Edition.


Ronald J Epstein
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#2 of 8 OFFLINE   Stacey Spears

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Posted March 27 2009 - 04:44 AM

Thank you for posting the press release. If anyone has any questions about the disc, what is on it, or how to use it, please feel free to ask. Don and I will do our best to answer all of your questions.

Let me start by posting a few screen shots of the disc menus. The first four images are from the disc menu. The fifth image is an example of on-screen help that you see while looking at a pattern.

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#3 of 8 OFFLINE   norrisMc


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Posted March 27 2009 - 10:10 PM

Looks great! I hope to be getting an Oppo BD-83 BD player soon, which I believe come with these superb looking discs inside. I just hope Oppo can change their mind on a "multi-region" player too. Looks like a great disc though! Thanks!!!

#4 of 8 OFFLINE   Stacey Spears

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Posted March 28 2009 - 03:44 AM

The three minute montage was shot on the RED ONE camera at 4096x2048 and then downscaled to 1080p for this release. The result is a clean image. I have posted a link to the original 16-bit per channel (48-bit RGB) 4k TIFF as well as the 1080p source frame and encoded/decoded frame so you can compare.

I encoded the video at the highest bitrate possible. I wanted to 1. have a high bitrate video to stress decoders and 2. Provide a no-comprimise picture for demo material.

The cross-fades are where you will find the highest peaks if you watch the bitrate meter on the PS3. With the PS3 meter the peaks will go as high as 50 Mbps.

Original 4k TIFF: (48 MB) http://www.spearsand....riginal_4k.tif

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#5 of 8 OFFLINE   Stacey Spears

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Posted April 28 2009 - 01:43 PM

We have just published our first article on the disc. It is on how to set the brightness control. It is one of the basics. We need to publish the basics before we get into the more advanced stuff.

Articles | Spears & Munsil

You will also find an article on how to use our blue filter, which should be ready soon.

#6 of 8 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted April 29 2009 - 12:19 PM

Cool, looks like the UI is better than most of the test disks that I have used, which is my biggest complaint!

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#7 of 8 OFFLINE   Brian L

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Posted April 30 2009 - 01:20 AM

The online FAQ states that a blue filter is not included with the disc, but a procedure for the use of a blue filter is now posted online. Are the discs now shipping with a filter? Brian EDIT: I see that it is mentioned at the "other" web site frequented by HT geeks: "You will also find an article on how to use our blue filter, which should be ready soon. The blue filter should be sent out to everyone who has purchased the disc. We will also have a red and green filter set that we will offer for sale."

#8 of 8 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted May 01 2009 - 03:59 AM

I have to say that I love the UI and the help screens available with the patterns. It is great that you finally released a disc. My ISF Calibrators (Michael Chen Lion AV, and Kevin Collins) have both used patterns of yours long before you had an official disc. Thanks for posting additional content to your site.

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