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Analysis The Art of Pixel Counting: How can we tell what resolution a game is rendering?

Bo_Hazem

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First, how to pixel count according to Digital Foundry:




With the new games shown so far, it seems pretty hard to spot aliasing/hard edged lines for such a method. That's why DF previously stated that they need to come up with a new way of comparisons. Maybe you can't have an exact 100% pixel count, but you can see here a block of 4 pixels of mostly compensation for one pixel, a sign of upscaling in Halo Infinite. Also the line itself has a soft color to it that's near transparent: (1600% zoom)



You can see that upscaling will need to make some merging between two pixels when coming from a lower resolution, as you can draw much straight forward lines in the native form.







Demon's Souls, you find much more unique, independent pixels and finer gradation even for an asset that's much more away from the view compared to the above. (1600% zoom)



Picked from the right side, the wall.




You can't find aliasing that easy, so it's near impossible to pixel count in the traditional way of DF that relies on hard-edged lines. Without further investigation of how pixels are forming the image, you can't really have a sharp indication of the true resolution anymore. Especially with VRS that makes things extremely hard as well, as it could be partial resolution like the 720p parts in Halo.






The only aliasing I found in DS was this:





This could be VRS, and also could be a result of lower res image error/LOD, or a sign that the 4K final image is AI reconstructed from lower resolution similar to DLSS on Nvidia, probably the newly patented one.


Though, the final image is indeed 4K, whether it's native or masterfully reconstructed it needs further confirmations.

As for reference to native 4K, here is a static frame from the official PC 4K trailer of RDR2:



Now 1600% to Arthur's hand:



To make 1600% on Paint, you zoom in 800% first, then "print screen" then paste, then zoom in again 800%. With GIMP, you can go up to 25,600%. When you save, don't save as "JPG" as it muddies the screenshot, only use "PNG".

You can use the extension on Firefox:

YouTube Video and Audio Downloader (Dev Edt.)

And install further files in Window's system to merge the Video WebM with the Audio WebM files. Then use VLC Media Player to extract high quality, uncompressed PNG screenshots:






More great references:




It's open for constructive discussions, so we can all make good knowledge out of it. OP will be updated as well.
 
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geordiemp

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Poor old halo gets arough ride but it the only game put forwardby MS that is optimsied for XSX (MS words not mine)

I guess we will have to wiat for someone, MS or 3rd party, to show some current games as older games dont tell us much.

Not long now before we can see what is what.
 

Bo_Hazem

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Nicely done Bo_Hazem Bo_Hazem

Reserving this spot for future use.

Your spot will enlighten the thread further indeed in the near future!

How far we've come.

Now we're fighting over which games have more pixels

That's why Nintendo always wins.

No fighting in here, only sharing information and knowledge between us.


Thanks! :messenger_ok:

I got a feeling this will be Gaf equivalent of "Road to PS5" thread. So many answers will come from this in the future.

Let's hope so, next I'll explain myself how I can easily distinguish UE5 demo as less than 4K, and you can feel and see the softness in the image due to extended gradation. Overall, it's still the most impressive real-time gameplay footage to date, even when it's only 1440p.

Poor old halo gets arough ride but it the only game put forwardby MS that is optimsied for XSX (MS words not mine)

I guess we will have to wiat for someone, MS or 3rd party, to show some current games as older games dont tell us much.

Not long now before we can see what is what.

I think Halo Infinite has shown a wide usage of VRS. Having VRS in a frame doesn't qualify the image as native 4K, but doesn't give it a lower resolution, I guess. That's why VRS makes it muddy. The cutscenes are pretty much sharp 4K, also some assets could be low res as well. So it's a mixture of thing that makes it extremely hard to have exact resolution number. Dynamic 4K seems to be the best way to describe it.

Here I thought they used some special software but it was fucking paint?

Many people thought it was some sort of a special program, so know everyone knows that everyone can pixel count. Problem is, it's too late, this upcoming gen is pretty complicated, which is a good problem indeed in some occasions like AI image reconstruction.

Nice I never knew how pixel counting was done. Thanks for the thread.

You're welcome, mate!

Informative thread. Speaks volumes for itself, the games in question and the relative coverage.

Thanks a lot mate! It'll get updated as well with further discussions.

Absolutely amazing thread.

No wonder Bo is a successful business Man.

I'm not a businessman. :lollipop_tears_of_joy: But thanks, mate. :messenger_winking_tongue: (y)
 

Faithless83

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Let's hope so, next I'll explain myself how I can easily distinguish UE5 demo as less than 4K, and you can feel and see the softness in the image due to extended gradation. Overall, it's still the most impressive real-time gameplay footage to date, even when it's only 1440p.
Yeah I wondered that spotting the artifacts on upscaled footage won't be easy depending on the implementation.
Reminds me of this:

Pretty obvious if it's upscaled from really low resolutions, but if it's higher we'll need to look for noise/flicker.
 
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Nikana

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Its amazing to me that upscaling has become a really advance piece of tech. I remember getting my first dvd player that upscaled and was super impressed but I never thought rendering a video game with an upscaler would be good enough to fool my eyes.

But we are getting there indeed.
 

Bo_Hazem

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Yeah I wondered that spotting the artifacts on upscaled footage won't be easy depending on the implementation.
Reminds me of this:

Pretty obvious if it's upscaled from really low resolutions, but if it's higher we'll need to look for noise/flicker.

Yup, with UE5 Demo you can spot plenty of ghosting and voxel noise due to the software-based global illumination in the new UE5. Same with that control video. But you don't need to go all the way down to 1080p and make it harder for the system to reconstruct the image properly, so something like 1440p/1600p/1800p with an advanced AI image reconstruction could easily give the delusion of native 4K. They didn't talk much about it as it might be part of RDNA2 tech and AMD doesn't want that to be revealed (the hardware side), but the software side of it might as well be unique to Sony according to that patent.

 

VFXVeteran

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Poor old halo gets arough ride but it the only game put forwardby MS that is optimsied for XSX (MS words not mine)

Why do you keep mentioning Halo when it was captured from a PC? You really haven't seen any next-gen game running on XSX yet.
 
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Moonjt9

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That’s why I say there is only one test that matters: Does the image look good?

We are at the point where resolution numbers don’t actually matter. Back to the good ol days when reviewers would only mention “image quality” and “jaggies”. Honestly all that is important, not some number, but what you actually see.
 

Bo_Hazem

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That’s why I say there is only one test that matters: Does the image look good?

We are at the point where resolution numbers don’t actually matter. Back to the good ol days when reviewers would only mention “image quality” and “jaggies”. Honestly all that is important, not some number, but what you actually see.

Yup, I think we've been stuck in the resolution comparison for sometime now. With advanced tech inside next consoles and graphics cards, it'll be impossible to suggest a total resolution with things like VRS in the play. Also a low res asset could give a delusion of lower overall resolution. It's fun to go the "geek" way and investigate those matters, but what really matters at the end of the day is a stable image with no jaggies and a great image quality!
 
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Fictive

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Damn I remember this was a thing like a decade ago when FFXIII released and people were comparing the 360 to PS3 version. Specifically, how the former would be running at a lower res than the latter so they did some pixel counting then.
 
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Sinthor

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First, how to pixel count according to Digital Foundry:




With the new games shown so far, it seems pretty hard to spot aliasing/hard edged lines for such a method. That's why DF previously stated that they need to come up with a new way of comparisons. Maybe you can't have an exact 100% pixel count, but you can see here a block of 4 pixels of mostly compensation for one pixel, a sign of upscaling in Halo Infinite. Also the line itself has a soft color to it that's near transparent: (1600% zoom)



You can see that upscaling will need to make some merging between two pixels when coming from a lower resolution, as you can draw much straight forward lines in the native form.







Demon's Souls, you find much more unique, independent pixels and finer gradation even for an asset that's much more away from the view compared to the above. (1600% zoom)



Picked from the right side, the wall.




You can't find aliasing that easy, so it's near impossible to pixel count in the traditional way of DF that relies on hard-edged lines. Without further investigation of how pixels are forming the image, you can't really have a sharp indication of the true resolution anymore. Especially with VRS that makes things extremely hard as well, as it could be partial resolution like the 720p parts in Halo.






The only aliasing I found in DS was this:





This could be VRS, and also could be a result of lower res image error/LOD, or a sign that the 4K final image is AI reconstructed from lower resolution similar to DLSS on Nvidia, probably the newly patented one.


Though, the final image is indeed 4K, whether it's native or masterfully reconstructed it needs further confirmations.

As for reference to native 4K, here is a static frame from the official PC 4K trailer of RDR2:



Now 1600% to Arthur's hand:



To make 1600% on Paint, you zoom in 800% first, then "print screen" then paste, then zoom in again 800%. With GIMP, you can go up to 25,600%. When you save, don't save as "JPG" as it muddies the screenshot, only use "PNG".

You can use the extension on Firefox:

YouTube Video and Audio Downloader (Dev Edt.)

And install further files in Window's system to merge the Video WebM with the Audio WebM files. Then use VLC Media Player to extract high quality, uncompressed PNG screenshots:






More great references:




It's open for constructive discussions, so we can all make good knowledge out of it. OP will be updated as well.

Damn.... Bo_Hazem Bo_Hazem ! That was WELL DONE! I have to go back thru and read it again as well....but it makes a ton of sense at first read thru. Very well thought out! Good to see QUALITY analysis in this thread and even more so, coming FROM this thread! Outstanding!
 

Bo_Hazem

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Damn I remember this was a thing like a decade ago when FFXIII released and people were comparing the 360 to PS3 version. Specifically, how the former would be running at a lower res than the latter so they did some pixel counting then.

As we head further, things will get much more complicated, in a good way. But let's face it, most gamers have base Xbox One and base PS4 than X1X and PS4 Pro, which the later already have a much better resolution and better FPS. Without the mid-gen refreshes, the jump from PS4/XO on 1080p TV to PS5/XSX on 4K TV is massive! There is a significant upgrade from PS4 Pro to PS5 for example, but imagine we didn't have those boosted consoles?
 

Bo_Hazem

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Damn.... Bo_Hazem Bo_Hazem ! That was WELL DONE! I have to go back thru and read it again as well....but it makes a ton of sense at first read thru. Very well thought out! Good to see QUALITY analysis in this thread and even more so, coming FROM this thread! Outstanding!

Thanks a lot, brother. Problem is with 800% I can see the pixels easily, but remembered that not all viewers are using 4K tv's on their PC, or probably cellphones as well. Now with 1600% it's much more easier to show what I meant previously. We should investigate more footage as well!
 

B_Boss

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Excellent analysis Bo 🤝 (and for those with PS4’s, make sure you set your screenshot image format to .png for the highest quality images 👍).
 
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Bo_Hazem

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Bo Foundry! For real though well done man this is excellent work. I had no idea that was actually how pixel counting works.

Well, same here as well until seen the video posted lately in the speculation thread. I usually have sensitive eyes to 4K vs lesser than 4K images. When you see insanely sharp 4K videos or photos you know that games still need to fulfil that level first.

What I'm wondering Bo_Hazem Bo_Hazem is what you think the resolution of Demon Souls is at. Digital Foundry said 1440P but I'm wondering what your opinion is.

I've been digging real hard into those screens I've done previously:


And the video itself. I only spotted that flaw that I've showed above lately. So while the final result is indeed 4K, I'm not really sure if it's native 4K or AI reconstructed perfectly with Sony's new tech. Either way it'll be impressive if native 4K from a hardware point of view, and it'll be impressive if AI reconstructed from a software point of view. What matters is the final result! Checkerboarding was doing some great job in PS4 Pro, but you can spot some artifacts and flaws in some games.

A respectful upgrade over that will probably result into having us confused, but the final image is indeed 100% 4K nearly flawless. 1440p is a bold claim that they can't really back up, as that jaggy line could be a result from VRS as well or lower res LOD. It should disappear in the final build, I guess.

Demon's Souls is much sharper and cleaner than UE5 demo, very obvious to me at least. But the final image is much better on UE5 demo nonetheless, photorealistic, while DS still feels "gamey".
 
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ZehDon

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Given the nature of the image reconstruction techniques we've seen at play this generation - from advanced temporal reconstruction, AI up-scaling, checkerboard rendering, to good old fashioned even axis multipliers - in combination with dynamic internal render target resolutions operating in, sometimes, interesting ways - altering only the horizontal axis, for example - most pixel counting techniques begin to breakdown in isolation because, frankly, that's what the upscaling techniques alter. And that's before we add in anti-aliasing. If this is the case, how does one determine the range of the dynamic internal render resolution targets on these types of reconstructed render outputs?
To stay on topic, dynamic resolutions are employed in virtually every major video game, because it ensures frame budgets are kept by sacrificing a small degree of momentary visual clarity when needed. Given that Halo 5 runs in dynamic 4k 60FPS, its logical that Halo Infinite also runs in dynamic 4k, as it is also targeting 60FPS. Because we therefore expect Halo Infinite to use dynamic 4k, what methods can we apply to the gameplay demo to determine the range of the dynamic render resolution scaling?
How do these techniques apply to the Demon's Souls gameplay demo, and what are the results?
 

onesvenus

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Having VRS in a frame doesn't qualify the image as native 4K
Why not? The shading resolution being variable does not mean it's not resolving the same number of individual pixels.

You might choose to shade 4k in 2x2 blocks but that doesn't make it 1080p. For all we know, all the pipeline could still be working with 4K buffers.

Does having a 512x512 texture occupying 1024x1024 pixels on your screen also not count as native? Because it's the same thing
 

onesvenus

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This could be VRS, and also could be a result of lower res image error/LOD
Can you explain me how a lower LOD of a flat thing introduces more aliasing? Near LODs are usually shape-preserving, only reducing polygons in details, not in the shape. Assuming that we could say that, even if it's a lower LOD, it will be exhibiting the same boundaries than the higher one, thus showing the same aliasing artifacts.

The thing is that as reconstruction techniques improve, it will be harder to know the native resolution. Only these kind of things, that you not only are quick to disregard as bugs but also use to criticize DF work, will be the ones reliable telling which res a game is being natively rendered at.
 

FeiRR

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Nice thread, mate! I'm quoting only the part I'd like to refer to.



This could be VRS, and also could be a result of lower res image error/LOD, or a sign that the 4K final image is AI reconstructed from lower resolution similar to DLSS on Nvidia, probably the newly patented one.

The jaggies on that beam can be a result of another layer of image, not the object one. It seems that this area has a light source (from above) or it could be a dust cloud. Those are added on top of the geometry/texture/shading layer and are very often lower resolution than the frame (just like VRS but not exactly the same). When you put them together, artefacts may appear, especially if the result is then upscaled (or downscaled). I'm sure guys at Bluepoint are looking for errors like this and, if they have enough time and find a solution, this will get eliminated in the final version (or later with a patch).

Generally speaking, pixel counting will be quite useless next gen for advanced titles. It seems like a lot of them will be using advanced techniques of upscaling or enhancing the image, like TAA. This also makes information about resolution on the box quite irrelevant. There will be games that look much better in 1440p than 4k, just like the UE presentation vs many 4k games on Pro or X1X because their object density, effects and general IQ will be miles ahead thanks to more powerful GPUs.

Edit: This also means that FPS will become even more relevant. Go tackle the tool that I pointed out to you, especially after you get your own footage.

Analyses of titles will still be relevant but with a different approach: we need to look at the overall image quality in games rather than just count pixels. It's a more difficult job but I think you're well cut out for it. Remember to update the OT when you can replace videos with raw images captured from your own console. Those vids are still compressed and even if they aim for loseless, it's all just maths and statistics so some pixels will be distorted anyway.

Just more thing, which I got from the excellent Spiderman remaster analysis by NXGamer NXGamer : for a game releasing in about a month, it is still missing a lot of things in the rendering pipeline. I imagine that folks at Insomniac are really making the name of their company literal these days so we can enjoy our toys in November. Work from home makes many things more difficult and I think it's a miracle that we're getting our consoles without delays in the current reality of the pandemic. I'm going to support devs with as many launch titles bought as I can... Publishers raising prices didn't help with that, though.
 
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StreetsofBeige

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Why do you keep mentioning Halo when it was captured from a PC? You really haven't seen any next-gen game running on XSX yet.
This is his third attempt at pixel warring Halo.

He first did his zoomed in pics I think in the next gen thread, then did it again a week ago in his demons souls
/Halo pixel thread where he got banned, now he’s trying again in a more low key way hoping this third attempt passes.
 

longdi

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Thanks Bo! Count dem pixels for us. Those are 70-80 bucks worth of them, each.

Meanwhile we carry on playing our yuge library of GPU games. :messenger_bicep:
 
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PropellerEar

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This is his third attempt at pixel warring Halo.

He first did his zoomed in pics I think in the next gen thread, then did it again a week ago in his demons souls
/Halo pixel thread where he got banned, now he’s trying again in a more low key way hoping this third attempt passes.
If we're counting this is already your 2nd post crying about Bo in this thread only.

This is a quality thread, that would be even better without your low quality whine.
 
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Bill O'Rights

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Folks


OP ( Bo_Hazem Bo_Hazem ) has put a lot of effort into this thread and it's meant to be a place where a methodology is evidenced, and a place where outlets (and their own) conclusions can be challenged/verified by the community. Everyone is free to provide other games/clips/stills and argue for or against assertions made based on the evidence provided. Sometimes this will mean reading things you don't like or agree with, if evidence is provided then the onus is on yourself to discredit it (using the same evidence or different evidence from the same source - where possible). You are free to challenge the accuracy of the methodology if you wish to do so as well or point out its limitations.


It is not a place to drag in feuds from other threads, or meta topics. Nor is it a place to continue agendas against games via memes or other hot takes. There are plenty of other threads for that, spread far and wide across GAF. As such, any hot takes, console warring or general posts that are just here to elongate old arguments will be subject to quick and significant reply bans. This includes any 'defence forces' and anyone with fixations on using the thread to further post garbage about games they do not like (e.g. Halo, Destruction: All Stars etc).


This only applies to a few people in this thread so far but this is the line. If you're not here to weigh in on the OP, or contest/provide examples to support or discredit then you probably shouldn't be in here. If you also don't really care about this stuff, we don't need to know - some people, strange as they are, like to count pixels and did so years gone by as well. It's just an enthusiast topic, that some people like to get into the nitty gritty about.