Answered Colour Banding and pixelation on Blu Ray

CMG00

Novice Member
I have a 50 inch DX700 Panasonic TV and a DMP-BD75 Panasonic Blu ray player (from 2011). I have calibrated the TV from this forum's recommended settings and have got to say that it looks great, particularly most bright areas of the screen. I am satisfied with the correctness of the colours and brightness of the picture as it does look as it should.
On trying out a number of blu rays I have discovered a few different things. First of all, when I tried The Force Awakens blu ray it looked great and was a very crisp picture. However, I played my Blu rays of the Extended Editions of The Hobbit films and noticed a few problems.
There was significant colour banding in some dark scenes, and this was visible when sitting about 1 and a half metres away and at the right viewing angle (which is difficult to get, because picture on this model is difficult to get looking consistent from any angle). In particular it was in the second and third films, for example:
In The Desolation of Smaug EE BD, when Thorin goes into the lonely mountain to find Bilbo there is a shot of him running down a dark corridor which is briefly lit up from the end. The effect of the yellow-y light on the walls looks awful, the black is a load of large pixels in each corner of the shot that move about in each frame, just making one block of colour. I don't know how visible it will appear on these photos (iPad photo of TV screen, sorry) but I hope it shows it well.
IMG_2370.JPG
IMG_2372.JPG

In the corners here you can see blocky pixels making up one colour
IMG_2374.JPG

In this shot shortly after the last, when there is an over the shoulder shot of Thorin, his hairs goes from dark to black in a series of squares and rectangles.
IMG_2382.JPG
IMG_2380.JPG

In this shot from The Battle of the Five Armies EE BD when Smaug flies out of lake town for the first time what should be a smooth gradient appears as blocks of colour.

As far as I am aware of there is nothing more which can be changed about the TV that will make it look any better, without affecting other areas of the picture. It is also notable that in other scenes in these films some dark areas of rock can appear as black with small clumps of dark grey/blue rectangles, although to a lesser degree.
I will most likely be updating my Blu Ray player soon, because it is quite old at this point. I wanted to know, if I updated it to a much more recent model, how much, if any, difference would I notice? Also, any advice on what blu ray player to pick?
I do hope it is something wrong with the player because I can't really imagine a blu ray disc having that sort of compression that makes it look like that, but if it's not, has anyone else noticed these problems with the films(if you own them on blu ray)?
 

PC1975

Distinguished Member
I would suggest trying the bluray player & films on another tv and if possible (borrow from friends or family) also trying another bluray player on your own tv.

All bluray players picture quality should be pretty much identical. Also try other bluray films before coming to a conclusion.

The issues you highlight do look quite bad. I was under the impression that colour banding was more associated with plasma and oled than lcd. I also wouldn't expect the pixelation you highlight on a 1080p bluray image.
 

thewhofan

Active Member
Firstly, welcome to AVforums. Do you have access to another blu-ray player? Maybe ps4. If you can play the same films on a second blu-ray player this will help eliminate either the TV or your Panasonic blu-ray from the equation.
The other thing to point out is that you haven't calibrated your TV. Calibration is unique to each individual TV and requires test patterns for basic cal and a colorimeter for advanced cal. Copying settings from someone else might work if you are lucky but can also make things worse.
My guess is that it has to do with your backlight or contrast settings but I am not familiar with your TV model.
Try posting in TV section as well to get advise from owners of the same TV.
 
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Geoff_D

Distinguished Member
If the image is too bright then it will reveal these encoding issues far more readily, so it's worth getting hold of a proper test disc to double-check that the brightness is set to where it SHOULD be (it doesn't matter if you're "satisfied" with it because content is mastered to a set point). But Warners' encoding isn't the greatest so I spot some banding on the Hobbitses at some points regardless, I think you're seeing a middling encode made much worse by your settings.

I also wouldn't expect the pixelation you highlight on a 1080p bluray image.
Really? I've seen several blu-rays from Lionsgate and StudioCanal that have atrocious banding, every bit the equal of what's seen in those pics above (even WITH the proper brightness settings ;)).
 

PC1975

Distinguished Member
If the image is too bright then it will reveal these encoding issues far more readily, so it's worth getting hold of a proper test disc to double-check that the brightness is set to where it SHOULD be (it doesn't matter if you're "satisfied" with it because content is mastered to a set point). But Warners' encoding isn't the greatest so I spot some banding on the Hobbitses at some points regardless, I think you're seeing a middling encode made much worse by your settings.


Really? I've seen several blu-rays from Lionsgate and StudioCanal that have atrocious banding, every bit the equal of what's seen in those pics above (even WITH the proper brightness settings ;)).
Well I'm obviously not as well versed on the subject as yourself. Terribly sorry old dear!
 

CMG00

Novice Member
If the image is too bright then it will reveal these encoding issues far more readily, so it's worth getting hold of a proper test disc to double-check that the brightness is set to where it SHOULD be (it doesn't matter if you're "satisfied" with it because content is mastered to a set point). But Warners' encoding isn't the greatest so I spot some banding on the Hobbitses at some points regardless, I think you're seeing a middling encode made much worse by your settings.
.
The brightness on my TV is at 0 (the midpoint) and setting it down just loses all the detail in the image and makes the banding move further up the screen. Perhaps it looks much brighter in the image because of the angle that the photo was being taken at, this TV does have a rather atrocious range of viewing angles, with the brightness of different areas of the screen changing even by moving your head when sitting a reasonable distance away from the screen.
When the TV was set up a month ago (before any calibration) and I first began to watch things on it, it was Netflix "HD" films, and after noticing horrible colour banding I set the brightness way down (I was watching on the "normal" mode then) thinking it solved it, and that it was a problem with the TV. In the end I realised that Netflix bites off more than they can chew when trying to see how far they can go in compressing films.
 

Geoff_D

Distinguished Member
Agreed, streaming compression should never be used as a benchmark for obvious reasons.

But it's interesting that you say the banding just moves further up the screen when you adjust the controls, it seems the bit depth is being seriously truncated somewhere in the chain. How have you got the BD player set up? 4:4:4, 4:2:2, RGB, Deep Colour on/off?
 

CMG00

Novice Member
I would suggest trying the bluray player & films on another tv and if possible (borrow from friends or family) also trying another bluray player on your own tv.

All bluray players picture quality should be pretty much identical. Also try other bluray films before coming to a conclusion.

The issues you highlight do look quite bad. I was under the impression that colour banding was more associated with plasma and oled than lcd. I also wouldn't expect the pixelation you highlight on a 1080p bluray image.

I've tried The Force Awakens and West Side Story Blu rays and haven't been noticing the same problems, especially with west side story.
IMG_2389.JPG

(This is just to illustrate the shot, not the quality) In this scene where there are a lot of gradients to black I have to say that it looks great! There is no compression at all that I notice, and the resolution of the blacks are the same as any other colours present, and no big blocks of pixels! It's a pity about the viewing angles of the TV making the sides appear much brighter when you are sitting in the middle! The only thing that can be seen on the blacks is film grain which of course is fine, it's supposed to look like that.

On The Force Awakens the picture was also great (mostly). Since there are a lot of shots of space and planets with gradients to black there was a lot to look for, and what appeared was fine. Sometimes in dark areas it came across that there was a bit more pixelation than the rest of the screen.
IMG_2401.JPG
IMG_2402.JPG

The angle of the photograph makes the blacks look quite blue, this isn't an issue when watching. In the above photograph the transition to black looks less film-grainy and more pixelated.

Unfortunately I have no other access to a blu ray player or TV of this standard to try it out on, these are the versions that the hobbit films are from:
IMG_2400.JPG

I'm watching the 2D version of the film included in it.
 

CMG00

Novice Member
Agreed, streaming compression should never be used as a benchmark for obvious reasons.

But it's interesting that you say the banding just moves further up the screen when you adjust the controls, it seems the bit depth is being seriously truncated somewhere in the chain. How have you got the BD player set up? 4:4:4, 4:2:2, RGB, Deep Colour on/off?
I don't think much has been set up with the player, it's one from 2011 so I don't know how different it is from current ones. On the HDMI settings on the TV, HDR is on and I am using Rec. 709.
 

Geoff_D

Distinguished Member
I just checked that same frame from Five Armies on my telly and some banding IS there in the corner, it's almost imperceptible from my normal viewing position but off-axis it's very obvious.

Looks like it's the encode itself, I mentioned above that Warners' compression isn't the greatest and Five Armies is a case in point, though certain settings re: brightness will make it more obvious.

Here's a lossless screengrab ripped from the disc itself, just look at the bottom right and you should clearly see the banding (click to embiggen):

five armies.png


In other words, what you're seeing is baked-in to the disc itself so I would stop worrying, although some distributors are chronic for this kind of banding artefact (I noted them in one of my posts above) so I doubt this will be the last that you or I see of it, unfortunately.
 

CMG00

Novice Member
Here's some more shots from the film which have serious problems.
In this shot from the beginning of BOTFA there is a lot of banding in the clouds and on dark areas of rooftops.
IMG_2393.JPG
IMG_2394.JPG
IMG_2395.JPG

Another shot from the same scene:
IMG_2396.JPG
Colour banding is really obvious here with mist. Its disappointing because in the opening of the Force Awakens there is a lot of mist and smoke effects and it looks nothi like this.
 

CMG00

Novice Member
I just checked that same frame from Five Armies on my telly and some banding IS there in the corner, it's almost imperceptible from my normal viewing position but off-axis it's very obvious.

Looks like it's the encode itself, I mentioned above that Warners' compression isn't the greatest and Five Armies is a case in point, though certain settings re: brightness will make it more obvious.

Here's a lossless screengrab ripped from the disc itself, just look at the bottom right and you should clearly see the banding (click to embiggen):

View attachment 816860

In other words, what you're seeing is baked-in to the disc itself so I would stop worrying, although some distributors are chronic for this kind of banding artefact (I noted them in one of my posts above) so I doubt this will be the last that you or I see of it, unfortunately.
Yes, this is what it looks like, unfortunately. My photos were taken from a slight angle so it was more obvious and is still obvious for me when sitting back from it. It probably just shows up a lot more also with the way the viewing angles are on the TV. When sitting in the best viewing point (middle of screen at eye level) the brightness and contrast levels across the screen aren't consistent, with the extreme left and extreme right appearing brighter. This can be detrimental for viewing in scenes with a lot of black. One scene in particular was in the first Hobbit film during the troll scene: one of the trolls is at the left side of the screen facing towards the middle and his back is in shadow while his front is lit up orange from the fire. When sitting in the middle the part that should be in shadow appears a much lighter grey/blue and very unnatural.

It's reassuring to find out that there are issues with the encoding on the blu ray itself, but it's rather frustrating that things like these happen.
 

CMG00

Novice Member
I just checked that same frame from Five Armies on my telly and some banding IS there in the corner, it's almost imperceptible from my normal viewing position but off-axis it's very obvious.

Looks like it's the encode itself, I mentioned above that Warners' compression isn't the greatest and Five Armies is a case in point, though certain settings re: brightness will make it more obvious.

Here's a lossless screengrab ripped from the disc itself, just look at the bottom right and you should clearly see the banding (click to embiggen):

View attachment 816860

In other words, what you're seeing is baked-in to the disc itself so I would stop worrying, although some distributors are chronic for this kind of banding artefact (I noted them in one of my posts above) so I doubt this will be the last that you or I see of it, unfortunately.
Would a blu ray player that upscaled to 4K make any difference at all in terms of overall quality of the image? I suppose something like this can't be reversed, but is it worth getting a new blu ray player regardless?
 

Geoff_D

Distinguished Member
Would a blu ray player that upscaled to 4K make any difference at all in terms of overall quality of the image? I suppose something like this can't be reversed, but is it worth getting a new blu ray player regardless?
I do find that the upscaled 12-bit 4K output from my Panasonic UHD player helps to slightly lessen such compression-related banding compared to my regular Panasonic player.
 

skk3

Well-known Member
Have you tried moving the backlight to a lower setting?
 

CMG00

Novice Member
Have you tried moving the backlight to a lower setting?

The backlight is already at quite a low setting of about 35/100. Clear motion is also on which makes the image slightly darker as well, however I have still to come to a decision as to whether or not to leave it on, I haven't noticed any difference from it.

One of the key factors to why this looks so obvious to me is probably the screen's IPS glow. It makes the sides of the screen more lighter/blue and less saturated, showing up generally hidden things like compression.
 

CMG00

Novice Member
I've seen several blu-rays from Lionsgate and StudioCanal that have atrocious banding, every bit the equal of what's seen in those pics above (even WITH the proper brightness settings ;)).
I'm curious about this. I'm looking at getting Spirited Away on Blu-ray but the region B/2 UK version is distributed by StudioCanal as opposed to the US version distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Would the U.K. Blu Ray be a different master or be more compressed than the US equivalent (if at all)?
 

Geoff_D

Distinguished Member
I've no idea, it could be the same underlying master but with a different encode. You'll have to suck it and see...
 

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