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Ziggy587
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Sega Genesis - Composite video or not?

by Ziggy587 Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:33 pm

Relevant video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0weL5XDpPs

Background (for those that don't already know): So composite video has inherent flaws, and the Sega Genesis composite video is just famously bad. Mostly, it's more blurry than normal and has rainbow banding everywhere. BUT! Game designers embraced the quality of the composite video signal (and in turn RF) and used it to their advantage to create some faux transparencies. Basically, if you create a checkerboard or hash pattern, once it's smeared through composite video it'll make a nice little transparent effect.

For example, the waterfalls in Sonic...

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Or the sky in Vectorman...

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These effects can look very nice. But once you step away from RF or composite video (S-Video, RGB or component) they become very jarring in some games. Take for example the lights in the bar in Streets of Rage 2...

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The waterfall in Sonic 3 is most annoying because without composite video it just has all these red vertical lines...

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So the question is, composite or not? There's a trade off either way. Either stick with composite video and preserve the effects, but deal with an overly blurry image and rainbowing everywhere. Or, step up to S-Video or better and get a super sharp image but have to deal with broken faux transparencies.

Personally, I've been using S-Video for a few years now, and more recently started using RGB. But most recently, I'm kinda sick of looking at these disgusting checkerboard and hash patterns. I've been using composite and it's a pleasure to see these effects again. But I'm not exactly happy having to deal with the really blurry video. I'm thinking I might choose composite or S-Video/RGB on a per game basis. Basically, if the game uses these effects that I use composite. Otherwise I stick with S-Video or RGB.

There's also the option of trying to obtain better composite video quality. The Genesis just has comically bad composite video. I haven't seen any examples, but I'm sure some one has done this. Mod the console with a better video encoder to get better composite output.

What do you guys do?
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Re: Sega Genesis - Composite video or not?

by CFFJR Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:59 pm

I've been using rgb for years and plan to stick to it. Losing these effects is sad, and even very annoying in some cases, but the clarity is more than worth the trade for me.

I really dislike composite, for any system, not just the Genesis (for the record, I do play on a CRT). The only system I own that is connected by composite is the nes, and then only because the cost to upgrade is too high to justify.

Switching cables per game is certainly one way to deal with it. It's one more compromise among a big list of compromises.
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Re: Sega Genesis - Composite video or not?

by Sarge Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:25 pm

If the Genesis composite were, say, NES or SNES level, I could see using it. As it is, it's awful, so I roll with the clarity that RGB (converted to component) gives.
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Re: Sega Genesis - Composite video or not?

by MrPopo Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:48 pm

If it didn't mangle text so badly I wouldn't mind Genesis composite so much. And personally, I think the sharp stuff is a charm point; it's developers doing the best they could to generate effects. Sure, it was originally intended to blend in, but when it's sharp like that it has its own aesthetic.
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Re: Sega Genesis - Composite video or not?

by Ziggy587 Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:22 pm

Sarge wrote:If the Genesis composite were, say, NES or SNES level, I could see using it.


MrPopo wrote:If it didn't mangle text so badly I wouldn't mind Genesis composite so much.


This is why I'm thinking about modifying it for better composite output. The best video encoder you're going to find in a Genesis is a Sony CXA1645. I've read on the Internet that the CXA2075 has improved video quality across the board (including composite). Of course, I could use a newer encoder, but the CXA2075 is a fairly easy swap. It's not an exact drop-in replacement, as far as I can tell, but requires minimal modding.
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Re: Sega Genesis - Composite video or not?

by Nemoide Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:18 pm

Like others, I'm in the pixel-perfect RGB-converted-to-component camp. It might not be exactly what the developers intended, but I think it makes the Genesis beautiful to look at.

I still have a component cable if I felt the need to re-experience those effects, but it's never been a source of annoyance for me the way that blurry composite video has been. I'd be curious about that CXA2075 mod, but not curious enough to actually do it. I'm happy with component output!
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Re: Sega Genesis - Composite video or not?

by MrPopo Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:23 pm

Nemoide wrote:I still have a component cable if I felt the need to re-experience those effects, but it's never been a source of annoyance for me the way that blurry composite video has been. I'd be curious about that CXA2075 mod, but not curious enough to actually do it. I'm happy with component output!

I'm assuming you mean a composite cable. The HD Retro Vision component cables for the Genesis look great.
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Re: Sega Genesis - Composite video or not?

by Nemoide Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:11 pm

That is indeed what I meant! My brain gets terms jumbled pretty easily. And I realized a little rewording wouldn't hurt either!

The sentence should actually read:
Nemoide wrote:I still have a composite cable if I felt the need to re-experience those visual effects, but their absence has never been a source of annoyance for me the way that blurry composite video has been.


And I really should get the HD Retro Vision cables. I currently have a SCART cable that's hooked up to a box that converts the video signal to component and for audio I use the Sega CD. It's kind of messy, especially when I just want to play a Genesis game.
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Re: Sega Genesis - Composite video or not?

by Reprise Fri Nov 30, 2018 3:44 am

Interesting. I've been using RGB for years and always wondered why these certain effects looked terrible. I never considered that developers had assumed gamers would be using RF or Composite and used those limitations to their advantage to create the transparency effects.
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Re: Sega Genesis - Composite video or not?

by ElkinFencer10 Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:37 am

Genesis is one of the two systems (the other being PS2) that I just refuse to play through composite (I refuse to play anything through RF if I have any other option). I rarely actually played my Genesis before I got the HD Retrovision YPbPr cables because the composite is just offensively shitty.
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