Fixing Poor Video Playback Quality and Jagged Edges in Windows 7 x86 and Windows 7 x64

Playing video on machines powered by Nvidia GPUs, Windows 7 x86/x64’s own Windows Media Player (WMP) video playback quality is just fine, but when it comes to any other player such as Media Player Classic – Home Cinema (MPC-HC) or VLC media player, jagged edges are annoyingly obvious, especially when the video is resized. Well, an MPEG-2 PAL video (DVD format) stored at 720×576 (4:3) is displayed at 768×576, that’s simply called resizing!

Sample video rendered using default renderer Sample video rendered using EVR

The sample video frame on the left demonstrates Windows 7’s poor video quality and the aliasing artifacts caused by the absence of a filter which should make jagged edges smooth. The aliasing artifact is apparent on the outer edge of Lili Haydn’s nose, and also on the ribbon of her violin bow. On the right, the filter in Enhanced Video Renderer (EVR) smoothed jagged edges, making video quality much more acceptable. One of the other things such filters do is to make colors more vivid, which could be clearly observed on the right side snapshot as it’s more colorful and vivid comparing to the one on the left. The frame snapshot’s saved PNG size is a good quality measure and detail comparison between the jagged video (151 kB) and when it’s smoothed via EVR (652 kB). (Credit: Lili Haydn’s violin solo with George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic live at the 38th Montreux Jazz Festival 2004)

In the video domain, aliasing artifacts can appear as wavy lines or bands, or moiré patterns, or popping, strobing, or as unwanted sparkling, emphasizing the poor video quality, caused by jagged edges.

Smoothing jagged edges is omitted when the video is played in Windows 7 using the default renderer in Media Player Classic – Home Cinema (MPC-HC) or VLC media player on Nvidia-powered systems.

To fix the problem, you need to install the latest WHQL driver located at nvidia.com/page/drivers.html, and then enable Enhanced Video Renderer (EVR) in your player’s options.

As an older alternative to EVR (Enhanced Video Renderer), you can also choose VMR9 (Video Mixing Renderer). The VMR was first made available for the Windows XP platforms only. Beginning with DirectX 9.0, a separate version of the VMR, called the VMR-9, is available for redistribution on all platforms supported by DirectX. The two VMR filters are very similar in their implementation and the interfaces that they expose. The primary difference is that the original VMR (now called the VMR-7) uses DirectDraw 7 internally to control the video hardware, while the new version of VMR (called the VMR-9) uses Direct3D 9.

To make use of the Media Player Classic – Home Cinema’s internal subtitle renderer, select either of the “EVR Custom Pres.” or “VMR9 (renderless)”, since both their alternatives—“EVR (Vista/.Net3)” and “VMR9 (windowed)”—fail to provide the pixel shaders to the soft subtitle filter. Please note the softsub renderer inside MPC-HC—Gabest’s DirectVobSub (VSFilter.dll)—is a horrendous CPU hog, so be alarmed to the excessive CPU usage. Another problem with the alternatives is “EVR (Vista/.Net3)” doesn’t provide the practical picture scaling (pan & scan) feature, locking the picture at its original scales.

[Updated February 8, 2010]

Because 3D surfaces are required for image scaling, image rotation, and pixel shaders, with the EVR Custom Presenter/VMR output filters chosen in Media Player Classic – Home Cinema v1.3.1249.0 on a non-gamer’s Windows 7—with no Direct3D engine installed—MPC nags about “No D3DX9 dll found. To enable stats, shaders and complex resizers, please make sure to install the latest DirectX End-User Runtime. Warning creating EVR Custom renderer.” To overcome this issue, download and install DirectX End-User Runtime using Microsoft’s newly-published intelligent DirectX End-User Runtime Web Installer.

فارسی

13 thoughts on “Fixing Poor Video Playback Quality and Jagged Edges in Windows 7 x86 and Windows 7 x64

  1. Using MPCHC on Windows Server 2008 (so probably on Windows Vista) I ended up with the following error:

    —————————————-
    Error creating DX9 allocation presenter
    —————————————-
    No D3DX9 dll found. To enable stats, shaders and complex resizers, please make sure to install the latest DirectX End-User Runtime.
    CreateDevice failed

    D3DERR_NOTAVAILABLE
    —————————————-

    Like always, thank you for a useful detailed article. You’re a genius. :-*

  2. Actually VMR7 filters very well in Windows XP but in Vista or 7 it appears MS deleted the filtering functionality. Perhaps this was done to force developers to start using EVR as VMR9 has the same problem.

  3. Dear Komeil

    I have been reading your post regarding fixing poor video quality in windows 7.

    I wish to ask for your help.

    I have purchased a Dell laptop about three months ago. Model is: xps L501x, with 1GB Nvidia Geforce GT 420M, arrives with windows 7 home premium x 64.

    Me, too, am experiencing unsatisfied video quality on ALL player… exactly as you describe in your post: jagged edges, some flickering points here and there… whatever I tried (including codecs installation, updating all drivers of Nvidia and Intel graphics, changing resolution etc. didn’t help.

    I called Dell India technical support and they tried to lead me through several troubleshooting processes that didn’t “change the picture” 😉
    Eventually they told me that since the videos are “watchable”, I should settle with it !!! But I can not… it is too disturbing for me…

    Then I “bumped” into your post and felt some hope since it seems to offer a solution for this annoying problem.

    Yet, I still want to ask kindly for some clarification regarding this issue…
    Since I am not a big expert in computers, I didn’t figure out which WHQL driver I should download and install… there are few of them… could you send me a link to the exact one I need ?
    Should I install it INSTEAD of the regular one ? this is the driver I was told (by Dell people) to install:

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/notebook-win7-winvista-266.58-whql-driver.html

    The other issue is : I could find where is the Enhanced Video Renderer (EVR) option in my video players options. I use vlc, bsplayer and windows media player.

    I would be so so grateful to you if you could help me in here since this issue has been bugging me for so long !!!

    I wish you all the best, brother…

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience with all !!!

    Beautiful days to you

    Shira

    • Dear Shira,

      First of all, I’m happy you haven’t gone for the 14-inch L401x, as its screen is one of the worst in the entire portable electronics’ history.

      All the codecs you’ve installed worsen the experience. You should uninstall them all… and because codecs are filthy sitcky uninstallable creatures, I suggest restoring your Windows using Dell Recovery to its factory state. Forget playing media with Windows Media Player / Windows Media Center, remove them utilizing “Turn Windows features on or off \ Media Features,” and stick to non-codec-based players such as Winamp for audio and MPC-HC for video. (Of “non-codec-based,” I meant players packed with built-in codecs.)

      For the powerful Nvidia GeForce GT 420M packed in your laptop, the 266.58 driver you’ve mentioned is not the 64-bit one, and what you need is located here:

      http://www.nvidia.com/object/notebook-win7-winvista-64bit-266.58-whql-driver.html

      Uninstall the current driver and install the one above.

      Now, because EVR renders video based on Direct3D, you need to install the latest DirectX engine, located here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=3b170b25-abab-4bc3-ae91-50ceb6d8fa8d

      Then, if you’re chasing quality, you should only use Media Player Classic Home Cinema with DirectShow video output set to EVR Custom Presenter. MPC-HC is available as a 64-bit build, which makes it a top choice.

      Other players such as VLC media player, are slow and deliver poor quality. VLC is only good for when Media Player Classic Home Cinema doesn’t support a few codecs, such as 3GP with AMR audio, and rare kinds of FLV.

      Regards,

      Komeil Bahmanpour

      • Dear Komeil

        Again…. much thanks for your reply and detailed guidance…

        I did all according to your instructions… reinstalled windows, removed media player, installed the codecs you advised, and Mpc-Hc with the recommended configuration…

        Still, I am facing the same issue ! problem was not solved…

        After browsing the net, and reading few forums… I feel that the problem lies with Windows 7 itself… and when combined with a high quality video card, it simply doesn’t give a picture as sharp as with other O.S…

        Unfortunately, Vista and xp can not be installed on this system…

        Anyway… If you still believe the problem can be solved in another way, please share with me…

        I attach a document specifies the computer components…

        I wish you all the best of what life is offering !

        And thank you again

        Shira

        • Dear Shira,

          There must be a misunderstanding, as I’ve asked NOT to install any codecs, as codecs interfere admissible player operation.

          PowerDVD, Nero, and Adobe Premiere are among the worst codec-spreading programs, so avoid installing them.

          Also do NOT install any codec packs.

          A clean Windows 7 SP1 x64 contains exactly 103 codecs. (GSpot Codec Information lists codecs’ count when opened.)

          After Windows restore and WMP removal, without any further codec installation, try MPC-HC.

          Used by one of our civil engineers, there’s one of these incredible machines in the construction site I frequently visit. Maybe I can check that one…

          Hope this helps,
          Komeil Bahmanpour

          • Dear Komeil

            Well… it was a mistake on my part. I did NOT install any codec pack… I meant to say: directx… and also removed the windows media player as you suggested… I followed precisely all your instructions ! (you were very clear about the codec issue…)

            Still… I faced the same issue…

            Thanks !

            Shira

          • Dear Komeil

            My friend here corrects me… he says there is a clear improvement after following your instructions, and most videos are watchable… He says the quality depends on the file type… mp4 files look quite good ! most avi files are poor quality still…
            Also we have read that low resolution movies will never look sharp on high resolution screen – what is your opinion on that matter ? do you advice to change screen resolution ?

            Thank you !!!

            Shira

            • You can’t create what’s not there, unless you’re watching a Hollywood crime movie, where they exaggeratedly enlarge a poor-quality snapshot of a suspect’s license plate, say 100X, and see what’s there!

              I think you’re OK. See if you can see aliasing artifacts. If they’re not there, yours is just fine. What perturbed you in the first place is not there anymore, and what you see now is nothing but screen’s high resolution combined with the new display technology.

Leave a Reply to Komeil Bahmanpour Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*