VLC to support Nvidia's RTX Video HDR 'soon' — will join VSR on VLC for AI upscaling

RTX Video HDR in action
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia's RTX Video HDR upscaling tool is coming soon to VLC media player, Nvidia announced at Computex 2024. RTX Video HDR uses AI to automatically convert your older movies or other SDR videos into HDR content directly. Now you'll be able to do that with all those totally legit videos you watch in VLC.

RTX Video HDR was first released in January, appearing only on web browsers — Chromium-based browsers and Mozilla Firefox. It's part of the Video Super Resolution (VSR) suite that upscales video from lower resolutions, adding in standard dynamic range to high dynamic range (HDR) conversion. While that's great for streaming services, it doesn't help anyone with a large video library, or with other use cases.

Now, RTX Video HDR will become a feature in VLC media player for downloaded video. RTX Video HDR will also become part of video editing software DaVinci Resolve and Wondershare Filmora, allowing users to upscale lower-quality video files to 4K and SDR source files to HDR in editing. It's a bit odd that the HDR aspect wasn't supported in VLC, since the upscaling feature was already present.

RTX Video HDR does its upscaling magic through machine learning using the Tensor cores found on Nvidia RTX graphics cards. The upscaler converts the original 8-bit video footage in sRGB color space into the 16-bit scRGB floating point gamut using a transformation matrix, resulting in 250x more available shades and orders of magnitude more theoretically possible colors. The human eye cannot easily distinguish between that many colors, nor does any modern display have ability to handle 16-bit color, but the scRGB gamut is perfect for rendering and mathematical color computation as the first step in an HDR-conversion workflow. The final output then gets converted to whatever your HDR display supports — typically 10-bit color.

When RTX Video HDR does someday come to VLC media player, your old-school anime and early-2000s cult classics will come to life with HDR and upscaling. Nvidia's full Computex press release on RTX Video HDR has some additional information and samples. For more on Nvidia's Computex announcements, check out our Day 1 Recap. There was a new "SFF-ready" GPU classification, new CPU details, and more, with AI featuring prominently in much of Nvidia's content.

Freelance News Writer
  • Notton
    That's all fine and dandy, but the GUI for VLC is... atrocious
    Will I have to go through 20 menus to find it and turn it on?
    Or is there some shortcut key combo that will be neigh possible to find?
    Reply
  • brandonjclark
    I remember a "Disc-0nly-4lyfe!" friend who, beyond espousing the benefits of native Blu-Ray or HD content library instead of streamed, probably never envisioned a "crappy" 700mb-file .avi library would one day look as good* as his content.

    *Like audiophiles, "disc-only bros" can TOTALLY SEE(hear) the difference!

    The proof is in the pudding. If the AI-upscaling is good enough for the majority of users (always solve for the 80%), then that's the end of the discussion.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    brandonjclark said:
    I remember a "Disc-0nly-4lyfe!" friend who, beyond espousing the benefits of native Blu-Ray or HD content library instead of streamed,
    What these folks overlook is all the work (potentially) being undertaken by streaming providers to improve the content. In the past couple years, I've seen a few older movies on Amazon Prime that have stunning clarity! Not a trace of film grain, dirt, frame alignment problems. These look better on my 1080p TV than even the masters must've looked in the editing suite!

    I've seen some better & worse restorations on Blu-ray. Lawrence of Arabia is probably one of the best I've seen, but the film grain on my Wall St. (25th anniversary edition, I think) was bad enough that I actually had to turn on my TV's noise reduction feature, which I'd probably never done before.

    The main area where discs probably still have an edge over streaming is in the audio department, simply because the industry just put uncompressed audio tracks on the discs. You can't really beat that.

    brandonjclark said:
    The proof is in the pudding. If the AI-upscaling is good enough for the majority of users
    I'm a big believer in motion smoothing. What sold me on it is the improvement in clarity of moving objects and during camera pans. Once I saw that, I turned it on and never looked back. So, I've already bought into some processing. However, there are some artifacts. Therefore, I'd definitely opt for better technology, if it reduces the artifacts.

    And having seen what AI upscaling is capable of doing, I'd switch that on as well, if it reliably delivered a net improvement in picture quality (which I'm fairly certain is the case). Let's not forget that most content being viewed on 4k TVs is already being upscaled. So, why someone would reject better quality upscaling, out of hand, is somewhat beyond me.
    Reply
  • CmdrShepard
    brandonjclark said:
    I remember a "Disc-0nly-4lyfe!" friend who, beyond espousing the benefits of native Blu-Ray or HD content library instead of streamed, probably never envisioned a "crappy" 700mb-file .avi library would one day look as good* as his content.
    700 MB AVI with or without AI processing can only look as good as BD content if you have a late-stage cataract on both eyes and I say this as a visually impaired person.
    brandonjclark said:
    *Like audiophiles, "disc-only bros" can TOTALLY SEE(hear) the difference!
    I am visually impaired and I can still see the difference.
    brandonjclark said:
    If the AI-upscaling is good enough for the majority of users (always solve for the 80%), then that's the end of the discussion.
    That's a big IF, and it all depends on the source material.

    That said, if you are a fan of watching images with details hallucinated by AI that's your prerogative, but please don't force it on everyone else and dis them because they disagree with your definition of "quality".

    Finally, disc has another benefit -- it's yours to keep while your digital streaming right can be revoked at any moment without prior notice. Even just that is a good enough reason to prefer owning disc even if you are going to rip it, put contents on a NAS, and store it in the safe.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    brandonjclark said:
    I remember a "Disc-0nly-4lyfe!" friend who, beyond espousing the benefits of native Blu-Ray or HD content library instead of streamed, probably never envisioned a "crappy" 700mb-file .avi library would one day look as good* as his content.

    *Like audiophiles, "disc-only bros" can TOTALLY SEE(hear) the difference!

    The proof is in the pudding. If the AI-upscaling is good enough for the majority of users (always solve for the 80%), then that's the end of the discussion.
    What are we comparing? Because a 700MB 4K encode does not look as good as a 4GB 4K encode. It's not opinion, it's easily measurable. Now if we're talking about a 700MB DVD rip, encoded using AV1 or HEVC, yeah, there's basically no difference in quality.

    I'm definitely in the "good enough" camp for streaming video, though. Get the VMAF score above 85 and I have no complaints. Most 700MB encodes are likely going to end up with a VMAF score closer to 70, though.
    Reply
  • SirStephenH
    Now, RTX Video HDR will become a feature in VLC media player for downloaded video. RTX Video HDR will also become part of video editing software DaVinci Resolve and Wondershare Filmora, allowing users to upscale lower-quality video files to 4K and SDR source files to HDR in editing. It's a bit odd that the HDR aspect wasn't supported in VLC, since the upscaling feature was already present.
    Why is it odd? VSR was released about a year before Video HDR. VLC supported VSR about a year ago, before VHDR was even a thing.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    SirStephenH said:
    Why is it odd? VSR was released about a year before Video HDR. VLC supported VSR about a year ago, before VHDR was even a thing.
    What's odd is that VSR was available in a beta version of VLC when it launched. It was one of the things Nvidia used to promote VSR. So, why was Video HDR not simply rolled into the same code path that supported VSR in VLC? Or just supported in whatever way was required? Why did it take six months for VLC to get Video HDR support when it was obviously working in browsers?
    Reply
  • umeng2002_2
    I prefer MPV. Once you set it up, it's way easier to use day to. No clutter and still the best non-browser animated gif viewer.
    Reply
  • Unolocogringo
    brandonjclark said:
    I remember a "Disc-0nly-4lyfe!" friend who, beyond espousing the benefits of native Blu-Ray or HD content library instead of streamed, probably never envisioned a "crappy" 700mb-file .avi library would one day look as good* as his content.

    *Like audiophiles, "disc-only bros" can TOTALLY SEE(hear) the difference!

    The proof is in the pudding. If the AI-upscaling is good enough for the majority of users (always solve for the 80%), then that's the end of the discussion.
    I am one of those disk or ripped to NAS kind of guys. I also have albums and reels.
    Am I a snooty audiophile . F,,,,,,,No I refuse to pay those prices.
    But a $500- $1000 AMP and a well chosen "for" room speakers in the $500-$1500 can sound pretty darn sweet. Not audiophile grade equipment.

    I actually feel a sense of pity for people who can not tell the difference between MP3s and a CD/DVD.
    There is a HUGE difference in sound quality if you have the equipment to produce the difference.
    So they have never heard a well setup system or their ears just can not hear the difference. Which is sad on both accounts.
    Reply
  • UnforcedERROR
    brandonjclark said:
    I remember a "Disc-0nly-4lyfe!" friend who, beyond espousing the benefits of native Blu-Ray or HD content library instead of streamed, probably never envisioned a "crappy" 700mb-file .avi library would one day look as good* as his content.

    *Like audiophiles, "disc-only bros" can TOTALLY SEE(hear) the difference!

    The proof is in the pudding. If the AI-upscaling is good enough for the majority of users (always solve for the 80%), then that's the end of the discussion.
    Generally a good video transfer will always look better over disc, because the data isn't being dramatically compressed. You'll notice it more in some content than others, but it's also down to the provider as well. Hulu's compression is maddening to me, for instance. There are also times where you get a potential advantage from streaming, such as Fury Road being in Dolby Vision over Max, when the disc is HDR10. It's a mild difference, but it has moments where the lighting feels a little more consistent. It also depends on certain effects being used. Dune Chapter One can look really bad when streamed, but it looks amazing on disc, and that's regardless of your TV's processing typically. Also, as was previously pointed out, the audio quality is notably better over disc in most cases.

    As for the audiophile comment, the main issue stems from the people who think spending top dollar means better sound, when it doesn't. As far as solid state and digital reproduction go, you can get noise floor transparency for very little money these days, but you'll always have someone who'll argue otherwise. This comes back to video discs as you can get excellent video reproduction without spending a lot. Also, ripping video and being able to deduce the original bitrate can always be enlightening. Not all disc are equal in this regard, but you can rip videos at lower bitrates without getting into issues with banding and noise artifacts fairly easily.

    bit_user said:
    And having seen what AI upscaling is capable of doing, I'd switch that on as well, if it reliably delivered a net improvement in picture quality (which I'm fairly certain is the case). Let's not forget that most content being viewed on 4k TVs is already being upscaled. So, why someone would reject better quality upscaling, out of hand, is somewhat beyond me.
    This depends on who is doing the transfer. If done properly, a native 4K with little-to-no grain removal will look amazing. When you get into AI remastered 4K content, that's been heavily cleaned, it can look really bad. Like, atrociously. Terminator 2 gets tons of flack for this, but the recent re-releases of The Abyss, True Lies, and Aliens are terrible examples of using AI to "fix" a movie. Cameron should be ashamed of how badly he damaged those films. This is a great take on how terribly it was handled:

    BxOqWYytypgView: https://youtu.be/BxOqWYytypg
    Reply