Poor video quality compared to Harry's

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Poor video quality compared to Harry's

Postby pghendry » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:38 am

I had been using TrackAddict for a while then tried Harry's Lap Timer. The video from Harry's is notably brighter (in a good way) and looks like HD. The video from TrackAddict a) is dull, b) looks like SD (both are set to 720), c) has very pixelated overlays when rendered with speedo, etc. compared to Harry's and d) is vertically letterboxed (black banks on either side) where Harry's fills the screen horizontally. For the last point I can't see any option other than setting the video to 720 and that results in a non-widescreen result.

I like the simplicity of TrackAddict over Harry's - I can never work out what is going on with Harry's - but the video quality is notably worse in TrackAddict which means I have been using Harry's more often. I would like to get back to TrackAddict HD.

It also seems like the video in Harry's is more stable even though the phone is in the same mount on the windscreen for both. The TrackAddict videos are very shaky while Harry's are pretty smooth. It is as TA is turning off image stabilization on the 6 plus and Harry's isn't.

Any advice?

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Re: Poor video quality compared to Harry's

Postby RaceRender LLC » Fri Mar 27, 2015 3:31 pm

The symptoms you've described would typically suggest that the recording was with the Low Quality or 480p setting. The current version (2.8.2) requests specific 480p, 720p, or 1080p from iOS; the only modes that are left up to the device's discretion are "low quality" or "front camera". Although sharpness and quality can be subjective, a large amount of vertical letterboxing can be a good indicator that it was not recorded with a 16:9 aspect ratio, as it would have been if it were in the 720p or 1080p modes. On the iPhone 5, 6, and 6 Plus screens, a 16:9 video should only have a small amount of vertical letterboxing in the in-app video player, similar in size to the height of the controls on the top. And that's just a trait of the app's video player control layout; the underlying video file itself wont be letterboxed.

If you are seeing the low quality in the in-app video player and are using an iPhone 6 Plus, then there may be another contributing factor due to a unique situation there... The app's video+data player generates the data overlay images at full Retina 2x resolution on the iPhone 5 and newer, but the iPhone 6 Plus is an odd duck that uses a 3x resolution. I would suspect that it upscaling a 2x overlay onto its 3x screen, combined with its huge screen size, might make some pixelation visible. This would apply to only the data overlay graphics shown there, and not the video image itself, which should already be shown at the Retina 3x resolution. I have made a simple change that will render it at 3x resolution for that device, so you should see some improvement there when version 2.8.3 or newer is released... The other good news is that output video files you produce should have been unaffected.

As for image stabilization, the advice is always to correct the source of the wobble first (ie the mount), but you do have an option to request image stabilization from iOS on the "More Options" screen, although not all devices support it and it is generally not needed. There's really not much we can do in software to help that physical hardware issue, other than ask iOS to try to stabilize it, and any wobble it is correcting could still contribute to blurry or distorted videos. Obviously there's no reason that your phone would wobble more when running this app than it does with another, so I'd suspect that there had been some subtle change in the tightness of the mount, its configuration, or the positioning of the phone. I've personally found that some mounts can wobble more or less depending on how I orient their arms, and how I put the iPhone in between their grips.
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