Using playback filters

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MythTV provides a facility to include video filters both while recording and during playback. These filters can do additional processing to improve or modify the video image such as hiding the effects of an interlaced image or reducing the effects of noise in a poor video signal. The following is a brief introduction to using the filters that are available in MythTV version 0.15.


Applying filters

One or more filters can be included in a "filter chain". The filters to be used are identified in a "filter string". A filter string is a group of filter names and parameters separated by commas. To include parameters, the filter name is followed by "=" then the parameter information. There should be no spaces in the filter string. Here are some example filter strings with and without parameters:

kerneldeint=10:1,denoise3d=12
kerneldeint,denoise3d

Recording Filters

Recording filters are set for each individual channel. These may be used when encoding in software but do not apply when using a capture card with hardware encoding such as those supported by the "ivtv" driver. You can run MythTV's "setup" program and select the "Channel Editor". On the first page for each channel, you can enter a filter string in the box titled "Video filters". If you are running "mythweb" on your web server, you can click on "Settings" then "Channels" then enter filter strings in the "videofilters" column.

Playback Filters

Playback filters can be set for each channel in the same place as the "Video Filters", but under the title "Output filters".

Playback filters can also be defined globally to all recordings you watch from the frontend where filters have been applied. From "mythfrontend" go to Setup->TV Settings->Playback. Enter your filter string in the box titled "Custom Filters".

Transcode Filters

Transcode filters can be set for any of the "Transcode" recording profiles.

Filters Currently Available

The "invert" filter

Invert ignores any parameters and inverts the pixel values of the video frames. In other words, a negative image. This would rarely be useful but may be a good example to verify that your filter strings take effect.


The "linearblend" filter

This is the filter that is used when "Deinterlace playback" has been checked. It is a simple deinterlacing filter that ignores parameters, and works by blending adjacent lines. It replaces combing in interlaced video with a less distracting "ghost" image.


The "kerneldeint" filter

Kerneldeint is a more complex deinterlacing filter, which applies a filter kernel using input from several lines. It generally removes combing without a "ghost" image, sometimes leaving a faint outline of the the image from the other field. It is considered to be less distracting to watch than linearblend or no filter at all. It accepts one or two integer parameters separated by a colon.

The first parameter is the filter threshold and defaults to 12. Adjacent lines differing by more than the threshold value are filtered. The second option defaults to 0. If set to a non-zero value, it will cause the filter to skip chroma, and filter only the luminance. It may be useful on some capture cards which do not capture the chroma fields of interlaced video correctly.


The "onefield" filter

A simple one-field deinterlacing filter that throws out every other field of video. By default it keeps the top field, though passing the parameter "bottom" will cause it to keep the bottom field instead.

This filter is primarily useful for those who display 1080i HDTV signals with a video mode that has 540 pixels vertically. The advantage over the existing deinterlacing filter is that scenes with motion never show combing or ghosting.

Since it consumes very little CPU, this filter may also be useful for low-horsepower frontends where video smoothness is more important than resolution.


The "quickdnr" filter

A fast temporal denoiser. This can take 1, 2 or 4 parameters. These parameters each take a value from 0 for the least filtering to 255 for the most filtering. With one parameter, the filter will compute the values it should use for all of its variables. Two parameter will set the filter strength for luma and chroma independently. If you are interested in how the algorithm works, you may examine the source code to see how four parameter are used.


The "denoise3d" filter

A slower denoiser that applies a spatial and temporal low-pass filter. The spatial filter can remove some noise that quickdnr can't, but a more powerful processor is needed. It accepts 3 float parameters:

1: luma spatial filter strength 2: chroma spatial filter strength 3: luma temporal filter strength

Reasonable defaults will be selected for omitted parameters. The chroma temporal filter strength is calculated from the other filter strengths. NOTE: the current version may cause black spots to appear in bright white areas.


The "crop" filter

Covers edges of video with black bars. This helps to improve video quality when the edges of the frame are distorted. By default, this removes 16 pixels from each edge. This can optionally take four parameters representing top:left:bottom:right. The number times 16 is the number of pixels to remove so, for example, the default is "=1:1:1:1".


The "forceyv12" and "forceyuv422p" filters

These force the filter manager to use the given format. You can use one of these at the head of a filter chain to change the capture format. The most likely use would be forceyuv422p to use YUV422P capture on cards with known chroma interlacing problems with YV12.

There are some filters included in the MythTV source code that should not be used:


The "forcergb24" and "forceargb32" filters

The two RGB formats should not be used because there is no conversion filter for them yet.


The "convert" filter

It exists but don't use it. The filter manager uses this filter automatically when it is unable to match the input/output formats of two adjacent filters.


The "postprocess" filter

While this exists in MythTV source code, it is currently not recommended for use.

Usage Considerations

There are trade-offs to consider when deciding if it would be wise to use a filter. Any processing will modify the original image. Therefore, you should assess if there is a noticeable improvement to the picture in order to justify the impact of the processing. Adding any filter will inherently increase CPU usage. The impact can vary dramatically depending on your CPU type and speed, the resolution of the recording, which filters you are using and other factors. You can only determine what is right for you through experimentation. However, as a starting point, here are some filter strings that many users may find useful:

For typical broadcast stations: "kerneldeint,denoise3d"

For stations with poor signal quality: "kerneldeint,denoise3d=12"